Let me define the term “Healthy Breakfast” first. Different people have different definitions; hence, I would prefer to set the expectations in the beginning.
Most of the people prefer cereals, corn flakes, Nutella and bread, pasta, Maggie (yes, some people eat it first thing in the morning. Horrifying!) etc. during breakfast due to the products’ “Instant” nature. Who has the time in the morning. Correct? People have time for shopping, movies, lunch or dinner dates etc., but when it comes to food, the instant foods’ industry is blossoming.
However, I am not going to talk about the aforementioned food items. These things are banned on my dining table. Yes, you heard me correct. The items might sound healthy to you, but, in reality, they do not fall under “Healthy Breakfast” category.
A Healthy Breakfast is rich in nutrition – good fats, protein, and complex carbs (No refined products). I consider breakfast the most important meal of the day.
Well, some people do not prefer carbs during the first meal as they are more inclined towards the protein; however, I believe in balancing these nutrients.
For instance: A high protein meal is not easy to digest; hence, we must consume protein as a part of a wholesome meal to ease the absorption. We are a carb-rich country; we have been eating them for ages. We are genetically designed to consume carbs. It has always been in our culture. Hence, I never avoid them and consider them as an essential nutrient; of course, in moderation.
In this article, I am going to share the Five Healthy Breakfast Options which I absolutely love to indulge into. These healthy alternatives offer nutrition and energy to give you a jump start for the first half of the day.
Healthy Breakfast – Whole Wheat Paranthas (Indian Bread) with Ghee
I would like to begin with my favorite – Paranthas. I mentioned this in one of my previous articles also that whole wheat paranthas are much healthier than bread and cereals. The presence of complex carbs keeps you full for a long time. Furthermore, ghee provides you good fats which are important, especially during the breakfast.
Fat is an important part in my health regimen; hence, I focus on consuming good fats rather than bad fats. Ghee, homemade white butter, unrefined coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, eggs etc. are examples of good fats whereas refined oil containing trans fats, Margarine sticks, frozen foods etc. come in the category of bad fats.
Unfortunately, Ghee was made notoriously famous for many years. People with the sole objective of losing weight were asked to abandon Ghee due to its high fat content. I never believed in this practice. I consider Ghee a wonder food and cook my entire breakfast using it.
I prefer stuffed paranthas. Here are the varieties.
Paneer (Cottage cheese)
Sattu (Roasted gram flour). This is another wonder food.
Besan (Chickpeas flour)
Except Dal Paranthas, I never mix the stuffing or mixture in the wheat flour (while making the dough). Being a Punjabi, I consider this a blasphemy :-). As shown in the picture, I add the mixture and then roll the parantha.
Here is what I prefer…..
After my workout, I eat two heavy paranthas in breakfast and compliment them with mint chutney or white butter or homemade pickle (I try to avoid ready-made tomato ketchups). Ghee is already there by default :-). I do not prefer curd in the morning; just my choice.
One thing which I would like to highlight is that I do not buy ready-made wheat flour.
I have been preaching this since years in my classes and social-networking platforms that do not buy wheat flour from grocery stores. Instead, my husband and I select high quality wheat grains and mix them with the following. Finally, we take the entire mixture to the flour mill.
I use the following ratio. For 5 kgs of wheat, we add 500 grams of the above-mentioned items (each); hence, the total quantity becomes 7 kgs. I understand it is a daunting task, but the satisfaction I get from the taste of the chapatti is beyond any comparison. Its colour is also brown rather than white. I have always felt that ready-made wheat flours are adulterated with refined flour.
Quick hacks for Paranthas that can save your time:
- Plan your meals well. For instance, on every Sunday evening, I finalise the menu till Wednesday. So if I plan to make Potato Paranthas on Monday morning, I boil the potatoes and make the dough ready on Sunday night. Therefore, it hardly takes time for me to prepare breakfast in the morning.
- In my entire life, I have never hired a cook; I prefer to make my own food. Honestly, the kind of nutrition that I can bring on my table cannot be done by any cook. However, I have hired a person who peel most of my daily-routine ingredients as and when I need them. This saves hell lot of time.
Food is extremely important for me; ergo, my husband and I go to unimaginable extents to make it healthy.
Healthy Breakfast – Upma
After staying in the southern part of India for more than 7 years, I have learnt a great deal about its food culture. The versatility of our country amazes me sometimes. Every part of India is so diverse in terms of food that there is a big shift in the eating patterns and ingredients once you move from one part to another.
