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Leftover birthday cake, Apple Jacks®, 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.

“Breakfast kick-starts your energy for the day. It’s fuel, both for [your] brain and body,” says Jan Dowell, registered dietitian and instructor in the nutrition department at Benedictine University, Illinois. Students agree. Six out of ten of you eat breakfast at least several times a week, according to a recent Student Health 101 survey. “I feel much better after eating a healthy breakfast. I have more energy in the morning, as well as being able to last longer until lunch,” says Catherine O., a second-year student at John Tyler Community College, Virginia.

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

Our experts:

Karen Moses

Karen Moses, EDD, RD, CHES, director of health promotion at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona

Jenna Volpe

Jenna Volpe, RD, registered dietitian specializing in weight management and eating disorders, Quincy, Massachusetts

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

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.

“Balance is key! The complex carbs from the waffle will give you energy to burn. The fiber from the whole grains, protein from the egg, and monounsaturated fats from the avocado help to stabilize blood sugar, which will result in lasting energy to keep you full and satisfied all morning.” —JV

“Add a small glass of orange juice or grapefruit juice to this breakfast, or add a slice or two of tomato for a boost of Vitamin C.” —KM

Check out another recipe:

Green eggs and ham scramble

Prep time: 15 minutes
Makes
1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup of fresh kale or spinach, chopped
  • 1 slice of ham or ¼ block of tofu (add spices and herbs to tofu for extra flavor)
  • 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!

“By adding green leafy vegetables like kale or spinach to this scramble, you are adding lots of nutrients and fiber.” —KM

Breakfast parfait

Prep time: 5 minutes
Makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup or 1 small container of Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup fresh berries of your choice, such as blueberries or sliced strawberries
  • ½ cup 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. Flavored yogurts are typically high in added sugar.

“The protein, calcium, fiber, and antioxidants make this a well-balanced meal. Opt for plain yogurt to minimize added sugars, and consider adding a spoonful of nuts for healthy fat.” —JV

“This tasty meal can be served for breakfast and also makes a delicious and healthy dessert or snack!” —KM

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.

“I honestly feel like I am able to produce more insightful thoughts in class discussions when I am not consuming sugar and simple carbs for breakfast,” says Jennifer S., a fourth-year undergraduate at Humboldt State University in California.

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

  • Original Cheerios®: 1g sugar per serving (1 cup)
  • Kix®: 3g sugar per serving (1 ¼ cups)
  • Quaker® Oatmeal: 1g sugar per serving (½ cup dry old-fashioned or quick oats)

“One of my favorite meals is wholegrain cereal with nuts and fruit with milk or yogurt. It’s packed with fiber, low in fat, and provides my calcium for the day.” —KM

Green smoothie

Prep time: 5 minutes
Makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of spinach
  • 1 cup diced pineapple, mango, strawberries, or any fruit of your choice (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup of low-fat milk (or unsweetened almond or soy milk)

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

“Smoothies are a great way to sneak in extra veggies, especially if you’re not a salad person. A spoonful of nut butter can give this recipe a boost of heart-healthy fats and will help reduce the glycemic index (rate at which our blood sugar goes up after a meal).” —JV

“By blending greens such as spinach or kale into your morning smoothie, you get all the fiber and nutrients of the veggies in a delicious breakfast drink. For those who enjoy a cold smoothie, freeze your fruit before blending.” —KM

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 fiber 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, fiber, 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 25g before we’ve even had the chance to eat lunch! Just one serving packs in 10g of added sugar. That serving amounts to only three-quarters of a cup of cereal (which wouldn’t even half-fill your bowl). Realistically, you’ll probably eat more.

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