Do you find yourself skipping breakfast? Maybe 3 cups of coffee to hold you over until lunch? – It can’t be too bad, or can it?!
I used to be this person, well, minus the coffee part. I have never acquired a taste for the roasted beans many crave. But with little ones demanding my attention as I try to get them out the door, I would often forget about food until lunch time. I figured it was normal and that I was saving those calories for my next meal in hopes of keeping my waistline trim. And yet, I had a hard time getting the extra pounds, from my last baby, to come off. After a diagnosis of an autoimmune condition, and starting Dr. Axe’s Heal Your Gut program, I began to realize how vital breakfast really is. I always knew my kids should eat breakfast but thought that was just because they were hungry. I had learned to ignore those hunger pains, so I figured they weren’t there. Once I decided to put my health first and help my body heal from the autoimmune disease, I started by making breakfast a priority. I still needed something fast and easy so I started making some highly nutritious smoothies. Dr. Axe provided some great recipes with combinations I would have never thought to use. Breakfast has now become a blessing I didn’t know I needed. I wanted to take time in this post to share some things I have learned about the importance of breakfast for adults and children.
Your body is designed to run like a machine or should I say, we design machines to operate like our bodies? Either way, our bodies have a rhythm for sleeping, eating, and working. Breakfast is so crucial because our bodies are ready for the eating cycle shortly or immediately after the sleeping cycle. When we adequately fuel up in the morning, we have helped our body to fire on all cylinders giving us better emotional stability, more energy, and we find it easier to maintain a good body weight. Blood sugar is usually low in the morning and your muscles and brain need it to work their best. Breakfast is like putting gas in the engine, it can’t run without it! That being said, it is very important that you are fueling up with the right things. Putting diesel fuel in a gas motor will cause some major problems, just like filling up with sugary junk, can cause problems. Our bodies are more forgiving than machines, so often times we over look symptoms that are telling us there is a problem until something major has developed. Let’s not do that with breakfast. Let’s choose healthy nutritious options that will keep our bodies running all day and keep illness away.
As I mentioned above, I started with breakfast smoothies. As an added bonus, my kids love the smoothies as well. My son requests the chocolate covered strawberry one almost daily. I am so happy that I learned of some great ingredients to include in them, without impacting the sweet flavor. I start off with homemade yogurt. I started making my own because I learned that letting the yogurt ferment for a long time, I prefer 36 hours, is a game changer as far as bacteria growth. After the average 6-8 hour mark that commercial producers use, the good, live bacteria start growing like mad. My yogurt was so thick; there was no need to strain it! I love Greek yogurt because it is strained (some whey is removed) to give it the nice thick consistency and higher protein content. But there is no need to waste any of the whey; the longer fermentation process will give me the same results. This is the base to my smoothies, because the protein and live cultures really help nourish our bodies. I then add in some coconut milk, coconut oil, fruit of my choice, ground flax seeds and soaked chia seeds. In my chocolate covered strawberry smoothie, I also include chocolate grass fed beef protein powder, along with some cacao to increase the protein and add flavor. On occasion, we need to add a little sweetener to the smoothie because the yogurt can have a strong flavor of its own. I love adding some homemade vanilla extract and stevia for sweetness, without sugar. This smoothie is a huge hit and I love that it includes lots of protein and fiber to carry my littles through their busy mornings as well as lots of healthy fats and medium chain fatty acids to support our brains.
Another staple for us is, of course, bacon and eggs. I love that our John Henry’s bacon is nitrite free and that our chickens are out pecking in the dirt, eating bugs. I make a big breakfast for my family every Saturday morning that includes eggs, hash browns, bacon, gluten free biscuits and gravy and anything else I feel like throwing together. But during the busy week, it is usually scrambled eggs and bacon or scrambled eggs with onions, Canadian bacon cut into small cubes, and cheese. This “one pan meal” is super easy and I love how fast it cooks.
Let go of the Eggo!!!! Wow, was I ever shocked when reading the ingredients on these waffles! Why do they seem to put food coloring in every “kid friendly” food item at the grocery store? Ugh, so annoying! Anyways, I will get off my soap box. I usually make homemade grain free waffles for my littles and they LOVE them. The base is eggs and cashews so again they are getting lots of good protein and fat. The best part is – they are great the day I make them and still amazing reheated in the toaster for days to come. They freeze great and make breakfast quick!
Breakfast doesn’t have to be boring or a challenge. The hardest part for me was just taking the time to make it a priority. It has paid off big time for me and I know it will for you.
