› Follow the two-handed rule
Alarm didn’t go off this morning? Need to be out of the house faster than a speeding bullet? If there isn’t a second to spare, just grab and go: Snag a protein in one hand and a fibre-rich carbohydrate in the other, and head for the door. At the very least you’ll be getting the benefits of a good breakfast—one that is better for mental performance in the morning.
› Get protein power
Studies have found that eating protein-rich foods at breakfast, like cottage cheese and eggs, can help you feel more full throughout the morning and help avoid overeating at lunch. Rapid-fire proteins include mini containers of yogurt or pre-wrapped cheese, hard-boiled eggs, or baggies of almonds or sunflower seeds. And for a less common but still great alternative, check these out: smoked salmon, leftover chicken, beans, silken tofu, kefir. Try giving your oatmeal a protein punch tomorrow morning by adding milk, hemp seeds and a scoop of peanut butter.
Tools of the tradeKeep these essentials on hand and become the master of quick takeoffs:
• Airtight containers of all sizes, washed and ready to go
• Mason jars for trail mix, dried fruit, cheese sticks, fresh berry parfaits or overnight oats
• Reusable water bottles, because staying hydrated is a must for clear thinking all day
• Smoothie containers—the best ones have metal wire balls to keep your smoothie smooth
› Carb up on fibre
Many baked goods that are popular quick-fix breakfast choices are made from refined grains and added sugar, which can cause your blood sugar to spike, and then crash—leaving you hungry, cranky and craving more. Watch out for sugary cereals (by weight, some are almost half sugar), granola bars (especially the ones made with chocolate or marshmallows), toaster pastries, cinnamon buns, store-bought muffins and sweetened instant oatmeal. Last but not least, some protein and energy bars are almost candy bars in disguise. Read the labels and look for at least 7 to 10 grams of protein, no more than 8 grams of sugar, and at least 3 grams of fibre.
Overnight Oats, trail mix and leftovers (yes, it's ok to have dinner for breakfast) can all be prepared before you hit the hay. And making a batch of hard-boiled eggs at the start of the week is also a good idea-they can be used not only for breakfast, but as snacks or toppers on salad for the whole family. On the weekend, make your own granola or muesli out of nuts, seeds, dried fruit and oats, so it can be combined with ygourt, cottage cheese or fresh fruit lickety-split. It'll save you a trip through the drive-through.
› Blend it up
Smoothies are one of the speediest ways to a healthy breakfast. Make yours satisfying with protein from Greek yogurt, milk, soy beverage, kefir, silken tofu or nut butter. Fill up with fibre from oats, or fresh or frozen fruit (the latter is washed and pre-cut for convenience, and retains many of the key nutrients). And for healthy fats, try avocados, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and peanut or almond butter. Add a handful of spinach or kale, and you’ll have a breakfast so healthy you’ll want to be in a rush more often. Tip: Be sure you make enough to share—odds are you’ll be asked.
Pack your pantry
Stock up on non-perishable food items that can be turned into a portable breakfast in an instant, both at home and at the office. In addition to staples like peanut or almond butter, make sure you have a selection of nuts at the ready, as well as seeds like sunflower, chia and pumpkin. While you’re at it, pick up some dried, unsweetened fruits like apricots, raisins, apples, dates and figs: They offer up fibre and blood pressure-lowering potassium. Combine these staples to make a quick trail mix or use them as toppers on oatmeal, cereal or yogurt.