I didn't used to be like this. Naturally, there was no escaping breakfast in my younger years, when parents would monitor the heck out of stuff like that. But in my adult life, there was a long stretch of time when I was quite diligent about the most important meal of the day. And I have to admit it felt pretty good.
But over the past few years, good breakfast eating sort of fell by the wayside. A series of injuries, a car accident, and new health problems made me stop exercising regularly. With that, a lot of my good eating habits were neglected. Not in terms of the types of food I'd eat, because I keep it fairly clean and unprocessed, but when and how often I'd eat.
Longtime readers know I'm naturally a grazer, and that's sometimes reflected in my serving sizes (because frankly, I just can't eat a lot of food all at once. Give me a few hours though, and watch out!). When I graze correctly I feel great all day long, as many of my hypoglycemia symptoms are almost non-existent. When I don't, I get the hangries and I'm not altogether there mentally.
But I think I'm also secretly a Spaniard because my preferred eating schedule is a good 3-4 hours later than the average American schedule. Lunch at noon? Why so early? Lunch tastes much better around 2pm. And dinner as early as 6? That's just silly. That's happy hour time! I've just always preferred to eat later in the day (which is why I know Spain will agree with me whenever I have the chance to make it there).
The thing is, I'm not a spring chicken anymore. And I have mega health issues now. While mornings are a lot more difficult than they used to be, doing generally stupid things with my eating schedule isn't worth the pain and discomfort that inevitably follow. Because PHN and shingles fall under the autoimmune disease category, I've found that keeping up with a healthy diet is essential to managing my symptoms.
That means I have to eat breakfast. Everyday. In the morning, no less.
So I'm making a conscious effort to be a Bad Breakfast Eater No More. No more excuses, no more dilly dallying, I just have to get it done because I know it will be good for me. In fact, let's go for broke and turn it into a hashtag for Instagram: #BadBreakfastEaterNoMore. Anyone else who wants to join me on this one, read on to the end of the post for how to play.
But first, back to the food.
Yes, there's the smoothie fix for an easy breakfast, but even smoothies can be put on the back burner if I haven't prepped my smoothie bags. But more often than not, I just don't want something sweet for breakfast. I tend to prefer savory breakfasts like salads or soups (this is when I would fare best somewhere in Asia). While I have a small arsenal of really delicious savory breakfast options, those feel more like leisurely weekend brunches as opposed to fuel-your-body-for-the-workday meals.
So I went the savory muffin route. They're not new, they're not rocket science, they just haven't made it from my To Do list onto my plate until now. It's a simple concept, really: rather than sweet, sugary muffins that do absolutely nothing to jump start your day, you swap it out with a savory, more protein-rich small bite and voila! Breakfast for busy and/or lazy people is served.
Being a creature of habit, I wasn't about to bake a savory breakfast muffin without throwing some quinoa in my first version. It adds extra protein, essential fiber, and eventually becomes the binding agent. Some chopped peppers, onions and kale (what I had in the fridge at the time) and into the oven they'd go.
I chose to make these mini muffin sized rather than regular muffin sized for a couple reasons. Because they're so protein-rich they can be pretty filling, so I wanted a way to control my portions without having to sacrifice half a muffin if I got full too fast. And quite honestly, the first time I made these I barely had enough ingredients to make 4-6 normal muffins, which was a bit deflating. Switching pans not only stretched out my ingredients, it gave me more control over what I'd be eating later. Kinda like with my dessert shots - sometimes I'll be hungry enough to have more than one, depending on what kind it is. Most of the time, I just like the option of having one small treat to satisfy my sweet tooth. Options, baby. Options are good.
Obviously you're not going to eat an entire pan of these in one sitting (though it can be tempting; they're pretty tasty), which is another reason why making them so small works. Make a couple batches of these on a Sunday night, and you'll have breakfast for the next few days. Simply store them in a ziploc bag or plastic container, and take out a couple each morning. Zap them in the microwave for a few seconds to get them all warm and steamy again, add a small piece of fruit for variety and woo ha! Look at you, you're having breakfast.
WE'RE having breakfast!
So before I launch into the recipe, here's the deal: I'm usually pretty good about doing things like losing weight or maintaining weight on my own. But for this one, I really need accountability. I also know I'm not the only one who struggles with having breakfast regularly, so we can help each other!
That's why I'm starting the PGEW Bad Breakfast Eater No More! Challenge. Each day for the whole month of April, we'll be posting a picture of our breakfast - good or bad! - on Instagram. No judgment, no pressure to be a perfect breakfast eater, I just want to make sure we eat it everyday. It's super easy! Here's how it'll work:
2. Take a picture of your breakfast every morning in April and use the following hashtags: #PGEWgrams, #PGEWbreakfastchallenge and #BadBreakfastEaterNoMore
3. Don't forget to tag a friend (or two, or three!) who also needs some breakfast encouragement!
3. At the end of each week (or day, depending on how many people play along), I'll re-post 4 of my favorites to show everyone that breakfast comes in all sizes, shapes, and flavors - just like us!
Remember, the purpose of this challenge isn't to show who has the healthiest/tiniest/sexiest (though sexy is always appreciated)/most perfect breakfast of all time. It's just a little mental nudge to remind you to take care of yourself. And as much as I'll hem and haw and argue about why breakfast should start around 2pm along with mornings in general, breakfast is one of the best ways to take care of yourself. Our bodies are machines and require good fuel on a regular basis. Going from dinner to 2pm "breakfast" isn't doing my body any favors, so I'm determined to do this.
If you fall off the wagon a day or two, don't fret. Just dust yourself off and try again the following day. This is NOT going to be easy for me either (bad habits are hard to break)! But again, this is about support, encouragement, and that little bit of accountability many of us need as an extra incentive. Hopefully by May 1st, it will be less of a challenge and more like something to look forward to every morning!
Are you on board for becoming a #BadBreakfastEaterNoMore? Comment below if you'll be playing along! And now... recipe time. : )
Quinoa, Egg & Veggie Breakfast Bites (makes 24 bites; serving size 3-4 bites; average cost per serving: $0.65/serving)Feel free to use your favorite veggies if you're not a fan of peppers, kale or onions. Just like with soups or chopped salads, this is a great way to make use of all those veggie odds and ends that might be hanging around in your fridge. No mini muffin pan? No problem. Use your regular or super sized muffin pan to make between 4 and 6 of these breakfast treats.
1 c cooked quinoa
4 large eggs, beaten
1/2 c finely chopped yellow onion
1/2 c finely chopped red bell pepper
1/2 c finely chopped kale
1-2 t coconut oil or olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 24 mini muffin tin with coconut or olive oil (you'll want to grease them well but not excessively) and set aside.
2. In a medium skillet, heat the coconut (or olive) oil and add the onions. Saute quickly until just fragrant, then add the peppers. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes, until just softened. Remove from heat and add the kale. Stir into the other veggies and allow the kale to wilt just slightly. (Remember, this will finish cooking in the oven, so be sure not to overcook to avoid mushy vegetables.)
3. Combine the veggie mixture and quinoa in a large bowl and mix well. Add the eggs and stir gently to incorporate. Carefully fill the muffin tin with the egg & quinoa mixture and bake for about 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a rack - or directly into your mouth (they smell so good right out of the oven). Serve a few with a small piece of fruit, or just grab some as your heading out the door, and enjoy!