Breakfast Bias

by Valerie on January 7, 2012 · 44 comments

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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.

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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

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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.

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Gena January 7, 2012 at 3:45 pm

You are right to be judgy! Breakfast is so important–sets the tone of the day, but nutritionally (ie, if you don’t eat enough, you’re like to overeat later) and emotionally (I often find that if I have a haphazard, rushed breakfast, I’m likely to *feel* harried for a few hours after).

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2 Valerie January 7, 2012 at 7:48 pm

SO true on setting the tone for the day on so many levels.

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3 Gena January 7, 2012 at 3:45 pm

that was BOTH, not BUT

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4 Jaclyn January 7, 2012 at 3:53 pm

I’m with you – I love breakfast and can’t imagine skipping it! If I don’t make time to eat breakfast I’m cranky and starving for the rest of the day. I’ve been meaning to try chia pudding for awhile and might have to give that a whirl this weekend!

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5 Valerie January 7, 2012 at 7:49 pm

I actually like chia pudding more than oatmeal or overnight oats now – some of it is flavor, but some of it is just the sheer ease of chia.

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6 MM Curator January 7, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Haha, I’m one of the non-breakfast eaters! I’m just not hungry in the morning – during the week I’m too tense to eat before or at work and even on the weekends I can’t force food down early in the day. Still, you have a lot of good ideas for breakfast and ones that are so easy/quick that someone as unorganized and lazy as I am could make them, so you may convert me yet. :)

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7 Valerie January 7, 2012 at 7:49 pm

You never know … :)

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8 Karlee @ BringingBackBalance January 7, 2012 at 6:32 pm

I agree, you are totally allowed to be judgy towards non-breakfast eaters. If I don’t eat a good breakfast, I can guarantee that I will over eat later in the day. To me it is a small investment with a huge health outcome :)

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9 Valerie January 7, 2012 at 7:49 pm

Indeed, there are so many reasons to love breakfast!

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10 bitt January 7, 2012 at 6:49 pm

I can understand just not being hungry at times, I often feel that way at lunch or dinner, but never first thing in the morning. The hour I have to wait after I take my thyroid meds until I eat is TORTURE! I love your ideas, I use many of them. My husband sets up his chia pudding the night before these days, even on days when he doesn’t have to go to work, just works from home.

I like your goal of a green drink a day, that’s something to work towards for me.

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11 Valerie January 7, 2012 at 7:51 pm

I started the green drink a day back in April of last year and I found it helped me get more consistent with making juice and smoothies. I have only skipped about two week’s worth of days since :)

And so true on that hour being torture. I am there with you.

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12 JL goes Vegan January 7, 2012 at 6:50 pm

I’m so with you on the importance of breakfast! In fact, it’s one of my bigger meals. Totally sets the tone for good eating throughout the day.

I don’t bake tofu every morning but you will find me up early most mornings do lots of food prep and, yes, sometimes it’s baking tofu or pressure cooking some beans! LOL

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13 Valerie January 7, 2012 at 6:57 pm

You reminded me, I do make beans in the rice cooker some mornings. But that can be done in my groggy state – I drain the soaked beans and put them in the rice cooker, add water, set the cooker, and leave for yoga or the gym while my husband begins his waking up routine.

And yes, breakfast is so important.

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14 Heather @Gluten-Free Cat January 7, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Thanks so much for mentioning my post! I’m going to link mine to yours too as you have TONS of fabulous ideas that we all have to try! I’m a judgy breakfast person too. But I’m the type who will wake up a few minutes early to have the perfect breakfast. I crave certain breakfast foods before bed and set the alarm accordingly. Yes, weird. :)

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15 Valerie January 7, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Heather – thank you for linking my post. Iam impressed by breakfast cravings dictating your wake-up times. I am more of the opposite – ie when I want to wake up/what else I want to do before work dictates what breakfast I plan on.

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16 Debbie January 7, 2012 at 8:26 pm

Hi, just found your blog after someone shared your link on FB. Thanks for the tips, brilliant ideas..i love green smoothies and nut butter combo’s for brekkie too. Thanks for more ideas though, you can never have too many healthy go-to breakfasts i say :-)

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17 Valerie January 7, 2012 at 9:51 pm

So glad you stopped by. Welcome!

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18 Maggie January 7, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Soooo many good breakfast ideas! I’ll be back next week when I’m sick of my tortilla and almond butter breakfast to-go! I too am shocked when someone says they don’t eat breakfast. Oh my, I wake up thinking of breakfast. I’m also tricked by those people who say they forgot to eat (insert meal). What? If I don’t eat my body starts to shut down quickly!

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19 Valerie January 8, 2012 at 12:45 am

It looks like many of us are Team Breakfast types :)

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20 Tara @ suchdifferentskies January 7, 2012 at 11:17 pm

Hi Valerie,
Awesome post. I consider myself a bit of a breakfast rockstar too. It is absolutely imperative to me, and I agree with Gena; if I have to rush breakfast I feel a little unsettled {sometimes even a little pissed off}.
Breakfast for me at the moment is a big bowl of oats cooked with date paste and raisins, then topped with rice milk, coconut butter, flax seeds, sesame seeds, buckwheaties, blueberries and bananas. I live it Whistler, so that gives me plenty of energy to hit the mountains.
I’m really enjoying your blog, and very happy I found it. Have a great weekend

Tara

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21 Valerie January 8, 2012 at 12:44 am

Love your breakfast – cold weather definitely requires hearty breakfasts. So glad you found my blog too!

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22 Lolita January 8, 2012 at 5:51 am

I love this post! I completely agree with you on the necessity of breakfast for mind body and soul. I too cannot begin to understand why people do not eat breakfast daily, let alone why they don’t love it as I do.
Great ideas and pictures – you truly can be so creative with that first meal of the day!

There is a quote that goes “All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast” (John Gunther) which to me I translate as all happiness depends on a nutritious and delicious breakfast. It really does set you up mentally and physically for the whole day ahead.

Great site by the way, i really enjoy what you have to say. I have just started up my own blog!

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23 Valerie January 8, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Glad the post resonated :)

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24 Lexi January 8, 2012 at 7:16 am

These are such wonderful and diverse ideas. I have recently been trying overnight oats and enjoying them but I think I may branch in to chia pudding this week as I have oodles of chia on hand. Thank you for all the wonderful suggestions.

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25 Valerie January 8, 2012 at 11:58 am

Something I did for a while for half oatmeal, half chia (as opposed to overnight oats which is like a 5 to 1 ratio in terms of oatmeal to chia) – I did not include it on the list because I like denser chia pudding puddings, but that’s also an idea :)

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26 Lexi January 9, 2012 at 1:19 am

Thank you for the suggestion. What does the consistency turn out like with a five to 1 ratio?

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27 Valerie January 9, 2012 at 1:24 am

The 5 to 1 ratio was a rough guesstimate of the ratio in most overnight oats recipes that I have seen (most have 5 to 8 tablespoons of oats and 1-2 tablespoons of chia seeds) as opposed to the 1:1 ratio (aka 50/50 I mentioned in the post).

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28 Lexi January 9, 2012 at 11:23 pm

Thank you so much for this. I tried it last night and it worked. I finally have chia oatmeal that I like and that has the consistency of pudding. Thank you, Valerie.

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