Good morning. It is a gorgeous and sunny Saturday here in Washington – work beckons though, but first an ode to breakfast.
As I mentioned earlier this week, I am participating in the the Food Network’s Healthy Eats blog January Healthy Every Week Challenge. The idea is to get started on a healthier 2012, one week at a time. This week’s challenge is to eat breakfast daily.
I love breakfast. I am completely biased towards breakfast. I cannot think of a time in my life where I did not eat breakfast. I used to eat it on my way to or when I got to work, but I realized in the last few years that it is worth taking a few minutes to eat before I leave. I feel more grounded that way. Of course, while that is the ideal, it is not always the reality – sometimes breakfast is a smoothie to-go or, on a particularly disorganized day (read, the kind where you get an email at 8am and realize it would totally help you out to be at work within 20 minutes rather than your usual 9am-ish arrival) a Lara bar, or an apple and some nuts.
I have to admit I am also a little bit judgey about breakfast – meaning I do not understand people who do not eat it. I know, isn’t that awful? Breakfast is an intrinsic part of my morning happiness, physically and emotionally, even when it is only 2 minutes of eating it at the kitchen counter and I am totally perplexed when people do not eat it, whether at home or at work or school. It is one of the few things I have actually actively encouraged my husband to do over the years. I am sure he still remembers how horrified I was when we first met and he told me he rarely ate breakfast … yes, I am that person when it comes to breakfast. I know,i I know, everyone is different and some people swear breakfast does not work for them, but deep down, I feel like the world would be a better place if everyone ate breakfast every day.
The irony of this is that I am so not a perky morning person (though morning exercise occasionally makes me that person, which is totally unsettling, but that’s a story for another day). The thought of preparing anything that involves chopping or turning on the oven or stove in the morning makes me want to go right back to sleep – also, it is probably better if I do not use any major appliances that early from a safety standpoint – I am not JL who bakes tofu at 6am for her lunch that day (and can we admire how awesome her lunchbox looks) . For years, I was a yogurt-for-breakfast person – I was the person buying Greek yogurt before it became popular. Maybe an English muffin with a hard-boiled egg. The thought of fruit made me mildly ill then. I would have phases of eating cottage cheese with Wasa crackers too.
Obviously, if you look around this blog, you can tell that my breakfast changed a lot since then – I no longer eat gluten, dairy or eggs (mainly for food allergy reasons, but at this point I would not eat dairy even if I could, and I do not miss eggs anymore), and I also have focused on increasing the nutrient density and satiety factor of my breakfasts, in addition to always eating foods I enjoy.
The one thing that has remained unchanged? My need to not wield knives, turn on stoves or do anything complicated. Somehow the blender is ok, but that’s because it is just about assembling and turning it on and off. I own a Vitamix which really is easier to clean up than a regular blender (a quick rinse is usually enough) but I used to be able to deal with a regular blender too in my half asleep state.
My solution relies on simple breakfasts that just require assembly or a bit of reheating:
- Smoothies, almost always served in a bowl if I am eating it at home – my absolute favorite is this Red, White and Blue Smoothie, but I also love the Super Quick Green Smoothie or using frozen zucchini pulp in raw cacao based smoothies. My one rule with smoothies is that they must include some green in them because the fiber does wonders for my satiety. Plus, I cannot taste the spinach in them.
- A sliced apple topped with no-sugar no-salt Sunbutter, some vanilla stevia and raw plain cacao nibs – this is my latest obsession. I love it so much that I even cut the apple myself sometimes – somehow that is not too complicated for me in the morning. I will add that lately I have been seeing sweetened cacao nibs being sold – I much prefer the plain ones for a variety of reasons.
- Chia pudding – there are so many combinations (sometimes I eat two kinds side by side). While I love my Almond Banana Chocolate Chia Pudding, I usually check out Gena’s blog for chia ideas – she has a whole page of chia puddings. I usually substitute stevia for any dates or other sweetener – I love this variation, minus the banana and topped with frozen blueberries. The beauty of chia puddings is you can assemble them the night before. When I make the Pumpkin Chia Pudding recipe, I often use a whole can of pumpkin and triple the recipe and have chia pudding for several days.
- Overnight oats – I enjoy those (there are so many versions out there) but tend to prefer chia puddings for satiety.
- Tofu scramble – I love a good tofu scramble for dinner, but always save some to have as breakfast a couple of days later. This Comforting Tofu Tahini Scramble is my latest favorite, and I love the Creamy Basil Pesto Scramble from Ricki’s ebook Good Morning. Both are easy to reheat in the microwave.
- Tempeh hash – Speaking of Ricki’s ebook, I also love the tempeh hash recipe in that book. As with tofu scramble, I usually eat some for dinner and save some for breakfast. Yes, I microwave that too.
- Gluten-free oatmeal – my husband loves oatmeal, so we make it at night, and reheat in the microwave with some unsweetened almond milk in the morning. I usually add chia seeds and cinnamon to mine, and some almond butter and/or frozen raspberries.
- Dinner leftovers – I like savory breakfasts, so have no problem eating some dinner leftovers in the morning, or even kale salad. That often happens when I am rushed. Quinoa dishes are particularly good for that.
- A roasted sweet potato (roasted before-hand) reheated in the microwave, with almond butter and/or cacao nibs and/or vanilla stevia.
- Leftover plain quinoa with almond milk, chia seeds and berries
- An apple and/or some raw cashews and/or a Lara bar– this is my usual to-go option if I do not have time to make a smoothie.
- Gluten-free vegan toast or a tortilla, with almond butter
So there you have it, lots of breakfast ideas. The above options are all vegan and gluten-free and very delicious (though, I admit, things like chia pudding require a bit of a palate adjustment for some). Heather of Gluten-Free Cat just did a great post on breakfast, and I love this breakfast post by Ricki as well – while it is geared to those on the anti-candida diet, I found lots of great ideas there as as well, just like in Ricki’s ebook.
And before I go, a note on green juice, as I know many people ask me about how I incorporate juice into my busy schedule. I do drink it some mornings. I juice at night, using this juicer and tighly sealing the juice in completely-filled-up jars and storing in the refrigerator for up to two or three days (I use a lot of lemon juice to help preserve the juice too). I do not consider juice to be enough for breakfast for me, so days I drink green juice, I usually follow it up with a serving of chia pudding or the apple and sunbutter combination. The only difference might be that I pick a smaller apple, or share it with my husband, or eat half to two thirds of a serving of chia pudding. I drink green juice 2-3 mornings a week – this week less, I only had it yesterday, and only because I was near a juice bar and purchased it as a late morning snack. My goal is to have 16oz of a raw green beverage (whether a green smoothie, green juice or a raw soup) every single day as I find it does wonders for my energy level and digestion, but it is not set in stone that I must have it in the morning. And yes, a smoothie with chocolate counts, as long as it has spinach in it.
Bottom line though, unless I make a smoothie (which takes about ten minutes to make it and clean the blender), breakfast takes me under two minutes of preparation in the morning. I promise, it is do-able.