Tag Archives: breakfast

Breaking down breakfast

A big part of making RealFood sustainable is figuring out how these wholesome RealFood ingredients come together to form a meal and one fairly significant issue most of us face is during breakfast. While we understand the concept of real food, it seems to me, that a lot of us are a little lost when it comes to cooking and/or assembling a legit real food breakfast. In this post, I’ll try and fix this.

Breakfast is the first meal of the day (hence the name break-fast) and doesn’t have to be consumed at a specific time as falsely believed. While it is in no way the most important meal of the day and skipping breakfast is extremely beneficial, if you do eat it, it makes sense to eat a good meal with the right ingredients as opposed to falling into the trap of believing that processed junk like cereals, energy bars, fruit juices and health drinks are actually healthful and relying on them to keep you healthy.

It is true that we have been eating breakfast for a long long time but that doesn’t mean we know, today, what to eat for breakfast. In the last 50-70 years our lifestyles have changed so drastically and we’ve been forced to shift to a lifestyle that involves minimal physical exertion. So, obviously, what we eat today cannot be the same as what we used to eat back when we lead very active lives, if we worry about health that is.

Today, most of us, wake up, sit and then go back to sleep. I’m really not kidding. Take a piece of paper (or open a spreadsheet) and note down your posture (sitting, standing, lying down, walking etc.) for an entire day and you’ll see that sitting or lying down dominates your 24 hours by a big margin. As important as it is to fix this and find ways to feature standing, walking etc. more often, it is absolutely necessary to fuel yourself depending on your activity.

The requirements

Now let’s assume that most people (who read this) spend the majority of their day doing little to no physical work. For such people, here is what is expected out of a perfect breakfast (in the order of importance w.r.t sustainability from a common man’s perspective).

  • Taste
  • Momentary satisfaction or (vaguely) instant fullness
  • Duration of satiety or ‘time to hunger’ after breakfast and energy levels between breakfast and next meal
  • Micro-nutrient richness (and absence of allergens/anti-nutrients)
  • Hassle-free availability and societal acceptance

The ingredients

Now that we have the requirements listed, let’s look at the ingredients that satisfy these requirements (in the order of significance)

1. Whole food proteins

  • Sources: Country eggs, natural cheeses and high quality meat/seafood.
  • Offerings: Excellent momentary satiety, long gastric emptying time resulting in lasting satiety and micro-nutrient richness.

2. Organic produce

  • Sources: Any and all vegetables and fruits.
  • Offerings: Excellent momentary satisfaction, taste (when cooked right) and micro-nutrient richness.

3. Farm fresh dairy

  • Sources: Whole milk, whole milk yogurt, cheese, whey, kefir, salt lassi and buttermilk.
  • Offerings: Taste, long gastric emptying time resulting in lasting satiety, micro-nutrient richness, easy availability and social acceptance.

4. Benign starches

  • Sources: Cooked white rice, rice based dishes (idly, dosa, vermicelli, pongal, puttu), pre-soaked/sprouted legumes/beans/pulses, potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, taro and other tubers.
  • Offerings: Taste, excellent momentary satisfaction, micro-nutrient richness (pulses and lentils), easy and wide availability and social acceptance.

5. Oils

  • Sources: Ghee, butter and coconut oil for cooking and olive oil/sesame oil for toppings
  • Offerings: Taste, long gastric emptying time resulting in lasting satiety and micro-nutrient richness.

The meal

Now that we have the identified the right tools to do the job, let’s talk about how to do the job. Here are some examples for a 65-70kg male who works a desk job and works out 2-3 times a week.

Example 1

Two home-size ghee dosas topped with an egg each and a handful of vegetables + coconut/spinach chutney + 1 cup milk/yogurt + 1 fruit (if required).

  • If eggs aren’t an option, make them cheese dosas using about 20g of cheese per dosa.
  • If meat is an option, have the dosa with a light (little to no oil) meat gravy.
  • If fat loss is a goal, drop it down to 1 dosa and keep everything else the same.

Example 2

Three home sized idlys or 1 cup pongal/poha + coconut/spinach chutney + 1/2 cup sambar + 2 cups vegetables cooked in 1 tsp oil + 1 cup milk/yogurt + 2 eggs.

  • If eggs aren’t an option, a scoop of whey protein mixed in with the milk/yogurt will do.
  • If fat loss is a goal, drop it down to 2 idlies or 1/2 cup pongal/poha and keep everything else the same.

Example 3

Three eggs cooked any style + 150 g potatoes baked/pan-seared + 2 tsp oil + 1 cup roasted/steamed vegetables + 30-40 g cheese.

