9 Super Easy Breakfast Hacks That Will Make Your Morning Healthier
September 15, 2021
By Carrie Havranek
We all know that we should start off the day with a healthy breakfast, but with packed mornings and busy schedules, that’s often easier said than done. However, getting your day started right doesn’t have to be difficult: We spoke with Rania Batayneh, MPH, nutritionist, and author of The One One One Diet; and Lisa Howard, author of the cookbook The Big Book of Healthy Cooking Oils, for some of their best healthy breakfast hacks to help you start your day off right. With their great advice — and some of our own, too — you can turbo-charge your morning without expending too much time or effort.
1. Switch your second cup to green tea
If you’re hooked on caffeine, we understand. But you might also consider switching your caffeine source to green tea instead of having a second cup of coffee. Green tea contains lots of bioactive compounds that can benefit your health, including antioxidants. Lately, the amino acid l-theanine, which is naturally present in green tea and sold as a supplement, is getting a lot of attention, and for good reason: studies indicate it may help increase your ability to focus and decrease feelings of anxiety, so you get a gentle caffeine boost without the annoying tired-and-wired feeling.
2. You’ve had breakfast for dinner… now try dinner for breakfast
Just because it’s morning doesn’t mean you have to eat sweets: Batayneh suggests you save a little bit of last night’s dinner for a healthy, nutritious breakfast. “Your dinner likely includes vegetables, so that is really a simple way to get your day started right,” she says. Incorporating vegetables into your breakfast is the ultimate healthy breakfast hack because it helps you stabilize your blood sugar, which is the key to sustained energy.
“When we make the shift to eating something savory in the morning, cravings change later in the day,” Batayneh says. “You’ll be able to better manage cravings when your blood sugar is stable, and you can save for a sweet treat later in the day, if that’s something you still want.”
3. Serve yourself a little side salad (or other greens)
Who says salad is just for lunch or dinner? Use those pre-washed greens mixes for a no-effort, high-reward healthy breakfast bonus. Serve your eggs next to a a handful of baby kale dressed with a simple vinaigrette for a weekday brunch vibe that couldn’t be easier to put together — or just throw a handful of spinach into your morning smoothie.
“Adding greens to your meals is a surefire way to add more fiber, which also helps keep you feeling fuller longer,” says Batayneh, who recommends all her clients do this.
4. Mix in some nuts or seeds
Flax, chia, hemp, you name it: these seeds all have various things going for them in terms of vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, and/or omega-3 essential fatty acids, which means they’re great adds to smoothies and oatmeal. Nuts are a smart addition to your morning, too — in moderation.
Batayneh says she often opts for pistachios. “I love adding pistachios to breakfast as an alternative to other nuts in my yogurt. Pistachios are one of the highest protein nuts with six grams of protein, three grams of fiber, and heart-healthy fats — and are naturally cholesterol-free.”
5. Add an egg
There’s a reason eggs are a morning classic: they taste great, they’re quick and easy to prepare, and they pair beautifully with weekend breakfast sides like hash browns. This we already know. But for a fast, healthful breakfast, add a poached egg on top of savory oatmeal for a breakfast packed with protein and heart-healthy whole grains, which will help you feel fuller longer.
6. Choose a healthy oil
“You could add a drizzle of any mono or polyunsaturated fat,” Howard says. “Walnut or chia oil are excellent choices rich in omega-3s. You want some kind of fat with any meal, since most vitamins — A, D, E, and K — are fat-soluble. So you might as well make it a healthy and tasty unrefined fat.”
Walnut oil is great anywhere you want a hit of sweetness (even your latte!), and chia, because it’s a bit grassy and vegetal in taste, can be drizzled over omelets or veg-forward smoothies, Howard says. But adding a little healthful fat could also be as simple as adding a half teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil to your morning oatmeal.
7. Slice an avocado
With fiber, protein, healthy poly- and monounsaturated fats, and a great, creamy taste, it’s no wonder that the humble avocado has been showing up everywhere the past few years. And tossing half an avocado on basically anything is a great healthy breakfast hack: a sliced avocado is famously amazing on a simple piece of toast with salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil, and some Aleppo pepper. Or you can simply cube half an avocado and add it to your smoothie (try this with strawberries or pineapple—it’s really good).
8. Opt for a lower-sugar fruit
We often think about bananas as the breakfast fruit of choice, but if you’re watching your sugar (or following a keto diet) you’ll want to opt for berries. They’re lower in natural sugars than bananas, pineapples, and mangoes, and have the added bonus of being antioxidant powerhouses. Watermelon is also a good bet: five ounces of strawberries contain about eight grams of natural sugar, whereas a medium banana contains 19 grams of natural sugar.
9. Drink your coffee with breakfast
We know how hard this might be to do, but stick with us here: A recent study shows that drinking your coffee before breakfast may actually spike your blood sugar. The best way to mitigate these potential side effects: eat an energizing breakfast while you get caffeinated.