Back to Breakfast

Like many Americans, I have a bad habit of not eating breakfast during the week.  I’m usually busy getting both myself and the kids ready for the day, so any morning caloric intake is usually coffee and some milk at work… sometimes augmented with whatever crap I can find around the office.  Not healthy, and I have no real excuse beyond laziness and lack of planning.

With the weather getting colder in a hurry, my stomach has been growling in the morning more often, so I decided it was time to get back into the swing of things and start planning out breakfast again.  I’m one of those folks who can eat the same thing on a regular basis, so my morning diet is usually unvaried during the work week: oatmeal.

I go old-school for the oatmeal, using the plain old Quaker Oats or bulk oats from Trader Joe’s or similar places.   None of this ‘quick oats’ or packaged stuff.   I use the recipe found in Nourishing Traditions for basic porridge:

  • 1 part oats
  • 1 part warm water
  • 1-2 tbsp plain yogurt
  • 1 part cold water

I use 3/4 cup for the ‘part’ size… you can vary it depending on how hungry you are, or how many people you’re cooking for.   If you’re cooking a large batch then I’d add a bit more yogurt, but not too much more.

Mix the oats, warm water and yogurt in a bowl or plastic container, cover and let sit at room temperature overnight.   In the morning, bring cold water to a boil, add the oats mixture, and cook until ready, which should only be a few minutes.    I then add some brown sugar or honey to taste and pour the mix into a pre-heated insulated  food jar (like this one) and it stays nice & hot until I make it to work, even when it’s as cold as it is outside today (-5 F this morning) and I have to walk outside a fair distance to the building. Nourishing, simple and cheap.

I don’t have the book in front of me, but the active cultures in the yogurt neutralize some enzymes in the oats that block absorption of nutrients.  That’s why it’s important to use warm (not hot) water with the yogurt and let the mix sit overnight.    It also has the side benefit of reducing cooking time for the oatmeal significantly… it takes me maybe 3-5 minutes tops to cook it in the morning.

I’m a fan of traditional methods of cooking… the Nourishing Traditions book is put out by the folks at the Weston A. Price Foundation.  If you’re interested in eating healthy in a way that doesn’t involve fat-free, heavily-processed or  powdered crap that comes out of a box, check them out.   It’s eye-opening stuff.

Anyone else have some good ideas for basic breakfast foods?


8 Responses to Back to Breakfast

  1. Jim says:

    You may enjoy steel-cut oats, which are a favorite of mine. It’s cheapest to buy them in bulk, rather than prepackaged. They take a long time to cook (about 30 minutes), but you can whip up a week’s worth and reheat in serving-size quantities. I’m sure your yogurt trick could be adapted to oats of this style.

    We have a family ritual for breakfast much more than we have established for other meals (the kids eat supper before I get home). I get up in the morning and fry up some potatoes, melt cheese on them, then fry up some eggs (over-easy for me, scrambled for the wife and kids). My usual serving of these items amounts to about 600 calories and leaves me feeling full and satisfied through most of the day, even if I eat a minimal lunch. I like oatmeal, but a decent-size serving of it isn’t exactly low-calorie, nor does it stick with me for hours afterward. Sometimes I have oatmeal instead of potatoes, but the eggs are a constant.

  2. Chile says:

    The only way I like oatmeal utilizes a similar overnight soaking method. Mix 1/3 cup steel-cut oats with 1/3 cup regular rolled oats. (The rolled oats from the bulk bin will be fresher and taste better than Quaker oats.) Stir in 2 cups room temperature water. Cover and let sit overnight. In the morning, cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for about 10 minutes. (Good time to take a quick shower.) Enjoy with fruit and a little brown sugar.

    Tasty fruit choices include strawberries, blueberries, sliced peaches, or diced apples or pears.

  3. Bart says:

    An average batch of oatmeal I make runs in the 250-350 calorie range… enough to tide me over until lunch time without making me feel like I’ve got cement in my stomach. I’ve never had the steel-cut oats… will have to try them once I run through the current batch.

    I generally try to make a more elaborate breakfast on weekends depending on schedules and how energetic I’m feeling. Eggs, biscuits & gravy… less healthy but tasty items like that.

    My main problem with weekday mornings is that our first grader needs to be on the bus by 7:30AM, which is pretty damn early for a 6-year old if you ask me. We try to let him sleep as late as he can, but he still gets up at 6:30 or so, giving me a limited amount of time to get him fed, washed, clothed & out the door.

  4. At my house we normally have egg and toast with nutella. Somtimes I make hash from leftover food from dinner, or just eat the dinner itself. We have oatmeal too. I guess nothing different than you have really.

    I did want to mention that my kids at 6 & 4 and they get up at 6 each day. We normally put them to bed around 7:30. So they can get up that early you just have to get them use to it.

  5. Bart says:

    We put our son to bed at 7:30 on school nights, so he’s getting the sleep. The issues revolve more around getting him moving. We could get him up at 5:30 or 6 and he’d still putz around eating his breakfast, so we just let him sleep a little longer. He does fine most days. I still don’t understand why they put the little kids on the bus so early but the high schoolers don’t start until 8:30-9:00AM. That’s backwards if you ask me.

  6. Jim says:

    I got on the bus at 6:30 every morning when I was a kid (until I started driving at age 16). We got to school around 8:15. Because of the curious way the route was set up, my ride home in the evening was only half as long, but that was still almost an hour. There was a lot of violence on the bus, and it probably toughened me up some, but I have a deep resentment of this part of my childhood.

  7. Dan says:

    Have you ever tried congee? I searched the index of NT and couldn’t find any mention, but my local health food grocery owner turned me onto it. Here’s the basic recipe:

    1 part grains
    5-6 parts water (depends on how hot your crockpot cooks)
    pinch salt
    Optional: fruit, veggies, sweeteners

    Put ingredients in crockpot and set on low and cook overnight.

    Traditionally in China they use rice for the grain, but you can use barley, millet, rye, wheat berries, or whatever. It turns into a gruel consistency and is great for digestion since it is cooked so long. I make mine with brown rice and put in a couple cinnamon sticks, cayenne pepper and and a small handful of raisins. Sometimes I add dried ginger, nutmeg, cloves and cardamon to make it more Caribbean style for a change. The recipe suggests various dried fruits as well as sweet potato, carrots, pumpkins, so you can let your imagination run wild. The best part is you make it the night before and when you wake up your house smells awesome and you have hot breakfast already made for you!

  8. Bart says:

    Thanks for the idea, Dan. I’ll try that some day.

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