Here's how to build a nutritious breakfast (that keeps the carbs in check).

Brierley Horton, M.S., R.D.
August 05, 2020
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Our go-to speedy breakfast? Yogurt and granola. It's easy and no-cook, yet delivers plenty of fill-you-up protein and fiber plus a little bit of fat for staying power. It also provides an open canvas for nutrient-rich toppings like berries and seeds. Yes, granola can be sugary: sugar is often the second ingredient (sometimes honey or maple syrup are ingredients too). But make the right selections and keep an eye on your portions, and a cool bowl of yogurt with crunchy granola is doable—and delicious

Compose Your Bowl

This formula will give you the perfect breakfast bowl every time:

  • 2/3 cup yogurt
  • 1/3 cup granola
  • 1/4 cup berries
  • 1 Tbsp. seeds

Here are a few things you should look for when choosing each ingredient.

Yogurt (2/3 cup)

Start by choosing nonfat or low-fat yogurt, since granola also has a bit of saturated fat—the goal is to aim for 5 grams total for a meal. (While saturated fat isn't off-limits, it's best to eat it in moderation, since it may raise LDL cholesterol, which can up your risk for heart disease.) Next, look for a plain rather than a flavored yogurt. Many flavored yogurts have added sugars, which are "empty" carbs with no nutritional value. (If you really can't stand the taste of plain yogurt, flavored is OK.) Third, compare the protein count. There isn't a minimum amount to aim for, but more protein means more staying power. Plus, protein helps slow digestion, which means a more modest rise in blood sugar. Strained yogurts like Greek and skyr are naturally higher in protein, but it's a good idea to check the Nutrition Facts panel, as protein can vary from brand to brand.

Look for a yogurt that meets these numbers for the serving size listed on the container:

  • <150 calories
  • <1.5g saturated fat
  • <15 to 20g carb

Granola (1/3 cup)

Granolas are often made from whole grains (the most common is oats), which makes them a good source of fiber. That said, most also have added sugar (it helps bind the granola ingredients). Because of this, we recommend you choose a smaller portion. Many granolas now have the new Nutrition Facts panel on their packaging, which shows nutrition info for two different serving sizes: a "bowl"-size portion and a "snack" portion. We recommend using the smaller snack size when pairing granola with yogurt and toppings. You can use a 1/3-cup measure to gauge a snack-size portion.

Look for a granola that meets these numbersfor a snack-size serving:

  • <200 calories
  • <2.5g saturated fat
  • <25g carb
  • >1g fiber

Berries (1/4 cup)

Round out your bowl with a 1⁄4-cup portion of berries. Not only do they taste good and look good, they add fiber and good-for-you phytochemicals. We particularly like strawberries and raspberries, which deliver 1 and 2 grams of fiber, respectively, per 1⁄4 cup. We love in-season berries, but frozen versions are available year-round and are also delicious.

Seeds (1 Tbsp)

Adding 1 tablespoon of seeds gives you an extra sprinkling of crunch (because, hello, granola!); many also add protein, fiber, and healthy fats—which can help keep you feeling fuller, longer. Look for chia or hemp seeds, which have more than 4 grams fiber and 2 grams protein per tablespoon.

Diabetic Living, Summer 2020