Kitchen MacGyver: My Healthy Breakfast Standby

My sister calls the things she depends on “old faithfuls.” While the phrase may not be original, she applies the term to inanimate objects that usually only I could immediately identify, like the faded, inexpensive pair of camouflage pants she once wore so frequently that several of the belt loops got ripped off and a hole started to spread in the butt. When the pants became too risque to wear outside, she reluctantly threw them out (she’s not a seamstress), but I can still picture them to this day.

I can be the same way with a small handful of recipes or pairings. Although I often welcome change and crave variety when it comes to food, there are times when a specific combination of ingredients harmonizes so well that I’m transported to a flavor utopia. While expensive things like truffles are obvious demonstrations of this elevation, more down to earth partners for me include incredibly simple staples like grilled or baked salmon paired with walnuts and any type of raw or cooked greens, or avocados with cumin, salt and garlic.

My old faithful breakfast is simple, quick, nutritious, satisfying and incredibly adaptable. I don’t eat it daily, but it’s so easy to make substitutions to it that you take the basic idea and change it every day if you were so inclined. I’m a morning runner who usually tries to squeeze in one more mile or a couple of minutes to stretch, so it feels like I’m always rushing around in the morning. This breakfast bowl provides great post-run nutrition—the right amount of carbs and protein, depending on the proportions you include—and I can spoon it into my mouth while I multitask. I’ve included suggested swaps at the end of the recipe, but the beauty of this idea is that it’s really a blank canvas. Paint what you like.

Old Faithful Breakfast Bowl


1 cup nonfat plain organic yogurt

1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey, if you need a sweetener

2 tablespoons ground flax

A couple of handfuls of granola or your favorite cereal

A sprinkle of toasted sliced almonds or walnuts

1/4-1/2 cup fresh sliced fruit

Suggested variations:

Of course you can use any type of yogurt you like (soy yogurt and Greek yogurt are great substitutions), and the same idea applies to the fruit, nuts or cereal. If I don’t have nuts or I don’t feel like nuts that day, I’ll mix 1 teaspoon of all-natural peanut butter or almond butter into the yogurt until it’s well combined. When I stir in a nut butter, I always top the bowl with bananas because it’s a classic combination endorsed by the king (Elvis); this is my healthy spin on the pairing. Or, instead of nuts, sprinkle dried fruit or coconut on top.

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