  • Potatoes can be replaced with any other root or tuber from radishes to beetroot.
  • If cheese is not an option, a cup of yogurt or salt lassi or raita will do.
  • If eggs are not an option, a scoop of whey in a cup of milk is a fair (but in no way an equivalent) replacement.
  • If meat is an option, eat bacon.

Example 4

Two cups of daal or pulses + 1-2 cups of cooked vegetables + 1-2 cups of fruit smoothie made with 1 cup yogurt and 1 cup fruit.

  • If meat is an option, add some grilled meat or smoked salmon etc and drop the pulses and yogurt to 1/2 a cup.

Example 5

Two cups of breakfast smoothie made with 1-1.5 cup whole milk, 1 scoop vanilla whey powder, 1 medium fruit/1 cup berries, 1/2 cup baby spinach, 8-10 cashew nuts.

  • If chocolate whey powder is what you have, make a similar smoothie with milk, whey, coffee powder, fruit and cashew nuts or almonds.

Example 6

Forget all of this and have a couple of cups of green/black tea or black coffee without sugar and enjoy intermittent fasting.

The reasoning

  • Listen, I know we don’t need much protein to stay healthy. But we also don’t need to sit in front of a freakin TV for hours and hours everyday or eat mountains of rice in every meal. We do the latter oh-so-happily and frequently, so we need to balance it out by doing the former. So stop trying to fight change and embrace it. If for nothing else, protein is extremely satiating and hence helps keep you fuller longer and in-turn controls overall calorie consumption.
  • If you’re going to eat any food in plenty, you better make sure you buy the best quality. Obviously you should be eating vegetables in plenty and so make sure you buy organic. No way around it. Stop being penny wise, pound foolish and invest in high quality ingredients. You’ll eat better tasting food and live a longer lasting life.
  • Starches aren’t ‘necessary’. That doesn’t mean you completely avoid them. Starches aren’t evil. That doesn’t mean you base your meals around them. Considering today’s food scenario, starches are important because they are easily available, satisfy most people’s taste buds and help most meals look & feel complete. In other words, starches are important because they make eating RealFood sustainable. So eat your starches per your activity levels and make them benign by avoiding allergenic grains.
  • If fat loss is your goal, you need to pull out as many empty calories as possible. That translates to removing as much starch as possible. If endurance training is your thing, you’ll need more starches than listed here. Eat up!

A good breakfast isn’t where it ends. Understand the concept of RealFood and make smart choices during all meals. If you think this will be of help to your friends or family, do share.

Peace out.

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Photo credit: http://www.esquire.com

5min Breakfast Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs [cage free recommended]
  • Handful of chopped frozen or fresh peppers and/or other vegetables
  • Organic pasta sauce
  • About 1 oz of Mozzarella cheese
  • Salt, pepper, spices

Procedure:

  • Crack the eggs in a microwave safe bowl.
  • Add peppers (and/or other vegetables)
  • Add salt, pepper and spices
  • Cover and microwave on high for 2-3 min.
  • Remove lid, add cheese and top with pasta sauce.
  • Get a picture.

Nutrition:

  • Total calories ~ 250
  • Protein ~ 19 gm
  • Fat ~ 16 gm
  • Carbs negligible
  • Micronutrients: PLENTY from egg yolks and peppers (and/or other vegetables)

Say what?

  • Not enough fat? Top with some coconut oil/butter/olive oil and/or add in a couple of eggs.
  • Want more protein? Add meat to the mix or add a couple more eggs and some egg whites.
  • Crave sweet? Have a piece of fruit on the side.
  • Crappy photo? Yea so? The 5min included the photography.

Some Perspective:

  • My 5min breakfast was made of the following – eggs, peppers, cheese, tomato, onions, garlic, basil, salt, pepper and nothing more!
  • What was your breakfast made of? Do me a favor – look behind the box of your heart healthy cereal/oats/bread, jam, juice, bar etc and tell me what ingredients you see.

It’s too easy to eat right folks. One meal at a time… let’s go back to eating real food! From my side, I’ll try to post more such easy, healthy and delicious recipes moving forward… if, from your side, you will email me recipes that you come up with! What say? Do we have a deal?

Peace out!

I love you India but… Your breakfast sucks (Part 1)

Note: I was born and brought up in India and I care about what my people eat and their resulting health. So moving forward I’ll write some posts that are specific to the Indian diet, lifestyle and activities.

My international readers, rest assured that the information contained will be very valuable and interesting. You will get to learn about a culture that hails vegetarianism but also houses 60% of the world’s heart disease patients.

