It’s true! Breakfast really is an important start to the day

First We Eat: Research shows that many people skip breakfast but you’ll function better with a healthy start to your morning

Breakfast can be hard. I don’t have much appetite in the morning. As a chef and restaurateur, I spent years making breakfast out of too many cups of coffee, then wondered at my short temper and plummeting blood sugar levels. So now I sit down to eat breakfast every day.

Many studies show that 25 to 40 per cent of North Americans skip breakfast — mostly to save time, but others simply to cut down on calories, or because like me they have no appetite first thing, or, more grimly, have no food in the house. A recent study by the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology shows that people who have had a heart attack and persist in not only skipping breakfast but in eating dinner late (going straight to bed afterwards), are four or five times more likely to die, have another heart attack or suffer chest pain within a month of leaving hospital.

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Those are scary findings, but my own experience was enough to finally convince me: I simply function better in the mornings with fuel. I’ve wandered around the globe a bit in my search for what is appetizing first thing in the day. Admittedly, I would prefer to just have that cuppa joe and a slice of sourdough toast and marmalade, but I am better off without the joe to go anymore. One of my favourite breakfasts is black rice simmered with coconut milk (easy, easy: cook the rice until almost tender, then remove the lid and stir in coconut milk, cinnamon if you like, and a bit of sugar). Eat it warm. I make a potful, and simply warm up a small bowlful each morning, thinning it with a bit of water if needed.

Another fave is Thai-style rice, a savoury concoction of jasmine rice, sweated vegetables and ginger, meat optional, seasoned with ground coriander, fish sauce, sugar, soy and hot chili paste. Oh my goodness, what a breakfast! It’s especially good after a morning spent shovelling snow, splitting birch firewood or running the dog.

Dave’s favourite breakfast remains eggs with bacon and toast. We buy good eggs from the chicken lady who also sells me a bunch of freshly slaughtered whole birds for my freezer each summer, and I get terrific bacon from the local smokehouse. Add homemade sourdough bread and maybe some of my son’s famous hash browns, and Dave is set for the day.

On days when my deadlines are all met, my textbooks are all read and my essays all written, I make waffles. I like them better than pancakes — those indentations in waffles capture all manner of yummy toppings, from berries or maple syrup to bits of ham, onion and corn kernels. When I have two days to spare, I make Liège waffles — caramelized and chewy, made with a double-risen yeasted brioche dough that’s gloriously high in butter, with pearl sugar in the dough, utterly rich and fabulous. It’s hard to go back to “regular” waffles after Liège waffles, but life isn’t all fancy-pants food. Some days ya just gotta eat. I will, I promise, tune up my Liège waffle recipe soon, to share with you. But today, here’s a low-gluten waffle with a gorgeous texture, partly due to the cornmeal I add. So first we eat, then we’ll compare notes on breakfast.


Spelt and Cornmeal Waffles with Blueberries

I use spelt and cornmeal for texture and for low gluten. Experiment with other flours if you like.

Compote:

  • 2 c. blueberries
  • 1 pear or apple, peeled, cored and finely slice
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 c. orange juice
  • 1-1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  • Sugar to taste

Combine all the compote ingredients in a small pot. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Simmer until thickened, then keep warm.

Preheat the waffle iron. Separate the eggs, setting the whites aside in a clean glass or metal bowl. Stir the milk into the yolks, mixing well. Whisk the egg whites to a stiff foam. Mix together the dry ingredients, then stir them into the yolk-milk mix. Fold in the egg whites. Spoon the batter onto the griddle and make waffles, keeping extras warm in the oven as needed. Serve with warm berry compote.

Batter:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 c. milk or milk replacement
  • 1-1/2 c. spelt flour
  • 1/2 c. cornmeal (I like Purity for its texture)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • Oil for the griddle if needed

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