Happy New Year everyone!
Right about now, many of you might be launching into some healthy eating resolutions. January 1st never really works since after the party, what you really want is to sleep in and have a big, rich brunch. Then you might need a couple of days to focus on what you want the New Year to bring…which leads you to the weekend so you can prepare to make it happen. Personally, I love the ‘blank slate’ feeling of January. In reality, you can vow to evolve and change on a daily basis but there is a lot of tradition and cultural support for making a fresh start at the turn of the year.
So Heather and I thought we would share our slightly different spin on New Year’s resolutions. To us, dietary change as a whole works better when it is focused, concrete and sustainable. When you focus on building new, positive habits you avoid the deprivation trap and eventually the less positive habits get crowded out. It might not be as dramatic as a juice cleanse but it is sustainable!
So for the first weeks of 2013, we would like to offer our suggestions on healthy eating resolutions that will not only make you healthier but will actually be possible to maintain long term. Because of course, a resolution that you pick up every year in January and drop every year by February 1st doesn’t exactly spell real change.
For this week, we are taking our mother’s advice and advocating that breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Here’s why…
1. You need to break the fast: As you sleep, your body has to switch from storing energy to liberating it to keep your organs and brain fueled with glucose. In order to do that, hormones such as glucagon and cortisol (the stress hormone!) rise and help convert stored energy into useful forms. When you eat breakfast within 2 hours of rising, the morning meal sends a signal that the fast is indeed over and the balance of hormones can shift into a fed, relaxed state. If you don’t, your hormones continue to work hard to keep your body running, which can lead to cravings, crabbiness and sluggishness.
2. You will set a good example for the kids (and for your future self!): In the morning we tend to have stronger willpower (there’s that old ‘fresh start’ again!) than at the end of the day and consciously eating a very healthful breakfast helps set the eating tone for the rest of the day. Bolstered by a good meal, you just might choose another good meal at lunch. For those of you with kids, modeling healthy eating behaviours pays off!
3. It will help you stay trim. There is some evidence that breakfast eaters weigh less than those who regularly skip it. This probably has to do with hormonal and metabolic response to prolonged fasting but the evidence is still a work in progress.
Convinced? Great! So…what should you actually eat for breakfast? Anything is better than nothing but certain foods are clearly better than others.
A medley of white flour, fat and white sugar will send your own blood sugars soaring and keep you on a blood sugar rollercoaster for the rest of the day. What you want is a meal that will help provide a slow, steady rise in blood sugars to hit the ‘reset’ button on your metabolism. Whole, intact grains, nuts, seeds and lean proteins, along with some fruit or veggies are a nice combination.
Here are a few options to try, some of which you can prep the night before for those who can’t think straight before 8:00AM:
– Scrambled eggs and spinach with a slice of sprouted grain toast. Bake the egg mixture in muffin cups for a make-ahead option.
– A smoothie with silken tofu, Greek yogurt or plant-based protein powder and fruit. Bonus marks for throwing a bit of kale or spinach in with your blueberries!
– Hard-boiled eggs and a piece of fruit for those in a super rush!
– Cottage cheese layered with berries, a bit of high fibre cereal, chopped nuts and ground flax seeds
– Our Brilliant Breakfast Cookie…ta da!
Brilliant Banana Breakfast Cookies
Makes 15 cookies.
Why are these cookies so brilliant? Because they are made from whole foods, with all their fibre, protein and slow-burning energy intact. Make them on the weekend and have an on-the-go breakfast ready when you are. Enjoy them with a skim milk or organic soy latte or crumble them over Greek yogurt to add vital protein to help you stay energized all morning long.
3/4 cup oat flour – if you can’t find oat flour, you can make it yourself by pulsing oats in a food processor until they are fine as flour
3/4 cup large flake oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1 tbsp ground flaxseed
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp agave syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
If you want to toast the walnuts, roast them in a preheated 375°F oven for 4-6 minutes. Then reduce heat to 350°F.
In a large bowl, whisk together oat flour, oats, coconut, flax and salt. Stir in toasted walnuts and dried apricots.
In another bowl, mash bananas with a fork and stir in coconut oil, agave syrup and vanilla. Add banana mixture to flour mixture and fold until combined.
The dough for these cookies is pretty easy to handle so we recommend getting your hands dirty!
Run a little coconut oil on the inside of a 3 inch square or round cookie cutter so dough doesn’t stick. Place cookie cutter on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Add a small handful of cookie dough into the cookie cutter and lightly press the dough down with your fingertips. Aim for about a 1/2 inch thickness. Repeat until the baking sheet is full and cookies are about 1 inch apart.
Bake for 25 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Allow to cool 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
These breakfast cookies are perfect for freezing. They will keep for 1-2 months in the freezer. Simply remove from the freezer the night before and grab’n go for a quick breakfast in the morning.