Thursday, July 22, 2010

Begin with Breakfast

I have friends who say, “I’m not a breakfast person.” “I just can’t stomach anything in the morning.”

And while I may say, “To each, her own,” in truth, the thought of a breakfast-less morning makes my psyche wither just a little.

I am a hard-core breakfast eater.

When I was a child, my mother rose early, pampering my father, my brother, and I with home-cooked meals—oatmeal on Monday, scrambled eggs on Tuesday, pancakes on Wednesday, and so on. Even now, when I visit my family home, breakfast is an event. “Pancakes or waffles?” we debate. “Or maybe…crepes? Fruit smoothies, fruit salad, fruit compote, or fruit syrup? Whipped cream, or no?”

Dad is the master of waffles and crepes. My mother’s buttermilk pancakes are an addiction. My brother’s omelets are creations of Tyler Florence-esque grandiosity.

And I? Since my childhood, my breakfast habits have run the gamut.

As a severely time-management challenged undergraduate, I ate vending machine Pop Tarts and NutriGrain bars. With my post-graduation entry into the “grown-up” world came a dietary overhaul, and I ate Special K, Kashi GoLean, and bowls of plain oatmeal sweetened with Splenda.

During a period of intense calorie-counting, I munched a banana and a granola bar and sipped a cup of coffee mellowed with just a tablespoon of cream during my commute to work, savoring each in a precisely-timed, bite-sip-pause-repeat fashion.

A second (whole foods-, nutrition-focused) dietary makeover brought me to my current stage of breakfasting bliss. Breakfast caresses me awake each morning. It’s my first bit of me-time, my first bout of creativity.

If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll have pancakes or eggs over-easy with oatmeal and a grapefruit (supreme, of course, with the juice squeezed over—otherwise it wouldn’t be fancy, would it?). If I feel like cleaning the blender, then a smoothie’s the obvious choice (although really, when do I feel like cleaning the blender?). If I’m out, it’ll be the Eggs Benedict, crepes, or an omelet for me!

But most days, my breakfasts are one-bowl wonders. It’s like a daily challenge—how much flavor, nutrition, and creativity can I pack into one (overflowing) bowl?

Hot, or cold?

Did I put oats in the refrigerator to soak last night?

Was Greek yogurt on sale this week?

What fruit’s in season this week?

Eeek! How much time before I have to leave for work?

And the most important question of all: Peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower seed butter, [insert nut] butter? Creamy or crunchy? Will today be fabulous enough for the Teddie PB my brother sent me from Massachusetts, or should I use the Trader Joe’s, or the Meijer brand?

You get the idea.

My favorite combination is oats (in some form), a banana, and nut butter. Stove-top oats cooked with banana and topped with deliciously melting almond butter… oats steeped in milk overnight and stirred with yogurt, banana, and peanut butter… oats eaten raw with soy milk, topped with banana and sunflower seed butter… if I were stranded on a desert island with only three foods, forever, oats, bananas, and nut butter might be my choices.

(Of course, there are wine, cheese, and chocolate, but that’s another post!)

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