Kitchen Shrink: Bountiful breakfast ideas to kick start your day

Breakfast oats mixed with yogurt, pumpkin puree, seeds, berries, honey and other ingredients can be prepared in advance — becoming 'Overnight Oats' and ready-to-eat or grab-and-go the next morning.
(Photo by Catharine Kaufman)


Breakfast, hands down, is the most important meal of the day as it “breaks” the “fast” from the previous night’s sleep, fueling the body with essential nutrients while jump starting the brain to take on the morning’s activities. I’ve observed six breakfast styles during my travels, and would like to make some suggestions for getting the most out of this vital morning meal. So, here’s my mouthful.

1. Playing breakfast hooky: Those who brush-off breakfast — whether due to a time crunch or bad habit — are not only missing a wonderful meal, but will be dragging themselves both mentally and physically until lunchtime.

2. Breakfast a-go-go: Some people pay lip service to breakfast, grabbing a cup of joe, and pastry on the fly. Would you only put a gallon of gas in your empty tank (despite insanely high prices)?

3. Cold comfort: Others choose cold breakfast dishes, including iced coffees, granolas, fruits, Danishes and bagels with cream cheese. This one might be short on protein as well as luxury and warmth, but still beats the former two.

4. The smorgasbord: Still, others enjoy a leisurely breakfast buffet with a mix of savory-and-sweet dishes (eggs of all manners, potatoes, bacon, French toast, waffles or pancakes), baked goods, smoked fish, cheeses and charcuterie. Well-balanced, but top-heavy on calories and quantity could make one loggy and overweight.

5. Grazing: These folks nibble throughout the morning — turning breakfast into an eating marathon.

6. The last meal: Breakfast gastronomes act as if this is their final repast by indulging in treats fit for James Bond — caviar and blinis, stone crab eggs Benedict and fruit galettes — all washed down with exotic Champagne brunch bellinis. Cheers!

Whatever your breakfast style, take a page out of the cookbook of health guru Andrew Weil. He suggests including a slow-burning complex carb in your repertoire for well-paced, nourishing fuel to fortify both brain and brawn until lunch. Whip up a pot of hearty Irish oats with a splash of almond milk, topped with potassium-rich banana slices, or scoop of iron-dense currants or raisins for a bowl of energy-boosting fiber.

For those in a rush, make a batch of overnight oats — prepared the night before by soaking raw oats in a mason jar with non-dairy milk and choice of fresh berries, spices, flavorings, nuts and seeds — that will be ready to enjoy in the a.m. (See recipe below)

A thick slice of whole-wheat toast will also do the trick when dressed with nut butters. Heart-healthy almond butter or walnut butter is loaded with protein, Vitamin E, calcium and alpha-linolenic acid (a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid) to ratchet up mental performance by keeping the brain lubricated and lively.

Or, eat like a millennial by constructing avocado toast with your choice of avocado type: Hass, Reed, Fuerte or Bacon. Avocados are packed with almost two dozen vitamins and minerals from A, B, D and E to copper, iron, lutein and heart-healthy fats to amp up bone, blood, eye and skin health. So, start your breakfast with a mash of avocado and lemon juice thickly slathered on a brioche bun. Top it with chives, smoked salmon and capers.

Mashed avocados can also be added to a bowl of mixed quinoa, or a black-bean breakfast burrito — an abundant source of energy-fueling minerals. For a quick and satisfying swig, blend together a frothy smoothie with avocado, kale, coconut milk and almond butter.

It’s now agreed that eggs (organic or pasture-raised, please) are a near perfect package. Egg whites provide a rich protein store, while the yolks have a load of choline, a B-complex vitamin to help improve memory, focus and cognitive functions. Many egg dishes like frittatas and quiches can be made the day before so brekkie is not rushed or skipped.

Use your gut instincts and add a dose of probiotics to your breakfast menu to help foster a happy belly. Sour kefir, Greek yogurt and Kombucha tea are packed with billions of friendly colony-forming flora that reside in the gastro tract. They can help dial up digestion and the immune system, keep the brain sharp and create a general feeling of well-being.

To satisfy the sweet tooth, choose seasonal fresh fruits over high-sugar juices that wallop the pancreas. Kiwis have a load of Vitamin C without the acid, and potassium without the cloyingness of bananas. Watermelons have a store of electrolytes to replace lost fluids during your morning workout, while mighty blueberries make apples seem anemic.


Recipe: Overnight Oats

Ingredients: 1/2 cup rolled or old-fashioned oats; 1/2 cup almond milk, hazelnut milk or other non-dairy milk; 1/3 cup plain kefir yogurt; 1 tablespoon each of chia seeds and pumpkin seeds; 1/3 cup pumpkin puree; 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey; 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and ginger; 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg; 1/4 teaspoon cardamom; a dash of pink salt.

Method: Blend ingredients in a bowl. Transfer to a mason jar and cover tightly. Refrigerate overnight. Garnish with dried cranberries.

Catharine Kaufman can be reached by e-mail: and see more recipes at