Five Ways to Add More Protein to Breakfast
Updated: Dec 29, 2020
What we eat in the morning usually sets the tone for how we are going to feel throughout the day. Having a balanced breakfast that includes protein, healthy fat and fibre will help regulate our blood sugar and prevent it from spiking only to come crashing down on repeat all day, every day.
Some signs that demonstrate blood sugar irregularities are:
🡪Fatigue in the mid-morning and/or mid-afternoon
🡪Mood swings (anger, irritability, sadness, anxiety)
🡪Sugar or starch cravings
🡪Weight gain around the midsection
Poor blood sugar management is at the root cause of many diseases and/or disorders within the body. Most people know about diabetes, but cardiovascular disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome, PMS, Alzheimer’s and many more are also associated with poor blood sugar management.
Before I go any further, this does not mean I am here to tell you to break up with your favourite dessert, snack or meal. I am not here to tell you to cut out all sugar. I am not here to tell you; you need to feel restricted to be healthy. What I hope you get out of this article is that what you eat can positively impact your health or negatively impact your health. The once in a while dessert, meal or snack will not negate the overall daily consistent things you eat and do. I like to follow the 80/20 rule. 20 % of feedings can be sometimes foods. 20% equating to 3-4 feedings that don’t necessarily have to be 100% “healthy” in a week. The key is to not let that one feeding overthrow your entire day, week or month. Healthy, balanced eating is a lifestyle and not a diet. There is no endgame so to speak. Truth be told, once you start to incorporate more nutrient dense foods into your rotation your tastebuds will change and you won’t necessarily get the same satisfaction from your old favorites.
I am a chocoholic and my absolute favourite chocolate used to be Reese’s Pieces. After incorporating real dark chocolate, candy type chocolates no longer satisfy my cravings. They taste too sweet, and they just aren’t rich enough. My chocolate craving is no longer satisfied unless I have a piece of ChocoSol Sinfully Raw Vanilla which is my current fav. If I know I am going to be out and about I keep a Fudge Yah Mid-Day Square in my car because not only is it the best tasting bar out there, it has real whole ingredients and is blood sugar balancing because of its protein, healthy fat and fibre content.
As a mom, nourishing myself is a form of self-care. Eating nutrient dense food has allowed me to feel empowered by food rather than a slave to my cravings and symptoms. I know all too well what it feels like to have consistent headaches but still need to parent. To feel constantly foggy around a bubbly child who has a million and one questions. To be tired literally right after breakfast and need a nap. As moms we tend to put EVERYONE else’s needs before ours. I cannot tell you how many moms I speak with who tell me they don’t have time to eat all day because they were doing x, y, z with their children. As moms we need to live a healthy lifestyle ourselves to teach our children what that means. If you make your family breakfast daily but don’t eat any of it with them, soon they will begin to emulate your actions. Children do what they see not what they are told after all.
If you feel like you have no time to eat then a little bit of batch cooking, meal planning and prep work can make all the difference. There is no reason why you should be pouring from an empty cup anymore!
Here are five ways I incorporate more protein into breakfast:
For an entire year, as a mom of three, my breakfast was a smoothie. Every week I would prep the dry ingredients in individual Ziplock bags and every night before bed I would add all the ingredients into the blender and keep it in the fridge. Smoothies are one of the easiest ways to add protein to breakfast. As busy moms, they are a great way to ensure that we actually have breakfast. In the morning, all I had to do was press a button and pour my smoothie out. There were many sleepless nights between breastfeeding a newborn, potty training a 2.5-year-old and tending to a highly sensitive child that it felt like I didn’t sleep all night. Tired me was always grateful for my planning and preparedness because we all know that after a night like that, the last thing we want to do is take out 600 ingredients and put together a smoothie! A smoothie was also perfect because I could sip on it as I helped the littles eat their breakfast and I didn’t have to worry about my food getting cold. If I didn’t finish it before school drop offs, it was easy to take with me. I had no excuse not to start my day off with a meal that was nutrient dense, satiating and blood sugar balancing.
