Help me be healthy, but not sweet!
February 18, 2009 10:53 AM   Subscribe

Help me transition to a healthy, low fat/low calorie breakfast that is more "salty" than "sweet"...

I'm trying to lose weight by eating better, but breakfast is difficult for me. Some mornings I just have coffee (which I know is not ideal for weight-loss purposes). However, when I do have breakfast, I tend to go for a bagel or the occasional breakfast sandwich. I know healthier options include fruit, hot/cold cereal, etc., but the thing is, I don't care for "sweet" food, especially in the morning.

So, any ideas for good, salty-rather-than-sweet replacements for my unhealthy breakfast choices? Please also keep in mind that I don't have a lot of time in the mornings, so something I can make quickly or pick up at a cafe on my way to work is ideal.

posted by mingodingo to Food & Drink (43 answers total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
My favorite breakfast: one egg over easy (I use olive oil spray on the pan), one slice of sprouted-grain toast with a thin scraping of butter and a thin scraping of tasty, salty Marmite. I know Marmite is a love-hate kind of thing, but lord, how I love it. The egg cooks while the toast toasts.

I usually have a piece of fruit midmorning, but in general I'm not very snackish at all between the sticking power of the egg and that of the bread.
posted by padraigin at 11:00 AM on February 18, 2009

Could you fry an egg or two? It takes me just two to three minutes to make them over-medium.

Depending on what your diet is, you have some options to go along with it. If it's low-carb you can make up a batch up bacon or sausage one night and just reheat it in the morning, you can fry the eggs in butter, etc. If it's low-fat or low-calorie, you can just fry them in non-stick cooking spray, add some pepper (and salt, if your diet isn't low-sodium) for flavor, and make toast -- use whatever kind of bread suits your diet -- while the eggs cook. Eggs over medium eaten on toast is amazing.

You could also poach the eggs, and you don't have to deal with the matter of frying them in anything. However, this takes longer and a lot of people -- myself included -- get frustrated with poaching.

Anyway, if you could tell us what kind of diet you're aiming for, that'll help.
posted by Nattie at 11:01 AM on February 18, 2009

Savory oatmeal.

For added on-the-go-ness, you could pre-pack oats and your choice of spices into a ziploc bag, then portion out a scoop each morning into a container. Just add water, you're good to go.

More recipes.
posted by mudpuppie at 11:02 AM on February 18, 2009 [3 favorites]

Oh, and even easier than all that is scrambled eggs. You can make scrambled eggs as low-fat, low-cal, or low-carb as you want, and they cook up in an instant. This is a good option if you get frustrated trying to make fried eggs because your yolks break when you flip them. (It takes practice, so if that's how you feel but you don't like scrambled eggs, just stick in there and make sure you're using enough butter/non-stick spray.)
posted by Nattie at 11:04 AM on February 18, 2009

Mark Bittman's column in the NYTimes this morning might help.
posted by esnyder at 11:06 AM on February 18, 2009

Every morning I have plain oatmeal with a pinch of salt, no milk, sugar, or fruit. Eggs are healthy. You could make an egg white omelette with canned salmon and peppers; that'd be quick and tasty.
posted by Khalad at 11:07 AM on February 18, 2009

My go-to favourite, brown-bag, low-fat, savoury/salty breakfast: 1 cup cottage cheese, with 6 cherry tomates cut in half on top, with a grind of fresh pepper, a dash of salt and 1 tsp of good olive oil on top. All of this goes in a tupperware, and can be made the night before!
posted by LN at 11:08 AM on February 18, 2009 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Nattie: I'm sort of doing the whole Weight Watchers points thing, so basically something that is low calorie, low fat, and has some fiber is the best option.

To everyone: thanks for all the wonderful suggestions!
posted by mingodingo at 11:10 AM on February 18, 2009

Eat Swedish style: get some Wasa flatbread or the flatbread of your choice (the Swedish kind is fermented and thus extra delicious), cucumbers or tomato, butter, and cheese. I like the sweet salty combo so I prefer jam & cheese, but you can put whatever you want on top--caviar, smoked salmon, bell pepper...the possibilities are endless. And the flatbread is quite filling.

