Friday, December 7, 2012
Beyond Breakfast Cereal: Healthy Options to Start your Day!
Many of of grew up on cold breakfast cereal with cow's milk. I did a little research and learned how this tradition began, because you see, humans have only recently begun to rely on these processed foods. Our ancestors always consumed real whole foods. Cold breakfast cereals started to become popular in the late 1800's, when Keith Kellogg discovered a pot of wheat that had been overcooked and then dried into separate flakes. He soon thereafter created Cornflakes and later Rice Krispies. Breakfast cereals are made by a process of extrusion in which ingredients, often starchy foods, are processed at high temperatures and forced through an extruder to create a specific shape. Starchy foods processed at high temperatures create a lot of browning and something called Advanced Glycated End Products, or AGES. Eating these types of foods every morning can wreak havoc on your body.
Breakfast cereals have more things against them as well. They often add a high amount of refined sugars, colorings, flavorings, contaminated low quality vitamins and minerals, and GMO ingredients. Laboratory testing of low quality nutritional supplements shows they may contain contaminants such as chemical solvents, heavy metals, and preservatives such as sodium benzoate, BHA, BHT, etc. Many people are irate that the cereal companies they trusted and fed to their families contain GMO ingredients. You can go read the Facebook pages for Kelloggs, Cheerios, and Nature Valley. They are all lit up right now with comments from concerned people calling them out on their use of toxic GMO ingredients.
The reality is that we shouldn't be consuming cold breakfast cereal at all, even the natural organic brands. There are far healthier options that will give you long lasting energy, help keep moods and behaviors balanced, and provide the right nutrients for brain function and growth. Try out a few of the options below and see what makes you feel best. This might change daily, weekly, or even seasonally. There isn't one right way as long as you are sticking with whole organic foods.
Look for organic eggs, or even better, pastured eggs, which come from chickens that have the freedom to roam and eat moss, bugs, and vegetable scraps. Organic often means the chickens were just fed organic grains. The term "free range" is nothing more that a marketing ploy. It doesn't mean you are getting healthy eggs. It just means that the chickens were not kept in tiny metal cages. They are still often crammed into large hen houses and can be fed non-organic GMO grains.
Try poaching, scrambling, frying, or hard boiling pasture-raised eggs. Serve them with fruit, lacto-fermented vegetables, cooked potatoes or yams, sautéed greens, or fresh salad greens. There are so many great options!
We usually make a green smoothie five days of the week. We load it up with kale, collards, ginger, and fresh lemon juice. This is a fantastic way to eat a lot of raw greens at once! Try adding healthy fats such as soaked nuts, avocados, or chia seeds to slow the digestion. Remember, adding healthy fats to your diet won't necessarily make you fat. We also like to make berry smoothies with soaked nuts, frozen berries, chia seeds, and sometimes maca powder.
A bowl of warm whole grain cereal can be just the thing on a chilly morning! Try organic gluten-free rolled oats, amaranth, quinoa, teff, or ground brown rice. I always like to add some fat with these to keep blood sugar levels balanced. A dollop of pastured butter, coconut milk, raw almond milk, or ground nuts (or all of the above) works well.
My cookbooks have plenty of recipes for making warm whole grain cereals. You can make your own cream of rice cereal, teff porridge, quinoa cereal, and more! It's really quite simple.
Organic or homemade sausages, leftover cooked salmon, or even last night's chicken vegetable stir-fry are great options. Sometimes I like to have one or two sausages with my green smoothie if I know I am going to be out all morning. My oldest daughter will often eat leftover salmon along with some cut up fruit for breakfast.
You don't need much! Just a little bit of animal protein combined with a lot of vegetables (in a smoothie or salad) is a great balance that will keep you energized!
Our early settlers relied heavily on corn for breakfast, probably passed down to them from the Native Americans. They made Johnnycakes, hoecakes (cooked on the flat side of a garden hoe in a fire), and corn bread quite often. Now many folks rely on boxed mixes to make pancakes, but you don't need to. Pancakes can be very simple to throw together, in fact, I usually never use a recipe and don't measure. Use whole grain flours, some type of milk, eggs or chia/flax seeds, a little baking soda and powder, and a dash of maple syrup. I have recipes for gluten-free whole grain pancakes in both cookbooks. My new book has recipes for using soaked whole grains to make pancakes, crepes, and dosas (Quinoa Mung Bean Dosas). I think any type of griddle cake, whether whole grain or grain-free, needs to be an occasional treat though. When these types of foods are cooked on a skillet (especially recipes that rely on almond flour and honey) they can produce a lot of AGES so use them as a treat, a few times a month, not everyday.
Do you have any other ideas for a healthy breakfast? Please share in the comments below. Thanks! :)
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Posted by Ali Segersten at 12/07/2012 12:00:00 PM
About the Author
Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is the founder of Whole Life Nutrition, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them, and offers elimination diet recipes, healthy gluten-free recipes, paleo and vegan recipes, as well as tips for feeding your family a nourishing, whole foods diet. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!