Monday, December 20, 2021

The Perfect Breakfast Routine

Fancy breakfast in September of 2021.  A breakfast this fancy is rare but a very enjoyable treat once in a while.

Break that fast with breakfast...

Is that where the word breakfast comes from?  You're technically fasting when you sleep so when you wake up and eat breakfast you are breaking that fast.  Right?!

Weird thoughts aside, there are quite a lot of options for breakfast:  cereal, toast, eggs, pancakes, waffles, muffins, bacon, salad, biscuits, coffee, nothing at all, etc. plus probably a lot more concoctions that I'm not thinking of at this very moment.

There are a few general problems with your average breakfast:  cost, sugar, empty calories that leave you feeling not so great, and time to cleanup.  A lot of people love cereal but it's generally loaded with sugar.  It may be on the cheaper side when you look at per serving cost until you add costly milk.  Pancakes are lower on the sugar and cost side but it's really not that nutritious for you and falls into the empty calories category which normally leaves you feeling sluggish.  Eggs are fairly cheap and easy to make but cleanup can be a pain and they need to be eaten with something else since they're not that hardy.

I've been on a quest to find the perfect breakfast routine for the better part of 15 years now and after cycling through most of the options listed above (and more) for various lengths of time I've finally cracked the code of the perfect breakfast!

Okay, it's actually two different breakfasts that I cycle through depending on the season and each breakfast can be made a multitude of ways meaning it's pretty hard to get bored with them.  Here they are:

Salad and Muesli

Salad is listed in the list above however what I eat isn't your typical and costly store bought salad which'll run you $5 for a small tub of just starting to go bad greens that you'll devour in two days leaving you with a mix of emotions.  No way, this is salad that I have grown myself.  The season for this breakfast is during the growing season, when I have salad greens handy.  As of writing this, it's mid December and I still have salad greens growing strong outside (much to my surprise).

To make your salad, take your salad spinner or bowl (spinners are amazing) out to the garden.  Throw in handfuls of orach, kale, sorrel, mizuna, chard and anything else your heart desires.  Grab some radishes on the side if they're available.  The majority of my salads actually lack large amounts of actual lettuce, unless it's prime greens season but don't despair, there are plenty of other greens that are even more delicious.  Once your greens have been washed, place a few handfuls of your mixed greens on a plate.  Take a few radishes, put the radish greens in with your salad then slice the radishes very thin and put them on top of the salad.  Add some home-grown sprouts if you'd like then enjoy.

You don't need any dressing, these are flavorful, fresh, and delicious greens here, we want to taste it all.  If you must add a dressing, use pure olive oil.  Nothing else, just a little bit of olive oil with perhaps a dash of salt and pepper.  Before you do that though, just eat the damn salad raw and as-is, it'll be the best salad you've ever had, guaranteed!

Say it's a weekend, the normal salad has been getting a bit boring and you want to spice it up a bit.  How can you spice up a salad?  Since we're not buying salad greens, we're already saving buckets of money which leaves us with a little extra cash we can spend on a fancy meal from time to time which opens our options a little bit here.  Get yourself some farm fresh eggs (local if possible), smoked salmon, and capers.  Poach the eggs (or make them however you'd like), put a slice or two of smoked salmon on-top of the poached eggs then top with a few capers.  Grab some radishes and lemon cucumbers from the garden, slice them thin, and add to the top of your salad.  If you have any fresh fruit such as strawberries or peaches, put those on the bed of greens.  Drizzle the greens with a little olive oil and salt and pepper (which goes really well with the salmon eggs so the oil dressing is approved on this one).  Top the whole thing off with some edible flowers such as nasturiums and/or marigold petals.  You don't have any edible flowers?  Well you better grow some then, damnit!

See how versatile the salad can be?  That's only one example!  You can easily come up with mass amounts of other delicious salad variations.  Doing a fancy breakfast like this really isn't that costly if you only do it every now and then plus you feel like you're at an extremely swanky restaurant but in the comfort of your own home.

Moose what???  I don't know about eating Moose for breakfast, that doesn't sound very good.

No, no, no.  Not Moose.  Muesli!  Say it's the dead of winter, below zero, and blowing snow outside.  There aren't any fresh greens available so what are you to do for breakfast?  Don't despair, a popular breakfast dish* from Switzerland is here to save the day.  Muesli is made up of various grains, nuts, dried berries, etc. and it can be anything and everything you want it to be.  You choose the ingredients that make-up the actual Muesli then you can eat it cold or hot.  You can have it with milk, water, juice, any other liquid or no liquid at all.  It's everything that cereal wishes it was but a hell of a lot more.  It's kind of like going from driving a beat up pinto to a Ferrari, you will notice the difference, immediately.

There is no set "standard" way to make muesli.  Actually, I take that back, there probably is.  We don't care about that though, we're doing our own thing here.  Here are the ingredients that I use in my very own, homemade muesli:

-Goji Berries
-Pumpkin Seeds
-Sunflower Seeds
-Bee Pollen
-Chia Seeds
-Cut Almonds
-Shredded Coconut

I like to get all of these ingredients in bulk from a very fine establishment in the heart of Longmont called Simply Bulk Market.  If you buy these ingredients in bulk you'll save a lot of money over buying small packages of each of them at a normal store.

Once you have all of your ingredients, take a bag or bin and add all of your ingredients.  You want the majority of it to be oats (cheapest ingredient) followed by pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, then add in the rest of the ingredients in whatever amounts seem good to you.  I usually make the ratios equal to the cost of the item.  Goji berries, the most expensive ingredient, only get sprinkled into each batch.  Keep in mind that different ratios will give you different tastes so you just have to play around with it and find what you like.  Once all of the ingredients have been added, shake up your bag or bin really well.  Congratulations you just made muesli!

To enjoy your freshly made muesli, take a 1/2 cup of your freshly made mix and add it to a bowl.  Take a 1/2 to 3/4 cup of milk (or whatever liquid you want) and add to the bowl.  You now have cold muesli.

For hot muesli, take 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water and add it to a pot on the stove.  Let it heat up to a simmer, add in 1/2 cup of your Muesli mix, after a few minutes it's ready to eat.  You can even add in a little bit of honey or cinnamon if you'd like.

A lot of people will argue that Muesli falls into the empty calorie category and they're probably correct.  But look at the ingredient list above, there are a lot of good things in there that provide your body with a lot of good nutrition, it's not just oats.  All I know for certain is that I love it and I feel great after eating it.  That's all the proof I need.

There you have it, the perfect breakfast routine!  Salad when it's in season and Muesli when salad isn't available.  Try it out if you'd like, I bet you'll love it.  I know I do and I'm not changing up my breakfast routine anytime soon.

If you do try it, let me know how you like it in the comments below.

*Muesli is actually fairly popular in a lot of parts of the world and it comes from Switzerland originally.  It is not popular in the US (currently) and is rarely heard of.

**I always go with gluten free oats, not because I have celiacs or need them to be gluten free but purely because I very much prefer the texture and taste of gluten free oats over normal oats plus my body likes the gluten free oats much better.  If you don't like normal oats or if normal oats don't jive with your body, try the gluten free ones.

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