Benefits of a Protein-Rich Breakfast (and a Protein Pancake Recipe)

scrambled eggs

Written by Stacy K, Contributing Writer

We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but with so many choices (and conflicting information), it can be difficult to know what to serve our family.

While cereal or toast may seem easy and convenient, these high-carbohydrate choices lead to elevated blood sugar levels which drop quickly and soon leave us feeling tired and hungry. Research shows that a breakfast high in protein actually stabilizes blood sugar and prevents hunger for a number of hours.

A protein-rich breakfast has two other significant benefits besides keeping you full longer:

1. Improved Concentration and Focus

As we all know, eating breakfast is more than filling the belly and reducing hunger, it’s about nourishing the body and brain. The brain needs amino acids in order to produce neurotransmitters (which are an important part of the brain’s communication system); protein is an excellent source of amino acids.  Eating  a high-protein breakfast supports brain function and leads to increased alertness throughout the morning.

A protein-rich meal keeps us full much longer than a carbohydrate based one. Staying full helps our minds focus on the task at hand rather than dealing with hunger pains, allowing the brain to function at a higher capacity.

While a breakfast high in protein is beneficial for anyone, it is especially recommended for children with ADD/ADHD .

2. Weight Control

A high protein breakfast is satisfying to the body. This satisfied feeling helps reduce cravings and snacking. When we eat foods that have little nutritional value (or not enough fat), we are left unsatisfied. This unsatisfied feeling often leads to excessive cravings and extra snacking as we look for satiety.

It has also been shown that a protein-rich breakfast not only keeps you full during the morning hours, it actually helps sustain fullness throughout the entire day. This means we are more in control of our hunger and therefore our food choices.

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Image by Drab Makyo

Good Choices for a Protein-Rich Breakfast

At first glance it seems that preparing a protein-rich breakfast might take a lot of extra time. It certainly isn’t as quick as pouring cereal out of a box, but with a little forethought, you can have breakfast on the table without spending all morning in the kitchen.

Here are a few suggestions for a simple breakfast that is high in protein:

  • Eggs (the most obvious choice) – Eat them scrambled, boiled, poached, fried, as an omelet, or in egg burritos.The best part about eggs is that they can be prepared very quickly (scrambling or frying takes only a few minutes), they are also economical.
    Don’t forget to use a little healthy fat when preparing eggs.
    Fat such as coconut oil, palm oil, butter, ghee, tallow, or lard, are good for you and will help keep you full for a good few hours.

    If you are unsure about which type of eggs are best, read Stephanie’s post about how to choose a good egg.

  • Meat – such as sausage (homemade, if possible), bacon, or ham. Choose meat from pasture-raised animals when possible. Meat can be cut used economically by cutting into small pieces and adding to eggs, omelets, or casseroles.
  • Peanut butter on toast – Yes, this does include bread, but it is a good way to increase protein simply.
  • Breakfast Casseroles – usually egg based. They are a good place to include extras such as cheese, meat and vegetables and many recipes can be pu together the night before and baked in the morning.
  • Protein Pancakes - recipe below.

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Protein Pancakes

Pancakes are favorites of many children, but definitely fall into the high-carbohydrate category. Adding cottage cheese and extra eggs will increase the protein level significantly. (I promise you won’t taste the cottage cheese!)

I consider this recipe a good compromise. Eating eggs would be preferable, but it’s still a good choice. These are a family favorite around our house.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (if you are not there yet, use unbleached white flour and gradually replace small amounts with wheat flour)
1 cup small curd cottage cheese
4 eggs
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup oil (I currently use safflower oil but plan to try it with coconut oil soon)

Method
Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.

Cook as you would regular pancakes (use plenty of butter to grease the pan).

Do you like to eat protein for breakfast? What are you favorite protein-rich breakfast foods?

Top image by Stevendepolo

About Stacy Karen

Stacy, a homeschooling Mom of three, enjoys healthy, natural living and is a make-it-from-scratch maniac. She strives to encourage women to find peace and joy at home through her blog, A Delightful Home, where she shares tips and tricks for creating a happy home (and life) with God at its center.

