Sunday, 6 October 2013

Morning Glory: breakfasts that inspire

It's the most important meal of the day - or so we are always told. Yet I hear so many people saying they never or rarely eat breakfast ("Ugh, how can you eat first thing in the morning?"). I don't know whether it's possible to train your body to feel repulsed by the idea of food first thing, but it does seem to me that it's a strange thing to feel repulsed by - when did these feelings of disgust at the thought of breakfast start - didn't the parents of these people feed them breakfast all through their childhood? So presumably they used to eat breakfast on a regular basis. Surely this revulsion is a learned reaction to the first meal of the day?

I have always had to eat as soon as I wake up - at least if I'm going out to work/university/school - basically, if I want my body and brain to function! So I just can't understand why anyone would feel they couldn't eat at this time. For me, it's the opposite: never do I feel more in need of fuel for my body than first thing in the morning. But I have to say, I am not a cereal girl. Perhaps the people who say they can't stand the idea of food first thing actually mean they can't stand the thought of typical breakfast food first thing. Well, I can understand that a bit better.

I need food that I love the taste of, that is quick to prepare (as well as loving food, I really love my sleep!!), and will also keep me going for longer than a slice of toast or cup of black coffee. (In fairness, not being a coffee drinker, I have no idea how long a cup would keep me going for....but I'm pretty sure my belly would be rumbling fairly quickly after the last sip.) So I thought I'd share a couple of my favourite breakfasts with you - and I would love to hear any ideas you have for perfect breakfasts. These are not necessarily all healthy breakfasts, but I'm sure they are all healthier than not having breakfast and subsequently snacking on crisps and chocolate throughout the morning at work.

Eggs and Toast

With so many different ways to cook the eggs, this is one you can easily keep feeling fresh and interesting (I can get bored of eating the same breakfast every single day). For a trip down memory lane to childhood breakfasts, nothing can be as comforting as a soft-boiled egg and 'soldiers' made of toast. Delicious, nutritious, pretty filling, and a comfort food - how many different boxes do you want your breakfast to tick?! For tips on boiling your eggs, check out this previous, egg-focussed post.

Alternatively, I love to scramble a couple of eggs (somehow, one never seems enough) - keeping the heat medium-high, so that the eggs don't go rubbery, and adding a little butter at the end. Take the pan off the heat just before you think the eggs are cooked through, as they will continue to cook a little after you have taken the pan off the heat. Sometimes, inspired by the German Bauernfrühstück (literally: farmers' breakfast), I fry up some chopped vegetables (mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes....or anything else you fancy really) and then add the eggs to scramble it all together. That makes a proper meal of it! 

My most-recent addition to the egg-repertoire is poached egg. This one is a little trickier to pull off, but I have finally perfected my method, and will share it with you here. 

First, bring a small pan of water to a gentle simmer. Add a little vinegar (any type can be used, so I usually just use the cheapest I can find in the supermarket). The vinegar will help the egg stay together during the poaching, but we don't really want to taste it, so I just use my best judgement as to how much to add. I'd maybe say 2 to 3 teaspoons. Bring the pan back to a gentle simmer. Crack an egg into a cup, being careful to keep the yolk intact. Now, using a slotted spoon, gently stir the water round and round, to create a whirlpool effect. Carefully drop your egg into the middle of the whirlpool and set your timer for 2-and-a-half minutes. (This is also a good time to put your bread in the toaster.) When the timer goes, take the egg out of the pan using the slotted spoon, and drain on kitchen paper. Butter your toast and serve the egg on top. The perfect poached egg should have a runny yolk and completely set white. I like to chop some chives and sprinkle them on top, sometimes.

Don't worry if you don't manage first time. Try experimenting with the heat of the water, amount of vinegar, or the timing. For some reason, 3 minutes used to work well for me, but now 2 and a half seem to do it. Instead of toast, why not serve this on an English muffin to really add a touch of luxury to your breakfast? 


As a child, I always loved porridge. I even remember loving a story - The Magic Porridge Pot - about a magic pot that cooked endless amounts of porridge, to the extent that the whole town ended up flooded with the stuff. That sounded like my dream! Then I discovered that the traditional way to have porridge is not, as I was used to, with sugar, but actually with salt. Hm. I wasn't so convinced by this. And health-conscious people recommended eating porridge with neither salt nor sugar added. I have tried this, and while I can eat it, it just didn't excite me enough - and like I mentioned earlier, I have to really have a breakfast that I love (what else can motivate me to get out of bed in the morning, if not the food I'm about to eat?!).

So by all means, if you enjoy plain or salty porridge, please don't follow me and my bad habits. But if you are not so bothered by the idea of sugary porridge, or just want a 'treat' breakfast, then I can highly recommend porridge as a great, stodgy breakfast that will fill you up for the whole morning (seriously, I have had to reduce my portion from the recommended amount on the porridge oats pack, as I was too full - can you imagine?!). 

First things first - don't buy those handy little sachets of pre-mixed porridge oats (with/without added flavourings). Just buy a packet of porridge oats from the supermarket (I have recently discovered Morrisons do a bag for 99p for 1kg that makes a tasty porridge, but I also like Scott's Porage Oats). I use 30g of oats and 200ml of milk (if you're trying to be healthier, you can use water or half water, half milk), plus a heaped teaspoon of sugar (honey is a healthier alternative you can use). When I'm trying to be really quick (most mornings before work!), I put it in the microwave for two-and-a-half minutes, then stir, then back in the microwave for a further two minutes. 

If I have a little more time, I combine my ingredients in a pan and cook over a medium high heat on the hob, stirring constantly (make sure and stir from the outside of the pan right round and inwards until you reach the middle, to make sure it doesn't stick at all) until the porridge reaches a nice creamy consistency. This method doesn't take much longer than the microwave method, but it does involve standing by the hob for the whole time. I prefer to use those 5 minutes to get dressed, make a packed lunch or put on my make-up!

For a change, why not add a couple of handfuls of sultanas into the mix before cooking it, and then scatter some chopped almonds on top when it is ready? I have been doing this recently and it really adds the wow-factor to this breakfast favourite. An added bonus is that with the natural sweetness of the sultanas, you don't need as much sugar. Perfect! Or if you're feeling very bad, skip the sugar, but add a dollop of golden syrup at the end of the cooking process. This makes for delicious porridge, but it is certainly not the healthiest breakfast!


If you are really short on time, or just feel you can't face proper food in the morning, milk is a good option to at least line your stomach. Sometimes I'll have a glass with my eggs and toast, just to fill me up that bit more. If you're feeling naughty, like I often am, you could have flavoured milk (I love chocolate milk and use Nesquick powder to flavour mine). Although this is clearly less healthy, I tend to think it is still a better option than not having the milk at all and then reaching for a bar of chocolate half way through the morning.


I don't love plain yoghurt, but there are some delicious vanilla yoghurts or yoghurts with fruit bits through them that I do enjoy. For a nice summertime breakfast, try a bowl of yoghurt (plain or otherwise) with some fresh fruit. I like mine with grapes, blueberries or even chopped up apple pieces. Or a combination of all three! This is a nice, fresh breakfast with lots of goodness from the fruits, but the yoghurt should ensure it is also nice and filling.

Over to you....

Do you have any good breakfast ideas you'd like to share? Or, if you don't like breakfast, I hope that the above ideas might inspire you to try and change this! Please let me know what you think; I love to get comments on my blog.

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