Breakfast is truly one of the most important meals of the day – and yet so many people skip it because they struggle to know what’s best to opt for first thing in the morning – getting stuck in a rut that neither nourishes or inspires them.

Craving something delicious which also benefits the body and mind? These healthy, nutritious breakfast and brunch ideas deliver on both fronts – featuring simple ingredients and easy recipes suitable for even the busiest of days.

Why is breakfast so important?

Breakfast is important because it provides us with the energy we need to function during the day. After fasting overnight during sleep, the body needs a healthy shot of energy to kick-start our metabolism and regulate blood sugar, supporting thousands of processes within the body which enable us to thrive physically and mentally. A healthy breakfast sets the tone for the rest of the day – impacting upon our appetite, energy levels, cravings and mood.

Unless you are fasting (which is best attempted under medical supervision), a healthy, nutritious breakfast eaten within one hour of waking up is one of the easiest ways to support optimal wellbeing.

Key ingredients of a brilliant breakfast

A good breakfast or brunch should include key macronutrients to help set you up for the day ahead. You should aim to include each of the following for a perfectly balanced plate:

*Protein: Keeps mid-morning cravings at bay and supports many processes within the body

*Fiber: Fiber helps to support healthy digestion and keeps you feeling fuller for longer

*Fruits and/or vegetables: Plant-based foods provide plenty of essential vitamins and minerals

*Slow-release carbohydrates: Filling you up whilst offering the energy you need to make it to lunchtime

4 brunches with benefits to try this week

1. Eggs any way

Eggs are an incredibly versatile and nutrient-packed breakfast or brunch ingredient – just one egg provides 15g of protein, a healthy dose of amino acids and a generous portion of your daily intake of vitamins A, K, D and B12. Eggs can be quick and easy to make even on a busy morning – but they’re best suited to lazy weekends where you can create something truly delicious to slow down and savor. Some egg-based breakfast and brunch ideas include:

*Omelet (use plant-based milk and add greens for extra vitamins)

*Poached or scrambled eggs on seeded sourdough or rye toast (add avocado and seeds for a helping of healthy fats on the side)


2. Nutrient-dense smoothies

Smoothies are great on the go – quick and easy to make and packed with essential nutrients. Just like eggs, they also cater to all tastes and appetites and you can change things up every day if you want to, or add specific ingredients to address your own health needs. Smoothies are a smarter choice than juices as they retain more goodness and fiber and can be supercharged with protein to make a complete meal. Some super smoothie ideas include:

*Green machine: Hormone-balancing, packed with leafy greens, herbs, avocado, citrus fruits and chia seeds for a high-protein, high-fiber breakfast with a helping of healthy fats on the side.

*Berry burst: Berries are lower in sugar but packed with antioxidants and vital nutrients. Try mixed berries, blueberries or raspberries with coconut water, chia seeds and a little protein powder.

*Cacao-nut: Raw cacao powder, protein, almond or peanut butter and almond milk make this a deliciously indulgent smoothie – sprinkle with cacao nibs, raspberries and seeds for an added boost.

3. Bowls with benefits

The humble granola bowl has experienced a major upgrade in recent years – now you can switch things up to keep your breakfasts exciting yet easy to make first thing in the morning. Create your very own yogurt parfait with unsweetened full-fat Greek yogurt or coconut, almond or soy yogurt (opt for those with probiotics), sprinkled with low-sugar granola and fresh berries or your favorite fruits. Top with nuts and seeds for an extra protein bump. You can even make these in advance and store them in jars for a quick and easy breakfast you can grab and go.

4. Change it up with chia

Chia seeds may be small, but their health benefits are mighty. As a lower-carb, high-protein and high-fiber alternative to oatmeal, chia puddings can be boosted with different fruits and flavors so you never have to eat the same breakfast twice in a row. Some chia breakfast and brunches to try include:

*Vanilla chia pudding – almond milk, vanilla protein powder, stevia and chia seeds make this perfect base to customize with your favorite ingredients. You can make this in advance for a week of delicious, healthy breakfasts or brunches.

Variations on this recipe:

*Mango-coconut – Use coconut milk and top with fresh mango and a drizzle of raw honey with chopped pistachios

*Matcha chia pudding – Add a spoonful of pure matcha powder to your chia pudding base and top with fresh strawberries *Cacao chia pudding – An indulgent chocolate dessert-style breakfast that’s low in sugar and packed with protein.