Eggs are such versatile little powerhouses of nutrition. They are packed with protein, fat soluble vitamins, antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids and they are a great source of choline. The best eggs are from free range hens on small farms who forage on green grass. The more orange and firm the yolk the more nutrient dense it is.
I like to add them to oatmeal to make custard oatmeal, or to make protein rich pancakes. Sometimes I use the previous night’s left-over roasted vegetables and make a frittata. My absolute favourite way to eat eggs is on sourdough with avocado and a sunny side up egg with a dash of chili flakes.
There are so many ways to incorporate eggs that it’s hard to get bored of them and they can be incorporated into so many things that even picky eaters won’t always notice them in some recipes.
I am not going to pretend that I don’t have days where I don’t feel like making an extravagant breakfast. Or Monday mornings that are a little bit chaotic because I spent the weekend having some fun rather than meal prepping. For mornings when I want to add a quick protein punch, sprinkling hemp hearts on whatever we’re having can really level up breakfast. Whether in overnight chia, nut butter and jam toast or adding a couple of tablespoons to a morning beverage of choice; hemp hearts are a quick and easy addition. I actually LOVE adding hemp hearts to my Dandyblend and blitzing it in my blender. It makes it creamy, gives it a nutty flavour and the best part – you don’t have to strain it!
Sometimes it can be hard to make sweet breakfasts protein rich, so I have a simple traditional Lebanese breakfast recipe to share.
It’s called Foul, pronounced “fool” and is made with fava beans. We tend to use whatever beans we have on hand or a blend of a few different beans. I personally like it with fava, chickpea and black beans. Combining a few different types of beans allows for a more complex amino acid profile and helps ensure vegan meals contain complete proteins.
Open your cans of beans, rinse them with cold water and then add them to a pot with a little bit of water so they don’t stick to the bottom. Add lemon juice, olive oil, crushed garlic, cumin, salt and pepper. The star here is cumin which is a carminative meaning that helps offset the gas beans can sometimes create for people. Once it’s warmed, pour into bowls and top with chopped tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and parsley. Traditionally it’s eaten with pita bread but I personally enjoy it as is. Tangy, fresh and so beautifully colourful.
Quinoa is a great alternative to oatmeal that packs a little bit more protein into your breakfast. You can make it the exact same way but I personally like to add some nut milk, cinnamon, sea salt and maple syrup when making it and topping it with bananas, hemp hearts and walnuts. It is a nice warming breakfast which is especially appreciated in the fall and winter months. The cool thing about quinoa is that it is considered a complete protein because it contains all nine essential amino acids. It is also naturally gluten free. Great if you need to avoid gluten due to a food sensitivity, poor gut health or if you have celiac disease. For better digestion, feel free to soak overnight and always rinse prior to cooking. Even if the bag says it is prerinsed. I notice that it doesn’t smell or taste as bitter when I do this and the water doesn’t bubble as much. The smell, bitter taste and bubbly water is due to the saponins released from the outside of the seed!
Collagen is great for skin, hair and nails. Certain targeted types are great for joints, and heart health. I love to add collagen to a bowl of granola that my kids eat as cereal. It dissolves into the milk; it is tasteless and it helps sustain them for longer. I personally prefer granola as a topper rather than a meal though, so for myself I add it into chia pudding, or my cup of coffee. Adding a protein source and some fat to coffee helps maintain a balanced blood sugar. Sometimes I add in some MCT oil but I really loving adding hemp milk because it makes my coffee super creamy and nutty tasting.
Protein is one of the main things people tend to be deficient in. Most people believe that protein is important for building and maintaining lean muscle mass and while it is, it is also important for so much more. Amino acids contained in protein are the building blocks for immune health, they are components of neurotransmitters (think mental health) and they promote tissue recovery and repair. And finally, as mentioned above, protein helps balance blood sugar which helps with symptoms such as headaches, mood swings and fatigue.
Now that you have some tips to make breakfast balanced, I would love to hear from you. How are you going to better balance your breakfast tomorrow?