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Leftover birthday cake, Froot Loops®, or the last strawberry that isn’t growing hair—you may feel like this is all you have time for in the morning. With a few extra minutes, however, you can put together breakfast combinations that will get you bounding out the door without compromising your health down the road. These morning meals may inspire you.

“A healthy breakfast gives you the energy and nutrients you need to get through your day. If you don’t like to eat breakfast first thing in the morning, aim to have a healthy breakfast within two hours of waking up,” says Lori Smart, Registered Dietitian and Manager of Dietitian Services at HealthLink BC, a health resource provided by the government of British Columbia. Students agree. Seven out of ten of you eat breakfast at least several times a week, according to a recent Student Health 101 survey. “Eating a healthy breakfast is one of the best things you can do for your body. It wakes me up more quickly and gets my energy going for the day,” says Sara A., a fourth-year undergraduate at the University of Regina, Saskatchewan.

Nutrition experts weigh in on these quick, easy, and nutritious breakfast ideas.

Our experts:

Lori Smart

Lori Smart, BA, BSc, RD, Manager of Dietitian Services at HealthLink BC, British Columbia

Eric Williamson

Eric Williamson, RD, Fitness, Nutrition, and Exercise Coach; Master of Exercise Science candidate with a concentration in Sports Nutrition at the University of Toronto

Click below for recipes.

Egg, avo, & waffle open-face sandwich

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • ¼ ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 frozen packaged whole-wheat waffle
  • Dash of salt and black pepper
  • Cooking spray or oil

Directions:

  • In a small bowl, mash the avocado. Set aside.
  • Lightly coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Heat over medium-high heat. Break the egg and slip it into the pan. Immediately reduce the heat to low.
  • Cook until the egg white is completely set and the yolk begins to thicken but is not yet firm.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the waffle according to the package’s directions.
  • Spread the avocado on the waffle and top with the egg. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

“This is a good recipe, as it includes a variety of foods from the different food groups and a good source of healthy fat from the avocado. The protein from the egg and the fat from the avocado will help you feel full longer. I suggest adding some vegetables to the sandwich, such as sliced tomato or fresh spinach.” —LS

“I appreciate the inclusion of avocado. We often think of breakfast as the same stereotypical foods, such as cereal, muffins, and bagels. Breaking free from these boundaries allows us to add variety to our regimented mornings.” —EW

Check out another recipe:

Green eggs and ham scramble with toast

Prep time: 15 minutes
Makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1-2 handfuls of fresh kale or spinach, chopped
  • 1 slice of ham or ¼ block of tofu (add spices and herbs to tofu for extra flavour)
  • 1 slice of wholegrain toast
  • Dash of salt and black pepper
  • Cooking spray or oil

Directions:

  • Preheat a pan on medium heat and coat with cooking spray or oil. Heat the ham slice or seasoned tofu on each side until warmed and slightly browned.
  • Remove from the pan, chop, and set aside.
  • Sauté kale or spinach just until wilted (1–3 minutes).
  • Add the beaten eggs to the pan with the kale or spinach and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat until the eggs are set and slightly firm.
  • While egg mixture is cooking, toast the bread.
  • Remove the eggs from the heat. Add the chopped ham or tofu to the scrambled eggs and stir.
  • Season with salt and pepper. Eat!

“From a nutrition perspective, this is balanced, provides a good source of protein for energy, and fibre from the wholegrain bread and veggies. Those who don’t eat ham can add some grated cheese. Look in the vegetarian or vegan sections of the grocery store for non-dairy varieties.” —LS

Breakfast parfait

Prep time: 5 minutes
Makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 1 small container of Greek yogurt
  • 150 g fresh berries of your choice, such as blueberries or sliced strawberries
  • 30 g low-sugar or no-sugar granola

Directions:

  • In a serving glass, dollop a spoonful of yogurt and sprinkle a layer of berries, followed by a spoonful of granola.
  • Repeat layers until all ingredients are used.

