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Breakfast: Instant Not Worth Your Time!

*This post originally appeared in my column for Dean & DeLuca’s ‘Gourmet Food Blog’

After a wishful eight hours of sleep, the third thing I want to do when I get up is eat. I need to break the fast of resting my stomach from all the fabulous food the day before brought about and all the goodness the new one will offer.

Some think breakfast is overrated. I’ve come to the realization that breakfast is just an excuse to eat bad foods–you know, heavy syrups, corn beef hash, tons of cups of coffee (with the default sugar and creamer) and even pancakes.

I’ve been good with one egg and two cups of espresso for the past eight years or so. Things have started to change, though. The harder I work both physically and mentally, the more my body wakes up wanting food. In the last 2 years I had to just give in. That being said (and it’s been a huge challenge) I’ve combed the aisles trying to find that perfect breakfast – something that was going to effectively break my fast.

I’ve tried just about everything. Nothing was really working. Some foods were either too heavy or left me super lethargic within the hour; or full, but not satisfied resulting in trips back to the fridge for more food!

I then went back to my childhood and started thinking of what my mom used to make us before sending us off to school.  We had cream of wheat and a larger than necessary glass of freshly squeezed vegetable juice. Yes, that is what I recall having most mornings. I evidently loved the cream of wheat to the point that it managed to stay with my diet all the way through college.

I was looking for the same consistency in my early 20s and found I really liked instant oat meal with dried peaches in it. Oh joy! This has been my go to breakfast, on an off for some time now, especially during winter.

But there came a point where in my life when I started caring about what I was eating as much as I cared about what I feed my clients. I started weaning myself off the sugary processed oatmeal(which is a result of the natural vitamins being stripped). I didn’t kill breakfast altogether, but I started looking for a fresher and healthier option. The answer has arrived, my friends…

I’ve literally tasted eight different brands and types of oatmeal. Some were good but none were great. All had one thing in common: they were instant. But I’m here to share that instant does not equal good. This is how my newly found oatmeal stands apart from its predecessors.

I was first attracted to McCann’s Irish Oatmeal because of its vintage-like canister. It was clean, with retro lettering and text that was inviting. They call it “porridge”– a serious throwback to simpler times. It didn’t purport to be just any old run of the mill oatmeal, rather steel cut oats. Per the instructions, this oatmeal takes 30 minutes to cook. In fact it does, which initially robbed me of excitement. Years of adding water to a small brown packet will do that to you. It was not difficult to find projects to occupy my time while the oats simmered.

The result: a filling morning meal. The taste was fresh and raw with an earthy finish with none of that processed aftertaste. But, oatmeal by itself is bland. I added a splash of milk, dressed my bowl with dried fruit and nuts, fresh pomegranate arils resulting in breakfast heaven! Of course,oatmeal is not complete without a touch of sweetness. I drizzled Dean & DeLuca private-labeled maple syrup which was smooth, not heavy and balanced to enhance the taste. It was definitely maple tasting and not pancake syrup you’d get in a middle-of-the-road breakfast spot. I ate the equivalent of two cups of the dry oats. I was full but not left with that “I need a nap” feeling. To top off my new breakfast love, I sipped on frothy green Geisha Blossom Tea (to which I also added the male syrup). The whole experience of pairing my new favorite oatmeal and a steamy cup of teawas that perfect introduction to a new appreciation for breakfast. In this cold weather, what more can you really want?

Don’t let the cooking time distract you. You’re busy getting settled into the new day anyway. Let the oats do their thing. You’ll be glad you waited and didn’t throw yourself into instant meals that’ll have you going back before you can finish your cup of tea.

Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.

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  • 2 cups dry oatmeal
  • 3 cups water
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup agave
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries and walnuts or almonds
  • 1/4 cup cream


Cook oatmeal per instructions on canister. Add pinch of salt while oatmeal is cooking. When done, transfer to serving bowls. Stir in cream and agave. Top with desired dried fruits and nuts.

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