Plate with eggs, avocado, and oatmeal

Rate this article and enter to win

Leftover birthday cake, Apple Jacks®, or the last strawberry that isn’t growing hair—you may feel like this is all you have time for in the morning. With a few extra minutes, however, you can put together breakfast combinations that will get you bounding out the door without compromising your health down the road. These morning meals may inspire you.

“Breakfast kick-starts your energy for the day. It’s fuel, both for [your] brain and body,” says Jan Dowell, registered dietitian and instructor in the nutrition department at Benedictine University in Illinois.

Students agree: About half of you eat breakfast at least several times a week, according to a recent Student Health 101 survey. “I love eating breakfast, especially a healthy one. It wakes me up in the morning and gives me the energy to last through the morning and even into the afternoon,” says Kelly H., a fourth-year undergraduate at Northern Illinois University.

What’s in a healthy breakfast?

Whole grains (whole-wheat toast or waffles) Complex carbs provide fiber and sustained energy. Protein (eggs, yogurt, lean meat, tofu, nuts, seeds) Protein and fat help you feel full longer. Fruits and vegetables (fruit and veggie smoothie, an orange, sliced tomatoes) Fruits and veggies provide energy, fiber, vitamins, and minerals

Our nutrition experts weigh in on some quick, easy, and nutritious breakfast ideas.

Egg, avo, and waffle open-face sandwich

Prep time: 15 minutes

  • ¼ ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 frozen packaged whole-wheat waffle
  • Dash of salt and black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  1. In a small bowl, mash the avocado. Set aside.
  2. Lightly coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Heat over medium-high heat. Break the egg and slip it into the pan. Immediately reduce the heat to low.
  3. Cook until the egg white is completely set and the yolk begins to thicken but isn’t yet firm.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the waffle according to the package’s directions.
  5. Spread the avocado on the waffle and top with the egg. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Vegan? Just eliminate the egg or sub in tofu or mashed refried beans.

Expert voice

“Balance is key! The complex carbs from the waffle will give you energy to burn. The fiber from the whole grains, protein from the egg, and monounsaturated fats from the avocado help to stabilize blood sugar, which will result in lasting energy to keep you full and satisfied all morning.”
—Jenna Volpe, registered dietitian specializing in weight management and eating disorders in Massachusetts

“Add a small glass of orange juice or grapefruit juice to this breakfast, or add a slice or two of tomato, for a boost of Vitamin C.”
—Karen Moses, registered dietitian and director of health promotion at Arizona State University

Student voice

“I love eggs with avocado! That kind of breakfast makes me feel like I can do anything.”
—Madison H., second-year undergraduate, Arkansas Tech University

Green eggs and ham scramble

Prep time: 15 minutes

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup fresh kale or spinach, chopped
  • 1 slice ham or ¼ block tofu (add spices and herbs to tofu for extra flavor)
  • 1 slice whole grain toast
  • Dash of salt and black pepper
  • Cooking spray or oil
  1. Preheat a pan on medium heat and coat with cooking spray or oil. Heat the ham slice or seasoned tofu on each side until warmed and slightly browned.
  2. Remove from the pan, chop, and set aside.
  3. Sauté kale or spinach just until wilted (1–3 minutes).
  4. Add the beaten eggs to the pan with the kale or spinach and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat until the eggs are set and slightly firm.
  5. While the egg mixture is cooking, toast the bread.
  6. Remove the eggs from the heat. Add the chopped ham or tofu to the scrambled eggs and stir.
  7. Season with salt and pepper. Eat!

Expert voice

“By adding green leafy vegetables like kale or spinach to this scramble, you’re adding lots of nutrients and fiber.”
—Karen Moses, director of health promotion at Arizona State University

Green smoothie

Prep time: 5 minutes

Green smoothie

  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 cup diced pineapple, mango, strawberries, or any fruit of your choice (fresh or frozen work)
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt (or dairy-free alternative if you’re vegan or intolerant to dairy)
  • 1 cup milk (or unsweetened almond, coconut, or soy milk)

Chocolate lover? Add some cocoa powder for a chocolaty flavor.

Place all ingredients in a blender, blend until smooth, and enjoy.

