Protein is all well and good. But are you pro-breakfast?
Most of us have no problem getting in our daily dose of protein — in fact, we might be consuming even more of it than we need.
As it turns out, the amount of protein isn’t the only important factor when it comes to how much protein we eat. Studies show that the way we distribute our intake through the day can have significant effects on how our muscles process it.
Solution? Instead of having one meal where you absolutely gorge on protein, spread your intake evenly among all three meals — and especially after a workout — rather than cramming it into one.
Registered dietitian Elizabeth Jarrard recommends starting with 10 to 30 grams at breakfast.
Bonus: More protein in the a.m. will keep you full and help you avoid mindless midmorning snacking (because, quite frankly, this meeting is boring and you want candy).
These 23 recipes fall within Jarrard’s parameters — no protein powders necessary.
Wholesome mornings await.
1. Scrambled egg and veggie breakfast quesadillas
A cheese-free quesadilla? It’s a thing! (If the queso is missing, would that just make it… a dilla?)
This recipe shows you how to do it right, using scrambled eggs and avocado to seal the tortillas together and adding black beans for more protein.
We’ve got way more Mexican breakfast recipes that go beyond the humble burrito. Get involved.
2. Sweet potato hash with sausage and eggs
A standard egg and sweet potato hash gets a protein upgrade with the addition of chopped sausage.
Everything about this dish — even the minimal seasoning — is simple. But the parts add up to a delicious whole. This is as hearty as breakfast gets.
3. Homemade healthy breakfast nachos
These may not seem breakfast-worthy, but they’re nacho usual crispy Mexican snacks (*groooooooooan*).
This recipe transforms them from a gloppy pile of melted cheese to a bright, crunchy mix of fresh ingredients with a few healthy extras and swaps. Nachos can be nutritious too. It’s all about what goes in and on them.
Eggs provide some protein and other nutrients, and Greek yogurt steps in for sour cream. Gluten-free tortillas keep things wheat-free.
4. Baked Denver omelet
(Not that kind of Denver baked. We see you, Colorado.)
Omelets usually come with a side of ham and potatoes. This one eliminates the need for extra pans by cooking the sides right into the eggs.
Use lean ham to trim the fat while bumping up the protein count.
5. Paprika fried egg
This is less a meal in its own right than a surefire way to add a burst of protein and flavor to any other savory breakfast.
Paprika-ing a fried egg all the way up is a great way to add unexpected flavor to a breakfast staple — the trick is getting all the flavor into the oil first.
You can then combine this newfangled creation with other foods, like smashed avo, for a high protein meal.
6. Chickpea flour scramble
This one goes out to our vegan fam.
Chickpea flour is a great source of meatless protein, clocking in at 10 grams per 1/2 cup.
Here, it’s dusted with a few spices and scrambled just like eggs. Throw in a few veggies so you can start the day with protein and produce. That’s one hell of a way to wake up.
7. Mushroom and avocado breakfast burrito
This burrito proves that eating vegan doesn’t mean saying adios to protein.
Without any dairy, meat, or eggs, it still packs in a whopping 20 grams of protein per serving from a generously seasoned mix of mashed tofu and black beans.
8. Ground turkey brussels sprouts skillet
Skillets don’t always have to invite eggs to the party to be a reliable source of protein. This one gets plenty from the ground turkey alone.
Spice it up with pepper and cayenne — it’ll be sure to wake you up first thing in the a.m.
9. Creamy scrambled egg and goat cheese
It goes without saying that this is a one-stop shop for protein — eggs are packed with it. But not all scrambled eggs are created equal, and the addition of goat cheese and spinach turns this into a tour de force without any accompaniment at all.
With 19.7 grams of protein in a small serving, this is a quick, simple, healthy solution to fill you up.
10. Crustless quiche
Another egg-heavy dish, this beauty without a crust has a light, spiced lilt and a smoky accent. With 16 g of protein, this hits whatever the morning demands of you.
The joy of this recipe is its versatility. You can essentially swap the Gruyere for any cheese, and you needn’t use the veggies in the recipe – just throw in whatever’s your crisper drawer.
Why not turn this bad boy into a quiche lorraine by adding bacon? Plus, this counts as extra protein. Win-win. If you avoid pig products, you can sub in turkey bacon instead.
When getting out of bed isn’t so sweet, you’re gonna want some sweetness waiting for you.
11. Greek yogurt oat pancakes
You won’t find even a sprinkle of protein powder in this dish, thanks to the power of Greek yogurt and egg whites.
