Rise and Shine
“But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.” Psalm 59:16
As far back as I can remember, I have always been a morning person. Early morning sunshine streaming through my windows invigorates me. The birds’ chirping inspires me to sing tunes like “Good Morning” by Mandisa! (I challenge you to find the song and listen to it: it will make you either gleefully dance in your kitchen, or, for you non-morning people, hurl in disgust.) I wake up cheerful, ready to face the world, and engage in enlightening conversations, much to the dismay of some of my family and friends. I am truly at my best in the morning!
Along with being a morning person, I have always loved breakfast. I have fond childhood memories of being the first one up, opening the box of Corn Pops and eating my cereal while watching CNN News. (My nerdy news love as a teenager is a blog for another day.) When I was in college, I rarely missed the cafeteria breakfast, devouring the cheesy egg casseroles. Pancakes smothered in syrup or toasted bagels with puddles of butter were some of my favorites as an adult, along with salty bacon and the occasional indulgence in southern biscuits and gravy.
When I started my journey to being healthier, I assessed my first meal of the day. My “go to” breakfast meal was laden with empty calories, saturated fat, and unnecessary carbohydrates. Yes, it tasted great and filled me up, but it provided little or no nutritional value to help me through my day. So, I decided to make some changes. In the last two years, I have developed different habits, introducing healthy fats, whole grains, vegetables, and fruit regularly into my breakfast routine.
I want to share with you five of my favorite regular breakfast meals. Most of them are quick to make with little prep. Along with the picture of the breakfast dish, I will share the recipe and some tips/tricks I have learned.
- Smoothie Bowl
This has become one our family favorites, not just for breakfast. I am always smoothie ready, keeping all the ingredients on hand in my pantry*. A typical smoothie bowl consists of 1 cup frozen fruit, half of a banana, 1-2 T. orange juice or almond milk, and 1/3 to 1/2 c. Greek yogurt. I mix all of this in a blender and pour it into a bowl. It should be thicker than a drinkable smoothie, so you might have to add more frozen fruit to get it to the right consistency. Next, my inner Michelangelo comes out, topping the smoothie with slices of the banana, fresh fruit, and granola in patterns. Some members of my family swirl almond butter into the smoothie as well.
*Feel free to play with the ingredients, adding Chia seeds, spinach, or Swiss Chard to your smoothie.
- Egg, Avocado, and Bacon English Muffin Sandwich
Some people can eat sandwiches neatly, dabbing their napkin at the corners of their mouth. I am not one of those people, usually my sandwich falls apart, with a pile of used napkins at my side. This scrumptious sandwich is no exception. I start by preheating my oven to 375°F, and then cover a small pan with foil. I then cut a piece of thick sliced bacon in half and place it on the pan and into the oven for 7-8 minutes. Cooking the bacon in the oven saves you time and clean-up. My sister, Cheryl, taught me the trick of cutting your bacon in half. It will cover your sandwich and it tricks your mind into thinking you have had 2 pieces of bacon. I then thinly slice a tomatoes and sauté’ 2 slices of it in a hot pan for about 15 seconds on each side. Sprinkle the tomato with fresh or dried thyme. Next, I thaw a few pieces of avocado (I’ll share my tip for that at the end) in the microwave and put my English muffin in the toaster. I fry one egg to medium-hard, in grapeseed oil or olive oil, seasoning it with salt and pepper. After the egg is fried, I assemble my sandwich, starting with mashed avocado on the bottom of my English muffin, adding the tomato and bacon on top. I then add the egg and top it with half a slice of cheddar cheese (I find the half piece of cheese satisfies my Wisconsin-bred taste buds, while cutting down the calories significantly).
*Tip on Avocado: How many of you have wasted avocado because it browns so fast? My amazing daughter discovered that tray freezing avocado chunks or slices works well, with minimal discoloration. Now, I always have avocado on hand, popping it out of the freezer for salads, sandwiches, or guacamole!
