Brainiest breakfastsHome » Latest issue » Good, issue 24 » Brainiest breakfasts
A shonky breakfast gets your body off to the worst possible start. As cold weather creeps up on us, it's time to rediscover hearty ways to begin the day
Depriving yourself of a decent breakfast is likely to leave you fuzzy-headed, forgetful – and susceptible to a terrible case of the munchies as the day rolls on. The best breakfasts for your brain contain a mix of low-GI carbohydrates and fibre (for slow-burning energy) and protein (to keep you feeling full). A 2010 European Journal of Clinical Nutrition study found low-GI breakfasts increased kids’ ability to think and concentrate – and helped them complete maths problems more accurately. And in 2011 a Nature study discovered high-protein breakfasts help reduce hunger throughout the day. Here’s how to build a brainy breakfast:
Start with a fibre-rich carbohydrate:
Wholegrain bread – check that wholegrain flour, not refined flour or wheat flour, is the top ingredient in the list. Multigrain bread doesn’t necessarily contain whole grains.
Oats – packed with vitamins and minerals, oats are high in fibre, a source of protein and have been shown to lower levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol in the body.
Cereal – look for high-fibre, low-sugar options, such as bran flakes or wheat biscuits.
Muesli – make your own, choose a bircher-style variety, or choose a toasted muesli or granola that is low in sugar.
Add a source of protein:
Eggs – as well as containing a whole alphabet of vitamins and minerals, an egg’s protein is more easily absorbed by the body than protein from any other source.
Unsweetened Greek yoghurt – add sweetness with honey, maple syrup or fruit rather than sugar.
Smoked salmon – high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help you think more clearly, improve your memory and mood. Omega-3 can also help reduce depression, anxiety and lower your risk of developing mental illnesses such as dementia.
Tinned beans – choose beans that are packaged in brine rather than tomato sauce, which can be very high in sugar and salt.
Low-fat cottage cheese or ricotta – higher in protein and calcium and lower in saturated fat than butter or margarine, these are delicious on toast.
Toss in nuts and seeds:
Walnuts, almonds, flaxseeds, plus pumpkin, sunflower and chia seeds are all full of protein, beneficial fats and essential minerals.
Top it off with nature’s best:
Avocado – the ultimate superfruit if ever there were one, avocados are packed with vitamins as well as omega-3. They help your body absorb nutrients from other foods more effectively and reduce your risk of developing breast cancer.
Blueberries and bananas – famous brain helpers, bananas are an excellent source of vitamin B6, which improves memory and cognition. Blueberries, meanwhile, are linked to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s, improved abilities to learn new things and increased capacity to deal with stress.
Tomatoes and kiwifruit – both are high in vitamin C, which helps your body better absorb vitamins and minerals, such as iron.
Egg and Avocado Breakfast Salad on Wholegrain Toast
1/4 avocado, diced
wholegrain bread, toasted
handful of rocket lettuce
extra virgin olive oil
Bring a small pot of water to boil. Carefully add egg and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from pot, run under cold water, then peel, dice and set aside.
To serve, lightly mash avocado on top of toast. Add a splash of lemon juice, diced egg, salt and pepper. Top with rocket, parmesan and a dash of oil.
2 tbsp rolled oats
1 apple, grated with juice
1 tbsp desiccated coconut
1/2 lemon or orange, squeezed
a few almonds, roughly chopped
a handful of berries
1/2 banana, thinly sliced
a few dried or fresh dates, roughly chopped
unsweetened yoghurt, to serve
Mix rolled oats with 2 tbsp water and leave in the fridge overnight. (If you forget this step, just leave out the water and proceed with the method below).
Combine rolled oats, apple, coconut and lemon or orange juice in a small bowl. Top with almonds, berries, banana, dates and carefully mix, making sure not to mash the banana. Serve with a dollop of unsweetened yoghurt.
Lemon Greens, Poached Eggs and Homemade Hash Browns
1 large potato, peeled and grated
3 free-range eggs
1 tsp wholegrain mustard salt pepper
1 tsp grapeseed oil
1 zucchini, chopped
1/2 broccoli, in florets a few almonds, slivered
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 tsp white wine vinegar wholegrain bread, toasted
optional: free-range bacon or sausages
Gently fry sausages or rashers of bacon, if including. While these are cooking, grate potato and squeeze in handfuls to remove as much water as possible. In a bowl, combine potato with a whisked egg, mustard, salt and pepper. Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
Spoon the mixture into the pan to create two hash browns. Cook on each side until golden. Set aside.
Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil. Add zucchini and broccoli and cook for a few minutes. Remove from heat and drain any remaining liquid, then add almonds, salt, squeeze of lemon juice and zest. Set aside.
Bring a shallow pan of water to the boil and add vinegar. Turn off the heat and carefully pour the remaining 2 eggs into the water. Leave for 6-7 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon.
To serve, top hash browns with zucchini, broccoli, sausages or rashers and a poached egg.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Our daily bread
For thousands of years bread was made the same way, with the same basic ingredients: flour, water, salt and yeast. Traditionally the dough was left to rise slowly before the bread is baked.Allowing dough to rise or ferment over many hours helps break down the gluten and the constituents in grain, making bread easier to digest and more nutritious, says Robert Glensor of the Wellington-based organic bakery Purebread.
Fifty years ago, a new mechanical method of bread making was introduced known as the Chorleywood Bread Process or ‘no time’ method. Though it dramatically reduces how long it takes to get from dough to loaf, twice the quantity of yeast is needed to make the bread rise, and a variety of chemical additives and enzymes are often added to speed up the process. Meanwhile, preservatives make bread last longer and inhibit the growth of moulds.
These high-speed baking techniques don’t allow the gluten and starches to be properly broken down – something that not only reduces the nutritional value of bread, but has been linked to the rise of gluten intolerance. About 80 percent of bread sold in New Zealand is made this way.
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cups milk or water pinch of salt
optional: milk, cream, yoghurt, honey, nuts, seeds or stewed fruit
Combine oats, milk or water and a pinch of salt in a saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 4-5 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. The more you stir your porridge as it cooks, the fluffier it will be – and the less it’ll stick to the pot.
To serve, pour into bowls, add milk, cream or yoghurt and drizzle with honey, sprinkle with nuts and seeds, or add a spoonful of stewed fruit.
Note: Oats are available in a range of textures from wholegrain to finely ground. The finer the oats, the smoother your porridge. How much milk or water you need depends on the type of oats – and how runny you like your porridge. Check the guidelines on the oats packet for starters.
1 tbsp rolled oats
1/4 cup raw almonds
1 frozen or fresh banana
1 fresh medjool date 1/4 cup frozen raspberries
1/2 cup milk squeeze of lemon juice
Place rolled oats and almonds in a blender and process until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Break banana into chunks and add to blender with chopped date and frozen berries. Pour in milk and whiz again until well combined. Transfer to a glass, add a squeeze of lemon juice and stir.