Is breakfast a difficult meal for you?

Is it the one that you rarely think about, the one that you linger over the least? I was never one to skip breakfast, but I still find it a hard meal to wrap my head around. I rarely get to lavish the attention on breakfast that I pay to lunch and dinner: hunger, and the morning rush, conspire to make my breakfast as simple as possible. But "simple," I find, is often pre-made and repetitive: store-bought yogurt and granola; toast with peanut butter and banana slices; fruit and cottage cheese. Those are my staples, the ingredients that I always have on hand to make my morning meal in a pinch. I rarely give them a second thought. So what's wrong with that?

Part of the problem with these kinds of foods is that they are sugary and flighty, often leaving me hungry later in the day. And they get boring, day after day, the same combination of dairy and grain and sweetness. There is only so much granola and yogurt that I can take before going batty. Yet I have never been one to yearn for bacon and eggs in the morning -- so what to do?

I have found part of the solution to what-to-eat-for-breakfast in the insight afforded by Asian cuisine which, it should be pointed out, does not draw clear distinctions between "breakfast food" and all the rest. Breakfast, at least in China, may be sweet, or it may be savory; it may have fruits, or eggs, or soup, or rice, or all of these things. Breakfast is like lunch or dinner, only smaller. Just think of all the things you can have for breakfast if you follow this approach! Not just eggs -- pork! Beef stew! Tofu! Vegetables! Are you someone who can't stand another day of bagels with cream cheese and frozen orange juice? Don't you agree that breakfast is the most wasted culinary opportunity of the day?

I'm trying my best to change things around here, and I am taking my cues from Asian cuisine. My breakfast may be a bowl of rice with coconut milk and fruit, as in my first photo, or a sticky rice bao filled with sweet pork, shitake mushrooms, peanuts, and dried shrimp (picked up in Chinatown); black imperial rice with coconut and bananas; mung bean porridge with tangerines; or any other strange and wonderful concoction I happen to dream up or stumble upon. This is what I am eating, more often than not. And I can't think of a better way to start my day with a breakfast that is just a little beyond the ordinary -- even if all porridges look the same.


Emily said...

Your Asian-inspired breakfasts sound just fantastic. I would love to try the rice with coconut milk or the mung bean porridge.

I love breakfast foods like granola (or any cold cereal), oatmeal (or any hot cereal), and toast with peanut butter and banana, but have spent a long time being afraid of them. Afraid of the sugar and the grains and afraid of eating too much. Just today I had granola and yogurt for breakfast for the first time in ages, and was just enthralled by it. Hopefully soon I'll be branching out even more!

Carrie Arnold said...

Actually, I was thinking some tropical-inspired oatmeal with the coconut milk- some dried papaya, some vanilla, some cinnamon maybe? Yum! I have a can or two in the pantry to make a coconut curried chicken stew. I might have to whip it out early and try this.

I love breakfast foods. Love 'em. I would eat breakfast three meals a day if I could.

Emily Jolie said...

Your concoctions sounds delicious, Ai Lu!

I'm definitely guilty of falling into a rut with breakfast. For months, I will have the same dish every morning. Then I'll switch it up and have that dish every day.

My current breakfast meal is quinoa with a bit of rice milk, a drop or two of stevia, sliced banana, chopped almonds, and a little bit of pure cocoa powder sprinkled on top. It's quite delicious, and it fills me up without making me feel weighed-down.

I used to scramble an egg into some quinoa or millet and add a bit of honey, almond butter and vanilla soymilk in for sweetening. That was one of my favorite breakfasts. I still need to stay away from eggs right now (I am confident that will change again!), so I can't have it at the moment, but there will come a day again. :)

Another favorite was poached egg on toasted Ezekiel bread with some sea salt sprinkled on top. I found that the egg really held me over and helped keep my blood sugar even.

Then, for a while, I would mash up an avocado, sometimes with a bit of banana, sometimes just with some rice milk and stevia, and sometimes I'd add cooked quinoa or millet.

I also love having papaya for breakfast when I can get my hands on a good one.

For another while yet, I was having quinoa flakes or hot rice cereal or cream of buckwheat, with a little xylitol and ghee or virgin coconut oil and flaxseed and chopped almonds sprinkled on top. Or sometimes with beans alongside (mungbeans, lentils...) for added protein.

I guess I do have quite a few options to fall back onto...

I always enjoy your posts, Ai Lu! I loved reading your hot pot experience, too! Thank you for sharing!

Hope you are having a wonderful week!

with love,