Back To School: Healthy & Easy Breakfast Ideas

W H Y  B R E A K F A S T ?
I'm going to let you in on a secret...mornings and I were never friends until just recently. As a High School student, the thought of putting together a balanced meal at 5AM was just exhausting, and resulted in most of my pre-school fuel consisting of toast, a piece of fruit, or nothing at all. Once I was in college, I would head out the door without eating anything and I really struggled to focus in my classes, and also had to constantly muffle the sound of the whale swimming in my stomach. This past year since I've graduated I have taken control of my diet and the choices I make around food, and it has allowed me to come to a REVELATORY conclusion:
Breakfast is essential to your energy and success throughout the rest of your day! I wish so badly that I had learned how to plan ahead and prepare nutritious meals for myself as a student, but now I'm grateful to have found a way to enjoy making breakfast and look forward to it every day.

F I R S T  T H I N G S  F I R S T 

Start off your day by drinking water within the first 5-10 minutes of rolling out of bed. You'll find that you will become more alert more quickly, and hydrating your body first thing in the morning will prepare you to have enough water to get your mind sharp in those early classes. I love my refillable Brita water bottle because it has a built in filter, and I take it with me everywhere I go. Don't ask me how many I've lost the past few months...I try to constantly drink water all day long and sometimes seem to leave them in the most random places!

Breakfast doesn't have to be boring! Keep it fun with flavors you like, alternate between savory and sweet meals and constantly try new combinations until you find what your body responds to best. You want to feel satisfied but not too heavy or tired as a result of your morning meals, so try to cut back on saturated fats, sugar, and heavy carbs, and load up on healthy fats, protein, and natural sugars.

I documented a week of my breakfast meals to share with you that are fast and easy and can even be taken to go if you don't have time to eat at home! I also had Mandi make my favorite breakfast of hers: banana pancakes! End your week with some of those pancakes on a Friday morning and you'll be out of school in no time!

I know what you're thinking...oatmeal? Really? But NO. STOP. I'm telling you, if you want to feel great and have energy than give a bowl of oats a try! They are so fast and easy, and I love to top them with any kind of fruit, nuts, and a sweetener like agave or honey. I cook the oats in water, and then after spooning them into a bowl, add Almond Milk to cool them down and add whatever fruit I've got in the fridge.

T O P P I N G  I D E A S 
Tropical: mango, blueberries, kiwi, shredded coconut, agave
Berries: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, raw almonds, honey
Southern: peaches or nectarines, walnuts, cinnamon & honey

O M E L E T T E 
When I had a little extra time in high school, I would usually fry myself an egg to eat but always wished that I could make something more flavorful and fun. Voila! The omelette is easy and practically foolproof, but does take a little longer to cook so make sure you plan accordingly. You can even chop up veggies and meat beforehand and store them in ziploc bags in the fridge, and then just pull them out and top your eggs with them. So easy and good!

The secret to a perfect omelette is to cook it on really low heat, which takes about 15 minutes or so, but it's the only way I've figured out how to do it without it burning or not cooking evenly. Coat the pan with butter or cooking spray to make sure it doesn't stick!

O M E L E T T E  I D E A S 
Mediterranean (as pictured): green peppers, kalamata olives, red onions, tomato, feta cheese, oregano, salt & pepper
Mexican: green peppers, pre-made salsa, Mexican cheese, salt & pepper
Italian: basil, tomato, mozzarella cheese, salt & pepper
Meat Lovers: bacon, ham, green or red peppers, onions, cheese

A V O C A D O  T O A S T 
I'm OBSESSED with avocados. I could eat them on everything! I'm not quite as committed as Mandi, who eats them plain out of the peel with a spoon, but I do love avocado any time of the day. This breakfast is so easy and simple and is a great source of healthy fat and protein. Just slice half of an avocado on some toast and top with salt & pepper for a quick energy boost any time of the day.