During my stint in Delhi, I was not fond of Idlis, Dosas, and other south-Indian varieties; however, things have changed. More importantly, I have changed 🙂
In all honesty, I just do not eat food, I understand it from the core. I respect it as it nourishes our lives. Hence, I always keep an open mindset to learn new dimensions about food. In this journey, when I unveiled the multi-faced aspect of south-Indian cuisine, which used to be an uncharted territory for me, there was no turning back since then.
Upma is a wonderful south-Indian dish, and I make it quite often. To make it more nutritious, I add peanuts and chopped veggies. Here is the list of the ingredients I prefer:
Semolina (Sooji) – 1 cup
Water – 3 cups
Peanuts – Two tablespoons. Peanuts bring a wonderful crunch.
Mustard seeds – a tea-spoon
Finely chopped Onions – one medium sized.
Little bit Ginger – Finely chopped
Curry Leaves – 5 to 10
Chopped green chillies – Depending on your taste.
Tomatoes – one; finely chopped
Veggies such as beans, peas, and carrots – finely chopped
Salt – Depending on your taste
Garnishing – Lemon and Coriander
And, of course, Ghee 🙂
Dry roast Sooji in a pan. Look for a light brown colour. Now, take it off the stove.
Boil the veggies for 3-4 minutes. I generally do this in a microwave. Keep the vegetable stock; we will use it in the dish.
Take a heavy bottom vessel, add one tea-spoon of ghee and roast peanuts. Once they are golden brown, take them off in a bowl.
Add another tea-spoon of ghee in the same vessel and add mustard seeds. Once they crackle, add chopped onion, green chillies, and finely chopped ginger.
After two minutes, add boiled veggies and cook them for 3-4 minutes on slow flame. Now, add chopped tomatoes and curry leaves.
Cook them for 3-4 minutes. Add, roasted sooji, mix it well, and then add water. Use the vegetable stock here. The quantity of water will be three times the quantity of Sooji.
Let it boil and then put the stove on simmer. Make sure water gets dried up. Keep on stirring.
At the end, add roasted peanuts, lemon juice and chopped coriander leaves.
That’s it. Your delicious Upma is ready.
Quick hacks for Upma:
I generally ask my maid to make things ready such as peeling onion and ginger before I start making the dish. I have a big chef knife, and I have learnt many techniques about how to chop veggies in no time using that knife. I have become a pro now :-). This saves lot of time.
Healthy Breakfast – Poha
Poha is also known as flattened rice flakes, and this is a light but filling breakfast. Simple to make and you do not need much ingredients. Even though there are various ways to make it, I prefer a method which resembles Indore-Style Poha. Surprisingly, my husband taught me this method 🙂
I prefer Red Poha instead of White Poha as the former one is a healthier version. White Poha is made from white polished rice whereas red Poha is made from red rice which do not go through intense processing; that is, the bran remains intact.
Red poha contains high source of fibre and good source of iron and antioxidants; however, it takes longer to cook (you have to soak it for a long time). Also, the sight is not that pretty, but once you get hold of it, you will like it.
Here is what I need to make Poha:
Red Poha – 1 Cup
Sliced onions (not finely chopped) – one medium sized
Curry leaves – 5 to 10
Green chillies – Depending on your taste.
Peanuts – Two tablespoons. You can increase the quantity if you prefer a wonderful crunch.
Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
One Boiled Potato or sweet potato (Optional)
Sugar – 2-3 tea-spoons. I prefer cane sugar or coconut sugar (No refined sugar). Read more about the Natural Sugar alternatives I use
Salt – As per your taste.
Garnishing – Lemon and Coriander leaves.
Take a vessel, add Poha and rinse it in water. In other words, wash it 2-3 times. Soak it for at least 30-40 minutes.
Throw away the excess water and add sugar, salt, and turmeric powder in the poha. Mix the ingredients well. Make sure there is no water left. The mixture should just be wet. Now, cover it with a lid and keep it aside for 30 minutes.
Take a heavy bottom pan and add ghee or mustard oil. Add raw peanuts and roast them till they become golden brown.
Add mustard seeds; once they crackle, add chopped boiled potatoes, onions, green chillies and curry leaves. Mix all the ingredients for 3-4 minutes on slow burner.
Now, add Poha and mix everything well.
Keep it on low flame for 3-4 minutes and then turn-off the stove. Leave it for the next ten minutes.
Garnish it with lemon and coriander leaves.
