By S. Michal Bennett
Scrambled eggs with bacon, hash browns and toast are still the most popular breakfast foods in the United States. But there is an abundance of sugar-rich foods that continue to dominate our breakfast tables. From cereal to doughnuts to syrup, breakfast undeniably has a sweet side.
My mother always valued a substantial breakfast, whether sweet or savory. I still crave French toast swimming in honey and cinnamon and delicate crepes filled with strawberry preserves and powdered with sugar. As an adult, I have discovered that the fewer nectarous delights I eat, the less I crave sweets. With just a few ingredient tweaks as well as attention to nutrition, convenience and flavor, I have learned how to turn a sugar-saturated breakfast into a flavorful nutritive start to my day.
>> A Better Bowl of Mush
I grew up in Texas where Southern-style grits, oatmeal and Cream of Wheat were breakfast staples. They were also commonly paired with generous amounts of raisins, butter, sugar and milk.
Oats, as well as brown, multi-grain and black rice, are full of healthy fiber and are typically gluten-free. In many Asian countries, porridge and rice are fundamental breakfast foods, but they are served savory with a variety of side dishes, such as dried fish and pickled radishes. I suggest replacing that brown sugar with a sauté of caramelized onions, peppers and mushrooms sprinkled with shredded raw cheddar cheese.
>> The Starch of It
Potatoes are the ultimate starchy food. Starches are complex sugars that are converted to glucose in the body. That is, they tend to spike blood sugar levels much like the other “-ose” sugars: sucrose, fructose, lactose.
Add color, heart-healthy fiber and vital nutrients to your plate by ditching the hash browns and pairing your over easy eggs with a pile of spinach or arugula, wilted in a little grass-fed butter and minced garlic. Throw a few sprigs of fresh herbs in the mix, and you will unearth an abundance of flavor.
>> Fruit vs. Sugar
Speaking of sugar…why eat fruit flavored cereals soaked in milk when you can effortlessly enjoy the luscious flavor and texture of the real thing? Fresh fruits vary in sweetness, but they are also full of vitamins and minerals essential to a balanced diet. Toss together fresh berries and sliced peaches and top them with a mix of nuts and dates for a delectable antioxidant-rich, dairy-free meal, sweetened only by the hand of nature.
>> Bulk Over Blubber
Beans have a bad rap due to their varying effects on our digestive systems. Yet, they are rich in protein and a tasty substitute for greasy fried meats. Soaking them a couple hours and then rinsing them before cooking makes them more digestible. I like to simmer large batches in bone broth to use for meals throughout the week.
Swap out homemade hummus and sprouts for butter and jelly on your morning toast. I like to wrap seasoned black beans, salsa and sliced avocado in a juicy piece of lettuce to boost my brain and prepare me for the day.