Cereal and milk? Eggs and bacon? Black coffee only? Breakfast habits vary widely from person to person. I always wake up hungry and need a substantial breakfast to get me throught the morning. Other people swear if they eat in the morning they are ravenous all day and thus avoid breakfast. Another group needs a couple of hours to fully wake up before they put something in their stomach.
If you think of the body in terms of fuel and energy, logic would tell you that you need to "break the fast" after a night's sleep with no fuel since dinner. If you eat dinner around 7 or 8, you typically have gone 10 hours or more with no fuel. So then the question is what to eat? Sweet or savory? Breakfast foods vary widely based on culture.
Japanese breakfast will usually include a bowl of miso soup, rice or rice porridge (called okayu), a piece of cooked fish and some pickled vegetables. Additionally bread, eggs, vegetables, natto or meat may also be included. And of course a cup of green tea. Doesn't look appealing to me….
An Indian breakfast may consist of steamed rice cakes with various condiments such as chutneys, sesame oil and spices; pancake-like food made from a batter of fermented rice and lentils, and sprinkled with finely chopped vegetables and spices; rice porridge with various toppings; and fruit.
In Ireland the typical breakfast may include sauages, eggs, bacon, cheese, beans, black pudding (blood sausage…yuck!), and tomatoes.
The typical American breakfast has eggs, bacon, waffles, hashbrowns….
The All American Grand Slam at Denny's has three scrambled eggs with Cheddar cheese, two bacon strips and two sausage links, plus hash browns and choice of bread. It comes in at a grand total of 950 calories, 78 fat grams, 26 of which are saturated! Although I am not big on counting calories, this is clearly too much food for one meal!
Breakfast cereal is a popular option, but most brands are highly processed, and are loaded with additives, not to mention sugar. Even those made with whole grains (I'm looking at you Cherrios!) are processed enough to be extruded through a machine to make those cute O's, and they have added sugar. Oatmeal is a great way to go. It is minimally processed and is full of nutrients including fiber, protein, magnesium, phosphorous, selenium, copper and manganese. The carbohydrates are slow burning, meaning they will take you time to digest, won't spike your blood sugar. The soluable fiber is good at reducing cholesterol. All of that AND it is warm, delicious, and satisfying. Packaged oatmeal in those tempting flavors (e.g. maple-brown sugar, or strawberries and cream) are no better than a packaged cereal in terms of added sugar and processing. Your best bet is to cook your own.
Rolled or old fashioned oats have been steamed and flattened, and cook quickly, in about 10 minutes. Instant oats are pre-cooked and dried and need only hot water to reconstitute. They are the most processed. Quick cooking oats are rolled thinner and are cut into pieces, and take a minute or two on the stove. Steel cut oats are cut into larger pieces and are rolled but not flattened. They take about 25 minutes to cook or can be done in a crock pot. They are the less processed, have a nice chewy consistency, and are delicious. We made a version in school on "Breakfast Grains Day" cooked in coconut milk with some dried strawberries, sweetened with a little maple syrup, and topped with fresh strawberries. The recipe can be scaled up or down (use that culinary math!), reheated leftover with a little added milk, and adapted to any kind of milk, sweetener, or dried fruit. This is an excellent way to start your day!
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Steel Cut Oats
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 - 30 minutes
Ingredients (4 servings)
- 2 cups of unsweetened milk (coconut, almond, diary)
- 2 cups of water
- 1 cup of steel-cut oats
- 1 tsp butter (optional)
- 2 - 4 Tbsp dried fruit (raisins, apricots, dried strawberries, apricots….)
- 2 tsp maple syrup, agave nector, honey or brown sugar
- Fresh fruit and chopped nuts for serving (optional)
- Maple syrup for drizzling
Combine the water, milk, and salt in a large saucepan. Heat to boiling. Slowly add the oats, stirring well. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the butter, dried fruit, and sweetener. Cover and simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking. Cook and stir until the oats are soft and the mixture is creamy.
Serve with fresh fruit, a drizzle of maple syrup, and nuts as desired.