Nourishments-'Up n' At 'em,' - It's Breakfast Time!
âUp nâ At âem,â â Itâs Breakfast Time!
By Nancy K. Crevier
I am a morning person, so it is no wonder that breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I react in total bewilderment to people who profess to not eat for hours after they have started the day.
My stomach wakes me up, growling, demanding food.
I have fond memories of less than nutritious, but soul-satisfying winter breakfasts that consisted of steaming hot chocolate â which my mother, even in her hurry to get ready for work, made from scratch â accompanied by a Pop Tart pastry, hot out of the toaster. In summer, the hot breakfast was traded in for dry cereal; no milk on my Cocoa Puffs, please. It only diluted the flavor.
Â âYou have to,â my mother insisted, âeat something in the morning.â Apparently, her mantra was imbedded in me, and it turns out, it was good advice.
Numerous studies over the years have supported the fact that breakfast is an important building block to good nutrition throughout the day. According to the Mayo Clinic website, breakfast not only reduces hunger pangs later in the day, but regular breakfast eaters tend to make healthier choices all day long.
Not eating breakfast, after a nighttime fast of several hours, can result in an increase in the bodyâs insulin response. In turn, that increases fat storage â not such a good thing for anyone trying to control his or her weight. The body longs to be refueled in the morning, and breakfast is an ideal way to keep glycogen levels even.
Who knew that a motherâs instincts were so on target?
In college, I was not averse to eating leftover chili for breakfast, or even a bowl of pickled beets. While unconventional, they were probably a better nutritional choice than my childhood favorites. Since lunch was very hit or miss in those days, a hearty lunch-like breakfast was probably wiser on my part than I even planned for it to be.
When I moved to Connecticut, I discovered bagels. And cream cheese. The combination became a standard for me, until I delved into baking, and supplanted that passion with homemade muffins. Giant, honey sweetened bran muffins, banana nut muffins, orange almond muffins, blueberry muffins, and even cappuccino muffins became my morning solace.
Putting together healthy breakfasts, once I had children, became a goal. âYou have to,â I insisted, âeat something in the morning.â
I tried to share my joie de vivre of morning meals with them. Whole grain pancakes and waffles, eggs any way you want them, and hot cereals sweetened with honey joined my muffin repertoire. It was easier, I admit, when they were young and pliable. Yogurt, granola, and fruit was always available, and at one point, there was a short-lived attempt on my part to keep a supply of hard boiled eggs on hand, for those teenage mornings when sleeping in trumped eating breakfast.
Vacation breakfasts have always been another affair. When not on the job, I can easily be talked into a multi-course meal to break the fast, starting out with a glass of (fresh squeezed) juice. Latte is next, of course. Follow that with fresh fruit â native, depending on where I am â and a few slices of exotically flavored tea bread.
Eggs of some sort are a required vacation breakfast component. Scramble them, poach them, fry them, or fashion them into an omelet filled with vitamin packed vegetables and tangy cheese, but be sure to supply a side of home fries and thick slabs of homemade bread. Raisin, please, or cinnamon swirl.
I know: whereâs the pork? Until recently, it was nearly impossible to find bacon made from humanely raised and slaughtered pigs, and nitrate free; and fakinâ bacon with a soy substitute was just wrong. But, I have not been able to reconcile eating the intelligent and kindly pig. So, breakfast meats have been one of those morning foods I eschewed.
In a tiny restaurant on Deer Isle, Maine, though, friends and I delved into a side dish of some pretty exquisite chicken sausages one morning. They were pricey per bite, but admittedly memorable.
My weekday breakfast in recent years has become almost a ritual. Hot coffee lightened with soy milk, and peanut butter (preferably with my sisterâs homemade jam, or local honey) on whole grain bread, or a bowl of maple sweetened oatmeal and walnuts, gets me out the door in winter. The warmer months find me craving yogurt with fruit and nuts. Occasionally, Iâll go crazy and make an egg sandwich, or substitute granola and fruit for my peanut butter sandwich. And I do break up the routine for my birthday and certain holidays, when I find no remorse in having chocolate cake for breakfast.
Breakfasts have morphed, for me, but have never lost their attraction. I know that I am eating better now than those frosty mornings of Pop Tarts and Nestleâs. But the nourishment lost in those sugar-laden, low fiber, high fat breakfasts, I know, was offset by the nourishment of love stirred into each cup of cocoa my mother served.
And that, I think, is why I love breakfast.
Vegetable Brie Omelet
2 jumbo eggs
2 Tbs milk
2-3 oz Brie cheese, room temperature
Â¼ C diced broccoli sautÃ©ed lightly with 2 Tb minced onion
2 Tbs diced roasted red bell pepper (patted dry)
3 Tbs minced cooked spinach
1 Tbs fresh minced basil
Â¼ tsp crushed dried pepper
Whisk eggs and milk thoroughly in small bowl. Melt 1 to 2 tablespoons butter in an omelet pan until bubbly. Pour eggs in and whisk briefly. When set on the bottom â less than a minute âÂ jiggle pan to loosen eggs.
Place brie, vegetables, and seasonings on top half closest to you, jerk the pan sharply toward yourself to flip the eggs over it all and continue cooking until set.
Alternately, place just the brie and seasonings in eggs. Serve with the cooked vegetables on top of the omelet. Makes one omelet.
A large slice of toasted, homemade bread with jam is a great side.
Sweet Potato Homefries
4 medium sweet potatoes, cooked just until tender, cut into 1-inch chunks
Â½ C minced onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
salt and pepper
Â½ tsp dill
Â½ tsp caraway seed
Heat a griddle until very hot, add 1 tablespoon canola oil.
Cook onions and garlic until just turning translucent. Add sweet potato pieces.
Cook, stirring often, until potatoes and onions are lightly browned.
Sprinkle dill and caraway over and stir.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve hot with warm maple syrup or chipotle pepper ketchup (1 tablespoon chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and Â½ teaspoon ground cumin stirred into 1 cup ketchup).