Guest Blogger Nikki Nies is returning for another installment of breakfast solutions for National Nutrition Month! This week she’s taking it one step further with some of her favorite tips to simplify breakfast. Check them out below!
While the microwave may be your weapon of choice when making day of breakfast options, as you know a little planning ahead can go a long way and you can have increase the number of breakfast options ready to go for the rest of the week! By having one less ‘to do’ in the morning, you can concentrate on getting out the door!
Let’s move beyond the traditional made-ahead-of-time breakfast casserole and granola bars and find ways to carry out National Nutrition Month’s motto of ‘Put[ting] Your Best Fork Forward.’ We’re all about trying to find a system that best works for you. If that means stocking your freezer with the next week’s or month’s breakfast options, then so be it. The best part? The following make ahead breakfast options can be customized to family’s dietary restrictions, preferences, budget and time constraints.
Not only are the following great additions to your morning routine, but we share how to truly enjoy and make it your own:
Overnight Oats, Muesli, or Porridge
- Follow the 2:1 ratio of double the liquid of each serving of oats to avoid a thick, pasty texture. Keep in mind oats absorb the surround liquid (a sign of their high soluble fiber content!)
- Oats may be overnight, but hold off on adding the toppings. You can still set aside desired toppings the night before in separate containers. You don’t want to throw off the liquid to oat ratio or have soggy fruit or nuts! The one except: chia seeds. They need time to absorb the liquid too, with an overnight time frame ideal.
- Enhance flavor with ginger, lemon juice, cocoa powder, extracts, or cinnamon without the added calories.
- Limit sweeteners, such as pure maple syrup or honey, to no more than one tablespoon each. You’ll get the desired sweetness with the desired portion! You might surprise yourself and find that you can start using even less added sweetness over time.
- Don’t feel like you have to add protein powder or Greek yogurt! You’ll find thousands of recipes and options, but don’t feel obliged to add everything and the kitchen sink. With so many ingredients, you can easily be prepping a meal that over shoots your morning appetite. Stick with this rule of thumb: one protein source + one or two fruits + flavors boosters, such as your choice of sweetener and spices like cinnamon or nutmeg.
- Use dried fruit sparingly. It can be an overlooked source of added sugar in your diet. Instead, reach for the fresh or frozen version!
Muffin Tin Magic
- Optimize use of muffin tin with perfectly portioned out breakfast tacos, granola cups, hash browns, muffins, frittatas, smoothies or scones.
- If possible, opt for silicone muffin trays, which are known to provide an even baking temperature and don’t rust. Clean up is a breeze as removal from pans is easy with as simple twist or gentle pull on sides. An added bonus: no need to grease or ensure you have enough paper liners on hand.
- When mixing muffins or cakes, a few lumps is alright when blending the wet and dry ingredients, which is better than over stirring.
- To be more aware of how much each muffin cup is being filled, an ice cream scoop is a superb way to gauge amount given.
- If there isn’t enough filling for remaining cups, don’t leave them barren, but fill half full with water to help evenly distribute heat from oven and keep pans level. Note: Skip this for cast iron or silicon muffin trays.
- If using dark metal bake wear, may need to reduce temperature by 25°F as they absorb and retain more heat than silver metal trays.
- Read the recipe before hand and pull the ingredients out to be used at room temperature.
- Since ovens vary in cooking times, start checking food 5 minutes before a recipes says it will be done and keep checking in single digit increments
- Freeze smoothie contents in muffin tin and grab two muffin ‘pucks’ for each smoothie with a splash of liquid. Pull blender out the night before to skip an additional step.
Slow Cooker Applesauce or Oats
- Since they’re less process than instant or rolled oats, steel cut oats are considered the cream of the crop. They can be made in a slow cooker in about 30 minutes.
- If refrigerated or cooked for more than 7 hours, oats will firm up. But adding 1/2 cups of low fat milk or water for every 1 cup of oatmeal will help loosen them up.
- Skip the apple seeds, cores, and (if desired) the peels as they don’t cook down as well as the flesh. And don’t forget that larger pieces take longer to cook so you may want to chop into smaller chunks or thinner slices.
- While a lot of recipes call for sugar, you really don’t need it as you’ll get the natural sweetness from the apples. If an extra punch of sweetness is needed, a few cinnamon sticks or 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon can do the trick. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, throw in some star anise, cloves and/or slivers of fresh ginger.
- Throw in some apples that are a bit past ripening. They can be a great addition as the fruit is already being cooked down.
Pancakes or Waffles
- Use seasonal fruit to boost antioxidant content and color. 1 cup of flavoring ingredients for every 1.5 cups of flour works best.
- Opt for 100% whole wheat to increase fiber intake. 1 cup white flour has 3 g fiber while 100% whole wheat has 16 g per cup. There’s no comparison! If you’re hesitant to use whole wheat, gradually start to add into pancakes by replacing half of white flour with whole wheat.
- Amp up the protein and fiber amount with a handful of oatmeal too.
- Following a recipe that calls for melted butter? Sub canola oil instead. You won’t be able to taste the difference! But you’ll feel better knowing you’re not getting the saturated fat from butter, but ‘healthy’ fats—monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from the oil.
- Replace whole milk with fat free or skim, condensed and/or buttermilk. While its name is rich, buttermilk is naturally almost fat free and adds an additional tangy flavor. Afraid you’ll miss the buttery flavor from whole milk? No worries, add a dab of butter on top of each prepared pancake.
- If you’re making 12 pancakes, swap out 1 1/3 cup buttermilk and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar for ½ cup mashed sweet potato and ½ cup buttermilk. Not only does it provide a golden hue, but more moisture and sweetness.
- You can’t beat the two ingredient pancake option, which is a great way to use up post prime bananas.
- Want fluffier pancakes or waffles? Whip egg whites separately and then fold into batter
- Keep servings to 2 4” pancakes.
- Have dietary restrictions? Peruse grocery store healthy section for flour alternatives (e.g. buckwheat, almond meal)
- Make a pancake or waffle sandwich with two pancakes or waffles with a spread of Greek yogurt or nut butter in between for extra protein and fiber.
Of course, the above isn’t an exhaustive list of ways to prep breakfast options beforehand, but provides options on how to elevate preexisting breakfast favorites. I’m by no means a morning person so the above suggestions have helped me jumpstart my day. Let us know @SimpleEatsRD or @StreetSmartRD how you’re adding more of these breakfast options in your week! You inspire us too!
Nikki is a Dallas based LTC dietitian and freelance writer. When she’s not exploring local parks or coffee shops, you can find her in a hammock playing sudoku. Connect with her @SimpleEatsRD.