When my boys were little, my husband and I decided to add some further dimension to our lives by serving as a host family to foreign students who came to Boston to learn English. The students lived with us, shared our table, and learned to speak colloquially while they attended full day English classes at a school down the street.


One day at breakfast, a student from Japan questioned the concept of “breakfast foods.”  She explained that in Japan, her family ate rice, leftover fish, and leftover vegetables for their morning meal. She found our assortment of yogurts, cereals, and fruit perplexing. While her question didn’t lead me to make changes in our dietary habits at the time, I realize now that she had planted a seed with me that has finally germinated.


Three months ago I stopped eating anything we Americans would call “breakfast food.” Instead, each morning, I build a bowl of lively flavors and textures, including a small scoop of cooked whole grains (a medley of brown, black, and red rice, quinoa, farro, freekeh, barley, or 100% buckwheat soba noodles), cooked beans or lentils, diced marinated tofu or tempeh, sliced raw vegetables or leftover cooked vegetables, a good helping of chopped cooked or raw greens, cubes of almond-milk cheese, pickled ginger or something else pickled, a few nuts, a scattering of dried fruit and a bit of fresh fruit. Depending on my mood I may add a drizzle of dressing, a sprinkle of vinegar, or a spoonful of guacamole.


I cook whole grains several times per week to provide a steady supply, and I keep all the breakfast makings in a series of Pyrex boxes with tight fitting lids. In the morning I just pull the boxes out of the refrigerator, line them up on the counter, remove the lids and start combining.

I find myself eagerly anticipating this new morning routine. (Lately, my adult son has gotten on board in his kitchen. He makes a big breakfast bowl and eats half of it for lunch at work.) No two breakfasts ever taste the same. They take my palate on a delightful sweet-savory-salty-earthy journey. Best of all, I’m not hungry again until mid afternoon.

Why do we eat those traditional breakfast foods day after day?

Georgia Orcutt, Oldways Vegetarian Network

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