Low-carb breakfast ideas
January 19, 2010 7:11 AM   Subscribe

Low-carb breakfast ideas... which AREN'T meat, egg or cheese-based.

This being January, I'm trying to lose some weight. I like the simplicity of limiting my carbohydrates to a reasonable level. (I'm not Atkinsing or anything quite as dramatic.) But breakfast remains a problem.

I have to eat breakfast otherwise I feel awful till lunchtime, but there seem to be very few breakfast options available which aren't based around eggs, meat or cheese. Don't get me wrong, I love eggs, meat and cheese, but I can't stomach them first thing in the morning as they are very rich.

Basically I'm looking for other low-carb breakfast options which aren't protein bars, fruit (another food I can't eat first thing in the morning), or anything containing artificial sweetener. I don't really like natural yogurt, and fruit-flavoured yogurt has a ton of sugar in it.

I know I sound really picky! But I hope some of you will be able to help me.

I've tried trawling the archives for similar questions so hope this isn't a repeat of something which has been asked before.
posted by Ziggy500 to Health & Fitness (40 answers total) 74 users marked this as a favorite
Salad. I'm eating a big one right now!
posted by nitsuj at 7:15 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

No meat, no carbs, no fruit, no dairy...that leaves vegetables and nuts. For breakfast, you could just eat the same type of food you eat for lunch and dinner. Soup and nuts makes a good breakfast in my house. A favorite is carrot soup or a pureed greens soup with some pecans on the side.
posted by PatoPata at 7:16 AM on January 19, 2010

I love to eat salad for breakfast too. Crumble in some hard-boiled egg white -- won't feel heavy.
posted by fullofragerie at 7:19 AM on January 19, 2010

Cottage cheese is low-carb and not really all that heavy.
posted by logicpunk at 7:25 AM on January 19, 2010

Special K Protein Plus. 10g protein, 9g net carbs (2g sugar), 5g fibre per serving.
Serve up with unsweetened Silk soymilk (== more protein, ultralow sugar and fat), and a half-teaspoon of Splenda/Apriva/Nevella. I know you said you didn't like artificial sweetener, but I seriously suggest you have a tiny dose at a time until you become used to it. Switching to it (in your coffee, cereal, hot drinks at work) and diet drinks completely will substantially lower your sugar intake.

Snacks at work: small packets of peanuts (excellent fats), a cup of Hershey's unsweetened cocoa w/unsweetened Silk and a half tsp of sweetener, or a small pack of Smart-Pop popcorn should see you through until lunchtime.

posted by cyniczny at 7:26 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

One of the things I learned from Atkins was to stop thinking of food as breakfast food and non-breakfast food. Instead, think of it as healthy food and non-healthy food. I happen to like eggs but my wife will often eat leftovers from the night before for breakfast.
posted by maurice at 7:28 AM on January 19, 2010

Will just point out that oatmeal, while technically carbohydrate-heavy, is laden with complex carbohydrates including a lot of soluble and insoluble fiber, and can be sweetened however you desire. Add some milk if you need some protein.

Edamame is also delicious in the morning.
posted by General Malaise at 7:29 AM on January 19, 2010

We are currently doing something akin to the Atkins / GCBC thing, and we normally have one of these muffin in a minute things for breakfast.

While it contains an egg, you can't taste it thanks to the flax meal. Also, because flax is pretty much 100% fiber, you're going to be... regular. If you're reducing your carb count, that can be a problem.

It also contains some artificial sweetener, but you can probably skip that and add a little "real" sweetness (personally I top mine with a bit of honey, but to each their own).
posted by lowlife at 7:33 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

IANADietician but if you're going to eat carbs at all during the day, breakfast is the time to do it. Maybe stick with carbs like oatmeal in the morning and stick to protein for lunch and dinner? I think you'll find yourself eating smaller meals if you eat a substantial breakfast.
posted by johnnybeggs at 7:39 AM on January 19, 2010

You could eat soy-based "meat" products, if you find them any lighter than those other proteins. A lot of the fake meats either taste pretty bad or don't have that much protein. Morningstar's breakfast sausage patties are among the least offensive in my opinion, and they have a lot of protein for very few calories. I use them as filler for a burrito to take to work. You can add other proteins such as beans.

