Cream-filled, frosted, and glazed — oh my! If any of these words make a regular appearance in your morning routine, there’s a chance that what you are really enjoying is an early dessert.
National Donut Day comes around each year, and it tends to drum up debates in Philadelphia about the merits of these sacred treats. Now don’t get me wrong…I am not here to judge! I can list my favorite donut shops across Philadelphia and tell you when to visit each one to avoid a long line. But somehow donuts snuck themselves onto the breakfast table, rather than keeping their place as an indulgent treat for us to enjoy in moderation.
Finding Healthier Alternatives to Donuts
We don’t have to get philosophical about what qualifies as a breakfast food, but if you consider the purpose of breakfast — literally to break a fast (as in the fasting you’ve done since dinner the night before) — you’d probably want to consider eating something with more nutritional value.
Donuts are high in fat and calories, and they’ll spike your blood sugar. Add a cup of coffee with cream and sugar, and you’ll likely experience a sugar rush — and then the inevitable sluggishness of the crash afterwards.
Avoiding the Sugar Crash
Mornings can be chaotic if you and your family are trying to get to work, school, appointments, and so on. I’m not suggesting we all sit down to a gourmet breakfast each morning (and if you have the time to do so, I’m officially jealous). But with a little planning and preparation (this part is key), you can eat a healthy breakfast that’s ready to go when your belly starts to rumble and won’t lead to a regret-filled sugar crash later.
Overnight Oats, Eggs, and Beyond
It’s probably not news to you that oatmeal and eggs are each a mainstay in the breakfast world for good reason. They are packed with nutrition, low in sugar, and keep us full. Basically, they provide us with good fuel to get the day started. These two are my typical go-to breakfasts to bring to work, and both are easy to pack and reheat:
- Oatmeal. Keep in mind that I’m talking about old-fashioned or steel-cut oats (not packets of instant oats, which typically have added sugar and flavors and lower nutritional value). Aside from being very affordable and easy to make, oatmeal is heart- and colon-friendly and full of nutrients. You can prepare your oats in two ways: cook them the old-school way or make overnight oats in your fridge. Whichever way you choose, the extent of the skill required is measuring and stirring. You can add flavor with fruit (like sliced bananas or berries) and nuts to up the protein ante (slivered almonds are my favorite).
- Eggs. Reheating scrambled eggs or hard-boiling eggs are probably the simplest ways to turn this lean protein into a portable meal for breakfast. But if these options sound too mundane, you can also make egg cups (also called egg muffins). There are so many flavor combinations you can come up with, and you’re basically creating little mini frittatas to go — but no fork required!
If reading about oatmeal and eggs doesn’t excite you, there are endless fun and flavor-packed ideas available online that go far beyond these two staples:
- 39 Healthy Breakfasts for Busy Mornings
- 18 Fast, Healthy Breakfast Ideas
- 25 Grab & Go Make Ahead Breakfast Ideas
Find a few recipes that you and your family like and that fit well into your routine. You won’t even miss your morning donut!
By Danielle Fisher, Independence Blue Cross