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What’s for Breakfast

November 2, 2011
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First up, apologies to anyone who visits here looking for knitting and sewing content.  It seems like all I want to do these days is make messes in my kitchen.  But don’t worry – I finished a sweater months ago that I haven’t shown you yet!  I’ve also been doing some laundry detergent science experiments that I’ll get to at some point.

Mmm.  Breakfast.  O virtuous meal.  Cereal, oatmeal, toast, granola – healthy and admirable choices all.  Right?

Well, as it sadly turns out, not for me.  I may have mentioned somewhere around here that I have problems with my blood sugar; I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic at age 19, and while things are much improved, I still have to pay more attention to what and when I eat than most people do.  I haven’t eaten cereal for breakfast for years and years, because it causes my blood sugar to spike and then crash.  And believe me, that’s unpleasant for anyone unlucky enough to be in the vicinity.  Oatmeal was next to go, for the same reason; granola and yogurt, though so, so yummy, weren’t far behind.  And most recently, the ultimate standby of running-out-the-door breakfasts, toast, got the ax.

It happened quite accidentally, really; I was always careful to pair whole-grain toast with peanut butter or an egg to offset the effect of the bread, and thought that was enough.  I’d been having trouble keeping my blood sugar stable for several weeks (at least!) but didn’t for a minute think toast was the culprit.  Until we ran out of bread during a week when I was too busy to go to the grocery store, and I started pairing my morning egg with half a cup of black beans, a handful of cilantro, and a few shakes of hot sauce.  Because I am rather slow on the uptake, it took me more than a week to realize that – like magic! – my blood sugar crashes had disappeared.  I was still hungry for a midmorning snack, but not in a must-eat-everything-in-sight-immediately-for-otherwise-I-shall-surely-perish kind of way.

So while I do miss the lovely convenience (and tastiness!) of a piece of toast, I love not being turned in to a raving lunatic by my breakfast choices even more.  In celebration, I thought I’d share the (gluten-free, I guess?) weekday breakfasts I’ve been enjoying lately.  I should mention that while both are absolutely doable before work, they do require more dedication than a granola bar scarfed behind the wheel on the way to the train station.

– Black (or other!) beans topped with fried egg, tomato, hot sauce, and anything else in the fridge that vaguely suggests “huevos rancheros.”  Of course you could pop open a can of beans, but if you like to make yours from scratch, here’s a handy tip: freeze cooked beans in half-cup portions in a muffin tin, then pop out the frozen bean hockey pucks to store in a freezer bag.  I learned the hard way that it is a giant pain to have a five-cup block of frozen beans when all you want is half a cup.

– Grilled polenta with a fried egg and tomato or sauce.  The freezer to the rescue again!  I know Trader Joe’s sells tubes of cooked sliceable polenta, but I somehow always let those go bad, and anyway this is just as easy as going to the store: when I make a pot of creamy polenta for dinner (which, the cheater way I do it with the heat on medium, only takes about 10 minutes) I spread out the leftovers on a parchment-lined baking sheet to cool, and then cut it into squares 3-4 inches to a side.  I pop the whole tray into the freezer, and when the blocks are frozen solid store them in a bag.  At breakfast time, I put a little butter in my egg pan and let the polenta get good and toasty on one side while I do other stuff, like feed the dog.  I flip the polenta, crack an egg in the pan, and a few minutes later breakfast is served.  I particularly like this with tomato sauce when I have an open jar handy, but I bet it would also be tasty with pesto or maybe some sauteed mushrooms.

I’m pretty enamored of these two options, but imagine at some point they will get boring.  As insurance against that day, I’ve been brainstorming a few other choices:

– Sauteed kale with a fried egg (Note the omnipresence of the fried egg.  I love them so.)  Haven’t figured out quite how to make this one weekday-friendly.
– Tofu scramble.  See weekday-friendly caveat above.  I find scrambles to be rather labor-intensive, and therefore usually avoid them.
– These very yummy Mason jar baked eggs, though this one requires some presence of mind on the weekend.
– In a real breakfast emergency, a piece of fruit with a few slices of cheese, or (dreaded horror of horrors) a handful of nuts.

Does anyone have other tasty ideas?

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. November 2, 2011 3:02 pm

    Birthday cake?

    • Ashley permalink*
      November 2, 2011 3:32 pm

      It’s possible (only possible, I say) that I ate birthday cake as a mid-morning snack. AFTER my egg and polenta.

  2. November 3, 2011 7:17 am

    I have yet to try black beans! I’ve been seeing quite a few people online having them with eggs in the morning, so they must be good…
    I love eating breakfast burritos, but the potatoes in it can take quite awhile to prepare (especially in the morning when I have to go to work or college).
    Here’s what I do:
    I boil up the potatoes, peel off the skin, mash them up and pan fry the potatoes in a skillet with butter until they’re mostly golden. I then store them in a container in the fridge and I’m able to use it whenever I want to for the remainder of the week.
    I usually just add scrambled eggs, green onions and salsa along with the potatoes in my burrito, but I sometimes add pork sausage or some other veggie to go along with it :).

    • Ashley permalink*
      November 7, 2011 9:24 pm

      Kristina, what a great idea! I will absolutely try this – I’m inspired. Thank you for the awesome suggestion! I hope you like black beans-they’re super tasty. Such a rich flavor. Enjoy!

  3. Ben C permalink
    November 3, 2011 9:22 am

    I can’t wait to see what your birthday meal was! Happy late birthday by the way. Hopefully you got some time to yourself to play a little minesweeper.

    • Ashley permalink*
      November 7, 2011 9:25 pm

      Aww, thanks Ben. I did not, in fact, play any minesweeper. Haven’t for years. But I bet I could still mop the floor with you…

  4. monica permalink
    November 29, 2011 9:07 pm

    This post is awesome. I get so tired of oatmeal and cereal, I love getting new breakfast ideas!

    • Ashley permalink*
      December 8, 2011 10:34 am

      Monica, I SO feel you. Toast was getting REALLY old. (Um, figuratively. I wasn’t eating literally old toast.)

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