9 ways to shake up breakfast

Bored of toast, cereal and oatmeal? Change up your breakfast with these easy tricks

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breakfast cereal

Enjoy the first meal of the day

Vanilla-flavoured yogurt. Toast with butter. Instant oatmeal. Although so many of us make a point to eat something different for dinner every night, the same usually can’t be said about breakfast. We get in a routine of convenience, powering through breakfast without really enjoying it the way we do a nicely planned dinner or two-course lunch. Naturally the fact that we’re in a hurry in the morning doesn’t help, but with a few modifications, it’s easy to make your favourite morning meal a little more scrumptious-and healthier, too.

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Habit: Instant oatmeal

Shake it up: Add muesli and nuts
Instant oatmeal can be a breakfast lifesaver. Rip open a packet, throw it in a cup, add hot water or microwave it quickly and you’re eating something hot and nutritious in less time than it takes to make coffee. But it can get boring, fast. Add a little muesli, either homemade (here’s a recipe for blueberry-almond muesli) or store-bought for toothsome texture, along with some unsalted nuts, such as walnuts or almonds.

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woman eating yogurt and fruit

Habit: Vanilla yogurt

Shake it up: Add rolled oats and dried fruit
Yogurt is quick, nutritious and tastes good. But if you’re in the mood to add a twist, “Take plain [uncooked] oatmeal, and some dried fruit and nuts, add some yogurt and let it sit for a few minutes. You don’t even have to cook it,” suggests Montreal-based registered dietitian Kim Arrey.

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cereal with yogurt

Habit: Cereal with milk

Shake it up: New brand of cereal with yogurt
Another morning, another bowl of the same old cereal. Keep the dry-cereal doldrums at bay by trying a new kind. “It’s always fun to try new types of cereal,” says Arrey. Intrigue your taste buds by buying a different brand, perhaps one with higher fibre content or a better nutrition profile. You can also add yogurt instead of milk, Arrey says, or even try some of the hot cereals on the market to get out of a rut.

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peanut butter

Habit: White-bread toast with butter

Shake it up: Whole-grain toast with nut butter
Vary the kind of bread you’re eating to liven things up in the morning. Buy 12-grain, rye bread or even raisin and pumpkin-cranberry breads if you’re a toast person, Arrey suggests. (When comparing breads to pick the healthiest, start by look for higher amounts of fibre.) Then to make the healthy makeover complete, ditch the salted dairy-based butter in favour of nut butters, including but not limited to almond butter. Don’t like almonds? Try another. “Pick a nut and there’s a butter for it,” says Arrey. “They have different fatty acid profiles, and their tastes are very different.”

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peanut butter

Habit: Peanut butter on sliced bread, banana

Shake it up: Peanut butter on a tortilla, wrapped around a banana
Kids really like this one, Arrey says. Simply spread peanut butter on a tortilla, slap a peeled banana on it, and roll it like you would a burrito. Make it an even healthier choice by going for a natural unsalted peanut butter and a whole-wheat tortilla wrap.

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cheese on toast

Habit: Bagel with cream cheese

Shake it up: Slice of whole-grain bread with quark cheese
Fresh, spreadable quark cheese is popular in central Europe and is starting to gain ground in Canada thanks to artisanal cheesemakers who are introducing it here. Arrey likes it because it’s lower in fat than cream cheese, as is low-fat ricotta, another good spreadable cheese. With a small amount of effort you can also make yogurt cheese. Just buy plain low-fat yogurt and strain it with a dampened cheesecloth in the fridge overnight. The next day you’ll have a spreadable, pleasantly tart “cheese” that pairs well with fruit or jam.

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Habit: Omelette

Shake it up: Muffin-tin omelettes
Make omelettes more fun and easier to grab-and-go by baking them in the oven in a muffin tin ahead of time. Just put your sautéed veggies or leftovers like roasted sweet potato in lightly oiled cups, pour beaten eggs or egg whites over them, then bake, Arrey says. “You can quickly cook 12 for the week and take a few out each day.”

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grilled cheese

Habit: Warm cheddar cheese croissant

Shake it up: Cheater’s grilled cheese
Who doesn’t love buttery, flaky croissants with the added deliciousness of cheddar cheese? If you’re a little too fond of them, it might be time to find a lower-fat, higher-fibre breakfast. Try something Arrey calls cheater’s grilled cheese. Instead of slathering the sandwich in butter and frying on each side, she simply toasts two slices of whole-grain bread, adds reduced-fat cheese, and finishes it in the microwave for a few seconds.

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Habit: Toast and jam

Shake it up: Toast and applesauce
Bypass the added sugar of most jams and jellies by going for pure applesauce, either homemade or store-bought (read the label to ensure it’s free of added sugar). “You’re eating more of the pure fruit than with jam,” says Arrey, explaining that jams have added sugar. For the times only real jam will do, at least opt for a lower-sugar one, she says.


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