In case you don't know what I'm talking about:
posted by nonmerci at 11:11 AM on February 18, 2009 [3 favorites]

My dad's spent years making omelettes with whatever veggies/leftover chinese food/whatever is in the fridge. Good use of garden veggies, if you have 'em. He also puts soy sauce on them.
posted by NoraReed at 11:12 AM on February 18, 2009

I find I don't feel the need for something sugary in my breakfast if I have at least a little bread (or some kind of carb). Just cottage cheese or just eggs leaves me daydreaming about muffins and Fruity Cheerios. I like to hard boil a few eggs at the beginning of the week, and then when I'm packing my lunches at night I slice one up, sprinkle it with salt and pepper, and pack it in a little Tupperware container. I bring the egg and two slices of whole-grain bread to work, toast the bread in the office kitchen’s toaster, and make a sandwich. I also sometimes like a regular sandwich for breakfast (turkey and whatever veggies I feel like adding). This may not work for you if you're looking to limit overall carbs in your breakfast, but I tend not to worry too much about the bread because the combination of carbs and protein keeps me full until lunch, whereas just protein means I end up going for a mid-morning (sugary) snack.
posted by Meg_Murry at 11:17 AM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

For fiber, buy whole wheat English muffins and make an egg sandwich. (A bagel is around 6 "points", but an English muffin is more like 2.)

I used to put arugula and a slice of low-fat swiss on a toasted English muffin with a scrambled egg, and pop it in the microwave for 10 sec. Use a teaspoon of olive oil or margarine if you need. Mmm.
posted by limeswirltart at 11:30 AM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

The thomas light english muffins are 1 point (100 calories, but 4g fiber). And egg whites (or egg beaters) are high protein and low calorie. You can make easy scrambled eggs in the microwave by just dumping in some egg white, salt, and pepper into a bowl and microwaving. And it comes out just the right size to fit on the english muffin!
posted by selfmedicating at 11:32 AM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

My favorite (4 point) breakfast sandwich: 1 healthy life sandwich bun (1 point) + 2 scrambled egg whites (0 points) + 2 slices canadian bacon (1 point) + 1 slice 2% milk swiss cheese (2 points) + tomato and spinach. Open the bun, layer on spinach, tomato slices, canadian bacon and then 1/2 of swiss cheese slice. Pop into toaster oven to warm. While that's going, scramble 2 egg whites in a bowl and nuke for about 1 1/4 minute. Assemble with salt and pepper. Seriously satisfying, and hey, even gets in a serving of veggies!
posted by amelioration at 11:34 AM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

I am addicted to fake bacon. A breakfast sandwich made on a whole wheat English muffin (120 calories, seriously) with fake bacon and a poached egg (I have a plastic microwave egg poacher which works beautifully and is fast and simple) is so delicious that it can even withstand the dreaded low fat cheese if you melt it a bit on the muffin first. I also eat peanut butter (you're allowed 2 tbsp, which is a surprising lot) and fakon sandwiches for breakfast on whole wheat toast or English muffin. Basically, fakon and low fat cheddar are my diet breakfast staples - the cheddar needs some help, you have to melt it at least - but fakon is wonderful, crunchy, salty stuff. Yes it looks like cardboard but overcome your fear!
posted by mygothlaundry at 11:35 AM on February 18, 2009

I love toasted grainy bread with a healthy amount of goat cheese on it for breakfast. It's easy and quick and tasty.
posted by hought20 at 11:44 AM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

V8 juice.

Crisp bread with Laughing Cow Light Cheese of some kind. (With sliced tomato?)

I love to sprinkle salt on fruit such as apples.
posted by lampoil at 11:49 AM on February 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ok, fine. Instant grits if you must. But then you throw in a sprinkle of cheese (more if you're being bad), pinch of salt and pepper, and Tobasco sauce. You can't pick this up in a cafe unless you live (far) south of the Mason-Dixon. But if you've got a microwave or stove (or a hot water kettle), this is about the fastest breakfast known. I guess your bowl would be messy when you got to work... Grits is some kinda sticky. But they stick to your ribs, too!
posted by zpousman at 12:12 PM on February 18, 2009

Bacon & eggs immediately comes to mind, although it probably won't help you lose weight. Oatmeal is a good old fallback, as well as campbell's soup. (Something low-calories, like tomato.) Or grits with salt, no butter.

I frequently grab onigiri from my local Japanese market for breakfast purposes. (Rice and meat or vegatables wrapped in seaweed.)

