When I worked full time as an apparel buyer I was up at 5 AM to the gym and out the door to work by 7:30. That typically meant I was eating my breakfast at my desk when I arrived at work. I kept a bag of rolled oats, slivered almonds, dried cranberries, local honey and cinnamon in my desk for most of those mornings that I did not eat before I left the house. Occasionally I would manage to eat toast with almond butter on the way into work, as it was a 35 minute drive. Those are days of the past, but my mornings are still very similar when it comes to the early rise to the gym, especially during the winter when it is a bit more wet in the mornings. Except now, I usually eat with my kids before they head off to school and I don’t keep food in a desk anymore :) The variations have changed and are not as plain as I used to eat it, but I still enjoy those basic ingredients from time to time.
Oatmeal is a main breakfast for my family which means it makes the menu a few times a week for them and almost every day for myself. We use anything from cinnamon, tumeric, vanilla, cayenne or pumpkin spice to frozen berries, pan roasted peaches or apples. Seeds and nuts are frequent in the oatmeal as is local honey. I haven’t been too creative with any vegetables, except zucchini. When I say oatmeal, I am not referring to the box of little packaged packets of “Quaker Oats” or “Trader Joe’s Maple and Brown Sugar or Apple Cinnamon” flavors, that defeats the purpose of getting solid nutrition to start your day off because those are loaded with processed sugars and artificial flavorings. I am talking, good ‘ol old fashioned rolled oats.
Zucchini Bread Oatmeal
Oatmeal is a great base for adding various ingredients and creating your own recipe.
A breakfast full of nutrients and beneficial energy is vital to our bodies and minds. Oatmeal packs quite a bit in a bowl on it’s own, and with just the right ingredients incorporated, you can end up with quite the powerhouse of a meal. Simply adding some fresh or frozen fruit, seeds, nuts or even mixing steel-cut oats with your rolled oats can provide nearly half of your daily nutritional needs in fiber, protein, carbs and fat. Just stay clear of brown sugar, refined sugar, sugar coated fruits, etc. stick to fresh ingredients to get the most benefit of your meal. Adding in nut butters, chia seeds, hemp seeds and flax seed can boost the nutritional value of your oatmeal.
Oatmeal is an excellent energy source with fiber, carbohydrates, healthy fats and protein. 1/4 cup oatmeal will provide 2.5g protein, 1.5g fat, 14g carbohydrates and 2g fiber. Because oatmeal is minimally processed and is a whole grain, it contains more vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients than refined and processed grains and cereals. These nutrients not only give you energy, but also help maintain muscle mass, body fluids, tissues and cell structure, and aid in absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Because oatmeal is a whole grain, it contains complex carbohydrates, such as dietary fiber which the body relies on to help maintain proper digestion. Beneficial minerals obtained in oatmeal such as manganese which aids in energy metabolism, calcium absorption, blood sugar regulation and normal brain function, phosphorus, zinc and selenium which support your immune system, healthy bones and teeth and proper red blood cell production.
Adding steel-cut oats can boost your power bowl to get you started off for the day. Steel cut oats do cook longer, but are worth adding into your breakfast. These oats are never cooked and start from the whole grain that is then passed through slender blades that cut the oat kernel into thin slices, where as the rolled oats are steamed then rolled. Adding in 1/4 cup of steel cut oats adds 4g of fiber, 2.5g fat, 7g of protein, 27g carbohydrates and 10 percent of the recommended daily allowance for iron, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin and niacin.
Oatmeal isn’t the only choice, but it is definitely my regular go-to breakfast. Quinoa with fruit, drizzle of local honey and almond milk is a common choice in our house as is, toast. Toast is dressed up with nut butters, bananas, strawberries (when in season), cinnamon, turmeric, chia and hemp seeds and drizzled with honey or sometimes the kids drizzle pure maple syrup. Often toast with spinach rubbed with fresh lemon, avocado spread on top and sprinkled with chili flakes is the hubs favorite breakfast meal. Also, breakfast burritos (potato based) make the morning menu from time to time and I can load in the veggies. There are many options in this house and finding what works isn’t difficult because we keep as much of these ingredients on hand to make our mornings go smooth. Now sometimes we are in a rush and thankfully I keep zucchini muffins or kinda like muffins in the freezer and the kids grab one with a smoothie and they are off to school, it isn’t always rainbows and sunshine in the morning :) Most of the mornings on the weekend go a bit differently depending on what sport the kids have and may consist of french toast or blender pancakes or a long walk downtown to the local cafe.
What ever your breakfast choice is, focus on the beneficial nutrients and energy of what you are consuming. This is the start of your day and fueling your brain and body is key to your daily function and overall wellness. Oatmeal is gentle in digestion (unless you need gluten free, I use Bob’s, but it is packaged in a facility that packages nuts, if you have a nut sensitivity, try GF Harvest), beneficial to the heart, mind and body. Most of all, take the time and enjoy your meals. Share your oatmeal creations or go-to breakfasts!
Sources: Nutrition Facts, Livestrong, Dr. McDougall,