What’s on the menu?

This post is all about breakfast. Specifically, Indian breakfasts and breakfasts Indians eat. What’s the difference?

Indian breakfasts – Foods that are traditionally eaten for breakfast in India like…

  • Idly/dosa with coconut chutney + coffee
  • Poori/roti with potato
  • Pongal with sambar and chutney
  • Upma with chutney/sugar

Breakfasts Indians eat – The foods the modern, new age, wannabe healthy Indians eat for breakfast like…

  • Cereal/granola/oats with fat free milk and sugar + Fruit (juice)
  • Bread and jam + Fruit (juice)

None of us have the time to get into great detail about how these foods are made and their exact macro and micro-nutrient compositions. So this is what I’ll do for each meal.

  • Hyperlink each food item with it’s recipe so you can see the ingredients if you care.
  • State the dominant ingredient in each meal.
  • State the dominant macro-nutrient in each meal.
  • State the major nutritional benefits of each meal.
  • State the major nutritional deficiencies in each meal.
  • Leave the comments section open for healthy discussions/arguments.

1. Idly or dosa with coconut chutney

Dominant ingredients: Rice, lentils

Dominant macro-nutrient: Carbs

Nutritional benefits: Negligible

Nutritional deficiencies:

2. Poori/roti with potato

Dominant ingredients: Wheat, potato, vegetable oil

Dominant macro-nutrient: Carbs, fat from deep fried vegetable oil ( = bad)

Nutritional benefits: Negligible

Nutritional deficiencies :

  • Little to no protein
  • No vegetables whatsoever and hence no vitamins and/or minerals. (Potato is hardly a vegetable due to it’s high starch content and minimal micro-nutrient content).
  • Super high carb load (= high blood sugar = high insulin secretion = fat deposit)
  • Poori is deep fried in highly oxidizable/oxidized vegetable oil. Vegetable oils are high omega 6 fatty acids which are pro-inflammatory and vegetable oils at high temperature release pretty nasty toxins. Click here for scientific proof.
  • Consumption of gluten from wheat. Read here for why gluten is bad.

3. Pongal with sambar and coconut chutney

Dominant ingredients in meal: Rice, lentils

Dominant macro-nutrient: Carbs

Nutritional benefits: Negligible

Nutritional deficiencies :

  • Little to no protein (No, lentils are not full of protein)
  • No vegetables whatsoever and hence no vitamins and/or minerals.
  • Super high carb load (= high blood sugar = high insulin secretion = fat deposit)

4. Upma with chutney

Dominant ingredients in meal: Rice/wheat (depending on type of upma)

Dominant macro-nutrient: Carbs

Nutritional benefits: Negligible

Nutritional deficiencies :

  • Little to no protein (No, lentils are not full of protein)
  • No vegetables whatsoever and hence no vitamins and/or minerals. (The tiny bit of carrot doesn’t count folks!)
  • Super high carb load (= high blood sugar = high insulin secretion = fat deposit)
  • Consumption of gluten from wheat.

5. Cereal/Granola/Oats with fat-free milk and fruits.

Dominant ingredients in meal: Cereal grain (depends)

Dominant macro-nutrient: Carbs

Nutritional benefits: Minimal vitamins from fruits.

Nutritional deficiencies :

  • Little to no protein.
  • Little to no good fats. Read this for list of good fats.
  • No vegetables whatsoever and hence no vitamins and/or minerals.
  • Super high carb load from the grains and sugar and fruit (= high blood sugar = high insulin secretion = fat deposit).
  • Fat free milk is super processed.
  • Sugar from fruits add to the carb load and basically undoes the benefits of the micro-nutrients it provides.

6. Whole wheat bread with jam and fruits (juice) on the side.

Dominant ingredients in meal: Cereal grain (depends) and sugar

Dominant macro-nutrient: Carbs

Nutritional benefits: Minimal vitamins from fruits.

Nutritional deficiencies :

In a nutshell husk…

Let’s assume the best case and say one guy (let’s call him Mr. Grainitarian) never eats the same meal twice in the same week and eats each one of these meals on different days of the week. So all breakfasts combined, Mr. Grainitarian…

  1. eats meals that are grain dominant and he is now grain dependent.
  2. gets hardly any protein from any of these meals.
  3. gets no good fats from any of these meals.
  4. eats a tonne of carbs which (as in most cases) he doesn’t need.
  5. includes literally no vegetables in any of these meals resulting in a huge nutrient (vitamins and minerals) deficit.
  6. possibly consumes considerable doses of gluten 4-5 mornings/week.