Also: miso soup with tofu. Tofu cubed and lightly stir-fried with beans and stuff. Leftover fish or relatively low-fat fish sticks like Dr. Praeger's. Turkey is meat, but a slice or two of that is very light.

I add protein powder to hot cereal and milk to avoid carbohydrate crash before lunch; you could do that and just make sure you don't eat too much cereal.

If your schedule allows, you could have a tiny breakfast. I often have a skim-milk latte and some little snacky thing, and then a good meal once my stomach wakes up.
posted by BibiRose at 7:47 AM on January 19, 2010

Miso for breakfast.
posted by at the crossroads at 7:52 AM on January 19, 2010

Best answer: I'm looking for other low-carb breakfast options which aren't protein bars, fruit (another food I can't eat first thing in the morning), or anything containing artificial sweetener. I don't really like natural yogurt, and fruit-flavoured yogurt has a ton of sugar in it.

I'm doing a sort of holistic, vaguely low-carb diet thing right now, too (though, as it's based on Phase II of the South Beach diet, it's more like a good carb/good fat sort of thing). I'd keep in mind that the "ton" of sugar in most yogurt is naturally occurring lactose (plain yogurt with no added sugar has between 11 and 21g sugar naturally, depending on the brand/source). So the amount of added, unhealthy sugar in a container of vanilla yogurt is less than you'd probably think.

You might also consider stevia-sweetened plain yogurt, if you can stand the taste of stevia. I hate most non-sugar sweeteners, but stevia isn't so bad. I like this brand.

Also, consider steel cut oats! Yummy, fibrous, good for you. I add a touch of stevia, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Sometimes I throw a few frozen blueberries in there.

I'm one of those people who just hates doing non-breakfast things for breakfast, so these have worked for me. My phase II style diet/healthy eating plan has also been working pretty well--I find that it feels not diety at all, and I've already lost a handful of pounds. You might want to take a look and consider using it as a general dietary guideline, because it's really pretty reasonable and helps steer you towards more healthy choices rather than cutting out whole food groups, which can be (as you're probably finding) difficult to sustain.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:52 AM on January 19, 2010

What about fruit? And I'm assuming yogurt is okay (it's not cheese, so...). I've been in the midst of a fruit fest for breakfasts -- a whole grapefruit or broiled bananas or something. I've also made fruit salads of banana, kiwi, and pomegranate. I've also got recipes for some wonderful salads of melon slices with grilled strawberries, or something with papaya or mango slices with a dressing of lime juice and a little sliced ginger. Or just berries and yogurt.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:52 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yup, beans.
posted by teragram at 7:59 AM on January 19, 2010

What about beans? i mean, id want to get some carb action or an egg in there, but...black beans w/ some salsa, cannelini beans served in a cold salad form, marinated chickpeas, mashed up beans or chickpeas with garlic and stuff...there's a lot of options.
posted by jeb at 8:02 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

natural/plain yoghurt with honey.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:04 AM on January 19, 2010

Tuna, sardines, or kippered herring are all breakfast staples for me.
posted by ottereroticist at 8:04 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Avocado! I don't know about the prices (or availability) of avocados in your area, but this is an AWESOME fruit. It's full of vitamins and good fats, so it would be excellent for breakfast. My mom used to give it to us all the time when we were kids and now I still enjoy it at any time (breakfast, lunch or dinner).

You can have it over the healthiest toast you can find, with some salad dressing, or something sweet like honey if that's what you prefer. (Personally, I like to spread a little bit of mayonaisse on it and some salt and that's it.) Also recommended on: corn tostadas (the baked kind), wheat thins and the like, next to an egg, etc.

