My town is a town of potlucks and progressive dinners, which takes me back to my childhood and how innovative and fun it sounded to me to go from house to house for each different part of a meal. Even when I’m not invited to a potluck or a progressive meal, I make one for myself every morning. I don’t have to leave the property to turn breakfast into a two course party.
Okay, I eat a lot for breakfast. But in my defense, I stretch it out. The kale and fruit bowl you see on the right is what I have after I’ve done about 20 minutes of yoga, puttered around in the yard, made a staple food or two, and I sit down to check e-mail, look over a draft of a poem or a blog entry, or write something new that comes to me while I sip my tea. The big bowl of fruit, oats and buckwheat groats sits in the fridge with a plate over it letting the flavors mingle while I do this. After I’ve eaten the kale, started writing, used the bathroom, and put moisturizer on my face, I go get the cereal bowl out of the fridge and dig in.
I got the idea for eating kale as part of my breakfast from plant strong stars like Natala and Chef AJ. While I don’t specifically need to eat it as a means of controlling calorie density in order to lose weight, I remembered how full and satisfied I’d felt after a side of steamed kale with a dash of Portland Sauce at Canteen instead of a dessert back in Portland the night I lost my glasses. And how it gave me extra stamina as we retraced our steps to try and find them. As a very wise friend of mine once pointed out when I was trying to decide between one appointment time and another, “why not take BOTH?” I decided this applies to my breakfast as well, so now I have kale and then I have my cereal. And it turns out the both/and magic so important to good poetry makes great breakfast magic too. In both cases the ingredients become more than the sum of their parts.
I may eat a lot now, but I DO a lot more, too. I can remember a time when I had to go lay myself down after the process of having breakfast, going to the bathroom, showering, and getting dressed. Getting ready for the day exhausted me so much that I’d laugh ruefully and say I was all ready to go back to bed. Now I get up and stretch and do yoga, sometimes even before putting the tea kettle on. If it’s summer I wander out into the yard for some fresh fennel to go in that kale bowl, pull weeds, turn on the soaker hose, maybe pick a few berries or even the kale itself. I often cook beans or rice or make almond milk, and let the staples cook while I write or paint or make some important discovery, all before I’ve even washed my face. And when I’ve eaten both of these bowls and made some progress on something I’m creating, Romeo and I turn the soaker hose off and head out for an hour’s walk. Sometimes we find mushrooms. Sometimes I get more ideas about what I’m working on. Sometimes we meet people we know on the trail. Sometimes we make it all the way to the mall. Sometimes I do an errand or two on the way home and we spend extra time out.
And this is usually all before 11. So yes, I may eat a lot, I tell myself, but look at all the things I’m now doing before noon. Once or twice a week that noon hour after we get back may include additional errands, or someone coming over to visit or have lunch with me. If it doesn’t include those things, in summer it’s often filled with weeding and poking around in the garden, picking, moving, cutting back. Or doing laundry. Or cooking up something I’ll eat for dinner. It sure does beat being so tired from simply getting dressed I have to take a nap right after I’m done. In those days I ate right away when I got up. My breakfast was thought to be healthy, but was way higher in fat. Now I have these bigger bowls of food and keep going all morning. I may have to sit down here and there for a few minutes and rest. Or lay down in the shade for a few minutes if I’ve been at it out in the garden. But in the main I’m up and going until it’s time for a nap at 2:00 or 2:30.
If you’re interested in what was in these particular bowls the particular morning this photo was taken, in the kale bowl you’re looking at kale, bronze fennel leaves, a cut up slice of leftover white nectarine, halved red grapes, and a chopped fresh fig, sprinkled with apple cider vinegar. The cereal bowl is half a mashed banana, ¼ cup buckwheat groats, ¾ cup gluten free rolled oats, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, pineapple chunks, halved red grapes and fresh figs, cut up. Liquid is ½ cup homemade almond milk and ¼ cup water. When I’m ready to eat it I put a heaping teaspoon of ground golden flax over the top. Sometimes I add vanilla extract. And in the spirit of passionate equanimity I learned the long and hard way (as I wrote about in my previous post, In The Temple of My Daily Life), I now always allow my right hand a turn at mashing the banana in the bottom of the cereal bowl.
If you’d like to try your own hand at a bowl of kale for breakfast, here’s an easy treatment I ran with after reading this post on Choosing Raw. I didn’t want to make the “granola,” but I drew my inspiration from her combination of ingredients. And the results are quite beautiful in an earthy, whole way:
Massaged Breakfast Kale
(a first course)
1 tablespoon of ripe banana (a fat slice)
1/2 teaspoon of carob (or cocoa) powder
1 tsp of raspberry, strawberry or apple cider vinegar
Optional: a smidge of almond butter
Mash these first three ingredients together in the bottom of your cereal bowl. Then chop up:
about 4 kale leaves, removed from their stems, into small pieces. (I used red russian kale, but any kind will work)
Add them to the bowl on top of the mashed banana mixture. Then add:
1-2 tbs of raw or toasted buckwheat groats (I use raw ones, but either will work)
Then massage it all together with your hands until the kales leaves and groats are coated. (Then lick your fingers clean.)
Then add blueberries, or other fruit. Optional: a sprig of fennel leaves, chopped. (I have bronze fennel growing outside my back door.)
Notes: The raspberry or strawberry-mint infused vinegars I make (see this post for how to make your own) along with the natural sweetness of the carob powder give this “dressing” a taste that’s sweet enough for me without any added sweetener. But if you are going to use cocoa powder instead of carob, and apple cider vinegar, you might want to add more banana or a little sweetener of your choice.
Here is a shot of my second course:
The important players in this bowl are mashed banana, raw gluten free oats, raw buckwheat groats, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, pineapple chunks, peach chunks, and blackberries from my garden, topped with homemade almond milk and ground golden flax seeds.
I’ve always loved breakfast. And I love being out ahead of the status quo. So yes, I say to myself, bring on these bigger healthier bowls. I can hardly keep up with the energy I get from them. I’m actually exercising before I eat them. Sometimes I’m doing things for almost an hour before I even get to the kale part. While it usually does mean being out ahead (and to the left) of the crowd, or moving toward some kind of completion, doctors use “progression” euphemistically to describe the further degeneration caused by Multiple Sclerosis. But for me “progression” can now also mean eating my way through a whole foods plant-based breakfast that actually keeps the degeneration from Multiple Sclerosis at bay. It’s a slow, delicious definition of a miracle worth all the extra time it takes.