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4 Easy Swaps You Can Make For a Healthier Breakfast

A healthy breakfast doesn't have to take you longer!
healthy breakfast ideas

Art Credit: Haruka Sakaguchi

With the new year coming at you in full speed, it may be difficult to prepare an egg white frittata with freshly squeezed orange juice for breakfast every morning. Instead of agonizing over the ticking clock, consider the following staple breakfast ingredients that you can quickly swap out for a healthier meal—in little to no time at all.

01. Sugar vs. Pure Raw Honey

When it comes to sweeteners, many people turn to artificial sugars for their affordability and calorie-free nature.  While all-natural sweeteners are slightly more expensive and have a higher calorie intake—granulated sugar scores at about 720 cal. per cup while honey contains 960 cal. per cup—they are ultimately more beneficial than artificial sugar because it contains antioxidants and traces of protein, vitamin C, calcium, and Iron.

Mixed with coffee, tea or even hot water, pure raw honey leaves little to no aftertaste and can be easily measured when scooped out with a tablespoon. Why not enjoy your morning cuppa with the sweet spoils of nature?

02. Creamer vs. Soy Milk

Creamers—especially non-dairy coffee creamers—often contain filler ingredients like sugar, sodium, corn syrup, and food coloring to mimic the qualities of milk and cream. Although the calorie count is low, some have argued that marketed numbers have been skewed to match an unrealistically small serving portion. It is generally recommended that no more than 2 grams of trans fat are consumed in a day, but some creamer brands contain up to 1 gram of trans fat per tablespoon.

For a healthier alternative, simply replace your creamer with soy milk. Soy milk is packed with essential fatty acids, proteins, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Furthermore, soy milk in known to improve the lipid profile by significantly lowering blood concentrations of triglyceride and low density lipoproteins (LDL) and raising the level of high density lipoproteins (HDL).

03. Flavored Yogurt vs. Plain Yogurt

Flavored yogurts are high in sugar content (up to 27 grams per 6 ounce container!) and contain traces of sodium and preservatives. Flavored with pureed fruit, they retain less vitamin C than the whole fruit. While “probiotic” flavored yogurts seem to be in vogue, do not be duped—all yogurt products contain plenty of live cultures to ease digestion.

Plain yogurt, on the other hand, contains little to no added sugar and has higher levels of calcium and protein—plain yogurt scores at an average of 15 grams of protein per serving compared to flavored yogurt’s 7 grams per serving.

Rest assured, you do not have to shovel tasteless spoonfuls of plain yogurt in your mouth for a nutritional meal. Dress your yogurt with your favorite whole fruit or a dash of all-natural sweeteners like maple syrup or honey. My favorite is the no-chop combination: clementines, blueberries and honey. It’s delicious, and requires no chop board cleanup!

04. Cereal vs. Granola

For years, American consumers have been subjected to the tired marketing rhetoric of cereal brands promising “balanced meals” and a plethora of vitamins and minerals. Unfortunately, many of these claims fall short of the truth.

Most boxed cereal products undergo a factory process called extrusion, which utilizes high heat and high pressure to mold the grain into O’s, flakes, and other popular cereal shapes. The truth is, extrusion burns off most chemical vitamins that are added to fortify the cereal and alters the amino acid configuration of the added protein. This process also introduces traces of foreign compounds, the effects of which have not been fully researched. Even “healthier” cereal options are often bolstered with synthetic vitamins which the human body does not recognize and eventually dumps out as toxins.

Of course, nothing beats the convenience of a cereal bowl—you just add milk and go. But with a little foresight and preparation, you can whip up some oatmeal (using pre-soaked steel-cut oats), chopped fruit, or homemade granola for a less synthetic breakfast alternative. I often swap out my cereal with a hearty granola combination of oats, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, cinnamon and dried blueberries. Yum!