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my breakfast is broken

11 Mar

I don’t know about you guys, but for me, breakfast is the most difficult meal of the day. This is the diatribe that plays itself out in my head every time I wake up:

  • Will I have enough time to make, or even just eat, something for breakfast?
  • Does my breakfast have too much sugar?
  • Too many carbs (grain)?
  • Too little protein?
  • Will it keep me full?
  • Is it too processed?

If I don’t make/eat breakfast before leaving for work, the battle continues on the road: Can I stop somewhere to grab something without being late? What’s cheap, but still healthy? How long is the line? If I just don’t even bother, will I make it to lunch without gnawing my own arm off?

Somewhere along the line, it finally occurred to me that breakfast is WAY TOO COMPLICATED.

Think about your typical breakfast foods: Cereal (too many carbs, too much sugar). Yogurt (won’t keep me full). Bagels (too many carbs, too little protein). Pastries (no brainer–not healthy). Pancakes (too much time, too many carbs). Fruit jams (too much sugar). Granola bars (too many carbs, too much sugar). I finally gave up and started eating eggs almost every day.

Why, I wondered, is something that should be so simple–easy access to a filling, healthy meal–so jacked? Then one day I heard this crazy idea on the radio:

People can just eat the same foods they eat for lunch and dinner, for breakfast. 

Japanese breakfast

a traditional breakfast in japan. doesn't look very familiar, does it?

Wha whaaaaaaaaaaat? WHY HAS NO ONE THOUGHT OF THIS SOONER, you ask? Breakfast has changed in America over time based on work schedules, work environments, and the migration of women into the workforce (and out of the kitchen). All of us now have less time to prepare, and to consume, breakfast–but I think just changing the way we think about what breakfast is will at least give us some better options for what we eat.

For me, understanding my morning meal doesn’t have to be limited to “normal” breakfast foods opened up a world of opportunity for healthy, yummy and filling ways to start my day:

  • Meats: Why not grab a small piece of leftover dinner or a slice of lunch meat from the fridge instead of fried sausage or bacon?
  • Hummus: No duh–I’ll eat this any time of day!
  • Eggs: Easy to make fresh or hard boil for something filling on the go.
  • Cheese: see Hummus.
  • Yogurt: Also quick and easy. Pair with an egg or some cheese/hummus, and you’re set ’til lunch.
  • Fruit: Quick! Easy! Great with any of the above! (Noticing a theme here?)

What do you think? Is breakfast a breeze, or a royal pain in the tummy? I’d love to hear about your breakfast challenges or meal ideas!


lord, give me strength… with a side of chick-fil-a sauce

22 Jan
chick-fil-a chargrilled chicken sandwich

so delicious. so healthy. so... evil?

Friends, I have a gastronomic dilemma of the ethical variety.  Before I get into the details, though, let’s just talk about all the reasons  my favorite fast food restaurant, Chick-fil-a, is AWESOME:

  1. Those cows are so right–chicken just tastes better than beef.
  2. Chick-fil-a is healthy. Not if you order fried chicken strips, french fries and a milkshake–but they have a robust selection of healthy options that are all delicious. Every single one! My favorite is the chargrilled chicken sandwich (pictured above) with a side salad. The salad comes with sunflower seeds, y’all! SUNFLOWER SEEDS. Anything to say to that, McDonald’s? I didn’t think so.
  3. Their customer service is stellar. Not only are the people nice, but when there was a tomato shortage a couple of years ago, they actually added a line item to my receipt refunding me the 10 cents for the slice of tomato that was missing from my sandwich.
  4. Every winter, they have the most delicious peppermint milkshake in the world. Okay, maybe not in the world, but trust me, it’s yummy.
  5. Do you really want anything except a chicken biscuit when you have a hangover?

And yet, despite being the fast-food love of my life (imma call you, Taco Bell!), I am sad to say the Chick-fil-a apparently has not-so-friendly views about homosexuals.


And that brings us to the place where I need your advice. I have been trying really, really hard to not eat at Chick-fil-a since learning this news… but I’ll be honest. One one hand, sometimes I need to grab lunch to go–and when I do, I’d really prefer that lunch be healthy. On the other hand, I also don’t want my lunch to be supporting hate. I mean, if Chick-fil-a were donating $2 million to the Klu Klux Klan, it would take me and I hope not a few other people about .5 milliseconds to stop eating there completely. Why am I still tempted now?

What do you guys think? Do I bite the bullet and stick with the only healthy (and delicious) fast food gig in town–or put my money where my mouth is and swear off the beloved chargrilled chicken sandwich completely? So far, Chick-fil-a is winning in spite of myself. Help!

katz curried oatmeal

27 Mar

Very often when I tell someone I have a food blog, the first question they ask is, “Why food?” The answer, of course, is because I love food. I love how sensory it is. I love that food can be both tradition and experiment. I love the different experiences it has to offer–whether you eat at home, at a restaurant or from a cart on the street. I love the peace of cooking, and of enjoying a meal I’ve made myself. But more than anything, I love the moments food allows us to share with others.