Cubed Chicken Breast
Have you ever heard of cubed chicken? It isn’t what you think! This is not chicken breast cut into square cubes as many would expect, but rather it is prepared in a completely different way. This cut of meat is made from our delicious John Henry’s boneless skinless chicken breast; and they are a huge hit with all the hungry tummies at my house. We absolutely love how fast this form of chicken can be prepared all while being tender enough to cut with a fork. I bet you are wondering how this is possible, chicken in 10 minutes and you don’t even need a knife?!
For my littles, this is the closest they come to a chicken “nugget”. The texture is similar to the nugget being that it is very easy to chew and almost seems like a ground meat. I usually prefer to cook my cubed chicken breast in a skillet on the stove top. They cook fast so you have to be watching closely so not to overcook. Cubed chicken breast can be used in many different dishes. Some of our customers like to use them to roll up special blends. Others prefer to bread them with a panko crust, or flour coating. We personally love to eat them with an almond meal breading seasoned with Wildtree’s Adobo seasoning blend. This gives us a great gluten free option with some extra protein.
This handy, dandy contraption makes this all possible. Our butcher cuts a chicken breast in half, and then drops it into the slot on top where it falls through a wheel of pointy teeth that tenderize it. Our butcher catches it, turns it 90 degrees and drops it through a second time to make sure that it is ready to go. We package 2 pieces per pack and that usually weighs in at around 1 lb. A word of caution, because they have been tenderized you must handle them with care when preparing to cook them. A cubed chicken breast will want to start to fall apart if it is handled too much. Once I am ready to cook them, I will carefully take each piece out of the package and hold it in the palm of my hand to help it keep its shape. I will then flip it over into my coating mixture treating it like a pancake. If I am only adding seasoning I would sprinkle the one side with my favorite blend and then flip it over into my heated pan. This cut is definitely kid friendly, mother approved. Because it is a staple at my house, I wanted to make sure all of our John Henry’s customers were able to benefit from this easy lunch or dinner idea.
Our bodies need FAT.
Many of us have been led to believe that fats are bad for us. The marketing slogans of “Low Fat” and “Fat Free” have led many to believe that by selecting these items, they were choosing a “Healthy” option. Unfortunately, those phrases do not mean health, in fact, it is often the opposite. I remember when I was growing up my parents had a friend who was consumed with keeping her small figure. She often stocked up on “Fat Free” snacks. I was always mesmerized by the thought that she was eating cookies and crackers all while thinking she was doing great with her health because they were “Fat Free”. Fast forward a few years, I realized that those phrases were all just a marketing ploy to sell more cookies and crackers. The thought of fat being such a horrible thing always stuck around in the back of my mind but I was always conflicted. How could all fats be bad? Why did I witness others having a chicken breast to avoid extra fats, while I was having a burger or a nicely marbled steak? I grew up on our amazing grass fed beef, pastured pork and our free range chickens and never had a worry about the fats found in our meats. To me, there was definitely something suspicious when people would avoid fats in meat but fill up on “Fat Free” snacks. Let’s dive into some science to find out where the truth lies.
Our brains are made up of 60% fat, so it only makes sense that it needs fat to work correctly. Good nutrition, and consuming the right kinds of good fats, is key to maintaining a healthy brain. When we fuel our brain with fat, it encourages ketosis, which provides energy and helps protect against brain disease. A diet that is high in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) can also increase the production of a neurotransmitter that is important for learning and memory. A great food source for MUFAs is Avocado. I love this creamy green superfood in guacamole or in my morning smoothie!
Another healthy fat type is saturated fats; they are actually one of the main components of brain cells. Maybe you have heard of the benefits of coconut oils in regards to preventing and treating Alzheimer’s or other brain diseases. In one study, it was found that people who ate more saturated fat reduced their risk for developing dementia by 36 percent. Saturated fats are also necessary for proper hormone balance along with good immune and liver function. Some great examples of saturated fats are beef, lamb, pork, butter, coconut oil and palm oil.
Polyunsaturated fats contain the well-known essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6. These are so important to our brains ability to function properly but our bodies cannot produce them; we must include sources of these fats in our diet. An omega-3 known as DHA is also very important and has been shown to help improve conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder and even ADHD. If you are suffering from one of these conditions, consider taking a closer look at your diet. You must make sure that you are eating foods high in DHA such as:
- Fatty fish, like anchovies, salmon, herring or tuna
- Organ meat, like liver
- Fish oil
- Poultry and eggs in small amounts
Fats in our diet are so interesting and very much needed for optimum health. Please be sure to choose healthy foods with healthy fats that will help your brain instead of harm your body. Stay away from Trans Fats and hydrogenated oils that can be harmful and choose some of the fats above to nourish your brain.