Tag Archives: breakfast

Breakfast in Scotland

27 Jun

Breakfast.  What does it mean?  When we sleep, we are fasting, meaning we do not eat.  Breaking the fast, or breakfast, is the first meal of the day.  We are often told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  This is a topic of great debate in nutritional circles and beyond.  As for me, well, it’s not a meal that I skip.

There really isn’t uniformity with breakfast.  Depending on lifestyle, culture,  socioeconomic status, and time constrains, breakfast food varies.  If I have a morning workout, a protein packed breakfast is my go to choice.  If it is a lazy weekend morning, a chewy toasted bagel and some fresh fruit can be wonderful.  And, of course, if there are leftovers around, those also work at times.

Since I like to eat regionally, I enjoy all meals that reflect the personality and culture of the surroundings.  Recently I was in Scotland.  The food was spectacular.  And the breakfast was not only filling, but a very interesting combination…and one that I would not have put together.  But I loved it nonetheless.

As my beloved partner Denis and I steeped ourselves in the people, history and food of Scotland, we noticed that this breakfast was pretty much a staple in every region of the country.  The flavors varied slightly, reflecting the region of the food, but when we ordered the “standard” breakfast, it was consistent.

Breakfast consisted of bacon (it looked and tasted like ham to me, but it was called bacon), potatoes, an egg, a roasted tomato, sautéed mushrooms, and a sausage. A basket of breads also accompanied the plate.  Sometimes beans and back pudding were present too.  This meal started us off on the right foot.  Daily breakfast left us with a full belly of warm food on which to set out for the adventures that each day held for us.  Breakfast was sustaining, culturally reflective, and delicious.

So the next time you are off on travels, depart from your comfort zone.  Be open to local culturally rich experiences, including culinary.  Break your fast in the way that is right for you, but notice local flair. Scotland held many delights along our travels, and breakfast each morning started our day off just right.  Go out there and have fun. Let me know what you find.

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Resolutions. Really?

18 Jan

So it’s the beginning of the year, and the season of resolutions.  This is the time many folks decide to make healthy lifestyle changes.  People at work are buzzing about losing weight, eating better, detox potions, and avoiding fast food.  And, of course, I am no different.

I do not make new years resolutions.  I do, however, reflect on making  positive changes in the new year.  I too have been making an effort to eat a little healthier since ringing in the new year.  Getting kind of bored with my regular “go to” recipes, I have tried to energize my normal recipe repertoire by trying to put fresh new combinations together.  The other day I came up with a real winner.

I made a super healthy quinoa salad.  One day I took it for lunch at work.  Another day I had it in the morning after my workout for a healthy protein boost.  I do not limit my meals with traditional labels.    If I feel like chicken for breakfast, I eat that.  A bowl of cereal for dinner?  Sure. Why not.  So I enjoyed my quinoa all day.  And it was delicious.

Simple fresh healthy quinoa salad!  Yum!

Simple fresh healthy quinoa salad! Yum!

How did I make it?  I had about 2 cups of leftover quinoa, a handful of shredded carrots, a green onion, a half bag of spinach, and homemade vinaigrette in the fridge.  I tossed it together with a can of rinsed canned beets and Voila!  A healthful flexible meal packed with protein and veggies.  It had a nice crunch, great flavor, and a colorful appearance.

Vinaigrettes are easy to make and even easier to customize to certain tastes.  Want to try one?  Start with this.

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 2 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 t. of sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and stir vigorously with a fork.  Use to dress vegetables or your favorite salad.  Yes, it’s that simple.  I customize this recipe by using different vinegars and different mustards.  Some times I use honey instead of sugar.  If I am in a crazy mood I will add some red pepper flakes to heat things up a bit.

So anyway, this is the vinaigrette that I added to my quinoa salad.  Simple dimple.  And so good.  So as 2015 rolls on, I hope to make some more fresh and healthful dishes.  No resolutions…just a positive change or two.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next…

25 Aug

I am a single mother that is short on time.  When I cook, I have to make it count for more than one meal.  Time is my most precious commodity at the moment, so cooking bigger sure helps in a time crunch.  If I have a little wiggle room during the weekend to cook, I try to fill the fridge for the upcoming week.

Okay, it’s no secret that I love leftovers.  They can be easy to eat as is for a second meal, or used as inspiration for a new dish.  I use my leftovers both ways.  If I cook a couple of extra pieces of chicken, that goes either in school lunches or to work with me for a second meal.  Using that chicken as inspiration for another meal might mean a nice chicken casserole or chicken salad sandwich.  Need some ideas?  Let me outline my leftovers from the past few days.

Night #1.  Leftover: Quinoa.  Used the next morning as an addition to breakfast oatmeal.  Quinoa powered up morning oatmeal following an 8 mile bike ride.  It was a solid “recovery” breakfast.

