Many of us grew up thinking breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it provides fuel to the brain and body after an overnight fast (thus the name: “breaking the fast”). There is, however, an ongoing debate about good food habits, and some studies indicate that skipping a cereal, toast and jam may not – metabolically speaking – be as noxious as believed. It would be interesting to know how many of these researches are done with a weight loss rather than a healthy and balanced lifestyle in mind.
Arguments aside, my personal experience is that more regular way I live, hungrier I feel in orderly intervals. Every three or four hours the acoustic signals of my stomach are pounding like a heavy metal band, making me cranky and disoriented, if I don’t turn down the volume by eating a wholesome snack or meal. Such sensation of hunger is the body’s way to communicate the need for energy and, despite of being a nuisance, it is a healthy sign. When the metabolism becomes too weak to send out a distress call, the belly no longer growls in the absence of protein, carbohydrates and fats. By then, there are probably other silent malfunctions related to the liver, hormones and glands, too.
An ideal breakfast depends on a person; there is not only one way to start a day. I approach it as the most exciting and nutritious meal of the day because I have a ferocious appetite, and I also see how much strength and vitality it gives. Actually, I “break the fast” already upon waking up by drinking two cups of hot water with lemon juice as a liver and kidney tonic. Then, after my morning duties and meditation, I eat an apple or two. Apples are high in malic acid, pectin, dietary fiber and potassium, and tend to kick stagnant bile, increase digestive flow and slow down insulin response. For the main breakfast, around 8 or 9am, I choose homemade dairy, vegetables, seeds, nuts, legumes and gluten-free grains such as buckwheat, quinoa or basmati rice.
I recently – and finally – bought a pressure cooker which makes it so effortless to prepare chickpeas and other beans and lentils in a jiffy! Instead of boiling the legumes for an hour, it takes from five to ten minutes, and saves energy. I recommend it to every vegetarian.
To make seeds and nuts more digestible, soak them overnight in clean water because, like legumes, they have enzyme inhibitors that otherwise force the pancreas to work overtime and use its own enzyme reserve, causing bloating and heaviness in the abdomen. In a long run, “un-sprouted” nuts may weaken digestion. Germination will increase the availability of additional enzymes, vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc.
To activate the enzymes:
- Soak the seeds for 12 hours
- Rinse the seeds several times to remove any liquid containing enzyme inhibitors
- Eat the seeds immediately or store in the refrigerator for a couple of days. It may be a good idea to aerate or dry them before storing because, as wet, they are more susceptible to spoiling.
BREAKFAST (serves 2 to 4)
125 ml (1/2 cup) chickpeas
500 ml (1 cup) different nuts: almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, Brazil nuts
1 liter milk for paneer + lemon juice
100 g (4 oz) baby spinach and other greens (2 – 3 generous handfuls)
2 handfuls of sprouts (alfa alfa, mung, broccoli)
Black pepper powder
Kala namak powder
Wash and soak the chickpeas for 8 to 12 hours. Rinse and cook them in fresh water until soft but not mushy.
Wash and soak the nuts for 8 to 12 hours. Rinse and chop them coarsely.
Make paneer from 1 liter of milk and lemon juice. Strain it for 10 to 15 minutes and break it into chunks. Save the whey for a later use.
Mix the cooked chickpeas, nuts, paneer, peeled and cut avocadoes, baby spinach, sprouts and coconut slivers in a bowl.
Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, spices and salt in a separate bowl or jar, and add it to the salad just before serving.