It's Better Breakfast Month!
September is National Better Breakfast Month. The reason for this special designation is to bring awareness to the idea that a good, balanced breakfast will boost metabolism, increase concentration, productivity and performance and generally make for a much healthier day. That is what the National Breakfast Month folks tell you. What they DON’T tell you is that they developed this special month just for me. Why? Well, as a lifelong foodie I find this difficult to admit, but---I am a breakfast skipper. There. I’ve said it.
Now that you have recovered from the shock, here’s the thing. It’s not that I don’t like “breakfast food”. I do. It’s not even that I don’t have time for a daily meal in the morning. I do. It’s more the fact that the idea of eating so soon after rising does not appeal to me. Most of all---I’m just not hungry.
Back in the day when I had to punch the clock, make the train or catch the school bus, I forced myself to at least eat something. Often it would be 6 or 8 hours until my next chance. A bowl of Cheerios, a piece of toast, a cup of tea. It would often leave me with a grumpy tummy and not a minute to spare. I realize now that I probably should have gotten up earlier, given myself more time, made better food choices. What it all formed into was a long-standing bad breakfast habit. A self-fulfilling prophesy. Eating in the morning wasn’t my thing.
Life is different now and my typical schedule is far from frantic. When I learned about Better Breakfast Month, I decided to try to make a new habit. If all they claim is true, I should be feeling better, working more productively and maybe even shedding a pound or two with a boosted metabolism. It has been 14 days. I haven’t quite made 14 breakfasts, but I am making an effort. I found a couple of recipes that are delicious and nutritious and easy to make ahead. That gives me limited excuses for being a skipper. The first recipe is a modern version of a porridge that Goldilocks would probably find “juuuuust right”. It is redolent with the warm Indian spices that we love in our chai tea and seem to start craving as the leaves begin to turn. The second recipe is a breakfast craze that is all over the Pinterest boards. Overnight oats are so incredibly versatile and variable that you might decide that they have a value way beyond just breakfast. Give them a try, and let me know what you think!
QUINOA and CHIA PORRIDGE with FRUIT
¾ cups quinoa, rinsed
2 cups milk (dairy, almond or your favorite milk)
½ cup water
5 Tablespoons chia seeds
2 Tablespoons sweetener (honey, maple syrup, agave, etc)
Pinch of sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon cinnamon (or more, if desired)
3 green cardamom pods (or more, if desired)
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ to 1 cup of raisins, dried cranberries or your favorite dried fruits
1 cup of chopped stone fruit (about 2 nectarines, peaches or your favorite stone fruit), divided
Toppings: the remaining chopped stone fruit, fresh figs, coconut flakes, almonds, walnuts or pecans, chopped
Rinse quinoa under cool water in a fine strainer for 30 seconds. Place rinse quinoa into a saucepan. Add all remaining ingredients for the porridge EXCEPT TOPPINGS to the saucepan and place on medium heat. Bring to a boil, turn the heat to the lowest setting and cover. Simmer until cooked, stirring every now and then to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. This should take about 15 minutes. Be sure to keep the heat low to prevent a boil over. Once cooked, remove the cardamom pods if you wish, add the toppings of your choice and serve warm, at room temperature or cold.
OVERNIGHT OATS WITH FRUIT
Makes 1 serving
½ cup old fashioned oats
½ cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
1 teaspoon chia seeds (optional)
1 heaping teaspoon honey (or sweetener of choice)
½ banana, mashed
½ nectarine, chopped
¼ cup blueberries
Optional toppings: Chopped nuts, shredded coconut, granola, additional fruit, ground flax seed, etc.
In a wide mouth 1-pint Mason jar, add oats, milk, chia seed (if using) and sweetener. Mix. On top of oat mix, layer banana, nectarine and blueberries. Do not mix. Cover jar and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. Before serving, stir together oats, fruit and any toppings.
Note: Mason jars make an easily portable container, but anything that can hold the amount of ingredients can be used such as Tupperware, bowls or even mugs. Juice or plain water may be substituted for the milk. Any fresh seasonal fruit can be added to the oats, and flavored accordingly. Chopped apples with cinnamon, bananas with crunchy peanut butter, even grated carrot with raisins, chopped pecans and maple syrup. Make it your own! Frozen fruit works equally well. This dish is meant to be enjoyed cold.