Expert voice

“Smoothies are a great way to sneak in extra veggies, especially if you’re not a salad person. A spoonful of nut butter can give this recipe a boost of heart-healthy fats and will help reduce the glycemic index (rate at which our blood sugar goes up after a meal).”
—Jenna Volpe, registered dietitian specializing in weight management and eating disorders in Massachusetts

“By blending greens such as spinach or kale into your morning smoothie, you get all the fiber and nutrients of the veggies in a delicious breakfast drink. For those who enjoy a cold smoothie, freeze your fruit before blending.”
—Karen Moses, registered dietitian and director of health promotion at Arizona State University

Student voice

“I start every day with a smoothie and it makes me feel really good. It helps boost my metabolism and fuels me up for the rest of the day.”
—Danielle H., second-year undergraduate, Portland State University, Oregon

Breakfast parfait

Prep time: 5 minutes

  • 1 cup or 1 small container Greek yogurt (or non-dairy alternative)
  • 1 cup fresh berries of your choice, such as blueberries or sliced strawberries
  • ½ cup low-sugar or no-sugar granola
  1. In a serving glass, dollop a spoonful of yogurt and sprinkle a layer of berries, followed by a spoonful of granola.
  2. Repeat layers until all ingredients are used.

If plain yogurt isn’t sweet enough for you, add a touch of honey. Honey is still sugar, but this way you can control the amount. Flavored yogurts are typically high in added sugar.

Expert voice

“The protein, calcium, fiber, and antioxidants make this a well-balanced meal. Opt for plain yogurt to minimize added sugars, and consider adding a spoonful of nuts for healthy fat.”
—Jenna Volpe, registered dietitian specializing in weight management and eating disorders in Massachusetts

“This tasty meal can be served for breakfast and also makes a delicious and healthy dessert or snack!”
—Karen Moses, registered dietitian and director of health promotion at Arizona State University

Student voice

“If I eat a heavy breakfast, I feel like a slob. Eating some yogurt with granola and a side of fruit gives me energy.”
—Keta S., fourth-year undergraduate, Northern Illinois University

Cereal with milk and fruit

Prep time: 2 minutes

Bowl of cereal with sliced strawberries and bananas

As simple as it sounds, a low-sugar or no-sugar whole grain cereal with milk and sliced fruit is a quick and satisfying breakfast that incorporates protein, complex carbohydrates, and nutrients.

Low-sugar cereal options (add fruit and nuts to liven them up):

  • Original Cheerios®: 1 gram sugar per serving (1 cup)
  • Kix®: 3 grams sugar per serving (1¼ cups)
  • Quaker® Oatmeal: 1 gram sugar per serving (½ cup dry old-fashioned or quick oats)

Opt for cereal with 3 grams or less of added sugar per serving. Add fresh fruit for extra sweetness.

Sweet cereals might taste good, but they cram in more sugar than our bodies know what to do with. Research has shown that eating too much added sugar is linked to chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and liver disease. Because of this, the World Health Organization recommends we eat fewer than 25 grams (6 teaspoons) of added sugar per day (an estimate based on a 2,000-calorie diet).

One bowl of a sugary cereal like Lucky Charms® could have us exceeding 25 grams before we’ve even had the chance to eat lunch! Just one serving packs in 10 grams of added sugar. That serving amounts to only three-quarters of a cup of cereal (which wouldn’t even half-fill your bowl). Realistically, you’ll probably eat more.

Expert voice

“One of my favorite meals is whole grain cereal with nuts and fruit with milk or yogurt. It’s packed with fiber, low in fat, and provides my calcium for the day.”
—Karen Moses, registered dietitian and director of health promotion at Arizona State University

Student voice

“I do well eating cereal—I just pay attention to sugar. I know that the more sugary it is, the worse I feel.”
—Caleb P.*, fourth-year undergraduate, Indiana University East

“I honestly feel like I’m able to produce more insightful thoughts in class discussions when I’m not consuming sugar and simple carbs for breakfast.”
—Jennifer S., fourth-year undergraduate, Humboldt State University, California

*Name changed

Parkside Resources
Get help or find out more

You must enter your name, email, and phone number so we can contact you if you're the winner of this month's drawing.
Your data will never be shared or sold to outside parties. View our Privacy Policy.

