It is often said that a healthy breakfast is the foundation to successful day and long-term fitness. Unfortunately, there are few options for a healthy breakfast at most restaurants and in store-bought breakfast products.
The traditional American breakfast is extremely unhealthy. Here are the usual options.
- Fried eggs; bacon, sausage, or ham; fried potatoes; buttered toast; & coffee.
- Fried omelet with cheese; bacon, sausage, and/or ham; fried potatoes; buttered toast; & coffee.
- Pancakes, crepes, or waffles; butter; syrup; bacon or sausage; and coffee.
- Sugar-coated cereal, buttered toast, and coffee.
The above breakfast selections contain a huge amount of bad fats (saturated & trans fats) mostly from animal products. They also contain high concentrations of other unhealthy ingredients like salt and sugar. Fried foods are also bad for your health.
An unhealthy breakfast will not only damage your body in many ways but it also only gives you a limited amount of energy. If your breakfast contains a lot of sugar, you’ll get a short burst of energy followed by a dramatic drop leaving you feeling lethargic. This is known as the “crash.”
Since breakfast is often considered the most important meal of the day, it should be nutritious, filling, and satisfying. It’s the most important meal because your body is in urgent need of food in the morning since you haven’t eaten for 6-8 hours while you slept and it establishes your body’s energy level for the day.
Intermittent fast – If you are doing intermittent fasting, then some of the information in this section does not apply.
There are several bonuses to having a healthy breakfast. It will help you to control your weight. When you skip breakfast and do not eat until lunch or later, your body starts to go into survival mode because it interprets not getting food as starving. In this mode, your body lowers its metabolic rate, holds on to fat, and burns lean muscle for energy. This happens because when you wait until noon to have your first meal of the day it will have been 12-14 hours since you ate last –- perhaps dinner the night before. If you start your day with a healthy breakfast, your body’s metabolic rate increases and it burns fat and the food (calories) you ate for energy — instead of your lean muscles.
Another bonus to making breakfast the most important meal of the day is that you can afford to have a hearty and pleasurable meal -– provided it’s healthy food — because you have all day to burn it off.
To help control your weight further, breakfast should actually be your biggest meal of the day and dinner should be your smallest. Eating a few healthy snacks in between is a good practice as well. I am not talking about those so-called healthy snacks created by processed food manufacturers, however. I am talking about fresh fruits (apples, oranges, grapes), vegetables (carrots, celery, broccoli), and unsalted nuts (walnuts, almonds, peanuts).
A healthy breakfast is very low or zero in bad fats (saturated & trans) and high in quality proteins, carbohydrates, and fiber. These nutrients should come primarily from vegetables, fruits, and nuts.
Since soy is considered by many nutrition experts to be the perfect protein, tofu is the main ingredient in my daily breakfast. It works well for breakfast because it has a similar texture and taste to scrambled egg whites.
Soy promotes heart health, strong bones, and cancer prevention. Soybeans contain high amounts of protein, including all essential amino acids — the only such vegetable source. Soybeans are high in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber. All this makes tofu an ideal ingredient for a healthy breakfast.
My Healthy Breakfast
- Spicy tofu scramble with egg whites, brown rice, spinach, avocado, and cherry or grape tomatoes. Seasoned with chili powder and ground red or black pepper. (Full recipe & downloadable copy below.)
- Multi whole-grain sprouted flourless bread, toasted (unbuttered). Topped with all-natural fruit spread and all-natural unsalted almond butter. 1/2 slice. (I use E.D. Smith raspberry, cherry, pomegranate, and acai or black cherry, raspberry, and blood orange fruit spread. They have many other fruit combinations. I get it at Costco.)
- Fresh cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon and/or blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or strawberries. 1/2 cup diced.
- Fruit juice (unsweetened) and/or vegetable juice (mixture or separate) – blueberry, pomegranate, acai berry, cranberry; and/or vegetable; or orange, grapefruit, and/or lemon/lime. 4 oz.
- Filtered water with fresh squeezed (or concentrated) lemon and/or lime juice. 24 oz.
- Update: Now drink homemade super water.
- Select high-potency vitamin supplements.
- No coffee. Gave it up!
Spicy Tofu Scramble – Recipe
Ingredients (1 serving.)
- 5 oz. extra firm tofu block drained and diced.
- 1/4 cup egg whites or egg substitute.
- 1/3 cup pre-cooked whole-grain brown rice.
- 1/4 cup pre-cooked chopped spinach.
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder or other low or non-sodium (salt) seasoning.
- 1/8 teaspoon ground red or black pepper or other low or non-sodium (salt) seasoning.
- Note: Liquid seasonings are not recommended as they make the recipe watery.
- 1/2 diced small (Hass) avocado.
- 5-7 (based on size) cherry or grape tomatoes.
- Microwave oven. Used for speed, easy cleanup, and to avoid frying.
- Medium size (deep & 6-8” diameter) microwave-safe bowl.
- Microwave-safe cover. (I use a matching plate.)
- Heat protection pads or gloves.
