If you’re like me, you most likely ate “breakfast foods” most of my life for that important first meal of the day. Somehow, the food industry managed to convince us that we need different types of foods for breakfast, such as breakfast cereals, oatmeal, toasts, bagels, pancakes and other carb- and sugar-rich processed foods that come in boxes or bags with a very low nutrient density apart from the handful of vitamins and minerals these foods are sometimes enriched with.
But if you know a little bit about the way your great grand-parents ate or if you have traveled a little, you certainly know that breakfast wasn’t always this way and it’s (fortunately) still not this way for millions of people. Most people around the world eat similar food for breakfast as they do at lunch or dinner: REAL food.
If you’re trying to switch to a REAL food-based diet (whether you call it Paleo, gluten-free or grain-free), it might be difficult to know what to eat for breakfast at first but you’ll see that it gets easier with time. You’ll also see that you can be a lot more creative and have more variety in your diet. Because let’s face it… bagels, breakfast cereals, toasts, muffins, pancakes and waffles are all the same thing: wheat, grains and sugar. They’re just packaged a little bit differently!
Here are a few of my favorite grain-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free breakfasts made with REAL food ingredients to start your day with the perfect nutrition punch that will keep you energized until lunch without feeling your typical mid-morning crash.
Typical egg-based Paleo breakfasts
The easiest way to get started with gluten-free, grain-free or Paleo breakfasts is to turn to eggs. That’s what many people do and it’s great because eggs, especially the yolks, are super nutritious. Eggs are also super versatile and can be used to create a variety of interesting breakfast ideas.
Clockwise from top left:
- Avocado & Egg Breakfast Salad: hard-boiled eggs with avocado + lemon juice + EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil) (recipe here)
- Egg “muffins”: combine eggs with your favorite combination of vegetables, seasonings and even bacon / sausages to make these grain-free muffins (recipe here)
- Frittata, omelets or scrambled eggs: simply combine eggs with your favorite veggies (I like onions, mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes) and cook either as a frittata, omelet or scrambled eggs in either coconut oil, ghee or butter. Sprinkle with good quality cheese if you tolerate a bit of dairy.
- Fried eggs + bacon + vegetables / fruits: breakfast couldn’t get any easier, just serve your eggs any way you like with fruits, vegetables / avocado and bacon / ham.
Cauliflower breakfast porridge (with eggs)
This is one of my favorite breakfast. I get a serving of vegetable, fruit, healthy fats and protein all in the same bowl and this keeps me full for a few hours. 🙂 And you could never guess that there’s cauliflower in there, I swear!
Ingredients (for 1 serving):
- 2 tbsp butter (or coconut oil or ghee)
- 1/2-1 cup cauliflower rice (here’s how I make cauli-rice in only 5 minutes: video)
- 2-3 large eggs
- a handful of berries (I use frozen)
- 2-3 tsp of maple syrup or honey (optional)
- 2-3 tbsp of unsweetened dried coconut or coconut milk (optional)
- Melt the butter in a skillet.
- Add the cauli-rice and eggs. Continue to cook under medium heat.
- Constantly mix as if you were making scrambled eggs.
- Once the eggs are almost cooked, add the berries. Mix and heat until unfrozen.
- Add the optional ingredients if desired (sweetener, dried coconut or coconut milk).
- Serve warm!
2-ingredient Paleo Pancakes (with eggs)
Can you believe you can make delicious pancakes without any kind of flour and with only 2 ingredients? I have these once in a while and never feel guilty about it. In fact, if someone asks me what I had for breakfast, I’ll be more likely to say eggs and a banana (the main ingredients in these pancakes) because the word pancake doesn’t really reflect how nutritious and complete this breakfast can be.
Ingredients (for 1 serving):
- 2 eggs
- 1 medium banana
- butter, ghee or coconut oil (ok, I guess that could count as a 3rd ingredient… I lied!) 🙂
- Optional: nuts, dark chocolate chips, fresh fruits, maple syrup…
- You can either mash the banana with a fork and mix it with eggs or put both ingredients in a blender to process until smooth.
- Meanwhile, heat a skillet with 1-2 tbsp of your healthy fat of choice.
- Once melted, add about half of pancake mixture. You can sprinkle with nuts or dark chocolate chips at this point.
- Cook for about 3-5 minutes under medium heat before flipping.
- Cook an additional 2-3 minutes on the other side. Your first pancake is ready!
- Repeat with the second pancake.
- You can enjoy these pancakes as is but I like them with a dollop of butter, coconut cream and blueberries or chocolate chips and maple syrup on the weekend. 😉
Bento box (with eggs)
Sometimes, keeping things simple is the best way to go. As long as you have good quality REAL food-based ingredients, you don’t really need complicated recipes. All you need is to assemble food that provides you with healthy fats, protein and healthy carbohydrates. In this case, I had hard-boiled eggs with guacamole, cherries dipped in coconut cream and a Paleo grain-free, gluten-free, nut-free banana and dark chocolate chips muffin (recipe here).
Be creative and combine your own favorite protein, fat and carbohydrate options together in your Bento box. I use LunchBots.
Sardines + berry parfait (egg-free)
Sardines for breakfast? Why not?
Canned sardines are packed with healthy omega-3 and the little bones (so soft that you can eat) provides lots of calcium and other important minerals for your bone and teeth health (important if you are on a dairy-free diet). I like Raincoast Trading Wild Pacific Sardines in Spring Water (but they also have flavored options). The good thing about smaller fish like sardines is that they have lower concentrations of contaminants like mercury. And even though it’s in a can, this one is completely BPA-free.
I don’t looove sardines but I don’t hate them either. It’s all about finding a brand that you enjoy. For me, this is the brand with the mildest taste. I eat it straight out of the can and reward myself with a healthy treat afterwards.
Sometimes that treat can be a smoothie (coconut milk + 1/2 banana + berries) and sometimes if I have this fruit and coconut parfait. You can either combine coconut milk with your favorite berries. Or try coconut whipped cream for something creamier and richer (recipe in my cookbook).
Smoked salmon & avocado roll (egg-free)
Another good way to start your day without eggs while boosting your omega-3 intake is to have these delicious smoked salmon & avocado rolls.
I choose wild-caught Pacific salmon (more nutritious compared to farmed / Atlantic salmon) and roll it around slices of ripe avocado.
Or if I’m lazy, I just mix everything together and drizzle with coconut aminos (a gluten-free, soy-free sauce that tastes similar to soy sauce). 🙂 It tastes like sushis. Sometimes I even use nori sheets to wrap my smoked salmon and avocado slices as grain-free, low-carb sushis.
That’s probably not a very sexy option, but it’s so easy if you plan ahead and cook extras the night before. Just make sure you get some protein (meat, poultry, fish…) with healthy carbs (carrots, veggies or finish your breakfast with a fruit…) and healthy fats (butter, guacamole, ghee, coconut oil…).