Thursday, 4th June 2015
Do you struggle to fit breakfast in in the mornings? It seems to be a common theme with our busy lifestyles. In clinic we frequently brainstorm ways to help people get this all important meal in.
Chinese medicine recognises that the each of our internal organs functions optimally at different times of the day. The Stomach energy is at its strongest between 7am and 9am, this is the best time of day to provide good quality fuel for you body. The Spleen energy comes into play between 9am and 11am, taking over the digestion and absorption part of the process. Warm tea and a light snack is good at this time, but skipping breakfast and reaching for a coffee and a sugary or greasy snack at 10.30am will overload and weaken the Spleen energy, resulting in digestive dysfunction, an energy crash around 4pm and weight control challenges.
It is thought that to cultivate a long and healthy life one should rise with the sun, sit in meditation followed by some light exercise before breaking-fast with a nourishing rice congee. While I don’t know anyone, except perhaps for some very dedicated yogis, who could actually achieve this lifestyle, it’s a good thing to keep in mind when deciding when to set your morning alarm. Waking up just 15 minutes earlier can make the difference between starting the day calmly with good nourishment, or stressed with an empty stomach.
Being time poor in the mornings is easy to overcome with a little organisation. A lack of appetite can be a sign of a weak digestive system making it all the more important to start your day with gentle nourishment. Below are some suggestions and recipes to make the mornings easier and give you the building blocks for a productive, energetic day.
Start the day with a squeeze of lemon or a tsp of apple cider vinegar in warm water to kick start the metabolism. This is especially important for those with no appetite in the mornings. Warm water on an empty stomach can aid the drawing of fluids into the large intestine (optimal energy function between 5am and 7am) encouraging clean, efficient elimination.
For those with no time:
For those with no appetite:
It is super important for you to start the day with an easy to digest breakfast. Porridge , be it oat, rice or millet with some seasonal stewed fruit is ideal. Alternatively you could try our Breakfast Broth. Have some warm water and lemon on waking, then a little light exercise if you can (there’s a great 7min exercise app that can be squeezed into a morning routine), shower and by the time you are dressed your metabolism will be kicking in.
Not into cereal?
Activated Oat Muesli
This is well worth the effort. By soaking, or ‘activating’ then baking the oats they become incredibly easy to digest and keep you going for hours. You can get to lunch time before you even think about that coffee.
900g/1kg rolled oats
1/2 cup of ground almonds or finely desiccated coconut (optional)
500g yoghurt or kefier milk
1/2 cup coconut oil melted
3 generous tbsp of either honey, rice or maple syrup
3 cups water
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
Seeds, nuts and dried fruit to taste – roasted almonds, five seed mix (sunflower, flax, chia, pumpkin and sesame seeds) dried blueberries and freeze-dried strawberries are a fabulous combo.
Place all the ingredients except the seeds, nuts and dried fruit in a large bowl and mix together well. Cover with a clean tea towel or saucepan lid and leave to soak for 12-24hrs.
Preheat the oven to 90°C
Spread onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper in an even layer if possible – its likely to be quite clumpy.
Bake, checking the mixture every 30 – 45 minutes and breaking the clumps down into smaller pieces until you have a crumbly, granola like texture. This is likely to take 2 hours or more. One you have the pieces to your preferred size Increase the heat to 120°C and bake until well toasted. Stir every 10 or so minutes to insure an even coverage. Once cooled add the seeds, nuts and dried fruit. Pop into an air tight container, it will last for quite a while.
Bircher In A Jar
1/2 cup oats
100mls whole milk/nut milk/ yoghurt/juice/kefir
fruit of your choice – grated apples, pears, berries etc
toasted nuts or seeds
Place the oats and liquid of your choice in a jar before you go to bed. Leave to soak overnight. Add fruit and nuts/seeds in the morning, lid on and go. If you forget to prepare the oats the night before you can put together a quick version in the morning by pouring 100mls of boiling water on the oats, let sit while you get dressed then add the rest of the ingredients. It will be ready to go by the time you get to work.
Oat, rice or millet porridge is a great way to start the day. Easy to digest and nourishing it keeps your blood sugars stable, preventing that mid morning and mid afternoon sugar crash. There are websites dedicated to the glories of oat porridge, a little less about the virtues of rice or millet. All these grains are low GI and gluten free, in Chinese Medicine Diet therapy they nourish the Spleen and Stomach energy, strengthening digestion. You can get rice flakes and millet easily from supermarkets or make use of your left-over rice and cook it up the next morning.
The golden ratio is 1:3
1 cup of grain, oats, rice or millet.
3 cups water
Put it in a pot and bring to the boil. Let boil until it thickens and looks like the little explosions in a hot mud pool then mix rapidly with a wooden spoon to stop sticking to the bottom. Once thicken to your liking you can add anything you like, frozen berries work well, a pinch or two of spice.
Starting the day with a light broth and rice noodles is common in many Asian countries. It’s an excellent way to get all the morning nourishment you need without the sugar. Ask us about our stock recipes for instruction on how to make an excellent bone broth, chicken or vegetable stock. Make a big batch up on the weekend, add a herb booster pack for that extra goodness, and freeze in 250ml portions. You’ll have enough for the next week or two’s breakfasts.
Breakfast Broth Recipe
250mls Bone broth or chicken or veggie
handful rice noodles, vermicelli, soba or udon noodles
Handful of mushroom finely sliced
Small bunch of Asian greens chopped
Tofu or a small amount of cooked chicken or finely sliced beef.
Bring stock or broth to the boil. Add mushrooms, simmer gently until cooked. Season if required with a splash of mirn or lime juice.
Cook noodles as per instruction in a separate pot. When cooked add Asian greens to the stock, put noodles and tofu/meat into a bowl, then pour over stock.
Top with coriander, spring onion, Thai basil and/or Vietnamese mint.
How can you say no to eggs? Boiled, poached, fried, scrambled…The options are endless. Eggs are truly one of natures gifts, a complete protein source packed with vitamins E, A and essential fats. In Chinese medicine the nourish the blood and yin, clear heat and encourage communication between the Heart and Kidney. The best way to boil an egg? According to Heston Blumenthal it’s all in the timing.