Please help me avoid needles by eating healthier breakfasts!
December 17, 2011 11:04 AM   Subscribe

What are some delicious high-fiber (and ideally high-protein and low-carb) foods I could eat for breakfast?

My endocrinologist tells me that I should eat more fiber in the mornings, to help put off my likely eventual slide into diabetes, given my family history. She also says that I should aim for eating low-carb, but don't have to eliminate carbs entirely.

She actually suggested that I try eating oatmeal for breakfast every day, but I hate that stuff unless I drown it in brown sugar and/or maple syrup, which basically defeats the purpose.

So, here's the question - I need ideas for high-fiber (and ideally high-protein and low-carb) foods I can eat in the mornings instead! Any suggestions? The more ideas the better, for variety's sake!

Helpful notes:

1. If I eat eggs, I need to eat a good amount of something else with them at the same time, or they upset my stomach. So no omelette ideas, please. Other than that, I'm basically healthy and open-minded.

2. I'm not really willing to put in any effort beyond reheating or just grabbing and munching in the mornings. Anything more complicated than that, and I know I just won't bother. Even slicing a cucumber feels like too much work when I've just woken up. But I'm perfectly willing to do complicated cooking or prep work in advance, especially for the sort of thing where I can freeze individual portions to just reheat and eat quickly when I need them.

3. I don't care if it's traditionally considered a breakfast food. Soups or other typical dinner entrees that reheat into tasty, filling, high-fiber breakfasts are great! I often eat leftovers for breakfast anyway.

4. Bonus points for recipes that are also high-protein. I'm mostly an omnivore and a major protein junky. Meat makes me happiest, but I also enjoy tofu and tempeh in some contexts.

5. Extra special bonus points for ideas from not-boring-American cuisines. I live in a big city and can get just about any ingredients you can dream up. Probably have most of them in my pantry already, in fact.

6. I just bought some flaxseed meal after googling around, so generally tasty, high-protein, low-carb, low-morning-effort recipes that could easily accept flaxseed meal while staying delicious would also count as helpful.

posted by Eshkol to Food & Drink (44 answers total) 53 users marked this as a favorite
Leftover White bean chicken chili or vegetarian bean chili or soups.

Try putting Splenda, or Stevia, cinnamon, and nuts, raisins, etc. in your oatmeal.

Fresh apple with peanut butter

low-fat or non-fat yogurt with granola and flaxseed

fresh orange with homemade low-sugar bran muffins
posted by Fairchild at 11:09 AM on December 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

In a bowl put 1/4 cup of quick cook oatmeal, 1/4 cup wheat bran, 4 prunes & 1 tbsp honey.
Add 3/4 cup boiling or very hot water (enough water to cover oatmeal).

Stir. Eat.
posted by JayRwv at 11:15 AM on December 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

I love brown rice with a runny poached egg on top for breakfast or a late-night snack. You can get a microwave egg poacher and microwave frozen rice to minimize prep hassle.
posted by scody at 11:31 AM on December 17, 2011 [5 favorites]

Whole grain bread with smoked salmon
posted by small muffin collider at 11:35 AM on December 17, 2011

Try muesli. Basically uncooked oats + any liquid. I make mine with oats, plain yogurt, a spoonful of jam, and chopped apple/pear/banana. It's tangy and much more delicious than oatmeal.
posted by acidic at 11:36 AM on December 17, 2011

There are lots of high fiber cereals other than oatmeal. In fact, many fortified cold cereals have substantially more fiber than oatmeal. I'd take a stroll down your grocery store cereal aisle and see what appeals to you.

Alternatively, you don't have to eat breakfast foods for breakfast. A turkey sandwich on whole grain bread, or black bean soup, or any number of other high-fiber foods can be made ahead of time and eaten in the morning.
posted by decathecting at 11:43 AM on December 17, 2011

I've found that I like steel-cut oats way (way) more than rolled oats (way more). The texture is much nicer, kind of like a risotto. And prunes, raisins, apples, etc... make good sweeteners for oatmeal while adding fiber (and so reducing the glycemic index of the sugars). Also, plenty of butter makes it taste even better and makes it more filling.
posted by noahpoah at 11:43 AM on December 17, 2011 [4 favorites]

If you haven't tried steel-cut oatmeal, give it a try. It takes forever, so cook up enough to last a week and just reheat with a little extra milk every morning. Make it with milk (or soymilk) instead of water. Mix in nuts, chopped apples, raisins, cinnamon, etc. Are you averse to artificial sweeteners? Because I put Splenda in my oatmeal and don't really notice the difference enough to care.

