Rethink Breakfast Cereals

Rethink Breakfast Cereals

Flojo’s Easy Detox Tip #8

So you’ve all heard about the origins of Kellogg’s corn flakes right? No? Mwahahaha! You’re in for a treat then. Dr Kellogg was a Seventh Day Adventist who believed that “Neither plague, nor war, nor small-pox have produced results so disastrous to humanity as the pernicious habit of onanism. Such a victim dies literally by his own hand.”

Yep, to cut a long story short, Dr Kellogg developed corn flakes to cure the life and soul destroying effects of masturbstion!

Quackery as it sounds though, he had a point. No! Not that having a sex drive is bad! In fact, having a healthy libido is a key sign that your health is generally doing ok. If your health is under par then your body won’t necessarily want to encourage behaviour that might end in pregnancy.  His point that cereals reduce libido though? That one. That’s the point I’d like to expand on. 

Until Kellogg began promoting his anti-libido cereals at the turn of the 20th century, western breakfast eaters were fueling themselves with either meat and eggs or some kind of porridge. Until the misinformed diet police started getting their knickers in a twist over fatty breakfasts we were breakfasting on just the right stuff for good energy and, yes, a healthy libido! Here’s why: cholesterol and saturated fats are vital components of all hormone production! And having a healthy sex drive is reliant on your body being able to synthesise sex hormones, namely testosterone, oestrogen, progesterone, oxytocin and vasopressin. If Dr Kellogg wanted to reduce sex drive then restricting the ingredients of traditional breakfast fare was an effective measure!

And if you aren’t convinced by the whole libido argument. How about breakfast cereals messing up your stress hormone cycles? Starting your day with a carbohydrate based breakfast causes your blood sugar levels to rise, which in turn increases your insulin production. Both of which interfere with your natural daily cortisol cycle. And when your cortisol levels are high then your non-emergency functions such as digestion, reproduction and wound healing are going to get suppressed. 

Those low-fat, added vitamins, superfoods enriched health claims on the side of the box aren’t looking so hot now are they?

What about those lovely, natural, fibre containing, organic and whole grain cereals from the health food shop? Well, it’s also worth noting that whole grains contain both enzyme inhibitors that can interfere with digestion and phytic acid that combines with iron, calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc and blocks absorption of these vital minerals. So sorry, but these aren’t great either. And check the nutrition panel for sugar. Don’t be fooled by the wholesome sounding ingredients like honey, maple syrup or, I don’t know, enchanted fairy nectar. Every 4.2 grams equals one teaspoon of sugar. Add up the weight of your serving (I’m guessing it’s more than the suggested 30g.) Do the maths. 

So, what can you eat for breakfast? 

The first thing to remember is that the “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” mantra is misleading. Breakfast literally means to break your fast. There is no rule that says that this has to be as soon as you wake up, or even in the morning. It’s the quality that counts. Not the timing. 

But I’m not about to deprive you of “something in a bowl” of a morning so if that’s your bag you can always try my breakfast porridge, my chia breakfast bowl or my yoghurt breakfast bowl. And, when I get round to it I will blog a lovely sugar free and low carb granola post for you. Because I realise that was a cruel trick to post a picture of some healthy homemade stuff and not actually  give you a recipe. Sorry…

If a hot drink is the most you can face then Bulletproof coffee is great. Or, try my hot coconut and vanilla shake or my breakfast hot chocolate 

A weekend breakfast is the perfect time for a fry up. But if you are missing pastries or bagels then you could try my peanut butter muffins or my breakfast cheesecake. (I’ve also just realised I have omitted to write a recipe post for pancakes! Whaaat? I will rectify this soon. Promise!)

And, of course, there’s always bone broth! (How could I finish a post about breakfast without it?!)

Broth for Breakfast

I did a talk last week for a very lovely group of student teachers and newly qualified teachers. Those of you reading who have experienced full time teaching will know all too well the sheer resilience, stamina and sheer bloody mindedness required to survive in such an environment. My heart went out to these enthusiastic, intelligent and capable young adults who were already showing some signs of stress and exhaustion. 

My talk was on stress management through making easy tweaks to some of the most vital influences on human health – those of sunlight, movement, nutrition, hydration and sleep. I hope they make some of the changes I suggested. They were time honoured diet and lifestyle habits that should discourage early burn-out. 

There was some good discussion on a few of the ideas, particularly with regard to sleep practices. But the question they asked that probably took the most explanation was this, “So what do you eat for breakfast?”

The look of horror and incredulity on their faces when I replied, “well… currently it’s bone broth!” was priceless. A few months ago I’d have laughed at me too. Because something sweet and carby is surely the ultimate in breakfast? Perking you up when you don’t really want to eat much but need a boost? No..?

Well no. Because that sweet and carby stuff does a number on your blood sugar levels and so, in turn messes up your natural cortisol cycle. And what does cortisol do? It waits in the wings ready to increase your blood glucose to help fuel a flight-or-fight response. Then you’ve got to produce insulin to deal with that spike. And the more you call on cortisol and insulin at the wrong times the less response you get when you need them. And so bit by bit we set up an unnatural stress hormone cycle that is highly deleterious to health. 

But broth and vegetables for breakfast is weird right? Well no. Ever had left over curry or noodles for breakfast? Or gorged on a fry up? Or grabbed a flakey meat pasty on the way to work? These all have that salty and comforting flavour; and combination of fat and protein that takes us back to our more primal instinctive taste preferences. But most of us probably don’t have the time or stomach to gnaw on a mammoth bone before our hunt of the day so bone broth is a perfect modern day alternative.  

