Mornings can be very lazy and I don’t really know how people can be so put together to actually cook and have some breakfast. To be honest, I have always been intimidated especially when I had so much time that I practically watched a lot of vlogs now and seeing them getting their lives together the moment they wake up. Ever since I started living on my own, I had actually been falling into a habit of skipping what people call as the “most important meal of the day”.
The closest semblance I have of breakfast is a piece of toast I usually eat with cheese and a cup of hot coffee. Then like a casual movie introduction, I rush off to work because I am definitely going in late. The funnier thing about this is I grab another cup of coffee on the way because I need more shots of espresso to just get through the morning alone. (Do you feel me?!)
I live in the city and I have a lot of fast food choices when it comes to food but breakfast for me is consecrated. If I wouldn’t be able to eat healthily like I could do during weekends when I have time to prepare my food, I skip it. (And I know that is kind of weird too since part of eating healthily is not skipping breakfast, forgive me.)
But it’s time to debunk the myth that fast-food menus are all about unhealthy, processed food. With the gradual shifting of the demands into a healthier lifestyle, this industry is also trying to catch up and adapt with the demand. That is, introducing healthier options in their menus.
Adulting 101: What is a healthy breakfast?
According to Dr. Christine Gerbstadt, spokeswoman to the American Dietetic Association, a healthy breakfast consists of complex carbohydrates which are found in foods such as peas, beans, whole grains, and vegetables.
There should also be enough protein sources on your plate such as yogurt, cheese, and eggs. Especially when you have a rough and hectic day, a good breakfast can actually make or break you.
And of course, we shouldn’t dismiss a healthy dose of fats like avocados and dark chocolate.
These breakfast meals from your favorite fast food restaurants can keep you on the healthy side without compromising the taste of cravings.
So let’s dig in?
Healthy Fast Food Breakfasts To Go: 5 Restaurant Options for those who are too lazy to make our own breakfasts
If there is anything I know about working adults or even highly sleep-deprived college students is that we always get our morning coffee fix at Starbucks. There really is something about walking in late to your work or your class with a cup of iced coffee. Somehow, it has become a certain aesthetic for the Millennial cross Gen Z era.
But aside from the good coffee, Starbucks also offers a good selection of healthy breakfast options. They have egg-based meals and have already expanded to a more feast breakfast type with artisan plates and bistro boxes.
They also have a line of yogurt parfaits which have now become my Starbuck staple although this could be a bit too sweet for breakfast so if you are cutting on your sugar intake, you might want to cross this one out for your breakfast choice.
Protein Artisan Snack Plate
This is a healthy breakfast extravaganza that offers a plateful of choices from your hard-boiled egg, cheddar and apple slices, multigrain muesli bread, grapes, and honey peanut butter spread.
Aside from this featured protein box, Starbucks also offers a variety of this. With the many different options, you can actually have one for each breakfast day for the whole week! You can try mixes of chicken and hummus or just a classic chicken wrap. If you’re going for easy bites, egg & cheese or a combo of cheese and fruits could be up your alley.
Although Starbucks label this as lunch boxes, these are also good as breakfast choices and even snacks! Or if it were me, this would also do for a light dinner partnered with a glass of wine and Netflix.
Sous Vide Egg Bites: Egg White and Red Pepper
This bite-sized breakfast offer of Starbucks is a definite must-taste and is best for people who do not have much of an appetite for breakfast but want something to fill them up before lunch.
Sous vide is a French technique which results in a velvety texture bursting with flavors.
You can also try out their variation Bacon & Gruyère Sous Vide Egg Bites with aged Gruyère and Monterey Jack Cheeses which are then topped with scrumptious applewood-smoked bacon. Yummy!
Spinach and Feta Breakfast Wrap
This is Starbucks’ lowest calorie option. This wrap is made from whole-wheat packed with your healthy favorites from egg whites, spinach, feta cheese, and tomatoes. If you’re always on the go, one spinach and feta breakfast wrap could fill you in!
