Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Breakfast-My favorite meal of the day! Post # 1

I love carbs. The Atkins and South Beach diet crazes came and went and I sat there contentedly munching on homemade muffins and bread. I never did understand how bacon and eggs could ever be considered healthier breakfast options than a piece of multi-grain toast or an innocent apple. After all, we need carbohydrates like a car needs gas. Without complex carbohydrates running through our bodies, our brains don't function correctly and we get all cranky. I think Foamy the Squirrel says it more eloquently than I.

It is for these reasons that breakfast is my favorite meal, for it is at breakfast time that I really load up on whole grains, a great source of complex carbohydrates. They fill you up, they are delicious and you can make all kinds of yummy things with them. Add some fruit or veggies (more carbs!) and some lean protein and you are ready to go!

In the name of whole grains, I have decided to do a mini-series of posts celebrating breakfast. There will be many a recipe, I promise. In fact, if you actually came here looking for something to cook, just scroll down to the bottom of this post. But first, let me bore you with some needless back history. I was a lucky kid. Growing up on a farm, my family ate breakfast together (and lunch and dinner too). Because high cholesterol runs in the family, we didn't eat many eggs over easy, or chow down on crispy bacon. Instead, we normally consumed what I later discovered is a very European-style meal.

Most days we would start our day with toast cooked on the griddle on our wood stove (we didn't have a toaster because where would we have plugged it in?), served with jam, peanut butter and a big fruit salad. The fruit was from our farm and the bread and jam were homemade. You can't put a price on a breakfast like that. If we had beans left over, we would get re-fried beans with our toast. Leftover spaghetti from dinner meant spaghetti pancake the next morning, and oatmeal made a weekly appearance, often enhanced with some local bananas and cinnamon.

After 18 years of these hearty, heart healthy breakfasts I moved to Washington DC and promptly fell into the classic college trap of not eating that meal at all. Sleeping in until 9 and then running to my 9:30 class seemed vastly preferable to eating when I was staying up until 2 in the morning studying or hanging out with friends. Not surprisingly this was the same time I started gaining the famous "freshman 15". Ironically, eating breakfast can actually help you maintain a healthy weight, as Susan points out at Fat Free Vegan. At the time I was completely ignorant of the fact that breakfast may well be the most important meal of the day.

Luckily once I graduated from college I rediscovered the wonderful world of morning carb-loading. Grits, oatmeal, toast, bagels, muffins, pancakes and waffles...what a great way to start the day. Along with some fruit and yogurt, they form the backbone of my morning and keep me going at work. As I prepare to start graduate school full time in January you can bet I'm not falling back into that old no-breakfast trap. Breakfast is just too delicious to give up!

So I know you must be hungry for a recipe after my breakfast pep-rally. This one is perfect for St. Paddy's day morning-or any morning that you have some kale that needs to be eaten pronto slowly dying in your fridge. I know the combination of bananas and kale sounds strange, perhaps even disgusting, but don't knock it til you have tried it. The first sip you can taste the greenish flavour of kale, but from then on it's banana all the way. Delicious and so darn good for you! You will feel like superman (or woman) as you walk out the door. I speak from experience, as I had this for breakfast this morning. You don't need a multivitamin with this smoothie around! Plus, if you are like me and loved Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham book so much that you used green food coloring to make your own green eggs, than you will enjoy the lovely emerald color of this beverage.

Banana and Kale Smoothie

Serves 1, 290 calories with 3/4 cup of milk and the flax meal.

1 banana ( I like to peel and freeze mine the night before so the smoothie is thick like a milkshake)

1/2 to 3/4 cup 1% organic milk

1 tbsp flax meal (optional)

1 tsp maple syrup

1 cup chopped raw kale leaves (wash these thoroughly before chopping)


Wash and chop the kale leaves:

Then toss everything in your blender and blend until smooth.

I plan on trying this smoothie with a date blended in for sweetness instead of the maple syrup. The flax meal is entirely optional, or you can substitute wheat germ or even a tablespoon of oatmeal if you like. I'm not Irish in any way, shape or form, but doesn't that color just make you want to dance a jig?


Cynthia said...

Banana and kale smoothie... hmmmm. You know it's only because you are from the Caribbean that I am going to believe you (lol)

I myself am not a lover of breakfast, I have an on and off relationship with that particular meal. I am preparing some notes actually for a column on the very topic :)

Lyra said...

You know, you could probably try it with calaloo....maybe it would be good, who knows! You will have to try it and let me know;)