Darnell Cox: The Rebirth of Breakfast
Breakfast, we are told, is the most important meal of the day, yet most of us are getting it completely wrong. And the worst part is, we THINK we are doing the right thing. Ugh! And what leads us to believe such bullsh*t? Advertising.
A good rule of thumb is that if you’ve seen mass advertising for it, you probably shouldn’t be eating it. When was the last time you saw an ad campaign for strawberries, bananas, chia seeds, almonds, green tea, blueberries…. You get what I’m saying, right? For example, we are bombarded with advertisements for cereal. In fact, there is a long, double-sided aisle in most supermarkets devoted to breakfast cereal alone. Beware, folks. Stay away from it. (Both the cereal and the aisle.)
The last thing you should be putting into your body after starving yourself for the (hopefully) 8 hours you’ve slept is a big bowl of processed carbohydrates! Let’s just think about this for a second, shall we? Our metabolism has slowed down while we are at rest. We wake up, we grab a box of processed dry food from our pantry, and fill our bowls with sugar (that’s right, even the “healthy” ones). And for those of you who swear you’re eating a sugar-free cereal, well guess what?… Because these “oats” and “flakes” are such a readily-digestible, processed food, our body converts them to – yes – SUGAR and stores them as – wait for it… FAT! And so, we have now began the sugar-craving cycle with our very first meal of the day. And that’s not the whole horror story. We then soak our sugar flakes in a dairy product intended to fatten up a baby calf. (What did you think cow’s milk was intended to do?) Good morning. Ugh!
We need to get back to eating what’s real. And it doesn’t come from a box. So “leggo your Eggo” and let’s talk about the best breakfast. The goal is to make your first meal of the day high in fiber, protein, and good fats. Protein is needed for muscle maintenance; in addition, studies show that eating protein keeps us feeling fuller longer. A heavy dose of fiber helps our bodies to slow down the conversion of sugar so that our food is not stored as fat, while the healthy fats signal our brains that we are satisfied. This combination will keep you feeling full for a much longer time than the unhealthy alternatives.
HERE ARE MY TOP BREAKFAST FOODS TO LIVE YOUNG (AND LEAN)
Raw Nuts: Every morning, without fail, I start my day with a handful of raw nuts. They fulfill all three requirements of my healthy breakfast (fiber, protein, and fat). No, I’m not talking about Planter’s Peanuts, folks. The fact that your brain right now is picturing the Planter’s Peanut man in the top-hat-and-cane means their advertisements have worked. His nuts are roasted, oily, salty, and (let’s be honest) delicious!
However, I’m on board if you want to think about them as a much healthier alternative to Lay’s Potato Chips. I’m talking raw, folks… as in, the only thing the farmer did was peel off the outer layer and wash them off for you. I prefer almonds and walnuts. Almonds help regulate your blood-sugar levels and walnuts may help stave off Alzheimer’s.
Eggs: The “incredible edible egg” (yes, I remember that commercial) has made a complete comeback. (Now this is one of the very few “good-for-you foods” that has been mass advertised). The egg white is a perfect protein, containing all essential amino acids, and the yolk is full of essential vitamins and minerals and gives us a healthy dose of good fat that keeps us satiated for hours and hours.
It really is the perfect food. The only thing eggs are missing are fiber. So when I have eggs for breakfast, I usually make an omelet full of fresh veggies topped with a hefty splash of hot sauce to jump- start my metabolism. If I eat a hard-boiled egg, I usually eat a handful of raw almonds with it.
Avocados: Avocados are a healthy fat that satisfies our cravings. I eat avocados almost every day. I chop them in salads, add them to omelets, and even use them as an edible garnish to many main dishes. But one of my favorite new ways to eat them is in an amazingly easy and delicious breakfast recipe that I just found. I crack an egg into the center of an avocado and bake for 25 minutes. Click here to print recipe or watch YouTube video here. My kids LOVE these!
Chia Seeds: Yes, I have jumped on the chia seed bandwagon. Why? Because they are amazing! Just like eggs, they are a complete protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids. In addition, they are full of fiber and a great source of healthy fats. Hooray! I add chia seeds to anything I can: desserts, soups, salads, chili… I even coat my Healthy Chicken Strips in them. However, for breakfast, I like to make a chia seed and almond milk pudding the night before and add fresh fruit and nuts in the morning. And because chia seeds don’t really have a flavor, the sky’s the limit as to the flavor combinations you can make. Click here for the basic recipe.
Fresh fruit: Do not buy fruit-flavored breakfast foods. Ever. Never. Ever. This is a red flag for hidden sugars and usually artificial colors and flavors. Think about it: fruit is perishable, so why are we thinking that “fruit,” in any real sense of the word, ends up with any of its vitamins and minerals intact, hot or cold. Take a look at the “blueberries” in your instant blueberry oatmeal or the “cranberries” in your “Total Cranberry Crunch” cereal. You need to actually eat the raw fruit, people, to get any of the real benefits. A banana or apple with peanut butter is a great breakfast! Or a cup of chia seed pudding with 1/2 cup mixed berries on top.
So there you have it. My top 5 “real” breakfast foods to start your day off right. These foods will keep you lean, yet satisfied. Let’s stop letting advertisers dictate what is “healthy” for us. We can think for ourselves, and we are not going to let them hijack our family’s most important meal of the day.