Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Practical Pause - Breakfast

Let's stop preaching for a minute and be practical.

When I first started clean eating, I just wanted someone to give me a menu. Tell me what to eat every day, every meal, and I would do it. Two problems with this though:
  1. Clean-eaters eat a lot of things that make us processed food addicts cringe. Hummus? Kombucha? Quinoa? WTH?
  2. It's mindless eating that got us into this problem in the first place. A menu plan will only last as long as the length of the menu.
But really, discovering meals you enjoy that are clean is not that hard. You can make clean versions of the foods that you and your kids already love (chicken tenders, hamburgers, spaghetti and meatballs). The problem is the word "make". Making everything you love from scratch can be pretty labor intensive.  Not to mention, buying the best ingredients can get expensive. More on that later though.

My point is, lists help me stick to the plan. So far I have a breakfast, dinner, and snack list. It will come as no surprise to hear that lunch is what trips me up every day. Any clean (non-labor intensive) lunch ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Finally, here's my breakfast list:
  • Oatmeal with dried fruit
  • Cream of barley and brown rice
  • Hot quinoa w/ fruit
  • Any combination of the above*
  • Cream of wheat/Cocoa Wheats
  • Fruit muffins
  • Two eggs with toast
  • Breakfast sandwich
  • French toast
  • Pancakes from scratch
  • Waffles from scratch
  • Fruit smoothie w/ yogurt
  • Classic eggs, bacon, & hash browns (An every other week kind of breakfast)
I use fruit compote for a topping instead of syrup or sugar. It only takes a couple minutes to throw some fresh or frozen berries, apples, or nectarines into a skillet. You have to use a little sugar to get those juices to release, but I also add stevia** if the fruit is particularly tart.

Speaking of sweeteners, I have not tricked myself into believing that agave syrup is healthy because it is made from a fruit. So you will not find me dousing all these nice grains in nectar and feeling high and mighty about it. It is just as highly processed as any other syrup, and when you consider the high cost... well, I will just let that bandwagon pass me by.

This list is clean because everything is from scratch. I make homemade bread twice a week and my meat is from a CSA. Oatmeal is my go-to meal because it cooks the fastest and can be on the table in under 5 minutes. Most everything else is a weekend meal, or brunch if I feel like being nice to my kids. I might not sit down to breakfast with a piece of fruit, but I keep bowls of fruit on every table and am munching on it by 9 or 10am.

*I could have summed up all the grains on one line titled: "Any grain with fruit" but I tend to get in an oatmeal rut if I don't have the options staring at me. Plus, I having a longer list. I like long lists. Unless they are chore lists. I don't like those.

**I will only use Kal brand stevia, which is not available in stores. The stuff sold in stores has additives that allow you to use it like sugar, and they taste funny. Stevia is NOT an artificial sweetener. Stevia is a naturally sweet plant. Unfortunately, this delightful white powder is highly processed. So Kal Stevia is my methodone. It provides the sweetness I crave, but not the insulin spike, the high levels of damaging crystals in the blood stream, or let's be real... the big calorie hit. I hope to switch to natural stevia (you can grow the plant yourself) this summer, but I will probably need to kick the coffee habit as well and switch to tea. Baby steps, y'all.

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