By Emma Johnson; photographs by Russell Smith
Make your breakfast count!
The low-down on breakfast…
Even if you’re one of those disgustingly lucky morning people – the kind who never seem to suffer a second of cranky, whiny, leave-me-the-hell-alone grogginess – a healthy breakfast can do a lot to prep you for the day ahead. Studies show that filling up before you leave the house can reduce your risk of heart attack, help keep you slim and increase your brainpower. To boost the benefits of breakfast even more, we created 10 recipes using ingredients proven to soothe or prevent common health complaints. Every one is easy to make and take with you, and they all taste delicious going down.
1. The PMS tamer
If your cycle is cramping your style, whip up this breakfast sandwich. Vitamin B6 combined with magnesium – both found in salmon and avocado – relieves monthly mood swings. And eating fish and cheese helps replenish vitamin D and calcium, which your period can deplete. Finally, according to the Journal of Reproductive Medicine, a high-fibre diet eases PMS by expelling excess oestrogen.
2 slices multigrain bread, toasted
1 tbsp low-fat creamed cottage cheese
28g (about one large piece) smoked salmon
Freshly ground black pepper
Small handful bean sprouts or one leaf iceberg lettuce
1/ On one slice of toasted bread, spread cheese and layer avocado and fish.
2/ Finish with pepper and sprouts. Place second piece of bread on top.
Per serving: 1 839kJ, 18g fat (2.5g sat), 460mg sodium, 47g carbs, 9g fibre, 7g sugars, 30g protein
2. The anxiety soother
Big days spark big worries. But British researchers found that food containing tryptophan, the amino acid found in dairy and oats (yup, the one that’s known for inducing naps), reduces anxiety by boosting the feel-good hormone serotonin. The carbohydrates in this sandwich’s bread will also help soothe frazzled nerves, experts say.
2 slices oat and honey bread (Sasko makes a low-GI variety)
1/2 ripe tomato
1 slice low-fat Emmental cheese
1 leaf romaine lettuce
1/ Slice tomato while bread is toasting.
2/ Layer cheese, tomato and lettuce between bread.
Per serving: 1 379kJ, 11g fat (5g sat), 440mg sodium, 46g carbs, 5g fibre, 9g sugars, 18g protein
3. The mood lifter
Don’t self-medicate with chocolate brownies when you’re down – opt for this healthy comfort food (which will also satisfy a sweet tooth), featuring walnuts with omega-3s and yoghurt with vitamin B12. The University of Pittsburgh
Medical School recently reported a link between omega-3 fatty acids and improved mood, while Finnish researchers found that B12 helped depression patients recover faster.
1/2 cup Greek-style yoghurt
3 tbsp walnuts, roughly chopped
1. tbsp pitted dates, finely chopped (optional)
1 tbsp honey
1/ Chop or slice the pear, top with yoghurt, then the walnuts, dates (if using) and honey.
Per serving: 1 756kJ, 17g fat (3g sat), 35mg sodium, 64g carbs, 8g fibre, 48g sugars, 13g protein
READ MORE: Are You Making This Breakfast Mistake?
4. The sniffle stopper
To keep that bug from bringing you down, try this oat dish. The apple skins contain quercetin, a powerful antioxidant that researchers in India found protects lungs from influenza. The selenium from instant oats boosts the immune system by increasing flu-fighting macrophages, and the zinc in nuts has been proven to help curb a cold’s development. Finally, drink that orange juice – multiple studies confirm that good old immune-boosting vitamin C will help keep you above the weather.
1 small apple, cored and chopped, skin intact
1/4 cup orange juice
1 packet instant oats
1 tbsp almonds, chopped and toasted
1/ Place apple and juice in a small saucepan and simmer on medium-low until fruit is soft (about 10 minutes).
2/ Meanwhile, prepare oats.
3/ Spoon fruit mixture over oats and sprinkle with nuts and cinnamon.
Per serving: 1 087kJ, 7g fat (0g sat), 80mg sodium, 48g carbs, 8g fibre, 23g sugars, 6g protein
5. The heart saver
This fibre-rich cereal will keep your ticker kicking and your stomach happy. Just remember to drink lots of water with and after your meal – staying hydrated helps your body process the fibre. Warning: this breakfast has almost all the fibre you need for the day. So if you’re new to the bran game, skip the raspberries at first, then add them later as your body adjusts.