Leftover quinoa added a nice nutritionally punch to morning oatmeal.

Leftover quinoa added a nice nutritionally punch to morning oatmeal.

Night #2.  Leftover:  Goat cheese.  It was leftover from a beet salad.  My high schooler used it to spread on his “gourmet” sandwich, adding delicious creamy flavor to a weekday lunch.

Leftover goat cheese not used for this salad added flavor to a sandwich.

Leftover goat cheese not used for this salad added flavor to a sandwich.

Night #3.  Leftover:  Home made vinaigrette.  I used this drizzled over roasted veggies going into the oven.  Homemade vinaigrette is super easy to customize ingredients and flavors to make even picky eaters happy.

Leftover vinaigrette.  This isn't just salad dressing.  It has a zillion uses.

Leftover vinaigrette. This isn’t just salad dressing. It has a zillion uses.

Night #4.  Leftover: Roasted veggies.  These leftover roasted veggies made the most amazing sandwich to take to work.  I wish I also had some of that leftover goat cheese too, but it was quite tasty as is.

Roasted veggies made an awesome sandwich, panini style!

Roasted veggies made an awesome sandwich, panini style!

Night #5.  Leftover:  Pesto, shredded chicken. (Nonleftover freezer item: frozen cauliflower). I actually pulled this from the freezer to make a quick pasta dinner.  Dinner was ready in the time it took for a pot of water to boil and pasta to cook.  The cauliflower was microwaved.  Everything was tossed together for a quick and easy one dish dinner for a busy night.

By now I am sure you get the picture.  Be creative.  When cooking, cook a larger portion than you need.  Toss leftovers in both the fridge and the freezer.  And start embracing the ease of the next meal using leftovers.  Let me know what you make with your leftovers!

Superfoods – another one!

11 Aug

The last super food that we covered was cabbage.  If you missed it, read it here.  https://busymomswellness.com/2014/05/26/blast-into-super-foods/

Since that post, I am confident that you have embraced this superfood, and are ready to add another one into your diet.  Ready for another super food to try?  Here we go!  Bonus…the next superfood is not a cruciferous vegetable, so no worries about the, ahem, gas issue.  It is avocado.  This is a fun one.

Avocados are, like cabbage, a flexible food.  It is also super easy to prepare.  An avocado has about 4 grams of protein per fruit and is low in sugar.  Plus, they are rich n vitamin K, B vitamins, and have more potassium than a banana.   Still need convincing?  Consider that an avocado also contains half of the daily recommended amount of fiber, about 11 grams.  (Okay, so maybe the fiber may be a bit gas producing, but you gotta consider the benefits and not just the…uumm…possible farts). Anything with avocado is terrific in my book.

Some folks shy away from this powerhouse fruit because it contains fat.  True, it does, so adding it in the diet needs to be in moderation.  But the fat in an avocado is monounsaturated, the “good” kind of fat.  This fat can actually lower cholesterol, some studies suggest.  So indulge.

When shopping for avocados, do not be deterred by ugly fruit.  I actually prefer ugly fruit because I feel like it is less “processed” or “treated” than pretty perfect fruit.  The avocado is ripe when is gives slightly to pressure.  It should be a bit soft.  Haas avocados are smaller than other avocados, but I like them all.  This is a Florida avocado.

A recent avocado that graced my kitchen.  Ugly but delicious!

A recent avocado that graced my kitchen. Ugly but delicious!

What to do with an avocado you ask?  The easiest thing to do is slice it up and eat it.  Or layer it on a sandwich.  Dice it up and toss it in a salad.  I had it for breakfast one morning for a powerhouse post workout meal.  How?  I turned the oven to 375 degrees.  I sliced an avocado in half and took the pit out.  Then I added an egg to one half where the pit was removed.  Yup.  Sure did.  And I put it on a baking sheet into a hot oven while I showered.  After about 20 minutes the egg was cooked in the avocado to perfection.  I pulled it out of the oven added some low fat cheese, then popped it back in the oven for a few minutes.  Voila!  A breakfast packed with nutrients, protein, and flavor.  I treat avocados like a baked potato sometimes.  Load ’em up!

My baked avocado breakfast.  So flavorful and nutritious.  A fantastic post workout breakfast.

My baked avocado breakfast. So flavorful and nutritious. A fantastic post workout breakfast.

Whats next?  Predictable but never to be overlooked, the avocado is the star of guacamole.  If you have the fixings, making guacamole is a must with any avocado.  And it is so simple.  Lime, tomatoes, cilantro, and maybe some hot peppers if you are adventurous are all you need for great guacamole.  One of the best things about making this is that it is totally customizable.  You can make it as spicy, as creamy, or as chunky as you prefer.  The moanable moment is in the “add ins”, such as hot peppers, onions, or sour cream.Let me show you my guacamole.  Start with mashing up an avocado and add just a few things.  Then load up your chip, your taco, or spread it on your sandwich.