Quick hacks for Poha:
If I have to make Poha, the very first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is to soak it. Again, I ask my maid to make the onions and curry leaves ready. As the Poha is already soaked and the ingredients are done, this dish gets ready in no time.
Healthy Breakfast – Daal (Lentils) Chilla
Now, let’s talk about protein. Daal chillas or Daal pancakes are an excellent source of protein, and you can make them using various lentils.
For instance, I make different Chillas using the following:
Green Moong Daal
You can also mix Channa daal and Moong daal using the ratio 1:1
The other version is Besan Chillas. This is another wonderful option to have in breakfast.
Soak Daal overnight. I generally measure Daal by fist. My mom-in-law taught me this, and the quantity comes just perfect. So in case I need to make chillas for two people then two fists are enough. In the morning, make the batter by adding soaked daal, a bit of ginger, green chilly, 1/4 tea-spoon of hing, and coriander leaves in a grinder.
Make sure that the viscosity of the batter is moderate (not too high or low). You will understand this after 2-3 attempts.
I love to add 2 teaspoons of brown rice flour into the batter as it brings crispiness.
For the stuffing, I use Paneer (Cottage Cheese) along with some chopped onions and coriander leaves. You can also use potato or sweet potato or a mixture of Paneer and Sweet Potato.
Once your batter and mixture are ready, get set go. Take a heavy bottom pan and apply half a teaspoon of ghee on top of it. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of batter and spread it using a spatula; like how you make Dosa. Make sure the pan has a heavy bottom, else the chilla will get stick and the entire process will become a mess.
Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook in the stream on slow burner. After 2-3 minutes change the side and add the mixture into it.
Enjoy them with mint chutney or coconut chutney or Peanut chutney.
Quick Hacks for Chillas:
- This breakfast dish does not need much effort. Once my maid peel the ginger and make coriander leaves ready, I just put everything in a grinder and make the batter.
- If I did not boil potatoes or sweet potatoes in the night and do not have much time in the morning, I just mash Paneer and add chopped onions into it. That’s it, the mixture is ready. I always make sure that I am never out-of-stock of Paneer 🙂
And if you do not have time to make mixture, even plain Chillas taste delicious with chutneys.
Healthy Breakfast – Eggs
Yay!!! Another high-protein source. After paranthas, eggs are my second favourite. Even though I eat eggs, I still consider myself a vegetarian as we do not kill a living being by eating an egg. In one of my previous articles, I specifically mentioned that most of the commercially available eggs are unfertilised which contain no life. In other words, hens do not mate with roosters to lay an egg as they are naturally programmed to lay eggs; like how women ovulate every month.
However, I make sure that I buy Free Range Eggs where the hens are permitted outdoors and are not kept in cages. The quality of eggs depend on the happiness quotient of hens; the more happy they are, the better the quality of eggs.
I do not buy eggs of vegetarian-food-fed hens. This is unnatural as hens are omnivorous and the forced vegetarianism can be a disaster.
I, generally, team-up eggs with vegetables. Either I add various veggies such as roasted bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, sweet potato, baby corn etc. on top of the egg in a skillet as shown in the image or I make a dish of grilled vegetables or sautéed vegetables along side.
I grill the following vegetables during breakfast:
Roasted bell peppers
I seasoned them with extra virgin olive oil, dry basil and parsley and just love to have them with eggs.
And, in case I am crazy hungry, I make a plain Parantha as well and have it with egg.
I understand these “Healthy Breakfast” alternatives require time and effort as compared to the instant food items, but once you start preparing them on regular basis, you will become efficient. In other words, you will learn to manage your time eventually.
For instance: I ask my maid to peel most of my daily-routine ingredients, and it does save lot of time at my end. I plan my menu for the week well in advance and that is another great help. You have to spend time on making these decisions – in the same way you do for shopping, outings, etc.
But it is up to you – whether you would like to switch to these options and maintain a healthy lifestyle, or just stick to those highly-refined and processed instant foods which deprive you of the necessary nutrition.
Excuses – such as lack of time and busy schedule – will always be there, but it is high time that you start taking the responsibility of your own actions instead of hiding behind these excuses. I hate (I, generally, do not use this strong word, but I mean it here) people who are stuck in the vicious circle of self-pity and do not take actions to improve their lives.
The blame is on us and not on any other thing or person when we let our bodies suffer due to lack of nutrition and not giving a thought to healthy lifestyle.
We all are amazing human beings; we all are capable of making great changes 🙂