Almost every client I work with struggles the most with breakfast. Either they skip it because they have to run to work early, or they don’t know how to make it into a balanced meal with veggies and the works.
The ideas in this post are great for weekends. Let me know if you want to see a quick and easy weekday version, too!
So let’s talk breakfast!
What makes a balanced breakfast?
Just like any meal, we want to hit our three major macronutrients: proteins, carbs, and fat at breakfast time. We also want to make sure we are getting in fiber (ideally in the form of non starchy vegetables). The ideal portions and servings at breakfast is the same as for any other meal. It’s just that people tend to have a harder time at breakfast because we have been trained to think of breakfast food as being sweet and starchy.
I’m not tied to any set foods at breakfast, you can eat anything at any time of day, so long as you use the principles of the Balanced Latin Meals Guide to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients and they are working together properly. This means shooting for half a plate of fruits* and veggies, one quarter of your plate of starchy foods, and one quarter of your plate of protein.
*this ratio changes for the vegetarian and diabetes Balanced Latin Plates
(If you’re new to building balanced latin meals or need a refresher, sign up for my mailing list to get a free copy mailed to you! Check out the guide in my shop.)
What are the common breakfast foods of Latin America?
This is a tough question to answer as there is so much regional variation! But some common themes tend to emerge such as eggs (no surprise there), rice and beans, and other starches like plantains or tortillas. These are the types of breakfasts that are easiest to turn into a balanced meal, as they pair well with vegetables.
Of course, Latin America has it’s fair share of sweet, starchy breakfasts such as pan dulce or even cereal. I left those out of today’s balanced breakfast posts but remember that anything can be balanced, especially if you’re willing to try out some unconventional combinations!
Examples of Healthy Latin American Breakfasts
I chose three breakfasts common to three different Latin American countries and made them into balanced plates using the principles of the Balanced Latin Meals Guide.
Costa Rica: Gallo Pinto
Gallo pinto, the classic rice and black bean dish from Costa Rica, is often served with scrambled eggs. The gallo pinto provides fiber and carbs. To get the veggies, I added greens to the scrambled eggs and slices of avocado and tomato to make a balanced plate.
Mexico: Huevos Rancheros
In classic huevos rancheros, eggs provide protein and B vitamins, tortillas provide fiber and carbs. To get more fiber and vitamins, serve with a simple ensalada de col on the side.
Dominican Republic: Mangú con los Tres Golpes
Okay so this is more like dos golpes. Classic tres golpes includes queso para freír (frying cheese), eggs, and fried salami. To make this balanced you want your proteins to make up about a quarter of the plate, so I chose to just focus on the cheese and the egg.
You could pick two out of three, or have slightly smaller servings of all three. Your mangú provides fiber and carbs for energy, and those pickled red onions totally count as your veggie, along with avocado and tomato slices!