Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day. But what can you eat instead of toast or cereal? Try these easy, unique breakfast ideas and kick-start your day.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been told that ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day.’ My mum wouldn’t let me or my brother go off to school without a bowl of cereal or some porridge. Especially in the cold winter months.
But why is breakfast so important? Well, consider the word breakfast. It actually means ‘to break a fast.’ If your last meal was at 6 pm the night before and you get up at 7 am then you have gone for 13 hours without food. This counts as a fast (going without food for hours or days.)
If we go too long without food our brains get foggy, and we feel tired and lack energy. Also, our blood sugar drops over a period of time so we may start to crave sugary foods to give it a boost. These foods give us a short burst of energy but it doesn’t last for long. Then we find ourselves reaching for the Danish pastries again.
And now we find ourselves in a vicious circle; the more sugar we eat, the more we need. Healthy options go right out of the window. This could be why skipping breakfast has been linked with increased weight in both children and adults.
Studies have shown that people who eat a good breakfast every morning perform better at work and have more energy. Children do better at school if they’ve had breakfast, they are more alert and their brains absorb information faster. Click here to read more.
But having the same old breakfast, day in and day out can become very boring. What’s needed is some easy, quick and delicious breakfast recipes so that you can start the day with something exciting and tasty.
Home Made Granola
This is seriously good! Once you’ve tried this you will never go back to shop-bought granola. It keeps for a couple of weeks in an airtight container.
200g jumbo porridge oats
75g desiccated coconut
100g mixed nuts, such as almonds, pecans, and hazelnuts, chopped
50g mixed sunflower and pumpkin seeds
Half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon flavourless oil, such as sunflower or groundnut
75g butter, melted
50g soft light brown sugar, preferably muscovado
3 tablespoons maple syrup or runny honey
50g mixed dried fruit
A pinch of salt
Fresh berries and yoghurt to serve
To chop the nuts, place them in a strong plastic bag and bash them with a rolling pin or any heavy object. They just need to be roughly chopped. Melt the butter in the microwave in 20-second bursts until melted. Then simply mix the dry ingredients (except the dried fruit) with the wet ingredients and spread them out on a baking tray lined with silicone paper to prevent sticking.
Bake the granola in the oven for 20 minutes at gas mark 3/170C/325F. Stir gently then pop it back in for a further 10 minutes but keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t go too brown. You’re aiming for a dark golden brown colour.
Leave the granola to cool then break it up into clumps and mix in the dried fruit (cranberries, raisins and apricots are nice but you can use whatever you want.) Store the granola in an airtight jar or tin. Serve with yoghurt and fresh fruit for a satisfying breakfast.
This is a simple breakfast recipe that’s put together the night before and is ready and waiting for you when you open the fridge in the morning. This recipe makes one serving but feel free to double it.
50g rolled oats or porridge oats
A quarter teaspoon cinnamon
Yoghurt (natural or flavoured)
50g fresh berries, bananas or dried fruits
Milk, water or fruit juice
Honey or maple syrup
Get a serving glass or bowl and pour in the oats. Sprinkle over the cinnamon then top with enough milk, water or juice to cover the oats. Add some yoghurt, then your choice of fruit and finally more yoghurt. Drizzle over some honey or maple syrup according to taste.
Cover the bowl or glass and place it in the fridge overnight. The oats will absorb the liquid and all you need to do is add a bit more liquid to loosen it up, then top with more fruit if you like.
*If you make this in a jar with a lid then you can take it to work with you if you don’t want to eat it first thing in the morning.
Full English Breakfast
Now unless you have a lot of time in the mornings this is more of a weekend breakfast or brunch recipe. This is a British tradition and there are many variations. It’s very filling and healthier than you might imagine. Serves 2.
4 rashers of bacon, smoked or unsmoked
2 large tomatoes, cut in half
2 slices of white bread
4 – 6 good quality pork sausages
150g mushrooms, wiped clean and thickly sliced
1 can of baked beans in tomato sauce
Oil for frying
First of all, cook the sausages as these take the longest to cook. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and when hot, add the sausages. Lower the heat to medium and let the sausages cook for 5 – 7 minutes before turning them. Turn them frequently with tongs to ensure they brown evenly on all sides and are cooked through. This should take about 20 – 25 minutes.
Remove the sausages from the pan and put them on a plate. Keep them warm in the oven. Add the mushrooms to the pan and fry for 6 – 8 minutes until softened then remove them to the plate with the sausages. Fry the bacon over a high heat until it starts to go crisp, turning once. Keep warm with the sausages and mushrooms.