Note: If you are worried about the calorie intake and other nutritional content down to the percentage (for your strict diet), you can visit starbucks.com to check it out.
Of course, it’s not Starbucks without coffee, right? Here are the healthiest options to pair with your breakfast.
☕ Whole Milk Cappuccino for your low-calorie drink yet still indulges you to a creamy treat. Add some cocoa powder, cinnamon, or vanilla for an extra treat with additional count on the protein and the caffeine as well.
☕ Skim or Low Fat Caffè Mistos for an extra jolt with a coffee base instead of an espresso and less milk than a latte to cut off those calories. If you like a sweeter taste, go ahead and try out their sugar-free syrup.
☕ Cold brew for you with a more classic taste. This drink has undergone a prolonged brewing process which makes it a little sweeter so you don’t really have to add another sugar cube. Since it has more caffeine, you will definitely be knocked off from dreamland to the reality of corporate slavery.
Here is a more affordable option for your breakfast-coffee combo. Dunkin Donuts is popular to many only for their delectable doughnuts and senses-waking coffee but in recent years, they have widened their menu to healthier leaning breakfast options with bagels, muffins, and breakfast sandwiches. One of their most famous healthy rollouts is their Wake Up Wraps which replace the traditional sweetness-based products with a small flour tortilla.
For the rushing office workers and exhausted college students who need their quick snack fix, you can try these 3 most recommended on their health menu.
Egg White Turkey Sausage Wake Up Wrap
As a part of their healthy rollout, Dunkin Donuts released a variety of their Wake Up Wraps. The Egg White Turkey Sausage Wrap has a low carbohydrate count with more protein than the classic egg and cheese but note that this also contains more saturated fat and sodium according to a nutritionist.
Depending on your mood, you can choose from the seven wake up wrap options.
Egg White Veggie Sandwich
Just with its name, I am honestly sure I would order this off for my healthy breakfast fix. This sandwich is filled with my favorite protein source, the egg whites. Packed with it are spinach, bell peppers, onions, and olive oil made with aged white cheddar cheese on a multigrain thin.
If you are not much of a breakfast person, you can take this out as your snack to bite in in the middle of a heavy work day.
Bacon Guacamole Flatbread
This breakfast fix was launched in 2015 and easily became one of the favorites. This sandwich features two strips of bacon, an egg, a slice of reduced fat cheddar cheese, and guacamole. All these healthy goodness folded inside a warm, multigrain flatbread.
When we say McDonalds, we automatically dip into the unhealthy craving of chicken, burger, fries, and sundaes. And who can blame us? This was exactly the brand of McDonalds until in 2011 when they launched their breakfast options and opened their door to healthier food choices.
Since McDonalds is one of the very accessible and affordable fast food choices, it helps a lot that they are making space for healthy options.
Here are some breakfast meals you can try out in McDo. (Just a note, do not be tempted to drink soda on an early day. Pair up your breakfast fix with a cup of coffee or hot choco.)
Fruit & Maple Oatmeal
Advertised as a “bowl full of wholesome”, fruit and maple oatmeal stood in the forefront of McDo’s healthy breakfast fix. This oatmeal is packed with diced apples, cranberry raisin blend, and light cream. According to some nutritionists, this is basically your oatmeal made at home but fancier and saves you time in preparation.
But most nutritionists are skeptic while some have clearly expressed that this was no healthy breakfast option. Just because it’s oats with fruits does not automatically mean they would be healthy. Although for most, this is as good as it gets from a fast food restaurant. It’s still a good option for a quick breakfast as it contains high fiber foods.
Egg White Delight Muffin
The Egg White Delight Muffin is packed with folded egg whites which is different from the usual rounded egg on a standard Egg McMuffin. Aside from that, it also has a slice of white cheddar based American cheese with bacon and whole grain English muffin.
It cuts most of the calories and cholesterol from the original McMuffin without cutting back on the taste.
This is probably my most favorite food and I have never failed to order one whenever I’m here. Although it’s definitely not first on the list of healthy food, it’s not so bad as well with a healthy dose of protein and has the lowest calories among all meat patties.
