EWS Field Trip: Street Food Breakfast

So, I just wrote an article for Shanghai Family on getting kids off to a good start with a healthy breakfast.  I personally LOVE breakfast and find it is the number two thing that gets me out of bed in the morning (the first is coffee).  My girls eat like lumberjacks in the morning – smoothies, french toast/pancakes/waffles, yogurt and sometimes fruit.   My older daughter is not so keen on her school lunch (that is my next article!) so she loads up on lots of good nutrients first thing in the morning – a dairy, a fruit, some fiber and hydration.

But, I am certainly looking at breakfast from a Western perspective so my awesome neighbor and fellow dietitian Margaret Keefe and I hit the market at Jianhe Lu to check out what is available on the street for breakfast.  Here are some tasty, healthy, quick and cheap breakfasts if you are on the go around town:

1)  Fruit!  Of course, peelable fruit, such as bananas, oranges or right now, try pomelos, make a great quick breakfast, adding fiber, hydration (water) and some key minerals and vitamins (including vitamin C in the citrus, a key antioxidant for fighting some of the free-radical damage done by air pollution).  If you find a fresh fruit smoothie stall, keep an eye on their cleanliness since fresh juice can often be the source of some food-borne illnesses such as salmonella.


2) Street pancakes – These yummy pancakes made with a light outside flour dough, a cracked egg, some veggies, cilantro, a spicy sauce and sometimes meat make a tasty and pretty healthy breakfast.  Margaret’s key tip for these, and all street food, is to go early and go with the crowd.

street pancake1

street pancake2

3) Tea eggs – Hard-boiled eggs cooked in tea make a fast and tasty protein-rich breakfast.  I’m not sure how great the health benefit from the tea is, but if it does soak in, you are getting extra anti-cancer benefits, along with a good source of protein. 

tea eggs

4)  Veggie buns – How cool are these?  Veggies and tofu for breakfast!  Although they are wrapped in a white flour bun that can cause a blood sugar spike (although mixed with protein and fiber, the effect is less), they are low in fat and high in nutrients and a convenient way to get in veggies first thing in the morning.

veggie buns

All of these are great choices, keep your eyes out for some of the not as good choices.  Oh, you know them when you see them.  They are the ones that are deep fried, covered with sugar or stuffed with pork.  They smell and taste really really good, but all that oil can lead to high blood cholesterol and other cardiac risk factors and you may end up here!