1/2 cup high-fibre bran cereal
1/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1 cup plain organic yoghurt (contains more fibre than milk)
1/ Pour cereal in a large plastic cup and top with fruit and yoghurt.
Per serving: 1 296kJ, 1g fat (0g sat), 320mg sodium, 67g carbs, 25g fibre, 12g protein
READ MORE: 6 Oat Recipes That’ll Kickstart Your Day!
6. The metabolism starter
Antioxidants in green tea may give your digestive fires a boost by increasing the speed at which fat is burnt, according to the American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition. Spicy chillies from the capsaicin family, such as jalapeños and serranos, can perform similar feats, Japanese researchers say.
1 English muffin, split and toasted
1 tbsp canola oil
2 medium eggs
1/4 cup tightly packed baby spinach leaves, stalks removed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup green tea
1/ While muffin is toasting and teapot boiling, heat oil in a small pan.
2/ In a bowl, whisk the eggs, then add spinach, salt and pepper. Pour contents into pan and scramble gently until the eggs are set and the spinach wilted.
3/ Place eggs on muffin and douse with as much chilli sauce as you can handle!
4/ Wrap sandwich in foil, put tea in thermos and go.
Per serving: 1 505kJ, 15g fat (3g sat), 1 510mg sodium, 39g carbs, 6g fibre, 19g protein
7. The muscle maker
Pushed it a little too hard in spinning class and now regretting it? US researchers found that vitamin E – in nuts, apricots and oats – helps speed muscle recovery by fighting off the free radicals that multiply when you work out. Make a batch of these on Sunday and enjoy them for the rest of the week.
Non-stick cooking spray
3 cups plain oats
1/2 cup almonds and hazelnuts
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup dried apricots, diced
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tbsp orange juice
Dash of salt
1/ Preheat the oven to 150°C and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
2/ In a large bowl, mix oats, nuts, seeds and apricots. In a separate bowl, stir honey, sugar, oil, juice and salt together.
3/ Combine the two mixtures and spread on the baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes or until evenly browned. Let cool.
4/ Cut into pieces and divide among six airtight ziplock bags for easy storing.
Makes six servings. Per serving: 1 547kJ, 19g fat (2g sat), 250mg sodium, 47g carbs, 4g fibre, 6g protein
8. The energy source
To stay perky all day, experts suggest small, low-kilojoule meals rich in vitamin C, iron, complex carbs and protein. This two-part breakfast fits the bill. The juice and fruit provide lots of vitamin C, which promotes absorption of iron – critical for beating fatigue. Enjoy the smoothie first, then have the sandwich midmorning.
A: Super smoothie
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup soya milk
1/2 cup fresh strawberries, stems removed
1/ Blend ingredients on high for one minute or until smooth.
B: Jolt sand wich
1 slice wholewheat bread
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 tsp honey
1/ Spread peanut butter on half the bread and drizzle with honey. Fold over.
For both servings: 1 421kJ, 13g fat (1g sat), 270mg sodium, 48g carbs, 6g fibre, 11g protein
9. The memory booster
Leading the office in some Powerpoint fun today? Eat Nigella’s jammy blueberries on toast while you review your notes. Antioxidants like those in blueberries and lemons are especially effective at preventing memory loss by reducing age-related stress on the brain, as is vitamin E, found in sunflower seeds. The zinc in wheat bread helps improve short-term memory, since the memory-making hippocampus in the brain may be fuelled by zinc.
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 slice seed loaf
1/ Add the maple syrup and blueberries to a small pot, bring to the boil and simmer for two minutes.
2/ Lightly toast the slice of seed loaf, transfer to a paper plate and top with the blueberries.
Per serving: 1 463kJ, 2g fat (0g sat), 200mg sodium, 84g carbs, 4g fibre, 58g sugars, 6g protein
10. The bone builder
This calcium-rich meal provides just under half the 1 000mg recommended daily allowance for women aged 19 to 50, thanks to the ricotta, which has 419mg. The mango adds nutrients like boron and magnesium, both of which help the body process calcium.
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 mango, diced
2 tbsp honey
1/ Place a third of the ricotta in a disposable plastic cup, then add half the fruit and honey.
2/ Repeat, ending with a layer of cheese.
Per serving: 2 341kJ, 24g fat (16g sat), 260mg sodium, 59g carbs, 1g fibre, 41g sugars, 32g protein