According to the National Day Calendar website (nationaldaycalendar.com), September is Better Breakfast Month, National Self-Care Awareness Month, and Self-Improvement Month. In observance of these themes, let’s talk about some of the ways you can celebrate by making healthy, delicious food choices that contribute to your self-care and happiness.
Some other themes on the September national day calendar focus on foods that can fit into this general idea if you think outside the box. These include Whole Grains Month, National Honey Month, National Papaya Month, National Rice Month, National Potato Month, National Mushroom Month, and even National Blueberry Popsicle Month.
The foods chosen to “break the fast” are important and can help set the pace for the rest of the day, even for those who practice intermittent fasting and don’t eat their first meal until later. Although cereals and refined grains can be part of a balanced diet, they’re not the best way to start the day. This is because they often lead to blood sugar spikes and drops that cause an energy crash shortly after eating and stress the adrenal system. Better meal choices would include fat, fiber, and protein for sustained energy.
Another drawback of eating cereals and refined grains as the first meal of the day is that consuming these foods tends to reduce the body’s production of an antioxidant called glutathione. Glutathione is our body’s master antioxidant and is essential for the prevention of cancer and cellular aging. When we wake in the morning, our antioxidant supply is at its lowest, so it’s a better strategy to eat foods that contribute to building this reserve instead of depleting it.
So what might a healthier breakfast look like? Let’s take some foods from the September national day list and see how they can be Better Breakfast choices.
Whole grains: Oatmeal, buckwheat groats, or quinoa porridge – fiber boosts the health benefits and leads to feeling fuller longer. Adding grass-fed butter, flax oil, coconut oil, and nuts provides healthy fat and also extends feelings of satiety. No time to cook porridge in the morning? Try overnight refrigerator oats.
My favorite way to eat whole grains for breakfast: Steel cut oats, cooked until tender but chewy, topped with 1 teaspoon flaxseed oil, 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, and 1 or 2 chopped dates, served with a side of fresh berries.
Honey: Use sparingly, as honey is a simple sugar. This can add a little sweetness when drizzled lightly over a bowl of oatmeal, over fresh fruit with plain yogurt and chopped nuts, or added to a smoothie. Also, see the blueberry popsicle recipe below.
How I use honey at breakfast: ½ tablespoon added to boost sweetness in a smoothie made with fresh orange sections, a few scoops of collagen powder, water, ice, and a splash of vanilla. We drink a smoothie as our “breakfast dessert” after finishing our eggs and veggies, never on its own.
Papaya: Fresh, cold slices of papaya make a great side dish served alongside an omelet or breakfast burrito. Frozen papaya is another nice addition to a smoothie or protein drink. This fruit is loaded with antioxidants and Vitamins A and C.
My favorite way to eat papaya at breakfast: ¼ cup of papaya cubes served over ¼ cup full-fat Greek yogurt, drizzled with a teaspoon of honey.
Rice: When rice has been cooked and then refrigerated, much of the starch transforms into what is known as resistant starch. This type of carbohydrate is difficult to digest (hence the term resistant), so we don’t get much calorie energy from resistant starches. Instead of being used by our bodies to create energy, the resistant starch provides fuel to the beneficial probiotic bacteria in our large intestines.
My favorite way to eat rice at breakfast: Using leftover rice from a previous meal, make stir-fried rice, adding chopped veggies (whatever is around: carrots, zucchini, peas, mushrooms, etc.) and egg.
Potato: The humble potato contains several key nutrients, including Vitamin C. However, Vitamin C is quickly lost when exposed to light and heat, so different cooking techniques yield different levels of nutrition in this starchy root veggie. Baked whole potatoes retain more vitamins than shredded hash browns, for instance, because they have less surface area exposed to light and direct heat. Probably the best choice in the standard breakfast repertoire would be large chunks of boiled or country-fried potatoes with olive oil or grass-fed butter.
P.S. – Cooked and refrigerated potatoes are also a source of resistant starch, as rice above.
My favorite way to eat potatoes at breakfast: place large chunks of potato into a medium-hot frying pan, add a few tablespoons water, cover with a lid and boil/steam until softened, then drench with olive oil, add curry powder and chopped onion, stir and cover again, cooking until onion is soft and potatoes are slightly crisped. Serve with a dollop of full-fat Greek yogurt or crumbled feta cheese. (Option: if I have leftover boiled potatoes, I’ll use those and proceed directly to frying in olive oil.)
Mushroom: These wonders of the natural world are the only non-animal, non-fortified source of immune-boosting, bone-strengthening Vitamin D. Many species of mushrooms have been identified with significant health-promoting benefits, including cancer prevention. They can be eaten fresh or cooked and make an excellent addition to an omelet or stir fry. Large mushrooms are also a nice meat alternative when cooked, with a dense texture and savory flavor.
My favorite way to eat mushrooms at breakfast: I cook this almost every morning for breakfast, so I’ve included photos of the process below. Chop up mushrooms and 2 or 3 different types of veggies – whatever is on hand, fresh or frozen, like bell pepper, zucchini, beans, broccoli, tomato, okra, asparagus – and sauté in olive oil until softened. Season with your favorite spice blend. Next, crack an egg or two on top of the veggies, add a splash of water if needed, and cover quickly with a lid to steam the eggs until they’re cooked to the desired doneness. (Cooking with “wet heat” like steaming, poaching, and stewing rather than “dry heat” like frying or scrambling protects the healthy fats in eggs from being oxidized and made unhealthy.) Optional: top with crumbled feta cheese just before serving. I also serve alongside homemade whole wheat sourdough toast slathered with grass-fed butter.
Blueberry popsicle: Who hasn’t heard yet that blueberries are antioxidant powerhouses? They’re delicious, nutritious, and widely available in organically cultivated and wild picked varieties. Darkly colored berries have the added bonus of containing antioxidants that help protect eyes from damage and improve night vision. Enjoying a popsicle in the morning may sound unusual, but it’s a great way to enjoy dessert at breakfast and start your day bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
A recipe for blueberry popsicles: 3 cups Blueberries fresh or frozen, 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice, 1/4-1/3 cup Honey
Instructions: Put all of the ingredients into a blender or food processor and puree. Pour into popsicle molds, leaving 1/4 inch of space. Place the popsicle mold in the freezer for about 1 hour, then place the lid on and push the sticks in. Freeze for 4-6 hours, or overnight. (source: https://www.simplyhappyfoodie.com/blueberry-lemon-popsicles/)
If you have 20 minutes to prepare breakfast, here is one of my favorite techniques, as mentioned above:
1: sauté chopped veggies and mushrooms in olive oil, sprinkle with seasoning blend
2: top with eggs
3: add a splash of water, cover, and steam until eggs are cooked
4: top with crumbled feta cheese or goat cheese and black pepper
5: serve with buttered whole-grain toast
What You Can Do:
Celebrate Better Breakfast Day September 26
Read more about antioxidants here.
Share recipes with friends and family on healthy ideas for breakfast.
Use #BetterBreakfastMonth on social media.
Start every day with a nourishing breakfast that contains abundant nutrients and healthy fats, fiber, and protein to sustain you.
If you’d like to talk with a naturopathic doctor about incorporating healthier foods into your diet, call 480-588-6856 for a free brief meet and greet with one of our naturopathic doctors.