Fry the tomatoes, cut side down, turning as they cook. They should be soft and the skins slightly blackened. Keep warm.
Add some more oil to the pan and cut the slices of bread in half diagonally. Fry the triangles, turning once, until crisp and golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. You may need to add more oil as the bread will soak it up like a sponge.
Finally, crack the eggs into the pan and fry them for about 5 minutes, using a spoon to scoop the oil over the yolks. The whites should be firm and the yolks still runny.
To serve, divide the ingredients onto warmed plates, grind over some pepper and serve with a nice cup of tea.
*For variety, you can use different kinds of sausages, such as beef or chicken, slices of black pudding, whole field mushrooms, hash browns, fried potatoes, and hot buttered toast.
This is another recipe for when you’re not in a hurry. It’s pretty quick to make but the bread benefits from being left to soak up the egg mixture before cooking. But if you’re in a hurry it’s still good without the soaking time. Serves 2.
2 large eggs
80 ml whole milk
40 ml double cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (not essence)
Half a teaspoon of cinnamon
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 thick slices of brioche or fruit bread
Fresh berries and bananas to serve
Warm maple syrup for drizzling
Whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, vanilla and cinnamon in a bowl until well blended. Lay the slices of bread in a shallow dish, pour over the egg mixture and leave to soak for 5 minutes. Turn over and allow the other side to soak for 3 minutes.
Heat half the oil and butter in a non-stick pan until the butter is sizzling. Add 2 slices of bread and fry over a medium heat, pressing down gently as it cooks. Turn the bread over and cook the other side. You can check the colour by lifting the edge of the slice and looking underneath. It should be golden brown and crisp. Keep warm on a plate in a low oven. Fry the other 2 slices in the same way.
Peel and slice the bananas and set them aside. Don’t do this until the last minute or the bananas will turn brown. Place 2 slices of French toast on 2 warmed plates, cut in half diagonally, then arrange the banana slices and your choice of berries around the bread. Drizzle with maple syrup and serve hot.
Rocky Mountain Toast
I had this whilst on holiday in Canada. It was their version of French toast, cinnamon and raisin bread with fresh berries, whipped cream and a jug of warm maple syrup to pour over the top. It was delicious! This would make a great brunch for a lazy Sunday. Serves 2.
3 slices of fruit bread
A quarter teaspoon of ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons caster sugar
100g fresh mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries etc.)
150 ml double or whipping cream, whisked until thickened
150 ml maple syrup, warmed
Pour the maple syrup into a pan and warm gently. It shouldn’t be too hot, just warm. Pour it into a serving jug. Mix together the cinnamon and caster sugar in a small bowl. Toast the fruit bread and butter it generously.
Cut the slices in half diagonally and place 3 triangles on each plate. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar and scatter the berries around the bread. Put a couple of tablespoons of whipped cream on the side and serve with the jug of warmed maple syrup to pour over.
Breakfast Egg Muffins
These are like mini omelettes and can be eaten straight away, packed into a lunchbox or wrapped in foil to be eaten on the go. Eggs are high in protein so a couple of these little muffins will keep you going for hours. The variety of fillings is endless. See which one becomes your favourite. This is for 6 servings (12 muffins)
12 large eggs
4 spring onions, sliced
140g cooked bacon or ham
170g grated cheese
Salt and pepper
A little butter for greasing
For this you need a non-stick muffin tin, lightly greased with butter. If your tin isn’t non-stick you can drop paper muffin cases into the holes in the tin to prevent sticking. Trim the root ends off the spring onions and cut half of the green part off. Slice thinly. Chop the ham or bacon and put in the base of the muffin tins along with the onions.
Whisk the eggs well until thoroughly combined then add half the cheese. Pour the egg mixture on top of the bacon and onions, sprinkle over the rest of the cheese and bake in a hot oven, gas mark 5/190C/375F for about 15 minutes until firm and lightly browned.
Allow 2 muffins per person (depending on your appetite.)
*Be careful to only fill the muffin tins about three quarters full as the muffins will puff up and rise during cooking.
These are nice hot or cold and as they’re high in protein they’re more filling than cereal or toast.
Base mix – 12 eggs, beaten with some salt and pepper.
Tomato, Spinach and Mozzarella – chop 60g of fresh spinach and halve 8 cherry tomatoes. Place in the base of the muffin tins, pour over the eggs and sprinkle the mozzarella on top. Bake as above.
