Breakfast IS the Most Important Meal of the Day
Clients often ask me what it is that I eat. My answer is usually something to the effect of, “vegetables and meat”. Those close to me may consider this somewhat of an oversimplification because personal preference, work and exercise have motivated me to implement a few very specific practices, but for the most part it is fairly accurate. After expressing immediate displeasure with the ambiguity of my response, clients invariably ask for specifics and I then begin to recite the days adventure in eating. Jaws drop in sheer wonder (maybe disgust) as they begin to realize that I do, in fact, eat mostly vegetables and animal foods. It’s quite the sight to see. Grown men and women amazed (sickened) by how healthful and without indulgence they consider my diet to be.
Honestly, considering my client base – those in long-term treatment for substance abuse who have neglected their health and exposed their body to untold amounts of extremely harmful substances for extended periods of time – shock, displeasure, or disgust over my eating habits is somewhat expected. To them, eating well consists of getting one solid meal in a day, which is typically built from foods purchased off of a dollar menu.
Years experimenting with food and working with others to build a healthy dietary ideal has taught me that what one does for breakfast is often the best indication of one’s desire to be well and healthy they are without needing to examine any labs. If we often eat highly processed convenience foods – Pop Tarts, Lucky Charms, or pastries from our favorite coffee shop – first thing in the morning, we ignore our health, maintain poor eating habits throughout the day, and are often suffering some sort of health condition.
I believe we have a tendency to fall into un-beneficial eating patterns for a few specific reasons. First on the list is simple ignorance. We don’t know how food impacts health so we eat what’s easy and tastes good. Next up is indifference. We don’t care about the food-body relationship and, again, will eat what tastes reasonably good and requires the least amount of thought possible. Finally, we are addicts. Highly refined foods contained a ample amount of “simple” carbs and sugar, which stimulate the brain’s reward center and drive blood sugar through the roof providing a false euphoria.
On the other end of the nutritional spectrum, eating well first thing in the morning – maybe a few eggs, non-starchy vegetables, and a starch here and there – is a clear indication of what one is willing to do to be healthy, produces similarly healthful dietary decisions throughout the rest of the day, and promotes a healthy, mindful and balanced relationship with food. We start the day with a good breakfast because we know that a good amount of protein, fat and fiber with modest amount of complex carbohydrates promotes stable blood sugar and energy levels that nourish and fuel the body; recognize the benefits that eating well has upon mood, energy, and outlook; and wish to break the dependence upon sugary snacks and caffeine so that we can escape the vicious cycle of compounding biological debt that stimulating substances feed.
The benefits of a healthy breakfast are beyond measure, but eating eggs and vegetables every morning simply isn’t sexy. If the body isn’t used to such a meal first thing in the morning, it may be downright intolerable. However, to help those of us resistant to the idea of eating vegetables in the morning, I developed these Kale, Zucchini and Sweet Potato Frittata recipe so that all of us can begin to take advantage of the numerous benefits provided by a healthy and balanced breakfast. Enjoy!
Kale, Zucchini & Sweet Potato Frittata
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 3 cups zucchini, small dice
- 2 cups kale, chopped
- 6 eggs
- 2 cups baked sweet potato, cubed
- Salt, pepper and garlic to taste
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Melt coconut oil in large pan over medium heat. Add zucchini and kale to pan and sauté until zucchini is fork tender. Remove from heat.
- Prepare large 6-cup muffin tin and set aside.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk 6 eggs. Fold in baked sweet potato, zucchini, kale, and spices until well incorporated. Evenly divide egg and vegetable mixture with a half-cup measuring spoon between 6-cup muffin tin, making sure that there is an equal amount of egg in each cup.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean.
Image courtesy of Matthew Lovitt