Several years ago I bought a book at a used book store in Daytona Beach called Eating Through Literature and Art. Grouped like a cookbook, according to meal type, each section includes excerpts, notes and recipes from people like Franz Kafka, Allen Ginsberg and John Cage. I was flipping through it a couple weeks ago, and this breakfast entry by Steve Katz, a response to the editor’s request for a recipe, captured just exactly the feeling. It’s stuck with me ever since, and I can’t help but share it with you here:

Katz Curried Oatmeal

I never expected to express this as a recipe. I like to think of it as the culmination of a morning mode, following the processes of eyelid lifts and other sophisticated exercises that result in eventual verticality. One happy result of following these instructions with some sincerity is that you will find yourself vertical by a seascape so beautiful I wouldn’t trust a description of it to the world’s best writers. That’s the shores of Cape Breton, preferably at dawn–erect at dawn , supine by sunset. You go there to get the oatmeal, Ogilvie’s Scotch Style Oatmeal, generally for sale at the Co-op in Inverness or at McLellans. You can probably get it at other stores elsewhere in Nova Scotia and Canada, but I can’t see why you would want to. If you can’t go that far, and want to simulate the recipe, I suggest you avoid Quaker Oats and find some loose steel-cut oats in a health food or bulk grain outlet. Quaker Oats don’t give you the nutty texture you want for the awakening this dish ideally provides.

To cook 1 cup of these oats you will need 4 to 5 cups of freshly drawn spring water. This water is best from the hills of Foot Cape, but I am sure you can find an adequate substitute. Many people like to cook the oats in a double-broiler or on a low heat throughout the night. I have tried that and it made for some soft oats, but I prefer the texture you get cooking them directly over the flame, and stirring frequently. Bring the water to a rolling boil, add the oats, lower the heat to a simmer, and stir frequently. The oats foam up and threaten to escape the pot at first, but you will find that as you tend them, they will calm down and become quite tame to your attention.

These oats take twenty minutes to a half hour to reach their optimum texture, which for me is more or less “al dente.” When they are about half way you can add the spices. If you have a preferred curry powder you can stir in 1/2 to a full teaspoon of that, according to taste. I’ve liked some curry powders, but what I have consistently used and preferred is the following combination of 1/4 teaspoon each of cumin, ground coriander, tumeric, and cayenne. The amounts of each can vary according to taste. Add salt also to taste. At least five minutes before the oats are ready add 1/2 cup of diced dried fruit. I enjoy a combination of raisins, black or golden, preferably not treated with sugar, and unsulphured dried apricots. After you add the fruit check occasionally to see how much water it absorbs, and if the pot needs it, add some boiling water.

To finish the porridge saute some raw sunflower seeds in butter. I prefer the lightly salted butter of Tatamagouche, when I can get it. When the sunnies are light brown pour them into the nicely bubbling porridge. You will hear a heavenly hiss from the disturbance of steam that for the moment will drown out the sound of the waves breaking.

Four to six of your friends are sitting outside the tipi, or on the deck, or with their feet dangling off the bank, as they watch the early sunlight come over the hill to touch the crests of the waves. This should fill a nice bowl for each of them, that will warm their bellies for much of the day. Serve it to them with a bowl of yogurt, and some coffee brewed with cardamon. They are your friends, and there will never be another morning like this morning.

1 cup oats (Ogilvie’s Scotch Style, or steel cut)

4-5 cups spring water

1/2-1 tsp curry or 1/8 tsp each cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, cayenne


1/2 cup diced dried fruit

1/2 cup sunflower seeds



I am fortunate to know, and have shared a drink or meal with, most, if not all, of the people who read this blog. You are my friends, family and colleagues–and these are among my most cherished memories.

unexpected enchiladas everywhere!

23 Feb

Why can I totally see myself having this EXACT conversation?


me: If I was driving a brain-car I’d make it go to Taco Cabana all the time and you’d be all “Where are we going? We don’t have time for this” and I’d be like “I’m not doing it! It’s the car. It must want enchiladas” and then I could get enchiladas all the time and you couldn’t yell at me about it because you couldn’t prove I was doing it on purpose.

Victor: When have I ever yelled at you about enchiladas?  WHY IS THIS EVEN AN ISSUE?

me: You’d totally yell at me if I suddenly veered off to get unexpected enchiladas. That’s why I’ve never even tried it. Because I know you. But just wait until we get our mind-control car. There are going to be unexpected enchiladas everywhere.

what do brands taste like?

21 Jan

Mix the ingredients peanut butter and chocolate and they don’t taste like peanut butter and chocolate. They taste like a Reese’s peanut butter cup.

Do not try to taste the peanut butter. Only try to realize the truth: There is no peanut butter. There is only "Reese's."

Does any other brand do that?