It seemed only fitting to have the first blog with Chantal to be all about the first meal of the day we all enjoy; breakfast! Well, I hope everyone enjoys breakfast because Chantal and I LOVE breakfast! It is definitely one of our favourite meals of the day, along with brunch, as that is kind of the same thing! Breakfast is the best way to kick start any day of the week and it doesn’t have to be repetitive or boring. Within this breakfast filled blog, we want to provide not just ideas for balanced and tasty ways to start your day, but why the meal itself and the ingredients used are important as part of a healthier lifestyle. Besides, who says you can’t have cake for breakfast? I certainly don’t, and I think Chantal wouldn’t either!
Whether your breakfast time is super early at 6:00am when the sun is still rising, or a few hours later at 10:00am when the sun is (hopefully) shining in all its golden glory, it is a time your body will thank you for, as well as your stomach. During a restful night’s sleep when your body is repairing itself from the activities of the previous day and your brain processing all the wondrous things you experienced, they are also fasting. Depending on what time you sat down that evening to enjoy a tasty and well earned dinner, your body could be in a state of fasting for 12 hours. Just think, if you are lucky enough to enjoy an extra few hours in bed with a sneaky lie in, that period of fasting could be even longer! Blimey, that is a long time to not have eaten. This first meal of the day gives our sleepy metabolism the wake up call it needs and boosts our body to start burning energy straight away in the morning; breakfast literally breaks that fast.
Now I don’t know about anyone else, but if I do not break that fast, I can be a seriously hangry individual, and so can Chantal she has told me! Can you imagine one of her body boost bootcamp classes if she was even the tiniest bit hangry? It doesn’t even bare thinking about and would probably turn that restful night’s sleep into a nightmare! Munching through a tasty breakfast gives us our first supply of energy for the day and helps to put us in a better mood, removing any danger of entering a state of hanger, phew! A filling brekkie will keep our sugar levels balanced, limit unnecessary snacking and, therefore, keep us full until lunchtime. To be honest, as soon as one meal is consumed, I immediately look forward to the next time I am able to shovel food into my mouth.
Finally, if opportunity allows, breakfast is a time for us to sit down with our partner, children, or the whole family to enjoy a meal together before the work and school day begins, or whatever you have planned for your day. Times of eating are not only times to savour and enjoy the food in front of us that has been lovingly prepared, but probably most importantly, a time to enjoy the food with those we love and share the moment with them; even better if you are able to prepare your meal together and have a bit of fun in the process! Preparing that breakfast is where creativity can commence.
All meals of the day are versatile in terms of ingredients, flavours and combinations, but breakfast can be easily associated with the same things, know what I mean? Such as a bowl of cereal, a piece of toast, some boiled eggs, a fry up, to name a few. Four great ways to start the day, but after a while of the same thing, we want a breakfast with a difference and so do our bodies! Adding variety to a meal keeps our brain engaged and our bodies swimming in all the benefits of including certain food groups in our morning meal:
- Whole grain options that are packed full of fibre, such as oats and whole grain bread.
- Protein to keep you full for longer periods of time, such as eggs, milk and yoghurt. Proteins are the building blocks of the body to construct and repair muscles, tendons, organs and skin, as well as enzymes and hormones to help our bodies function efficiently and effectively.
- Fruits and vegetables for extra nutrients, antioxidants and minerals.
Breakfast creativity can be as bold or simple as you like. Think building a cake flavoured oat bowl; stacking sweet and savoury pancakes; laying a silken egg scramble upon a glorious piece of sourdough toast; or biting into warm, soft bagels. You cannot forget the bagels, because I may have a current obsession over the (literal) holey bread, and Chantal loves them too. Sounds like a buffet breakfast I want to get involved in!
Whether it is a day you have more time to create a heart-warming breakfast, or a day that you have less time and need to prepare your meal the night before, in no way does breakfast ever need to be boring. Breaking this section down into my favourite staple ingredients, we will be building, stacking and scrambling our way to lifelong breakfast happiness, to fuel each day, and maybe even a fun and enjoyable workout with Chantal.
