Mornings are tough.
Your baby is fussy and won’t let you set her down for a second so you need something you can eat with one hand.
You’re rushing to get ready for work and between trying to sneak in a shower and wrangling your toddler into the carseat to beat traffic and get to daycare, you don’t have time to cook a complicated breakfast. You need to grab and go.
You’ve got a million things on your mind and the last thing you want to do is stress over what to eat for breakfast.
You’ve got all this on your plate and you know you can make healthier choices that don’t give you that mid-morning hangry crash – you know, the one where you need a snack right now or else someone might lose their head.
But you’re just not sure where to start.
So what’s a mom to do?
Read on, because I’ve got you covered!
Personally, I tend to go for higher protein, higher fat breakfasts.
Because one of my major goals with the food I eat is to help keep my blood sugar as stable as possible.
Blood sugar that’s too high or too low stresses your body out. If your body is constantly trying to deal with sugar highs and sugar crashes from too much carbohydrates it releases the stress hormone cortisol.
Cortisol isn’t bad. It actually serves a great purpose in our bodies. We just don’t want it constantly flowing all day every day because it tells our systems to stop storing nutrients and instead to pull the nutrients we have from storage so we can deal with this stressful situation.
So when you’re sending your body on this blood sugar roller coaster – that steals nutrients away from you instead of you being able to use that goodness to have more energy and feel awesome – you end up feeling drained, cranky and like all you can think about is how badly you want a nap.
This is why we want more balance in our lives.
When your blood sugar levels spike too high (like after you eat too many carbs without much fat or protein – think donut for breakfast) you can feel foggy or get sleepy (food coma much?)
When your blood sugar levels drop too low (like the sugar crash that comes shortly after eating all those carbs without much protein or fat) you can get cranky and ready to snap at anyone or anything that gets between you and that second donut (hangry much?)
How do you know that you’re on this blood sugar roller coaster?
One of the simplest ways to know is to just ask yourself “Do I get hungry (or hangry) only an hour or two after eating breakfast?”
If you feel the need for a Hobbit-style second breakfast, chances are you’re riding the coaster and you’d feel better if you upped your protein and fat intake for your first meal of the day.
(P.S. Things could be different when you’re pregnant or breastfeeding since we simply need more calories overall and your body may actually need a second breakfast of sorts – especially if you have more than one bun in the oven or more than one babe nursing. But you still shouldn’t be getting hungry only an hour or so after eating. That’s a sign you need better blood sugar regulation and more protein and fat in your life).
So it makes sense to try to avoid the coaster, right?
Especially since it not only makes us feel exhausted it can also rob us of important vitamins and minerals – like vitamins C & B – that our immune system needs to keep us feeling healthy and not catch every single bug our toddler brings home from daycare.
And if your blood sugar tends to be out of whack, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.
You’ve just fasted all night and if you dump a big pile of sugar into your body first thing in the form of a heaping bowl of refined whole-grain, high fiber cereal with low fat milk, or a bagel with peanut butter, or steel cut oats with brown sugar and apples, or non-fat yogurt with granola and berries… chances are you’re gonna get to hangry and in need of that snack ASAP before you barely sit down at your desk at work.
And what are you gonna grab?
Probably some more carbs right? A granola bar. Banana. Muffin. And back on the roller coaster you go.
Or you’ll just try to ride it out and pour yourself another cup of coffee – trying to ignore the hunger creeping in and hoping your cubicle-mate can’t hear your stomach begging for something. Anything.
Neither of these options sound fun.
So how about option C?
You opt for the higher protein, higher fat, deliciously filling and nutrient-dense breakfast and enjoy more stable energy today.
As Diane Sanfilippo says in her fantastic book Practical Paleo “Maintaining even blood sugar levels is the key to not only satiety but also mental clarity, positive moods, fat loss, hormonal balance, and reduced inflammation.”
This doesn’t mean you always eat low carb or no carb. We still need carbs. And pregnant and nursing moms need even more carbs than anyone else. So don’t skip the carbs altogether, just focus more on the proteins and fats and add in some carbs for added yumminess and nutrients.
Let’s dive into some ideas you can try – and no, I’m not just giving you a bunch of variations of an egg bake 😉
By the way – a lot of these ideas can either be made in 10 minutes or less, have a lot of “hands off” cooking time so you can finish getting ready for the day, or they can be made ahead of time so you can just reheat, grab and go. A little prep can make life so much easier.
1. Bacon + Smoothie or Eggs + Smoothie
This is one of my go-to breakfasts – especially if I’m pregnant or nursing or just had a workout.
2 eggs over easy or some bacon (cooked in the oven on parchment paper at 375 for about 20-30 mins so I don’t have to pay attention to it or flip it!) + a fat & protein-filled smoothie full of lots of nutritious goodness. This is awesome because it’s yummy and it keeps me going for hours.
If I’m not pregnant/nursing or didn’t just workout, a big ol’ fatty, protein-y smoothie is often enough to do the job but I let my hunger level clue me in on what’s best.
For a basic smoothie I usually start with a banana, add a handful of frozen fruit, a handful or two of greens (spinach usually has a very mild taste), 1-2 tbsps of flax seed or chia seed, 1-2 tbsps of MCT or coconut oil, a scoop of protein powder or 3 scoops of collagen powder, and some water (I’m allergic to nuts so I don’t have nut milks but feel free to use that instead!)
My two go-to protein powders to add to my smoothies are Kaizen whey protein or Perfect Supplements collagen (which isn’t a protein powder in the traditional sense but it has 10 grams of protein per scoop).
When you’re looking at protein powder opt for ones without any fillers or artificial junk. It doesn’t need to be organic, but the less ingredients and the less sugar or artificial sweeteners, the better.
