Want greener eggs and ham? Worried about your jelly doughnut's CO2 legacy and cellulite future? You're right to be concerned, but you have lots of options. Let MNN help you break the fast without breaking your health, the environment or the bank.
The worst breakfast foods
You may have heard that you are what you eat, but you're also not what you don't eat. No need to avoid these breakfast foods like the plague; maybe just avoid them like obesity, heart disease, wastewater runoff and global warming.
Fast food: Why would you trust the food from any restaurant so rushed it fuses words together (Frescuit, Croissan'wich) or can't be bothered to spell out conjunctions (Big N' Tasty, Biscuit 'N' Gravy)? While it's true fast-food companies are scrambling to revamp their images in the post-Super Size Me era, and some have made nutritional improvements, the industry's environmental impacts haven't gotten as much attention. Fast-food chains have huge carbon footprints, tend to support factory farming and produce a massive amount of packaging waste every year.
Cinnamon rolls, doughnuts and pastries: Depending where you get your pastries, you might be better off eating a piece of birthday cake for breakfast. A lot depends on the source and how it's made, though, so try for healthier or more sustainable alternatives. Get a whole-wheat doughnut instead of Boston cream, or a low-fat cinnamon roll instead of a Honey Bun. And if you do eat a cinnamon roll, for your own sake, don't do this.
Pork: Getting early-morning protein from bacon, ham and sausage can actually ward off hunger later in the day. Unfortunately, most pork comes from industrial hog farms that produce mountains of manure and emit greenhouse gases, ammonia and foul smells that encroach on neighbors. Look for fresh, organic pork that doesn't contain preservatives and wasn't fed antibiotics, or buy low-sodium and low-fat products. Center-cut bacon often has at least 20 percent less fat than traditional cuts, and turkey bacon has about a third less.
Eggs: Eggs are the champions of breakfast, the foundation on which the traditional American morning is built, and in moderation they're a beautiful thing. A whole fried egg has about double the protein of a slice of bacon, and is high in essential nutrients like selenium and choline. One of eggs' potential downsides is their yolks, however, which are high in cholesterol and saturated fat. Eating egg whites may reduce those risks, but while both whole eggs and egg whites still have a bit much sodium, it's much less than many processed foods. Where many egg breakfasts go wrong isn't necessarily the eggs themselves, but what accompanies them — trans-fat-packed biscuits, for example, as well as bacon and cheese, which can add unwanted nitrates, sodium and fat.
Pancakes, waffles, and French toast with butter and syrup: Actually, the main problem with these is just the butter and syrup, so no need to throw out your waffle iron. If you can skip both condiments in favor of real fruit or raw honey, you'll be doing yourself a big favor. If you're making French toast yourself, try using egg whites and skim milk to cut down on cholesterol and fat. And don't be afraid to throw in some fruit, too — bananas go well with French toast, for example.
Also on MNN:
- How to green your breakfast: Best foods
- How to green your breakfast: Saving money
- How to green your breakfast: Top 5 tips