For a good chunk of adults, breakfast usually consists of two or three cups of strong coffee. Swigging some French roast might keep you alert and help you stay hydrated, but it’s no substitute for eating a nutritious morning meal. Sadly, no one has the time to simmer a pot of old-fashioned oats during the week.
When we do manage to get something to eat, it’s often a packaged muffin or sugary energy bar. These treats might taste good, but they could leave you feeling hungrier than ever in just a few hours since they don’t really offer any healthy ingredients to keep you satisfied. There are some packaged breakfasts that are healthy choices, you just have to sift through a lot of junk to find them. With the help of three top nutrition professionals, we’ve sorted through the mess to share six breakfast foods that will give you the nutrition you need without slowing you down.
1. Wallaby Organic Greek Plain Lowfat Plain Yogurt
Everyone has heard the hype about Greek yogurt by now. What you may not know is exactly why you should go for this thicker, strained variety. A quick comparison from U.S. News & World Report showed Greek yogurt has way more protein and significantly less sugar than the regular stuff. It’s no wonder Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD and author of The Flexitarian Diet, reaches for this food in the morning.
While yogurt is pretty good on its own, you still need to supplement the dairy with some other quick ingredients. “Many times, convenience products aren’t balanced and you will have to add items to round them out,” Blatner said. She suggested topping 2% Greek yogurt with oats and some fresh fruit. To keep things easy, we like Wallaby Organic’s 6-ounce cups. Just peel off the lid, throw in some toppings, and you’re ready to jet.
2. Kashi Overnight Muesli Cacao Nib, Almond and Coconut
Figuring out exactly what components you need to build the best breakfast can be a little bit difficult. Karen Ansel, RD, and author of The Calendar Diet, offered some clarification. “In any breakfast, I look for three basic things: fiber and protein for satiety and complex carbohydrates for energy,” she said. “Fiber is especially key at breakfast because few people get enough of it, and breakfast is the one meal where it’s easiest to find fiber-rich whole grains.”
One of the best choices for hitting all those essentials is Kashi Overnight Muesli. “It’s got a great mix of whole grains for energy plus protein and fiber to help you stay full,” Ansel said. “Add a cup of milk and you’ll score another 8 grams of protein to boot.” We particularly like the version with cacao nibs, almonds, and coconuts, because it tastes like a breakfast version of a candy bar. Just add your favorite milk the night before, pop it in the fridge, and breakfast is ready when you wake up.
3. Wild Garden Traditional Hummus Dip
For portable breakfasts, sweet eats pretty much dominate the market. Guys who prefer savory foods shouldn’t use that as an excuse to skip out on filling their bellies with healthy foods, though. Who says you can’t eat hummus for breakfast? Jim White, RD, owner of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios, and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, recommended a portable container of hummus paired with some veggies. “Carrots provide nutrients and carbohydrates and the hummus will give you protein,” he said.
Though there are a number of pre-portioned hummus snacks on the market, we like Wild Garden’s 1.73-ounce squeeze packets. They contain just the right amount, and the clever design is easy to eat without making a mess. You’ll also get 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of healthy fat to keep you satisfied all morning.
4. Breakstone’s Lowfat Cottage Cheese
Though it’s a bit unexpected, cottage cheese is also a good choice for a savory breakfast. Both Ansel and White recommended single-serve cups of the dairy to get a dose of protein in the morning. We like Breakstone’s 4-ounce containers, which come in packs of four that easily snap apart. Each serving clocks in at just 90 calories and provides you with 10 grams of protein. As with Greek yogurt, you should consider adding a few toppings. Diced tomato and whole-grain crackers would be a good combination.
5. Justin’s Classic Almond Butter
Lugging around a jar of almond butter isn’t really practical for weekday mornings, but you can actually find portable packets. With just two ingredients plus plenty of healthy fats and protein, Justin’s Classic Almond Butter is a particularly good choice. It comes in squeezable pouches, so you don’t even need a knife.
White said he’s a fan of almond butter as part of a healthy breakfast, but it’s not enough on it’s own. “Try to pick things that include both a carb and protein,” he said. “Protein will help build muscle, keep you satiated, and boost metabolism. Carbohydrates are not your enemy in the morning. Your brain and body depend on the fuel from carbohydrates to get you through the day.” Try some of the creamy spread on whole-wheat toast to get a dose of both nutrients.
Blatner echoed the recommendation of going for complex carbs. She suggested pairing almond butter with a sprouted English muffin and topping with some apple. If you’re in a huge hurry, pack the components separately. When you’re ready to eat, just squeeze the spread onto the muffin and eat the apple on the side.
6. Kit’s Organic Fruit & Nut Bar Cashew
Every so often, you may find yourself in a situation where you won’t have access to any fresh fruits or individual slices of bread. Though it’s a little trickier to cover all of your bases, it’s not impossible. “If I have to grab a packaged breakfast on the go, I’ll look for foods with a fairly short, clean ingredient list,” said Ansel. What does she reach for? A Kit’s Organic Fruit & Nut Bar.
One of Clif Bar’s newer products, these packaged eats are made with fruit, nuts or seeds, and very little else. We like the cashew flavor, which contains only dates, almonds, cashews, and sea salt.
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