Thursday, February 17, 2011

Get up and Go! A No Rules Approach to the Most Important Meal of the Day.

mornings in my house can be complicated.  we have a very small apartment, two young children (one who is almost 3 years old and has never slept through the night), a downstairs neighbor who thinks we make too much noise, our shower is in the kitchen and a weekday schedule that dictates our departure at 8:15am.  we officially rise anywhere from 6:30am to 7am.  considering no one is getting much sleep through the night you'd think that we might cop out on the morning meal. it's exactly the opposite, actually. my husband and I have created a pretty awesome routine so that I am free to get breakfast and lunches ready (I pack 3 everyday) while he organizes the kids and gets them ready for school.  

breaking fast, or breakfast has been called the most important meal of the day and I agree as it can make or break your mood and spirit for what lies ahead.  it baffles me how many people either do not eat breakfast at all or routinely scarf down sugary cereals, bagels, store bought muffins and pastries, frozen store-bought pancakes and waffles, tropicana orange juice, flavored milk (which has the same amount of sugar as soda pop by the way) and cup after cup of coffee. these, unfortunately, are the typical american breakfast foods. sadly, these are not foods that will nourish, keep blood sugar stable until the next meal or do you any favors at all.  these are all foods that will ultimately hurt your body and your mind, leaving you exhausted, depressed, feeling flat and hungry all by 10am.  it's no wonder that many of our nation's children can't concentrate well enough to learn or are exhibiting negative behaviors in school and throughout the day. these are also foods that damage the gut, promote unhealthy bacteria to thrive and create chemical addictions. (click HERE to read a great article on why breakfast cereals are harmful).

in my crazy little house we have a different take on breakfast. there are no rules.
breakfast can be anything. breakfast can be simple or it can be grand.  it can be traditional or it can be "unusual." It all depends on what is in the house (leftovers from dinner make a great breakfast) and also where my head is at that morning. the most important factor is that it must contain a lot of good fat to keep us going throughout the day and taste great.  For example: chicken liver mousse on sourdough toast, a steak, bubble and squeak (leftover mashed potatoes sauteed in animal fat with leftover meats and veg), a chicken leg, sprouted tortilla quesadillas, cheese on buttered bread, you get the drift.


the night before, my husband or I will soak the oats for oatmeal or porridge in the morning.  that merely involves soaking 1 1/2 cups of oats in 1 1/2 cups of filtered water with 1TBS of liquid whey and a pinch of sea salt.  In the morning we add another 1 1/2 cups of filtered water and cook.  soaking the oats overnight disables the phytic acid and makes the oats digestible and their nutrients easier to assimilate.  over the porridge we serve raw orange blossom honey, cinnamon, butter, raw cream or milk.  I prefer mine without milk and lots of butter.  you can do a double batch of porridge and hold it in the fridge for a few days and reheat when needed. this way if you forget to soak, no worries. leftover porridge also makes great pancakes! 

another simple breakfast is yogurt.  you can buy it or make it.  making it is super easy.  this is how you do it:  1 quart of the best milk you can get. 1/2 cup excellent whole milk plain yogurt (this is the starter culture. you can then use your own for the future) if you are using pasteurized milk, gently heat the milk to 180 degrees and allow to cool to 110 degrees.  transfer to glass (large bowl or mason jar) and add the yogurt, stirring gently to combine.  cover the jar. if you have a warm oven (no more than 100 degrees) with a pilot light place the jar in the oven overnight (8 - 12 hours) then transfer to your fridge to firm up. for raw milk use a double boiler and only heat to 110 degrees.  you can use a yogurt maker and follow their instructions or use a dehydrator and place the jar in at 100 degrees for 8 - 12 hours and then transfer to the fridge.  yogurt is amazing with fruit, dried coconut flakes, crispy nuts and homemade germinated cereals.  It is also amazing for smoothies. here is our favorite smoothie recipe (on those rare days when no one feels like cooking - did i just say that?!)


3 cups plain yogurt (or kefir)
1/4 cup milk
1 ripe banana
1 ripe avocado
1 raw pastured egg yolk
2 TBS raw smooth almond butter
2 TBS xtra virgin coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

blend all ingredients with a hand blender and enjoy!

my favorite breakfast has always been and will always be pastured eggs.  i am absolutely insane for eggs.  i try to eat 2 a day.  sometimes raw. Luckily my children like (not love) eggs too.  after all, it was their first food (runny egg yolk and raw buffalo liver).  we do eggs all different ways here but i think the kids like soft boiled in a cup best.  they like to sprinkle the sea salt themselves and dig the egg out.  they used to prefer the whites but now they are coming around to the beauty of the yolk (which is so much better for you and easier to digest).  the perfect soft boiled egg takes 5.5 - 6 minutes.


