Whether you follow a vegan lifestyle or are just looking for a way to cut calories, dairy-free breakfasts are a game-changer. But making the change, especially if you’re a milk and cheese lover, can feel overwhelming at first if you’re not sure where to start.
But don’t worry. Here at Over Easy, we’re prepared with a ways to enjoy a dairy-free breakfast with very little effort—because who has time for extra work in the morning? While not all of our ideas are vegan, none of them include any dairy products, so you can chow down without guilt.
Why Avoid Dairy?
You might be wondering, why should I avoid dairy in the first place?
Many of us grew up with those milk commercials, telling us how good it is for our bodies (and especially our bones). While that slogan really stuck around, unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of truth to it. First and foremost, while some people still enjoy dairy for its nutritional benefits, it is not essential in any way to the human diet.
Nearly 65% of people eventually develop some form of lactose intolerance. In fact, if you’re of Asian descent, that percentage is nearly 90%! When we’re born, our gastrointestinal systems have an enzyme that helps us digest our mother’s breast milk. As we grow up, that enzyme slowly disappears. That may lead to many of those telltale signs of lactose intolerance that so many of us show after eating or drinking dairy products—bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
And ultimately, dairy products are usually full of fat and excess calories. Cutting it out, at least partially, is a great way to encourage a healthier lifestyle. It may also help lower your cholesterol and risk of heart disease. So as much as you may love dairy, it’s not exactly the healthiest of choices.
But What About Calcium?
Perhaps the biggest myth about dairy products is that they’re the only way that we can get the calcium we need for strong, healthy bones. While dairy can be a good source of calcium, it is definitely not the only source.
Nowadays, plenty of other foods have been fortified with calcium and essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin D. Products like orange juice and tofu contain fortified calcium. Whole foods like broccoli, almonds, and green leafy vegetables are great natural sources of calcium.
So don’t let the calcium myth scare you into drinking milk if you don’t want to. There are plenty of ways to eat a well-balanced, calcium-rich diet without it.
Why Breakfast Matters
Regardless of whether you think breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it’s still a pretty important one.
Studies have shown that people who eat breakfast on a regular basis have lower levels of cholesterol, obesity, and risk of becoming diabetic. Breakfast starts your day by revving up your metabolism so that you can process your food quicker and not be dragged down by slugginess and brain fog.
Choosing not to eat breakfast can throw off your body’s natural rhythm and make your blood sugar levels out of whack. The choice is clear. A healthy breakfast is where it’s at when it comes to feeling as good as possible.
Start Out Easy—Try A Breakfast Bar!
If you want to enjoy a healthy, dairy-free breakfast without any of the hassle of cooking, breakfast bars are an excellent option. While not all of them are dairy-free, the ones that are (cough, cough, ours) provide an excellent source of nutrition.
When we created our breakfast bars, we included only real foods and ingredients that you can pronounce—because if you can say it, you should feel good about eating it. We even stayed away from refined sugars and opted to use honey as a sweetener instead—see? Natural. That means is that you can enjoy a tasty breakfast without a sugar crash after the fact. The protein and fiber will fill you up and help keep your stomach from growling without making you feel bloated and gassy because, gross.
Breakfast bars are the perfect grab and go dairy-free breakfast for adults and children. They’re high in protein and fiber while being low in unnecessary sugars and chemicals.
Dairy Free Pancakes
If you’ve got a little extra time and you want to cook, dairy-free pancakes are a great choice. They can be whipped up quickly and with very few ingredients—just flour, a banana, and an egg. You won’t even miss the milk, because who notices milk in pancakes anyway?
Mix the egg and banana with about 2 tablespoons of flour and cook on the stovetop. Drizzle with honey or maple syrup, or throw some fresh fruit on top to make them even more healthy. They’re the fluffy childhood breakfast you remember without any dairy at all. You can even make them ahead and just warm them up in the morning when you’re on your way out the door.
Green smoothies get a lot of hate, but is there any dairy-free breakfast more delicious and easy to customize than a smoothie? Smoothies are one of the best ways to get your daily recommendation of fruits (and vegetables, if you’re feeling adventurous). Just toss a variety of different fruits and veggies in a blender, add a little calcium-fortified orange juice or dairy alternative milk (oat and almond work great), blend, and slurp it down.
If you’re focusing on your protein, add a scoop of protein powder to really ramp up the nutritional benefits. You can even make them up and freeze them in ice cube trays if you’re really a serious planner.
If you don’t mind doing a little prep work, mix up a fresh fruit salad the night before. One of the best parts about fruit salad is that you can make it in exactly the way you like, adding extra fruit that you like and taking away the types of fruit you don’t. You can make a fruit salad with any fruit you like, but grapes, apples, strawberries, bananas, pineapple, and blueberries are the most common.
To really take your fruit salad to a whole other level, whisk together a little orange juice with some honey and a little lemon or lime zest. Toss this with the fruit salad and let it sit in the fridge overnight. The fruit’s natural sweetness, combined with the tanginess of the citrus, will make a healthy breakfast seem like dessert without a whole lot of extra work. Yeah, we’re bougie like that.
Sweet Potatoes and Eggs
Another hot breakfast idea that’s completely free of any dairy is the traditional potatoes and egg breakfast. For a nutritious twist, use sweet potatoes instead of regular starchy white potatoes. Just dice them up, add a little bit of olive oil, and cook until they’re tender. Once they’re close to being done, add an egg or two, a little salt and pepper, and enjoy!
Some people like to make their potatoes and eggs ahead to shave a little more time off their morning routine. If that sounds like something you’d like to try, just make your potatoes and eggs in the oven in a cupcake tin. You’ll have tasty, healthy breakfast muffins with very little work, even if they do look a little funky.
If you eat meat, turkey sausage and bacon make another great addition and add even more protein, which we need to power our bodies.
We love oats so much that we included them in our breakfast bars, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only way that you can enjoy them!
Oatmeal is an excellent dairy-free breakfast, especially if you’re looking for something warm to fill you up and keep you full for hours after you’ve finished eating it.
The problem is, those packets of oatmeal found at the grocery store tend to be full of sickly-sweet refined sugars, which defeat the point of eating a healthy breakfast. Instead, look for steel-cut oats or organic rolled oats, which are far more nutritious. You can also dice up some fruit for the top or drizzle it with a little honey or maple syrup. Oatmeal is really customizable to whatever vibe you’re feeling
Steel-cut oats can also be made the night before and reheated when you’re ready for them. To make them extra creamy, let them soak in a dairy alternative milk like soy or almond. You won’t even taste the difference, and you’ll be able to enjoy a vegan breakfast with no work at all.
Dairy doesn’t have to be part of breakfast, especially if you find that it has, ahem, undesirable side effects. If you’re trying to live a healthier lifestyle, and you’re ready to cut dairy out of your life (at least partially), we at Over Easy hope that we gave you some inspiration. You can still enjoy a nutritious, well-rounded breakfast without all of the GI symptoms that dairy is prone to causing. Even just switching to a dairy-free breakfast a few times a week can make a major difference.