2. Last Night’s Leftovers
If you weren’t planning on having last night’s (or the night before’s) leftovers for lunch, how about having it for breakfast?
Yes that leftover steak and sauteed spinach isn’t very “breakfast-y” but that doesn’t matter.
This is especially great if you’re not a breakfast person. Who says you need to eat breakfast foods? You can eat whatever you want.
3. Hashbrowns and Sausages
You can either make your own sausage patties (which is actually super easy to do) or opt for pre-made sausages (try to go for low sugar, low junk options).
For the hashbrowns, just chop up some potatoes and fry them up in a pan with some oil. I sometimes like to add some kale or spinach to the potatoes to get some more greens in my life (leafy greens are high in B vitamins which give us energy – and we all need more energy as busy moms!)
Pop the leftovers in the fridge to enjoy later in the week.
4. Sweet Potato Pancakes and Leftover Pulled Pork
I love Taco Tuesday.
Tacos are a food group in my mind and my fave tacos are pulled pork tacos. I love buying a huge pork shoulder so I have plenty of leftovers for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
If you’re a fan like me, just make yourself some sweet potato pancakes (you can even make them the night before or on the weekend for the week ahead), heat up some leftover pulled pork in a frying pan with a little bit of butter or ghee and you’re golden.
If you really want to go for it, add some hollandaise on top. So good!
5. Breakfast Casserole
There are so many egg bakes – just hit up Google or Pinterest and I know you’ll find one with flavours you’ll love.
This is one of my go-to options. I usually add whatever veggies I have in the fridge. Peppers, asparagus, broccoli, tomatoes… Just use the basic recipe as your guide and add whatever veggies you love (or at least ones you know you’ll want to eat! The point is to enjoy eating healthy, not feel like it’s a “I have to eat this because it’s good for me” situation).
This one isn’t as initially simple to make as some of the other ones, but it is easy in the end because you can make it on the weekend and enjoy it throughout the week by just reheating a slice in the morning.
If you also crave some sweetness first thing just add some berries or other fruit on the side.
6. Avocado Potato “Toast”
I love me some sweet potatoes but I find that sweet potato doesn’t make for great “toast”. I like regular potatoes better because they get crispier in the oven.
To make ’em, put some parchment paper on a baking sheet. Then cut a medium-large potato lengthwise quite thin – you don’t want it too thick or else it won’t crisp very well. Toss them in some oil and salt and pepper. Then lay them flat on the sheet to bake for 30ish minutes at 400F until they’re brown and a little crispy. Yum!
I mash up some avocado to put on top and usually top that with either a couple eggs or some crumbled bacon.
7. Protein Pancakes or Waffles
If you’re used to eating a high carb breakfast – like cereal, a muffin, toast or pancakes – it can be tough to give that love up. The good news is there are higher protein versions of pancake and waffle recipes out there that will help keep you fuller longer.
There are plenty more ideas out there so Google until you find one that’s delicious sounding.
Top ’em with some berries, a banana, some nut butter or whatever else sounds good to you.
8. Canned Salmon or Diced Chicken with Avocado “Mayo”
If you love fish or have some leftover chicken that needs eating try this recipe.
This is one of those “not traditionally a breakfast food” options but remember it doesn’t have to be bacon and eggs. Get creative and there will be a ton more options to choose from.
You can just eat it right out of the bowl or use some romaine or butter lettuce to enjoy it breakfast taco style.
9. Sweet Potato and Sausage Hash
Cook some ground pork in a frying pan using whatever spices sound great to you. Once the pork is done, add some chopped sweet potatoes and any other veggies you like (peppers, spinach, mushrooms, kale…) and cook until the veggies are tender.
You can even add a sunny side-up or over easy egg on top if you’d like more protein.
This is another great one to make a big batch on the weekend or Monday morning to enjoy the rest of the week.
10. Cereal (But Not Really)
If you’re missing cereal but not missing the sugar high and crash it gives you, there are other options. These guys are higher in fat than protein but they’ll still keep you fuller and happier longer than traditional cereals will.
You can even experiment with adding some high protein, full fat Greek yogurt to your granola. Or just include an egg or some bacon or sausage on the side if you’re craving more protein.
Full disclosure: I’m allergic to nuts so I have no idea how these taste but there are plenty of other options. Just type in “Paleo granola” or “grain free granola” or “paleo oatmeal” into Google or Pinterest and you’ll have tons of ideas at your finger tips.
11. Egg Cups
Who says you have to get rid of your morning muffin? Just make it an egg muffin.
You can add any veggies you like and there are unlimited flavour combos with these guys.
They’re also super simple to make – it just requires a little prep ahead of time and you can enjoy them throughout the week.
Here’s some inspiration (and instruction) for ya.
So what’s it gonna be?
Like I said, I get that you’re crunched for time (me too) which is why a lot of these recipes can be thrown together fast or batch-cooked on the weekends, tossed in the freezer or fridge and pulled out to be reheated whenever you like.
So it may be a bit more work up front but then you don’t have to worry about what to cook and eat for breakfast. You can just grab and go.
You’ll notice I didn’t give many specifics in terms of portion sizes.
That’s because this isn’t about counting calories.
I like to use my hunger as my guide. I know it’s not always easy to pay attention to how full you are when you’re busy trying to coax your tiny human into putting on pants. Just remember that you want to be satisfied without feeling bloated or uncomfortable.
Enjoy experimenting with these ideas and definitely go ahead and create a running list of your own and keep it on the fridge or in your phone so that the next time you’re stressing about “what’s for breakfast” you’ve got plenty of ideas at your finger tips.
P.S. Have a Mom friend who tends to get hangry around 10am? Send her this post. She’ll thank you – and so will everyone around her 😉