On an average, an adult should consume between 1500 to 2000 calories a day, and since we know that breakfast is what kick-starts our metabolism, we should allocate about 400 to 500 calories of our daily intake to our first meal of the day. The ideal breakfast comprises of a combination of complex carbohydrate and a high biological value protein. So, give your body the boost that it needs with these nutritious Indian breakfast options:
Stuffed Parathas: “Skip the potatoes and opt for cottage cheese (paneer) or radish (mooli) filling instead for your morning parathas,” says Pune-based nutritionist and author Rita Date. Regional Head of Dietetics at Max Healthcare in New Delhi. Dr Ritika Samaddar nods in agreement and says, “Paneer is a rich source of protein and makes parathas healthy. You could also use leftover daal (protein rich) or veggies (loaded with vitamins and minerals) as a stuffing too.” What makes parathas better is the fact that they are not fried, rather roasted with minimum oil. Since they are wheat-based, you are sure to get carbohydrates. “Yoghurt (a probiotic) or coriander chutney will be good accompaniments with your paratha, and avoid butter unless it’s fresh homemade white butter,” says Dr Samaddar.
Poha: This flattened rice dish is a breakfast staple in several Indian households. “Poha is rich in fibre, carbohydrates and iron, and the actual grain is unprocessed making it one of the healthiest breakfast options. It also makes you feel fuller faster and for a longer time,” explains Rita. Dr Samaddar adds that the addition of veggies like peas and onions or fruits like coconut and pomegranate to the Poha makes it healthier. Even dry-roasted peanuts that are sometimes added to poha are good sources of essential nutrients, including phosphorus, manganese, copper and folate.
- Moong Daal Cheela: “Lentil cheelas are high in protein and iron, and low in carbs,” explains Date, “making it the perfect breakfast recommendation for patients trying to lose weight.” Dr Samaddar recommends making cheelas healthier by adding veggies or paneer to them. And don’t reach out for sauce or pickle to dip your cheela into. A fresh coriander chutney will be a better bet.
Sprouts: The nutritional scoreboard for sprouts leaps off the charts. “Sprouts contain a significant amount of protein and dietary fibre, vitamins K, C and A, minerals like manganese, copper, zinc, magnesium, iron, and calcium, and other nutrients like folate, etc.,” Dr Samaddar points out. If these aren’t enough incentives to add sprouts to your daily breakfast, then Rita adds more benefits, “Sprouts are high in protein, low in fat and carbohydrates. Simply add some chaat masala or onions and tomatoes to your bowl of sprouts, or a spoonful of yogurt (protein-rich).”
- Dhokla: This staple Gujarati snack is made of gram flour, dal and curd. The fermentation of the flour enhances its nutritive value. “The fermented dal adds to the fibre and protein content of this breakfast staple, yet its fat content is low,” says Rita. Dhokla has a low glycemic index (it releases glucose at a more sustained rate) that makes it good for diabetics. “Being steamed and not fried, they have less oil content that make them low in calories. A fresh coriander and yoghurt chutney would be the ideal dip for dhoklas,” adds Dr Samaddar. Just remember to go easy on the baking soda when you are steaming the dhoklas.
- Upma: Upma made of wheat rawa or suji (semolina), “is rich in carbohydrates and fibre, yet low in fat. For a more balanced nutrition intake, add protein-rich ural daal to your upma, and chow it down with a glass or lassi or milk,” Dr Samaddar reveals the trick. Want to further up the nutrition value? “Add vegetables like peas, carrots, beans and onions to your upma and sprinkle some dry-roasted peanuts as well. Even vermicelli can be cooked in a similar manner,” suggests Rita.
- Daliya: Move over sugar-laden cereals. Daliya is a much healthier porridge. “Since daliya is unrefined wheat, it has more fibre than your parathas as well, and is full of complex carbs. Since there have been too many cases of adulterated milk, you can eat your daliya with yoghurt (still healthier and has nutrients despite being made with the same milk) and nuts or cook the daliya with veggies and minimal oil,” recommends Rita. Dr Samaddar mentions that you could make a cereal of your own by mixing daliya and whole, rolled oats.
Thepla: Made of fenugreek leaves (methi) and whole wheat dough, theplas have a good balance of nutrients. “Since it is roasted, it uses less oil, hence lower calories, plus offers the goodness of greens. Remember to pair it with a healthy mint chutney,” says Rita.
- Sabudana Khichdi: Sabudana is full of carbohydrates and starch, “thereby providing a boost of energy making it a good breakfast option as it gives you the fuel to keep moving until lunchtime. It is also easy to digest as it is low in fat content,” says Dr Samaddar.
Idli, dosa and uttapam: We have saved some of the healthiest breakfast options for last. “These popular South Indian breakfast options are the perfect balance of carbohydrates and proteins as they are all made of rice (rich in carbs) and urad dal (rich in proteins),” Dr Samaddar reiterates. With an accompaniment like sambhar that’s loaded with more lentils and plenty of vegetables, it takes the nutrition value up a few notches. “The fluffly idlis are steamed and use no oil or masala, making them feather light and healthy. Throw in veggies like tomatoes, onions and peas or roasted nuts to enhance your dosas and uttapams,” concludes Rita.
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