Thanksgiving is essentially the Super Bowl of food. The weeks leading up to it are filled with intense preparation, from selecting recipes to securing important ingredients. Then there’s a day or two of serious brining, cooking and baking. Come Thanksgiving Day, it’s all about putting the finishing touches on the food and decorations, then tucking into a delicious, once-a-year feast. However, the biggest mistake you can make in prepping for the main event is skipping breakfast that morning.
“Eating breakfast can really make a difference for how the rest of the holiday goes,” says Maxine Yeung, RD. “If you skip breakfast, you may be so hungry by the time the big meal rolls around that you end up overeating or eating foods you don’t actually enjoy.” Plus, the holidays can be draining, so keeping yourself well-fueled is important.
To make the most of your morning meal, “focus on getting a balance of protein, fiber-rich carbohydrates and colorful fruits or veggies,” says Dezi Abeyta, RD. This combination gives you enough energy to power through last-minute preparations — and keeping portions reasonable ensures you’re comfortably hungry when it’s time to sit down for the main event.
To take the guesswork out of a healthy Thanksgiving breakfast, we asked registered dietitians to share their go-to picks.
Make a simple, balanced breakfast feel festive by adding Thanksgiving veggies. Abeyta loves a quick Brussels sprout scramble on top of whole-grain toast spread with a thin layer of pumpkin puree. The combo packs fiber, fat and protein, so it’ll tide you over until the big meal.
How to make it: Thinly slice three medium Brussels sprouts, then sauté them in a teaspoon of olive oil. Crack two beaten eggs into the pan and scramble with a spatula. Serve your scramble over a thick slice of whole-grain toast spread with 2 teaspoons of pumpkin puree.
“You can’t go wrong with a frittata,” says Abeyta. Pack yours with veggies and fresh herbs for tons of flavor and not too many calories. Abeyta also suggests a serving of fruit on the side, for extra fiber to keep you satisfied.
How to make it: Opt for this dairy-free Leek, Broccoli and Mushroom Frittata, which can be made with regular milk instead of almond if you prefer. You’ll likely have rosemary around for other recipes, and you can swap in Thanksgiving veggies like onions and green beans for the broccoli and mushrooms to cut down on groceries.
“Protein-packed pancakes or waffles are festive and fun, but also provide more protein to prevent too much snacking between breakfast and the big meal,” says Lauren Minchen, RD. Top with a thin layer of cranberry sauce for a festive spin.
How to make it: Follow this easy Protein-Packed Pancake recipe, no protein powder necessary. For pumpkin pancakes, use 2/3 cup (170g) Greek yogurt (instead of a full cup) and 1/3 cup (85g) pumpkin puree, and add a big pinch of pumpkin spice.
Yeung loves making seasonal oats throughout the fall and especially on Thanksgiving morning. She stirs a few spoonfuls of pumpkin puree into her oats as they cook to thicken the texture and add some nutrients. A sprinkle of pecans adds satiating healthy fats and some crunch, and a mix of spices brings it all together.
How to make it: This Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal serves four people, so the whole family can have a tasty, filling breakfast. Add some chopped pecans or your favorite nut.
It’s no secret Greek yogurt is a nutritional all-star, with more than 20 grams of protein per cup. Plus, its thick, creamy texture makes it the perfect blank canvas for whatever fruit, nut, seed or spice toppings you add. The combination of protein, healthy fats and fiber in a fruit-and-nut yogurt parfait satisfies you and keeps you going all morning.
How to make it: “Layer plain Greek or Icelandic yogurt, pumpkin puree, diced pears, pumpkin seeds and a dash of fall spices,” says Yeung.
If your only two meals on Thanksgiving are a late brunch and an early dinner, Newgent recommends something slightly more filling for your morning meal. “Try a breakfast strata — which you can make “overnight-style” — along with a salad and seasonal fruit,” she says. Prep your strata (basically a frittata with cubes of bread cooked in) by combining all ingredients in the pan on Wednesday night and storing them, covered, in the fridge. Put it in the oven the next morning and you’ll have a tasty breakfast with almost zero work.
How to make it: You can prepare this Broccoli and Gruyere Breakfast Strata the night before.
“My go-to Thanksgiving breakfast is oatmeal with nuts and fruit,” says Germaine Guy, RD. If stovetop oats are a regular thing for you and you want to make something special, baked oatmeal is a great option.
How to make it: Try this flavorful Apple-Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal. For extra nutrients and texture, add pomegranate seeds, dried cranberries or a handful of almonds or pecans.
“If your big Thanksgiving meal is around lunchtime, keep breakfast on the lighter side,” says Jackie Newgent, RD, author of “The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook.” For an easy, no-prep-required breakfast, she recommends a bar with a side of fruit.