As a nation, we love heavy breakfast foods. From pancakes dripping with butter and maple syrup to fried bacon and eggs, typical all-American breakfasts are tasty, but certainly don’t win the nutrition Olympics. But with a few simple tweaks, you can enjoy a lighter morning meal. Try these six recipe swaps for breakfast classics that are a bit more healthful and still tasty.
The Classic: A Stack of Pancakes
Those fluffy pancakes from your local diner are likely loaded with problematic nutrients: calories, saturated fat, added sugars and sodium. If you’re eating out, your pancakes can contain between 500 and 1000 calories, and up to 50 grams of fat! DIY pancakes fare slightly better, but pancake mix can also be high in sodium and added sugars.
Try making pancakes from scratch! Swap white whole-wheat flour into your pancake recipe for a boost of fiber without any noticeable impact on the flavor. Never made pancakes before? Try our recipe for Whole-Grain Buttermilk Pancakes!
The Classic: French Toast with Butter and Maple Syrup
It may not look like more than gooey bread, but a plate of diner french toast can contain between 740 and 1000 calories. A few pats of butter and a drizzle of maple syrup piles on even more calories, mostly from added fat and sugar.
If you’re preparing French toast at home, use 100% whole-wheat bread or multi-grain bread. You’ll get more fiber and nutrients than you will from white bread.
You can also try swapping out your two tablespoons of maple syrup for homemade fruit compote. This will boost your antioxidants, fiber and flavor, and compote is quick and easy to make! Heat ½ cup fresh or frozen berries in a small saucepan on low for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the berries achieve a sauce-like consistency. Then, pour your compote over your French toast and enjoy!
Finally, consider swapping out your tablespoon of butter for a tablespoon of almond butter instead. You’ll get a boost of healthy fats that will make the meal more satisfying.
The Classic: Bacon, Egg and Cheese on a Bagel or English Muffin
Bacon, egg and cheese on a bagel or English muffin is a cafe classic. The eggs and bacon, make this dish high in protein and iron, but just one sandwich can have up to 30% of your daily recommended intake for saturated fat, and almost half your sodium. Try our swaps to lessen the load a bit.
Substitute Canadian bacon for regular bacon. It contains just one-tenth the saturated fat of bacon (an ounce of Canadian bacon has 0.3 grams of saturated fat while an ounce of bacon has 3.3 grams).
Choose whole-wheat bagels and English muffins for more fiber and nutrients than you’ll get from their plain counterparts. Add veggies to your breakfast sandwich to get a serving (or two!) in before lunch.
For a whole new take on this classic, try our Green Eggs & Ham Bagel Breakfast Sandwich!
The Classic: Sausage, Fried Eggs and Hashbrowns
A plate of sausage, eggs and fried potatoes is high in saturated fat, low in fiber and leaves your body wondering, “Where are the vegetables?” With a few tasteful swaps you’ll be on your way to a lighter breakfast alternative.
Substitute Canadian Bacon in place of sausage. It’ll still satisfy your savory cravings and you’ll get less than a gram of saturated fat per three-ounce serving.
Instead of fried potato hash browns, try half of a medium-sized baked potato, skin and all. It’ll lower the calorie count and add some essential minerals, including potassium, magnesium and iron, to the mix.
The Classic: Breakfast Burritos
Breakfast burritos are a filling, portable and savory breakfast full of whole-food protein. But classic burritos tend to be made with heavily processed flour tortillas, cheese and sausage. Individually, these ingredients aren’t all bad, but combined, they add up to a significant amount of saturated fat and sodium.
Instead of cheese, opt for a few slices of avocado or one or two tablespoons of rich, creamy guacamole. This reduces the saturated fat load and introduces a source of heart-healthy fats and antioxidant-rich nutrients.
Swap out a white tortilla for a whole-wheat tortilla or corn tortilla. This simple switch can add three to four grams of fiber per serving.
Instead of sour cream, try Greek yogurt. Sour cream contains approximately 60 calories and 3.5 grams of saturated fat per serving, while low-fat Greek yogurt has just 22 calories and 0.3 grams of saturated fat.
The Classic: Breakfast Muffins
Muffins are a grab-and-go breakfast favorite, but many are full of calories from simple sugars and lacking in nutrient density. A large blueberry muffin, for example, has about 520 calories, most of which come from sugars (44 grams) and simple carbohydrates (74 grams). It’s also low in dietary fiber and micronutrients.
Instead of getting a store or cafe-bought muffin, check out our great recipes for baking your own!
If you already have a favorite muffin recipe, try swapping in whole-wheat flour or whole-oat flour for a boost of dietary fiber and essential minerals.
If you like to butter your muffin, try swapping out your tablespoon of butter for a tablespoon of nut butter (peanut, almond or cashew) instead. This will give you a boost of protein, fiber, micronutrients and healthy fats. In addition, this swap can help prevent fluctuations in blood sugar levels throughout the morning and promote slower digestion so you feel full and satisfied longer.