To say that I love eggs would be a total understatement. There is just something about them; they are quick to prepare, can be utilised within sweet or savoury dishes and are packed full of protein, along with healthy fats and nutrients, to supply and build our hard working bodies. Plus, if you are able to get your hands on local free range eggs, the bright, golden yolks are a thing of beauty, especially after being gently poached, when the orange yolk is revealed on that first cut like an exploding volcano of lava (aka: yolk porn!).
Eggs in whatever form (poached, scrambled, ‘Frylight’ fried, omelette) will provide a protein hit to your breakfast, to which you can add your whole grains and your fruit or vegetables. There is nothing better than a warm and comforting piece of wholegrain toast, or a slice of toasted sourdough if you’re feeling a bit more modern one morning! A couple of wholegrain rice cakes topped with creamy avocado and black pepper makes for a fantastic lighter option too that has a bit of crunch!
When it comes to adding the vegetables to your epic egg breakfast idea, pretty much no vegetable is out of the question, but there are some that just work so well as part of a balanced breakfast and they are the legumes we all know and love. A side of tomatoes, roasted in the oven brings out their natural sugars and will add a natural sweetness to any breakfast (particularly perfect on the side of a vegetarian grill up that you will see below). Keeping on the oven roasted theme, let’s throw mushrooms into the mix with their earthy flavour intensified by the heat of the oven. From a health perspective, roasting vegetables without any oil, in place of frying, can reduce the calories of the meal, which is great if that is part of your health goals and targets. Saying that, Frylight oil spray is a game changer and gives you that fried taste and texture without blowing your energy intake out of the park! It is also a brilliant way to wilt the green machine that is a pile of spinach, with an extra splash of water, into a breakfast sidekick or a vitamin filled pillow for your eggs.
Moving away from the oven and speeding things up, simply presenting your vegetables raw with a grind of salt and pepper provides untampered nutrients and fibre, that can even be prepared the night before. My ‘go to’ breakfast “side of veg” (salad is such a boring word) is the powerhouse duo of vibrant spinach and deep purple beetroot because they are already prepared and both go very well with eggs.
- Add a good splash of white wine vinegar to a saucepan.
- Pour lots of boiling water into the saucepan.
- Keep the water at a very gentle simmer.
- Crack the egg into a small cup to then tip easily and gently into the water filled saucepan.
- Cook for 3-4 minutes. Putting your bread into the toaster at this point is a good way to help time the poach.
- Use a slotted spoon to drain the eggs when ready.
- Dab the eggs with a bit of kitchen roll to remove any excess liquid (no one wants soggy toast!).
Poached Egg Building Ideas:
- Toast of choice, green pesto, smoked salmon and two poached eggs (left).
- Toast of choice with a little olive oil spread, topped with wilted spinach and two poached eggs.
- Toast of choice topped with smashed avocado and poached egg. Served as a “grill up” with roasted tomatoes, mushrooms and vegetarian sausages (above).
- Toast of choice with a little olive oil spread, topped with roasted mushrooms and poached eggs.
- Try sprinkling herbs and spices on top of your poached eggs, such as chilli flakes for a kick of heat, parsley for freshness, or even some smoked paprika (paprika works very well with eggs).
- Flavour your vegetables: spinach with pesto, mushrooms with a little garlic, or tomatoes with fresh or dried basil.
- Crack your eggs into a bowl, add a splash of milk, a sprinkle of garlic salt if you have it and whisk together. Garlic salt is a game changer for scrambled eggs; it adds a savoury flavour and the salt also helps to break down the egg white so it will mix better.
- Add a knob of olive oil spread, or quite a few sprays of Frylight to a pan.
- Pour in the egg mixture and begin to intermittently stir through all the egg mixture and around the sides of the pan. Pop your bread in the toaster at this point too.
- Remove your eggs from the heat when they are still slightly wet as the residual heat will continue to cook them.
- Mix in lots of black pepper to finish.
Scrambled Egg Building Ideas (clockwise):
- Toast of choice, spread with ricotta, topped with sun dried tomatoes and scrambled eggs.
- Toast of choice topped with the classic smoked salmon scrambled eggs. Add the smoked salmon at the point you remove the eggs from the heat, as the heat will gentle cook the delicate salmon.
- Toast of choice topped with Frylight mushrooms and chorizo scrambled eggs. When including chorizo, I use two slices of the pre packed thinly sliced chorizo.