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Comments

  1. Could you sub greek yogurt (or strained homemade yogurt…which I hope to try making in the next week or 2) for the cottage cheese in the pancakes?

  2. Just wondering about the 1/4 cup if oil in the protein pancakes? Can I replace it? The best that NZ have that is recommend by you’s is olive oil. But it’s a lot of oil that’s all

  3. It is so frustrating to talk about protein rich breakfasts for me—my daughter is allergic to dairy, egg, peanut and tree nut which knocks out everything except for meat (which you suggest using in egg casseroles…) The only thing I’ve come up with is sun butter (that’s already what she takes for lunch) and soy milk (not a whole food). Do you have any other ideas?

    I myself eat greek yogurt with blueberries and 1/4 c granola. It makes a big difference for me, wish I could find something for my daughter.

    • Hello,

      Have you tried pancakes with flax seed as your egg substitute and coconut milk or rice milk? Not sure if your daughter can have the flax seed. May not be protein rich, but something different perhaps.

  4. Rachel Knipp says:

    Do these pancakes need to be refrigerated because of the cottage cheese?

  5. Lani Halliday says:

    My whole family loves this recipe for protein-rich pancakes. Formulated by Elana Amsterdam of http://www.elanaspantry.com, They’re made mainly from almond meal, eggs and are sweetened with agave nectar (a low-glycemic natural sweetener). She’s an ingenious celiac and has tons of fab high-protien recipes.

    http://www.elanaspantry.com/gluten-free-pancakes-revisited/

    They can be a little tricky to get the size/flipping time right at first, but soooo worth the effort. I usually make a double batch, freeze the extras then put them straight from the freezer to a medium oven on a sheet pan for a quick, healthy breakfast when there isn’t a lot of time.

  6. Jennifer in VA says:

    the pancakes sound yummy! I grind my own wheat for bread and have hard red and hard white and soft white. Could I use the hard red in place of the whole wheat pastry flour listed in the recipe?

    Thanks!

  7. Love the pancake recipe.

    Coconut oil makes phenomenal pancakes and other baked goods – you don’t actually taste the coconut flavor but somehow it enhances the flavor of your baked goods. Hope you get to try it soon! Melted butter is usually a good sub for a recipe like this if you don’t have coconut oil on hand.

  8. Great post! For our Sunday morning waffles, my recipe is similar to your pancakes, but we always add 2 tbs. ground flax seed and 1 tbs chia seeds. And the flour is stone ground whole wheat.

  9. I used to be plagued with sever headaches at work when I ate a breakfast of primarily carbs. My favorite protein breakfast is egg-nog: 1 cup raw milk, 2 raw eggs, a few ice cubes, and a bit of maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon. Couldn’t believe what a difference this made!

  10. I also wanted to share a yummy GAPS-friendly breakfast casserole recipe. I meant to include it in this post, but didn’t!
    Hearty Breakfast Casserole

  11. Thanks for this post, Stacy! I discovered during my most recent pregnancy that I really wasn’t getting enough protein, so I really work to get it now. Those pancakes look unique–and yummy!

  12. We’ve been doing GAPS, and somehow we’ve been eating LOTS of pancakes. I keep feeling guilty, but when I think of the ingredients, I realize I am not eating breakfasts full of honey and fruit, but protein. The easiest one is one part egg, one part tbs nut butter, one part tbs squash or pumpkin puree. I have also added a TINY dollop of honey and a bit of salt and all spice. : ) Very good, even on their own munched as a snack. It’s ALMOST as quick as a bowl of granola or a smoothie and faster than a bowl of oatmeal. Also, making pancakes or scones with almond flour gives us a protein rich meal.

  13. I find soup very easy for breakfast. I can warm it up on the stove and put it in my ceramic mug or thermos to go. So easy for a busy mom, I usually manage to get the kids a nutritious breakfast but as a buy mom, I am always racing out the door myself.

  14. We eat Sunbutter in our house because of peanut/tree nut allergy. My kids eat it and preserves on either a whole wheat waffle or whole wheat bread. They eat this along with coconut or organic milk yogurt.

