Dietitian's Picks: Top 5 Healthy Breakfast Foods

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Oatmeal with fresh berries as a healthy breakfast option

As you prepare to leave the house in the morning, breakfast, especially a healthy breakfast, can seem like an afterthought. So, why do many consider breakfast to be the most important meal of the day? UnityPoint Health Dietitian, Allison Hueschen, RD,LD, says breakfast enhances the quality of your diet, while decreasing your risk of obesity. Learn her top picks for quick and healthy breakfast foods.

Top Healthy Breakfast Foods

Hueschen says a good way to build a better breakfast is to start with nutrient-rich whole grains, followed by protein and rounded out with some produce.

“Whole grains provide a nutritional punch by offering fiber and nutrients, plus, they tend to digest more slowly for longer lasting energy,” Hueschen says. “Protein can help you stay fuller longer and help sustain you through the morning. And lastly, breakfast is a great opportunity to get a serving of produce in for the day.”

She suggests these healthy breakfast ideas to get the morning nutrition you need:

  1. Whole grain toaster waffle topped with low-fat yogurt + banana slices
  2. Oatmeal made with low-fat milk + raisins or dried cranberries
  3. Greek yogurt topped with crunchy whole grain cereal + fresh berries
  4. Whole grain English muffin + peanut or almond butter + fresh fruit
  5. Whole grain tortilla + scrambled egg + veggies (suggestions: spinach, onion, peppers, tomatoes)

Hueschen suggests if your current breakfast on-the-go contains more sodium, added sugar and unhealthy fats than other nutrients, you might want to consider healthier options.

“Foods that provide little to no nutritional value, such as doughnuts and pastries, don't provide the fuel necessary to sustain you through the morning. Oftentimes, lacking fiber, healthy fat and protein, these foods digest quickly, leaving you hungry shortly thereafter. Save these foods for occasional treats and not your ‘go-to’ morning choices,” Hueschen says.

Dietitian Breakfast Tips

Hueschen personally chooses Greek yogurt or oatmeal with fruit, which she says are easy for her to grab and take as she heads out the door. She also recommends these tips to help fit a healthy breakfast into your daily routine:

  • Get organized the night before. Oftentimes, I'll set my bowl, spoon and oatmeal out on the counter the night before, so it's ready for me in the morning.
  • Keep breakfast simple. On busy days, get going with something quick and easy, like a slice of leftover veggie pizza or a peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread with a cup of low-fat milk.
  • Pack your breakfast to go. If there's no time to eat at home, plan a nutritious option that's easy for you to take on-the-go in the morning.

Hueschen offers this spice-inspired oatmeal option that’s sure to have you licking the bowl and keeping you full until your midday meal.

RECIPE: Spice-Inspired Oatmeal

  • One packet of instant oatmeal (varieties without added sugar)
  • Low-fat milk
  • ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce or canned pumpkin
  • Apple, pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
  • Optional: chopped walnuts (heart-healthy Omega-3 fats)

Prepare instant oatmeal with low-fat milk. Mix in unsweetened applesauce or canned pumpkin. Sprinkle with apple, pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon. Add chopped walnuts, should you desire.

For any questions about building a better diet, contact your UnityPoint Health primary care provider to discuss your specific nutritional needs.

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