Think outside the cereal box: build a better breakfast


Whether you are a regimented breakfast eater, a breakfast skipper or fall somewhere in between, we could all use some new ideas for breaking our overnight fast with something besides a pastry, a bowl of cereal or a bagel. All too often people grab what is most convenient during their busy morning and pay the price shortly thereafter when their blood sugar crashes and energy tanks.

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Adding a few different ideas to your repertoire just might help to launch you into a balanced-breakfast eating routine that will have you sailing more smoothly through the rest of your day. Check out a different take on breakfast bowls in the video and recipes below or try Sweet Potato Toast, Minute Oatmeal Muffins, Fisherman’s Eggs, Zoodles Breakfast Casserole, or Egg Muffins.

The two main points to keep in mind when you choose your ideal breakfast are to make it balanced and make it your own.

1. Make it Balanced

Whether you tend to eat a hardy breakfast or prefer something a little lighter, use the first meal of your day to get a head start on fueling your body with the nutrients it needs to perform at its best. A nutritious source of carbohydrates will help you start your day with energy, but be sure to include an anchor (i.e. healthy fat and/or protein) to keep you satisfied. While you’re at it, include colorful, plant-based foods to ensure that you are getting phytonutrients to decrease inflammation, fight oxidation and support your immune system.

If you find that you are hungry less than 2 hours after eating breakfast, consider increasing the amount of healthy fat, protein, fiber and/or volume in your breakfast. Some simple ways to do this could include adding some nuts, seeds, nut butter, protein powder or vegetables to your meal.


2. Make it Your Own

Your breakfast doesn’t have to look like something you’d see on the cover of a magazine to be both crave-worthy and filling. Use what you like and what you have around the house. Leftovers from last night’s dinner might fit the bill. Or maybe portioning out five breakfast parfaits on the weekend will make your weekday mornings a breeze. Find whatever what works best for you and what fuels you all morning long.


Quick and Balanced Breakfast Bowls


Adjust the ingredients and portions in the recipes below to fit your needs. If you tend to do best with a larger breakfast, you might even mix and match 2 bowls to create the perfect breakfast for you. If you can envision yourself eating any of these more than once a week, do yourself a favor, multiply the recipe and pack some extra servings in the fridge for a morning you’re short on time.


Savory Cucumber Yogurt Bowl

Makes 1 serving


  • 1 cup plain organic, grass-fed Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup chopped English cucumber
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil or dill
  • 1 tsp olive oil


  1. Add yogurt and cucumber to a bowl.
  2. Top with a sprinkle of salt, chopped basil or dill, and a drizzle of olive oil.



Fresh & Balanced Crudité Bowl

Makes 1 serving


  • 1-2 hard-boiled eggs
  • 3 mini sweet peppers
  • 1 celery stalk, cut
  • 5-6 grape tomatoes
  • 1-2 rainbow carrots, cut
  • 7-8 olives


  1. Boil eggs:
    • Pressure Cooking Method: Place steamer insert into stainless steel pot in the Instant Pot and pour in 1 cup cold water. Arrange desired number of eggs on top of steamer insert. Set to Manual High Pressure for 6 minutes. Quick release pressure. Immediately transfer cooked eggs to a bowl of ice water and allow to cool for 5 minutes before peeling or storing in fridge.
    • Stovetop Method: Place desired number of eggs in a pot and cover with cold water by 1-2 inches. Bring to a rolling boil, cover with a lid and cook for 30 seconds. Remove pot from heat and let stand for 10-12 minutes (do NOT remove the lid). Transfer cooked eggs to a bowl of ice water and allow to cool for 5 minutes before peeling or storing in fridge.
  2. Assemble bowl:
    • Add all ingredients to a bowl or plate.
    • Adjust the amount and types of ingredients to best suit your needs. Enjoy!


  • You can prepare a batch of eggs in advance and store in the fridge until ready to eat to save time in the morning.



Amaranth Breakfast Bowl

Makes 1 serving


  • ½ cup cooked amaranth
  • ½ cup raspberries
  • 1 Tbsp tahini
  • 1 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • A sprinkle of your favorite spices (I like 4 parts cinnamon to 2 parts allspice and 1 part cardamom)


  1. Prepare amaranth:
    • Pressure Cooking Method: Combine 1 cup amaranth with 2.5 cups water. Press the manual button and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Allow to release naturally for 10 minutes, then release the remaining pressure.
    • Stovetop Method: Combine one cup amaranth with 2.5-3 cups water in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for up to 20-25 minutes, depending on whether you are aiming for fluffy or porridge-like. For a porridge-like consistency, use slightly more water (3 cups for 1 cup of grain) and cook a little longer.
  2. Assemble breakfast bowl:
    • Add amaranth and raspberries to a bowl.
    • Top with pumpkin seeds and spices.


  • You can prepare amaranth in advance and store in the fridge until ready to eat to save time in the morning.
  • If you are having this by itself, feel free to mix in a scoop of protein powder or collagen peptides to make sure you start your morning with plenty of protein. This mixes well when amaranth is a porridge-like consistency or when you use frozen berries that have been thawed and release their juices.


About Author

Jen Sohl-Marion, MPH, RDN, LDN

Manager of Nutrition and Healthy Living Programs

Jen is the Manager of Nutrition and Healthy Living Programs at SAS Institute in Cary, NC. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and an Integrative and Functional Nutrition Certified Practitioner. Outside of work, Jen enjoys hiking with her family, practicing yoga and spending quality time with her dogs.

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