One final suggestion. You say you can't stomach anything like meat, eggs or cheese in the morning. That happens to me every time I start to work again after a month or two of vacations (I'm a teacher). So I always start out small and light, and then pick it up gradually to a heavier breakfast, which I NEED in order to not starve before lunch. So if you like eggs, meat and cheese, give them a try, a little amount at a time until you can include them during the morning. Or not. YMMV.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 8:07 AM on January 19, 2010

a big ol' handfull of almonds and walnuts.
posted by WeekendJen at 8:12 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I just made a whole batch of breakfast burritos...so good. You can use pretty much as much straight vegetables as you want, and still have a convenient and hot breakfast.

I thoroughly sauteed:
diced extra firm tofu
diced potatoes
diced onion
diced green and red pepper
diced mushroom
frozen spinach
salt and pepper

and added scrambled egg and cheddar cheese - I suppose you could skip this! After it cooled, I wrapped a scoop in a large whole wheat sandwich wrap. Repeat until it's all used up. Then baked 'em for 15 minutes or so at 400 degrees to help firm everything up and help the wrap hold closed. After they cool again, individually wrap with plastic and refrigerate.

The only real carbs are from the potatoes, wrap and optional cheese. Swap out anything you don't feel like eating. Good protein comes from the tofu. Everything else is straight up veggies!
posted by carlh at 8:22 AM on January 19, 2010 [6 favorites]

I eat cubes of tofu, frozen broccoli, and soy sauce warmed up together in the microwave. It would probably be better made on the stove, but I'm lazy in the morning.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:25 AM on January 19, 2010

Peanut butter? It goes well with fruit. You could spread some on apple slices, or a banana.
posted by cgg at 8:28 AM on January 19, 2010

Meal Replacement Shakes. Occasionally delicious, and available everywhere.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:34 AM on January 19, 2010

Breakfast at my house is frequently a dal curry. Lentils keep me going till lunchtime with no problem and they're not prone to making me crash like white rice or potatoes. Also, I like spicy in the morning, helps me wake up.
posted by which_chick at 8:34 AM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: You are all stars. Thanks for the answers!
posted by Ziggy500 at 9:00 AM on January 19, 2010

Make a tofu scramble. I just had one with spinach, mushrooms, tomato, and curry spices.

Also, think Indian. Indians in lentils for breakfast. Make a dal or some kind-of lentil soup mixture.
posted by hazyspring at 9:26 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Whole fat, fage yogurt, mixed with a small handful of flax and pumpkin back to nature granola with some blueberries or raspberries mixed in.
posted by zentrification at 9:56 AM on January 19, 2010

I love Larabars. They are made with nothing but fruit and nuts (the ingredients list usually has about 5 things in it) and they are delicious and filling. I generally have one for breakfast with a piece of fruit.
posted by designmartini at 10:54 AM on January 19, 2010

I forgot to mention in my breakfast burrito post up above that they reheat just fine in about 30 seconds in a microwave (depending on the power of your microwave of course). I made 7 or 8 at once last night and froze half.
posted by carlh at 10:59 AM on January 19, 2010

My girlfriend often eats a bowl of cooked spinach with a little butter and salt for breakfast. I used to look at her funny for it, but I'm starting to come around: it's hot, it's filling, it's easy (especially if you don't mind frozen), it's healthy as fuck, and it doesn't sit like lead in your stomach the way eggs do.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:37 AM on January 19, 2010

Just wanted to chime in and say that I am also doing a very low-carb diet, but I do have an apple as my breakfast. It's easy to deal with on the go, and the fiber is good for the system. I find that starting my day with this carb keeps me from dying for big carbs later.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:57 AM on January 19, 2010

I don't really like natural yogurt, and fruit-flavoured yogurt has a ton of sugar in it.