  15. We’ve been eating what we called “cottage cheese” pancakes since I was a kid and they remain a staple, now that I have a family of my own, a quick go to meal that is packed with protein but tastes like a treat. Our recipe is a bit different (less carbs) than what you have listed so I will post it here, super simple: Blend 4 eggs, 1 cup cottage cheese, 1/4 whole wheat flour, 1tsp salt in blender. Cook on medium hot griddle. (I usually double the recipe for my family of 4.) We like to top ours with peanut butter (more protein!) and a drizzle of maple syrup, or whipped cream and berries for a special treat. Yum!

    • @Kara, I’ll have to try this. It’s a lot like my recipe but with much less flour. I think I have cottage cheese in the fridge…will give this a try right away. Thanks for sharing.

      • Our version of the cottage cheese pancakes is different still…..6 eggs 1 cup cottage cheese, 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup milk, 1/4 cup oil, 1 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp salt. Then blend in blender till smooth and cook on hot griddle. My family LOVES these!!

  16. We always start our day with protien but the kids get tired of the same ole thing. I always feel a drop & shakiness in the late moring if we have pancakes so I would love to find a way to add protien to them. We have to eat gluten and dairy free. I love the idea of a high protein pancake and can easily substitute GF flour but I was wondering if anyone has ideas on how to add protien to the pancake without adding dairy.

  17. my favorite is fried egg on top of ezekial bread topped with cheese, tomato and spinach…not only do I get protein via egg and cheese, but a serving of veggies before I start my day and it is delicious. Can’t wait to try the protein pancakes!! thanks :)

  18. Our standby breakfast is what we call “Egg in a Hat”. There are other names for it.

    I use a piece of my homemade bread, cut a hole in the middle, get our cast iron skillet hot with some homemade lard (the store bought stuff is hydrogenated), then fry up the bread with the egg in the hole.

    We usually have some homemade yogurt with some berries as well. I think this breakfast keeps us more full than even a bowl of oatmeal.

    • @Adam, I like that Egg in a hat idea.

      It’s funny you mention oatmeal. I love oatmeal, but my kids keep telling me they get hungry fairly quickly after eating it, I always thought it was supposed to “stick.” But maybe not.

  19. Great post Stacy! I’ve been thinking that I need to do better with breakfast for myself and kids lately, and I like having all these ideas in one place! Can’t wait to try those pancakes!
    I would also add that plain yogurt with fresh or frozen fruit and a drizzle of honey is one of our favorite breakfasts and another good source of protein.

    • @Emily @ Live Renewed, Thanks Emily!

      I’m glad you added yogurt with fruit. That is one of my favorite breakfasts or snacks. I like to add nuts to up the protein. My favorite combo: plain yogurt, dried blueberries and walnuts. Yum. A pity dried blueberries cost SO much!

  20. I can’t wait to try the pancakes! What a great idea! I have some extra cottage cheese I need to use so I may whip them up today. Have you ever tried freezing the pancakes- after they are cooked and cooled? Do they still taste good and have a nice texture once they are reheated? Thanks again for the creative recipe!

  21. I love eggs for breakfast..especially w/veggies mixed in. My kids love egg pancakes (similar to crepes)…6 eggs, 1 cup raw milk, 3 TBS. melted butter, 1 cup of fresh milled flour, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Basically mix the eggs up first and then the milk and butter, and last, add the flour and salt. Mix well and pour just enough to cover the bottom of a smaller pan….my kids love to fill w/fruit spread or syrup.

  22. Another way to add protein to pancakes, muffins, bread is to replace some of the flour with whey protein powder and add some wheat gluten. Almond flour is also a higher protein flour to add to your baked goods. I’ve made the pancakes with whey powder and some almond flour and my 4-year-old gobbles them up.

    • @Kara Nutt, I know that a lot of people love using whey protein powder. My only concern with it is that it is not a “whole” food, but rather one that has been removed from it’s original context. That just makes me a bit iffy about using it. Personally I would rather use something that is just naturally higher in protein. I think almond flour is a great choice, and we also like using coconut flour as well.

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