Better Breakfast Month
Originating during the first 2 world wars, September was promoted as “National Breakfast Month”; it encouraged citizens to eat a healthy meal before work or school to help concentration throughout the day. “Better Breakfast Month” was again encouraged by the Cereal Institute in 1951, but we’ve come a long way since corn flakes and grape nuts! The message to take in quality nutrients in the morning to prepare us for the day makes sense in Chinese medicine terms as well, but we can adjust some of the suggestions to fit TCM nutritional and seasonal guidance.
Timing According to the ‘qi clock’, the Stomach channel is most active between 7-9 am. This is an ideal time to take in nutrients, while 9-11am is Spleen time, when the Spleen function of transforming food into qi takes over. 12 hours later these organs are in their resting phase so it makes sense to have a light dinner. This resounds with the old adage:
“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.”
Warming Food and Drinks TCM reminds us that it’s best to start the day with warm foods as they are easy on digestion. Try a warming herbal tea. Or if you can’t go without caffeine in the morning, opt for green tea which, despite being cool in nature, balances out the stimulant effect of caffeine with theanine, an amino acid that improves cognition but also soothes and calms the nervous system. Don’t let your leftovers go to waste! Dinner for breakfast is a great way to have a warm cooked meal in the morning, such as a soup or stew. Proteins can be sourced from legumes & white meat, non-processed dairy (goat/sheep), pungent, fermented foods, and free-range organic eggs.
Eat for the Season Autumn is a time to support the metal element in the body, which is associated with the color white as well as root vegetables and slow cooking methods such as roasting and baking. Consider white-colored foods such as cauliflower, potatoes, turnips, parsnips, almonds, daikon, apples, pears, rice, oats, sesame seeds, onion, garlic, and white peppercorns. Don’t be shy with leafy greens, just be sure to cook them well.
Breakfast Bowls Breakfast bowls are a great way to bring together elements of a healthy breakfast and can be savory or sweet depending on your preference. An example of a savory breakfast bowl could consist of mashed cauliflower with sautéed spinach, mushrooms, and an egg. If you crave a cheesy bite you can sprinkle a little sheep’s milk feta on top. Grains are also very important in TCM as they have a positive effect on digestion and make a great base for a breakfast bowl. Wheat flour, however, is considered difficult to digest and known to drain the qi. Hot rice cereal or quinoa can be a quick and easy option for a warm breakfast bowl. Oats have long been associated with breakfast and are actually one of the best grains for breakfast as they are considered warm and sweet in nature and help to build qi and blood. They are also classified as belonging to the metal element, so offer a tonifying effect on the lungs and large intestine and are especially appropriate for the fall season, which is the season of metal.
Here’s a sweet breakfast bowl to start your day with a seasonal boost and a smile:
Overnight Oats with Pear & Walnuts
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ½ cup plant -based milk
- ½ pear, diced (asian pears have the most moistening quality to nourish lung yin for the fall season)
- 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
- cinnamon and other warming spices
- sea salt
- Drizzle diced pears with maple syrup, sprinkle with cinnamon and other warming spices (such as cardamom, ginger, and nutmeg) and bake at 375 for 5-7 minutes
- Combine all ingredients into dish or jar that can be closed with a lid
- Stir well
- Refrigerate overnight
- Heat up in the morning while you set your daily intentions and enjoy!
Get a good breakfast and then give me a call to schedule your seasonal tune-up!