When making anything with avocado, keeping the pit in it, such as in the guacamole, keeps it from turning brown.  So does adding a bit of lemon or lime juice to it.  Either way, enjoy this fantastic nutrient packed superfood in many ways.  Let me know what you do with your new superfood!

Fresh guacamole!  Fabulous and flexible!

Fresh guacamole! Fabulous and flexible!

 

Stir in lime, cilantro, and tomatoes to avocado.  Nothing short of delicious!

Stir in lime, cilantro, and tomatoes to mashed up avocado. Nothing short of delicious!

No Labels Please.

22 Jun

Labels. I loathe and reject them! They are so limiting. The smart one. The athletic one. The workaholic. The baby of the family. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. That’s right. I hate labeling everything including meals. Boring! And limiting!

Breakfast does not have to be oatmeal. eggs, toast, bagel, or cold cereal. These foods can be eaten any time of the day. And if it’s last night’s leftovers for breakfast who cares? There is nothing wrong with chicken, rice, and broccoli for breakfast. If that is what sounds good, go for it.  Dinner has to be a big hunk of meat and a couple of side dishes?  Nope.  Not in my book.  Sometimes a bowl of cereal is perfect for dinner. Sometimes eggs and toast work. My youngest son’s favorite dinner is breakfast! For many years his special birthday dinner request was breakfast, or what some would label as breakfast food.

I am going to tell a story through pictures. It is the story of a meal. But I will not label it. And I will not reveal what time of day I enjoyed this meal (which, by the way, features several servings. I only had one!). I will toss a caveat in saying that it is not a story for the faint of heart. It is of adult nature….it features…dare I say it….bacon and bacon fat. Totally obscene! Outrageous! But it is moderation in the use of the fat that allows my conscience to let this dirty little secret out.

Fresh!  Beautiful!

Fresh! Beautiful!

Lucky for me I have friends who have what I lack…namely a green thumb. This bowl is full of fresh peppers and tomatoes. I was the lucky recipient of this lovely fresh bounty, and I let it inspire me. It took me to a very unexpected place.

Bacon.  Decadent!

Bacon. Decadent!

I began my homage to these fresh ingredients by frying up some bacon in my beloved old cast iron skillet. While the bacon was crisping, I started cutting up the peppers and tomatoes.  When it was done, I scooped out the bacon to drain on  paper towels and disposed of most of the bacon fat in the skillet.  I  left a bit of the grease in my skillet though. The aromas in my kitchen started deepening, layering. Man, was I hungry now!

Pepper mania!  yes!!

Pepper mania! yes!!

I tossed those fresh peppers and tomatoes into that bacon fat. Yes, that’s what I said. Right into the fat. Well here is where I kind of compounded the naughty factor. While the peppers were frying up I went to the fridge and hung on the door. Hunting. Digging. Then I popped to the pantry. Nope…nothing there…went back to the fridge. Here comes more of the naughty…I was seriously misbehaving with that bacon grease!

Peppers to the side...eggs in front!

Peppers to the side…eggs in front!

I pushed the veggies aside and tossed in eggs. Frying eggs in bacon fat. Yup…I warned you! Totally obscene! And completely delish! But my conscience would not allow this dish to be totally devoid of some sort of nutrition. So I made some whole grain toast. No butter.  Next I just  tossed eggs, peppers and tomatoes on the toast. The bacon was on the side.  Fabulous!

YUM!

YUM!

I will not label this meal, nor will I reveal the time of day that this meal was consumed. Let me just say that it was amazing! I cook with bacon grease maybe once or twice a year. I love great food cooked in different ways. And in moderation, I think that everything can be enjoyed. As I said, I only cook with bacon fat occasionally. This dish was certainly worth the wait..and totally label free.

 

Breakfast-A New Idea

19 Jun

Guess what?  I had the most wonderful breakfast this morning, and it came about quite unexpectedly. That made it all the more special!  Since it is a weekday, I enjoyed my breakfast in my office when I got to work.  Folks popped in to say good morning, I pursued my emails and began a planning a presentation I am giving at a meeting next week.  All while slowly eating my delicious breakfast.  Why did I was slowly?  Let me tell you.

Your mother was right.  Really?  Did I just say that?  Sure did.  What was mom right about?  Besides just about every thing?  (Haha!  I can say that because I am a mom, and moms enjoy being right occasionally!) Your mother was right when she saw you wolfing your food way too fast and told you to slow down.  Eating slowly really is best for you.  Why?

