How breakfast became the most on-trend meal of the day

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Put down your pint of semi-skimmed and listen: uninspiring breakfasts are over.

Words: Georgie Lane-Godfrey and Kat Lister | Photography: Dennis Pedersen

Not long ago, breakfast was a rather mundane affair – a bowl of soggy cereal consumed while scrolling through The Huffington Post’s headlines or a charred piece of Warburtons as we dashed out the door. But for many women, these lacklustre meals are a distant memory. Discerning breakfasting is on the rise – as is the amount of time and money we’re investing into the first meal of the day.

According to The NPD Group, our spend on breakfast has increased by 31% compared to eight years ago. What’s more, it’s no longer a private affair, but a public one. In the year leading up to June 2016, people ate breakfast out an extra 107 million times than the same period eight years before. Meanwhile lunch was down by 80 million visits. That’s a lot of avocado on toast.

To date, ‘breakfast’ has been hashtagged on Instagram 53,941,170 times, outstripping ‘brunch’ by over 41k. While it might seem like semantics, the difference is clear for Anna Hansen, chef and founder of The Modern Pantry in London. “Brunch is a more leisurely affair; it takes longer and dishes tend to be more indulgent, so it’s usually reserved for weekends,” she says. “Breakfast takes place earlier, is more time-efficient and people tend to eat more healthily.”

Breakfast supremacy has been helped by the fact dishes are now more inventive, creative and surprising than ever, with the likes of congee porridge and acai bowls making regular appearances on pre-noon menus. All of which makes it the ideal opportunity to make your weekday work harder by scheduling a business meeting over a chia pot. Michael Zee, founder of Instagram hit @symmetrybreakfast, which has a 660,000-strong following, agrees: “People have less time, so we’re constantly asking ourselves how to extend our lives to fit more in. Breakfast is a way to do that, especially following the millennial shift towards wellness. Boozy five-hour lunches are on the decline.”

Miles Kirby, co-founder of London restaurant empire Caravan, has also noticed professionals making the switch from lunch to breakfast meetings. “At breakfast there’s less pressure to drink, making it more productive. Consequently, the UK dining scene is putting more emphasis on breakfast to tap into this market. There’s now more choice than ever before, with global influences from Turkey to LA to Japan.”

From butternut squash waffles to kimchi pancakes, wellness is a significant driving force when it comes to breakfast’s rise. “People are looking for healthier ways to start their day,” explains Hansen. “Our most popular breakfast dishes are quinoa porridge and grilled grapefruit.”

Focusing on breakfast is also a public relations exercise, says Zee. “Showing we’re able to get up at 6am and make an extra hour to eat something delicious is a sign that we’re efficient.” Hello, halo effect.

Clearly, breakfast is for power players. From innovative recipes to the top places for your next meeting, here’s what you need to know about the most important meal of the day...

Catch that worm

Why 8am is the best time to do business

While breakfast meetings are an ideal way of maximising our time they are perfectly timed to do business biologically, too. Thanks to a heady mix of hormones pumping through veins in the mornings, we’re more likely to achieve our goals.

Researchers at Monash University in Australia have found that testosterone levels in women peak in the morning. Testosterone is a key factor in making you feel energised, focused, competitive and confident – everything needed to make negotiations a whole lot easier over huevos rancheros than at lunch.

Alongside testosterone, according to Professor Angela Clow from the University of Westminster, early risers have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol than their late-rising counterparts. While this might sound negative, in reasonable amounts, cortisol can help your brain to focus and facilitate creativity. The best way to boost this? Order brain foods such as nuts, seeds and wholegrains and turn that stress into a weapon rather than a weakness.

The early bird

Getting up early is also proven to have a positive effect on your productivity levels. Research conducted by a Texas University discovered that students who woke up early every day scored better exam results than their lethargic counterparts. In fact, these early risers’ grades were a full point higher on average, proving you’re more likely to achieve first thing.

Making the most of your morning has a significant impact on your mood, too. According to a survey published by the American Psychological Association, early risers are consistently happier than night owls, so you can expect to be in the best frame of mind for diplomatic dealings with clients. In 2010, Harvard biologist Christoph Randler found that a higher percentage of morning people had a go-getting mentality, identifying with empowered phrases like “I feel in charge of making things happen” more than night owls.

So if soft-shell crab with chorizo and kimchi fried rice, as served at London’s Granger & Co, isn’t enough to get you out of bed, remember that, in terms your career and productivity, breakfast definitely isn’t a meal to skip.

Eight places where breakfast means business

The morning menus at these venues will add a delicious edge to any early meeting


50 Baker St, London W1U;

One of 2016’s hottest openings, Yosma’s minimal interiors give a professional vibe, while the Istanbul dishes keep things relaxed. Order the Turkish platter (£15, above) of fig jam, freekeh toast, salad and kasar cheese.