Another thing to try is huevos rancheros. There's a delicious looking recipe here but this is just as easy: On Sunday, cook up a can of black beans with about half a jar of salsa until thick (about 20 minutes. Then in the mornings, all you need to do is reheat the beans. Take your reheated beans, a bit of cheese and/or sour cream, and top with a scrambled or fried egg. Roll it up in a tortilla or eat it out of a bowl.
posted by elizeh at 11:44 AM on December 17, 2011 [3 favorites]

Oatmeal is actually pretty darn high in carbohydrates. You may want to ask your endocrinologist to clarify why she recommends it. Is there a reason she mentions oatmeal specifically but advises against other carbs (for example...oatmeals supposedly fights high cholesterol)? I agree with all of the recommendations of nuts. You want to concentrate on fruits and vegetables and greens - high in fiber. And meats and seeds and nuts and dairy products - high in protein. I personally think an ideal breakfast for you would be yogurt topped with fresh fruit and nuts, but ya loves yer meat, so maybe try a nice chicken burrito with avo and tomato and cheddar for breakfast. Or sub sausage and eggs for the chicken. You're basically aiming for meat and cheese and some veggies in a wrap. Pretty yummy stuff.

Also, don't forget to ask you endocrinologist for recipes! I'm surprised she didn't offer them.

So what are you eating the rest of the day? Curious to know how you're incorporating her recommendations into your other meals.

elizah's huevos rancheros is an excellent idea!
posted by iconomy at 11:51 AM on December 17, 2011 [3 favorites]

What about yogurt? I like to eat a cup of plain low fat yogurt with fruit and 1/3 cup dry rolled oats mixed in. Maybe it's not for everyone, but it works for me.
posted by cleverevans at 12:13 PM on December 17, 2011

We do boiled eggs and yogurt.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:14 PM on December 17, 2011

I really like the faux-tapioca pudding, made with chia seeds, from Maria's Nutritious and Delicious Blog. I blend the almond milk with a scoop of vanilla whey powder to make it more creamy, then stir in the seeds. Lots of fiber, low-carb, high protein. You can stir it together the night before and let it soak in the fridge, no prep-breakfast.

Also comes in chocolate.
posted by Acer_saccharum at 12:20 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Make instant steel cut oats in the microwave. Before cooking, add an egg and salt and pepper if you wish. The texture improves immensely with the addition of the egg, and you can't really taste it.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 12:40 PM on December 17, 2011

Peanut butter baked oatmeal. It's more like a muffin but has no flour. I too got the message from my endocrinologist to exercise and cut back on sugar and carbs. She also put me on metformin. At my last visit my blood sugar was great, so there is hope :)

I first tried baked oatmeal with bananas and blueberries which was out-of-this-world delicious but also I couldn't stop eating it and it was harder on my blood sugar. Then I found the peanut butter version and started playing with it. It's an easy, simple, filling breakfast. Make a couple of batches on the weekend and bake them in muffin tins, freeze a bunch, and you're all set.

This is a great start. Experiment with:

1. cutting back the sugar or using other sweeteners
2. Other nut butters besides peanut - almond and sunflower seed are great
3. Add handfuls of things like dark chocolate, nuts, unsweetened coconut, frozen blueberries - things that are tasty but not overly sweet. I might add dried fruit, but sparingly.