Garlic Mushroom and Red Pepper – wipe and slice 60g of mushrooms and chop 60g of red pepper finely. Place in the base of the muffin tins. Whisk the eggs with a quarter teaspoon of garlic powder or granules and pour over the vegetables. Bake as above.
Broccoli and Red Pepper – Finely chop 150g of fresh broccoli and remove the stalk and seeds from a small red pepper. Chop the pepper finely. Fry in a tablespoon of olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add to the beaten eggs, pour into the muffin tins and sprinkle with 50g grated cheddar cheese. Bake as above.
I hope that this has given you some ideas. Have some fun coming up with your own combinations and flavours.
This simple sandwich is a great British tradition; soft bread, crispy bacon and whatever sauce you prefer. It makes a great snack at any time, not just breakfast. Serves 1.
2 slices of white bread
2 rashers of back bacon or 3 rashers of streaky bacon (smoked or unsmoked)
Brown sauce, mustard or ketchup to serve
Put a non-stick pan on the heat and put the rashers of bacon in it while the pan is still cold; this will help to crisp up the fat and enhance the taste. Fry the bacon for about 5 minutes then turn it over with tongs. Give it another 3 – 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, butter the slices of bread and when the bacon is done lay the rashers across the bread and season with some pepper. You probably won’t need salt as bacon can be quite salty. Add whatever sauce you prefer, put the other slice of bread on top and cut in half. And that’s it!
*Variations – you can use different bread, like wholemeal, ciabatta, sourdough or French bread. Add sliced tomato, lettuce and mayonnaise for a BLT. You can also add cheese and allow it to melt before you take a bite. Pickles like gherkins (pickled cucumbers) or chutney can really add flavour. Experiment and see what works for you.
*You could also add an egg to your bacon sandwich, but to save getting egg yolk down your clothes flip the egg over in the pan and briefly cook the other side to softly set the yolk.
Smashed Avocado and Egg On Toast
This has become rather trendy recently. Avocados are a great breakfast food as they’re high in monounsaturated fat and contain 20 vitamins and minerals. The good fat helps to keep you fuller for longer. Adding eggs makes this even more satiating. Serves 2.
1 ripe medium avocado
2 slices of sourdough bread
Juice half a lemon
A pinch of dried chilli flakes (optional)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large eggs, boiled for 8 minutes
Salt and pepper
First, prepare the avocado. They have a large stone in the centre so use a sharp knife to cut around the fruit. Twist the 2 halves in opposite directions and the avocado should separate. Remove the stone by pushing the point of the knife into it and moving it upwards and out. Discard the stone.
Peel the shells off the eggs and cut them in half lengthways. Set aside while you prepare the avocado.
Scoop the avocado flesh into a bowl, scraping close to the skin as this adds a depth of colour to the mixture. Season with salt and pepper, squeeze in the lemon juice and add the chilli flakes, if using. Mash well with a fork.
Toast the bread on both sides, put it onto warmed plates and drizzle generously with the olive oil. Spread the avocado mixture on the toast and top with the eggs.
Who doesn’t love pancakes? Light and fluffy, drizzled with honey or maple syrup and served with fresh fruit. Or simply with lemon juice and sugar, like my mum used to make for us on Shrove Tuesday – known as pancake day. These are a great weekend breakfast when you have more time to spend in the kitchen. Serves 4.
135g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of salt
130 ml milk
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons melted butter plus extra for frying
Maple syrup or honey
Fresh fruit to serve
Put the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar into a large bowl. Beat the egg in a jug and add the melted butter. Mix together thoroughly.
Heat a non-stick frying pan and add a knob of butter. When the butter is sizzling, use a ladle or large spoon to scoop out some batter and pour it carefully into the pan. You may be able to fry 2 pancakes at a time but it depends on the size of your frying pan. (These pancakes are quite thick but that’s how they should be.)
When bubbles appear on the surface of the batter use a fish slice or spatula to flip the pancake over and cook the other side. They should be a nice golden brown colour. Put the cooked pancakes onto a plate and keep them warm in a low oven while you cook the rest of the pancakes. You should have about 12, but it depends on how much batter you use for each one.
Serve the pancakes on warmed plates, decorated with your choice of fruit and plenty of maple syrup or honey drizzled over.
I hope that this has given you some inspiration and that you will enjoy trying these recipes. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.
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