Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Everyone has heard this over and over again and some people choose to listen, while other people couldn’t be bothered. I have always eaten breakfast every single morning. My body does not function properly without it – I get nauseous, light-headed and become quite unpleasant to be around. In general, breakfast is important for increasing energy throughout the day and encouraging overall healthy eating habits, including eating properly sized meals throughout the day, decreasing cravings, and optimizing your metabolism.
When my midterm week started with smashing my blender all over the kitchen floor, I was devastated. I am a creature of habit and I drink a smoothie every single morning for breakfast. Anyone with Celiac or other digestive issues will understand that midterms/stressful periods are the time when you want to stick to your typical diet, it is not a time for change! This is especially true when it comes to my breakfast routine. My stomach is already unhappy enough with all the stress coursing through my body and starting the day with an unusual breakfast is not helpful. Stress turns on the sympathetic nervous system (or the “flight or fight” response) and decreases the activity from the parasympathetic nervous system (or the “rest and digest” response). When struggling with any digestive issue, it is so important to do your best to eat in a parasympathetic state so that your GI tract is in its optimal state for digestion. This means trying to be as relaxed as possible while eating and never eating in a rush or while studying. This is obviously more challenging when you’re in a constant state of stress!
Luckily, I have an amazing classmate who lent me her magic bullet for the week! And then, I got to end my crazy week of exams with the best post-exam reward ever – a new Ninja blender!! I am using it every morning to make delicious smoothies! A few different combinations that I make are:
– Strawberries, blueberries, banana (I chop up my bananas and freeze them for quick and easy use), spinach
– Banana, peanut butter, cinnamon
– And I even tried a pumpkin one! Pumpkin, banana, and pumpkin pie spice
The milk I have been using recently is lactose-free milk but coconut and almond are both amazing in smoothies. I also just tried vanilla rice milk this week and loved it too! It has a slightly lighter taste than lactose free milk.
I also add my probiotics (I am using VSL#3 right now), L-Glutamine (a gut healing supplement), ginger (I add this on mornings when my stomach feels like it needs a little extra settling) and protein powder (I use Heartland Brown Rice, mostly because it is gluten free, lactose free, soy free and it also doesn’t taste too bad! http://well.ca/products/heartland-gold-brown-rice-protein_71989.html).
A breakfast full of protein helps improve energy levels throughout the day and keeps you feeling full so you won’t need to snack as much before lunch. I used to have cereal for breakfast, which didn’t have much protein in it, and I have found a big improvement in my energy levels since starting my day with a good dose of protein. If you don’t like the idea of adding protein powder to your breakfast, other good ways to add protein to your breakfast are: nuts and seeds (almonds, flax seeds, and pumpkin seeds are all good sources of protein and delicious!), eggs, or breakfast meats.
My newest addition to my morning smoothies has been spinach ice cubes! This is an idea I developed because I felt like I wasn’t getting enough green veggies in my daily diet. I have found that I can’t digest raw veggies properly and, even though I love veggies like spinach and swiss chard, I don’t really know the best ways to add them to recipes in interesting and exciting ways. I also find that you have to buy them in such huge bags/bunches and I can never use it all before they start to wilt. Anyways, these are all just excuses but it means that I generally don’t buy them and cook with them even though I want to and know that I should!
An awesome way to get your greens is to add them to your morning smoothies! And since I can’t add raw spinach to my smoothies, I thought I would try adding it cooked. But who wants to cook spinach every morning? This is where spinach ice cubes come in! (and I have also tried swiss chard ice cubes and they work too!) They are pre-cooked and conveniently packaged into perfect smoothie-sized servings. To make spinach ice cubes:
- Bring a pot of water to boil, wash the spinach, and add it to the boiling water.
- Let it cook for about 3 minutes.
- Let it cool slightly.
- Once it has cooled, add the spinach to your blender and you can add some of the cooking water as well.
- Blend up the spinach.
- Pour it into ice cube trays and freeze!
- Add 2 ice cubes (or as many as you would like) to your morning smoothie to get some greens in your diet every day without any hassle, cooking, or digestive upset! Also, if you’re worried about the flavour, it is very mild in this form.
I’m loving my spinach ice cubes!! There is definitely a lot of controversy about eating raw versus cooked veggies and which way is healthier. From what I have learned and from some research that I have done, it appears that the answer is eating a mix of both cooked and raw food is best. Certain nutrients, such as vitamin C and the B vitamins, are water-soluble and, therefore, can be lost in cooking water. However, other nutrients, such as carotenoids, which are antioxidants, may be more available to us for absorption once the veggies are cooked. So don’t be scared that you won’t be getting any nutrients if you cook your veggies! It’s better to eat veggies in the way you enjoy eating them than to not eat them at all. Here are a couple online articles that I think do a good job of explaining this:
Have a great week! I hope it is full of lots of yummy breakfasts : ) and if you’re usually the type to skip the most wonderful meal of the day, maybe you’ll consider making it a goal for your week to try and eat something each morning to start your day off right!