Breakfast is called the most important meal of the day, and though I agree with this proverbial statement, I disagree with what some folks call breakfast — especially what constitutes a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs breakfast.
One group of nutritionists focuses on the vitamins and fiber benefits of fresh fruit, while another is concerned about the natural sugars in fruit juice. I recommend the Apostle Paul’s advice to be “temperate in all things,” which agrees with Aristotle’s admonition for “moderation in all things.” I think both sages would encourage folks to avoid gluttony and other forms of self-destruction.
Breakfast is far too important to skip, despite your hurried schedule or New Year’s resolution to lose weight. Four or five mornings a week, I start my day with a healthy breakfast — orange juice, high-fiber grain cereal or oatmeal, a banana and coffee. Yes, coffee. Even the medical world now acknowledges the health benefits of a cup of joe. According to WebMD.com, those of us who love our morning cup of coffee are less likely to get type-2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and dementia. We also have fewer cases of certain cancers, heart-rhythm problems or strokes.
I look at the nutrition label on the cereals I buy, preferring those with the least sugar and sodium and as much whole grain as possible without tasting like hay stubble. I also like oatmeal with several teaspoons of cinnamon added. My favorite is Quaker Oats peaches-and-cream instant oatmeal, which is available with low sugar.
Although healthy, these breakfasts are not what I think of those mornings I yearn for something hearty, something that’ll get me started and keep me going all day. This sort of breakfast usually involves a waffle or a couple of blueberry pancakes, several slices of bacon or sausage, eggs, grits and whole-wheat toast. Like any Southerner, I’ve never fared well in Northern climates where temperatures are too low and sweet tea and grits are not part of the daily menu.
For me, the “greatest invention” is not “sliced bread” but instant grits. I remember well the care package I got from home several months after the Army sent me to Alaska. It was a variety package of a new product. A letter immediately was sent home with a big “thank you” and “send more instant grits!”
Another hearty breakfast — and a summertime favorite — is bacon, vine-ripened tomato and spinach leaves on whole-wheat toast. Although not as hearty, another summertime breakfast I enjoy is fresh watermelon, cantaloupe and/or Georgia peaches.
Sausage gravy on biscuits is a Saturday-morning event for winter mornings. My wife and I also enjoy a spin on the military’s chipped beef and gravy on toast, affectionately called SOS in the old days. I make it with two strips of bacon, three packages of dried beef and two packages of dried corned beef. You simply slice the bacon into tiny strips and as it cooks, add a finely chopped yellow onion and then the chipped sliced beef. A large pat of butter is added before a light sprinkling of all-purpose flour. Stir and add more flour to develop a roux. Add a little 1-percent milk and more flour as needed. Continue stirring until gravy is thick. Add pepper to taste, but do not add salt as the meat is already salted. This chipped beef is served over whole-wheat toast.
The above recipe can be used as a base for a quick corned-beef hash recipe. Use five packs of dried corned beef with one strip of bacon, finely chopped onion and green pepper. Boil several small potatoes in a pot with beef broth. When potatoes are done, drain and mash in a bowl then add to pan with corned beef and veggies. Mix together then brown. Serve with eggs-over-easy.