Have you noticed how breakfast affects your day?
How different foods leave you satisfied for a long time while others never fill you?
Recently we’ve had a reminder of just how good it feels to eat real whole foods every morning!
For a long time now we have been eating such great breakfasts – oatmeal pancakes (you can get the recipe in our Simple Vegan Recipes ebooklet), homemade bread or wholegrain cereal, with seeds, nuts or nut butters, and fruit or veg like sundried tomato, avocado and fresh picked greens and herbs.
Even throughout China or on retreat in Chiang Mai we had satisfying asian-style breakfasts, like rice or noodles with vegetables or tofu.
Last week, having moved to a centre where we are volunteering in return for some meals and accommodation, we found ourselves with 2 options for breakfast – fruit with cornflakes, or manufactured wholemeal bread with honey. Jams were on offer but they were those kind of jelly-consistency slightly fluro coloured who-knows-what’s-in-there type of jams, skip. Well, we thought, it’s not what we’d buy ourselves but it’s not too bad, we’ll try it. It’s free and laid out with love.
When we first started eating this breakfast, we would have a bowl of fruit with a sprinkle of cornflakes topped with coconut milk, followed by 2 pieces of toast with honey – and we also had our own stock of tahini to pump it up a bit. The next day it was 3 pieces of toast. Then the amount of cornflakes went up. We felt like we could keep on eating the bread until the loaf finished if our minds didn’t tell us otherwise! But it soon became evident that eating all this bread made us feel a bit bunged up and lethargic. Enough with the toast, we went to eating just the fruit with coconut milk, because eating cornflakes felt like eating nothing at all really.
The problem is, that all of these things are high sugar, high GI, they give a spike of energy which is quickly gone. These processed forms of cereal and bread, while technically containing grains, have gone through so much processing and had so many additives thrown into the mix that they don’t resemble the original whole-grain food. You wouldn’t be able to re-create it in your own kitchen with the same grain. It is pretty freaky looking at how bread is commercially made…check out this blog or manna’s frank and rather funny reply to this question about “good old” white bread (and manufactured wholemeal is just as bad, sorry). I needn’t look into how a cornflake is made to tell that it’s not a real food, a glance at the ingredients on the box gives enough of a hint.
So, back at the breakfast table, fruit is the remaining option. Now, I know that some of you may be fruit-for-breakfast type of people, and that’s cool, on some random days we are too (like recently after a late and generous serving of jackfruit curry for dinner) . But for the most part, we are loving a meal which we can chew on, and which feels satisfying in the belly while lightly activating (not draining) for our energy.
Well, cue the feel-good music, we went and bought some rolled oats and toasted sesame seeds. Now we have our bowl of bright tropical fruits with oats and sesame seeds, and a dash of coconut milk to soften the grains. I add an occasional drizzle of honey because honey is wonderful in general, and because they get it from the jungle which excites my imagination in particular. And it feels great! Chewable, delicious and filling, it sustains us at least until 11 or 12 when we are usually ready for a little snack, if not until our late lunch at 2pm. Now that does it for me!
Do you love oats too? Here’s some good reasons to keep enjoying them…
- they are a whole-grain including the bran and germ
- rich in minerals especially manganese, magnesium and iron
- high in fibre
- help to stabilise blood sugar (whfoods.com)
- in the Ayurvedic diet, cooked oats are stabilising for Vata type people who are light and airy, and dry oats like granola are preferable to lighten Kapha types who are heavy and earthy.
Here’s a rather drastically impressive example of oatmeal’s stabilising properties for a Vata disturbance.
Here’s a totally gentle and yet still impressive recipe which boosts oatmeals grounding, nourishing and calming properties, if you are in need of some of that flavour of self-loving. This rich recipe is my favourite way to eat oatmeal, but I’m already so grounded that it can really slow down my system. But in cold weather or just for an occasional treat, I go all out on a slow cooked and sweet version like this.
So what should you look for in a breakfast bread or cereal? Just whole grains, other whole foods like nuts, seeds and dried fruit, and ingredients that you know and can picture in their vibrant natural state (e.g. honey instead of high fructose corn syrup).
It doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t enjoy the odd bit of white bread or crazy sugarcoated cereal – if it brings your heart a bit of joy from a childhood memory or fond association, then it’s all in the realm of goodness. I don’t mind a bit of shop-bread with vegemite and (get ready to cringe) vegan margarine when I’m back in Australia – it takes me back to childhood, boarding school and early vegan days.
But wow, it’s so clear to me now – if your everyday food is lacking in life, it really takes its toll on the body, mind and spirit.
Check out this handy blog for more details on choosing healthy cereals and breads.
What’s your favourite breakfast right now? In what ways does it make you feel amazing?
(I feel excited just at the thought of you telling me your answers, please do!)
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