elusive perfection

I’m always on the lookout for the perfect breakfast food. My requirements are intense, and so I’m pretty picky about what constitutes “perfect”: it must be filling and satisfying, with enough protein and healthy fats to keep those 10 a.m. belly rumbles away, it must be healthful, and fruits and veggies should be involved, if possible.

I’ve gone through many breakfast phases in my life. In high school, there was a brief period in which I would stop at the local convenience store and pick up a flavored coffee and a package of sickly sweet, iced donuts. (I also weighed 120 lbs. then. HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN??) My freshman year of college I alternated between bowls of Quaker Oatmeal Squares with almond milk or Nature Valley bars with a cup of Starbucks coffee and an apple. That was a happy breakfast time for me.

I got into smoothies around my sophomore year, and I’d steal handfuls of spinach and spare bananas from the cafeteria and sneak them into the dorm kitchen, trying my hardest to keep the communal blender from waking up all of the girls on my hall. I had many a hit-and-miss when it came to my green smoothies, but I perfected them the next year when I had an apartment and a kitchen of my own.

Once I was in charge of my own breakfast, I started making hearty egg-chorizo-black bean concoctions that were delicious and very filling. I don’t know why I got away from those…maybe it was too much savory for so early in the morning? Yogurt has always been a favorite in the warm months, and oatmeal in the cold months, and a bacon-and-eggs spread with all the trimmings is welcome on special occasions.

But never have I discovered The Perfect Breakfast. Something that is quick to assemble in the morning and that my body responds to best. Do you take note of how your body reacts to what you eat in the morning? I can’t help but hear mine’s screams of discontent or sighs of happiness. When I eat a donut, I am temporarily in heaven, but not half an hour passes and I’m on the floor with the jitters, crying out for some umami to temper the saccharine rush. After a huge bowl of oats, sometimes I get sleepy or feel sluggish, and after an eggs-only breakfast I feel as if it all goes through my system too quickly. Similarly, a smoothie or fresh juice leaves me wanting more at 9 a.m., and really doesn’t constitute a meal on its own anyway.

Some of my best breakfasts – perhaps even those approaching perfection – have been the simplest. I love a good fruit salad, with fresh berries, chopped nuts, shredded unsweetened coconut, chia seeds or flax, and fresh mint, drizzled with a good fat or layered over some plain yogurt. Almond butter toast has never failed me, and topped with a sliced banana with some coffee it is great for sustained energy on a busy morning. Recently I’ve been eating “breakfast salads” at work, inspired by The Healthy Everythingtarian, and they keep me full for hours. Or, when I have a very early morning, and barely have time to turn on the kettle for a quick cup of tea, I grab one of these coconut muffins and some fruit and raw nuts for the drive to work. The coconut flour is full of fiber and protein, and all of the good fats inside slow the absorption of the sugars in the muffin and in the fruit I eat alongside it. Even though they are tiny, they pack a big nutritional punch, and provide lots of sustainable energy for an early morning at the cafe.

But, alas, I still haven’t found my breakfast star. I’m narrowing down the choices as I try new things and go back to old ideas, and in the meantime I’m leaning heavily on these muffins for support in the wee hours of the morning.

Coconut muffins, adapted from Smitten Kitchen

½ c. coconut oil, melted

½ c. maple syrup

1 c. coconut milk

1 large egg

1 tsp. vanilla

¾ c. all purpose flour

¼ c. coconut flour

¼ c. whole wheat flour

1 ½ tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and gently melt coconut oil in the warming oven.

Combine dry ingredients – flours, baking powder, salt – in a medium bowl, and combine wet ingredients – oil, syrup, milk, egg, vanilla – in a larger, separate bowl. Mix well and then combine dry and wet ingredients. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden. Enjoy warm with butter, fresh berry compote, or homemade whipped cream.

Optional add-ins: slivered almonds, chia seeds, or fruit — I found blueberries to be particularly delicious. Or spread with homemade maple butter, or top with coconut buttercream frosting for a decadent (but not too decadent) treat.

Note: coconut flour soaks up a ton of liquid. If you find your batter has become too thick or stiff while you’re waiting on other muffins to bake, stir in a little more coconut milk. The end result will still be the same. I made these twice — first, with the recipe above, and the second time with half coconut flour and half spelt flour. Good results both times!

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What are your favorite breakfast foods? Have you found your perfect one yet? Let me know, I’m always curious!

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4 thoughts on “elusive perfection

  1. Those sound delicious! Do you use coconut milk from a can, or coconut milk by the half gallon, almond/soymilk style?

    I go through phases of what I want to eat for breakfast– if my stomach is upset at all or I’m on the go, a protein shake with almond milk and sometimes a little fruit blended in is what I reach for most often. If I have a little more time, I like eggs with whole grain toast or oatmeal with fruit (if I don’t have any fresh fruit that sounds good for oatmeal, I’ll throw in a handful of dried cranberries before I cook the oatmeal so they will soften up a bit.) I also love huevos rancheros!

    • That sounds yummy too! And in reply to your question — I use canned coconut milk. The soymilk-esque kind has too many preservatives, and I prefer the way the canned stuff separates into cream anyway 🙂

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