B R E A K F A S T  T O  G O 
On those days when you sleep in a little too long, don't let your lateness jeopardize your energy levels! Eating something is always better than eating nothing. I try to give myself options in my fridge and cupboard that I can easily take with me. 
Greek yogurt is SO good and a great on the go breakfast option! My favorite flavor is always raspberry, and the texture of greek yogurt is almost like whipped cream, so I think I just like it because I feel like I'm eating berries and cream! HA!
Granola bars packed with nuts, dried fruit and protein will help give you energy. I love Kind bars because they have great dark chocolate in them, as well as Pro-Bars which are really filling and have lots of awesome flavors.
Make sure you have water with you so you can stay hydrated throughout your school day! Water has saved me in moments of exhaustion as well as kept my stomach grumbles at bay until lunch time. WHY most teachers don't let you have snacks in class I DO NOT KNOW.

I shall now turn the time over to Mandi for the best breakfast of all....

Love you all!

B A N A N A  P A N C A K E S 
 Hey Y'all! So breakfast is my most favorite time of day EVER!
If I could, I would make breakfast for all three meals of the day... Now the reality of that with life and school isn't really an option, but there are some mornings where you just crave something sweet and warm. If you've got the time, these are some of the fastest, most delicious pancakes you can make!
Let's get started!

Mandi's Banana Pancakes
1 1/2 Cups Flour (white or wheat)
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon 
1 Cup Mashed Bananas 
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
1/3 Cup Honey or Agave or 1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 Cup Almond Milk (rice milk, soy milk, or cows milk)
1/3 Cup Chocolate Chips
3 Tablespoons Coconut Oil 

In a large mixing bowl add your flour (white or wheat), salt, baking powder, and cinnamon, and give it a quick stir with your whisk.

In a small separate bowl, mash about a cup of banana. If you're a banana lover feel free to add in more! You can't go wrong with lots of banana in these. You can mash it really well or leave a few chunks in your batter. Make it how you like it!

In your mashed banana bowl... that reminds me of that really annoying Wiggles song...
Anyways, in your banana bowl add in the dash of lemon juice and vanilla and mix in.

In order to sweeten these pancakes up, throw in some sugar, agave, or if you're like me, melt in some raw honey to your banana mixture. Really you can use any sweetener you would like, just put in about the same measurement of whatever you want, and it will taste great!

Add your banana mixture to your bowl of dry ingredients, and stir together!
 Once you've got it combined pretty well, add in your choice of milk.
I use almond milk to keep these vegan, but cows milk, soy milk, and rice milk work just as well. If your batter seems too thick, just add in a little more milk. The thicker the batter, the thicker the pancake, so if you like your pancakes thin, throw in a dash or two more of milk.

Don't forget that chocolate! 
Chocolate for breakfast equals a happy Mandi the rest of the day. There's nothing wrong with a little bit of chocolate in the mornings once or twice a week!

Mix in your chocolate, smile, and you're ready for frying!

Heat a small pan on medium heat and swirl in enough oil to coat the bottom of your pan. These pancakes tend to stick easily, so be generous especially with the first couple pancakes.
I used coconut oil to give these pancakes one last sweet touch as they fry. Olive oil works great as well, but I'm telling you... coconut oil is magical!

Poor in your batter and flatten it to about 1/2 an inch (because of its thickness) in the pan with a spoon or fork. Let fry until sides golden and you see bubbles along the middle and edges.

Flip when you get it as dark as desired, and let the other side cook for another minute or two.
If you like your pancakes a little more brown like I do, keep an eye on them, and leave them on a little bit longer.

And Viola!!!
Fast and easy breakfast Banana Pancakes!!
Top them with anything you like!
I melted on a little butter on top, dusted a little powdered sugar, doused them in syrup (so any nutritional value was now lost), and swirled on some whipped cream! If you're a little bit better about being healthy than I am, strawberries are delicious on top, and agave will taste just as great as syrup! Enjoy your pancake breakfast before you conquer a great day at school or work! These pancakes will help give you the energy you need, and keep you full until lunch! Plus they make your house smell like heaven in the mornings!
Have a wonderful year! Love you guys! 
<3 Mandi