5 Healthy (And Comforting!) Vegetarian and Vegan Winter Breakfasts
We all know the old adage ‘Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!’.
It’s been drummed into us by our mothers, teachers, doctors and scientists. Used to sell breakfast cereals, promote school ‘breakfast clubs’, and encouraged families to sit down together first thing every day.
So why is breakfast so important? Well, it has been proven to reduce likelihood of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, increase energy levels, and lower high blood pressure and cholesterol, among other benefits.
It even helps to improve cognitive function, setting your brain up for a productive workday, and allowing you to stay focused for longer.
Just as with any meal, the types of food you eat for breakfast are also central to maintaining a healthy diet. One of the primary reasons why breakfast is so beneficial is because it helps to stabilise your blood sugars, decreasing risk of developing (and helping to manage pre-existing) diabetes.
To keep your blood sugars stable, you should be eating a combination of lean protein, fibre, and healthy fats for breakfast.
Eating breakfast may be even more important in winter, as eating three meals a day instead of two (or even one) may reduce the amount of important nutrients consumed. During the winter, our immune systems are depleted, so it is crucial to be getting enough Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and other nutrients in our diets.
Here’s our Top Five Winter Warmers to give your breakfast (and immune system) a boost!
1) ‘Carrot Cake’, Pumpkin Pie’ or ‘Sweet Potato Cake’ Oatmeal
Oats are staples for a healthy diet, packed with nutritious value. A complete food, they contain protein, wholemeal carbohydrates, and healthy fats, plus they release energy slowly to help keep you fuller for longer, while avoiding the typical midday ‘sugar-crash’. By cooking oatmeal with a plant-based milk such as hemp or soya, you can also include some added protein while keeping saturated fats low.
AND to top it off, by using carrots, pumpkin and/or sweet potato, you get an extra pick-me-up from Vitamin A, potassium and magnesium, and biotin.
Simply make your oatmeal in the usual way, and add shredded carrot, or pumpkin or sweet potato puree as desired, with a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg and/or a pinch of pumpkin spice. You can even add dried fruit, nuts and seeds for a bit of crunch!
2) Banana, Date and Walnut Muffins (Refined Sugar Free)
Bananas are one of the best foods to set your body up for the day; they are another form of complex carbohydrates which release sugar gradually over the day. And their nutritional value is impressive; each banana boasts up to 33% of your RDA of Vitamin C, 3.1g fibre and contain virtually no fat.
They are also high in potassium and magnesium, both of which help to build up your immune system. There is even evidence that the pectin and resistant starch found in bananas may help to moderate blood sugars in healthy individuals.
Also high in immune system-supporting magnesium and potassium, are dates. Dates are packed with nutrients, including trace minerals like Copper (18% of RDA) Manganese (15%), Vitamin B6 (12%) and Iron (5%).
The antioxidants in dates may help to protect your cells from free radicals, which are unstable molecules which lead to diseases including cancers, while the fibre in dates may also help to prevent colon and bowel cancers.
Walnuts are also high in antioxidants, with the highest antioxidant activity of any nut. They are also high in Omega-3 oils, which support brain development and may help to reduce risk of heart disease.
3) Warming Apple Pie Chia Pudding
Chia means ‘Strength’ in the Mayan language, and it’s not hard to see why! Chia seeds are a powerful way to obtain a lot of energy for few very few calories – just 28g of Chia seeds contains a third of your RDA of Manganese, Magnesium and Phosphorus and 1g of fibre, with a range of micronutrients including zinc, Vitamin B3, and B2.
They even contain 4g of protein – making them weight-for-weight about 14% protein! There is also evidence that they may help to reduce blood sugars and blood pressure, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
4) Mushrooms and Chestnuts on Toast
Mushrooms are the holy grail of plant-based protein. In fact, whereas most plant-based proteins are missing one or two essential amino acids, mushrooms contain all nine. They even have a high branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) composition which is usually only found in meat.
This makes mushrooms an essential part of a well-rounded vegetarian or plant-based diet.
Chestnuts are also a powerhouse of nutrients; they are packed with Copper, which is a trace mineral that boosts the immune system, and manganese which helps to fight off free radicals, thereby helping to prevent diseases.
They are also high in carbohydrates and B-Vitamins, helping the body to accumulate and process consumed energy effectively – perfect for those sluggish winter mornings!
5) Chickpea Omelette with Avocado Sauce
Chickpeas are a great option for a healthy plant-based diet on a budget. While cheap, they are also high in fibre, high in protein, and contain almost all the essential amino acids, with the one exception of methionine.
They are also a great weight loss food – studies have found that those who eat chickpeas regularly were 53% less likely to be obese and had, on average, a lower body mass index and waist circumference. Another found that study participants who ate one portion of legumes (such as chickpeas and lentils) every day lost 25% more weight.
Avocados are one of the most well-known superfoods to date, and we can see why – they’re packed with protein, healthy fats, such as Omega 3, and vitamins C, E, K, B6, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium and potassium. They even contain a plant sterol called beta-sitosterol, which helps to reduce cholesterol and improve heart health.
There you have it – 5 healthy plant-based breakfasts that will keep you going through the chilly winter mornings. So whatever you have planned for the day, set yourself up right!
Article by Caterquip.