How often do we eat breakfast, not really thinking about it properly?
Looking back on the breakfasts I’ve eaten throughout my life, I had milk and cookies up to the age of 15, then cappuccino and croissants until just a couple of years ago.
After re-thinking how to have lunch in the workplace a few years ago and launching my first book, Salad Love, I thought it was important to apply the same principles and attitude to what’s commonly considered the most important meal of the day. A good breakfast propels you towards the day and the challenges ahead. I’ve asked many nutritionists and read many books and articles about what constitutes the best and healthiest breakfast. I’ve taken that research and, as always, I’ve gone through my own journey, experimenting on myself, my body and my palate, every day for a good two years.
During this time, I’ve learned that the food you eat needs to be tantalizing and colourful in order to appeal to your eyes and your imagination. This is Rule Number One. Rule Number Two is to try to use ingredients that are unrefined or as close to their natural state as possible. That’s why I say “no” to industrial granolas, flavoured yogurts and overly-processed cereals. I sometimes use cereals, including cornflakes, but I always try to buy the gluten-free and sugar-free versions, and those that are high in fibre.
I’ve always been very reticent about eating fruit – don’t ask me why! I’ve probably just been lazy about needing to wash or peel them and therefore I’ve tended to go for an easier, ready-to-eat carb/sugary option. But on my mission to re-educate myself about breakfast, I forced myself to rediscover fruits, one by one, and it’s been great. I love them so much now; how could I have gone without them for so long!
I made it my mission to uncover what’s generally considered healthy, what the current top nutritionists believe (which might change in a few years…), and I tried to create a common sense, or common ground, that feels true and right and not just trendy.
I also decided to see what various cultures around the world eat for breakfast and I tried to adapt it to my tastes and my culture. I made the decision to explore vegetables and savoury plates in my breakfast, too. From my Italian point of view, breakfast is a sweet affair, but I was surprised to discover that not only do the British have a big tradition of savoury breakfast in the form of fry-ups, but in Asia, South America, Africa, Germany and other parts of Europe there are also plenty of examples of savoury breakfast.
Another basic rule for me is speed. This is not a book about long and luscious Sunday brunches. This book is about everyday breakfasts: easy and quick to prepare at home or even in the kitchen of your office.
There is some pre-prepared stuff (e.g. soaked nuts, seeds and oats, cooked rice and a few blended ingredients), but a little DIY makes things interesting! Often all it takes is a few moments of preparation the night before and by the time you wake up the next morning, you’re ready to put your breakfast bowl together. The truth is that a lot of the breakfast products you buy in the supermarket are over-processed and full of sugar.
Mostly, I’ve always asked the same question about my meals, and breakfast is no exception. Does it taste good? Is it healthy (in a common-sense way)? Does it feel good? Is it easy to make? Is it satisfying? Is it light? Does it weigh you down, or does it fuel and nurture your morning? Does it look good?
I hope I have answered most of them.