Your mother told you to always a eat a good breakfast, and as in so many other things, she was right. Breakfast is the meal of champions, simply stated. Nothing makes more sense than to fill up your tank first thing in the day so that you have the energy you need to spend (and use up) on your daily activities. You wouldn’t sit around in a freezing cold house all day and then build a fire right before going to bed, would you? Yet, many of us Americans do just that with our diet – little if no breakfast, quick on the run lunch (if any), and then a whopping giant meal or lots of snacking just when we need the calories the least (right before bed). This loads our system down with calories that don’t end up being used (and are more likely to be stored as fat), and burdens the body with metabolic activity when it should be focusing on repair and detoxification work. Our health, energy and mood would be greatly improved if we just added this one simple meal back into our day and ate food when we actually needed it.
But what we choose to eat for breakfast is just as important as if we choose to eat it at all. Anytime a person comes to me in clinic complaining of fatigue and poor energy, I start out by asking them what they generally eat for breakfast. Majority of the time, the answer is something high in refined carbohydrates (cereal, toast, bagel, etc). The problem there is that refined carbohydrates just don’t sustain – they’re broken down and enter the bloodstream rather quickly – leading to a spike in blood sugar followed by a rapid plummet that leaves us feeling lethargic and moody far before lunch. When do most of these people experience fatigue? Mid-morning, and late afternoon – just a few hours after heavily carbohydrate loaded meals leave them with plummeting blood sugar levels.
The key to a good breakfast is protein and complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates and protein both have in common the property of slowing the process of digestion and breaking down very slowly into usable energy – sustaining you for far longer and promoting more balanced and sustained energy levels. For that reason, bacon and eggs is actually a more healthful choice than a bowl full of fruit when it comes to sustaining your energy throughout the day.
But let’s take it one step further. If you really want to start of on the right foot, why not select the best quality most vital foods to start off your day? Foods that contain healthy anti-inflammatory fatty acids and the micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients) that your body truly needs to function most optimally and prevent disease. Eating vital food is what truly creates vitality in you! So don’t just eat an egg – eat an egg from a free-range, pasture raised hen with a shining bright orange yolk and lots of vitamin A, omega 3 fatty acids and carotenoids! Don’t choose high fiber cereal from a box that has been significantly processed and altered from its natural state (damaging fragile nutrients and fatty acids), choose whole grains like oats or quinoa that supply lots of B vitamins and micronutrients! And most importantly, throw in some fruits and vegetables to the mix to boost the nutrient value of your breakfast and provide antioxidant, disease fighting phytonutrients.
So now that you are in the breakfast eating spirit, ready to join in on the meal of champions, here are some recipes to get you started. These recipes feature the protein and complex carbs to sustain your energy, and the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients from fresh, vital fruits and vegetables. Just to note, when you first begin to incorporate breakfast into your day, you might find your digestion and appetite a little lacking after years of adjusting to not eating. You might try sipping hot water with minced fresh ginger first thing in the morning to prime that digestive fire and get your appetite roaring – after several weeks I think you’ll find your body has adapted to the new rhythm just fine.
Scrambled Greens with Egg, Feta, and Salsa
I call this scrambled greens because it has more greens than egg – providing lots of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants to really bolster your health. A sprinkle of feta and a generous serving of salsa makes this a delicious breakfast! Feel free to add as many veggies as you like – a little minced garlic or shallots would be a nice choice or substitute broccoli for the greens. Serve with a side of grass-fed bacon and a piece of whole grain toast.
Heat the oil in a pan until a drop of water sizzles. Add the eggs and immediately toss in the greens. Gently fold the greens into the eggs until the eggs are just cooked and the greens are softened and brightly colored. Sprinkle the feta into the egg and stir until incorporated, then serve piping hot topped with salsa.
Wholegrain Oatmeal with Blueberries, Cream and Almonds
This oatmeal is made from WHOLE oats – known as oat groats – which ensures that important nutrients and fatty acids are preserved. Blueberries provide antioxidant flavonoids while almonds and cream from grass fed cows provide heart healthy fats, calcium and protein.You’ll need to plan the night ahead for this because the oats need to be soaked.
1 cup oat groats, soaked overnight with water to cover and 1 tsp yogurt or vinegar
2 cups water
1/2 cup blueberries, frozen or fresh
1/4 cup chopped almonds
2-3 tbl fresh ground flax (optional for added omega 3s)
Cream to taste
Butter to taste
Maple syrup, honey or agave to taste
Soak the oats overnight, or for at least 8 hours. In the morning, strain the oats and place them in food processor or blender with 2 cups of fresh water. Process until the oats are well broken up and then transfer to a small saucepan. Heat the oats until thickened (5 or 10 minutes) to your desired consistency. If frozen, place the blueberries in the bottom of your bowl, and pour the hot oatmeal on top. Add a small pad of grass fed butter, a drizzle of cream (grass fed of course!), and a drizzle of maple syrup. Top with almonds and freshly ground flax and enjoy!
Quinoa Porridge with Coconut Pecan Marmalade
Quinoa is one of the highest grain sources of protein, and contains lots of iron and B vitamins. Coconut, while high in saturated fat, contains medium chain fatty acids that the body metabolizes directly for energy and does not contribute to high cholesterol or heart disease. It also contains lauric acid, which supports immune function.
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/3 chopped and toasted pecans
1/3 toasted coconut
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 T agave nectar or maple syrup, or to taste
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
Place the quinoa in a saucepan with the water and bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook until the water is mostly absorbed and the quinoa has become fluffy and increased in volume. To make the marmalade, toast the pecans in the oven at 350 for 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Toast the coconut in a saucepan until it becomes golden and fragrant. Add the pecans, coconut milk, sweetener and vanilla to the pan and cook until it begins to steam. To serve, pour the quinoa into a bowl and top with the marmalade.
On the Run Chocolate Banana Smoothie
Since we don’t always have the time we would like to luxuriate in breakfast, here is a quick recipe that you can make in 5 minutes or less.
1 cup milk of choice (grass fed cow’s milk, hemp milk, almond etc)
4 T raw cocoa powder
2-3 T almond butter
2-3 T freshly ground flax
Pop everything into the blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Note: Flax can be ground in a coffee grinder and stored in the fridge for 2-3 days.
I have a question about the Wholegrain Oatmeal recipe. When the cup of oats is soaking overnight with the teaspoon of yogurt, have you added any water at this point? Is the single teaspoon enough to wet the whole cup of oats?
Hi Nancy! Thanks for your question – I guess I forgot to add in that important piece of information! You do soak the oats in enough water to cover with 1 tsp of yogurt added to that. In the morning, drain the water off and use fresh water for cooking. I’m sorry for my lack of clarity there – it must have been quite a mystery to you how 1 tsp of yogurt was going to soak an entire cup of oats
The Teacup Chronicles is a seasonally minded blog about health and wellness, written by a clinical herbalist and self proclaimed kitchen witch. It contains herb-lore, delicious recipes, dietary suggestions and more to encourage vibrant health, balance and delight in every season. Grab a cup of tea, pull up a chair and join me in exploring just how gratifying and delicious cultivating good health can be.