Big picture…

Each year has 52 weeks and if Mr. Grainitarian has been eating this way for 30 years, that’s 1,560 weeks of such sub-par, mediocre, protein-less, sugar/starch filled, nutrient deficient eating.

Now it’s your turn to talk – Are you a Grainitarian? What are your thoughts? Do you think it’s time for a change? Let me know in the comments section. In the mean time, I’ll write about why grain dominance is bad, how to change and what to change in Part 2. Stay tuned.

Peace out.

How bout a quickie…

beforefor breakfast I mean.

We saw how instant breakfasts mess our bodies up. Now let’s look at some super quick, healthy & delicious breakfast options that will kick those instant breakfasts in the nuts!

Under 5 min Breakfasts:

300 seconds…! Health you can cook up when your Windows XP boots up!

Option 1:
– 2 strings mozzarella cheese
– 1 slice sprouted grain bread toasted
– 1 tbls almond butter/peanut butter
Option 2:
– 1 cup milk
– 1 cup fruit
– 2 eggs (sunny side up or hard boiled)
Option 3:
Larabars are a good substitute for cereal bars.
Option 4:
– Mix 2 eggs, some frozen vegetables, 1/2 tbls olive oil, sat & spices in a cup/bowl. Microwave for 1-2 mins on high.
– Eat with 1 cup milk on the side
Option 5:
– In a bowl mix 1 cup cottage cheese and some fruit. Top with nuts.
Option 6:
– In a bowl mix 1 cup yogurt and some fruit. Top with nuts.

5-10 min Breakfasts:

How hard is it to wake up 10mins early? Or how hard is it to go to work 10mins late?
Option 1:
– Preheat oven to 375 C.
– Mix 2 eggs, some frozen vegetables, 1/2 tbls oil, sat & spices in a cup/bowl.
– Bake for 20-25 mins.
– Eat with glass of milk on the side.
Option 2:
– Preheat oven to 375 C.
– Mix 2 eggs & a handful of shredded cheese.
– Bake for 15-20 mins.
– Season with salt & spices to taste. Eat with glass of milk on the side.
Option 3:
– Place a slice of cheese or some shredded cheese on a slice of sprouted whole grain bread (or even almond bread!)
– Throw some pasta sauce & a bunch of vegetables on top.
– Broil in oven for 5-10 mins.
– Enjoy your bread pizza for breakfast.
Option 4:
– Preheat oven to 375 C.
– Place a handful of shredded cheese and a bunch of vegetables in a bowl.
– Add salt & spices to taste. Bake for 10-15 mins depending on vegetables used.
– Eat with glass of milk on the side.
Option 5:
– Blend 1 cup of milk, 1 scoop of whey isolate, 1 cup of fruit (apple or banana or berries or mixed fruits) & quarter cup of nuts (almonds, cashews etc.)
– Or make it the previous night and just grab & go in the morning.
Option 6:
– Fruit & cheese sandwich. Toasted bread, couple of slices of cheese & the fruits you love. Stack them up. Trust me… you’ll love it.

10-15mins Breakfasts:

A little longer than the previous ones. But definitely satiating & awesome. 15mins is not too much… your computer is probably still starting up if your on Windows Vista.
Option 1:
– Vegetable omelet with a cup of milk.
Option 2:
– Scramble two eggs with some salsa.
– On a corn taco place a handful of canned beans, the scrambled eggs & 1 tbls of sour cream. Munch!
Option 3:
– Cook eggs on a skillet… sunny side up works but make sure its not runny.
– Cut up some avocado.
– Avocado egg & cheese sandwich
Option 4:
– Get dosa batter (or make before hand!)
– Pour batter on skillet. Crack open an egg, dump a load of vegetables & sprinkle some shredded cheese on the batter while it is being cooked.
– Each dosa will be pretty giant. So have one or even two with a glass of milk and you’re good to go.
Option 5:
– In an electric rice cooker add rice (wild rice is the best), frozen vegetables, spices, some meat (if you like meat that is), a tablespoon of butter or olive oil and vegetable/chicken broth.
– Turn on.
– Eat fake biriyani for breakfast.


These are recipes that I have made and had for breakfast some time or the other. Try these out and I’m sure you will come up with your own twist.

Have a look at the ingredients used to make these breakfasts. Instant breakfasts (even with the added vitamins & minerals) cant hold a candle! Seriously… invest the little time required on food prep and get the monstrous health benefits. Try these recipes out for a couple of weeks and let me know how you like them.

Life’s more than eating crappy junk and feeling like shit all day! Get real and feel the difference for yourself.

Peace.

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