Stop eating sugar for breakfast!
Stop eating sugar for breakfast.
This seems like a crazy notion. Especially for a baker. I’m not saying give up sugar, just don’t start your day with it.
For a number of years I worked behind a desk. In the morning I got up, got ready, ate something sweet – including sweet tea, drove to work, sat at a computer, snacked on sugar, and watched my ass get wider.
Last year I got out from behind the desk and spent a lot more of my day on my feet. I’ve always bought in to the ‘you are what you eat’ mentality, on some level, but I always felt pretty good, so I didn’t worry about it. But when I kept my desk job eating habits and started working on my feet, I noticed a difference. I was exhausted!
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
I learned this lesson, really learned it, when I switched up what I ate for breakfast.
I grew up eating sugar for breakfast. Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies, and Frankenberry with added sugar to the top (because it was the 70s). White toast with jam or peanut butter – no brown toast in our house. Pop tarts! Does anyone else remember that in the 70s they suggested you top a pop tart with ice cream? It was right on the box. (Apparently I’m not the only one who remembers this, I did a google search and found hundreds of pics. This one was on Pinterest.) When I was a kid, I convinced my mother that a pineapple sundae was a healthy breakfast. Fruit…dairy…it all made sense to me.
So much sugar.
I never thought much about the sugar I was eating at breakfast until Thom pointed out to me that even my healthy granola and yogurt breakfast was sweet. I was shocked. To convince me, he bought a granola with much less sugar, and switched us up to plain yogurt. I really noticed a difference (so much so that I added a swirl of agave to the top. Oops…I guess that wasn’t the point).
Finally, this summer I found the perfect breakfast. Beans and dark leafy greens. I heard about it on a podcast called Gastropod. They had a whole breakfast episode. I know, beans and dark leafy greens doesn’t sound like breakfast, but you can add an egg on top. Or even a bit of bacon. Beans and dark leafy greens. Once I started eating this I had way more energy, was fuller longer, and was saving money, because hey, beans are cheap! Beans and dark leafy greens turned out to be the breakfast love of my life. And there is so much versatility. I can’t even really write a recipe, just guidelines because I switch it up every time.
So, here are the guidelines:
If you plan ahead soak dry beans and then cook them and always have them on the ready. Sometimes I remember to do this. If you don’t remember to plan ahead, just grab a can.
My favourites for breakfast are romano beans, white kidney beans, navy beans or black beans.
My favourite is Black/Tuscan Kale. When I can’t find that, I use regular kale, chard, arugula, or spinach.
As with most recipes, start with oil or butter (or both!) and an onion. Sautée till softened. Add some garlic, if you like garlic. I got local garlic recently in Thunder Bay at the Farmer’s Market. Local garlic is so much more flavourful than the bulbs that have been lingering in the grocery store. If you wanted bacon in there, begin with it and add the onion to the bacon fat.
Add whatever veggies you have on hand. Some of my faves are mushrooms, fennel, red pepper, cauliflower, and zucchini. But there are no wrong answer here. If you like and you have it on hand, put it in! I tend to add my veggies to the pan one at a time, starting with the hardest ones first (e.g. fennel before zucchini).
Then, add your beans. I rinse and drain the whole can but only add what I need for that meal and keep the rest in the fridge for the next breakfast.
Season. My go to seasonings for this dish are herbes de provence, sriracha, sea salt, and fresh ground pepper. Taste and adjust your seasonings till you are happy. Make yourself happy. Don’t worry about what I think. And use what you like and have on hand. If you don’t like it spicy, don’t add the sriracha. If you like it spicy and only have tobacco, use that. If you only have oregano and no other herbs, use that. Use what you like, and what you have. It’s breakfast. It’s too early to get stressed. Once that is all ‘cooking happy’ (I read that instruction once in a recipe for dahl and loved it!) then stir in your greens to wilt them. Once wilted, your dish is done. You can fry an egg to put on top with a final drop of hot sauce, or not. It’s your call. It’s your breakfast. If you like, make extra so you have some for tomorrow.
If you want a starch and you have rice, potatoes, or toast lying round, serve it with that. Or not. Whatever you like.
Make and eat this and you will feel fuller (but not gross and full) and feel healthy (have more energy). Sure, I still eat toast with Nutella for breakfast sometimes, but I feel way better when I start with a breakfast bowl.