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As everyone always says, vegan breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eating healthy, balanced meal will help prevent crashing from foods packed with simple carbohydrates.
One of my best friends has hypoglycemia, and I’m going to share with you what I told her about finding foods that don’t spike your blood sugar levels.
This is helpful for anyone and everyone as we all feel the effects of simple carbohydrates.
One of the easiest things you can do to combat blood sugar spikes is to eat a great, filling, energizing vegan breakfast.
I was reading the back of my cereal box (Nature's Path organic Flax Plus raisin bran) and it says, "If you eat simple carbohydrates, such as sugar and white flour, your blood sugar will spike because these foods are quickly converted to glucose. If you eat a lot of simple carbs, you can have very high blood sugar for several hours. Blood sugar levels can't remain high without damage, so insulin is released to move all the blood sugar into our muscles and blood stores. Experts now agree that a lot of insulin results in hunger pangs and an overworked pancreas which can promote adult onset diabetes..."
It's actually much easier than it seems to eat whole grains and avoid the white flours and sugars. I bet just adjusting breakfast a little bit will make you feel better.
Vegan breakfast is an cinch. Here are good options:
I know this might seem a little wacky and unconventional, but leafy greens are incredibly nourishing and healthful, and probably one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. When you start your day with dark leafy greens, you give yourself a burst of vegetable energy that lasts for hours.
I promise they don't taste horrible either. When you add in a variety of fruits, you disguise the vegetable flavor and if you weren't looking, you could swear the smoothie was bright pink and wonderfully easy to eat with your eyes.
I'll often start with a green smoothie and then snack on a handful of nuts or piece of whole grain toast with nut butter an hour or so later.
My tip is to look for foods that say "whole" before them, which means they are using the entire grain and therefore getting all the nutritional benefits out of it. This includes whole stone ground wheat, whole oats, whole quinoa, whole rye, and every grain ingredient should be whole.
Right now, many companies are taking advantage of the public’s interest in eating healthier food by selling things under the name “wheat flour,” but if it isn’t “whole,” it is basically like eating white flour. Be careful of that.
Also, watch out for packages of white flours that say, "enriched." In those cases, the grain has been stripped apart and it loses its health benefits. Enriched flours have nutrients added back in, but it's way better for you to just eat the whole grain.
For vegan breakfast cereal, we like a company called Nature's Path, and they make a Flax Plus cereal and a Raisin Bran type, and both are at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. Usually TJ's is cheaper, but Whole Foods does run specials on it. When looking for cereals, be careful of sugar added in, because even if it's whole grain, if they add the sugar, you're going to feel bad around 10am again. There is another brand of cereal that is simply puffed grains; nothing else is added.
We usually add a banana/raisins/blueberries/strawberries and some chia or flax seeds into our cereal as well.
I get rolled oats, or old-fashioned oats. You just add water to them and microwave in the morning. If you hardly have a minute to spare in the morning, you could try making a big pot on the stove on Sunday and then divvy it out in containers to reheat each day at the office.
I am not a fan of pre-packaged instant oats because they are often broken down from their whole state and then have numerous ingredients added to them.
Beware the “sugar-free” instant oatmeal, as it does have a sugar substitute, and sugar substitutes like sucralose, better known as Splenda have side effects that make them just as (or more) harmful than regular white sugar.
I know many people don’t love oatmeal for vegan breakfast, and most of the time, that’s because of the consistency and texture of the cooked oats. Many people have a bad experience with oatmeal and then just give up, but if you try it a few times, you’ll likely get used to it.
You can also try to doctor it up with some goodies like dried fruit, chopped nuts, seeds, non-dairy milk, cinnamon, and a nice sweetener like maple syrup or these other unrefined sweeteners.
For breads, I stick to whole grain breads like the popular Ezekial brand. Now, I will say that it is much stiffer and heartier than just about any bread in the world, so it might not be a good place to start. To start, you might just want to follow the above about cereals and look for true whole grain bread. You could always work up to Ezekial, which is a sprouted whole grain bread and so good for you. A good breakfast I do sometimes is Ezekial toast with a nut butter (like peanut butter) and then a piece of fruit.
Nut butters often have high fructose corn syrup (one of the many food devils) or sugar, and extra salt added into them, so I recommend looking for one that is just nuts, preferably raw. TJ's and Whole Foods have them, and Whole Foods has a great little grinder where you can get fresh peanut butter straight out of the machine, and it's actually cheaper than buying the jarred kind. You can also find almond butter, cashew butter, sunflower seed butter, and just about any nut butter.
So, you could easily switch between those three options for vegan breakfast each day and should feel way better later in the day. You know how everyone says breakfast is the most important meal!
If you want a special breakfast, try a vegan French toast like this one that uses the first vegan egg yolk, Vegg. I've also made an incredible French toast with aquafaba, the liquid from a can of chickpeas.
You can also opt for a more standard vegan breakfast like with waffles, muffins, or pancakes. Personally, I try to keep these types of breakfasts for only the weekends or special occasions, as I know I don't feel as good when I start my day with them.
When I have guests in town, I always make these, my favorite vegan pancake recipe, because no one can tell they're vegan or that I've snuck in a few whole grains and unrefined sugars. They're a huge hit!
If the blood tests show you have hypoglycemia, you'll definitely need a snack mid-morning. Some good options are about 10 almonds (or other nuts you like), an apple with nut butter, a lara bar (I don't like a lot of granola/cereal/protein bars because they're loaded with sugar and extra ingredients. Lara just has nuts and fruit. There are other good brands too, that's just the easiest to find), carrots with hummus, or something like that.
If you’re looking to reduce your meat and dairy consumption (or eliminate it), it can sometimes be hard to imagine breakfast without bacon and omelettes for the rest of your life. I highly, highly recommend checking out Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Vegan Brunch. Her book will instantly wipe out all those anxieties. She has amazing omelette recipes, “eggs” benedict, tempeh bacon, as well as the usual suspects of pancakes, waffles, crepes, tofu scrambles, and muffins.
Isa’s Vegan Brunch is certainly not the only vegan cookbook that offers vegan breakfast ideas and there are many others that have breakfast recipes, I just find hers to be exceptional.