Sometimes the smallest changes make huge differences in my day-to-day existence. Consider, if you will, breakfast. I’m not much of a morning person, so breakfast has always been something of a struggle. During my childhood, I was always late to the table and rushing through a bowl of Honey Nut Cherrios with ice cold milk (delicious, even if rushed). I remember a lot of turkey sandwiches for breakfast in high school and I don’t remember breakfast in college at all, even though those were probably the best years for it since the dining hall was open 24 hours a day so no matter the hour, breakfast was just a short walk away. In my early professional life I religiously had a chocolate peanut butter Balance bar with a tiny single serve container of Smuckers peanut butter that in the days before Amazon (what!?!) I ordered over the phone from an speciality wholesaler. HA! How times change. Possibly because I’d bought the peanut butter in serious bulk, this is what I ate for breakfast every single day from 2001 – 2006.
Then, I guess Michael Pollan happened, right? We all got collectively hip to high fructose corn syrup and the evils of processed food. So, I gave up the Balance Bar with Smuckers on top (I was tired of it after so many years, too). And I spent years trying to find something as easy, as portable, as satisfying. I tried egg sandwiches from the local bodega (convenient), I tried salami with honey roasted peanuts (epicurean AND low carb), I tried left overs from dinner the night before (thrifty). Tim remembers fondly that when I was pregnant I made us breakfast from scratch every day since I was in grad school and I had the time. Once we had the baby, I ate a lot of toast (no butter, no jam, just toast, sometimes cinnamon raisin) since that was all I could cook with one hand (fussy baby in the other). Once Alex starting eating real food, I’d just have some of whatever I made him (smoothies for a few years). I even tried the newfangled, purportedly less processed bars (Kind, Lara, Epic). Somehow, however, breakfast remained elusive and a bit of a struggle, with lots of days seeing me skip breakfast altogether only to be predictably cranky and moody by noon.
In the last few months, I’ve had a breakfast breakthrough in the form of the humble apple. Even on the days when I’m shepherding the family through what a good friend calls “the morning olympics” I can dependably manage to grab and eat an apple, as I corral lunch boxes and mittens or as I ride the subway (almost no one scowls) or in the office with my second cup of coffee. Often I have a second breakfast, once I’ve completed drop off, a quick egg or leftovers. Other times, the apple’s enough to get me to lunch. But the apple seems to set me off on the right foot and my moods have been 100% steadier.
Part of why these apples are so satisfying is that apple science has seriously improved since we were kids. The Honeycrisp, the Pink Lady, the Fuji are all newish (last 20 years) hybrids bred to be delicious. No mealy apples that make you sorry you took that first bite. We’re talking juicy crisp every time. I like Pink Lady and Fuji and Honeycrisp when I can find them (sometimes hard).
What are your go to breakfast foods? And how has it changed over the years?
PS: More about hybrid foods.
PPS: Cost of Honeycrisps explained.
PPPS: Apple people are amazing.
PPPPS: I want to try the SweeTango.
NB: If apples don’t appeal to you for breakfast and you’re in need of inspiration, check out The Kitchn’s breakfast posts from the 2014 Cooking Cure. Lots of goodies, including how to make perfectly round eggs for breakfast sammies.