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Breakfast like a King!

Don't skip breakfast. It's the first meal of the day, so make sure it's wholesome


Chef Jacob rues the fact that ragi, that healthful grain, is no longer on our breakfast menu. “Our kids don't even recognise the word,” he said on his breakfast show. But then, our cereal-obsessed kids may soon not recognise idli, staple in a South Indian breakfast, as rushing parents find it easier to tip crisp cornflakes into a bowl of milk and push it across the table, rather than undertake the elaborate ritual of steaming batter into shape. “Cereal for breakfast is fine,” says Dr. Bhuvaneshwari, Chief Consultant Dietician, Apollo Hospitals, adding quickly, “with minimal sugar. Don't forget to add fruits and nuts to the bowl.” A nutri-bar then, may be the ultimate “breakfast-on-the-go.” Peel it and munch away.

As the first meal of the day, breakfast has enormous health significance. Never skip this intake, say nutritionists uniformly. “However time-pressed they are, women should find those 10-15 minutes for a proper breakfast,” insists Dr. Bhuvaneshwari. “We need to jump-start the day with a minimum of 300-350 calories.” Her own is oatmeal with milk before leaving for work and fruits or soup at around 11 a.m. “Eggs? Have them a couple of times a week; they give you staying power.”

Happily, there's a breakfast for every kind of diet and plenty for those who are anti-diet. For fibre-and-nutrition buffs, Shaheen Peerbhai recommends oatmeal baked with fruit and spices — apple-cinnamon, pear-ginger or peach-vanilla. The smell of oats baking with spices, fruits and nuts will make you a true believer in oats, she says. Those who enjoy eggs can try steaming hot akuri (Parsi-style scrambled eggs) laden with spices, onions and tomatoes and coriander — “a mutiny of colours.” “Akuri eaten with buttered pav, and accompanied by a cup of tea, makes for a wholesome breakfast. You could even pack the leftovers in a sandwich for lunch.”

Chennaiites seeking change, however, step into Parfait3, Sea Breeze, Basil or Tryst Café for a Continental spread. For the regulars, though, at U. Manoharan's award-winning Vishranthi Hotpoint or other breakfast places such as the Madras Masala Café and India Coffee House, a “proper” morning intake is carved in stone: idli, vada, pongal with their liquid/semi-liquid accessories. “Karnataka has its uppukari-karabat-kesari, Keralites thrive on the puttu-appam-kadala combo, in Andhra Pradesh you get pesarattu/upma, a Bengali may slurp on hot jelabis and Sri Lanka may serve its guests rice cakes. But it's coffee at 6.30 a.m. here. My boys have to be ready at 7 a.m. for 150-200 orders of idlis and vadas,” says Manoharan. “Plates of idli-vada-dosa are preferred breakfast even in Haridwar,” he claims.

The world hasn't really woken up to the joy of swallowing idlis dripping with onion sambar and chutney first thing in the morning. The French still want their café-au-lait and croissants. The British fry up a giant assortment of eggs, bacon strips, sausages, beans and bread for a classic English breakfast. Americans order from a menu of blueberry pancakes, omelettes, scoops of melon, coffee, fresh bagels with cream cheese, apple slices with peanut butter, buttered or French toast. If you are at Sea Salt, voted the Best New Restaurant 2011 in Utah, Chef Eric de Bonis will toss up a plate of fried eggs on toast, greens, olive oil and strips of bacon, and serve it with a glass of fresh juice. Want something special? Try sausage, cheddar and chili con queso on brioche or bacon, smoked turkey breast, jack cheese, eggs on ciabatta bread, or eggs, goat cheese, oven-roasted tomatoes and fresh basil on a croissant. Endless variety, and combinations.

In the East, you could get introduced to a typical Japanese breakfast of rice, miso soup, and an egg or grilled fish. Or go Chinese with egg foo yung (Chinese omelette), rice congee (sweet/savoury porridge) and crullers (deep-fried devils). To me, the best breakfast away from home was Tami's Mediterranean “banquet” in Tel Aviv. Tami served a tableful of Tabouleh salad, (soaked broken wheat + chopped tomatoes + spring onion leaves/parsley/lettuce + cucumber), omelettes, avocado tossed with onion pieces, pita bread, seedbread slices (yummy!) and fresh curd. The water had mint and home-grown mini oranges. A great pick-upper!

Eggs in a nest or idiappam, sandwiches or spaghetti from last night, plain toast or a potpourri of oatmeal, baked pumpkin, yoghurt and raisins — see that you break your overnight fast with something substantial, filled with fibre and anti-oxidants. A well-fed morning usually means a less irritable day.


TIDBITS

For kids, spread peanut butter on bread instead of jam.

A bun filled with cooked veggies makes a good breakfast.

Try green tea instead of regular.

Carbs get digested, proteins will sustain.

Morning fruit is a golden rule.

Never avoid breakfast; the body goes into starvation /reserve mode holding on to the fat cells in alarm.

GEETA PADMANABHAN

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