It’s well known that a good breakfast can give a healthy start on the day, providing stable morning energy and mental focus. Yet, on any given day, nearly 30% of young people (aged 18-34) either eat a fast-food breakfast high in calories and low in nutrition, or skip breakfast entirely. And 10% of adult Americans skip breakfast, according to the NPD Group, a North American market research firm.
Nutritionists recommend that eating a breakfast with nutrient-dense foods will keep you satisfied all morning, strengthen your immune system, improve your mental capacity, and help you maintain a healthy weight.
A delicious and nutritious breakfast can be fast and easy. Here are five healthy, wholesome breakfast ideas from Germany that are fast, easy, delicious, and good for you, too!
Breakfast Brain Food: Oats with Fruits
High quality oatmeal is a breakfast powerhouse. Oats contain lots of ß-glucan, a carbohydrate that boosts your immune system and lowers your cholesterol, plus a healthy dose of fiber and essential fatty acids. A bowl of oatmeal served with fruit will keep you going all morning, plus it delivers important vitamins and minerals to your brain so that your synapses can fire more quickly.
Americans may like their oatmeal hot and steamy and Brits may prefer coarsely ground oats in their porridge, but in Germany you’ll find the morning’s oats are fine-cut oat flakes (Haferflocken) consumed with cold milk, possibly a bit of cocoa powder and fresh berries or fruits.
The leading German oat producer, Koelln Flocken, has just introduce their oat flakes, oat muesli and cereals, in the United States. You can find Koelln Haferflocken (oat flakes) at specialty food stores, selected Whole Foods markets and online.
Fiber and Vitamins for the Day: Whole Grain Muesli
According to the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, only 1 in 10 US consumers actually gets the recommended amount of fiber per day. A recent study suggests that fibrous whole grain cereals, such as muesli, can boost daily fiber intake by roughly 14%,
The popular mixture of oat flakes, nuts, and dried fruit called Muesli was developed in the early 1900s by Swiss medical doctor and nutritionist Maximilian Oscar Bircher-Benner for his patients. Today you’ll find muesli made with oat flakes, wheat flakes, and corn flakes, nuts, raisins, and other dried fruit and eaten with milk, yogurt, quark or fruit juice. Bircher muesli remains a very popular health food in Switzerland and South West Germany, and is often also eaten in the evening.
Berry Jams and Juices: Vitamin Powerhouses
Wild berries have incredible health properties, especially dark colored ones. Berries such as raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, blueberry, red and black currant, huckleberry, sea buckthorn and rosehip are full of flavonoids, vitamins, folic acids, iron and other minerals (some more than others). Of course, fresh berries can be expensive and may not be available year round. Berry juices and jams are the best alternatives. Even when processed into jams and juices, wild berries pack a healthy punch.
Northern European forests and fields are blessed plentiful wild berries, and the art of making full flavored, not-too-sweet jams, preserves or juices from these berries is well developed. Look for quality brands from Germany and neighboring countries like Favorit, Zentis, Maintal, and Schwartau. There are also many small artisanal producers making organic, Demeter (bio-dynamic) quality products all over Germany. High quality berry juices are offered from Haus Rabenhorst (Rotbäckchen), Voelkel, Denree, Sandokan and others.
Spread on a wholegrain bread with butter, these jams deliver just the right balance between sweetness, tartness and fruitiness. Some people like the sweet-sour version of berry jams served with semi-soft or soft cheeses and crusty rye bread.
Honey, Bread and Chocolate Spread
Crusty Brötchen (breakfast rolls) with butter and honey or hazelnut spread is a favorite breakfast for kids and grownups alike. Whole Grain Fitness breads, Zwieback or Knäckebrot are healthy and tasty breakfast alternatives to hold the spread.
Honey is pure nature put into a glass. In contrast to sugar made from corn or cane, honey derived from flower and tree pollen provides sweetness as well essential vitamins, minerals and inflammation-reducing enzymes. Plus, you get different and unique flavors that match well with whole grain breads and breakfast rolls.
Beekeepers and honey makers in Germany have to abide by strict laws regulating the standards and labeling of honey, There are similar standards in the US. The two leading German quality brands available in the US are Breitsamer and Langnese. Both offer a large number of honey varieties such as Acacia, Rapeseed, Lime Blossom, Mountain Flower, Dark Forest, Chestnut, Fir Tree, Heath Flowers and more.
Germany breakfast would not be complete without the famous hazelnut-chocolate spread that is actually an Italian invention. Confectioner Pietro Fererro developed Nutella in the 1940 in Piedmont, a region of Italy famous for hazelnuts. The company that bears his name introduced this nougat creme to Germany in the early 1950s, and it became such an instant hit that Fererro opened a factory near Kassel. In fact, consumption of Nutella became so great in Germany that many people still believe it’s a German product. Today, Germans can choose between a variety of wonderful tasting nougat brands, among them Zentis and the Italian Pernigotti Nerogianduia.
Quark and Kefir
Many Germans love to eat Quark for breakfast. This signature German dairy product not only shares its name with a sub-atomic particle, it’s also hard to define; the creamy, thick sweet-sour spread puts of this cheese somewhere between Greek yogurt, cottage cheese and sour cream. Quark is a very versatile meal item. Many enjoy it for breakfast version with fresh fruits, a very healthy concoction. Others use quark at lunch, with herbs, chives and potatoes, or as a dinner dessert.
Due to trade restrictions of dairy products between the United States and Europe and a relatively short shelf life, authentic German Quark is not available in the US. You may find domestic versions in specialty food or cheese stores.
If Quark is not available, try Kefir, the fermented milk drink originally from the Caucasus. Mixed with muesli or oats, it makes a quick and easy breakfast.
Eggs, Ham and Cheese: the Protein Boost
Most German hotels with breakfast buffets offer a large variety of cold cuts, such as low fat ham or Westphalian prociutto, slices of Bavarian Emmentaler or semi-soft cheeses from Allgäu, as well as semi-soft boiled eggs. Along with Brötchen or whole grain breads, these ingredients provide a delicious and protein-rich “first course” of a day’s first meal.
Eating lots of protein at breakfast is also very healthy, as researchers of the University of Missouri published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition). The consumption of a high-protein breakfast significantly improves appetite control and reduces unhealthy snacking in the evening, because it increases the feeling of fullness or “satiety” and activates the brain function that controls food cravings.