Evelyn’s Café

G18 Smithfield Building, Tib Street, Manchester M4;

Order the virtuous Green Bowl (£7.50, above) to show your good intentions in and out of the office at this industrial chic cafe with hanging plants and exposed brick walls.


3A St Andrew Square, Edinburgh EH2;

Paying elegant homage to the old Irani cafes of Bombay, the menu has an Asian twist. Pick the bacon naan roll (£5.50) or the Kejriwal, fried eggs on chilli cheese toast (£5.50).

The Greedy Pig

58 North Street, Leeds LS2;

With just 16 seats, this cosy spot makes for a relaxed, intimate meeting. Go for black pudding, chilli broccoli and egg, or pumpkin, feta and savoury granola sourdough (£7.50).

Berners Tavern

10 Berners Street, London W1T;

Perfect for grown-up gravitas, Berners Tavern is a place to impress. On the menu from Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton, try the hazelnut waffles with berries (£8).

Jesmond Dene House

Jesmond Dene Road, Newcastle NE2;

Those in the know schedule breakfast at this rather-grand-yet-cool boutique hotel. May we suggest the haggis and duck egg with salsa verde (£18 with a continental buffet).

Cafe Gandolfi

64 Albion Street, Glasgow G1;

With local produce, from Stornoway black pudding with pancake and mushrooms (£8.20) to Aberdeen smoked haddock (£16), this cafe is a real taste of Scotland.


39 Upper Gardner Street, Brighton BN1;

One of the UK’s first zero-waste restaurants, Silo is both edgy and ethical. Take a seat on an upcycled crate and try the quinoa porridge with cacao nibs and hazelnut milk (£6).

Make your own power breakfast

Here’s how to assemble four of the biggest breakfast trends of 2017 (sorry Snap, Crackle and Pop)

Golden shakshuka

Ingredients (Serves 2)
Olive oil
2 onions, sliced
2 yellow peppers, sliced
1⁄2 tsp ground cumin
1⁄2 tsp ground turmeric
1⁄2 tsp dried thyme
1⁄2 tsp ground coriander
1⁄2 tsp harissa
300g yellow cherry tomatoes, chopped
2 garlic cloves, ground with 1⁄2 tsp salt
2 eggs
Fresh parsley


Step 1: Add a drizzle of oil to a frying pan and fry the onion for 5-10 minutes. Add the pepper, herbs and spices and stir to coat.

Step 2: Add the tomatoes and garlic paste and fry over a low heat for a further 15 minutes.

Step 3: Make two hollows in the mixture and crack an egg into each. Cook over a low heat for 10 minutes, or until the eggs are set. Serve in bowls with fresh parsley.

From Bowls Of Goodness by Nina Olsson (£18.99, Kyle Books)

Matcha overnight oats

Ingredients (Serves 2)
80g rolled oats
2 tsps chia seeds
375ml almond milk
1 tsp matcha powder
2 pinches of cinnamon
1 tsp honey
1 apple, chopped
1 tsp pumpkin seeds
1 handful of mixed nuts


Step 1: The night before, place the oats and chia seeds into a bowl or container.

Step 2: In a jug, add 1 tbsp of the milk to the matcha, whisk to a paste, then add the rest of the milk. Pour over the oats, then stir in the cinnamon and honey. Cover and pop in the fridge overnight.

Step 3: When ready to eat, transfer the mix to bowls and top with the apple, seeds and nuts.

From The Book of Matcha by Louise Cheadle and Nick Kilby of Teapigs (£18.99, Jacqui Small)

Charcoal pancakes

Ingredients (makes 10 pancakes)
200g plain flour
8g baking powder
14g icing sugar
3 egg yolks
130g milk
65g buttermilk
50g double cream
50g melted butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
2g-4g activated charcoal powder
3 egg whites


Step 1: Sift the flour, baking powder, a pinch of salt and icing sugar into a bowl. Add the yolks, milk, buttermilk and cream, and whisk well. Stir in the butter and vanilla, then whisk in the charcoal.

Step 2: In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, then fold into the batter.

Step 3: Add a ladleful of batter at a time to a non-stick frying pan and cook over a medium heat until the upper side is bubbling. Flip and repeat, then serve.

By Alex Head,

Green powder bowl

Ingredients (Serves 1)

For the bowl:
1 large banana
2 large handfuls of fresh spinach
120g frozen edamame beans
Juice of 1⁄4 lemon
1 tsp wheatgrass powder
150g unsweetened soy yoghurt

For the toppings:
3 tbsps fresh berries of your choice
1 tsp chia seeds
1 tsp cacao nibs
1 tsp desiccated coconut
1 tsp bee pollen


Step 1: Chop up the banana, reserving a few slices for the topping, and blitz with all the ingredients for the bowl in a high-speed blender.

Step 2: Pour into a bowl and arrange your toppings to create your very own smoothie bowl art.

From Porridge: Oats + Seeds + Grains + Rice by Anni Kravi (£12.99, Quadrille)