Better breakfasts: how to start the day more healthily

by Clare Fairs, July 16, 2018

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day but too many of us are opting for breakfast products that are high in sugar and additives and low in nutritional goodness. We take a look at some of the worst offenders and offer some simple suggestions for healthier alternatives. 

GranolaWhat do you and your family eat for breakfast? Are you giving yourself the fuel and nourishment you need for the day ahead – or just filling yourselves up and consuming high levels of sugar in the process? Or, worse still, are you one of the 32% of people who skip breakfast altogether according to a recent poll in The Grocer?

Research suggests people who eat a healthy breakfast are more likely to be a healthy weight as they tend to eat less throughout the day and fewer unhealthy snacks. So what should we be eating – and what should we avoid?

Cereal

In 2017, Public Health England (PHE) reported that children in England consume half their recommended maximum daily intake of sugar at breakfast. The main culprit? Sugary cereals.

On their website, the British Heart Foundation ranks eight different types of breakfast cereal from best to worst for your heart based on their nutritional values for sugar, fibre content and salt. Their bottom three were sugar-frosted cornflakes (such as Frosties), standard granola, and granola with chocolate.

Action on Sugar has also warned against so-called ‘healthy’ breakfast biscuits, which they say may contain more sugar than a bowl of Kellogg’s Coco Pops.

If you like to start your day with cereal but want to know exactly what’s in it, why not make your own granola? Our recipe is packed with nutrients thanks to its oats, seeds, almonds and fruit, and only lightly sweetened with honey and maple syrup rather than refined sugar. We love it with milk or natural yoghurt and fresh fruit – or as a crunchy topping for porridge.

If you don’t have time to sit down for breakfast during the week, we also love Adam Gray’s cereal bars recipe. Just try not to eat them all at once!

Cooked breakfasts

A greasy full English breakfast is bad news for your heart but a breakfast of eggs, mushrooms and/or tomatoes cooked in a little cold pressed rapeseed oil, which is low in saturated fat, is a very good source of energy, protein and nutrients.

Boiled or poached eggs are great too, as are scrambled eggs made with Hillfarm oil instead of butter. Keep the saturated fat levels down by also opting for a drizzle on your toast instead of butter.

French toast (aka eggy bread) is a weekend favourite with our family along with breakfast waffles with yoghurt and berries and American style pancakes. All of these are simple to make and much healthier than readymade products from the supermarket. A quick glance at any packet of factory-made pancakes reveals each one contains at least a teaspoon of sugar – while Tesco waffles contain over three teaspoons each! Many of these type products are also made with palm oil, which is high in saturated fat and controversial because of its impact on wildlife in the rainforest.

By making your own version with our recipes, you can reduce your sugar portion to half a teaspoon or less per pancake or waffle (or slice of French toast), while lowering your saturated fat intake and avoiding processed ingredients.

Breakfast drinks

Relatively new, breakfast drinks are seen as an easy breakfast-on-the-go for commuters and late risers. However, as well as substantial doses of sugar and fat, long-life breakfast drinks inevitably contain a range of additives and artificial ingredients.

If you’d prefer a fresher, more natural start to the day, why not whip up some nourishing smoothies on a Sunday for the working week ahead? Whizz 3 cups (750ml) of your favourite berries, 750ml of unsweetened almond milk, 3 tablespoons of chia seeds and 2 tablespoons of Hillfarm oil in a blender until you have a smooth consistency and pour into bottles to store in the fridge.

How do you avoid processed breakfasts?

If you have any more tips for healthier breakfasts free from the nasties, please share them with us via our Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter or by completing our contact form.

If you’ve followed any of our recipes, we’d also love to see your breakfast pics!

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