- Toast of choice topped with griddled halloumi and chorizo scrambled eggs. When including halloumi, I use lighter halloumi.
- Toast of choice spread with smashed avocado and topped with uncooked halloumi, wilted spinach and scrambled eggs.
- Toast of choice, spread with ricotta, topped with wilted spinach and scrambled eggs.
- Toast of choice spread with smashed avocado, topped with wilted spinach and smoked salmon scrambled eggs. You will notice the small dollops of ketchup too!
- Toast of choice spread with light hummus, topped with wilted spinach and scrambled eggs.
- Chantal’s Favourite? Scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast with half a creamy avocado. Winner!
Filling Folded Omelettes:
Omelettes are a great vessel to get vegetables into the finished product itself and are also easily prepped the day before if you are short of time the following morning. A quick blast in the microwave and you have a 60 second breakfast!
- Crack your eggs into a bowl with a splash of milk, a sprinkle of garlic salt and mix.
- Add a few sprays of Frylight to a frying pan on a medium heat. Add your chosen vegetable/s, or even a bit of chorizo, to the pan to cook down. Mushrooms and spinach work really well.
- When cooked, pour the egg mixture into the pan, and swirl the mixture to evenly distribute.
- Allow the mixture to cook from the bottom up. You can also cover loosely with tin foil to help speed up the cooking process.
- When almost cooked through you can add extra ingredients, such as a small grating of cheese (left), or pieces of smoked salmon (below left).
- Use a spatula to fold the omelette in half and leave on the heat a little longer, depending on how cooked you like your omelette.
Left: Mushroom and smoked salmon. Middle: Spinach, halloumi and turmeric (turmeric is a brilliant, tasty spice that adds a subtle flavour to omelettes or scrambled eggs, as well as being an anti-inflammatory) . Right: Mushroom and cheese.
See, told you I love eggs! Versatile, easy, and extremely filling and tasty. Onto the oats!
Packed full of fibre and protein, oats are made for filling breakfasts. Whether that is a bowl of warm, creamy porridge, or overnight soaked oats, they can be made to taste like cake and feel a lot naughtier than they actually are! Just like our good friend the egg, oat bowls can be as simple or as pimped out as you like, with a wealth of combinations that is probably never ending. Combinations that can easily be made vegan and dairy free as well by swapping particular ingredients for your alternative favourites. A breakfast perfect for adding nutrients from an abundance of succulent fruits, extra protein, fibre and fats from nuts, seeds, milk and protein powder, and even the goodness of vegetables. Yes, you read that correctly. Bring on the carrots!
Perfect Porridge Ingredient Ideas:
- Milk: Semi-skimmed milk makes for a super creamy oat bowl, but other substitutions are just as good. They all add a different flavour to make brilliant vegan and dairy free porridge and are great for a day you just fancy a change. Soya milk and almond milk are a particular favourite!
- Frozen fruit: Frozen fruits are brilliant stirred into hot porridge. The heat defrosts them slightly so they break down into the warm, oaty mixture. They are also much cheaper than fresh fruit, but still hold all their natural goodness. Raspberries and blueberries are my ‘go to’ as they soften quickly and add so much colour!
- Nuts and Seeds: Full of protein and healthy fats, nuts and seeds add texture and also add their own individual flavour. A small handful goes a long way as they can be very calorific. For larger nuts, such as almonds or hazelnuts, I like to break them down slightly in a pestle and mortar. Mix your nuts/seeds into the warm porridge or sprinkle on top.
- Vegetables: Hear me out! Carrot and courgette are amazing when finely grated into porridge! Your porridge won’t taste like a vegetable patch, but they will add texture and a subtle flavour, as well as bags of extra fibre and nutrients.
- Spices: An easy way to add flavour to your bowl. Cinnamon and mixed spice are my favourites as they taste warm and like Christmas! Gently sprinkle so to not over power the whole bowl.
- Protein Powder: A simple way to add more protein to your day if you struggle to intake enough of it. With an abundance of flavours available, it can be really tasty too. Use a splash of milk or water to turn the powder into a paste before mixing into your oats, otherwise it will turn grainy!
