We live in an age of information overload. Nowhere is this more clear than when you go looking for breakfast recipes. Type “healthy breakfast recipes” into any search engine, and you’ll be greeted by a long list of articles offering you even longer lists — 50+ ideas here, 38 more ways to cook eggs there, and on and on. Which creates an ironic problem:
Choices are great, but having too many options is paralyzing. There’s probably something you want to eat somewhere in those healthy breakfast lists, but it’s buried an endless scroll of random stuff.
Just as frustrating? Many of the recipes don’t feel like good fit for you. Either because they’re too complicated, have the wrong mix of ingredients, or just don’t sound all that appetizing.
Instead of getting frustrated, we’ve simplified our favorite healthy breakfast recipes into categories that will work for you.
Hate to cook, or have almost no time to do it? Not a problem.
Burned out from eating breakfast staples like oatmeal and eggs over and over again? Don’t worry, we have alternatives.
Wrangling with an addiction to bacon? Never fear. We have love for your bacon love.
Based on feedback we’ve received from our coaching clients, here are some of the most common problems you face at breakfast — and the meals that can get the job done for your life and body.
Table of Contents
The breakfast problem: You don’t have time to eat.
If your mornings are so hectic that you barely have time to chew, much less cook, you aren’t alone. Far from it. In fact UK-based market research showed that nearly half of all people have to eat breakfast outside of their home at least once per week. A similar report in the U.S. showed a growing number of people need portable breakfasts.
Here’s the good news: There are plenty of healthy breakfast options that don’t require you to start your morning at the stove. In fact, you won’t even need to dirty a dish. Simply prep these the night before (or even on the weekend), and you have grab-and-go healthy breakfasts that can roll out the door when you do.
Eggs on the Go (full recipe here) – Get a high-protein breakfast that’s packed with veggies that fits in the palm of your hand. Tastes so good you’ll feel like you sat down for your favorite omelette, but you can do it on the road. You get it all with no mess and no clean-up. Spend 25 minutes making these one night — you’ll have eliminated the need to think about breakfast for the rest of the week.
Peanut Butter Banana Overnight Oats (full recipe here) – Get all the health benefits of oatmeal, and the protein to start your day right, no cooking required. You simply mix the ingredients together the night before, which takes about 5 minutes. The next morning, voila! Breakfast is ready, and so are you.
PB&J Energy Balls (full recipe here) – Here’s a helpful hand-friendly snack that’s great if you have to eat on the go (i.e. in your car). Like the overnight oats above, there’s no cooking required. A food processor is all you need. Knock out one batch on a weekend, and your healthy breakfasts are ready for the week.
The problem: All you want is cereal.
People are eating less breakfast cereal than they once did, but a bowl of something crispy plus milk remains a morning ritual for many. The good news: You can eat cereal and have it be a healthy start to your day.
- Added sugar. While it’s not true for all cereals, plenty of breakfast cereals come packed with added sugar. Look at many cereal labels and you’ll see “sugar,” “corn syrup” (a.k.a. more sugar), or plenty of sugar’s other code names (honey, agave nectar, etc.) listed early and often. You do not have to fear sugar, but you should aim to keep your intake of added sugars to below 150 calories per day if you are a man, and 100 if you are a woman. Some especially sugar-packed cereals (usually ones targeted at kids) deliver more than half of that per serving. And FYI: No one eats a single serving of cereal. Your best bet: Check the nutrition labels. Look for a cereal with more fiber and a sugar content in the single digits.
- Low in protein. Cereals come from grains, and grains generally aren’t high in protein compared to their total calorie count. Yes, adding milk helps. But why not steer your breakfast toward even greater balance by adding a protein source like eggs on the side? Doing that provides a mix of carbs, protein and healthy fats. Here are the two main knocks against cereal (and how to solve them):
Or if you want to give your breakfast bowl a total makeover, we recommend:
The True Breakfast For Champions (full recipe here) – Crunchy, crispy, sweet and satisfying, this bowl delivers all the whole grain goodness without much added sugar. [Honey is an ingredient, but you can ditch it if you want.] For many, the blueberries and bananas provide more than enough sweetness. Combine them with the fiber from the steel cut oats and healthy fats from the almonds, and you’ve got everything you need to fuel your body to win the day.
The problem: You hate oatmeal.
Why does seemingly every health outlet suggest eating oatmeal? There are several reasons to love it:
- Studies indicate eating oatmeal lowers total cholesterol, and – notably – the “bad” LDL cholesterol. That’s because oatmeal is high in fiber and soluble fiber can help reduce cholesterol.
- Another benefit of fiber: It makes you feel fuller for longer. That helps you keep your appetite in check.
- Studies show that people who eat oatmeal consume less total calories at their next meal compared to those who ate breakfast cereal — especially among overweight people.
But look, nobody can blame you if oatmeal isn’t your thing. And there are plenty of ways to get fiber—the main driver behind many of these benefits—without turning to oats. A piece of high-fiber bread (we like Ezekiel 4:9, but look for any bread with “100% whole grain” or “whole wheat” on the label) can have nearly as much fiber as oatmeal. Toast it with a side of bacon or eggs (or both!) and you’ve got a healthy, well-rounded breakfast.
