Breakfast can be the biggest change you need to make to your eating habits once you start the Atkins way of eating. We’re so used to just having cereal and toast before rushing out of the house in the morning, if we eat anything at all. As a result the idea of having a hot breakfast or something more substantial takes a little getting used to (unless its a full Irish breakfast at the weekend!). However, once you make having a truly healthy (i.e. low-carb) breakfast a habit, it really becomes much easier and will transform your health as well as getting you to your goal weight and keeping you there.
Do keep in mind that it is going to take some extra time and organisation at first but the payoff will be worth it and soon you won’t even think twice about whipping up a healthy omelette for breakfast. Remember that if you find the idea of changing all of your meals at once daunting, you can always take the slower approach of changing one meal at a time until it becomes habit before introducing the next change.
Omelettes are a fantastic option for breakfast on Atkins. They are filling, a perfect protein and so good for you for many reasons. (See the following for more information on why the Atkins diet, which recommends eggs, is good for heart health: The REAL Heart Healthy foods). Also there are so many options with omelettes that there is no excuse for getting bored. You’ll probably wonder how you just ate cornflakes (or other nutritionally devoid ‘breakfast’ foods) day-in day-out for years after experimenting with omelettes for a while! If you know that you won’t have much time in the morning, having the ingredients chopped up and ready the night before can really speed it up.
Basic omelette recipe:
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 2 eggs (free range if possible)
- Half an onion
- Vegetables, herbs and/or meat (see chart below)
- Cheese (see chart below)
- Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan.
- Chop the onion and add to the pan. Saute for 2-3 minutes, or until softened.
- Add the vegetables that need to be cooked and saute until soft. Add the meat at the same time and cook until fully cooked through.
- In a cup, beat the eggs and herbs
- Pour the egg over the meat and/or vegetable mixture.
- Tilt the pan to allow the uncooked egg to run to the sides.
- Add any vegetables that do not need to be cooked e.g. spinach, avocado, cherry tomatoes and the cheese of your choice.
- Once the egg is set fold the omelette over. Cook for another minute or two and serve.
* Check label on package
|Meat/fish (that can be added uncooked as a filling or just before adding the egg)||
** If using leftover meat you have cooked. Otherwise check carb amount on package
|Vegetables (to be cooked)||
|Vegetables (that can be added uncooked as filling)||
The basic omelette (i.e. onion and eggs) would have 5.5g of carbs. Simply add the carb amounts from the ingredients to see how many carbs there are in total. If you are doubling or tripling the ingredients to have more servings and you find that the omelette is cooked on the bottom but not on the top, then just put the pan under the grill for a few minutes to finish it off. (I think this is called a frittata in that case).
Just mix and match ingredients to make a tasty new combination everyday if you like – the possibilities are endless! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Bacon and onion
- Prawn, goats cheese and sun-dried tomato
- Smoked salmon and cream cheese
- Ham and artichoke
- Red pepper, courgette and cheese
- Sausage and mushroom
Other ideas for an Atkins friendly breakfast
- Scrambled eggs – just beat 2 eggs in a cup and add a tablespoon of cream, salt, pepper and the herbs of your choice. Melt butter in a small saucepan and add the eggs. Stir and cook until the eggs are set. You could add cheese on top or have with some streaky bacon.
- 2 poached eggs, 2 slices bacon, 2 slices of tomato, 2 slices mozzarella cheese
- Atkins Muesli – you can have this from Phase 2 – delicious with natural yogurt and berries
- Smoked salmon rolled up with full fat cream cheese
- Bell pepper with sausage meat
- Cauliflower hash
- MIMs (Muffins in a Minute) – this is an excellent option for breakfast – they are delicious and high in fiber too:
- Some minced meat fried with peppers, onion, mushroom
- Kippers – here is an article about having kippers for breakfast – apparently its back in fashion!
- Portabello mushrooms with cheese and spinach
For more ideas check out the UK Atkins meal-planner – just click Breakfast and Phase 1 for instance to get lots of recipes for breakfasts.
What about a Full Irish breakfast?
So the question you’re probably all wondering about.. What about a fry-up? Eating a full Irish breakfast (with some modifications) from time to time is acceptable on the Atkins diet. It’s not the the healthiest choice there is – although not for the reasons you are thinking! Its not the saturated fat that is the problem – it has been well proven that in the context of a low carb diet, saturated fat does not cause heart disease or cause cholesterol to rise.
The reason that sausages, bacon etc. are not the healthiest choice is because they often have nitrates added and other fillers. First of all, check the amount of meat in the sausages you buy – you’ll see that some contain as little as 50% pork – the rest is make up of fillers and carbs. It is possible to get more than 80% pork – the Superquinn ones are very good. It is also possible that your local butchers would make them with 100% meat and no additives. With rashers too – try to get the ones with the highest amount of meat in them. Hash browns are quite high in carbs – have a look online for low-carb hash browns recipes – there are lots of recipes that use cauliflower instead of potato. Other than that, leave out the toast and the orange juice and it’s not too high in carbs.
So as I said, not the healthiest choice ever (because of the additives in processed meats) but not too bad to have from time to time. If your other choice is cereal, toast and orange juice – then it is definitely the better choice. If you’re cooking it yourself you can improve it by getting less processed meats and feel free to add in onions, mushrooms, tomato instead of the hash browns and toast.
Please do add any other breakfast ideas or tips in the comments!