Rethinking Breakfast
By Melissa Diane Smith
Make the first meal of the day heartier to keep you going longer.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it’s our first meal after the longest stretch of time we’ve gone without food the whole day. Many people raised on an American diet think of sugar-sweetened cereal or baked goods as foods to start their day. But these foods spike our blood sugar levels; the body responds by lowering blood sugar levels, leaving us hungry or lacking in energy just a few hours later. This happens whether the cereals or baked goods are gluten free or not. The key to replenishing your body’s energy, getting your day off to a good start, and keeping yourself going until lunchtime is to eat gluten-free foods that give you more staying power. Try the following tips:

Think outside the box. Train yourself to imagine breakfast beyond ready-to-eat cereal, baked goods made out of mixes of refined gluten-free flours (e.g., white rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch), and rice-based hot cereal. Experiment with more nutritious grains and grain alternatives, such as quinoa, buckwheat, and teff, and get out of the habit of thinking hot cereal always has to be made sweet—with fruit and maple syrup, for example. Alternative grains often taste better when they’re made nutty (with nuts or nut butters added into them) or savory (with onions, shallots, tomatoes, or gluten-free soy sauce). Leftover cooked alternative grains also can be added to pancake batter to make heartier and more nutritious pancakes, especially when nuts or nut butters are also included.

Power up with protein. If a cooked cereal, no matter how nutritious, doesn’t sustain you until lunch, then go for some protein, a slower-burning fuel, at breakfast. Poached eggs on either sautéed vegetables or a heartier gluten-free toast are traditional options, or have gluten-free turkey sausage patties served with fruit or sautéed vegetables on the side. For a dish with amazing variety, make a hash by cooking potatoes or a grain, assorted vegetables, and savory ingredients such as onions and herbs (with or without meat) in olive oil. You also can combine eggs, cooked grains, vegetables, and herbs to make tasty patty-like croquettes.

Try dinner leftovers. Break out of the mind-set that breakfast is composed only of traditional breakfast foods. Breakfast should be any food that gets you off to a good start. Once you wrap your mind around that concept, reheated dinner leftovers may work best for you. Whether dinner a night or two before was pork roast and green beans, a chicken stir-fry, or baked turkey breast with brown rice and vegetable pilaf, each of these meals makes a good breakfast because they provide protein, fat, and carbohydrates that are slower-burning than those in traditional breakfast cereals and toast. Plus, the dishes are quick and easy to reheat. During warmer months or when you’re short on time, just grab a few slices of cooked chicken or pot roast, an apple or some celery sticks, and a few nuts. It’s a different type of breakfast, but a nutritious, balanced one nonetheless.

Savory Quinoa Hash Serves 2
This versatile, easy-to-make dish is a great way to use up leftovers. Vary the flavor by using different herbs, vegetables, and/or meat. Mix in a tablespoon or two of hummus or roasted potatoes for a vegetarian meal; add chicken, turkey, or pork pieces for a hearty meal; sprinkle with feta cheese crumbles; or serve with eggs or gluten-free turkey sausage on the side or mixed into the hash for a festive Sunday brunch.

Reprinted from Going Against the Grain Group, 2010, by Melissa Diane Smith

2 Tbs. organic extra virgin olive oil

3 Tbs. finely chopped yellow onion

1 cup cooked organic quinoa

3 Tbs. finely chopped pecans

1/4 tsp. ground thyme

1/8 tsp. unrefined sea salt or more to taste

1—2 tsp. chopped fresh herbs

  1. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté 30 seconds.
  2. Add quinoa, pecans, and thyme; spread mixture across pan, and cook 45 seconds without stirring. Then stir mixture, and sauté 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown.
  3. Remove from heat, add salt and herbs, and serve.

PER SERVING: 315 CAL; 5 G PROT; 23 G TOTAL FAT (3 G SAT FAT); 23 G CARB; 0 MG CHOL; 106 MG SOD; 4 G FIBER; 1 G SUGARS




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