Thursday, February 19, 2009

Breakfast: Part II

As promised, today is all about fantastic, satisfying non-egg breakfasts. I rarely have anything but eggs in the morning, but occasionally I have mild concerns about the effect this habit has on my cholesterol, so for brief periods I take a little break from the world of chicken ovums.

The fact that I need protein first thing during the day does not, however, change. So on weekdays (I am less concerned with my performance, energy, concentration, etc. on the weekends) that do not include an egg, I need a protein stand-in. Due I guess to a very intense infatuation with French Women Don't Get Fat a few years ago, I am extremely fond of plain yogurt (the french apparently love it). Ronnybrook full fat is my brand of choice.

But yogurt alone won't do it...I need at least a little variety to wake me up. So what I've come up with over the years is a banana cut up with yogurt on top, topped with walnuts (I always keeps them in the freezer...they are really cheap at Trader Joe's) and honey (worth getting some really delicious stuff for this...either from the organic floor at Fairway or from SOS Chefs). It is the perfect combination of sweet/sour soft/hard counterpoints. I tend to eat it a lot in warmer makes me feel sort of like I'm in Greece or something.

As good as this yogurt dish is, on a very cold morning it just doesn't click. So until the weather warms up, I must rely on steel-cut oatmeal.

Now McCann's is great, but to be honest, I just save the tin (again, I think Trader Joe's has a very good price on this) and refill it with bulk steel cut oats that I get from the bins at the health food store. Much cheaper than buying the can each time.

If, unlike me, you don't like to take too much time to cook your breakfast in the morning, you can soak the oats in water overnight (I figure about 1/3 cup per person) and then they only take about 3-5 minutes to cook in the morning. Or if you'd rather do it all in the morning, simmer water equal to four times the quantity of oats, then add the oats, put in a good pinch of salt, and simmer, covered, over low heat for about 30 minutes. I usually check and stir about 15 minutes in just to make sure it isn't sticking too much. If you have a rice cooker the oats can also be prepared in it, but I prefer to use a pot because I find that I like the texture retains a tiny bit of crunch with the pot method.

And lastly, I am a huge fan of muesli. However, I am not a fan of the price...$7 for a small box?!! Just because it is Swiss?!! Highly offensive if you ask me. But luckily, muesli really is as simple as it looks, and is just about the easiest thing in the world to make. Unsurprisingly, Nigella comes to the rescue with a recipe...her granola is so great, why should her muesli be any different? With some good milk (again, Ronnybrook for me), it is an intensely satisfying start to my day.

From Feast by Nigella Lawson

200g mixed nuts (hazelnuts and walnuts are wonderful)
200g organic oats
75g sunflower seeds
150g sultanas (dried sour cherries are also nice)
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Note: I unfortunately only have the weights for these ingredients, not the volume measurements, but honestly just mix the ingredients above until you have the type of mix that looks good to you. There's no need to be precise.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Put the mixed nuts into a food processor and pulse so that some are finely chopped to blend with the oats and others are bigger to give texture.

Spread the oats, mixed chopped nuts and sunflower seeds on to a baking sheet and toast for 20 minutes. After 10, take the tin out, give it a good shake so that everything toasts evenly, and put the tin back in the oven.

Then, when it's had its full time, take the tin out again, give the contents a stir around, and then leave in the tin to cool completely.

Once cool stir through the sultanas and brown sugar and store in an airtight container.

Tomorrow, Sunday breakfast.


wambalus said...

I've never been one for oatmeal - it sits like a ball in my stomach. But I love your banana/walnut concoction, and I often make something similar with soy yogurt (which, in the UK, is much more similar to thick and tangy Greek yogurt). Bit of ground flax seed on top works when you're out of nuts too.

Laura [What I Like] said...

Yeah, I've been kind of into flax seeds lately. Trader Joe's sells a peanut butter that has flax seeds mixed in and it gives it a nice little crunch...of something other than peanut...that I'm really liking.

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