Although if you're a fan of the morning coffee & bagel, consider having a slice of unbuttered whole wheat bread instead. Not quite as filling, but only a fraction of the calories.
posted by MaxK at 12:17 PM on February 18, 2009

Wasa crispbread is all kinds of fantastic. My favorite quick breakfast for a while has been a hard-cooked egg mashed up with a laughing cow light wedge and spread on a wasa cracker. You could sandwich it in between two crackers if you want a little extra fiber, and a little extra staying power, but one keeps me going until early afternoon.
posted by paleography at 12:24 PM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

One of my favorite breakfasts: leftover brown rice, reheated in the microwave and topped with a scattering of toasted salted almonds and some kosher salt. Sometimes I'll toss in some leftover vegetables, too.

Good fiber, some protein, a little fat to satiate the belly (sometimes I add a small chunk of cheddar or a sliver of butter to oomph it up a bit), and marvelously fast and easy.
posted by Elsa at 12:31 PM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

I came in here to recommend grits but I see zpousman has beaten me to it.

Me, I tend to each lunch sort of things for breakfast. Ham and cheese sandwiches, tomato juice, leftover pizza, rice with an egg on top and some leftover veggies. You get the idea.

Nobody ever said that breakfast has to be so darn special. Try finding things you enjoy in your new healthy lunch and dinner ideas, and have them for breakfast, too. One of the finest breakfasts I ever had was bi bim bap shrimp with a cabbage and pickle salad, served with rice in a hot stone bowl. Kept me full and happy and energized for hours.
posted by Mizu at 12:34 PM on February 18, 2009

I love a sandwich of Lego low fat whole grain waffles, a tiny bit of no-sugar-added peanut butter, and 2 slices turkey bacon. It's portable, fast, yummy, and only 345 calories.
posted by np312 at 12:45 PM on February 18, 2009

I like a sandwich of a whole wheat English muffin, scrambled egg beaters, and a slice of lowfat cheese. It comes out to about 200 calories/4 points. I also sometimes do an egg beater omelette with lowfat cheese and either leftover vegetables or salsa.
posted by Daily Alice at 12:57 PM on February 18, 2009

I've been eating Jimmy Dean D-Lights for breakfast. They're frozen savory breakfast sandwiches meant to be healthy(er). And since they're premade, it only takes a few minutes to take one out of the freezer and pop it in the microwave.
posted by geeky at 12:58 PM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

I like a tart apple with sharp cheese, or just "normal" food, like leftover curry from the previous day's dinner. Today's breakfast was chicken Madras on brown rice.
posted by PatoPata at 1:03 PM on February 18, 2009

I'll second the Jimmy Dean D-lights sandwiches. They've worked well for me and stick with me longer than oatmeal or cereal.
posted by Fleebnork at 1:08 PM on February 18, 2009

The best summertime (yeah, I know it's February, but winter doesn't last forever) breakfasts I ever ate were in Turkey, of all places, where every B&B served whole wheat sesame flatbread or crackers, slices of feta cheese, tomatoes and cucumber, and olives. Black tea without sugar was the perfect accompaniment. You'll get your salt from the cheese and olives and nothing is particularly sweet here. (I don't know if the feta and olives would contain too much fat for you, though.)

You probably don't have a good Turkish café on your way to work, but you can pack this up and take it with you. Just slice the cheese and veggies and put them in a leakproof bag or container, no cooking required. If you have a fridge at work, you could leave a stash of olives there, and you can keep crackers (I like Ak-Mak sesame flatbreads) in your desk.
posted by Quietgal at 1:20 PM on February 18, 2009 [3 favorites]

My morning is not complete without a cup of Miso soup.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 1:37 PM on February 18, 2009

What about whole wheat bagels or english muffins with hummus or peanut butter? I love this Simply Jif peanut butter, which is healthier and much less sweet - tastes more like peanuts to me than regular pb does.

I don't know if they're available nationwide, but many of my fellow WW members love the Western Bagel products, which are low-points.

Yeay for Weight Watchers!
posted by radioamy at 2:38 PM on February 18, 2009

Many of the savory recipes for grits or oatmeal would also be great with quinoa. It's really easy to make in a rice cooker and has the added benefits of being high in protein, iron, amino acids, fiber, phosphorous, and magnesium. I like mine on the sweet side with turmeric, raisins, and honey but it's a very neutral tasting grain that can pretty much be paired with anything.
posted by Thin Lizzy at 3:05 PM on February 18, 2009

Quinoa is great and you it's easy to heat up for another time too. I have instant oatmeal with blueberries and a piece of sourdough toast. I also eat the Morningstar veggie fake sausage patties which my own meat loving husband can barely tell the difference- they are only 80 calories each and NO fat and taste so close to meat.