You can flavor plain yogurt with cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla. (Yes, vanilla flavored yogurt has sugar, but if you add your own vanilla you can leave that out.) Top with walnuts or pecans. If you want to add something sweeter to it, molasses has a ton of flavor per calorie.
posted by yohko at 12:11 PM on January 19, 2010

Best answer: My standard breakfast on the go smoothie is .5 cup frozen blueberries, 2 oz Walnuts, 2 T local honey (or substitute lo-cal sweetener), 1.5 cup lowfat milk. Blend with crushed ice until smooth.

I often add other additives like protein powder, flax meal, wheat germ as desired. A pinch of salt brings the flavors together. A T of Lecithin will help with thickening and prevent separation of solid and liquid phases. So will Xanthan Gum, but you only need a very small bit, like 1/8 t.

If I have time to stand and stir, then it's steel cut oats with walnuts and blueberries. High in fiber.

And I'm totally going to try a variation on nebulawindphone's girlfriend's idea and use a favorite veggie dish for breakfast. I make roasted asperagus and broccoli for my family all the time. It's quick, healthy, tasty, and my kids(!) all love it. Just cut up (if necessary) into "holdable" pieces (think french fry or potato chip), toss with good oil like EVOO or Canola, sprinkle with Kosher salt and roast at 450 degrees for 5-7 minutes or until the veggies turn bright green but are still crunchy. If you cook quickly this way, you do not release the "smell potential." You can find a healthy dip for it (like yogurt or hummus) if you want but my family just grabs the pieces and munches away. It's satisfying to catch your kid sneaking chunks of broccoli from the kitchen.
posted by cross_impact at 12:15 PM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

I don't really like natural yogurt, and fruit-flavoured yogurt has a ton of sugar in it.

Add your own fruit and the precise degree of sweetener you like. Presto!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:16 PM on January 19, 2010

Celery, bell pepper and carrots sticks, dipped in some kind of cream cheese/spice preparation.
posted by themel at 12:22 PM on January 19, 2010

Seconding smoothies. My favorite of late is:

1/2 cup frozen raspberries, cherries or blueberries
2 - 3 tbsp almond butter or all-natural peanut butter
1 scoop vanilla-flavored protein powder (sugar-free)
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 cup unsweetened soy milk
a teeny bit of salt

Who needs ice cream?
posted by kitcat at 1:03 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks again guys.

I best answer-ed a few of my favourite responses, to bookmark the recipes for myself, but all of your responses have been really helpful!
posted by Ziggy500 at 2:03 PM on January 19, 2010

Can you get quark/curd cheese where you are? I use it instead of yoghurt for breakfast. Much more protein and less carbs than yoghurt.
posted by insouciant at 5:53 AM on January 20, 2010

Best answer: Greek yogurt is much, much lower in carbs than regular yogurt - plain has about 6-8g carbs per 6oz container, and Trader Joe's sells blueberry & pomegranate flavors that have about 11-12g carbs. Or, you could add something to the plain: low-sugar jam (more carbs than no-sugar jam, but no artificial sweeteners), berries (microwave from frozen - so easy, plus it sort of makes a sauce to mix in), or sweetener of choice (agave, stevia, sugar, xylitol, honey - i'm not sure what counts as artificial in your book).

Greek yogurt also works well in smoothies for lower carbs than regular plain yogurt or milk - and lower carbs in the yogurt means you can add more fruit, perhaps.

Things with slightly more carbs: Oat bran is slightly lower in carbs than oatmeal, and has lots of fiber and complex carbs - very filling/. Cook like oatmeal - only takes about 5 minutes. Double fiber bread is fairly low in carbs - only 5-10g per slice if I remember correctly, once you subtract the fiber carbs out. Toast with peanut butter or almond butter would be good, and filling, and a nice accompaniment to a smoothie.
posted by insectosaurus at 8:01 AM on January 20, 2010

I cook groats (completely uncut oats) in a rice cooker and add peanut butter or treat it like pasta. Dried peaches are excellent in it too.
posted by mecran01 at 11:35 AM on January 20, 2010

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