I'm a Dietitian and This Is My Go-to Breakfast
It’s made up of four ingredients that have been shunned in certain nutrition circles—but here’s why I think it deserves some love.
If you spend any amount of time with me, then you probably know that even though I'm a dietitian I believe (truly believe) that all foods can fit in your diet. I don't subscribe to extremes (like keto) and I don't believe in cutting out your favorite foods in the name of health. I do believe in eating foods that make you feel good, at least most of the time.
I realized when I was thinking about my favorite breakfast, it checks a lot of boxes. It's quick, it's relatively inexpensive, it's easy to make and it's delicious. It also gives me lots of staying power and energy to start my day on the right foot. But, it's also made with foods that I've heard people say aren't "healthy" to eat. It includes bread, bananas, peanut butter and honey.
Here's why I love whipping up peanut butter toast with banana in the morning, why it's good for you and some other healthy options in case peanut butter isn't your thing. (It may be my favorite, but I realize it's not everyone's. Plus, variety is important.)
Why I love peanut butter toast
I start with whole-grain toast and then add natural peanut butter, a drizzle of honey and banana slices. These nutrient-dense foods pack a lot of good stuff into every bite.
Peanut butter: Full of healthy fats, fiber and protein. Two tablespoons has about 8 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber (but I don't measure my PB).
Whole-grain bread: Look for bread that has whole-grain flour or whole-wheat flour listed as the first ingredient. Some multigrain breads have wheat flour first (and it needs the word whole in front of it to be whole grain). You get complex carbohydrates—the good-for-you kind that are digested more slowly, don't spike your blood sugar and provide more lasting energy. You also get some protein, vitamins and minerals. I like to buy sprouted-grain bread or English muffins, because I love the hearty texture.
Banana: Bananas are a good source of potassium and fiber. Even though they contain sugar (gasp!), they're still good for you. The sugar in bananas is naturally occurring and packaged up with lots of other nutrition. If you're worried about the carb count, choose smaller bananas when you shop or slice up half a banana for your breakfast. (Here's why I never leave the grocery store without bananas.)
Honey: OK, this food isn't super healthy, although it does have some health benefits. But having a drizzle of honey helps sweeten up this breakfast just a bit. I probably add about ½ teaspoon which has about 2.5 grams of sugar. This is optional, so feel free to skip.
I've heard lots of people talk badly about these foods over the years. Some diets banish legumes, including peanuts. The most common reason is lectins, but they're not actually a problem in most foods we eat and the benefits outweigh any cons (learn more about lectins and if you should be concerned).
People hate bread—because well, carbs. Carbohydrates won't make you gain weight automatically. Choosing whole grains more often helps you get more nutrients and fiber in your diet.
Bananas also have a bad reputation because they have sugar, but there's only about 12 grams of sugar (0g added sugar) in one small banana. For comparison, a medium vanilla latte has 35 grams of sugar (17g added sugar). That same banana also gives you 3 gram of fiber, and about 14% of your potassium needs for the day (plus some resistant starch, a good for your gut carb that helps keep you full).
As for the honey, take it or leave it. Added sugars include honey, even though it's a natural sweetener. Too much added sugar isn't great for your health, but a little bit here and there is OK. I don't worry about the tiny amount I put on my toast, but I also don't use it every time.
It's easy to make
If you can make toast, then you can make this breakfast. I toast my bread, spread peanut butter, drizzle a bit of honey and add banana slices. It's perfect for busy mornings, (aka every morning) and it's even portable. If I take it to go, I usually make a sandwich, but you can always open it back up when you get to your destination—you may need to rearrange some banana slices though.
It's not expensive
I love avocado toast as much as the next person, but where I live avocados sometimes go for more than $2 a piece. Bananas are typically less than $0.20. Peanut butter is less expensive than other fancy nut butters. To save even more, buy bigger containers. They're more pricey up front but the unit cost, essentially the cost per serving, is cheaper. While bread can be expensive, there's usually a whole-grain bread that goes on sale (you can keep it in your freezer to make it last) or you can make your own.
Other healthy breakfasts
If I haven't sold you on peanut butter banana toast yet here are some other great healthy breakfasts. Even if you love it like me, it's always good to have some variety in your diet.
Oatmeal: Another healthy source of carbohydrates and fiber. I like mine topped with some nut butter or cottage cheese for a protein boost.
Egg muffins: These are like mini frittatas and great when you want a savory breakfast or high-protein option.
Yogurt parfait: I love taking plain Greek yogurt, adding fruit and some homemade granola for a protein-rich breakfast that also delivers complex carbohydrates and fiber.
This list isn't all encompassing. There are plenty of other healthy breakfasts foods including smoothies, egg sandwiches, and even breakfast skillets. Hopefully you have a few breakfasts in your rotation that you love, and if you need some inspiration my favorite healthy breakfast is always here.
Welcome to The Beet. A weekly column where nutrition editor and registered dietitian Lisa Valente tackles buzzy nutrition topics and tells you what you need to know, with science and a little bit of sass.