Protein is one of the most important nutrients for the human body. Whether you’re trying to sculpt your muscles or only trying to maintain your current weight, protein is vital – not only is it used for all that production and repair of muscles and other critical body functions, but eating lots of protein will also lower levels of the hormone that stimulates appetite and causes cravings.
For most people, protein likely brings images of red meat, chicken, or fish. These common protein sources, and vegan-friendly options like beans, tempeh, and quinoa, are easy to craft into a delicious, healthy meal for lunch and dinner, but what about breakfast?
To help you avoid the habit of high-sugar/carb breakfasts or climb out of it if you’ve already fallen in, we put together this list of protein-rich breakfast foods and found the best recipes to keep you satisfied and healthy any day of the week.
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The Best High Protein Breakfast Ingredients
Dietitians and nutritionists have long extolled the virtues of a healthy breakfast. If you’re monitoring your macros, breakfast could easily be the most important meal of the day. It puts you on the right track and if you eat a protein-rich breakfast it can keep you from overeating later in the day. Eating protein is also a much better breakfast option than carbs like muffins, bagels, waffles, or sugary cereals.
Coming up with ideas for your morning meal 7 days a week can be difficult and getting caught in a rotation of granola, scrambled eggs, and little else can really deflate any motivation you have to continue eating healthy.
Doctors recommend frozen fruit, nuts, seeds, grains, and yogurt and the recipes we’ve compiled use lots of these ingredients. But in case you’re more of a freehand chef, here’s a list of ingredients that add flavor and protein to your morning meal:
Greek Yogurt: Use this dairy product to make everything from smoothies and smoothie bowls to protein shakes and parfaits, or enjoy some greek yogurt with some fresh fruit on top. With 10 grams of protein in every 100 grams of greek yogurt, it’s one of the most delicious and versatile ingredients for a healthy breakfast.
Almond Milk: Vegans are probably familiar with this silky dairy alternative already, but its strong nutty taste will also have plenty of appeal to non-vegans as well. Splash it in to give a deeper flavor profile to your granola and oats or use it in place of cow’s milk in smoothies and smoothie bowls.
Chickpeas: They’re the key to yummy hummus but they also taste great mixed into a frittata, tossed into a tofu scramble, or wrapped in a tortilla for a change from the black beans in most breakfast burritos. Chickpeas have a whopping 19 grams of protein per 100 grams, so they’re an absolute must-have.
Veggies: You probably know vegetables are good for you, but some veggies like mushrooms, broccoli, asparagus, spinach, bean sprouts, and artichokes are also really high in protein too. They are far and away the most useful ingredient for a healthy breakfast since they can be prepared as a side or added into scrambled eggs, egg whites, tofu scrambles, frittatas, and many eggless breakfast recipes like quinoa bowls and pesto.
Avocado: Call us hipsters, millennials, or whatever else you can think of, but avocado toast is a great way to get 2 grams of protein in the morning. Avocado can also be added into breakfast salads, tofu scrambles, or blended into smoothies. Avocado deserves specific mention among fruits because it’s also pretty much the only fruit that’s a source of healthy fats. Pro tip: they make protein shakes super creamy!
Chia Seeds: Soaking chia seeds overnight in milk can make a great low-effort morning meal. You can also throw in some chia seeds if you pour too much milk (or almond milk) into your oats. If you like thicker oatmeal, chia seeds are a great way to soak up the excess liquid. Plus, they have 17 grams of protein per 100 grams.
Fresh Fruit: Break away from savory dishes and refresh yourself on hot summer mornings with some fresh fruit. Don’t overdo it since your body could store the excess glucose as fat, but fresh fruits like blueberries, raspberries, bananas, mangoes, and strawberries are the perfect finishing touch for oats, granola, smoothie bowls, parfaits, and pretty much anything with greek yogurt in it.
Cottage Cheese: One great way to enjoy fresh fruits like cantaloupe is with a few spoonfuls of creamy cottage cheese. If you like a minimum number of ingredients, you’ll love cottage cheese plates. There are 11 grams of protein per 100 grams, which makes cottage cheese one of the best ways to whip up a high protein breakfast on short notice.