eggs with lentils, eggs with bacon, eggs with avocado, eggs with cheese, steak and eggs, eggs with cured ham steak, fried egg and cheese with salsa. eggs with everything! hurray for eggs! make sure they are pastured and not from birds eating grain or soy feed.  If you have trouble with chicken eggs, try duck eggs. some people have an easier time digesting them and they are creamy and dreamy.  cooks eggs in lots of butter, lard or bacon fat. these are very nutritious stable fats and will help you convert your food into vitamins your body can use.  i recently increased my lard intake and watched my vitamin d level climb back into the normal range - in the winter in NYC i'd say that's pretty good.

the other day we made a breakfast that will probably be one of my favorite for a long time.  I bought bavarian style grass fed beef sausage from chip at grazin' angus acres located in ghent, ny (union square market on friday and saturday from 8am - 6pm and carroll gardens greenmarket on smith street in brooklyn on sundays 8am - 4pm). they are a perfect balance of beef, mustard and herbs (and delicious times 10!).  After I cooked the sausage (in rendered lard of course), I poured off the excess oil, added bacon fat (please strain and save your bacon fat to cook with) to the pan and sauteed ripe pineapple chunks in the bacon fat. jumpin' jellyfish that was incredible.  i cut some swiss villa raw goat cheddar to accompany the sausage and I was good till 2pm.  that meal contained a gift from every four legged friend on the farm and those flavors made everyone smile.

another off-beat breakfast at our place is thick cut bacon, ripe avocado and homemade mayo on sourdough spelt or rye bread. I like it toasted but sylvia likes the bread plain and simple.  avocado on toast with a squeeze of lemon juice, sea salt and pepper is another favorite. chicken liver mousse on toast works for us too. a new breakfast item for us are the salmon sausage from vital choice seafood.  These country spiced sausage are savory and beautiful. they go with eggs, as a salad (another great breakfast item) on bread or just all by themselves.  they are pre-made and live nicely in your freezer until you need them.  

i have a hard time trash talking bagels.  i am a new yorker after all and was practically raised on them.  but honestly, nowadays they are just too big and doughy, made with crap ingredients, cooked at a ridiculously high temperature and too difficult to digest. Not to mention the fact that they provide no nutrition whatsoever and parents mostly feed them to their kids plain. blech!  at least put some butter and cream cheese on it. better yet,  get some real, whole grain, properly prepared sourdough bread and put A LOT of real butter and real cream cheese, smoked salmon, sardines, cucumber, red onion and salmon roe on it!  we also do cream cheese, cucumber, sprouts and salsa with lots of cilantro. YUM!  wanna know something wicked cool?  you can make your own delicious cream cheese without any effort in one day and it will impart amazing nutrients (vitamins, enzymes, probiotics) to you and your family.  allow me to enlighten....

remember that great quality yogurt you make or buy?  (i like hawthorne farms for this).  put a strainer over a bowl and line it with a clean tea towel. pour the quart of plain yogurt in and let it drain all day. when it is finished you will have 2 cups of whey (you can use this to soak your oats or ferment veggies and will keep in the fridge for 3 months - label and date it!).  the product, after it is completely strained, is yogurt cheese.  put in a glass jar and spread it on your toast.  add sea salt or herbs to it for extra minerals and yumminess! pile it on and enjoy.  hungry yet?

weekends can get completely wild as there is definitely more bacon frying and the occasional pancakes made with yogurt, lemon zest and sprouted flour.  Henry asks for syrup toast every other day so it usually happens on the occasional sunday. i use spelt bread, lots of egg yolks, heavy cream, real vanilla bean and my favorite maple syrup from vermont.  okay, i will stop soon, i promise. my last recommendation is to skip the coffee and juices in the morning.  4 ounces of kombucha, good milk, kefir or cream, pure water, herbal teas and nutritious bone broths (beef, chicken and fish) or warm water with apple cider vinegar and raw honey are the beverages to start your day with style and grace.  give it a try, i think you will like it.  your adrenal glands will thank you. those of you who might want to try getting off the coffee, give dandy blend a try. it tastes just like coffee but is made of dandelion and chickory and has no caffeine. i love it! 

mornings can be energizing, nutritious and creative. when food is real, the breakfast table then becomes a place where discussion is lively and the promise of each day renews our gratitude and optimism to go forward.  with a little bit of flexibility and planning ahead you will be able to make the first meal of the day a beautiful family2table treat. 


  1. So inspired by these ideas!! Thanks so much for sharing -- even if I CAN'T live in your house, at least I can try and eat like I do. :-)

  2. I am big fan of eggs on anything, too. One morning, we had poached eggs over homemade pulled pork. YUM!!!

  3. Thanks for the wonderful ideas! BTW I LOVE all the photos in this blog, keep em coming!

    We usually have eggs for breakfast as well, with either buttered homemade bread or bacon or sausage. I also love making soaked pancakes and french toast.