Fantastic Flavour Ideas (clockwise):
- Raspberry, vanilla and almond. I used vanilla protein powder for this, but a drop of vanilla essence works wonders too.
- Carrot cake topped with 0% fat Greek yoghurt (which is high in protein) – my favourite recipe!
- Vanilla, blueberry, hazelnut and 0% fat Greek yoghurt. Defrosting fruits in the microwave makes them into a great topping!
- Vanilla, seeds and caramel. I used a low calorie syrup to drizzle over the top!
- Raspberry, vanilla and hazelnut.
- Strawberry and honey. A drizzle of dark chocolate rich in antioxidants would elevate this combination even more!
- Chantal’s ‘Go To’ Oats? Warm porridge with a teaspoon of peanut butter and all kinds of other nutritious additions; flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, blueberries, raspberries, goji berries or pomegranate seeds, to name a few!
All of these would make wonderful overnight oats as well for a quick breakfast at home or on the move. Just pop everything into a container and leave in the fridge overnight to work its magic.
Mind Blowing Bagels
One of Chantal’s favourite ‘go to’ breakfasts is a warm bagel topped to the high heavens and with my love of bagels too, bagel building had to be included! The choice of bagels out there makes for tough decisions; sweet, savoury and now bagel thins for a lighter option, and that’s even before thinking about toppings. Lightly toasting the bagel halves softens them slightly and enhances that crunchy, golden crust. As a more carbohydrate based breakfast, adorning proteins and nutrients upon the holey bread makes for a breakfast with a difference, and one that can be pre-prepared and packed ready for a busy day on the move.
Bagel Building Favourites (left to right):
- Plain bagel with 0% fat Greek yoghurt, roasted figs and honey drizzle.
- Cinnamon and raisin bagel with 0% fat Greek yoghurt, sliced fresh strawberries and honey drizzle.
- Plain bagel spread with lemon and black pepper ricotta, topped with smoked salmon.
- Cinnamon and raisin bagel spread with crunchy peanut butter, topped with sliced fresh strawberries (my take on the American PB&J!).
- Chantal’s Bagel Favourite? Philadelphia spread, topped with smoked salmon. Yum!
The best bit about bagels? Two halves mean you can satisfy both your sweet and savoury tooth. I will have both please!
Pancakes are not just for Shrove Tuesday, but they are one of those meals where I always think, “I should really make these more often”, and guess what, I never do. However, when pancake fever does happen, go all out and stack them high. Combinations galore, and easy substitutions to make them vegan and dairy free, they are a feast for the eyes and stomach, with all the food groups.
Oat Pancake Stacks:
Oats are a fabulous alternative to flour, packed full of fibre and protein and give more texture to the pancakes. Perfect for gluten free pancakes as well. Any oats work really well and if you have a food processor, blitzing the oats first will give a smoother batter and, therefore, pancake. Time to stack!
- Above: Spiced banana pancakes stacked with a light chocolate spread between each layer, topped with 0% fat Greek yoghurt mixed with walnut pieces and fresh strawberries, a drizzle of honey, before adding more walnut pieces and strawberries: a recipe with no toppings limit.
- Below: Oat pancakes stacked with creamy ricotta, wilted spinach and Frylight mushrooms between each layer, topped with a Frylight egg. Another stack that can be easily adapted to incorporate your favourite vegetables and flavours.
- Chantal’s Favourite? Egg and banana pancakes! Sweet and speedy with a protein hit!
Chantal’s Final Favourites
After all that, here are the final two breakfasts Chantal told me she loves and I, for one, will have to give them a go! A smoothie made with one banana and whatever fruit she has at home, along with some super spinach, a spoonful of peanut butter and a splash of almond or soya milk. But wait until Sunday, when Chantal and her husband treat themselves to a warm bacon sandwich on fresh white bread from the bakers. What a way to end a busy week! I wonder if they have ketchup or brown sauce?
Breakfast: whether it is an early start with a pre-prepared batch of overnight oats, or a less time constrained morning with time to build, stack or scramble a filling creation, we hope this blog has provided an insight into healthy and nutritious ways to start each day. Now we’re just hungry!
Enjoyed this blog or made any of the recipe ideas? We would love to know! Tag Chantal Law Fitness and One Shy Foodie on Facebook and Instagram!