The first meal of the New Year ought to be a healthy one. From the Christmas parties complete with a bounty of booze and food to the box of cookies Aunt Sally sent you to share with your friends and family that you kept all to yourself, your body is in need of something light and healthy.
You could do a juice cleanse, or jump on the bandwagon of the fad diet of the moment, or better yet, you could attempt a balance of eating real food and exercising. Since breakfast sets the tone for your entire day, we came up with five options:
5. Breakfast Smoothie
Smoothies have a bad reputation for being loaded with carbs and unnecessary amounts of sugar. But if you omit the syrups, the peanut butter and the sugary items such as chocolate or even chocolate syrup, then all you're left with is fresh fruit and milk or yogurt. Use fruits high in fiber such as oranges, strawberries or pears, and dairy low in fat such as skim milk, light soy milk, almond milk or low-fat Greek yogurt. Rather than blending bananas with peanut butter and chocolate (that's basically a shake), add half a banana to about half a cup of strawberries and 1½ cups of skim milk or light soy milk instead.
4. Smoked Salmon
Pair smoked salmon with a light bagel, reduced-fat cream cheese, capers, red onions and black pepper for a healthy twist on bagels and lox. If you don't want a thin bagel, use just one half of a regular-sized bagel, or swap the bagel for a light English muffin. Incorporating fish with omega-3 fatty acids into your diet is a much better option than the greasy bacon and sausage patties normally associated with the first meal of the day.
3. Egg Mugs
One of the healthiest foods to eat in the morning is eggs, especially egg whites. For those who don't have enough time each morning to crack open a few eggs, separate the egg whites from the yolks and cook them in a skillet on the stove, then egg mugs are your saving grace. Hungry Girl Lisa Lillien created the easy breakfast dish so you can have a protein-packed meal in less than five minutes. For a plain egg mug, spray a microwave-safe mug with a nonstick spray and pour in about half a cup or three quarters of a cup of liquid egg substitute, such as Egg Beaters. Microwave the eggs for one minute and 30 seconds, then stir in one chopped Laughing Cow light cheese wedge (any flavor), season with salt and microwave for another minute. Watch the eggs cook in the microwave because they will puff up and spill out if the sides aren't tall enough. Enjoy the eggs with an apple, an orange, a piece of toast or an English muffin for a well-balanced meal.
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2. Avocado Egg Boat
Speaking of avocado and eggs. If you're more of a fan of avocado than eggs, switch up the proportions by making this avocado egg boat. We wrote about this flat-belly diet breakfast during the summer, but it's still a great morning meal for the winter. It's never too early to start working on that beach-ready body. Slice an avocado in half, then trim the bottom to make the avocado slice flat. Heat a skillet to medium heat, coat with cooking spray and place the avocado in the pan. Crack an egg into the hole and cover the pan to let the egg cook for about two to five minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then dig in. The warm, perfectly runny egg yolk and smooth avocado make such a delicious combination that you won't believe it's actually a healthy dish; it's packed with protein, healthy fat and fiber.
1. Oatmeal and Fruit
More times than not, a bowl of plain oatmeal with blueberries or blackberries sprinkled with cinnamon is my go-to healthy breakfast dish. Oatmeal not only warms you up during cold months, but it fills you up, allowing you to skip that morning snack temptation once your stomach starts to growl. Add a splash of milk if you like creamy oatmeal, or just cook it with water if you enjoy thick, hearty porridge.