I've also used this bran muffin recipe and it's delicious and also freezes well - a smear of nut butter on one of those babies and you have a very filling breakfast.
posted by bunderful at 12:41 PM on December 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

Leftovers are your friends. When you cook, make lots and freeze the leftovers in single-serving chunks. Defrost, reheat in the microwave, and voila! Breakfast is a replay of that yummy entree.
posted by exphysicist345 at 12:47 PM on December 17, 2011

I really like Brownberry's Double Fiber bread, which is available at most major grocery stores. Throw a fried egg and some cheese between two toasted slices for a breakfast sandwich, or if you really don't feel like cooking, toast a slice or two and put a thin swipe of peanut butter on top for protein. Or do a piece of toast with some lower-fat butter substitute along-side a small bowl of cottage cheese.
posted by vytae at 12:49 PM on December 17, 2011

My endocrinologist tells me that I should eat more fiber in the mornings, to help put off my likely eventual slide into diabetes

Just chiming in that there is no evidence that fiber will do anything to stave off diabetes. Not interested in derailing, but I'd note that fiber or lack thereof has failed to show any health benefits when critically examined (which puts it in a worse position than many competing theories, like O3/O6, etc. which while marginal have at least not been disproved).
posted by rr at 12:50 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I do eat low-carb, so most grains are off-limits for me, but the original GoLean cereal fits the high-fiber, low-sugar, high-protein requirements. On preview, rr is right in that of these, the high-fiber part is likely more for your digestive health than anything else.
posted by tigrrrlily at 12:56 PM on December 17, 2011

Here's how I make my instant oatmeal: I stir in about 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 4 packets of Splenda to 1 pack of plain instant oatmeal, add water and nuke it until it gets semi-solid.

It will take a bit of experimentation with the amount of water and cooking time to get a texture you like, but I actually enjoy eating this salty-sweet, chewy textured oatmeal whereas I wouldn't give you a dime for a bowl of the creamy-mushy stuff.

I top mine with just a little bit of milk or half-and-half and it's delicious.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 1:12 PM on December 17, 2011

Some (many? a few?) British people like baked beans for breakfast (well, Heinz mostly) and that has the added benefit of being high in fibre, low calorie, some protein, and somewhat cheap. I'm not sure you could sneak the flax in there. You could try. I've put flax in green smoothies.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 1:34 PM on December 17, 2011

High protein, low carb, you just want to jam something in your maw with little effort? Get a blender ball, some protein powder, and some flax seed. Just select the powder carefully; the cheaper stuff seems to have a lot more carb in it.

It's not exciting stuff but you can get a variety of flavors and can modify those with the torani sugar-free syrups. Mine this morning tasted like a candy cane, courtesy the SF peppermint syrup. The powders themselves lack fiber so you throw a few tablespoons of the flax on top of it. I usually have to add some more water and swish it around to get all the seed but so what?

Powder's expensive but per-meal it works out pretty cheap. Flax is cheap so long as you don't get sucked into brand name or GNC blah blah stuff; just grab the pound bag at the grocery near the other organic milled corn and things.
posted by phearlez at 1:52 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I enjoy an oeuf cocotte a la Clotilde in the morning. Basically you just put delicious things in the bottom of a small cooking dish (my fave is goat cheese, leftover roasted root vegetables -- sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips, celery root, etc -- and bacon... but you can put pretty much anything in there), top with an egg, and bake in a hot oven. It takes a little baking time, but if you have your fillings ready to go, the hands-on time is minimal. If it suits your requirements, you could add a slice of low-carb whole-grain toast, but it's delicious eaten alone. The veggies add lots of fiber, and obviously eggs and goat cheese are protein rich.
posted by pupstocks at 1:55 PM on December 17, 2011 [3 favorites]

Quinoa. High in protein, good fiber. A pleasant nutty flavor so you don't need sugar.
posted by PickeringPete at 2:07 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

If someone knows of oatmeal or any cereal product with fewer than 20g of carbs per cup? PLEASE name the brand. Seriously. I want to know. And while fiber may not prevent diabetes, it can mitigate the impact carbohydrates have on blood glucose. I'm guessing that's why the OP's endo made that recommendation.

Linda's Low Carb Menus is a good place to look for ideas. While some of them require frankenfood ingredients, there are others that don't. Flaxseed is very easy to put into something like this, which is also stupid-easy and fast to make, but is unfortunately heavy on eggs. Maybe a possibility if you really miss bread and have something else with it?