- Overnight Oats
This has become one of my favorites and provided me an excuse to buy a pretty glass. You mix 1/2 c. old fashioned oats with 1 T. Chia seeds (Google the benefits of Chia seeds, it will blow your mind). You then add 1/2 c. almond or coconut milk (or any favorite milk) and 1/2 c. Greek yogurt. Finally, you stir in 1 T. of your favorite sweetener (honey, maple syrup or jam). You stir all the ingredients together, cover and leave in the refrigerator till the next morning. In the morning, top it with sliced banana and other fresh fruit, and breakfast is ready. You won’t believe how satisfying this dish is, full of protein and fiber. It’s my “go to” Sunday morning breakfast, since it is not socially acceptable to eat a snack in church!
- Scrambled Eggs with Veggies and Goat Cheese
I love adding color to my food in the morning. This dish is no different. I start by preheating my pan, add some olive oil, and quickly dice into it half a shallot and a few mini bell peppers. While they are sautéing for a few minutes, I whisk two eggs together with a little milk, season it with salt and pepper, and pour into the skillet. I then add a small handful of baby spinach to the pan with the eggs. When the eggs are close to being done, I add a few sliced cherry tomatoes and about 1 oz. of crumbled goat cheese into the pan. It’s done when the cheese is melted and incorporated into the eggs. I typically serve with 1 slice of bacon and a piece of Dave’s Killer Bread toasted. Occasionally, I top it with arugula, lightly dressed with lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, and salt. I discovered the European habit of serving a light salad with breakfast was another way to increase my veggie intake.
- Double Chocolate Banana Muffins
I tend to prefer savory breakfast foods over sweet, but every so often, I want to indulge in something decadent but still a bit healthy. This muffin recipe is perfect! I found it in a great devotional/cookbook by one of my favorite authors, Asheritah CiuCiu. A few months ago, she did a month-long online devotional based on this book** and I was able to interact with her when she demonstrated one of her recipes. She is the real deal and uses ingredients from Aldi, a discount grocery store. The following recipe is directly from her cookbook.
2/3 c. all-purpose flour 2/3 c. whole wheat pastry flour*
1/2 c. cocoa powder 1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt 1 tsp. instant coffee, optional
3 ripe bananas, mashed 1/4 c. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract 1/3 c. Greek yogurt
1/3 c. coconut oil, melted 1 large egg, beaten
1/3 c. mini chocolate chips, plus more for topping.
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with baking cups.
- In a large bowl, stir the dry ingredients together, except chocolate. Use a spatula to gently push the dry ingredients against the sides of the bowl to make a well.
- In a small bowl, mix together wet ingredients just until combined. Pour wet ingredients into the well and mix carefully, running the spatula around the edge of the bowl and pulling dry ingredients over and into the wet ingredients until barely combined. Some lumps are okay. (This method of mixing ensures your muffins turn out tender.) Gently fold in chocolate chips.
- Divide batter equally among muffin cups, topping each with a few extra chocolate chips.
- Bake for 15-17 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. To freeze, wrap cooled muffins in plastic wrap. Store in freezer in airtight container up to 3 months.
*With COVID-19 affecting grocery supplies, I was not able to find whole wheat pastry flour, so I substituted King Arthur Whole Wheat flour. The first time I made the muffins, it was a little dry, probably due to the difference in flour. The second time, I added a dollop more of the Greek yogurt, and it turned out perfect!
**I am linking her website to this page so you can check out her cookbook. It not only has great recipes but will help you dig deeper into the Word of God. https://onethingalone.com/bibleandbreakfast/
What you eat for breakfast can often set the tone for the rest of your day. I know that when I start off strong and healthy, I feel more inspired to continue in that direction for the rest of the day. I think this applies to our spiritual lives as well. David penned these words in Psalms 59:16, “But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.” I challenge you to try one of these recipes and while making your breakfast, spend some time listening to worship music and meditating on the love of God. I am sure, even for some of you non-morning people, your day will start off better!