  4. Growing up, I was only picky about breakfast. All I wanted for the longest time was black beans with plain yogurt in it, or cheese quesadillas. When people saw that Mom was feeding me that instead of cereal, they acted like she was feeding me crazy-like! As an adult, I still like black-bean soup for breakfast! It's an amazing high-protein high-energy meal. These all look amazing. You've inspired me to ferret out some good sausage.

  5. Your suggestions are amazing. Thank you for providing so many options for breakfast. It is one of my favorite meals of the day but lately I've been so distracted it has just become a cup of coffee with raw milk & cream (at least my version of half & half has some redemptive qualities to it)!
    I've been avoiding cereals for several months now and the only thing I miss about it is its convenience, but your suggestions with eggs or oats really only take a few more minutes.
    Also -- didn't know that about cream cheese! I get raw yogurt from a dairy farmer (God bless him!) and would love to try the cream cheese route.
    Do you know if I can make sourdough bread in a bread machine? Where do you get your sprouted flour? (I do not have a grain mill and cannot envision procuring another appliance at the moment!)

    Thank you and please keep the suggestions coming!

  6. hi megan, i have never made sourdough bread in a bread machine so i am not sure. i will investigate. as for sprouted flour, i use shiloh farms sprouted flour which is available at my local health food store but i am going to be trying To Your Health Sprouted Flour Co. located at thanks for reading family2table!

  7. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and I am also partial to eggs. My favorite egg breakfasts are scrambled pastured eggs sprinked with plenty of turmeric and a dollop of grass-fed sour cream or a bowl of left-over black bean soup topped with an egg friend in coconut oil. I must try your egg and lentil combo.

  8. Hi emily. Loved your comment about your daughter never sleeping through the night, very comforting that someone is in the same boat as me. Your breakfast suggestions sound wonderful. I am reluctant to try some because my husband has high cholesterol, right now and we are trying to reduce it. I know you say the healthy fats are important but can you educate me on which are healthy or point to a food site that can. Would you recommend the sausage, bacon, etc. for someone with high cholesterol?

  9. hi nicemi,
    here is a great article about cholesterol:

    in my humble opinion, the medical establishment has been going after cholesterol as a boogey man in order to sell statin drugs and make a lot of money. remember, i am not a doctor so i am not giving medical advice here, but, if you are sourcing really clean, pastured pork products from reliable farmers who produce healthy, well cared for animals, go ahead and eat sausage and bacon. if you get beautiful orange yolked eggs from pastured eggs who are only fed grass and bugs (no grain or soy) go ahead and eat 2 a day, yolks and all. "high cholesterol" is not about dietary cholesterol in my opinion. high cholesterol could be signifying inflammation in the body - cholesterol is essential to the living body. it repairs cells, produces much needed hormones and more. please read the article, it is a really informative piece. reducing cholesterol can be dangerous if the body needs that cholesterol to function properly. thanks for reading. best, emily

  10. Emily,

    Funny that I've been meaning to email you for a recipe since we talked in the playground last summer, and yesterday a friend pointed me to your blog telling me there was "someone out there who eats like you." The blog is great; thanks so much for posting so many great ideas and sources.

    Lately we've been making lots of salads with sardines to load us up with healthy fats, protein and veggies in the morning. My favorite is with fennel, golden raisins, pignoli, lemon juice, fresh mint and pink salt. Let me know if you are interested in some other sardine breakfasts--I'd love to exchange ideas if you have any. My three-year-old, who is the ultimate healthy omnivore, eats sardines every morning, so we are constantly searching for new ideas!

    Amy (your neighbor from Abingdon Square, who would also love to have your dried salmon snack recipe, if you ever feel like posting that as well!)

  11. Wow, that is some list of breakfast ideas. I love breakfast and they all sound great to me, but I'm especially interested trying some Grazin' Angus Acres sausage. They are at our local market. Thanks!

  12. We love, love, love eggs in the morning, too. We like to put them over home made refried beans, on sourdough english muffins, and next to home made hashbrowns. I like to bake my potatoes first and then grate them before cooking. Thanks for the new ideas!

  13. Thank you for all these incredible ideas! We mostly do eggs in the morning, sometimes soaked oatmeal, and on weekends we add in bacon or sausage. Sourdough toast with goat cheese, avocado or homemade nutbutter is our go-to quick breakfast when we don't want to turn on the stove. Do you have a recipe for the sprouted flour pancakes with yogurt and lemon zest?? They sound incredible. Also, how do you get your sunny-side-up eggs to be so beautiful? I always end up with ones that have some runny whites left in them and that have gotten overcooked yolk on the bottom. Tips?