(PCM) Most so-called food “holidays” are invented holidays, created to showcase (and boost sales for) one type of food industry or another. We’re okay with that: after all, food is life, food is love and, with good choices, food is good for you.
That said, we present National Hot Breakfast Month with certain caveats. For instance, how important is a hot breakfast, really? Despite conventional wisdom, breakfast isn’t necessarily the cornerstone of your culinary day. And while cooked foods are good for digestion (heat makes nutrients more readily available to your body), you can do just fine with raw fruits and veggies, nuts, breads and spreads, or cold juice and cereal.
On the other hand, there are psychological benefits to eating cooked foods. A bellyful of a warm breakfast can be comforting (especially on a cold February morning). We associate warmth with safety and satiety, health and home.
We’re so often in a rush to start the day that we don’t have time to cook: instead, we rely on what’s easy, which means cold, like a box of sugary cereal, or questionable (we’re looking at you, Mr. Eggy McConvenient sandwich). Perhaps the idea behind National Hot Breakfast Month is to encourage more Americans to start the day in a happier, wholesome state of mind.
However, if “hot breakfast” makes you think of eggs, fried potatoes, and processed meats (bacon!), you might want to chill: as much as we love these foods, we can’t recommend an entire month of them. While they offer some healthy benefits (and taste oh so fabulous), they’re high in cholesterol, fats, sodium, nitrates and other baddies you don’t need on a daily basis. Instead, consider celebrating this type of iconic American meal as the occasional “Hot Breakfast Sunday”.
If, on the other hand, “hot breakfast” means oatmeal, porridge, or grits, to you, have at it! Hot breakfast cereals are a healthy source of fiber and carbohydrates. As part of your regular diet, they can keep your cholesterol in check, fight heart disease, and help you maintain a healthy weight by keeping you feeling full longer. Skip the sugar and butter, and boost your hot cereal flavor with fruit, cinnamon or spices, honey, skim milk, yogurt, or peanut butter (for added protein).
Some other hot breakfast ideas to consider: warm bagels, biscuits, or toast (bonus points for whole grains) with healthy spreads like preserves, warm fruit compote, low-fat cream cheese, or sliced avocado. Egg white omelets or scrambles are a fast-cooking alternative: add steamed or gently sautéed veggies, onions and garlic, spices, beans, smoked fish, or shredded meats. And don’t overlook non-traditional breakfast options like rice, pasta or quick-cook grains, reheated repeats from last evening, or even a bowl of classic canned soup.
Eating a hot breakfast may not be a necessity, but it can be nice and easy. Fire up your creativity and your taste buds, and be well. Happy Hot Breakfast February!