What was the most interesting thing you read in this article?

If you could change one thing about , what would it be?

HAVE YOU SEEN AT LEAST ONE THING IN THIS ISSUE THAT...

..you will apply to everyday life?

..caused you to get involved, ask for help,
utilize campus resources, or help a friend?

Tell us More
How can we get more people to read ?
First Name:

Last Name:

E-mail:

Phone Number:

What was the most interesting thing you read in this article?

If you could change one thing about , what would it be?

HAVE YOU SEEN AT LEAST ONE THING IN THIS ISSUE THAT...

..you will apply to everyday life?

..caused you to get involved, ask for help,
utilize campus resources, or help a friend?

Tell us more.
How can we get more people to read ?
First Name:

Last Name:

E-mail:

Phone Number:



HAVE YOU SEEN AT LEAST ONE THING IN THIS ISSUE THAT...

..you will apply to everyday life?

..caused you to get involved, ask for help,
utilize campus resources, or help a friend?

Tell us more.
How can we get more people to read ?

First Name:

Last Name:

E-mail:

Phone Number:




Article sources

Jan Dowell, MS, MHS, RD, adjunct instructor in the nutrition department at Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois.

Karen Moses, EDD, RD, CHES, director of health promotion, Arizona State University.

Jenna Volpe, RD, registered dietitian specializing in weight management and eating disorders, Quincy, Massachusetts.

Bole, K. (2014, November 10). UCSF launches sugar science initiative. Retrieved from https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2014/11/120751/ucsf-launches-sugar-science-initiative

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014, October 6). Nutrition and the health of young people. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/nutrition/facts.htm

Cheerios. (n.d.). Original Cheerios. Retrieved from https://www.cheerios.com/Products/Cheerios

General Mills. (n.d.). Kix. Retrieved from https://www.generalmills.com/Brands/Cereals/kix

General Mills. (n.d.). Lucky Charms product list. Retrieved from https://www.generalmills.com/en/Brands/Cereals/lucky-charms/brand-product-list

Leidy, H. J., Ortinau, L. C., Douglas, S. M., & Hoertel, H. A. (2013, February 27). Beneficial effects of a higher-protein breakfast on the appetitive, hormonal, and neural signals controlling energy intake regulation in overweight/obese, “breakfast-skipping,” late-adolescent girls. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 97(4), 677–688. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/97/4/677/4576985

Mayo Clinic. (2014, April 8). Healthy breakfast: Quick, flexible options. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/food-and-nutrition/art-20048294

O’Neil, C. E., Byrd-Bredbenner, C., Hayes, D., Jana, L., et al. (2014, August 14). The role of breakfast in health: Definition and criteria for a quality breakfast. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 114(12), Supp. S8–S26. Retrieved from https://www.andjrnl.org/article/S2212-2672(14)01355-0/pdf

Quaker Oats. (n.d.). Quaker® Oats. Retrieved from https://www.quakeroats.com/products/hot-cereals/old-fashioned-oats.aspx?utm_source=google&utm_medium=ppc&utm_ter m=quaker+oatmeal+nutrition&utm_campaign=rlsa-sqo-brand_oldfashionedoats_brand&gclid=CjwKEAjwt_isBRDuisOm1dTQqGISJAAfRrEAagmWOt6FI8WALGXZbAEgxuAZYe–k8XvSaA1IU33RoC2Cjw_wcB

Rampersaud, G. C., Pereira, M. A., Girard, B. L., Adams, J., et al. (2005, May 1). Breakfast habits, nutritional status, body weight, and academic performance in children and adolescents. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 105(5), 743–760; quiz 761–762. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15883552

Student Health 101 survey, January 2016.

World Health Organization. (2015, March 4). WHO calls on countries to reduce sugars intake among adults and children. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2015/sugar-guideline/en/

Wyatt, N. (2014, June 4). The breakfast debate: New study determines whether it helps with weight loss. UAB News. Retrieved from https://www.uab.edu/news/innovation/item/4766-the-breakfast-debate-new-study-determines-whether-it-helps-with-weight-loss