Breaking the breakfast mould

explains why the first meal of the day doesn’t have to be boring

Photo Credit: Grace Marsh

Photo Credit: Grace Marsh

Breakfast. The most important meal of the day. We’ve heard it over and over again; on the news, from our parents, from health experts, but we don’t seem to be taking any notice.

February is International Hot Breakfast Month, a scheme dedicated to raising awareness of the perils of skipping breakfast and encouraging us to fit breakfast into our daily schedule. We’ve all heard the facts and figures over and over again. More and more studies are linking the skipping of breakfast by children and young adults to the increased risk of developing health problems such as metabolic syndrome in adulthood. But the trend isn’t just limited to schoolchildren.

Despite the increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and the inability to concentrate (something students in particular need), many adults fail to eat the first meal of the day, with the online One Poll Survey discovering that a quarter of women do not eat breakfast at least once a week. The main reason given? Getting ready for the day ahead is more important.

Eating breakfast should be considered a fundamental part of getting ready for day ahead for everyone. Students are amongst the worst culprits for skipping breakfast; we’ve all had those mornings where we’ve overslept or couldn’t find our keys or books, therefore having to fly out the house in a hurry with the cereals sitting uneaten in the cupboard. Such occurrences must remain one-off emergency occasions. In Britain, we have a very limited view of what foods are suitable to eat at breakfast, with cold food such as cereal, and also toast or porridge shaping the list.

A full cooked English breakfast is often appealing, with another popular choice being cold leftover pizza after a night out. Neither are what you could call nutritional. For us British, a plate of cottage pie or fish and chips would be a strange choice to start the day and perhaps that’s where the problem lies; that we are under the impression that breakfast can only consist of the same boring store cupboard things.

Globally, however, the tradition of eating ‘breakfast-exclusive foods’ is less common; some cultures eat the same dishes whilst others just adapt the recipes slightly. Korean breakfasts for example, traditionally consist of rice or soup dishes, whereas in Burma, the traditional breakfast is Htamin jaw – fried rice with boiled peas, also a popular meal eaten throughout the day. Perhaps we just need to be a bit more creative.

Breakfast doesn’t have to be the stale cornflakes left in the cupboard. With a little imagination, it can become an interesting start to the day. French toast is a great option as it uses up any stale leftover bread or eggs about to read their use by date. Scrambled eggs also; you can add curry powder and cumin seeds to make it Indian style, or even chilli powder and kidney beans to make Mexican scrambled eggs – great wrapped in a tortilla for a breakfast burrito. Pancakes aren’t the unhealthiest option either, as long as you don’t smother then in nutella, golden syrup or sugar. Honey and chopped banana are great alternatives.

So this month, make the effort to eat the first meal of the day. And in honour of the Hot Breakfast theme, why not leave the cereals in the cupboard and try something a little warmer and more adventurous?

Breakfast pizza muffins

1 wholegrain English muffin, halved
1 small tomato, seeded and diced
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 rashers of back bacon (or ham),
a handful of grated cheddar cheese
dried herbs such as basil or oregano
salt and pepper
a few mushrooms

1. Preheat the oven to 230°C.
2. Line a small baking tray with foil or cover with olive oil
3. Place the English muffins halves on the baking tray, with the insides facing up.
4. Top each muffin half with the tomato and then drizzle with olive oil.
5. Scatter the bacon and mushrooms on top of the tomatoes and finally, cover it all with the cheese of your choice.
6. Bake in the oven for approximately 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cheese is fully melted and beginning to brown.
7. To finish, sprinkle with the herbs and salt and pepper to season. Enjoy
Tip: You can cover the muffins with whatever meat or vegetables you have left in the fridge.

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