By Emma Cockrell
Anyone spending much time with me, whether in one of my cookery classes, in a nutritional consultation or nutritional-support phone call, or a guest sitting around my dining table, will know that my watchword is VEGETABLES! We need to eat more of these nutrient-packed, high-fibre, low-calorie wonder-foods, and a main emphasis of my cooking courses is to highlight new ways in which we can incorporate vegetables into the diet.
One meal that is frequently low in veg, while generally being extremely high in refined carbohydrates and sugars, is breakfast. This reminds me of my time in Israel in the early 1980s, and my visit to a Kibbutz. Now, at that time I had been a manager of a wholefood shop (where we weighed out herbs and spices to order) and a chef at a wholefood and vegetarian cafe, where I devised and cooked new menus each day . In other words, I was used to eating ‘alternative’ foods, and experimenting with different flavours, grains, beans, nuts and seeds. My regular breakfast was millet flakes with linseed. (Do bear in mind that this was over 30 years ago, and these foods didn’t have the media interest and supermarket availability that they do now!)
Although I was used to an alternative way of eating, I was amazed the first time I sat down to breakfast in the Israeli Kibbutz, to find that everyone was tucking into cucumbers and tomatoes! Salad vegetables at breakfast! This was a new thought to me. The Yuppies of the ’80s were adding fresh fruit to muesli, but a raw vegetable-based breakfast was out of my English world view!
Many of you will also have experienced a mediterranean breakfast in your travels, so this idea is no longer a new one. With the weather becoming more summery here in the UK, why not make your own simple, mediterranean style, salad-based breakfast? This really is the easiest way to incorporate vegetables into the first meal of the day. On the Kibbutz, peeling the cucumbers and chopping the tomatoes was done at the table, while socialising and relaxing (they had already accomplished a couple of hours work before breakfast). If you have time, this is a great way of including relaxation into your meal time. Like the Kibbutzniks, I have often done several hours work before I get to breakfast, so the process of sitting down to prepare the vegetables immediately brings an opportunity to ‘down regulate’ and take ‘time out’, something incredibly necessary in our fast-paced society. However, if breakfast is generally a mad rush, the following meal idea can be prepared the day before and kept in the fridge to grab and go.
- 1 whole small cucumber, or a 6 inch chunk of cucumber
- 1 -2 tomatoes
- 1-2 hard boiled eggs
- Optional – avocado or black olives
- 1 tablespoon of tahini (sesame seed paste)
- 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon dried or fresh chives
- 1/4 cup of water
Scrub the cucumber, or peel if it isn’t organic, and chop into cubes. Wash one or two tomatoes, depending on appetite, and chop into cubes, removing the hard core at the top. Chop the eggs and toss in with the vegetables, adding chopped avocado or olives if using.
Make the dressing by placing the tahini in a ramekin dish with 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. Mix well and it will become a very thick paste. Drizzle in water, a table spoon at a time, mixing thoroughly, until you gain a pouring consistency. Add the chives and drizzle over the vegetables.
This is a nutrient-packed breakfast, suitable if you are following an anti-candida yeast-free and sugar-free diet, but you can also use it as a light lunch or side dish with any meal.
Check future blog posts for more ideas to include vegetables at breakfast!