How many of you were brought up going to school on a bowl of cereal? Cornflakes, Rice Krispies, Frosties, Coco Pops... Hot milk or cold milk... added sugar or syrup... the possibilities were and still are endless. A whole aisle dedicated to breakfast cereals. Surely they've got to be the best thing for us to fuel ourselves and our kids with first thing in the morning, right?!
In the UK cereal and toast still seem to be our most popular and favoured food choices for breakfast. They are supported by the Government guidelines set within the Eatwell Guide, suggesting a third of our daily food intake should be based on starchy carbohydrates.
However, cereals have an exceptionally high glycaemic index meaning that the carbohydrate breaks down into sugar extremely fast, hitting the blood stream in large amounts. Elevated blood sugar levels leads to increased insulin being produced by an overworked pancreas to help stabilise and normalise your blood sugars. If not used immediately, this sugar is turned into fat stores or glycogen stores in the liver or muscles. If exposed to high levels of sugar on a sustained or long term basis, your cells become desensitised to the action of insulin causing insulin sensitivity and possibly, resistance. Continuing to consume large amounts of sugar can further lead to poor cell signalling, cellular damage and inflammation throughout the body.
So, do we still think these types of breakfast products are what we should be consuming ourselves and feeding to our children?
Better choices allow for us to balance our blood sugars and allow glucose to be released slowly. It is important to include protein with each meal to help this, as well as fibre to slow down the rate at which sugars are broken down.
My top 3 easy breakfast ideas are:
1. Eggs! Eaten any way, scrambled, boiled, poached, fried in coconut oil or as an omelette, eggs are a great source of high quality protein and contain the complete spectrum of B vitamins, required for the production of energy amongst the many other functions they facilitate. Eggs also contain a high level of choline as well as a good source of selenium and iodine, required for the synthesis and metabolism of the thyroid hormones. Can be eaten on a bed of wilted spinach dressed with lemon juice and a side of avocado to get a burst of morning greens.
2. Porridge! A less processed grain, oats are full of soluble fibre to aid healthy digestion and release their sugars slowly therefore keeping you feeling fuller for longer. For an added protein punch, add a tablespoon of seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame mix) or a tablepsoon of nut/ seed butter (almond, pumpkin). Serve with a your choice of chopped/ grated apple or pear, or a large handful of berries.
3. Buckwheat & coconut pancakes! These delicious little pancakes can be made ahead- I always make a large batch and freeze in portions which is great to allow me to switch up breakfast once in a while on a school day! Buckwheat is a great source of phytonutrients such as quercetin and rutin which are strong antioxidants , protecting our cells from the harmful effects of free radical damage. New evidence also suggests it maybe helpful in the management of diabetes.
50g buckwheat flour, 50g coconut flour- add to bowl
Add 2 eggs and 300ml milk (almond).
Beat together, removing some of the lumps but not all.
Heat coconut oil in the pan and fry the pancakes, turning as they start to brown and firm up.
Enjoy with nut butter, chopped banana or some fresh squashed raspberries... delicious!