Lately I've been liking ajvar and veggies. Joseph's makes a high-fiber, lower carb lavash that I could also see being great with it.
posted by gnomeloaf at 2:17 PM on December 17, 2011

Quinoa is such a grain. Easy to cook from scratch and you can refrigerate.
posted by PickeringPete at 2:30 PM on December 17, 2011

Dried apricots are like candy to me in the morning.
posted by schrodycat at 2:35 PM on December 17, 2011

Greek yogurt with berries-- Greek yogurt is MUCH lower carb and higher protein than other yogurt options, and raspberries have a good bit of fiber.

My mom is insulin resistant, and she swears by oatmeal with peanut butter mixed in to help keep her blood sugar under control.
posted by instamatic at 3:23 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the ideas so far, everyone! Please keep them coming! If it helps - I'm really not interested in any oatmeal variations, but the leftover chili idea sounds promising, and I'm kind of intrigued by the protein/flax powder shake idea if I can think of a way to make it taste non-gross to me.

I do eat yogurt and granola and fruit for breakfast sometimes, but I need more variety and can't bring myself to just the same thing every morning.

Tonight I'm making this leek, pea, and sauerkraut soup and look forward to having it for breakfast as well. (Highly recommended. It's really delicious!) Another friend just suggested sprinkling flaxseed meal onto my current lazy default lunch of shredded broiled chicken breast with sichuan chili oil and chinese sesame paste as a good breakfast solution. (So much better with cucumber! Shame it hates to be pre-cut. That's the potential fatal flaw there, though I'll try it anyway.) Those sorts of things are more my style.
posted by Eshkol at 3:42 PM on December 17, 2011

Best answer: Hot cooked greens are great for breakfast if you can deal with the weirdness of omg wtf eating hot cooked greens for breakfast.

My special lady person goes for spinach and butter. I like to add some hot sauce too. On its own it's not terribly high in protein, but it gets you fiber and fat and not many carbs and it's stupidly simple.

For a bit more protein you could swap the butter out for ham or bacon, or just eat an egg or some peanuts or something on the side. (Or do some approximation of the West African greens/tomatoes/peanuts/chiles combo? That might really be too weird for breakfast, though.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:47 PM on December 17, 2011

I make a hot cereal using equal parts ground flaxseed, vanilla low-carb protein powder, and wheat bran. (usually 2T of each) Pinch of salt, then add boiling water until it's as thick as you want it. Add cream and DaVinci or Splenda to taste. High fiber, low carb, very filling. You could probably use oat bran instead of the wheat bran; I haven't tried it yet but there's no reason that shouldn't work.
posted by bink at 3:50 PM on December 17, 2011

I have a Clif Mojo Bar when I take my vitamins and birth control in the mornings, because if I don't have something going in my stomach I get nauseous. They are about 20g of carbs, so a little high, but very filling and settles my stomach.

Mid-morning I have a medium apple with peanut butter, which is high fiber and high protein. It fills me up until lunch.

If I had to cut my carbs down, which I'm planning to do in the next few weeks, and had to skip the Clif bar, I would substitute cold cuts of meat wrapped in a serving of cheese. One or two at the most first thing. If I was craving something sweet, I would have an orange or red grapes.
posted by lootie777 at 4:41 PM on December 17, 2011

Lately, I've been starting every day with two eggs steam-poached over a mess of sautéed spinach, kale, onions and tomatoes. It's delicious, and, frankly, there's not much that's high-fiber and low carb except for leafy greens.

You just saute the veggies with a little salt and spices (I use chipotlé powder), then crack the eggs atop the veggies, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water, and lid tightly. It'll be done in a few minutes; I usually put a little cheese on top, too.
posted by richyoung at 4:50 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Have eggs with cheese and sausage/bacon for breakfast and just add non-starchy vegetables to your other meals.
posted by callmejay at 7:11 PM on December 17, 2011

are you near a trader joe's? i swear by one of their cereals - it's called 9 grain something or other. what i like about it is that not only is the fiber content high, but it's mostly soluble fiber, which i'm told is, uh, useful.

i also eat these bars called Flavor and Fiber - 12 grams of fiber per bar - 50% of your daily dose!

can't attest to the carb content of either of the above.

i also read recently that, although high in fiber, fruits and vegetables have a lot of water, as opposed to beans, which are a better source of fiber for that reason.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 7:19 PM on December 17, 2011

