You already know it — breakfast is your most important meal for fueling up each new morning. By the time you wake, you have likely been fasting for about 10 or 12 hours since your last meal. So be good to yourself by breaking in the New Year and your mornings by fueling up smart with these insights. You will rev up your metabolism, boost mental alertness, daily energy, and emotional stability, reduce weight gain, and establish healthy meal patterns. Plan ahead and make it an everyday priority!

1. Eat something within 1 hour of waking — and whatever you do, do not skip it! If you do not have an appetite for traditional “breakfast” foods, break the mold and enjoy eating healthy lunch or dinner foods such as a tuna sandwich instead.

2. Think outside the cereal box — hot cooked cereals are far more budget-friendly and nourishing than even box cereals with the best intentions. Top with fruit, nuts or nut butter, cinnamon, or seeds. Venture out into new grains like teff, quinoa, or even traditional grains like brown rice with veggies.

3. Soak your grains — not only will soaking your hot cereal of choice in water overnight cut your stove cooking time in half, but soaking grains releases enzyme inhibitors (phytic acid), which naturally occur on most all grains, nuts, and seeds. Soaking your hot cereal overnight in the saucepan before cooking in the morning, especially with a teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar, encourages better digestion and absorption of the nutrients.

4. Low glycemic carbs — avoid refined sugars which only plummet blood sugar levels. Stick with high fiber, slow digesting carbs, which supply your blood-sugar levels with a steady stream of energy. Always think “high fiber!” The higher the fiber, generally the slower and more whole the carbohydrates are as well.

5. Fruit replace refined / added sugars with fruit. They’re high in fiber, full of nutrients, and the real deal!

6. Yogurt — my motto is, “If it is not alive, it is not yogurt!” Real yogurt has live cultures that boost your immunity with gut nourishing enzymes. Stick with fat-free or low-fat or non-dairy, plain, and organic. Venture out and try organic soy, goat, coconut, almond, or sheep yogurt, which are more digestible, containing little or no lactose compared to cow’s milk. Avoid the sugar trap of “vanilla” or flavored yogurts, as this quickly increases the sugar content of many yogurts to 20 grams of sugar per serving or more. Instead, top with fruits, cinnamon, a dash of maple syrup or raw honey, granola, seeds, or nuts. This healthy habit places you in the driver’s seat of the sugar levels.

7. Fats & Protein — typical breakfasts are often lower in protein. Seeds, nuts, and avocado make wonderful toppings for hot cereals or spread onto toast while also providing slow burning logs for your metabolism. (Check the label of peanut butters though! Standard American “peanut butter” is really actually a sugar-fat spread containing sugar and hydrogenated oils, or trans-fats. Real peanut butter consists of just peanuts and salt.) Sprinkle ground flaxseed on yogurt, stir pumpkin seeds into your oatmeal, or add avocado or nut spread to whole grain toast. 

8. Veggies — these are not just for lunch or dinner. Be adventurous! Scramble your eggs with red bell pepper, sauté kale for a lean morning turkey or grilled veggie wrap. The more the better, as studies show that the more vegetables one consumes daily, the less prevalence of disease.

9. Coffee — if you’re going to drink it, avoid doing so on an empty stomach since it increases stomach acid secretion. Limit your daily intake to one or two 8 oz cups maximum, or about 200-300 mg of caffeine, and drink it as pure as possible. If you have not already, be sure to stop by Engedi Cafe, located at US Digital here in Vancouver, WA, for the finest organic espresso around!

10. Green Tea — sip what I consider to be the world’s healthiest drink! Besides being a powerhouse of immune boosting antioxidants, the calm, rejuvenating energy it provides will not cause the jitters or an energy crash. There are hundreds of varieties of green tea such as my favorites—brown rice, jasmine, and yerba mate. Try them all!

*Stay tuned next week for my favorite breakfast menu ideas, both for on-the-go and around the table at home.