Breakfast in a bowl: It’s an easy weekday morning classic, but it doesn’t always have to consist of multicolored sugary circles splashed with skim milk. We’re talking about flavor-packed, nutrient-dense, appetite-appeasing, soul-soothing starts to your day. Nutrition-packed breakfasts can have short-term and long-term health benefits. Research shows that consuming half of the day’s calories at breakfast followed by smaller lunches and dinners can help decrease hunger and help people lose weight.
We’re going to focus on breakfast bowls that are easy, filling, nutritious, and prepped with common ingredients you can find at most grocery stores and markets. The end result? Breakfast bowls so delicious you’ll be ready to fly out of bed when your alarm goes off.
Breakfast Bowl Building Blocks
Hot or cold, breakfast bowls are versatile. They can be made in bulk ahead of time, prepared the day of, or consist of last night’s leftovers. They can be grain-based, gluten-free, or even grain-free. They can be vegan or vegetarian, or topped with meat or eggs. Pile on fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, seasonings, and/or sauces. Enjoy yours sweet, savory, spicy, or in any combination of flavor profiles.
Versatility is key to amping up breakfast bowl nutrition, says Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People. A solid breakfast bowl contains a combination of complex carbohydrates, protein, and fat (preferably plant-based, according to Buettner). That can include beans, eggs, whole-grain cereals, and more.
If it helps to work with a basic formula, try this:
G+F+P (whole grains + fruit + protein)
We’re going to break down some of the different options for healthy breakfast bowls. You’ll get ideas for different ingredient and seasoning combinations, and you can use some of these simple recipes to start your day. Experiment with what works for you, and enjoy your new breakfast bowls!
Hot or Cold
While many people think of cereal and milk or a piping-hot bowl of oatmeal, breakfast bowls can also be room temperature. You may choose the temperature of your bowl based on the season (like a cool yogurt-based bowl in the summer and a warm quinoa bowl in the winter). Whatever the temperature, your breakfast bowl can feature a liquid base, such as yogurt, dairy milk, soymilk, or nut milk. A savory bowl may have grains or beans cooked in water or stock. (If you cook your ingredients in stock, you also work in more nutrients than if you cook them in water.)
Sweet, Savory, Spicy
A good breakfast bowl isn’t just nutritious – it’s also delicious. Good flavor is all about the seasoning. Make it sweet, make it savory, make it spicy – or mix and match to your taste.
- Agave syrup
- Maple syrup
- Fresh/dried fruit
- Tangy cheeses (such as feta and pecorino Romano)
- Soy sauce
- Fresh diced serrano peppers
- Hot sauce
Grain-Based, Gluten-Free, or Grain-Free
Depending on your diet and preferences, you can base your breakfast bowl around whole grains and noodles or you can enjoy a breakfast bowl that is gluten- or grain-free.
- Wheat berries
- Bulgur wheat
- Wheat noodles
- Brown rice
- Buckwheat (grains, porridge, or noodles)
- Rolled oats
- Steel-cut oats
- Rice noodles
- Sweet potatoes
- Cauliflower rice
- Spiralized vegetable noodles
Veggies, Fruit, and Seeds
You’ll also want to pile on your choice of vegetables, fruit, and seeds. The sky is the limit, but here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Cooked greens
- Bean sprouts
- Sea greens
- Dried fruit
Protein is one of the key components of a filling meal. It helps your body repair tissue damage and build muscle. Make a conscious effort to include one of these plant or animal protein sources in your breakfast.
- Whole nuts or nut butters
- Fish or shellfish
- Black beans
- Nutritional yeast
No matter how you mix it up in your kitchen, breakfast bowls can be just the thing to get your morning going on a high note. Experiment and enjoy!