Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What's for Breakfast? Grain-Free Breakfast Ideas

Back in January I made a pretty big and permanent shift in my diet to cut out most grains and sugars. I had been leaning this way for a while, but for some reason I finally made the decision for real in January and haven't looked back. My primary reason for doing this is gaining health and avoiding diabetes and metabolic syndrome which run in my family on both sides.

I have avoided classifying the way that I eat as any one particular style, but if you take a look at what I am eating every day it looks a lot like Primal or Paleo. I do still include dairy in my diet, primarily in full fat forms of yogurt, cheese, butter and cream. I have been tracking my food for several months and the macronutrient breakdown is somewhere in the range of 50-55% fat, 25-30% carbs, and 15-20% protein depending on the day. I'm still tweaking these numbers to find what is my personal sweet spot for maximum energy while still working on body composition and losing extra fat. This is tricky to do while training, and I am definitely not skimping on carbs during my long training sessions. I did try to do this at the beginning, but the quality of my training definitely suffered. The deeper I dig into nutrition the more I find you have to figure out what works for you and then OWN it! Don't justify, don't make excuses, don't be afraid of what people will say, just know that it works for you.

Since January I have lost about 20 pounds. I haven't weighed myself this month for my May #project30days, so I don't know the exact number, but I do know my clothes are looser and I feel leaner. (On a side note, instead of weighing myself I have been taking a weekly picture of myself in my Rev3 shimmer bikini to track my progress. I'm not ready to share these, but I'm hoping I will be soon!)

Anyway, one question that I get asked a lot when I tell people about how I eat is, "What do you have for breakfast?" If you grew up in America you are pretty much used to cereal, toast, waffles, pancakes or oatmeal for breakfast, all of which do not work well for my body. I also LOVE cereal and have had to declare it off-limits for me. I do not eat just a bowl of cereal, I eat half a box, and then I eat the other half the next day. I used to have cereal after long workouts as "recovery" food, but I have realized it's like a drug for me. If I start the day with carbs, that is what I will want for the rest of the day.

So I pretty much rotate between 3 or 4 breakfasts every day. I rarely get bored with them because I can do lots of variations, and I really like all of them so it's something I look forward to.

This is my go-to breakfast in various forms. Pictured is strawberries, plain full fat Fage yogurt, homemade almond butter and a spoonful of chia seeds. Sometimes I will have raspberries or apples instead of strawberries. Sometimes I will have creme fraiche (I've been using this recipe to make it at home) or full fat cottage cheese instead of yogurt. I could literally eat this every day I love it so much. I also eat it for lunch now and then if I don't have it for breakfast.

Another favorite of mine is a green smoothie. I usually choose this if I have a busy morning of running around because I can take it with me, and like the meal above it can also sub in for lunch on a busy day. The basic ingredients are 1 cup So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk, 1 cup frozen fruit (I avoid bananas because of the high sugar content), 2-3 big huge handfuls of kale and/or spinach, some sort of protein - either a scoop of whey protein powder (I use this) or an egg, a tablespoon of chia seeds and then other flavorful add-ins like almond or lemon extract or a scoop of raw cacao powder. 

My favorite is chocolate cherry: 

1 cup frozen cherries
1 cup unsweetened So Delicious coconut milk (the kind in the box) 
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
1 tbsp. raw cacao powder
little drop of almond extract
3 huge handfuls of raw baby spinach and or baby kale greens
big spoonful of coconut cream (the solid part in the can of coconut milk)
1 Tbsp chia seeds

Mix it up in the blender. You might have to add a little water to get it to blend if you don't have a fancy Vitamix (one can only dream..). You can totally mix it up (haha) with different kinds of fruit combos. The possibilities are endless.

It only cost $30, but it gets the job done.
My other go-to breakfast is banana-egg pancakes.  I eat this primarily on big training days because it has a little more carbs than the others. It is super easy. Basically combine 2 eggs and one raw banana in a mixer. You can also throw a spoonful of chia seeds or some almond butter in there too. I use a little mixer like this for easy pouring. (This mixer is also great for taking to away races for my race morning shake.)

Once you have your "batter" made, melt some coconut oil in a pan and cook it up like pancakes. They are pretty delicate so don't make them too big and turn carefully.

Voila!! Pancakes for breakfast. I eat them as is without any extra syrup (AKA sugar).

These breakfasts work great for me to satisfy my hunger in the morning, keep me going through lunch and give me what my taste buds are looking for when I wake up.

What is your go-to breakfast? 


  1. God bless you, Kelly, for your inspiration. I have been considering giving up sugar but it just feels so daunting to do that.
    One concern I have about your nutrition breakdown: are you getting enough protein?

    1. Molly, giving up sugar is VERY hard in the first few weeks, but after that is a no-brainer. I'm not 100% sugar free - still have sugar during training and an occasional treat or piece of dark chocolate (a girl's gotta live), but once you get into the swing of it it just seems normal.

      Great question about protein. I am usually between about 60-90 grams of protein per day which is well within recommended range for my weight and training regime. (.8-1.4 grams protein per kilogram of body weight) Check out this link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18577776
      We really don't need as much protein as we think and too much can actually be bad for you and your body can begin to convert it to glycogen and store it as fat. However, I do keep an eye on it as it can sometimes slip a bit low especially on long training days.

  2. that's good stuff. I can't make smoothies in the morning because I have to leave before the kids get up, but I love the fruit/yogurt combo. that's good stuff.

    1. Have you ever tried making it the night before and then just shaking it up in the morning? I bet that would work.

  3. You are so right - nutrition is SO PERSONAL. I tracked my nutrition on a recent high volume training two weeks, and found that I just cannot feel good and feel recovered unless I am getting about 100g of protein a day. Which is about 1.6g/kg. Which is higher than the recommended, but what makes me feel best.

    So with that in mind I have gone back to the super easy two scrambled eggs breakfast. It is a clincher for me to get enough protein. I have also started making homemade salsa - based on a pioneer woman recipe. Salsa and scrambled eggs? Oh my goodness *swoon* - my love affair with breakfast is rekindled! I also add in spinach to the eggs, for green.

    Anyway, I love how you are so open about this. I've been thinking about doing a similar post on what I learned in my two week high volume block, and some food habits I found when logging! *blogging twins*


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