Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Breakfast Note

Good morning.  I just finished my breakfast and I was so deeply satisfied with it that I was compelled to write about it no matter how many grimaces this post might yield.

First, let me say that since starting to watch my nieces, I find myself rising early (as in, I have a renewed sense of purpose, so I'd better get up and start the day!).  While I'm up, after I'm dressed, I read my Bible, then I vacuum the downstairs.  I'm not moving furniture vacuuming, but just all the main areas to try and get bits of lint or grass that accumulated the day before so that baby E doesn't have excessive findings for her taste buds.  It's impossible to eliminate all from this very smart baby, but I try to make an effort anyway.

After these things are complete, I go to eat breakfast.  It's always my goal to eat before the nieces show up because once they're here and school starts, etc., it's easy for me to forget to take care of my own basic needs for hours.

I've always felt that breakfast was a very important meal.  Maybe because it was ingrained in me by my mother, or maybe because morning is my best time of day and if ever I'm going to enjoy a meal -- it's going to be in the A.M.

One of my favorite breakfasts over the years has been leftovers from dinner the night before.  I'm one who appreciates breakfast for dinner (more than for breakfast) and also, dinner for breakfast.  I love a good crisp salad for breakfast.  I love a warmed up piece of lasagna or even a slice of cold pizza.  I like a good, filling meal first thing in the morning.  I don't know why ... it's just something about me, I guess.  The way God made me.

Bowls of cold cereal are a great snack later in the day, but for me, they do not a breakfast make.

But lately, my favorite breakfast has been whole-grain, brown rice and sardines.

Okay, I'll pause here for the noise of disgust many of you are making right now.  Go on.  Say it.  I've heard it all.  My kids are champions at turning their noses up at the smell of sardines in the morning.  Ha!  And maybe that's some of the reason I feel encouraged.  It's my little way of getting back at them for the stink they raise the rest of the day.  Kidding, kidding, relax. 

Really, I love sardines.  Especially paired with brown rice.

One day, Z gave some of my sardines a try and he agrees with me and now it's hard to keep him from "sampling" half my serving each morning.  But he's always been the brave eater of the bunch.  I figure the rest of them might come around eventually, like I did.

I spent most of my life afraid of sardines.  My mom insisted that fish in a can (besides tuna) was really good and I turned my nose up at it, too.  But one day, C and I were watching an episode of "Good Eats" with Alton Brown (no more new episodes being made, sadly, but there are reruns) and he talked about the goodness of sardines.  I was intrigued.

I generally like the stuff Alton Brown suggests and so I generally trust his judgement.  I trust my mom, too, but you know ... she's my mom.  As a kid, it was hard to buy into things she said that seemed suspect to my immature mind, like "sardines are delicious."  Whatever.

So after watching Mr. Brown and all of his sardine suggestions, I bought a single can of sardines.  I wanted to give them a chance.  But after years of presuming Mom was wrong, it was hard to bust into that can.  It sat in the pantry for a good long time.  Like four months.

Finally, one day, C was starting dinner and he said, "I need a snack.  But I don't know what I want."

I brought out the can and some wheat crackers.  He was hesitant, too, even though he also tends to trust Alton Brown.  He finally said, "Okay... I guess we should try them at some point.  How bad can they be?"

We. Loved. Them.

Both of us!  Yes, they stink!  But they are so delicious.  We gobbled up the whole can and a few days later, I found myself having a serious craving for more.  So I bought three more cans.  Now I'm frankly addicted to these tiny fish in a can.

I will clarify and tell you that I buy skinless, boneless sardines in olive oil.  I haven't brought myself to accept that eating fish bones and skin is good (yet) in spite of what Mom always told me about how calcium-rich sardines are because of the bones.  I usually get the Crown Prince brand found almost anywhere (WalMart), but my favorite are the ones sold at Trader Joe's.  They are a bit denser and fall apart less than the Crown Prince ones.  (I've always preferred chunk tuna to the more shredded kind, too.)

So yes, this is my plug for sardines.  They are not even paying me.  Not only are they delicious, but "they" always say we need to eat more fish as part of a heart-healthy diet.  So I figure the extra fish and whole grains I'm consuming more regularly with breakfast are doing me a favor.  I keep losing the pounds and after a serving of rice and sardines in the morning, I rarely require any snacks till lunch.  It's great.

Occasionally, I do sub out the rice for some baby spinach or romaine and make a salad of it with a bit of pepper and light dressing, but it's easier for me to keep rice on hand than fresh lettuce.  Plus, the rice is more filling.

Oh! To make the rice easier, I usually just go with a whole-grain pouch which is par-boiled and only requires 90 seconds in the microwave to finish it up.  Uncle Ben's has a good selection and tastes great.  My favorite is the Whole Grain Vegetable Harvest Medley (below).  (Do be careful, though, as some of these pouches are high in sodium.  I just try to watch my salt intake the rest of the day.)  This breakfast is quicker than fast food.  And it has very little guilt association.

I urge you to give sardines another chance.  They are really good (and good for you!).


  1. OH MY. Well, I'm just glad it makes you happy! :)

  2. Finally you came around! Your dad, still, hasn't tried sardines. I don't think the other girls have either. Oh, well, our not-so-secret secret. Thank you for the Uncle Ben's brown rice tip! Love, Mom