Glorious savoury umami flavours ready in less than five minutes and with the ability to keep you going all morning and well into the afternoon. Would you like a recipe?

Ok. The first bit does take a while, although the prep is minimal. Stick some roasted bones (chicken, beef, pork, lamb or a mixture) in a slow cooker and cover with water and a tablespoon or so of sea salt. Add extra flavour if you like (garlic, onion, carrot, celery, black pepper) but don’t feel obliged. Simmer on the lowest setting for around 48 hours. 

Five minutes before you want to eat, melt some pastured pork lard, beef tallow or butter ghee in a frying pan, flash fry some veg and tip into a bowl. Then ladle in a few scoops of broth straight from the crockpot. That’s it! Change the vegetables you use, experiment with herbs and spices, add some cooked meat or eggs if you need the extra protein (although your broth will have a decent amount already.) 

And there you have it! A serving or two of vegetables, some healthy fat, some essential minerals and a tonne of gut-healing, infection-fighting, inflammation-reducing, bone building and skin-beautifying collagen all before you leave the house. Let me know if you’ve tried it or are planning to!

Hot Vanilla Shake

I’m experimenting with using Dave Asprey’s fabulous Bulletproof Diet at the moment and am love, love, loving how it’s making me feel. Except for experiencing one very confusing emotion this week. I kinda did love it, but it was unnerving because it was new, and even good new things can be scary sometimes. If any of you can tell me what this emotion is called I’d be very grateful. Right now I’m going to have to name it total-inability-to-beat-myself-up-over-something-that-may-or-may-not-have-been-my-fault-and-may-not-even-matter-anyway.

There were a couple of (entirely unrelated) times this week when I said things that, if my brain had engaged quicker than my mouth or texting finger I probably would have chosen not to. Now normally I’d have then spent the next 24 hours replaying those sentences over and over, blaming myself, wondering if I’d messed up everyone’s lives and lost every last scrap of decency I’d previously clung onto. Adrenaline would have clouded my ability to focus or do anything reasonably useful towards myself, my family or my work. But instead I filed both slip-ups under L for lets-see-how-it-goes. And, that was as far as the shockwaves went. Because I didn’t agonise I didn’t make anything worse. In fact, it turns out that nothing I’d said was of any consequence to anyone at all. Nobody noticed let alone cared.

Both situations were ultimately humbling. Anxiety kind of over-inflates your every self-perceived dud action to something akin to world destruction. Not experiencing this jittery-brained, stomach-lurching , hand-trembling state was like waving off an old, but controlling close friend. And that, my lovelies, is one of the very best reasons for laying off the grains and sugar, while spooning butter and MCT oil into your mouth like your very life depends on it, I can possibly give you.

Hmm. That was a much longer introduction to a post than I meant it to be. Shall I shut up now and give you a recipe?

Ok, this is a nice, warming, calming and satiating drink for any time of day. I made it late one afternoon when I didn’t want a Bulletproof Coffee but I did want some fat and flavour to keep some carb cravings at bay.

Blend 50g unsalted butter (from grass-fed cows), a tablespoon of coconut butter, a tablespoon of MCT (or coconut) oil, 1.5 teaspoons of truvia, one teaspoon of vanilla powder and two teaspoons of gelatin with a mug of very hot water . You want it really frothy, and you want to serve it in a big, sturdy mug. And you want to enjoy that feeling of not-feeling-responsible-for-everyone-and-everything because the world will carry on regardless. I promise you!

A Curried Chicken and Coconut Soup.

So it’s cold and drizzly outside, bad news from dear friends has left you apathetic with shock, and you’re facing a ridiculously busy week at work. What do we do children? Repeat after me, “We make soup!” Why? Because it’s the culinary equivalent of donning bedsocks and a fluffy cardigan. This is a good soup to make in such circumstances because you can adapt it to whatever basic ingredients you already have in or can quickly pick up from your local corner shop (wrap up warm first please.)

In no particular order fry off some diced chicken and vegetables (pictured: onion and courgette but I also love using broccoli or butternut squash) in coconut oil. Once the chicken is cooked through add some Thai green curry paste and chicken broth or stock and simmer until the table is set and the candles are lit. Stir in plenty of creamy coconut milk, bring back up to a simmer and then ladle generously into bowls. Top with sliced ripe avocado and fresh green coriander. Savour, then retire to sofa with a cup of tea and a blanket.

Quick Baked Breakfast Cheesecake

I know, I know! This blog has more cheesecake entries than a village fete. Except that village fete cakes would be pristinely presented, beautifully bedecked with seasonal home-grown edible flowers and chocolate shavings; and delicately dished up on cut glass. And mine are generally served up in an old earthenware dish that my mother bought as part of a set in Spain over 20 years ago (packed to survive the journey home in sanitary towels) and, by the time they make it to the table, are decorated with a finger dipped dent.

I digress. Would you like a very quick and easy recipe that can be on the breakfast table in under half an hour? Giving you time to brew some coffee, box up a packed lunch or two and stick a load of laundry in? Or even time to jump in the shower? There’s probably not enough time to dry your hair as well though. Just sayin’

Throw 300g cream cheese, 4 eggs, 1 tablespoon Truvia and some vanilla in a large bowl and blend. Cover the base of an ovenproof dish with berries
(or whatever fruit floats your boat) and top with your cream cheese mixture.

Bake at 180c for around 20 minutes. Check before you serve that it’s not too runny in the middle by prodding (were you wondering about that finger dent? Mystery solved). Then spoon as slowly as you can into your mouth while reflecting that if more people’s days started with such sweetly fluffy pink and white breakfasts there would surely be a lot more sunshiny smiles on drizzly grey mornings.