For most of my adult life, with the exception of my pregnancies (when I once set a personal record by eating 7 large--not four-inch, as in the recipes--pancakes, a bowl of cereal, bacon, juice, toast, and milk), I did not eat breakfast.
I might eat breakfast foods for lunch or dinner, or I might eat brunch, but never breakfast, as in the meal that's eaten upon rising. I dismissed all the propaganda about breakfast being "the most important meal." Give me a cup of coffee or two or three and I'd be fine.
I'm not here to try to convert anyone. If you're not a breakfast eater, that's your business, and what's more, I understand perfectly.
But I've gotten to like eating breakfast, really like it. It all started with my making sure Jim ate breakfast--very important for someone with glycemic issues--and occasionally joining him. And then I read a book called The Diet Cure that completed my conversion.
I suppose there were other factors that contributed, like buying an 18-pound bag of grapefruit on sale (that purchase made me dust off the citrus-juicer attachment to my food processor, too)--you feel rather compelled to eat grapefruit several mornings a week when you've got all that fruit to eat up. Steel-cut oats will become rancid if left too long, so I started eating maple syrup- or honey-laced oatmeal. (Steel-cut oats take a while to cook, but you can cut the time in half by soaking it overnight; you can also cook it ahead of time until nearly done and then warm it up next morning). I had decided I wasn't eating enough fruit, so I bought several bags of frozen fruit and dug out the blueberries I'd frozen from last year's local crop to add to the oatmeal. Yogurt-fruit smoothies came next, with added honey and vanilla or almond or orange extract, depending on the fruits I used.
Next thing I knew, not being a fan of packaged cold cereals but needing a fast alternative to my other choices, I was looking up granola recipes. Even the best, most whole-grain of the packaged commercial breakfast cereals are extruded. Granola is the only way I eat rolled oats, which I don't much care for cooked up as porridge. I dislike milk, so I eat a yogurt-granola-fruit "parfait" when I don't feel ambitious in the morning. The yogurt is always organic, full-fat yogurt. I can hardly wait for fresh fruit season(s), but frozen fruits aren't bad when blenderized.
Then, thanks to the bananas I'd purchased in my not-eating-enough-fruit mindset--bananas I couldn't eat up before they became overripe--I found myself looking for whole-grain quick bread and muffin recipes that wouldn't be too sweet for the breakfast table and would use the bananas. (Did you know you can freeze blackened bananas, unpeeled, and just thaw to use in a recipe calling for mashed, very ripe bananas?) Muffins with the right ingredients can be a healthy choice for your breakfast.
Since I've recovered from my fears about saturated fat, I don't mind having a couple of slices of bacon with my egg in the morning, either, especially now that bacon minus nitrites and nitrates is easily available. As for the eggs themselves, I alternate among scrambled (with fresh herbs from the garden in season), fried (over easy), omelets, and frittatas. I find myself saving odds and ends of veggies from dinner, like spinach, asparagus, sauteed bell peppers, or potato, to add to an omelet or frittata next morning.
When we splurge and have pancakes on a weekend, say when we've got overnight guests, I freeze leftovers in a freezer bag with waxed paper between the individual cakes; they warm up fast in the microwave on a weekday morning. This, of course, is a very occasional treat, as starting the day with refined carbs is definitely not the best way to go. Jim does make the pancakes with whole wheat flour and sometimes buckwheat, but still.
My adding breakfast to my daily menu hasn't resulted in any weight gain. If anything, it prevents weight gain because I'm not getting hungry and munching. Breakfast starts your metabolism up in the morning and prevents blood sugar spikes and troughs, and thus staves off cravings for highly refined carbs none of us needs to be eating. It's not only breakfast--it's important, I've found, not to skip meals. Severely restricting your calorie intake can result in a slowed-down metabolism, so that taking in drastically lower calories can still result in weight gain.
When I was young, I wanted to stay in bed till the last possible moment, which, I suppose, is one reason I didn't want to prepare or eat breakfast. (Also, I didn't feel hungry when I woke up. I still sometimes don't, but I usually eat breakfast anyway.) These days I'm an early riser, and I'm sure that factors into my newfound enthusiasm for making breakfast. It really doesn't take a lot of time, though--not even bacon and eggs. Muffins or quick bread will already have been baked and are ready to serve; granola is kept in an airtight container, so it's always available; yogurt's in the fridge and fruit's in the freezer or fruit basket.
Below, you'll find recipes for homemade granola and banana oat muffins (both from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone), along with general instructions--not a recipe--for making smoothies in the blender. Omelet and frittata info can be found here and here.
You can, of course, buy granola, and not just at the health food store any more. Just check the label for no-nos (see this for details). If you want to make your own, the following is a good basic recipe. You can vary the taste by using different kinds of dried fruit and nuts.
6 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup chopped nuts
1 T. cinnamon
1 cup raisins or other dried fruit
1/2 cup oil (melted coconut oil or cold-pressed peanut oil)
3/4 cup honey or maple syrup
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Toss the dry ingredients, but not the raisins, together. Add oil and sweetener and toss to coat completely. Spread mixture in two large sheet pans and bake until golden, turning every ten minutes so browning is even. This will take at least half an hour, possibly longer. When it's nice and toasty, add the raisins and let cool. As it cools, the granola should lose its stickiness and become crunchy. When it's completely cool, store in an airtight jar or other container.
Banana Oat Muffins
Make sure the bananas are good and ripe; they should be mostly brown and very, very soft. I use a potato masher to mash them, but you can use a food processor too.
Although these keep very well, Jim and I can only eat so many muffins, so I freeze some of them, in twos, in freezer bags.
2 large ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 T. melted butter
1 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 cups flour (all-purpose or whole-wheat pastry)
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 !/2 tsp. baking soda
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Oil your muffin tin. In one bowl, combine the bananas with the buttermilk, sugar, egg, and melted butter. Stir in the oats. In another bowl, combine the flour, nutmeg, and baking soda. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir them together. Fill muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake until golden brown and springy when pressed lightly with a finger, about 25 mintues. Run a knife around the edge of each muffin and remove. Let cool.
Smoothies are good accompanied by whole-grain toast or muffins. Lighter, thinner smoothies than the ones I tend to make can accompany a more substantial breakfast.
You can vary these endlessly. Use whole-fat milk, buttermilk, whole-fat yogurt (my favorite), or unsweetened coconut milk; try different kinds of fruits. One of my favorite combinations is mixed berries and yogurt, sweetened with honey and flavored with vanilla (don't stint on the vanilla!).
Here's what I do: If using frozen fruit, I let it thaw (get it out the night before and refrigerate, or microwave them until they're soft but not actually warm). I put about a cup and a half to two cups of fruit in the blender, often a mix of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and cherries. Add half a cup to a cup of yogurt (I just eyeball these amounts). Add honey to taste, probably at least a tablespoon, maybe two. Add a teaspoon or more vanilla extract. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust amounts of any of the ingredients until it suits you perfectly.
Peaches and cherries work well together and taste good with some almond extract added.
Coconut milk and mixed frozen tropical fruit is a nice combination as well. You might also try ripe banana, pineapple, and coconut milk.
I've also seen recipes calling for apple juice, cherry juice, or orange juice. Use your imagination and see what you come up with!
The amounts I listed make for a couple of good-sized smoothies. If I have leftover smoothie, I simply put it into a jar and refrigerate it for the next day.