If plain yogurt is not sweet enough for you, add a touch of honey. Honey is still sugar, but this way you can control the amount. Flavoured yogurts are typically high in added sugar.

“Choose plain Greek yogurt, as many yogurts have lots of added sugar. Some sweetness will be added to the parfait through the granola, or you can drizzle a little honey or maple syrup on top of the parfait.” —LS

“Protein seems to be the long-lost nutrient of many breakfast options. Greek yogurt is a delicious solution to this issue. To provide an even more nutritious punch, I suggest topping this off with a tablespoon or two of nuts or seeds. Some of my favourites for yogurt parfaits are chia seeds, hemp seeds, or pecans.” —EW

Cereal with milk and fruit

Prep time: 2 minutes

As simple as it sounds, a low-sugar or no-sugar wholegrain cereal with milk and sliced fruit is a quick and satisfying breakfast that incorporates protein, complex carbohydrates, and nutrients.

“When I have sugar-filled cereal for breakfast versus [an unsweetened option, such as] rolled oats, I usually run out of energy or have a sugar crash before lunchtime,” says Joseph U., a fourth-year undergraduate at Trent University, Ontario.

More low-sugar cereal options
(add fruit and nuts to liven them up):

  • Original Cheerios®: 1 g sugar per serving (27 g)
  • Rice Chex®: 2 g sugar per serving (27 g)
  • Quaker® Oatmeal: 0 g sugar per serving (30 g dry old-fashioned or quick oats)

“Another suggestion for oatmeal is to add a tablespoon of peanut butter or nut butter for extra protein. I often eat my cooked oatmeal with a half of a banana and some peanut butter.” —LS

“If you want a way to spice things up, try adding a flavour kick with unsweetened cocoa, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, or even cilantro.  Remember that food is about both nutrition and enjoyment!” —EW

Green smoothie

Prep time: 5 minutes
Makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 2 generous handfuls of spinach
  • 140 g (1 cup) diced pineapple, mango, strawberries, or any fruit of your choice (fresh or frozen)
  • 280 g (1 cup) Greek yogurt
  • 8 oz. (1 cup) of low-fat milk (or unsweetened almond or soy milk)

Directions:
Place all ingredients in a blender, mix until smooth, and enjoy.

“This smoothie is a great source of vitamins and minerals, including iron, Vitamin C, and calcium. It’s perfect if you’re on your way to work or school. If you don’t eat dairy, stick with the almond or soy beverage. Frozen fruit will help make the smoothie creamier without the yogurt.” —LS

“Blending fruit with leafy greens is a great way to moderate the strong taste of leafy greens. Smoothies are also a good answer for those short on time in the morning—put the ingredients together the night before, then in the morning, blend and enjoy.” —EW

What’s in a healthy breakfast?

What’s in a healthy breakfast? Here’s why

Whole grains (e.g., whole-wheat toast or waffles)

Complex carbs provide fibre and sustained energy

Protein (e.g., eggs, yogurt, lean meat)

Protein and fat helps you feel full for longer

Fruits and vegetables (e.g., fruit and veggie smoothie, orange, sliced tomatoes)

Fruits and veggies provide energy, fibre, vitamins, & minerals

Be in the know about sugary cereals

Opt for cereal with 3 grams or less of added sugar per serving.
Add fresh fruit for extra sweetness.

Sweet cereals might taste good, but they cram in more sugar than our bodies know what to do with. Research has shown that eating too much added sugar is linked to chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and liver disease. Because of this, the World Health Organization recommends we eat fewer than
25 grams of added sugar per day (that estimate is based
on a 2,000-calorie diet).

One bowl of a sugary cereal like Lucky Charms® could have us exceeding 25 g before we’ve even had the chance to eat lunch! Just one serving packs in 10 g of added sugar. That serving amount wouldn’t even half-fill your bowl. Realistically, you’ll probably eat more.

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