Quick morning fixes

Begin your day with these easy-to-make, nutritious breakfast recipes

Shweta Taneja
Updated1 Aug 2016
Photographs: iStockphoto<br />
Photographs: iStockphoto

The alarm clock goes off. You push yourself out of bed, dragging yourself groggily to the bathroom. As you brush your teeth, you look at the clock, and panic sets in. You are late, so you dress hurriedly and rush out without having what nutritionists consider the most important meal of the day—breakfast.

But is it really that important a meal? Most would say yes. Some research in the UK and US, however, has tried to question the idea of starting the day with an energy-laden meal. For instance, a study published in 2014 in the Journal Of Nutritional Science, which studied 36 overweight adults—some of them had chilled cornflakes or oat porridge for breakfast and some skipped the meal—concluded that skipping breakfast actually led to a reduction in body weight; however, it added, there was an increase in the cholesterol levels of those who skipped breakfast.

“You need a decent meal after sleeping for 7-8 hours,” says Anita Jatana, chief dietitian at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals in New Delhi, disagreeing with the 2014 study and insisting that skipping breakfast can lead to weight gain, for you tend to eat more during other mealtimes, or have high-calorie snacks in between.

Moreover, there’s a reason to have a meal within the first 2 hours of waking up.

Your body works while you sleep, repairing and restoring itself, and requires a good meal in the morning to supply it with energy. “A good breakfast ensures you go through the day with improved concentration, performance, strength and endurance,” adds Jatana.

Breakfast not only improves your memory and concentration, it also lowers levels of bad LDL cholesterol and the chances of getting diabetes and heart disease, says Divya Choudhary, chief dietitian at the Max Super Speciality Hospital in Shalimar Bagh, Delhi. “Though the portion size will depend on your age, activity and dietary goals, a healthy breakfast needs to contain proteins, wholegrains, fruits and vegetables,” she says. Sprouts, nuts and oats are her favourite combination for a quick, healthy snack.

Beginning your day on an empty stomach can lead, in fact, to other health complications. “Acidity, headache, inefficiency at work...all these will happen if you don’t have a healthy meal within the first 2 hours of waking up,” says Suvarna Pathak, a dietitian at the Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital in Mumbai. Pathak says her parents always gave her breakfast before she left home, even if it was as early as 6.30am, a habit that she too has inculcated in her children.

What’s a perfect breakfast?

Are you swayed by advertisements where celebrities endorse products like instant foods, including cereals and aerated beverages? This, in fact, can be more harmful than skipping breakfast. “You should avoid meals high in starch and opt for unrefined, low-starch grains, with healthy proteins and salads cooked in olive or groundnut oil,” says nutritionist Madhuri Ruia, founder of Integym, Mumbai, and a Mint columnist.

Most traditional Indian meals, like poha, upma and idli, are high in starch and calories, which is great if you need a shot of energy— but what you also need is a healthy dose of protein to keep you going for the day. Choose what Ruia calls “first-class proteins”. “Egg white, paneer, chicken or fish ensures balance in blood sugar and insulin levels,” she says. And when it comes to carbohydrates, adds Ruia, “opt for grains like oats, muesli, nachni (finger millet), bajra roti or multigrain roti, which give you energy but keep you feeling full for longer”.

The body needs essential nutrients like calcium, iron and vitamin B, as well as protein and fibre in the morning, says Shikha Sharma, founder and managing director of Nutri-Health, a Delhi-based wellness clinic. She says an ideal breakfast should be split into three parts: “One-third should be carbohydrates, another third should be filled with proteins and the remaining portion should be fruits and vegetables.”

It is also good to add variety to your plate. “It’s like exercise. If you keep doing the same set of exercises again and again, your body stops responding,” says Mumbai-based sports nutritionist Deepshikha Agarwal. A variation will ensure you don’t get bored—and that you consume different types of vitamins and minerals.

Agarwal suggests choosing between idli-sambhar with fruit, milk with cornflakes, vegetable poha, pancake with a milkshake, or a vegetable omelette with a bran muffin and orange juice.


