According to Traditional Chinese Medicine and other ancient health sciences, the morning is the time for elimination, which occurs after your body has spent the night detoxifying. In the chi cycles of TCM, the hours between 5 and 7am are also the best time to exercise. This could partly explain why some people like to exercise first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach.
Since morning is the time yoga asana is traditionally practised, many yogis keep the stomach empty or mostly empty until their practice is completed. Therefore, according to some yogi clients, they prefer any food eaten during the early part of the day (up until 9-10am) to be light so as not to hinder the natural cleansing process the body has been working at overnight, a process that continues well into the morning.
Of course, this advice flies in the face of modern recommendations that “breakfast should be the biggest meal of the day” – as a student dietitian this became a mantra of sorts to recite to our patients!
But what I've found in clinical practice is that whilst some people can't stomach much food first thing in the morning, finding that it weighs them down and shunts energy towards digestion, sending them straight back to sleep... others need a BIG breakfast to get going!
Besides pure fresh water upon waking, lemon juice in hot water can be an invigorating way to start the day and stimulate digestion regardless of whether you;re a big breakfast person or not. For those who prefer a lighter brekkie, fruit and vegetable juices, fruit salads, and smoothies are some options to have in the morning, with perhaps a heartier morning tea or lunch. Just remember to get some decent nutrition into you later in the day if you're not big on breakfast.
Many people have adhered to the "eat breakfast like a king" mantra for years, despite personally feeling like they are "not a breakfast person" or "don't really like breakfast." If you are one of these folks, maybe there is some wisdom in those messages from your body!
For these reasons, I've provided some breakfast options that suit everyone, whether you're a breakfast lover or more a brunch person. The breakfast options that follow are categorised as Simple or Hearty.
As you familiarise yourself with your natural body clock, you may well find that eating lighter - or eating heavier - in the morning confers incredible energy and enhanced mental focus! See what is true for you.
SIMPLE breakfast options
* Basic Green Smoothie: Blend ½ a whole lemon, (skin on and seeds removed), 2 cups of leafy greens, 2 frozen bananas, and 2-3 cups water in a high-powered blender until smooth. Pour into a portable bottle and drink throughout the morning as hunger naturally arises. The lemon cuts through the strong green taste of the greens and adds a zingy zest. Experiment with different seasonal greens – spinach, choy sum and other asian greens, kale, parsley, cos lettuce. Enjoy the spring in your step and let the zing of this smoothie replace your morning wake up coffee!
* Blue Beauty: Blend 1 banana, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, a handful of frozen blueberries, 1 teaspoon spirulina, 5 leaves of kale (stems removed) and 2 cups water in a high-powered blender until smooth. Chia and spirulina provide protein, soluble fibre and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for smooth, luscious skin and seamless digestion.
* Green Tara Smoothie: Blend 2 frozen bananas, 1 mango, 5 leaves kale (stems removed), 100g baby spinach, juice of 1 organic lime, seeds removed, and 2 cups water in a high-powered blender until smooth.
* Gritty Chocolatey Goodness: My winter fave of the moment! Blend 1 frozen banana, 1 cup frozen organic mixed berries, 1-2 cups kale or baby spinach, juice of 1 organic lime, 1/2 tin organic coconut cream, 1 tablespoon raw nut butter (I love almond, brazil nut, cashew or ABC butter), 1 tablespoon raw cacao nibs, 2 teaspoons raw cacao powder, 1 teaspoon organic schizandra powder, stevia to taste, and water or coconut water to blend in a high-powered blender until smooth.
* More Green Smoothie Ideas: Try any of the following blends until you find your next can’t-live-without concoction!
· Frozen Banana, Blueberries, Spinach leaves, ¼ a Lemon, Water
· Strawberries, Banana, Basil leaves, Cos Lettuce, Water
· Granny Smith Apple, Cucumber, Celery stick, Kale Leaves, Lemon, Water
· Mango, Banana, Spinach leaves, Mint Leaves, Chai Spice, Raw Honey, Water
· Banana, Celery Stick, Cos Lettuce, Blueberries, Lemon, Water
· Dragonfruit, Banana, Parsley Leaves, Mint Leaves, Water
· Papaya, Cos Lettuce, Parsley Leaves, Water
· Pear, Raspberries, Kale, Water
· Peach, Apple, Spinach, Water
· Banana, Apple, Strawberries, Mint, Parsley
· Pineapple, Kale, Banana, Mint, Ginger, Water
· Apple, Lemon, banana, Spinach, Parsley, Celery, Ginger, Water
· Mango, Lime, Orange, Sunflower Sprouts, Mint, Water, Passionfruit
· Pear, Kale, Celery, Coriander, Basil, Water
· Kiwi, Strawberries, Banana, Spinach, Water
· Raw Sunshine Soup: Blend 1 cup organic alfalfa sprouts, 6 organic dates, 2 cups fresh pineapple, 3 leaves fresh kale, removed from stem, and 1–2 tablespoons packed fresh mint, until very smooth. You may want to blend in a couple of ice cubes as well so that the mixture does not heat up while blending. This amount serves 2-3 and is best when served immediately, but it will last in the refrigerator for 2 days.
· Russian Power Soup: Blend 1 cup organic sunflower sprouts, 2 cups fresh strawberries, 1 tablespoon raw honey or agave nectar, or 1/8 teaspoon powdered stevia, 1 head cos lettuce, and ¼ medium beetroot (optional for a deep red colour for the soup), until very smooth. Raw soups can be enjoyed for a Summer breakfast, as well as ten to fifteen minutes before a meal or as a snack - best on an empty stomach.
· Tropical Cyclone Salad: Green salad for breakfast? Crazier things have happened! In a bowl, place 100g baby spinach and a handful of alfalfa sprouts, then add the following peeled & chopped fruits: ¼ pineapple, 1 mango, 1 kiwifruit, 1 banana, small bunch black grapes, 4 fresh or canned lychees, and the pulp of 2 passionfruit. Toss gently to combine and serve. You will never look at fruit salad the same way again!
HEARTY breakfast options
· Savoury Veggies on Toast: Toast 2 slices of Essene sprouted grain bread, or sourdough bread. Add a thin layer of organic miso paste, a smattering of fresh avocado, and any other vegetables you like. Protein-packed sprouts, hommus, avocado, tomato, baby spinach, cucumber, and sweet capsicum are wonderful options!
· Very Berry Frappe: Blend 20 to 30 grams of brown rice-based protein powder, a teaspoon of flaxseed oil, chopped apple, chopped pear or a handful of berries, almond milk or water plus a few ice cubes.
· Coconut yoghurt: Combine homemade or store-bought organic coconut yoghurt with fresh fruit and sprinkle with slivered almonds.
· Real Bircher Muesli: Soak overnight 3 tablespoons of whole oats or raw buckwheat in filtered water. Next morning add 1 teaspoon of skin-nourishing coconut oil, an apple or pear (chopped or grated) and a handful of fresh or frozen berries. Sweeten with agave nectar or stevia if desired.
· Buckwheat Porridge: Cook whole oats, buckwheat, or quinoa in water with a small amount of salt to taste. Top with grated apple, banana or fresh or antioxidant-packed blueberries. Sprinkle with cinnamon, slivered almonds, and add a touch of coconut cream if you like.
· Vanilla Dream: Blend oat milk with a handful of raw cashews, half a teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon nutmeg, and one banana for a potassium-rich and creamy smoothie.