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How to cook a healthy Scottish breakfast

Looking for a healthier way to cook a Scottish breakfast? Here's some handy tips

Published: July 28, 2015

Ah, the Scottish breakfast, like the cooler, tastier older brother to the full English. Compromising of most of the same principle elements, with the addition of the geometric delight that is the square sausage - generally substituted in for the English style link - alongside everybody's favourite journeyman, the potato scone and the much loved black pudding.

A true feast of iconic Scottish foodstuffs to greet you in the morning, enough to bring a tear of joy to any Scot's eye.

The only problem? It's not often the healthiest way to start the day. In fact the average fried Scottish breakfast comes in at around 1000 calories and a whopping 50-60g grams of fat. When compared with the recommended saturated fat daily intakes on the NHS website - 30g for a man and 20g for a woman - and add that to the daily intake levels for calories, which  are around 2500 and women 2000,  this means you are taking in just over a half of the calories, and around twice as much fat as our daily recommendations.

So, perhaps it is best to save the Full Scottish as a treat for one of your weekend mornings.


With that in mind we decided to take a look at possible ways of cooking a healthier Scottish breakfast:

Graeme Pallister, chef patron of 63 Tay Street in Perth,  believes cooking a healthier breakfast shouldn't be a chore: "In Scotland we sometimes feel the need for a breakfast to be a little more substantial than a bowl of muesli , whether it's a 'morning after' requirement or just because of our dark cold mornings for most of the year.

"A good fry up is often on top of our list. These days you really have to have your head buried in the sand not to realise having a full Scottish every morning isn't going to do your health much good in the long term. However a good full cooked breakfast is a great way to start the day."

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Here's Graeme's healthy breakfast tips:

• From time to time remove the sausage and bacon and have more grilled vegetables and eggs.

Grilled vegetables. Picture: Wikimedia

Grilled vegetables. Picture: Wikimedia

• A big flat mushroom grilled with a little Worcestershire sauce has a wonderful meaty flavour and makes an excellent substitute for a fat filled sausage.

• Eggs are a wonderful source of nutrients so have 2 lightly fried in olive oil, brown bread again fried in olive oil with some grilled tomatoes.

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Lightly fried eggs and toast. Picture: Flickr


Graeme also adds: "Recent studies have proved our happiness and well-being starts from our stomach and having lots of live cultures busily keeping our immune systems and bodily functions at a max level helps us maintain high energy levels, this in turn creates the correct food choices throughout the day. A great way to aid this to have a live yoghurt full of probiotics each morning and what better way to enjoy it than with Scottish berries full of antioxidants and minerals. So a little extra care in the morning will set you up for the day and not have you reaching for any unhealthy options by mid-morning."

Craig Wood Chef patron of the Wee Restaurant in North Queensferry also agrees that a muesli or porridge can be a great alternative: "One of my favourite breakfast dishes was a dish shown to me by the legendary chef Anton Mossiman. He came onboard the Royal Scotsman for a special tour when I worked there and cooked with us for a couple of days for the lucky guests onboard!

"Every day he prepared a bircher muesli - a Swiss, healthy breakfast dish. He didn't really have a recipe for this dish, instead he assembled it using whatever fruit we had onboard each morning. But as a rough guide, soak some large chunky oats in a little cold water overnight, then in the morning fold in a couple of spoonfuls of yoghurt, grated apple, some honey, a pinch of sugar, some chopped hazelnuts and top with some seasonal fruits and berries. Play around with ingredients until you get a result you like. It should be quite wet, and not stodgy!

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"Or, if you want something hot, I would suggest that you simply sauté a few fresh Scottish girolle mushrooms - they’re in season at the moment - in a little salted butter with a turn of fresh black peppermill. Serve on some toasted chunky bread toasted and top with a few rocket leaves."

"Get it right and it can be a healthy meal," said Dr Carrie Ruxton, an independent registered nutritionist, in a recent interview.

"A grilled breakfast with beans, tomatoes and a glass of juice will give you three of your five daily recommended fruit and vegetable portions, and the high protein content is increasingly recognised as a key factor in satisfying hunger."

Perhaps it is time for us to take a leaf our of our ancestor's books and return to eating porridge. Often written about as a superfood with its near mythical ability to keep you full well into the afternoon, porridge can also provide you the energy to get you through the day.

Porridge can be an enjoyable way to get your daily dose of oats. Picture: Pixabay

Porridge can be an enjoyable way to get your daily dose of oats. Picture: Pixabay

In 1909 distinguished physician Sir James Crichton-Browne wrote: “There is one kind of food, that is helpful to the brain and to the whole body, throughout childhood and adolescence, and that is oatmeal. Oats are the most nutritious of cereals, being richer than any other in fats, organic phosphorus and lecithins. . . . At one time it was the mainstay of the Scottish peasants’ diet and produced a big-boned, well-developed and mentally energetic race.”

Oats are packed with vitamin B, folic acid, protein (6 grams per cup), manganese, and magnesium, as well as other minerals. Best of all you can add fruit like bananas and berries which can help with a natural sugar boost. Oats also tend to take longer to processed within your body, providing a slower release of energy.

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.

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