Simple breakfast ideas that don't include canned pumpkin

“What the heck do you eat for breakfast?” I’m asked fairly often. Gone are the days of quickly pouring a bowl of cereal or grabbing a bagel on the go. Seven years ago I made a conscious effort to change what I ate. I went from a diet full of processed foods to a whole foods style of eating. 

Why the change? My health had been deteriorating and my doctor wanted to slow the deterioration with Methotrexate. I did a little Google research and didn’t like what I read. I couldn’t get past lymphoma as a possible side effect. I knew I wanted to heal, and I realized I’d have to participate in my own rescue for that to happen.

So after much procrastination, I crossed my fingers and embraced the idea that food equals medicine. 

Changing my eating habits was not easy. My greatest fear was what to do for breakfast. I asked a few friends who had already converted to a whole foods regimen what they did for their first meal of the day. Their answers didn’t excite me. I heard about heated up canned pumpkin. Or dinner for breakfast. Who has time to do that? I was fixated on “grab and go.” When someone mentioned scrambled eggs and bacon I laughed. That was weekend restaurant fare to me. 

I wanted to drop out before I had even started my whole foods experiment. Thank goodness I didn’t. My health has greatly improved, and I’m stronger and leaner than I’ve been in decades.     

Curious about changing your diet? Don’t procrastinate like I did. Just do it. What was I scared of? Failing. Not having enough time and energy to succeed. 

So what have I learned over the last seven years?

  1. How we spend our time is a choice. I choose to prioritize a nutrient-dense breakfast over hitting the snooze button. Eating a whole foods breakfast will take slightly more work and effort than pouring and consuming a bowl of cereal. Yet the health payoff is huge—steady energy, laser focus and a full tummy for hours. It’s not extravagance or luxury. It’s self-preservation.

  2. Be mindful of your mindset. Before I started the experiment the idea of cooking overwhelmed me. The conversation in my head was ‘It may be possible, but it’s too difficult.’ After just three days of my new food plan, my mindset shifted to ‘It may be difficult, but it’s possible.’

  3. Processed foods encourage passivity. I was on autopilot for decades. ’Pour the cereal into the bowl’ doesn’t require much brain power, nor does it give you much brain power. Once I started eating whole foods I had more energy to focus on the things I cared about most.

  4. Attention and intention is a gift. With a little planning, you’ll experience a greater connection to what you’re eating and more moments of appreciation for the meal in front of you. There are 168 hours in a week—I “gift” myself and my family 30 minutes of those 168 hours to flip through cookbooks so that we are well nourished throughout the week.

  5. Cultivating a new skill takes practice. I was not born a natural cook. In fact, 7 years ago I was clueless in the kitchen. Boil water—how do you do that? So I had to roll up my sleeves and practice. We’ve eaten a lot of mistakes over the years, but with each mistake I’ve become closer to the cook that I am today.

Interested in knowing my go-to breakfast today? It’s not canned pumpkin. What I find delicious? Sautéed veggies, 2 soft-boiled eggs and an avocado. This is a breakfast that takes me 9 minutes to prepare and 6 minutes to enjoy. I’m sure I could devour it in 3 minutes but I’m working hard on slowing down and savoring my meals.

Want more breakfast ideas?

The following are all quick and easy as long as you do a little food prep ahead of time: 

Monday: 2 hard boiled eggs, an avocado and a large spoonful of raw sauerkraut

Tuesday: Beef jerky and a smoothie. Think a smoothie feels too complicated? A clever client gave me this hack. When you come home from the grocery store, split up your veggies into 5 portions. Place those portions in separate bags. Each morning, grab a veggie bag out of the fridge, toss in blender, add your choice of liquid (almond milk, coco milk or water), add one serving of fruit, and blend. 

Wednesday: Coconut chia pudding, trail mix and cucumber slices

Thursday: Sautéed boy choy and rainbow chard, 2 fried eggs and an avocado

Friday: a bowl of zucchini noodles, with a few spoonfuls of kimchi, an avocado and some diced ham

Difficult times cause us to grow the most. I took a big step out of my comfort zone, slowed way down and dove deep into my whole foods experiment. I haven’t had to go on Methotrexate and cooking no longer feels difficult, so I deem it a roaring success.

There are many places where renewal and truth can happen.

For me, it’s been in the kitchen.