- Medium size kitchen knife.
- Tofu usually comes in 14-16 oz. blocks packaged in a tub filled with water. Using a knife, cut an opening in the plastic covering along one side of the tub and discard the water.
- Completely remove the plastic cover. Cut the tofu block into thirds so that you end up with three pieces. Place one of the pieces into a medium size (6-8”) microwave-safe bowl. Put the remaining tofu into a storage container, cover it with filtered or spring water, and place it in a refrigerator. To keep the tofu fresh, change the water every day or as you use it — as I do.
- Dice the tofu block by slicing it into 3-4 strips across the top. Turn it on its side and do the same. Then slice it in the other direction across the strips so that you end up with a bunch of 1/2” – 1/4” cubes.
- Cover the bowl with a microwave-safe cover (or plate) and cook it on high for 2 1/2 minutes.
- Using heat protection pads, remove the bowl from the microwave.
- Push the cover slightly to one side of the bowl to create a tiny opening. Using heat protection pads, firmly grasp the bowl and cover it, and then carefully rotate it toward the opening until the water from the tofu begins to drain. Shake up & down to encourage thorough draining. Reverse the process by creating an opening on the opposite side and then drain again. This procedure works best with a plate.
- Add 1/4 cup of egg whites or egg substitute, cover, and microwave on high for 1 minute.
- Slice the cooked egg and tofu in both directions & stir to break it up.
- Add 1/3 cup of pre-cooked whole-grain brown rice.
- Add 1/4 cup of pre-cooked chopped spinach.
- Mix ingredients thoroughly.
- Cover the bowl and microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes.
- Drain in the same way described above. Little or no liquid should drain out.
- Add 1/4 teaspoon chili powder or other low or non-sodium (salt) seasoning.
- Add 1/8 teaspoon ground red or black pepper or other low or non-sodium (salt) seasoning.
- Mix in seasonings.
- Add 1/2 diced small avocado on top.
- Add 5-7 (based on size) cherry or grape tomatoes on top.
You don’t have to measure each ingredient exactly or include every item. If there are ingredients that you like or don’t like, increase, reduce, or eliminate them. However, I encourage you to not remove ingredients simply because you’ve never eaten this particular combination of foods before. Be bold! Try it!
Draining is necessary due to the high water content in tofu. There is also some water in spinach. Although it’s a bit of a hassle, draining it well makes the recipe much better by not being watery.
For expediency in preparing my healthy breakfast, I make a 5-7 day supply of brown rice and chopped spinach in advance. Doing it in the way that I will explain takes very little time and effort.
I buy 30 oz. boxes of frozen precooked whole-grain brown rice from Trader Joe’s. There are three (3) 10 oz. bags of brown rice in each box. It’s great brown rice and it’s ready in three (3) minutes in a microwave. Since I’ll be adding it to my tofu scramble recipe and then microwaving it for 1 1/2 minutes, I only microwave the rice for two (2) minutes and not three (3) minutes as the instructions say. This way I am not overcooking the rice and ruining its taste or consistency. I recommend that you subtract 1 minute from the cooking time if you use a similar pre-cooked, frozen brown rice product.
I buy 16 oz. bags of frozen chopped spinach from Trader Joe’s as well, but this type of product is available at most stores. I do like the way the Trader Joe’s product easily mixes in my recipe, however. I cook the entire bag in a microwave for 1 minute less than what the instructions say as I do for the brown rice.
Once I add the brown rice and chopped spinach to the recipe, I microwave it for 1 1/2 minutes rather than 1 minute to allow for the fact that it is usually cold from refrigeration and it is mixed in with the tofu and egg.
You can add many different ingredients depending on what you have on hand at the time. For example, if you have some salmon, skinless chicken breast, or broccoli leftover from the previous night’s dinner, you can add these items to your tofu scramble.
You can also play with the seasonings so that the tofu scramble matches your favorite flavors. One word of caution though. It’s easy to overlook the high sodium (salt) levels in many seasonings. For example, most hot sauces are high in sodium. That’s why I use chili powder instead. It’s low in sodium and it doesn’t make the recipe watery like liquid seasonings do.
One of the nice things about tofu is that it easily absorbs whatever seasonings are around it. Knowing this you can experiment. For example, if you add some diced teriyaki chicken from the night before, the tofu will take on those flavors.
Preparing this healthy breakfast may seem like a lot of work, but once you get used to it you’ll have it ready in a snap! And once you see how a healthy breakfast affects your vitality, appearance, and health you’ll be eager to prepare it.
Here’s a downloadable copy of this healthy breakfast recipe. It is in PDF format. You’ll need Adobe Reader to view and make a copy of it. To download a FREE copy of this software, go to Adobe.com.
Download a copy of this recipe here: Spicy Tofu Scramble Recipe
A healthy breakfast has another benefit that I haven’t yet mentioned. It’s the psychological benefit. When you know you’re putting the best possible foods into your body, you are inclined to feel more powerful, intelligent, and optimistic. When you expand healthy eating to all your meals these feelings grow.
To your health and fitness.