Subway is also definitely one of the favorite fast food restaurants and are relatively affordable and accessible as well. Among fast food restaurants they are known for the healthier variety options which are generally low in sugar and have a decent source of protein and fiber. One of its many appeals on the market is that you can customize your meal which will give you more control on the content of what you eat and set your preferences well.
Egg and Cheese
This is where most healthy sandwiches of Subway originate and the most basic offer for breakfast sandwiches. If you are going for a quick breakfast fix to pair up with your coffee, you can try this one out. Well, you can never go wrong with egg and cheese, right?
Roast Beef Sandwich
For a protein bomb breakfast without the alarmingly high amount of fat, Subway’s Roast Beef Sandwich is a good option. Although you might want to pick this up on an occasional basis only since it has a rich amount of sodium which can be very unhealthy when ingested daily.
Egg and Cheese Omelet Sandwich
One of the many spin-offs of egg and cheese, this omelet sandwich gives you a different take from the classic. This one is recommended for those who want a fuller satisfaction from a sandwich which you can also pack for your lunch and snack.
Western Egg White and Cheese Muffin Melt
This is probably one of the favorite breakfast fixes on Subway. With just a few calories for a hefty looking and flavorful sandwich, this one is definitely a must-try. This melt is packed with egg whites, Black Forest Ham, green peppers, American and Monterey Jack cheeses, and red onions stacked on an English muffin.
Taco Bell provides taco for everyone — that is, with its highly customizable menu it can cater to any diet (either low carb or plant based or just like me who just wants a bit of the healthier option). In fact, 75% of the menu in Taco Bell is just under 500 calories and you can also make them healthier by ordering them fresco style. Fresco style means substituting fresh pico de gallo in place of cheese, sour cream, mayo-based sauces, and guacamole.
Crunchy Taco Fresco Style
This is your classic crunchy taco made healthier in fresco style. This a good way to start your healthy living without dramatically switching to just fruits, greens, limited meat, and life of restricted carbs.
Sausage and Cheese Biscuit Taco
From the usual crunchy tacos, Taco Bell now features a “warm, fluffy, buttery biscuit, folded in the shape of a taco”. This is filled with your classic eggs and cheese, favorite sausage and cheese which still definitely categorizes under 500 calories.
You can also try their Chicken Biscuit Taco which is filled instead with deep-fried chicken with a jalapeño honey sauce.
Grilled Breakfast Burrito
Burritos are definitely quick breakfast solutions and this one from Taco Bell is no different. It’s the simple burrito kid on the block which will definitely satisfy and fulfill your cravings.
The Bottom line
Here is a cold hard fact: These “healthy” fast food breakfast options are not 100% completely healthy. Take the healthy context with a grain of salt. These are still served from fast food restaurants and as much as it’s good that they’re opening a space on their menu for healthier options for their consumers, it does not automatically mean that what they sell is actually healthy.
What we recommend is that you only purchase these as breakfast alternatives for times that you are too exhausted to cook yourself a homemade healthy breakfast or fix yourself a sandwich. This should, in no way, be a replacement of the good food you make at home. Try it once in a while but never on a daily basis.
There are still many controversies surrounding these healthy fast food options and many nutritionists are still skeptical about this while some blatantly disagree in labelling these meals as healthy. One thing you need to remember is that it’s better to skip breakfast than to eat an unhealthy one. You can always balance your meal over lunch and dinner so you don’t need to sweat about that.
If you’re really craving for one of these items, there are a lot of DIY tutorials and instructions on how to make them that will surely satisfy your cravings and you might be spending less for more nutrition!
In a time like this with the pandemic just around the corner, it always pays to be more careful with our health. Especially when we have so much work to do, it’s better to recharge with a healthy meal than opt for the easy option.
Note: Some of the breakfast meals that have been featured in this article may have been discontinued in the time being. Nevertheless, they’re still part of the menu and may come back anytime. Nutritional content was not included but you may check out their official websites for the information.