8 High Protein Breakfast Recipes
1. Peanut Butter Smoothie Bowl
Whip up this sweet, creamy smoothie bowl in just a few minutes. There are lots of bananas in the smoothie itself but add sliced banana to get your fresh fruit in. This is also the perfect recipe to try substituting in almond milk.
- 2 frozen bananas, peeled
- 2 tbsp peanut butter
- ½ cup almond milk (or milk or other substitute of your choice)
All you have to do is blend these three ingredients in a blender. Add more almond milk for a thinner final product.
This might seem like a barebones breakfast option, but don’t forget you can add fresh fruit, peanuts, coconut, vanilla, or anything else you can think of for additional flavor! Depending on how much peanut butter and additional ingredients you use, this dish should give you between 10 and 15 grams of protein.
2. Mini Vegan Frittatas
If you aren’t crazy about egg breakfasts, this is a stellar replacement. It relies on chickpea flour, which is also great for making a savory vegan alternative to pancakes called socca that hails from Meditteranean cities like Nice. This is a fantastic dish because you can make several of these mini frittatas and reheat them throughout the week. Plus, it’s a yummy way to get 3 cups of vegetables into your diet/
- 1 ¾ cups chickpea flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 cups of water
- ½ cup spinach or kale
- 3 cups other veggies (red pepper, corn, etc.)
- About ¼ red onion, chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Combine chickpea flour, baking powder, and salt. You can also add other ingredients for flavor such as herbs or spices at this point.
- Whisk in the water. Nevermind the consistency at this step, it should be runny.
- Stir in all the veggies.
- Scoop mixture into a cupcake or muffin pan and bake on the center rack for 30-45 minutes. Use a toothpick to make sure they’re cooked through.
- Take out mini frittatas and let them cool.
You can leave these in the fridge for several days without issue. They heat up nicely and there are tons of ways to customize this recipe. It’s a great breakfast option for vegans or anybody trying to get more veggies into their diet without relying to much on egg whites or other animal products.
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3. Egg White Breakfast Sandwich
This recipe can also be made with the yolks, but if you’re on a weight-loss routine, stick with the egg whites. Additional ingredients like cheese can also be used, or vegan spreads and fake cheese as you wish.
- 1 bagel/flatbread/whole-grain cracker etc.
- ¾ cup egg whites
- 2 slices of tomato
- Fresh spinach leaves
- Sliced avocado
- Pinch of salt
- Combine egg whites, spinach, and salt in a small microwave-safe bowl.
- Microwave combination for about a minute, until cooked through.
- Toast your bagel, flatbread, or whatever fiber you choose. Add cheese, spread, or vegan alternative to each side.
- Add tomatoes and cooked egg whites to the sandwich.
- Place the avocado on top and go to town.
There are plenty of ways to spice this dish up and you can also sub out the bread completely if you’re trying to go carb-free. If you have the extra time to cook the egg whites in a frying pan, you can also turn this recipe into a tofu scramble just by adding some tofu!
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4. High-Protein White Bean Spread
This is a pretty quick recipe, especially if you go with precooked white beans. If you have the time, soak beans overnight and cook for 30-45 minutes until tender. You can avoid extra sodium by skipping canned beans.
- Roughly 1 can of white beans
- 2 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 2 tsp olive oil (or similar)
- Dry Rosemary, to taste
- Salt & pepper, to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor until they’re a uniform, spreadable paste, and put it on crackers or add a bit to your breakfast sandwich or breakfast burrito. Peppers can be added for spice or other vegetables like eggplant can be steamed or fried until tender and added in for more depth of flavor.
5. Veggie Pesto
Just like the white bean spread, this pesto can be used to make breakfast sandwiches taste even better. You can also coat veggies in this pesto to give them a strong, garlic flavor. It’s easy to make larger amounts of this pesto and leave it around to add to other breakfast recipes whenever you get the hankering. And, unlike other pesto recipes, this one is oil-free, so you don’t have to take in so many fatty oils to get your protein.
- 1 cup fresh basil
- 1 clove garlic (or as many as you can handle)
- 1 to 1.5 cups white beans
- 1 tbsp water
- 2-3 tbsp lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- Optional: nutritional yeast, olive oil
All you need to do is run the garlic through a food processor and then add the other ingredients one by one until they’re even combined into a delicious pesto!