These healthy pancakes are so easy you can whip them up with minimal fuss, even on a weekday morning.
12. Cinnamon quinoa breakfast bowl
Oatmeal doesn’t have to be only sweet, and quinoa doesn’t have to be exclusively savory. This gorgeous recipe uses the simplest ingredients imaginable: almond milk, whole cinnamon sticks, and quinoa. That’s it.
(You can swap the cinnamon for cardamom, nutmeg, or vanilla bean — whatever suits your palate.)
Raspberries and peaches add the finishing verve and sweetness (as well as a bag of nutrients).
13. Chocolate quinoa healthy breakfast bowl
Yes, you read that right: It’s OK to have chocolate for breakfast. Finally! The breakfast fairy has answered our prayers!
If you have leftover quinoa, this chocolaty, gluten-free breakfast comes together in no time. The cold fruit makes a great contrast to the warm, protein-rich grains underneath.
14. High protein vanilla chia pudding
Quinoa, chia seeds, and hemp hearts are a powerhouse protein trio in this refreshing pudding. Make it the night before to save time, so you can dive straight in come morning.
15. Latte overnight oats
No time for coffee and a nutritious breakfast when you fall out of bed? Your options are still bounteous.
Just pour the java into the oats and chill the whole shebang overnight for a portable meal that meets both your protein and caffeine needs.
Bonus: It’s vegan-friendly.
Double bonus: It’s delicious too.
16. Real California breakfast bowl
Looking for a breakfast bowl more Californian than a Red Hot Chili Peppers verse? We’ve got you.
Cottage cheese is one of the lowest-fat and highest-protein cheeses out there, so even 1/2 cup provides plenty of protein. Spooned up alongside oats, walnuts, and fruit, it makes the perfect picture of a balanced breakfast bowl.
17. Apple, cinnamon, and “oatmeal”
Why the quotation marks around “oatmeal”? Well, this Paleo recipe lands in “so weird it’s genius” territory, because the stuff you see in the bowl is — wait for it — cauliflower! 😱😱😱😱
Riced and then cooked in coconut milk with eggs, flaxseed, and pecans for protein, the versatile vegetable ends up with a look and taste that land somewhere between oatmeal and rice pudding.
18. Banana breakfast cheesecake
You know it’s gonna be a good day when cheesecake kicks it all off.
With a crust made of whole-grain oats and a filling made of low fat cream cheese, banana, and a touch of honey, the dream of cheesecake for breakfast is not only within your reach but healthier than you ever expected.
The baking and chilling process requires some planning, but with this pot of dessert-like breakfast gold waiting at the end of the rainbow, it’s worth it.
Drinkable breakfast wonder at your service.
19. Green protein power breakfast smoothie
A look at the produce-packed ingredient list behind this vibrant green smoothie confirms why it screams “healthy.” It literally bellows “health!” right into your face.
Even without the optional addition of a powder, you’re getting in a bunch of protein from the pumpkin seeds and hemp hearts. Winning!
20. Healthy peanut butter and jelly smoothie
This recipe liquefies the school lunchbox staple into drinkable goodness with several twists on the original recipe. Why cut off the crusts when you can cut off the whole sandwich and make it a beverage?
No, we don’t have an answer for you either.
Green grapes add a fresher flavor than jelly while peanut flour and Greek yogurt offer a protein upgrade.
21. Healthy peanut butter cup smoothie
Peanut butter doesn’t skimp on protein even if you’re simply spooning it out of the jar. But why eat it alone when you can blend it with cocoa powder, banana, and almond milk for supplemental macronutrients to last all morning?
Kick off your day with a treat.
22. Cherry vanilla smoothie
Tofu is a popular protein source, especially for vegetarians, but it isn’t just for savory dishes (and it isn’t just boring either).
Put it to good use in this five-ingredient smoothie that’s sweet and tart. The tofu gives it a milkshake-like texture without the need for dairy.
23. Low carb strawberry cheesecake smoothie
With low fat cottage cheese subbed in for a portion of the cream cheese, this berry-pink drink stays true to its name while keeping its cholesterol count in check and its protein points up.
You won’t even miss the pie crust.
Whether you have an intense workout day in mind or simply want to make sure you’re not on an infinite snack loop until lunch, stocking up on protein in the morning can be a boss way to keep hunger at bay.
And who’s going to say no to breakfast cheesecake?
If you do get in a snacky mood, try to opt for high protein snacks to reduce those hangry sensations.