I’ve noticed an interesting food trend since the kids have gone back to school and most people have returned to a more strict routine. People are genuinely concerned with school or work lunches; constantly trying to balance variety, value and nutrition. They give equal thought to the main meal of the day, again being quite concerned with cost, diet and trying to avoid becoming an expert in “100 ways with mince!” I’m delighted that people are taking such care, but sadly few seem to care about breakfast; possibly the most important meal of the day.
With the practical extinction of construction workers the breakfast roll has also gone into decline. The builder’s mainstay of all that protein wrapped up in a giant bread roll has almost gone the way of the dodo. The Food Police would tell you that it’s probably just as well given that they believed it to be a heart attack in tinfoil masquerading as breakfast, but ask anyone who worked all day on a cold hard site and they will tell you that it was a necessity.
Before you write to me in disgust I am not suggesting that we all start eating breakfast rolls before heading out for a day at the office or school desk, but I am asking you to consider breakfast as a much neglected meal that might require a makeover. I must also warn you that it may need you to get up 10 minutes earlier but, trust me, if you get in on the breakfast thing it will revolutionise your life and you won’t regret it.
Just like evening meals, seasons and weather will impact on choice. Thinking about what to eat for breakfast at breakfast time is daft. Nobody can handle the pressure of such early morning choice and so all our good intentions are left to one side as we once more reach for the cardboard box of cereal or perhaps that should be the cardboard cereal box! There’s nothing wrong with cereal but why have it everyday.
Porridge, breakfast sandwiches, fruit mixes with yogurt, cold meat with tomatoes, scrambled egg on toast, boiled eggs with soldiers, Danish pastries or croissants, a full Irish – with a little imagination you could have something different but nutritious every day and breakfast would be a meal worth getting out of bed for. It’s virtually impossible to lure kids to the table with the smell of a cornflakes box, but the aroma of a freshly cooked breakfast, hot coffee or warm croissants wafting through the house might be more convincing in making them spring from the feathers to face the day.
Most people claim lack of time as the reason for being less than inventive in the mornings and yet the experts will tell you it is the most important food of the day. Recent studies have even indicated that along with health and body function, foods also positively or negatively impact mood and brain power also. One has to wonder if there is an overall impact when a teacher with a less than adequate breakfast presides over a classroom full of students who have also failed to get a good breakfast into them. The same could be said of the workplace and yet we are not prepared to invest an extra 10 to 15 minutes in the morning and a little thought and organisation the night before. Other people say they can’t face anything first thing in the morning. I think they’ve just trained their bodies not to expect anything and so the hunger signs are overridden. Now this is just the physical impact and we haven’t even looked at the positive mental benefits to be had from simply taking the time to sit down and have an enjoyable breakfast before facing into the mayhem of the day. We wouldn’t expect our cars to get us to work without any fuel and yet we’ll happily expect our bodies and brains to do it.
Staring into the cupboard or fridge first thing in the morning is pointless. Give breakfast some thought during the day. Can you draw up a variety of things to have so that every morning is a little different? If creating that kind of variety everyday is too tricky start with two or three changes in a week. If the family like toast try different breads perhaps and add a few different toppings; jam or marmalade. We have to think in terms of fuel and the activities of the day. Once at school children rarely have an opportunity to eat again for at least 2 hours and if it has taken 30 minutes to get out of the house and to the school gates they need food that will release energy slowly and keep them going. Even then their first morning break will only be a snack and it can be another hour or so before they have lunch. No wonder they come in ravenous after school and could almost eat the fridge along with its contents.
Breakfast, breakfast, breakfast! It is every bit as important as any other meal and yet we are happy for it to be poured from a cardboard box everyday, leaving our health in the hands of a large global corporation believing that they care!!
It’s time to start thinking about what we eat. Have cereal one day, porridge with seeds and or berries the next or try a big bowl of fruit topped with yoghurt. Try a bacon sandwich with country relish one morning and then scrambled eggs on toast the next. Cook what cafes like to call a ‘mini’; often one sausage, one rasher, a fried egg and a fried tomato. Finish the week on a French note with a cheese and ham filled croissant and indulge them all at the weekend with French toast or maple syrup topped pancakes with sliced fresh bananas or an indulgent full Irish. It’s just about using your imagination.
There are some great breakfast products produced locally in Tipperary. We have cheese, bacon, sausages, premium breakfast puddings, fresh breads and bakes, relishes, jams and marmalades. The list is superb, it is all produced locally and there’s no need to start the day on anything but a tasty note. I want everyone to think about breakfast this week and I set you a challenge to get up a little earlier to prepare it. Once you get into the breakfast groove you won’t go back and I guarantee that by the end of the week you will definitely notice a difference in your daily energy levels.
We hope you enjoyed reading this post by Pat Whelan of James Whelan Butchers. Pat is a 5th generation butcher, cook book author and the director of James Whelan Butchers with shops in Clonmel, the Avoca Handweavers Rathcoole and Kilmacanogue, Dunnes Stores Cornelscourt, Rathmines and Swords in Dublin. Sign up to our newsletter for more updates from James Whelan Butchers