Chewing food, called mastication (no naughty jokes please), is an important but often rushed part of digestion.  Chewing starts saliva flowing, crucial for digestion, and can strengthen the jaw muscles.  Also, the “full” signal to your brain takes about 20 minutes, so chewing and swallowing slowly means being more in tune with your “fullness” signals.  In other words, that helps in natural portion control.  Fullness is actually two fold: the stomach fills and the brain signals fullness.  Best to have those working in tandem and eating slowly helps that process stay more aligned with one another.

Its easy to see why eating fast can mean eating more.  But there is another compelling reason to eat more slowly.  It can quiet the mind.  You can actually feel more relaxed and satisfied with your meal if you partake in mindful eating.  To savor your food and better enjoy your dining companions, slow down.

But let’s get back to the weekday morning breakfast that I was slowly enjoying in my office.  When leaving for work, I grabbed some leftover quinoa, blueberries, and greek yogurt out of the fridge.  I went ahead and mixed them together for a powerhouse breakfast.  It was delicious!  Nutrient dense, low calorie, and loaded with flavor and texture.  And I ate it slowly…

Blueberries and quinoa.  A great start...

Blueberries and quinoa. A great start…

Then I tossed them into my yogurt.  It was super yummy!

Then I tossed them into my yogurt. It was super yummy!

 

Surviving Morning (C)rush

25 Feb

Any busy parent has been stuck in what I call “The Morning Crush”.  We get caught up in finding this, grabbing that, scheduling this, signing that.  Find a coat.  Pack up lunch.  Locate the car keys.  Take the dog out.  Yup, mornings are busy.  But they are survivable.  It does take some planning and organization though.  But any parent with kids, a job, multiple schedules, taxi duty, and household management duties can do it.  In fact, planning and organization makes mornings a bit of a breeze sometimes.  As with anything, practice is key here.  You get better with experience.

Making one change at a time is a good way to make positive changes work for the long-term.  Let’s begin with a good hot nutritious breakfast.  Made fast.  Loaded with vitamins, minerals, and goodness.  And super easy.  Just pull it out of the fridge, heat it up, and enjoy.  Impossible you say?  Nope, not at all.  With a little advance planning and prep, weekday morning breakfast will be a snap.

My secret weapon here is oatmeal.  Made ahead of time, my oatmeal will keep in the fridge, and can even be frozen.  It is quick to reheat on a busy morning, and a healthy way to begin any day.  And for those of you with a sweet tooth, you can add in fresh or dried fruit to sweeten this without sugar.  The possibilities are endless with the add ins to make my oatmeal into your oatmeal.  Just toss in what you have around, within reach, and bammo!  You have a powerhouse start to your day in minutes.

I make oatmeal with quinoa.  Why add quinoa to oatmeal?  Well, first of all, it is a good way to add another whole grain to your diet.  Second, quinoa is a complete protein.  Third, this pumped up oatmeal is stick to your ribs and will really hold off hunger and temptation for the entire morning.  Quinoa is also a good source of iron and fiber.  I like to make a big batch of quinoa and keep extra in the fridge.  In addition to adding it to oatmeal, I also add it to, for example, roasted veggies for an easy side dish for supper.  But back to oatmeal.  Let me share my pumped up oatmeal recipe for you to try.

Do Ahead:  Make a large batch of quinoa.  Cool and keep cooked quinoa in the fridge.

Amy’s Pumped Up Oatmeal

  • 2 cups skim milk (may substitute with almond or soy milk if desired)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • dried fruit like raisins, and/or 1 banana to add, sliced, at serving time (avoid if watching sugar intake. Dried fruits are high in sugar.)
  • nuts or seeds, like sunflower or almonds, to add at serving time

Combine water and milk in a saucepan over medium high heat.  When boiling, add oatmeal and cinnamon, stir, and turn heat down so the oatmeal simmers uncovered.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Stir in quinoa.  Continue cooking until desired doneness, about another 5 minutes, stirring as needed.  Remove from heat.  Portion in 6 ounce serving size and refrigerate or freeze.  Easy tip:  Freeze in muffin tin.  Pop out to heat and serve.

When ready to prepare, remove number of portions needed from fridge or freezer and place in separate bowls.  Add 1 T. water and microwave for 2-3 minutes.  Stir and add fruit, nuts, and/or seeds.  Enjoy a super fast, easy, and nutritious breakfast.  This is a terrific recipe to customize for preferences.  I have had this breakfast, and it has lasted through morning crush, a tough workout, and a busy morning at work.

There you go.  One step toward making morning crush more manageable.  And a way to start your day off with a solid healthy breakfast!  Go ahead.  Get going.  There is nothing stopping you.  Bon appetite!