Stripped Carbs First Thing in the Morning? No!

Having a hard time understanding why breakfast is the one meal of day that you should not eat toast, bagels, muffins, waffles, pancakes, cereal, biscuits, bread or grits? Here’s why:

When you eat foods that are rich in fiber, fat and protein, it takes quite a while for your body to break them down. So they get absorbed into your bloodstream very slowly. But whenever you eat items made primarily from sugar and other kinds of stripped carbs, your digestive system absorbs the ingredients very quickly. That makes sense when you think about it; the stripping process means that they’ve already been partially broken down before you even eat them. And the faster you absorb food, the more insulin your body has to release to catch the food and escort it to the cells throughout your body. That sets you up for a vicious cycle all day long: first you spike your blood sugars, and then you release a massive amount of insulin, which makes your sugars plummet and sends you hunting for something to spike your sugars, which results in a massive insulin release, and so on.

Think about this: Let’s pretend that you have two cars in your garage. One is a Ford F-150 truck, and the other is a Volkswagen. And let’s say, for the sake of argument, that due to atmospheric conditions, gasoline doesn’t work as efficiently in the morning. That’s not really true, of course. I’m just saying it to set up a teaching point. Okay…back to the garage. Now, all things being equal, and assuming that gasoline works inefficiently at daybreak, which vehicle are you going to choose to drive your kids to school tomorrow morning? The Volkswagen, of course! If you want to start your day by conserving your energy, you’re gonna take the Volkswagen.

Does this mean you’re never going to drive the Ford truck? No. But you’re not going to drive it first thing in the morning —  you’d just be wasting your gasoline. Most of the time you’ll drive the Volkswagen. Unless you have some really good reason why not. Like you want to impress your kid. Or the Volkswagen is in for a tune-up.

Now, just as it doesn’t make sense to waste the gasoline in this story by driving a gas-guzzler first thing in the day, it doesn’t make sense to waste your insulin by eating rapidly-absorbed food for breakfast. I’m not saying that you can never eat white flour. I am just saying I think it’s a lousy choice for breakfast. In my humble opinion, it’s okay to eat a slice of toast, or a bagel, or pancakes for lunch or dinner (as long as your blood sugars can handle it — diabetics, take note). Or to have a bowl of cereal for dessert after lunch or dinner. But not for breakfast.

Here’s another way to think about it.  Eating stripped carbs (white flour, white rice, corn syrup, fruit juice, sugar) first thing in the morning is like hitting a man when he’s already down. Stripped carbs stress out your insulin-production system. Why would you want to stress your insulin-production system first thing in the morning and set yourself up to spike and plummet for the rest of the day? Besides the fact that you’re guaranteed to feel lousy all day, it just does not make sense to start your day by wasting a boatload of insulin. And that’s why it doesn’t make sense to eat stripped carbs for breakfast.

Well then, you might ask, how did stripped carbs come to be known as typical breakfast foods?  And that, my friends, is a topic for another day.

YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Conner’s Own Spectacular Granola

Karma is when you discover that the yoga course for which you registered (how silly to think that it was solely in order to learn yoga!) brings you Conner Speigner, a gifted chef from Cleveland, Ohio.  Continue reading

YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Sweet Potato Brownies

I’ve heard of black bean brownies before, and I have even made them on occasion, but I had never heard of sweet potato brownies until a couple of weeks ago. This recipe comes from Katherine, a newly arrived co-worker who is committed to good health, running in the sunshine, and preparing delicious, nutritious food. Lucky for us! The amount of sweetness in this recipe makes it perfect for a special dessert, though I wouldn’t hesitate to eat it for breakfast, either.  Continue reading

YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Brigid’s Chocolate-Chip, Goji-Berry, Gluten-free Muffins

I happen to have the privilege of working with some very talented people, and Brigid Titgemeier is one of them! Brigid started a blog this year to share her expertise as a registered dietitian, and you must check it out. This past week she posted her recipe for Chocolate Chip Goji Berry Muffins, which she describes as “the perfect way to combine the nutritional benefits of eggs and oatmeal in one delicious muffin!” No complaints here. The nourishing, high-quality ingredients add up to a spectacularly gorgeous, delicious, and satisfying yum! And so much better than a “breakfast bar.” Continue reading


I’ve been making this salad for breakfast, yes breakfast, for months now. I know it’s a bit unconventional in the U.S. to eat salad for breakfast (though not in Europe and the Middle East), but it’s such a great way to start the day. Its success is built on simplicity. My strategy remains similar, week in and week out. It is never quite the same, and always delicious. Thank you to Alice Waters for teaching me to eat simply. This salad makes one single serving, but is infinitely flexible if you’d like to invite a friend or an army to your table to share a meal. Continue reading

YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Breakfast Blueberry Scones

You may not have realized, but scones don’t need to be made with wheat flour. These gorgeous scones, made from nut flour, are flavorful and sweet, gentle and crumbly on your tongue, and full of nourishing ingredients. Whether you’re wheat-sensitive or simply curious, these scones are the perfect treat if you’re looking for a sweet, nutritious something to enjoy with your morning tea or coffee. Continue reading

Ratchet Up Your Breakfast to a New Level

This week I’m going to spend a few minutes talking about the typical American breakfast, namely toast bagels muffins waffles pancakes “cereal” biscuits bread. Basically just white flour and sugar. Stripped carb. I put “cereal” in quotes because the word cereal really means grain (like oatmeal, millet, kasha, bulgur wheat), and not boxes of sweetened, dyed, highly processed products of limited nutritional value.

Something I’ve noticed just in the past few months is that EVEN friends, colleagues and acquaintances who have made the switch to real food, and who have rid their kitchens of items from that list of typical American breakfast foods above (at least most of the time) can still be strongly influenced by the list. Continue reading

YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Slow Chicken & White Beans

In honor of the upcoming marriage of HLJ to ESS:
Here’s a magnificent recipe, inspired by the fact that this year is the #Year of the #Pulse! You know how much I love beans and the flavors developed by slow cooking! Try putting it up right now, and you’ll have a very special, delicious and nutritious meal for dinner tonight. Of course, if you’re me, you might decide to make it tonight instead of in the morning, so it will be ready just in time for breakfast tomorrow.
Whenever food cooks in our slow cooker through the night, it gives me delicious dreams. Sometimes it even wakes me up, a few times for a few moments, to savor the smells. Then, when morning comes, I can barely get myself up and dressed fast enough in my hurry to get downstairs to eat my yummy breakfast from the crockpot! I’m not kidding — consider yourself forewarned.

Continue reading

YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Muffin-y Goodness

Of course, this is an especially good week for an egg recipe…

My sister saw a recipe for these beauties last week, and now you should try them! I love the idea of eating a few for breakfast, taking some for lunch, popping one or two for a mid-afternoon snack, and then making a whole new batch. But maybe not all on the same day.

My advice? Use eggs with the brightest orange-yellow yolks, berries with deepest warmest color, and the sweetest, ripest bananas you can find. You can’t possibly go wrong! Continue reading