6. Protein-packed Avocado Toast
Not only is this a simple breakfast idea to execute, but it also contains more protein than most of the other recipes on this list. Using seeds is a great way to get protein and other important nutrients, plus it’s a change from more standard breakfast options. Just like the breakfast sandwich, this avocado toast can be made with any bread or bread-like option you prefer. To skip the carbs altogether, try adding some cooked chickpeas and chopping the avocado to make a tasty salad.
- Slice of whole-wheat bread or similar
- 1 avocado mashed or sliced
- 1 tbsp each of chia seeds, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds
- Salt to taste
Just mash or slice the avocado and spread on the toasted bread. Cover with the seeds and start eating! Adding spice to this dish makes it extra yummy, but it also goes well with extra herb ingredients and a warm cup of tea in the morning.
7. Feta Breakfast Casserole
We’ll have to apologize to the vegans for this recipe. Not only does it use eggs (or egg whites), but it also uses feta cheese and ham. For non-vegans, this is a good breakfast option if you’re cooking for the week or whipping up a healthy breakfast for a group of people. This makes nine slices, so cut out some eggs and other ingredients if you don’t want to make that much.
- 12 eggs
- ⅓ cup milk (or almond milk, etc.)
- ⅓ cup feta cheese
- 2 cups of spinach
- 1 cup of ham
- 1 tsp olive oil
- Minced garlic & pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to about 350°.
- Spray a pan with non-stick spray.
- Heat olive oil on medium heat in a separate skillet, then cook the garlic until it’s translucent. Take the garlic off the heat when it’s cooked.
- Whisk together the eggs and then add the milk.
- Add feta cheese, ham, spinach, pepper, and garlic.
- Pour mixture into the sprayed pan. Make sure the ingredients are evenly distributed.
- Bake 45 to 60 minutes.
This is definitely more of a holiday or weekend breakfast option, but you can also make the whole batch on Sunday and warm up leftovers throughout the week. Sub out the feta cheese for ricotta to vary the flavor.
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8. Black Bean and Sweet Potato Breakfast Burrito
Hopefully, we can win back the vegan crowd with this yummy breakfast recipe. It’s just as customizable as the other inclusions on this list and you can also multiply the recipe to cover groups. If you like spice, this is a great recipe to top off with some jalapenos or hot sauce.
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 cup black beans
- 1 cup peeled & diced sweet potatoes
- 2 cups of fresh spinach
- 1 cup diced tomato
- Chopped cilantro
- Tortilla or other wrap
- Fry the onion in oil until translucent, then add ⅓ cup water.
- When the water comes to a boil, add the sweet potatoes and cover for about 5 minutes.
- Remove the lid, reduce the heat to medium, and throw in the diced tomato, black beans, and cilantro.
- Stir and cover again, cooking for about 15 minutes.
- When the sweet potatoes are tender, let everything cool down. Throw it into the tortilla and add any garnishes.
Maybe it’s only a select view who like onions enough, but I enjoy this breakfast recipe with some diced raw onion on top. Non-vegans are probably thinking about sour cream, but for the vegan crowd, there are some nut-, seed-, and soy-based alternatives.
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Your body needs protein for critical functions like building and repairing muscles, skin, hair, and important chemicals. It can be hard to get all the protein you need throughout the day without succumbing to unhealthy cravings for carbs and sugars. Many people completely forget that veggies, for instance, also have tons of protein.
Protein isn’t the only important nutrient you need to gain from your morning meal, but it will help you meet weight loss and maintenance goals because you’ll feel less hungry throughout the day if you get enough clean protein at breakfast.
These recipes are meant to be guidelines for people who need fresh breakfast ideas. Vegans and non-vegans alike should enjoy the majority of the breakfast recipes we’ve put together here, but you can also outfit them with the healthy ingredients we mentioned at the top of the article. There’s no end to the number of combinations and tweaks you can add to these recipes, which is essential when you have to plan out a high-protein breakfast for each morning.
We hope these meals help you start your day on the right foot. Good luck and bon appetit!