“But what do you eat for breakfast?”
That’s the first question everyone asks when we get to talking about low-carb eating. Admittedly, it took me a while to figure out what to do. The obvious answer, eggs, can take time if you don’t plan ahead. So here’s what I really do eat for breakfast, in case you want to try the low-carb way and you’re looking for ideas.
Breakfasts That Only Seem Carby
(Hey, if Tim can toast-blog, why can’t I?)
Almost every morning I have Oroweat Whole Wheat Light bread, toasted, with plenty of good-quality butter and sometimes a bit of low-carb jam (any flavor of Hero Sugar Free Preserves is my favorite). When traveling to destinations with toasters I usually bring some Oroweat along.
The Pacific Northwest bakery Franz also has a Net 4 line that’s low-carb. Good, if a bit sour-tasting, and tends to go off faster for some reason.
Favorite bread: Carb Krunchers Rye, bought online and kept in the freezer. It actually says “rye” with quotes on the package; it’s not real, but its caraway seeds have a magical ability to transport me into rye-land.
Next bread I’m going to try: Julian Bakery’s Smart Carb #1.
I owe Joe Andrieu big-time for introducing me to a granola product called Flax-Z-Snax. Follow this link to get it straight from the source and save money. This stuff tastes so good you’ll be tempted to overdo it. It’s good plain or with a splash of half-and-half or Calorie Countdown milk, but amazing with Dannon Light ‘n’ Fit low-carb vanilla yogurt. I’m always worried these latter two products will be discontinued; you have to hunt for the supermarkets that carry them. I’ve also tried and liked Dixie Carb Counters granola (and appreciate that it’s a lot harder to overconsume).
Breakfasts That Don’t Look Carby in the Least
Favorite: There’s an Original Pancake House within walking distance of my house. Why make eggs when you can get someone else to cook them? Their huge fluffy five-egg omelettes are awesome, especially stuffed with cheese, onion, and bacon. (Great for lunch too.) I can only ever eat about half, and take the rest home.
Weekends: Eli makes a mean cheesy scramble (scrambled eggs with cheese, onion powder, and half-and-half). By the way, real cream is much yummier in morning coffee than milk is. I prefer a scant tablespoon, or what my sister refers to as “a molecule”.
Making ahead: Speaking of my sis, she worked up this recipe for no-crust mini-quiche muffins…
Preheat oven to 350Â°F.
Quantities only seem important with the eggs and cream; otherwise load it up and have fun!
- Red onions chopped
- Red peppers chopped
- Scallions chopped
- Diced ham
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 6 eggs
- 3/4 cup half-and-half or heavy cream [the latter is less watery]
- Pinch of garlic powder
- 7 or 8 shakes of hot sauce
SautÃ© onions and peppers till soft.
Mix all ingredients.
Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.
[I load the lumpy ingredients before pouring the egg mixture on top.]
Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown.
Eat and enjoy!
Eli may specialize in cheesy scrambles, but I specialize in the Sunday morning egg sandwich. Two eggs fried over medium, some good cheddar, pre-toasted and buttered low-carb bread, the whole thing assembled and grilled — and served with low-carb strawberry jam. It’s got to be strawberry; this is tradition. (Forgive its tar-like appearance in the picture.)
Breakfast in the Before-Time
The one supermarket aisle I still swoon over is the one with all the breakfast cereal. I had a bowl of cereal (or two, once the insulin resistance kicked in) nearly every day of my life until 2004. I had Kellogg’s Sugar Frosted Flakes — yes, they still proudly had “Sugar” in the name back then — right through high school. In college it was Grape-Nuts with honey, sometimes microwaved. Later, I got sophisticated (what with the Bread & Circus stores all around) and went the granola-with-yogurt route.
The most counterintuitive part about starting a low-carb routine is staring at a plate of eggs and bacon and wondering: Can this be right? Review the facts, and you’ll conclude it’s the rare cereal that’s “part of a balanced breakfast”.
I think (American) breakfast is the worst (from a health standpoint). In m y Paleo experimentation I found that pretty much, aside from eggs, most traditional American breakfast alternatives are a waste of time. My approach was to simply eat for breakfast what I’d eat for lunch or dinner. I experienced some aversion at first. Culture is strong. My wife and kids were actually “grossed out” at first when I dug in to leftover steak and a big salad at 8AM. Now they’re used to it.
Hunger is what got me over the cultural hump. If I’m not hungry enough in the morning to eat real food, then that’s a sign I probably don’t need to eat then. Of course over time I’ve gotten accustomed to eating real food in the morning and now it’s no big deal.
Excellent suggestion, Bill. Atkins mentioned the idea in his book too, and depending on what’s hanging around in the fridge, I do it myself (mmm, leftover stir-fried chicken…). Having done some traveling, and experienced breakfast buffets in various places, I’d say one of my favorite breakfast cuisines is Japanese. It’s largely the same foodstuffs that get served at other meals, and it includes fish, veggies, and other items many Americans would be suspicious of…at 7am, at least.
A person is particularly vulnerable to the psychological/physiological lure of sugar and carbs at breakfast time. We haven’t eaten in maybe 11 hours. Dang. Sometimes when I see that orange juice staring back at me from the fridge at 6AM I feel like Luke in episode VI. “oh you want this…”
Turns out I’m always thirsty and hungry then. When I’m able to summon The Force and just drink some water and eat some good food I feel fine. It’s often hard to believe this beforehand though. In the moment. Staring at the OJ. And the chocolate chip cookie cake the kids made yesterday. Sometimes I wish we were just frickin cave people and it was just all about getting all you could get. Choice kills.
Your logic is impeccable, but strangely I’m least tempted by carbs in the morning (unless I’ve been on a carb bender and am permanently hungry already…that’s when cereal starts to look might good). In fact, my natural state is hungry-for-coffee at 7am, then hungry-for-real-food at about 9 or so.
If you want not to be tempted by OJ anymore, just remind yourself that its smell is chemically just one hop away from sweat (I kid you not) — takes care of the craving just like that. :-)
Climbing (ever so carefully) onto the bandwagon. Just had my new regular carb-free breakfast: 3 eggs, 1/2 cup (maybe a bit less) shredded cheese, a couple of teaspoons (loaded — probably actually tablespoons, but it’s salsa, who cares) of pico de gallo from Trader Joe’s, scramble it all together in a Pam-coated pan. 467 calories, if you believe the little app I’m using to figure this stuff out.
The iPhone, among its many other awesome qualities, is the best dieting companion ever. I would *never* write down all the things I eat in a day, but somehow, putting them into an app and having it do all the serving size math and such just makes it more fun.
Hey, Scott, best of luck with this approach! I, for one, hate doing food diaries. If I’m not internally motivated to make the right choices, external tools like that won’t help at best, and at worst, they make me feel like a nag is looking over my shoulder. But I will agree that iPhone apps do make pretty much everything in life better…
OMG! Those mini muffins look bloody fantastic – I’ll make them, but put veggie ham in instead.
I’m making my own granola from chopped nuts, dessicated coconut and melted butter – you mix that lot up and put it in an over for 5-7 minutes (mixing a couple fo times while you go) and let it cool. Its nice with berries and coconut full fat yogurt.