12 Breakfast Ideas to Brighten Your Morning

by Maria on November 21, 2013

I love a good bowl of cereal and milk every now and then, but every morning? I find that both the kids and I get off to a brighter start when we are charged up about breakfast. So I try to plan out my week and vary what we will have for breakfast each day. It doesn’t always work out as planned, but the fact is when you plan ahead you have more flexibility. Maybe you planned for eggs but the kids want pancakes—no problem if pancakes are premade and ready to go in the freezer. Whenever I make pancakes, waffles, or muffins I freeze any leftovers, which can then be defrosted and heated in a moments notice.  

Here are 12 of my favorite breakfasts:


1.       Oatmeal Breakfast Bar

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Make old-fashioned or steel cut oatmeal and then let everyone mix in their favorite toppings. My kids love the classic combination of brown sugar and raisins. I place all the toppings in little ramekins on the table and encourage the kids to add pecans or almonds too. One of my instructors at the gym suggested adding frozen fruit to the hot oatmeal to help cool it down and add sweetness and nutrition at the same time. What a great idea! I now often mix wild frozen blueberries or raspberries into my oatmeal and may or may not add nuts and a splash of milk too.


2.       Whole Grain Silver Dollar Pancakes

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No doubt this is a favorite of my kids. I could probably post a different pancake recipe every week since we are always trying different combinations. Our current go-to is this pancake recipe but made with half spelt flour. I sometimes add grated veggies as it suggests in the recipe, but I think I overdid it on zucchini over the summer, so I have toned it back a bit! I highly recommend a pancake pan if you don’t have one already; it makes for cute little pancakes that cook up quickly and beautifully. Make them on the weekend and then freeze extras in zip-lock freezer bags.   


3.       Yogurt, Granola, and Berry Parfait

This is a classic combination, but the key to its beauty is having some berries or other fresh fruit on hand and then layering it all in a pretty glass or Mason jar.  Of course, any old bowl will do and if you don’t have fresh fruit adding dried fruit will taste pretty delicious too.  So keep your favorite granola and all-natural yogurt on hand. You may even want to try making your own granola. 


4.       Homemade Morning Glory Muffin


There is something about the morning glory muffin that just feels so healthy. Perhaps it’s the fact that it has carrots, apple, coconut, raisins and whole grain flour in it? It’s also dairy-free and you could make it vegan by using ground flax seeds in place of the egg. Likewise you could make it gluten-free by substituting gluten-free flour. Mini or big-sized, this tasty muffin is worth the effort it takes to make. (It’s not hard to make but involves a lot of ingredients and grating. Fortunately our recipe makes a bunch so that you can enjoy some now and freeze the rest.)


5.       Egg Sandwich with Avocado and Tomato

Cook up an easy over or gently scrambled egg—whichever you prefer. Toast your favorite bread. Spread the bread with avocado. Add the finished egg. Sprinkle with some kosher salt and freshly ground pepper if desired. Add a tomato slice or two. And yum, you have a delicious, nutritious, gourmet egg sandwich. (But you may want to eat it with a fork and knife—or at least over a plate and not in the car—if your egg yolk is still runny.)


6.       Whole Grain Toast with Almond Butter and Sliced Bananas

I love to keep whole grain bread on hand in the freezer. Bakery fresh whole grain bread will usually last for a few days, but for a longer shelf life keep it in the freezer. For a satisfying breakfast, toast up a slice of whole grain bread and then spread it with almond butter or another nut butter and top with sliced bananas.

7.       The Nordic:  Bread with Cheese and Sliced Veggies

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Open-faced cheese sandwiches are a staple breakfast in Scandinavia and one that will always taste of home and comfort to me.  Simply take a piece of whole grain bread, preferably fresh, and if not toasted, and top it with some butter spread, a couple of thinly sliced pieces of cheese, and sliced bell peppers, tomatoes, or cucumbers. It’s best enjoyed with a cup of hot coffee, tea, or cocoa.


8.       Dippy Eggs and Soldiers

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If you love eggs and toast, this is a fun way to eat them, especially for kids. Growing up we called it “doppa fingrar,” which literally translates to “dip the fingers,” I suppose because the strips of toast are like fingers. I have since heard it referred to as dippy eggs and soldiers. I think it’s a breakfast with British origins. You simply boil an egg so that the white becomes firm but the egg yolk remains a bit soft, about 5-6 minutes if you add the egg to boiling water and then reduce it to a simmer. While the egg is cooking make your toast and then cut it into strips, or “soldiers.” Dip the soldiers into the egg and enjoy!   


9.       Berry or Green Smoothies


Whether you make it with frozen strawberries, honey, and plain yogurt or kale, cucumbers, and orange juice, almost everyone likes a smoothie. Get the kids involved and let them create their own concoction with the ingredients you supply. Serve with whole grain toast or waffles for a hearty but healthy breakfast.


10.   Elliott's Banana Bread

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This healthy take on banana bread has less sugar and fat than most banana breads. It’s also made with whole grain white whole wheat flour. But don’t forget the chocolate chips, and be sure to choose good quality dark or bittersweet chocolate chips for the best flavor and nutrition. For a heartier breakfast try spreading peanut butter on your slice—delish!


11.   Pumpkin Waffles


These are a seasonal favorite in the fall, but with the added nutrition you get from adding pumpkin to your waffles, why not make them year round? They require a little extra preparation compared with your usual waffles, but the end result is so worth it. My advice: Double the recipe and freeze. I usually make one batch but my family of four usually devours all 6 servings leaving 0 for the freezer!


12.   Egg Pesto Sandwich

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Egg and pesto are a fun, tasty combination, and you will be surprised at how quickly this cooks up. Keep pesto on hand in the refrigerator or freeze in ice cube trays for longer storage and quick thawing. Add a slice of tomato to this sandwich if you have it and cheese if you are really hungry.


So try planning out your morning breakfasts for the next couple of days, and, if all else fails, a “breakfast bar” is always a hit with my kids. This simply means I create a continental breakfast-like buffet with items I have on hand such as cereals, yogurt, fruit, toast, jam, and nut butter. Stacking the bowls and plates alongside the food makes it feel like a breakfast bar you would find at a hotel and the kids love to take a plate or bowl and help themselves to their favorites.

Remember to include a fruit and or vegetable with every breakfast--to get the minimum 5-a-day in it's best to start early. And why not aim for 9 anyway? 

One final suggestion involves not food, but décor. Try spicing up breakfast with some colorful place mats, napkins, or cereal bowls. As always with food, presentation has a big impact.

Lastly, whatever you do, don’t skip breakfast—it really is the most important meal of your day. So if necessary, get up 15 minutes earlier than usual and start a new habit. While you are at it, try going to bed a little earlier too--I know I feel better when I do.



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