For as long as I can remember, I have associated the first meal of the day with lovely, bready, and let’s face it, sugary foods. Cinnamon rolls. French toast. Even cereal–the ‘healthy’ option–full of sugar and low on nutrition. Since I’ve embarked on a real food/Paleo lifestyle, my morning go-to has been a banana pancake. Not so much a pancake really as a mash of banana, eggs and shredded coconut cooked in butter. Don’t get me wrong, it is super delicious, but I’m starting to feel like it has become a bit of a crutch. Instead of really shifting my mindset around having ‘sweets’ for breakfast, I’ve managed to find an acceptable Paleo substitute. Which is fine….except for me, it leaves the door open for the inevitable creeping in of other treats into my daily routine. Somehow, the occasional topping of my pancake with maple syrup turns into a much more frequent habit. That injection of sugar in the morning fuels my sweets/coffee association and reminds me of how much I’d like to have a pastry/cookie/delicious treat with my afternoon brew. And so it goes…all of this sugar, even from natural sources like maple syrup, honey or even fruit, leaves me feeling moodier and lower energy than I would like.
So, in an attempt to begin to change these associations, I’ve been looking to replace my old standby. And I’ve stumbled upon the wonderful, the incredible, the tuber-tastic–root vegetable. Now, you probably already know about the deliciousness that results from oven-roasting a sweet potato or a few sliced carrots. But, have you ever thought about grating one of those veggies into a big pile of goodness and then cooking it up in some butter/lard/other delicious fat? I highly recommend it! The combination of the healthy carbs from the root vegetables, the generous dollop (or three) of cooking fat. and the protein-rich eggs will leave you satiated and nourish your body in a way that a bowl of Cheerios just doesn’t. Here’s a quick nutrient breakdown of both:
|2 cups of Cheerios with 1 cup skim milk||1 serving of root veg hash topped with 3 eggs|
Now, at first glance, you may not be blown away by this, especially if you’re a chronic calorie-counter as we’ve all been trained to be. But factor in the obligatory glass of orange juice (112 calories and 21(!) grams of sugar) that accompanies the cereal and you’re approaching the same number of calories in the hash. However, because your intake of fat and protein remain quite low, the meal is not going to feel nearly as satiating as the veggie hash. For the same reason, your blood sugar is going to take a dive in the next few hours, and it will be much more tempting to reach for that sugary cinnamon roll, donut, or danish.
Most importantly, the cereal is just not nourishing your body in the same way that the fresh vegetables, eggs and good fats are. The cereal has been highly processed and the grains have lost what vitamins and minerals they had in that process. As a result, the cereal has been enriched with most of the vitamins and minerals listed above. It doesn’t seem to me that these vitamins and minerals are likely to be as bio-available as the ones packaged naturally in the fresh veggies and eggs. But I can’t point you to any research supporting that, because, well, I don’t have time. Peanut just woke up from her nap and I have some important business to attend to. Here I come, Spot the Dog…
Makes 2-3 servings (for us, this fed 2 hungry adults and one toddler who loves her breakfast!)
1 small or medium sweet potato, grated
3-4 carrots, grated
3 parsnips, grated
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly grated black pepper
3-4 tbsp. ghee or lard (from grass-fed or pastured sources)
Heat 3 tbsp. cooking fat on a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add grated root veggies, salt and pepper. Cook on a medium heat for 12-15 minutes, stirring constantly to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. Once veggies are tender, remove from pan. Top with fried eggs (and if you really want to get fancy, add some bacon).