Or if you’re open to the idea of a bowl, but just don’t want it to be oats, try this new take:
Goji Coconut Quinoa Bowl (full recipe here) – We don’t like ranking whole foods against one another, but one could argue that quinoa is like Oats 2.0. You still get a fiber-rich carbohydrate, but quinoa is also high in protein. The almond slices, goji berries and coconut flakes don’t just add taste and texture, they also amp up the nutrient content.
The problem: You hate most healthy breakfast recipes.
If you are fed up with pancakes, cereal, oats, and everything else that most people think of as breakfast foods, you aren’t alone. In fact, Born Fitness coach Natalie Sabin counts herself among you.
“Breakfast foods have just never been my thing,” Sabin says. “So I make meals that I like, no matter what time of day it is.” Which is why she routinely opts for non-traditional morning meals like:
A recurring theme you’ll see running through those meals: leftovers. There’s nothing wrong with making part of tonight’s dinner into tomorrow’s breakfast. However if you want to put something completely new together for breakfast, but don’t want it to taste breakfast-y, here’s a morning meal that many breakfast food haters love:
The Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Pita (full recipe here) – Start your day with a savory high-protein sandwich. The chicken sausage combined with zesty parmesan gives you a meal so delicious you won’t even know there’s spinach in there too. (Kidding, spinach! You know we love you.)
The Bro Scramble (full recipe here): Eggs, roasted veggies and bacon, together at last. Here’s a power-packed recipe that will impress your friends — or provide you with meals for a couple of days if you don’t feel like sharing.You’ll be delighted by the combination of flavors and textures. The combo of sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts will keep you feeling full to lunch. Best of all, they all come together in a single pan, meaning no mess and very little to clean up.
The problem: You don’t eat enough protein.
With all of the delicious carb-dense options for breakfast, it can seem like the breakfast gods forgot about protein. Sometimes the easiest route is a protein shake, and here’s how to make sure it doesn’t taste like watered down protein powder:
The Maca Chai Protein Shake (full recipe here): Haven’t heard of Maca? Here’s why you should get hip to it: The Peruvian powder has been shown to have beneficial effects on hormones as well as promise in fighting disease. Combine that with the Greek yogurt and protein powder in this recipe and suddenly you’ve got all the tasty smoothness of a Starbucks frappuchino. But where frappuchinos are packed with sugar, this drink comes stacked with 39 grams of protein.
The problem: You don’t like eggs (or are tired of eating them every day)
Eggs are an awesome breakfast staple for numerous reasons:
- Eggs are a source of high-quality protein.
- Eggs provide 18 vitamins and minerals, including several that many people are deficient in, such as zinc.
- The healthy fats eggs contain makes many of these micronutrients easier for your body to absorb.
- Some of the protein strains within eggs have anti-cancer and tumor suppression properties.
- People knock eggs for being a source of cholesterol, but here’s the thing: There’s a difference between dietary cholesterol (what you eat) and blood cholesterol (what’s coursing through your veins). Numerous studies indicate the cholesterol from eggs has little to no effect on your body’s actual blood cholesterol levels. A body of research even shows that egg consumption has positive effects on HDL (“good”) cholesterol in the body. (Here are three different examples.)
But if you’re feeling burned out from eating them — of if you just don’t like them — we get it. Other great go-tos include Greek yogurt, milk, protein powder, chicken and salmon — either smoked, cured (a.k.a. “lox”), or just leftover from the night before.
Here are two non-egg recipes that you might enjoy:
The Berry Nutty Parfait (full recipe here): Talk about easy. You can have this one ready in 5 minutes (max). Fruit, granola and yogurt are a simple yet potent combination. You get protein and healthy fats (both great for keeping you full) along with powerful antioxidants from the berries, which have been linked to better brain health and numerous other benefits. Pretty sweet indeed!
Bacon & Date Protein Pancakes (full recipe here): What’s the only thing better than a plate stacked with flapjacks? Having that stack be packed with bacon and protein. Each bite is a sweet, salty, savory explosion of flavor. It’ll taste so good you’ll think you should feel bad — but when you see that there’s three times more protein than there is fat, you’ll know you don’t have to.
Adam Bornstein is a New York Times bestselling author and the author of You Can’t Screw This Up. He is the founder of Born Fitness, and the co-founder of Arnold’s Pump Club (with Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Pen Name Consulting. An award-winning writer and editor, Bornstein was previously the Chief Nutrition Officer for Ladder, the Fitness and Nutrition editor for Men’s Health, Editorial Director at LIVESTRONG.com, and a columnist for SHAPE, Men’s Fitness, and Muscle & Fitness. He’s also a nutrition and fitness advisor for LeBron James, Cindy Crawford, Lindsey Vonn, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. According to The Huffington Post, Bornstein is “one of the most inspiring sources in all of health and fitness.” His work has been featured in dozens of publications, including The New York Times, Fast Company, ESPN, and GQ, and he’s appeared on Good Morning America, The Today Show, and E! News.