Rethinking Breakfast ... Maybe
Not hungry in the morning? Here is what Ayurveda tells us about eating breakfast.
Despite what you may have heard, it turns out that breakfast may not be the most important meal of the day. Scientific studies have finally begun to verify what Ayurveda has advised for centuries: not everyone must eat a big meal in the morning. According to Ayurveda, what you eat in the morning, and how much, depends on whether you are hungry and how active you have been since rising.
Ayurveda measures overall digestive health by agni, which is Sanskrit for “digestive fire.” Agni lives in the gastrointestinal track and is the metabolic fire or energy that absorbs nutrients in the body, eliminates what is unnecessary, generates warmth, and transforms physical matter into energy required for vitality. When your digestive fire is balanced, agni will naturally generate mild feelings of hunger. When it is low, you will have low appetite. When it is high, you will be ravenously hungry. The goal is to keep your digestive fire burning steadily and calmly throughout the day without great spikes of hunger followed by deep troughs of low energy.
How does this translate to breaking the fast? Both Ayurveda and recent clinical studies provide similar answers: if you are hungry, eat. If not, don’t. Listen to your gut in the morning, and eat to your appetite. When you eat, take in just enough to stay full until lunch without a snack.
Breakfast is the ideal time to quietly reflect and check in with yourself, setting an intention for the day ahead. This is why at Kripalu, breakfast is a silent meal. Whether you do it silently or not, however, setting an intention while you feed your body is a great way to nourish your soul and prepare to embark on the day’s journey.
Want to feel like you are on retreat this morning? Coconut French Toast with Thai Ginger Maple Syrup is a healthy and exotic version of a favorite breakfast food.
Coconut French Toast with Thai Ginger Maple Syrup
We love coconut milk in the Kripalu Kitchen. It’s creamy, fragrant, dairy--free, and rich in calcium, potassium, and magnesium. It makes the perfect substitute for cow’s milk in French toast. For a Thai twist, we flavor our local maple syrup with lime, orange, ginger, and a touch of mild red curry paste called Lan Chi. Look for Lan Chi in Asian food markets or online.
**Ayurvedic Insight: Spicy maple syrup heats up the heavy, dense French toast here. This dish will sit best with vata types who are digesting really well. To make it more kapha friendly, use gluten--free bread. Kapha and wheat have the same sticky qualities, and too much wheat can create excess kapha, leaving one lethargic with excess mucus.
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 teaspoons orange juice
1/8 teaspoon Lan Chi chili paste or other red chili paste
2 large eggs
3/4 cup canned full--fat 100% coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of fine sea salt
2 teaspoons coconut oil or plant--based butter
6 thick slices (about 10 ounces) Sourdough Semolina Bread, or other country bread
1. For the syrup, combine the maple syrup, lime juice, ginger, orange zest, orange juice, and chili paste in a small saucepan. Gently warm over low heat.
2. For the French toast, whisk together the eggs, coconut milk, cinnamon, allspice, vanilla, and salt in a wide, shallow bowl.
3. Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat. When hot, pour in the oil and distribute it evenly in the pan. Dip the bread slices in the coconut milk mixture long enough for the bread to absorb the liquid but not get soggy, about 2 minutes. Shake off any excess liquid and place the bread in the pan. Cook until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
4. Cut each piece of bread in half diagonally and divide the pieces evenly among 4 plates. Serve with the syrup and compote, if using.
Excerpt from THE KRIPALU KITCHEN by Jeremy Rock Smith with David Joachim, copyright © 2019 by Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. Used by permission of Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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