The Thinking Belly's Breakfast

Antonia Pont 20 January 2009

If Saturday morning is rightly all about pastries, espresso, home-style jams, a myriad of freshly-shucked lychees, sliced melons, berries and (even) champagne, and if Sunday is sunny organic eggs, poached into the most perfect little bundles and placed atop plinth-like chunks of dreamy sourdough, with butter knobs sliding off and a side of spinach the colour and spirit of an Irish horizon, then what - in the name of the god of breakfast - is Tuesday, Thursday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday?

I will call it the Thinking Belly's Approach to Breakfast. Fuel for the body. For the synapses, the stiff back and the sluggish digestion that will send one off to sleep promptly at 2pm later the same day. It is an understanding that, really, prevention is better than cure, sugar is not really a food group, and eating right can be cheaper and more fun than a visit to the bulk-billing clinic up the road and seven days of nostril exfoliation, care of Kleenex.

Breakfast is really just another meal. So one is allowed to eat anything at breakfast. Fish. Strange soups made of hops. Sawdust. Whatever you want really. The food just needs to match the needs of the eater, not the unbreakable rules of Kellogs and Tip-Top and Cottees.

Water your garden

The first thing I would suggest, for morning neophytes is the following. Hydrate before anything else. Eat afterwards.

I can sometimes forget this, and it is always to my detriment. The Chinese have a good, simple trick. Poke out your tongue in the bathroom mirror and check out how it looks. If it's more pale-white, then Traditional Medicine would say that you need to eat things that are warming and help move that stodginess. If it is more yellowish, it still means stodge, but the method needs to be cooling rather than warming. And luckily the bounty of nature provides two easy options. Green tea is good for those who have too much heat (yellow tongue, or even red looking tongue); and fresh ginger root, quickly grated and shoved in a mug or tea pot with boiling water, is the perfect thing for those people who have a pale tongue and not much get up and go. Ginger warms, green tea cools.  

I hear screaming, and gnashing of teeth, brim-pebbles, and the like. Please tell us about the food. Connex is apologising for the inconvenience and everybody's starving.

Good. Well, there are lots of options. So here goes.

Recipe suggestion #1: Chiro miso, avocado, tomato and beautiful bread

Find a really good bread - rye, spelt, barley, grainy, or fresh white sourdough. Toast lightly & spread with some olive oil, chiro miso, fresh avocado, tomato slices and a squeeze of lemon.

Recipe suggestion #2: Hazelnut and Prune Polenta Porridge

Try Hazelnut and Prune Polenta Porridge with coconut flakes on top with a drizzle of maple syrup. All of these are pantry basics once you have them. Buy organic Italian 3-minute polenta. Use the water from the kettle and half-fill a small saucepan. Add a dash of salt, maybe a drip of vanilla essence and shake in some polenta slowly and stir til it turns to lava. This is easy once you've done it a couple of times. Have some nice sour yoghurt with it. Perfect.

Recipe suggestion #3: Jobs Tears

Special Chinese Barley - called Jobs Tears. This barley is rounder than the soup type you're probably used to. It's at any Asian Grocer. Jobs tears are famous since they drain ‘damp' (which is the white gunk on the tongue in the morning) and damp equates to body-fat in Chinese Med theory. So this is the way to get rid of fluid and feel less pasty. Cook up the barley like rice. I love it cooked up with currants, maybe some slices of sugar banana on top and a sprinkle of cinnamon. It'll need some salt in the cooking, and perhaps yoghurt (not low-fat!) or the milk-substance of your choice to serve.

Recipe suggestion #4: Miso soup, pure and simple

Miso Soup. This is for the super-committed. But it isn't hard. Again, you throw on a pot of water to boil. Add some torn pieces of nori, some black pepper, maybe some cubes of organic tofu, a few rounds of sliced spring onion, knob of fresh ginger, and let it boil up while you do other things. To eat, turn it off the boil for a moment or two, then spoon it into bowls in which you've already mashed the miso paste with some warm water. I'd prefer to eat it with some rice, or I get hungry again by 8.47am, but it is very good for tired bodies, if one's very run down.

Along such savoury lines is the staple breakfast in our house - call us weird... It is the adored favourite of biodynamic white rice, avocado, black sesame seeds, flax oil, nori and some tamari over the top. Does it sound odd? Trust me, it is truly more-ish, and really good if the belly's too queasy for sweet things.

Recipe suggestion #5: Summer fruit stir fry with cinnamon

I'll finish with a really fun one for summer, since soon I will be able to fondle white peaches and feel the giggle of blueberries rolling around my sun-drenched palms... you get the idea. Summer = decent fruits. Not apples, not oranges and not pears. No. They are having a sabbatical. But soft, sexy, vanilla-scented fruits: grapes, melons, peaches, berries, mangos, banana, papaya and and and... they are all in town.

So this last one is the oddest thing ever. It is the fruit stir-fry, and it is actually suitable for any time of year. Chop up all your fruits, you can add a few dried ones too, for variation (figs or dates), and add some coconut for good measure. Then with a small amount of quality oil, butter, if you love it, or cold-pressed coconut oil (the best option), get a wok ready and then toss the fruit in gently, adding the extras. A tiny bit of water from the kettle can help to steam it, and quickly remove the combination, add some cinnamon if you have a white tongue. Serve with either coconut milk or yoghurt.

To conclude this little foray into Breakfasts for Thinking Bellies, it is said that the thing that matters most with eating and our nourishment is actually the peace and happiness with which we eat it. Weekday mornings can be hurried affairs, but they do make possible all the conversations, serendipities and quotidian miracles that come afterwards.

Bon Appetit.


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