Eat some raw almonds with whatever else you have! They are filling, delicious, high-fiber, high-protein, and give you magic powers! Glorious at any time of the day! (I just ate a handful. I'm kind of a big fan.)
posted by Because at 7:48 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My partner and i sometimes eat miso soup for breakfast. You want the good stuff: go to an Asian market or Japanese market and look for the fermented, refrigerated stuff. White or red miso paste is good to start out with. You'll also want to get yourself some things to put into it: tofu, hard boiled eggs, seaweed or greens, mushrooms, even fish or chicken. Heat some water (they'll tell you not to boil it, but I would rather use my electric kettle and boil it than watch a pot). Put all your ingredients in a bowl with a heaping spoonful of miso. Pour the hot water over and stir like mad to dissolve all the miso paste. Sip contentedly.

I like to add a little soy sauce to mine sometimes, but usually the miso is salty enough. Darker miso paste is more flavorful. You could probably prep the ingredients beforehand so all you're doing is putting stuff in a bowl and heating water. I'd have some fruit or something on the side.
posted by linettasky at 9:55 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

A pre-Diabetes diet is one that avoids sugar spikes. Fiber helps a little, so does eating protein with your carbs. However, the best way to avoid the spike is to limit carb consumption. Oatmeal is loaded with carbs by the way. A small bowl is probably not a big sugar spike, but you can test yourself with a meter to find out what works for you. A small bowl may not be satisfying, or satisfying for very long. Add in something with less carbs such as protein powder (casein is more slowly digested so will theoretically keep you sated longer), nuts etc. Wheat germ is high in fiber, and fat, with reasonable carbs. It goes well with oatmeal and even better with yogurt. Honey is the traditional sweetener here and the combo tastes great, but to keep it truly low carb use Splenda or Stevia.
posted by caddis at 4:51 AM on December 18, 2011

Does it have to be exclusively in the mornings? A few colleagues in the office have taken to keeping boxes of Shredded Wheat at their desks, which they munch at all day.

It's got the benefit of fibre and they claim that it prevents them from snacking on naughty sugary treats during the day, since the box is sitting on their desks.
posted by bitteroldman at 8:15 AM on December 18, 2011

Just chiming in that there is no evidence that fiber will do anything to stave off diabetes. Not interested in derailing, but I'd note that fiber or lack thereof has failed to show any health benefits when critically examined (which puts it in a worse position than many competing theories, like O3/O6, etc. which while marginal have at least not been disproved).

Do you have evidence of this?

Checking out the Mayo Clinic's Web page on fiber, they seem to disagree:

  • "Helps control blood sugar levels: Fiber, particularly soluble fiber, can slow the absorption of sugar, which for people with diabetes can help improve blood sugar levels. A diet that includes insoluble fiber has been associated with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes."

  • posted by bitteroldman at 8:18 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

    Also, why not toasted multi-grain bread (6-grain, 12-grain, flaxseed, etc) with a healthy spread on top?
    posted by bitteroldman at 8:22 AM on December 18, 2011

    hummus too.

    i think some kind of beans will be you best bet. or quinoa.

    microwave scrambled egg + black beans + salsa

    if you have a blender, you could make smoothies. that might make it easier to incorporate protien powder and fiber powder, and make it drinkable. also throw in yogurt and whatever fruit you want.
    posted by cupcake1337 at 5:15 PM on December 19, 2011

    Half off topic: try to stop eating wheat for two weeks, and see how you feel. The odds are you'll feel better.

    Other than that, grab leftovers from dinner and eat them cold in the morning. Nothing can be much easier than that, and it sounds like you need easy, if slicing a cucumber is perhaps too much work.
    posted by talldean at 11:00 AM on December 20, 2011

    Or, if you're trying to kill carbs, toast/grains sounds like a bad idea.

    And you arguably don't need the fiber if you're not eating the sugars the fiber is supposed to balance.
    posted by talldean at 11:02 AM on December 20, 2011

    Bake your eggs, one per hole, in a muffin tin and freeze them for single servings. You can go plain or fancy (ala the oeuf cocotte a la Clotilde above) and then microwave them over a bowl of pre-cooked grains (quinoa, brown rice, etc.) or legumes (french or red lentils are my favorite), or leftovers.
    posted by rosebengal at 2:32 PM on December 21, 2011

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