The ‘Foundational Five’ Foods You Should Always Mix and Match for a Quick Healthy Breakfast

Photo: Stocksy/Sarah Reid
Wouldn't it be nice to have a quick healthy breakfast formula that never fails? The Foundational Five, created by McKel Hill Kooienga, RDN, is an easy-to-follow system that helps you nourish your body without putting much thought into it. It's perfect for those mornings when you're groggily walking around the kitchen with your eyes half-closed.

"Using this simple system ensures that you're nourishing your physical body by consuming a balance of macronutrients in combination with the 'flavor factor,' which amplifies and celebrates the vibrancy of food, the deliciousness, and flavor that really makes our meals more enjoyable," says Kooienga. "It's so important to know how to nourish your body well and also how to do it in a way that's enjoyable, positive, and fun."

Experts In This Article

According to Kooienga, when you're building your breakfast—or any meal, for that matter—you should focus on the following five components:

  1. Protein: beans, legumes, tempeh, tofu, seitan, quinoa, nuts, seeds, nut butter, grass-fed lean beef, eggs, seafood, and poultry
  2. Fat: extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocado oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, nut butter, salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, coconut, and coconut oil
  3. Starchy or sugary carbohydrates: potatoes, oats, quinoa, rice, bread, pasta, beans, peas, corn, and fruit
  4. Non-starchy carbohydrates: greens and vegetables, like arugula, kale, romaine, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, and cucumbers
  5. Flavor factor: sauce or mustard, herbs, spices, or seasonings

When you're dreaming up your quick healthy breakfast, simply make your way down the list and add in something from each category. That could mean avocado toast topped with an egg, some greens, and hot sauce, a breakfast rice bowl with tofu, spinach, avocado, and plenty of seasonings, or a loaded nourish bowl (like the one below).

"For this recipe, you visually can identify those elements such as the eggs are protein, the greens are non-starchy carbohydrates, the beans are starchy carbohydrates and a little protein, and the dressing is both the healthy fat and flavor factor," says Kooienga. "By having this simple system to follow, it starts to make mealtimes feel easier."

breakfast nourish bowl
Photo: Nutrition Stripped

Eggs, beans, and greens nourish meal

2 cups dark leafy greens or lettuces of your choice
1 cup steamed broccoli
1 cup cooked beans of your choice (if canned, rinse well)
2 cooked eggs
1/2 ripe avocado
1/2 cup sprouts
2 tablespoons of dressing
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, cook eggs to desired texture (i.e. over-easy, medium, or hard). Season with sea salt and black pepper.
2. While the eggs are cooking, lightly steam broccoli. If using cooked canned beans, rinse the beans thoroughly. Otherwise, follow traditional recipes for cooking dried beans. (Pro Tip: We recommend cooking dried beans in large batches on the weekend or during a meal prep session, otherwise if cooking dried beans for this recipe, it will add hours to the cooking time compared to using organic canned beans).
3. Assemble the plate or bowl with the greens or lettuces as the base, add the salad dressing of your choice, then top with cooked beans, steamed broccoli, sliced avocado, sprouts, and optional seasonings and garnishes like red pepper flakes and black pepper.

Find out if breakfast really is the most important meal of the day:

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