I am not a breakfast eater.
There. I said it.
Perhaps it’s more that I’m “not a morning person.” I generally spend my mornings sipping tea, water, and the occasional smoothie. I’m not ready to eat until around 10 am. As a teen, I had the same issue: waking at early hours for school was not conducive to my appetite. My mother would worry about my nutrition and tried everything to get me to eat–including buying those “instant breakfast” packets that are mixed with milk.
I was surprised to see, recently, that Instant Breakfast products are still being marketed. Isn’t it a given that anything “instant” can’t be too great for your health? We are a culture of convenience, though, so things like “instant breakfast,” with minimal preparation, are appealing. The sad, inevitable truth is that instant meal-replacement items are usually comprised of ingredients that wouldn’t make any Healthy Breakfast list. What’s worse is I see these being marketed as a good option for kids’ breakfasts.
Let’s take a look at some of those instant-breakfast ingredients and a few instant breakfast alternatives.
Ingredients found in the leading instant breakfast brand:
NONFAT MILK–processed, dehydrated milk. Let’s not kid ourselves that this is a whole food.
SUGAR–the second ingredient! In my opinion, you might as well just pour a glass of milk and add a couple tablespoons of sugar rather than spend money on an instant breakfast product like this one.
MALTODEXTRIN–a processed filler/thickener made from corn, rice, or potatoes. It contains zero nutritional value.
LACTOSE–milk sugar, often hard to digest
MAGNESIUM HYDROXIDE–um, ever hear of Milk of Magnesia? Same stuff. This is a LAXATIVE, people.
SOY LECITHIN–this is an emulsifier derived from soy. While soy lecithin alone poses no immediate harm, you might ask yourself how you feel about a processed product from (most-likely) genetically-modified soybeans.
CARRAGEENAN–a food additive extracted from seaweed, carrageenan is found in a host of processed items. This ingredient has been shown to produce an inflammatory response in the body, and, if consumed over time, can prove to be carcinogenic (source).
ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR–Do I need to explain this one?
While I can’t advocate for “instant” “foods,” I do understand the need and/or desire for a quick, easy breakfast. Believe me, I forced myself to take breakfast in the car on my drive to work each morning. It was usually a full bowl of oatmeal, which made for interesting driving. Here are a few options that are healthy and filling, and won’t leave you slopping your lap in oats
5 Healthier Instant Breakfast Alternatives
These protein shakes are made with organic, non-gmo soy milk and come in four flavors: chocolate, french vanilla, cappuccino, and spiced chai. A handful of vitamins and minerals and a hefty 16 grams of protein and 260 calories make this a nice choice for days when you just don’t have time for eggs & toast.
I discovered this brand via one of my Ecocentric Mom boxes and can attest to its deliciousness! As with most greens drinks, these powdered greens don’t contain significant protein, but if mixed with milk, it would raise the nutritional content. This chocolate drink contains vitamins, minerals, probiotics, antioxidants, and 3+ servings of fruits and vegetables.
Made by Happy Family, a trusted brand of organic packaged foods, this little smoothie-on-the-go is made from yogurt, fruit, whey protein, and quinoa. The smoothies have as much protein as an egg, and also contain fiber, calcium, iron, and antioxidants. They’re only about 100 calories each, though, so pair this with a homemade muffin for a more filling breakfast.
I hesitate to recommend this one because it contains carrageenan (see above), but the acceptable ingredients, coupled with the high protein content (16 grams) and vitamins and minerals might make this a good choice for you on an occasional rushed morning.
How about a smoothie?
We can’t talk about easy, quick breakfasts without mentioning homemade smoothies. You can whip one up fairly fast or make a batch in advance and freeze/refrigerate. I’ve got a few ideas for kid-friendly smoothies, a yummy Suntan Smoothie, and a Purple Berry Pie Smoothie. Check out my Pinterest board below for other great smoothie options.