Save time and stay healthy during the week with these healthy fast food breakfast options.
Breakfast. Arguably the most important meal of the day, yet often the most rushed, haphazard and thrown together last-minute. Sound familiar?
I likely don’t need to remind you about the benefits of starting your day off with a healthy, nutritious breakfast, but I’m going to recap a few of them anyway…
- Eating breakfast kick-starts your metabolism after fasting all night, thus helping to avoid weight gain.
- People who eat breakfast tend to have a healthier diet overall, incorporating more vitamins and nutrients throughout the day. They’re also less likely to overeat at night.
- Breakfast can help to improve alertness and memory function by stabilizing blood sugar.
- Research suggests that eating breakfast, specifically carbohydrate-rich meals, can improve your mood by providing glucose to the brain. 🙂
Convinced that breakfast is important, yet? Me too.
So what’s a busy, working woman to do? Obviously, a lot of us turn to fast food. And while eating anything for breakfast is a good thing, it’s important to make sure we’re choosing healthy options. Today, I wanted to share some ideas for healthy fast-food breakfast options that are easy, quick and still nutritious. The great part? Three of them can be made at home, and three of them come straight from the good old drive thru.
Homemade Healthy Fast Food Breakfast Options
Oatmeal & Overnight Oats
Oatmeal is a solid breakfast choice, especially when combined with a few key toppings or add-ins. Full of fiber, one cup of cooked oatmeal is about 150 calories and 6 grams of protein. Top your oats with fresh fruit, nuts or seeds and you’ve got yourself a great start to the morning.
The problem with oatmeal is that it’s anything but fast. To turn it into the ideal fast food breakfast, simply cook up a batch of oats at the beginning of the week and store individual portions in containers in the refrigerator. On a busy weekday morning, simply grab one of the containers, reheat and go! I use this recipe, and you can find three different oatmeal topping ideas here!
If you’re craving something cooler, overnight oats are a fun twist on oatmeal. In a mason jar, mix 1/2 a banana (smashed), 1/2 cup of oats and 1 cup of milk. (Optional: add yogurt, chia seeds, nut butter, cinnamon, fruit, nuts) Store in the refrigerator overnight, and in the morning your breakfast is ready to go! I often make several jars at a time to get me through the week.
Hard Boiled Eggs, Toast & Fruit
This option is so basic that you’ve probably already thought of it, but I think it’s worth mentioning. Hard boiled eggs are another option that can be made in a large batch at the beginning of the week and kept in the refrigerator until needed.
The key to a great (but fast) breakfast is to make sure that you’ve got all of your bases covered: carbs, protein and healthy fats. Eggs alone won’t cut it, and you may find yourself hungry before lunch rolls around. To round out your breakfast, add a piece of toast with nut butter (we can all find 30 seconds to make toast, right?) and a banana and you’ve yourself a complete meal. Or, slice your egg and make a sandwich from your toast, adding a few slices of apple and cheddar cheese.
My favorite of the three, yogurt parfaits are not only nutritious and filling; they can be really pretty, too! 😉 Yogurt is a breakfast all-star, in my opinion. But it’s important to know that all yogurts are not created equal. If it’s fluffed, whipped or already has fruit on the bottom, you can probably find yourself a better option. That doesn’t mean you have to be a Greek yogurt lover to make this breakfast work (although I am). When purchasing yogurt, follow these basic rules:
- Check the ingredients; a long list is problematic, as you only need milk and bacterial cultures to make yogurt. Skip the added flavorings and fruit and add your own instead.
- Read the label, but don’t rely solely on the nutritional facts for sugar count. Yogurt has naturally occurring sugar; just make sure that sugar isn’t in the ingredient list (which means it’s added).
- Look for protein; the whipped and fluffy stuff will likely not measure up to some of the better options.
In general, plain, low-fat yogurt is a great choice. Take control of the added ingredients to make a yogurt that suits your taste.
To make your yogurt parfait, simply layer all of the ingredients in a mason jar. Mine typically include rolled oats (uncooked), walnuts and berries. Some other great options: chia seeds, almonds, nut butter and granola (be careful on this one). These store easily in the fridge; just grab a spoon on your way out the door!
Homemade Drive-Thru Fast Food Breakfast Options
Smoothies from Panera
If you’re hitting the drive-thru at Panera, you might want to check out the smoothie options. All are made with yogurt, and a few even have the option of Greek yogurt for an extra boost of protein. A note: frozen drinks do not equal smoothies! Sorry, but the frozen double cappa mocha frappe delight is not the same as a fruit and yogurt smoothie. Although I won’t argue that it might boost your mood, for awhile. 😉
Honorable mentions at Panera: Egg White Power Power Sandwich, Steel Cut Oatmeal
Oatmeal from Starbucks
If I have to choose a fast-food breakfast, it’s the classic oatmeal at Starbucks. This option comes with dried fruit, nuts and brown sugar toppings so you can fix it to your taste. They also have dark chocolate and banana and a hearty blueberry options as far as oatmeal goes.
While you’re waiting for your oatmeal at Starbucks, adding a non-fat cappucino or latte isn’t a bad choice. Both are simply espresso topped with foamed or steamed milk, so you’re getting a little extra protein and calcium without the added sugars or artificial flavors in many of their other drinks.
Honorable mentions at Starbucks: Greek Yogurt Parfait, Strawberry Smoothie (these include whey protein powder)
Egg McMuffin from McDonalds
I bet you’re surprised to see this one! I can’t take the credit; the suggestion comes from my sister. The Egg McMuffin combines a few ideal breakfast pieces to make a healthy meal: english muffin (carbs), egg and canadian bacon (protein), cheese and butter (fats). While it wouldn’t be my first choice, it’s often easiest to find a McDonalds while some of the other chains can be trickier. So keep this idea on hand if McD’s is your option.
Honorable mentions at McDonalds: Fruit and Maple Oatmeal, Fruit n Yogurt Parfait (in my experience, these are very small portions!)
So whether it’s homemade or drive-thru, you now have SIX options for a healthy fast food breakfast. Keep this list on hand so you can start your day off right!
What are your favorite healthy fast food breakfast ideas?