Monday, June 11, 2012

Rethinking "Breakfast Food"

Tofu sauteed in garlic and olive oil. Avocado.

     For my entire life I have believed that Breakfast Food was a specific thing, maybe you do too. I categorized certain types of foods under the title "Breakfast." My list looked something like this:
  • Hot/Cold Cereals
  • breads/baked goods
  • yogurt
  • all fruits
  • juice
  • eggs/breakfast meats (i.e. sausage, bacon)
     As you can see, my list was pretty limited. Over the years, breakfast has become an even more limited meal for me (especially if eating out--since most restaurants seem to mirror my list of what constitutes breakfast foods...maybe that's where I came up with the list, by looking at breakfast menus?) The reason why breakfast became so limited was because I developed food intolerance starting at the age of 8, when I first started to find that certain foods trigger severe migraine headaches for me, with the most recent food intolerance appearing only a few years ago at the age of 28. The list of foods I cannot eat without developing a debilitating migraine is as follows:
  • eggs
  • pork
  • beef
  • nitrites/nitrates (this means that many poultry versions of "breakfast meats" are off limits to me unless I find an uncured version)
  • MSG
  • Chocolate
  • Red skinned potatoes (who knows why)
  • Some cheeses (Swiss, Romano, Parmesan, ricotta, blue)
  • Strawberries
  • Bananas
     Additionally, two of my children have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, or gluten intolerance. Therefore most of the commonly found cereals, breads and baked goods that I would've bought are full of gluten so I am left to either bake my own gluten-free alternatives (which I often do) or spend a small fortune on specialty items.

     Unfortunately many of the specialty food items out there may be safe for some in my house but unsafe for others which presents another difficulty, for example many gluten-free bagels and breads contain eggs, which I can't have and many meat-alternatives (meat free sausages etc.) contain wheat gluten, which my kids can't have. See what I mean?

     Fortunately, this little dilemma hasn't left us starving, it hasn't even created a lot of extra work (just some thoughtful planning) or extra money--in fact, I think it saves us money. What it has done is opened the door for me to  think "outside the box", to broaden my horizons, to improve health, and to make breakfast more exciting and enjoyable than ever before. A desire to improve my children's health through a more well-rounded diet that included more veggies was certainly a motivator as well. You can read more about that here.

     When hearing about all the food intolerance in my family many people inquire "So what do you guys eat???" Since today I am simply tackling that question in terms of breakfast here is a pictorial view of some of the things we now eat at breakfast. Please note, the expanded version of my "breakfast foods" list now includes lots of veggies, tofu, and LOTS of eggs for the kids. I've found that our breakfasts are less sugary now too. Some of these meals may look time consuming but often they are pieced together from dinner leftovers along-side freshly cooked eggs, for example; because now when I look in the fridge in the morning and see last nights garden salad, instead of thinking "Oh. No. Not that. That's not a breakfast food." I simply think "Why not?" It's healthy isn't it? Yes, it is, and it isn't any less healthy if I eat it at 7am rather than 5pm.

Garden Salad. Fritata (which is ridiculously easy to make.)

Huevos Rancheros (fried egg atop black beans, brown rice, cheese and salsa)

Peaches, hard boiled eggs, carrots

Gluten Free Bagels by Udi's French toast style.

Fried eggs and sauteed green beans.

Left over Quinoa salad (cilantro, walnuts, mandarin organges, craizins), Scrambled Eggs Super (mixed in pureed squash, flax meal, and cheese), sauteed green beans.

      As you can see we have found a new set of "staple" foods. Eggs, green beans, rice, canned beans, tofu. All of these can be bought easily on a tight budget. The above pics mostly reflect what I give my kids, since I wouldn't be able to eat most of those egg-filled meals. In fact, maybe after seeing the above pics you're thinking that this post should more aptly be titled "5 Breakfasts Made with Eggs and Veg!" My personal breakfasts though are full of veggies, tofu, smoothies, oatmeal, granola, or sometimes something simple like this:

Crusty Olive bread (toasted) and topped with greek olive hummus (I have a pretty serious love affair with olives.)

Kiwi on the side, skin on (you can eat that part!)

     In a future post I'll share with you how picking theme days for our meals has also helped stream-line our meal prep and has kept us on track nutritionally.

     My kids took some convincing at first, but presentation goes a long way! It only takes a moment of thoughtful arrangement on the plate and they are happier with fuller bellies at the beginning of their day now. I have to admit, that while I still deal with the frustrating aspect of battles over food with my kids from time to time, just like anyone does, I get a bit of pleasure out of hearing my kids "argue" over breakfast about which is tastier Red or Yellow Qunioa? And when my 7-year-old son requested a chicken thigh for breakfast the other day, and I responded in surprise,
"For breakfast??"
He reminded me,
"Didn't you say green beans could be breakfast food? Why not chicken?"
Why not?

Bon Apetit!

Linking up today via the "It's Monday, Hop Along with Me!" hop here.
Also linking up with the "Healthy Living Link-ay Part-ay" at Our Reflection.


  1. Hi!

    I'm Shar! Your newest follower from the Monday blog hop!

    Come visit me over at:


  2. Hi Shar,

    Thanks for stopping by, I'll be over to your site to say hi soon!

    Tamar :)

  3. Such good ideas! Sounds like you guys have a lot of the same limitations we do food-wise! Thanks so much for linking up to Simple Steps to Healthy Living! xoxo New follower :)

    1. Yes, and it's exciting when the possibilities don't seem so "limited" as they once did! :) XO, Tamar

  4. So inspired how creative you've become with breakfast! It's definitely got me thinking of better alternatives to eat!! :)

    1. Thanks Jasanna,

      Isn't it wonderful to feel inspired?! Especially when it comes to food (yum) glad you enjoyed!! :)