Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Chloe Likes To Eat: Breakfast

Breakfast is so so important, not just in kickstarting your metabolism and making sure you're fuelled for your day, but for concentration, energy levels and resistance to snacks that may not be all that great for you *looks shiftily at the chocolate digestives*. If you're attempting to lose weight, skipping breakfast may mean that you struggle and if you enjoy sports or exercise, you might be missing out on important nutrition to help you be faster or stronger.

I should say at this point that throughout my teens and the very early part of my 20's, I did not do breakfast. Breakfast meant getting out of bed earlier, it meant boring toast or worse still soggy cereal- yes I'm one of those odd people who probably puts more milk into a cup of tea than onto any cereals. It's only after I lived at home whilst studying for my GDL and had to do 16-18 hour days to fit in my studies, job and internship that I realised how important it was to get some fuel in before I started my day. It's something that's stayed with me and has never been more important with a new found love of cycling and having the luxury of a consistent routine with my full time job. My current routine of choice follows a bit like this:
Get up - pull on cycling clothes - ride to work - wash & change - inhale coffee - EAT

Das Kaetzchen Leipziger Weihnachtsmarkt 2013 Sergey Yakushev
Pre-breakfast face...

So, breakfast food of choice. Not bread for me, I don't find it filling and I usually only make bread rolls at home. I'm finding that pre-made bread products in any volume have a tendency to upset my tummy, which having read the ingredients list for the bread from a supermarket, I now understand a little better. My ingredient of choice and the backbone of breakfast for me is oats. They're super cheap at 39p for 500g (we buy ours at Lidl) and super versatile throughout the whole year. Oats are a great source of energy and as a complex carbohydrate, they release energy through a longer period of time. All good stuff. But nobody likes plain dry oats.

Granola is a brilliant way to eat oats for breakfast, for a snack, and give oats some flavour. I have made my own (a favourite is this Jack Monroe Peanut Butter granola) and I also love the idea of toasted granola which contains less fat:

1 cup (I use a coffee cup for all ingredients for proportion but you could use any vessel) of oats
1/2 cup of mixed nuts or seeds of choice - I often use flaked almonds as we buy them cheaply from a local cash and carry
1/2 cup of dried fruit of choice - I love cherries or raspberries for a treat, our local Lidl sells great mixes with cranberries, coconut and raisins too. Dried apples are another favourite- extortionate to buy but super easy to do yourself if you have the time or inclination
Optional: A tiny tiny splash of vegetable oil or since it's en vogue, coconut oil

Heat up a wok or large pan on high heat
Add your oil if your choosing to use any
Add your oats and nuts/seeds
Shake or stir constantly to keep moving
When the nuts/seeds and oats are starting to appear toasted, add your dried fruit for 30 seconds or so.

The key to this recipe is to keep everything moving in the pan, or it will burn. I would also recommend making smaller amounts than tradition granola because this will only keep for a week(ish) in an air tight container before going a limp and soggy.

Trying out the new graze breakfast boxes. Portions are HUGE!
My first Graze breakfast selection

I have successfully made granola a good number of times, and it's very satisfying, but because I'm the only one eating it, one flavour combination or variety can get a little boring. Graze have recently started a breakfast box selection which includes a selection of flavoured porridge and granola. I skipped out on the porridge as it requires microwaving but also because I prefer something cooler in the summer months. The portions were HUGE and having a selection 4 different flavours was a pleasure. My favourite was the macadamia and orange but they were all lovely- not over sweet and full of crunch, texture and flavour. The boxes cost £3.99 each and as ever there's plenty of deals on freebie first boxes etc if you fancy giving it a whirl. This isn't a super budget friendly option, but it's lovely to ring to changes and it's always worth weighing up the cost vs the benefit of the convenience if you wouldn't be likely to eat breakfast otherwise!

Yoghurt & marmalade
Yoghurt and marmalade readyto be topped with yummy granola

Overnight oats have had a lot of blog coverage, maybe it's because we all seem to have a thing for jam jars- cocktails, breakfast, I've recently seen a US food blogger putting salads in them (not really sure how you're supposed to eat all the layers, but who am I to argue with pretty jars of food). ANYWAY! I like my oats to remain firm, and when I do make porridge in the winter, I prefer it dense as opposed to, for example, T's babyfood-esque concoctions. A great way to try out oats (and to get organised so you can remain in bed for an extra few crucial minutes of a morning:

Frozen cherries breakfast

Add 35g of oats to a jar or container of preference
Throw in a layer of frozen fruit (no need to defrost)- I can't leave blueberries alone at the moment, Sainsbury's do a great selection of 400g bags at 2 for £4- the bag of cherries lasted me approximately 20 breakfasts.
Top with 2-3 tablespoons of natural yoghurt
Leave overnight, stir, scoff.
You should find the defrosting fruit has softened the oats a little and that everything is smooth and fruity. For an extra touch of sweetness, try adding a drizzle of honey to the top.

Cherry overnight oats

Tell me that doesn't look tasty!

The key to making breakfast happen for me has been all about 2 things. Convenience and appeal.
If I have to get out of bed earlier to make it happen, it's not going to. I sometimes wonder if I'm spending half my life eating with a teaspoon from jars and small containers, but in an office bound job it's the best way I've found to transport everything and to make it desk friendly. All of the above do require a small amount of preparation either in making something on a weekend afternoon or in cobbling it all together the night before, but I do find these things become second nature.

As for appeal, I love fruit, I know bread isn't working for me, and I know I love cool yoghurt of a morning, so it's all about making those ingredients work for me. If you don't find something you like, then you're unlikely to feel like bothering. If you get bored easily, consider options that allow you to change it up- packs of mixed dried fruits and nuts are great as the come in various combinations to keep you on your toes and having a couple of different frozen fruits on hand is a great way to stop each day being the same.

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