Recently I’ve become completely obsessed with getting more protein in to my diet. It’s a nutrient that gets a lot of attention but often in a really unhealthy way, with ‘High Protein’ products stuffed with additives and confusingly labelled (High Protein Weetabix anyone?!).
But there are loads of natural ways to add protein into your diet. With simple swaps and a bit of consideration you can increase your intake very easily.
My focus personally has been what I can do to increase my protein intake at breakfast. Where lunch and dinner might more easily be based around a protein source a lot of the time (think meat or fish generally, though plant-based sources are available too!), breakfast is often overlooked for protein.
The ‘standard’ offerings for breakfast consist of cereals (often sugary) served with milk and maybe some fruit, or a slice of toast with let’s say jam, honey or Marmite.
None of these dishes are going to give a decent serving of protein. Which is a crying shame given protein keeps us feeling fuller for longer, which is what you want to start your day and make the most of your morning.
So if you want to increase your protein intake across the day and start with a full feeling that will carry you through until lunch, here are my top 4 ideas for easy breakfasts to pack a punch:
1. Overnight oats
My one-stop breakfast box was the last breakfast recipe I shared. Embarrassingly that was over 6 months ago now, which I must rectify. But partly that’s because this recipe is so good and so versatile that it’s hard to top.
Admittedly this is a recipe that in order to get a good hit of protein I do recommend including a scoop of protein powder.
Historically I think protein powders have often seemed extremely male dominated and macho branded. Served up in enormous barrels, often with artificial flavours and additives, they definitely didn’t seem accessible or indeed ‘healthy’.
However I think in today’s world of nutrition world there are absolutely loads of protein powder options to suit all tastes and budgets, made from a lot more natural ingredients. Some of my favourites you might like to consider are:
Overnight oats are quick, easy and can be made in a batch to see you through the week. It’s a zero thinking grab and go box and can be topped with even more protein like a dollop of nut butter or a sprinkle of seeds before serving.
2. Eggs on toast
Eggs were the first breakfast I ever posted about on The Flourishing Pantry and they’ve never disappeared from my weekly menu.
If you have time in the morning, I honestly don’t think you can eat anything more wonderful than a poached egg.
It’s easier than you think to poach an egg. Heat your water in a small saucepan so it just starts to bubble, but not a full on furious boil. Add a splash of vinegar to the water (any will do) and break your egg slowly into the centre of the pan. Don’t swirl the water or touch the egg; if it’s fresh it will naturally come together. For a runny centre cook for no longer than 2 minutes. Scoop out with a slotted spoon.
Even if you’re short on time and need something on the run, boiling up eggs in advance and keeping them in the fridge means you can have them in a hurry too. I love them sliced up on toast.
You might also notice from my picture that I add extra protein to my eggs with a sprinkle of seeds too. More on that later…
3. Nut butter on toast
I often watch my husband have toast for breakfast at the weekend and his topping of choice almost without fail is jam.
While I appreciate it’s lovely and comforting to have a crunchy slice of toast slathered in butter and sweet sticky strawberry jam, it’s delivering virtually zero protein and inevitably leads to hunger not too many hours later.
If you love toast in the morning I would really recommend trying to swap out your regular topping for a nut butter. Go for a really high quality nut butter with 100% nuts if you can - loads of the supermarkets do their own versions now. Personally i’m not a peanut butter fan (shock horror, I seem to be the only person on the planet sometimes!) so I opt for almond or cashew butter.
Combined with a sliced banana and a sprinkling of seeds you’ve transformed your toast into a protein packed start to the day.
4. Sprinkle and seeds
There’s been a theme so far in my recommendations which you might have spotted: a sprinkle of nuts and seeds.
I did a bit of research across the internet and also in my cook books for other high protein breakfasts before putting this blog post together. There were some nice ideas, but none of them were exactly quick. It’s lovely to have time to do a scrambled tofu or omelette or other elaborate breakfast with more protein. But that’s not always practical Monday to Friday.
I’ve therefore decided to dedicate ‘recipe’ number 4 to the humble sprinkle of nuts and seeds. Because they can instantly boost whatever your regular breakfast is: porridge, cereals, granolas, toast or eggs - with extra protein with no effort whatsoever.
I’d recommend getting a seed mix so you can the biggest variety possible. Lidl do a simple seed mix containing pumpkin, sunflower and flaxseeds. I also love Wyldsson’s Pro Mixes, with different blends of dried fruits, nuts and seeds. Takes all the thinking out of it!
What do you reckon? Do you think about protein at breakfast? Will you give any of these ideas a try?
For really sensible, evidence-backed advice on what to eat for breakfast read the BDA’s Food Facts sheet on breakfasts. While protein is great to include to start your day, it’s all about getting a mix of nutrients. Eating more protein isn’t about eating less carbs. It’s all about balance!
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