“All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast,” said John Gunther. This is very true, because refuelling oneself with a nice, healthy, leisurely breakfast in the morning, leads to a happy body and mind – as it provides the essential nutrition required to help kick-start our day with.
There are also several studies to suggest that skipping breakfast tends to make high-calorie food seem more appealing later in the day, which may lead to an unhealthy intake of calorie-rich food.
The ideal breakfast is a mix of complex carbs, proteins, and healthy fats. The three most popular breakfasts in India are – English breakfast, North India and South Indian. Under these three, some of the healthier low-fat options are listed below.
• Toast + egg whites with mushrooms and tomatoes + 1 cup coffee
– 1 slice of toast bread (multigrain/ whole wheat) is approx. 70-80 kcal. Whole wheat adds fibre in the diet and gives the right fullness.
– The spread on top can be hummus or hung curd dip. Homemade green chutney can also be added as a bit of Indian twist.
– 1 – 3 boiled egg whites. Approx. 3-4 grams of protein, per egg white. They are low in calories and a good source of high-value natural protein. You can incorporate 1 yolk daily as it has high-density lipoprotein (HDL)- ‘ The good cholesterol’. It has fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K.
– Mushrooms are fat-free, gluten-free and are rich in Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) and B3 (Niacin), and also antioxidants like selenium.
– Tomatoes are high in antioxidants because PF presence of carotenoid pigment lycopene, low fat, Vitamin A and Vitamin C.
• 1 cup coffee made with skimmed milk only
– A cup of skimmed milk has only about 8gms fat and 80-90 calories. But it is a good source of calcium and protein.
North Indian Breakfast
• Oats cheela, with onions/tomato/capsicum
Oats are a rich source of dietary fibre. Research suggests that oats help in reducing cholesterol levels, stabilising sugar levels, assist in weight loss and management, as well as have a specific type of fibre called beta-glucan which has several health benefits. It is recommended for post-menopausal women, and it is a rich source of several minerals like selenium, magnesium and zinc.
– Oats (1 small cup): 150-175 calories (approx.)
– Onion (small): rich in phytochemicals, which assist in improving immunity
– Tomatoes: as mentioned above
– Capsicum: Rich in Vitamin C and improves immunity.
– Made with minimal oil and not deep fried. Maximum 1 tsp
• Red rice poha
Red rice poha has more iron, fibre, calcium, magnesium content and is richer in proteins, than white rice, making it healthier as well as easier to digest. It also has lower Glycemic Index, resulting in a slower release of carbs, and therefore recommended for diabetics and people trying to lose weight. Red rice is partially hulled or unhulled which provide a natural fullness and wholeness to the grains.
– 45 grams of Poha: 150-70 Cal
– Peas: dietary fibre, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Copper, Vitamin K, manganese, etc.
– Onions: mentioned above
– Carrots: Good source of Vitamin (Beta Carotene)
– Peanuts (unsalted): Rich source of Mono Unsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA) and Poly Unsaturated Fatty Acids ( PUFA). These are all ‘good fats’.
– Low-fat paneer: source of good protein and calcium for the vegetarians
We need to use a non-stick pan to make it or just add 1 tsp oil in the same.
South Indian Breakfast
• Brown rice sprouts idli with shredded cauliflower and mint chutney
Brown rice has more fibre and lesser processing as compared to white rice and hence it is a healthier alternative. It has the bran intact and therefore provides satiety for a longer period.
– Sprouts are a powerhouse of healthy nutrients and minerals – protein, fibre, vitamins A/C/K riboflavin, manganese, copper, zinc, magnesium, iron, and calcium, besides many others.
– Cauliflower has good amount of Vitamin C and fibre
– Mint is known to improve digestion, cleanse the palate, and has zero fat.
– Idlis contain an approx. 40 calories per piece and have zero fat
• Ragi Dosa with coconut chutney
Ragi is a high protein finger millet. It is a rich source of Vitamin K, iron, phosphorus and has complex carbohydrates with high-density dietary fibre. It also assists in reducing bad cholesterol, and in preventing Cardio-vascular diseases.
Studies done in the recent past have found that Coconut helps to lose fat as the medium chain triglycerides (MCT) present in them increase the energy expenditure of the body.
– 1 Ragi Dosa made with minimal oil on a non-stick Tawa has approx. 100-150 Cal
Breakfast, therefore, forms the most important meal of the day. Eating a nutritious and healthy breakfast gives one a refreshing start to the day, and provides enough energy to be active and productive through to the next meal time.
Do note that all the options given above, are keeping in mind that the oil used is any low-fat seed oil or vegetable oil. The biggest mistake one can make is to deep fry anything and/or use excess butter or ghee – very common for Indian breakfasts.
Try the above listed low-fat breakfast options, and you will feel your body thanking you through the day, with more energy and less tiredness!
Avni is a nutritionist and a certified Diabetes Educator from Project Hope and International Diabetes Federation. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.