Good luck with your search.
posted by Chele66 at 3:20 PM on February 18, 2009

Heinz baked beans on whole wheat toast. I drizzle over a little extra virgin olive oil and season with fresh cracked pepper. Get the UK version to cut down on sugar.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:25 PM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

I love these egg muffins -- though I make them with egg substitute. They freeze well and can be thrown in the microwave or a toaster oven to heat quickly in the morning.
posted by ThatSomething at 3:27 PM on February 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'm a big fan of lunch-ish leftovers as breakfast food. Half a turkey sandwich, leftover lasagna, even sushi. (Eel and avocado rolls. MMMMM.) Grilled chicken breast and a handful of cucumber spears or celery.

Where are you on the subject of plain yogurt? Unsweetened Kefir is an acquired taste, but I think it's delicious. I put it on my cereal, so it's just barely a sweet thing. You could do it with veggies instead, if you're really anti-sweetstuff.

Where are you on peanut butter?

Lowfat cheese, melted on bread, in the toaster oven?

Mmm, you're making me hungry. :-)
posted by SaharaRose at 5:50 PM on February 18, 2009

Fry up some mushrooms, sweet potato, add a teaspoon of tomato paste and a nice dash of salt and pepper. Pour this into a ramekin and crack an egg on top. Pop into the oven until the egg is set and voila! A tasty, savoury and healthy breakfast.
posted by scarello at 5:59 PM on February 18, 2009

I have the same issue you do, in that mornings I mostly crave savory items (plus the health/weight concerns). Lately I've been having vegetarian baked beans on whole wheat toast, which is really easy, tasty, and pretty good for you. The beans can be a little sweet, though, so pepper helps but I'm also hoping to find a less sweet brand. Or make my own.

Another way to go is having vegetarian refried beans wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla. I always add hot sauce, and if I have it, cilantro, onion, and/or tomato.

Okay, and this isn't a low-cal option, but the best savory breakfast I have had in a restaurant is the potato-cheese pancakes from Rick and Ann's in Berkeley, CA. I'm sure you could find a similar recipe online if you're interested. So very good...
posted by JenMarie at 7:16 PM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

- Whole grain/high fiber English muffin (1 point)
- Egg whites scrambled in the microwave for a minute or so (0 points? Cool beans! I've been counting them as 1!) - you can buy a carton of egg whites near the regular eggs. The brand I get is called All Whites and is just that - all egg whites, no chemicals.
- slice of low-fat cheese, or for more savory, spread a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese on the muffin (1 point)
- salsa (0 points)

2 of these for 4 points. Not bad!

Really pressed for time/neatness? You can throw the salsa in the egg whites and then cook them.

If you're more of a wrap person, you need to check out Flatout's stuff - some of their flatbreads are 1 point. They're my lunch staple.
posted by booksherpa at 8:16 PM on February 18, 2009

And my personal favorite (though man, a lot of these look good and I have to try them): a really good slice of bread, toasted, with very thin slices of super sharp cheddar cheese on top, so they get a little butter necessary.
posted by purenitrous at 8:27 PM on February 18, 2009

congee! i make a big batch on sunday night, and microwave bowls throughout the week, with sesame oil, tamari, chili sauce and whatever toppings are kicking around (leftover tofu, hard-boiled eggs, green onions, sauteed kale, and so forth)
posted by chickadee at 8:38 PM on February 18, 2009

Stay away from bagels. I'll nth the egg suggestion because even with a small amount of regular olive oil, one fried egg is maybe 110-150 calories -- that's a pretty good caloric budget for breakfast. If you still feel like you're not getting enough nutrition, throw in some toast with a little bit of buttery spread (some non-margarine spread with no homogenized oils) to add about another 150 or so calories and a decent source of carbs.
posted by spiderskull at 12:48 AM on February 20, 2009

I think you mean "savory", not "salty"? Salty is bad, healthwise.
posted by talldean at 1:02 PM on February 22, 2009

As I mentioned previously in this thread:


- It's hot, healthy and balanced.
- It's cheap.
- You can easily make a big pot that lasts you a few days.
- The only cooking left to do in the morning is reheating a portion.
- You can vary according to your taste/mood/the season. The possibilities tastewise are absolutely endless: a simple vegetable soup, Thai noodle soup, a thicker soup with potatoes, soup with dumplings, bouillabaisse, egg drop soup, minestrone, etc.
- You can add as much vegetables/meat/fish/starch as you want.
- It's tasty!
posted by lioness at 11:00 AM on February 25, 2009

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