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Forget sugary cereals—try something new for breakfast 

by Alain Bossé

Today we’re going to face facts and speak some truth. North Americans in general have appalling breakfast habits. This means those of us living in Canada, too! We are one of the few countries in the world that turn to what is essentially dessert for breakfast to start gaining sustenance for the day. Muffins, pastries, sticky buns, and doughnuts are only a few of the ways that we fuel ourselves for the day ahead. When you begin listing them in order it’s almost nauseating, and yet, as a culture we see nothing wrong with it. While doing research for this piece I came across an article online entitled “40 Ways to Eat Dessert for Breakfast”—as if this was not only acceptable, but that we needed encouragement and coaching to do more of it!

Thankfully we do better when we know better and I think that there is an emerging trend that’s seeing us do better and try harder.

Let’s face it: you don’t need a degree in food science to know that our bodies aren’t fueled on sugar; we are fueled by carbohydrates, fats and protein. Unfortunately, carbs and fat have been given negative press, and protein has been hailed as the be all and end all. But we need balance and above all we need to use common sense—and that starts at the breakfast table.

Protein at breakfast goes beyond bacon, way beyond: we’re starting to see vegetables such as sweet potatoes introduced at the breakfast table. People often overlook vegetables when hunting for sources of protein, when in fact they can be a very viable source and who says we shouldn’t eat them at breakfast?

 We’re also seeing grains come to the table. The term “ancient grain” in my opinion has become overused, but many grains such as farro and wheat berries are emerging from obscurity. When I hear the term “ancient grains” I picture a group of despondent farmers harvesting and then disposing of their crops, ever hopeful that a group of peoples, perhaps known as hipsters, will emerge and save the day.

All kidding aside, the hipster movement—and that is a real thing—is responsible for better eating habits becoming cool and trendy. And for that I thank them. The term “bowl” has become super trendy. A bowl is exactly as it sounds; a group of foods served in a bowl. Maybe that sounds obvious, even silly, but it is currently one of the most popular ways to eat. And while there are those who will try and put poutine in a bowl and refer to it as such, an actual “bowl” usually starts with a grain followed by vegetables, and a protein; instead of rich sauces they use salsa or hummus. You can get as elaborate as you wish, and these bowls are also making their way to the breakfast table.

We can’t talk about trendy breakfast foods without mentioning avocado toast, so simple and so good. It’s simply a mashed avocado on toast (whole grain of course) topped with a soft-boiled egg and, in our case, Sriracha hot sauce. Yes, avocado has been given a bad reputation as a fattening food but it’s contains so-called good fats, the kind that your brain and body need.

Another popular breakfast item—and a personal favourite—are protein balls. We keep these in the house for quick energy boosts or as a handy breakfast to go; we do several variations, all with nuts and dates. You may be thinking that that is a bit hypocritical since I was just bemoaning using sugar to fuel ourselves—but refined sugar and natural sugar are miles and miles apart, plus dates are fibre-rich and downright tasty.

We need to start looking at breakfast in a whole new way, so do try putting down the cereal box and picking up the quinoa. Does it take more time? Yes, it can at times, but you can also do meal prep on the weekends. After all, if you aren’t going to invest in your day, your week and your future, then who is?

Chocolate Almond Energy Balls

Makes 1 dozen

1          cup (250 mL) fresh dates, pitted

½         cup (125 mL) smooth almond butter

2          tbsp (30 mL) orange juice

3          tbsp (45 mL) cocoa powder

½         tsp (5 mL) almond extract

½         cup (125 mL) unsweetened shredded coconut

½         cup (125 mL) almonds

¼          cup (50 mL) Crushed almonds for coating

Place all ingredients except almonds for coating into bowl of a food processor and blend until combined and ingredients begin to come together and form a dough.

Using a tablespoon as a measure, roll dough into smooth balls, roll balls in crushed almonds and place in an airtight container. Keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

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