Nicky is former editor of Life & Style online.

Nicky Park: The best breakfast

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

I love eating breakfast. If I don't rustle up something at home in the morning, I walk faster to the office so I can get stuck into the oats I've got stashed away in the work staff room. The meal inspires me and sets the tone for my day.

One of my favourite local health nuts, Dr Libby Weaver, wrote about the importance of literally breaking your fast in this week's Bite magazine.

"What you choose to eat and drink at breakfast can either set you up for smooth sailing or big challenges when it comes to your food choices, energy and mood," Dr Libby writes.

Another fabulous foodie, Claire Turnbull, shares these wise words: "Life is a lot easier if you eat properly."

She says breakie is a significant contribution to the nutrients that your body needs each day. So, if you don't get enough goodness, you start off on the wrong foot.

"You've only got another couple of meals to make it up," says the author of Lose Weight For Life and the nutritionist behind the NZ Healthy Food Guide.

"It is an opportunity to give yourself the right energy so your brain can get in gear."

"We all know that we need to eat breakfast. It's nothing new but it's about creating that routine."

Nutritionist Nikki Hart says it's best to get some food in your belly within the first two hours of waking up. That way you avoid low blood sugar levels, feeling lethargic, binge eating and poor productivity.

I mix up my breakfast depending on how the morning shapes up. If I kick off the day with an early gym session then I have enough time to chill out the kitchen. I'll fossick in the fridge for any veggies that look like they're about to turn, whisk them up with a couple of eggs, parsley, salt and pepper and serve them up on a piece of wholegrain bread.

If I'm a bit more pressed for time, I'll blitz a bunch of fruit and veg, maybe add some almond milk, chia seeds and ice, and sip it en route Downtown.

Worst case scenario, breakie over my keyboard is oats, almond milk, frozen berries, chia seeds and almonds (recently I left this combo in a jar to soak overnight, whizzed it up with a hand-held blender, added some ice - delish!)

I like to think of my menu as a bit of a breakfast-by-numbers - there are certain components I make sure it includes.

Here, Turnbull spells them out:

1. Some kind of wholegrain: Oats, bread, buckwheat, quinoa, or wholegrain breakfast cereal. These guys are a good source of energy, fibre and B vitamins. The amount that you need depends on how active you are through the day. For a desk-bound person, a tablespoon of oats in a smoothie or one piece of toast is plenty.

2. Some form of protein: Eggs, dairy products, lean meat, tofu. These will keep your belly feeling full until lunchtime. Turnbull reckons in New Zealand the distribution of protein is out of whack, with most people loading up on the stuff in the evening. But if get it in your morning meal you'll be fuller for longer, saving pennies and sugar highs on morning pastries.

3. Some vegetables and maybe some fruit (but especially some veggies): This is where you'll get a huge range of vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function at its best. I'm a big fan of a green juice at breakie. You you can get so much goodness in the tank without chowing down on bunches of spinach and celery at 7am. They're easy to digest and get right in to your system. Plus the chlorophyll improves circulation and will leave you feeling packed with energy. I'll also throw in a beetroot if I feel like I've been a bit unkind to my liver of late. When I'm feeling fruity, blueberries are one of my favourites - bursting with antioxidants, I think they're a bit of a mood booster.

4. Nuts and seeds: Chia, flax, LSA, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds. These guys are classified by Turnbull as fats, but they're goodies. They add a good texture to your breakfast, make it more interesting and have all sorts of different properties (I will bring you more on this another time). My favourites are almonds (magnesium-packed, which makes them great for circulation) and chia seeds (these slippery little guys are one of the most nutritious superfoods on the planet - see the stats here - and can absorb 17 times their weight in water, so they keep you full and keep everything move through you body nicely).

5. Drink water or peppermint tea: These guys won't hinder absorption of all the goodness you've just been fed. Hydration is generally the bees knees, and a cup of peppermint tea will relax the digestive tract.

* What are your favourite breakfast recipes? Are you into smoothies and juices? Do you have a morning routine that keeps you feeling healthy and well?

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Nicky is former editor of Life & Style online.

Nicky lives to wine, dine and thrive. Nicky crafted her writing skills as a cadet for an Australian news wire where amongst the coverage of sport, news, finance and courts she found a favourite in features. A stint as a foreign correspondent sent the chipper Aussie across the Tasman, covering the big issues of the Pacific Islands. Nicky relishes in opportunities to mix and mingle with interesting people, feast on delicious food, visit new places and write all about it. She believes everyone should "make the most of their minutes, learn lots and live their best life".

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