A balanced diet

Have a portion of each of these in your breakfast every day to balance your carbohydrate, protein and vitamin needs

Cereal: Oats, wheat, muesli, brown bread, multigrain ‘roti’, ‘idli’, ‘rava’ and millets like ‘ragi’

Proteins: Eggs, ‘paneer’, sprouts, gram, ‘besan’, ‘sambhar’, chicken and fish

Milk or milk products: Low-fat yogurt, low-fat milk, masala buttermilk, ‘lassi’ or smoothie

Fruit and vegetables: Bananas, apples, melons, carrots, oranges, grapes, papaya, watermelons, dry fruits, mushrooms and cucumber


Breakfast: The must-have meal

If you have a busy morning and want to make breakfast in under 7 minutes, try these recipes, suggested by health experts

Open multigrain sandwich with chicken

A source of complex carbohydrates with protein, this will balance your blood sugar and insulin levels while providing you with energy for the day, says Madhuri Ruia, founder of Integym, Mumbai.

Ingredients: 1 slice multigrain bread; 50g shredded chicken; a few lettuce leaves; 1 tbsp dill leaves, chopped; 1 tsp chia seeds; 1 tbsp mayonnaise; salt and pepper (crushed), to taste.

How: Mix the chicken with dill leaves, salt and pepper. Apply a light coat of mayonnaise to the bread slice. Place some lettuce leaves on it, layer the chicken and sprinkle the chia seeds. Wrap in an aluminium foil to eat while you travel.

Oatmeal smoothie

A personal favourite of Shikha Sharma, founder of Delhi-based wellness clinic Nutri-Health, this recipe is rich in antioxidants, and high in protein and fibre. “It helps in maintaining heart health and is good for diabetics,” she says.

Ingredients: 2 cups milk; 75g plain oats; 50g papaya; 1 tsp honey; a pinch of cardamom powder; 2 grated almonds.

How: Heat the milk in a vessel and add the oats. When it’s ready, take it off the flame and add papaya, cardamom powder and honey. Mix to form a smooth texture. Garnish with grated almonds.

Open cheese cucumber sandwich

This can be a tasty breakfast option, according to Sandhya Pandey, chief clinical nutritionist at the Fortis Memorial Research Institute in Gurgaon, adjoining Delhi. “Add a fruit or juice and you’re ready to face the day.”

Ingredients: Slices of cucumber; half cup low-fat ‘paneer’/cheese; a slice of wholewheat bread; salt and pepper, to taste.

How: Place the ‘paneer’ or cheese on the slice of bread, add the cucumber slices and sprinkle salt and pepper.

u Porridge with stew apples

The sweetness of this recipe comes from apples, which, in addition to the complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, make it a power-packed breakfast option, says Shonali Sabherwal, a
Mumbai-based nutritionist and chef. “Your energy level will be high throughout the day.”

Ingredients: Leftover cooked brown rice; 1 tbsp raisins; half an apple cut into four and sliced thin and long; 2 tbsp roasted almonds and walnuts; a pinch of cinnamon powder.

How: Put the apples in a pot to stew, along with cinnamon. Blend the rice with water, keeping it slightly grainy. Mix everything together in a bowl and top with nuts and raisins.

Bottle-gourd (‘lauki’) pancake

This quick recipe is low in calories, but will keep you full till about lunch. “It’s a good vegan option and is high in fibre and potassium,” says Mumbai-based sports nutritionist Deepshikha Agarwal.

Ingredients: One by fourth cup grated bottle gourd; 1 tsp ‘rava’; 1 tbsp wheat flour; 1 tsp coriander leaves; 1 green chilli; 1 tsp oil; ginger-garlic paste, to taste; salt, to taste.

How: Mix all the ingredients together. Add some water to make a thick batter. On a non-stick pan, spread the mixture in a circular motion. Spread oil around it. Cook on medium flame.

Citrus salad with dry fruits and yogurt

This provides a blast of colour and energy, boosting your body with antioxidants, says Ruia.

Ingredients: 1 bowl low-fat yogurt; citrus fruits like orange, sweet lime or pomelo; 10-12 roasted almonds; pomegranate and mint, to garnish.

How: Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Add some ‘chaat masala’ or black salt.

Oats with sprouts

The goodness of oats and the power of sprouts make this a nutritious recipe, says Divya Choudhary, chief dietitian at the Max Super Speciality Hospital in Sahlimar Bagh, Delhi. “Oats help lower the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes, while sprouts provide fibre.”

Ingredients: 1 cup oats; 1 cup sprouts of mixed lentils; 1 cup chopped fruits and nuts.

Make: Boil water and add the oats. Let it simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer into a bowl and add sprouts, fruits and nuts.

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