Breakfast of Champions

the big breakfast with chilli jam
Originally uploaded by jules:stonesoup as
the big breakfast with chili jam
Raise your hand if you don't eat breakfast in the morning.  That's what I thought.  Well, it's that time of year again, and whether you've set resolutions for yourself or not, I'm giving you one: eat breakfast.

If there's any lesson that I've had to learn over and over again in my adult life, it's to eat breakfast.  It all started sophomore year of college when I started feeling absolutely horrible at 9 o'clock every night.  What did that have to do with breakfast?  It turns out that by running off to class every morning and skipping breakfast, I wasn't starting my metabolism until midday.  So even after a full lunch and dinner, by 9pm my metabolism was still firing but I was running on empty- which made getting through my reading every night a nauseous, fatigued nightmare.

Of course, eating a decent breakfast will help you wake up and start your day feeling fresh and energetic, but it will also help control your weight.  It goes back to the metabolism thing.  Staring your metabolism bright and early will allow it to run its course all day, actively burning off calories and boosting your energy.  By evening it will be slowing down again, and you'll feel less compelled for those naughty late-night snacks and desserts.  And for that matter, letting your metabolic clock wind down at night will also help you fall asleep easier!

But I just don't have time to eat before work in the morning!  Tough.  Make a little time for breakfast and it will be the most rewarding change to your morning routine that you've ever made.  It only takes about 10-15 minutes to eat a simple breakfast- or less if you can grab it on the go and eat while you're checking your email in the office in the morning.  And if you live in America, you have no excuse- there are dozens of microwave-ready, already-put-together-for-you products out there that make breakfast a flash.

Aside from the smoothies, the recipes this month are a bit heartier and time-intensive and are designed for getting a good start to your weekend, but here are some great breakfasts to sneak in before work, all taking 15 minutes or less of your morning:

Baked Oatmeal
Originally uploaded by Laurel_Kate as baked oatmeal
  • Cereal: Tried and tested, there's probably no more efficient way to get through your morning.  No matter where you live, there are tons of great cereals out there with fruits, nuts and whole grains ready to eat straight out of the box.  Or you could always add sliced fresh fruit to a simpler cereal like Cheerios or Corn Flakes.  And slicing up a couple strawberries or a banana only takes, like, 30 seconds ;)
  • Oatmeal / Cream-of-Wheat / Grits: For a few minutes more, hot breakfast is always great on a cold winter morning.  Cream-of-Wheat with a dash of brown sugar is my favorite, but you can add nearly anything to each of these.  Sliced fresh fruit, berries, dried fruit, chopped nuts, a swirl of honey, cinnamon (an antioxidant!) or even peanut butter or Nutella will bring life to an otherwise bland breakfast food.
  • Yogurt: So great for your tummy and so easy to eat.  Mix yogurt with your cereal instead of milk or add museli, oats, berries and/or dried fruit to your yogurt for a super-healthy, super-quick breakfast.

  • Breakfast
    Originally uploaded by as Breakfast

  • Loaded Bagels: They'll put anything on a bagel these days.  The classic butter and cream cheese will still get you through your morning, but try making little sandwiches out of your bagels and haul them off to work with you.  You can add jam or peanut butter or stack on your favorite deli meats and cheese.   My personal favorite is sliced cucumber and tomato with cream cheese and smoked salmon (if it's in the budget that week).  You can slice up the veggies/toppings right before bed at night and they should still be decent and ready to stack on your sandwich in the morning.
  • Simple Ham & Cheese Sandwich: Throw two slices of bread in the toaster, fry an egg and stack it together with a slice of cheese and ham.  Done in 5 minutes.
  • Eggs and Toast: Aside from making one small dirty pan and spatula (which you can rinse and then wash when you get home), you can cook up one or two eggs in no time.  
  • Originally uploaded by VirtualErn as Breakfast
    • Scramble eggs with a dash of shredded cheese, bacon bits/cubed ham and some chopped veggies (onions, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes).  Or load the same ingredients into an omelet.  Like with the bagels, chop up your veggies/other ingredients the night before and refrigerate till morning.  If I've chopped veggies for dinner, I like to set a little aside for the next morning.
    • My favorite breakfast in Southeast Asia was soft-boiled (aka: runny) eggs and kaya toast.  I've been trying to replicate it since I left, but the runny egg is a fine art.  In general, you boil water, then turn off the heat and place a room temperature egg in it and cover for only 1-3 minutes then add a pinch of soy sauce and pepper.  But if you're like a lot of ang mos out there and a little afraid of the runny egg,  submerge your egg in water and let it boil all the way through.  Go about your business while it's boiling, and if you can master the "four-hour work week" guru's technique, a boiled egg and toast can be a quick and easy breakfast. 
    • Poached eggs on toast.  Poaching eggs is also an art form, but they're making silicone egg poachers these days that really help. I usually cheat and lightly fry two eggs over easy- or even sunny-side up and plop them on toast.
    • Don't forget to add a little life to your buttered toast.  You can sprinkle cinnamon and/or sugar/brown sugar on top, slap on your favorite jam/preserves or spread on some peanut butter, Nutella or kaya (a green or brown coconut spread).  In Asia they also add (sometimes spicy) meat "floss" to their toast.  See if you can grab some at a Chinese market, it's worth it!
  • Smoothies: Another quick and increasing popular easy breakfast food is the smoothie.  You can blend nearly anything together and make a breakfast out of it.  There's so much to say about smoothies, though, that I'll have to dedicate an entire post to it!

Happy Eating!

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