A Progressive Plant-Based Breakfast (with Massaged Breakfast Kale)

by Maria Theresa Maggi on August 21, 2013

breakfast bowl halves

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.

breakfast bowls

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:

breakfast bowl with kale closer

Here is a shot of my second course:

breakfast bowl with blackberries

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.

Maria (moonwatcher)


Leave a Comment

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Pam Woods August 21, 2013 at 10:11 am

I love the idea of your progressive breakfast!


2 moonwatcher August 21, 2013 at 11:48 am

Thanks, Pam! 🙂


3 Beth August 21, 2013 at 10:34 pm

” 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”
Wow, that is progress! You are doing so much now. Good for you
I still have not tried kale. One of these days… 🙂


4 moonwatcher August 21, 2013 at 11:29 pm

Hi Beth, thanks for reading and for your hearty encouragement! 🙂 Kale is not for everyone, but I have always loved it. Let me know when you give it a whirl. 🙂


5 Silvia August 22, 2013 at 8:51 am

When I read about Chef AJ’s breakfast I tried steamed cabbage or chard with a bit of balsamico. And I really liked it.
But I had to have my usual breakfast too. That is glutenfree oats (cooked in water) + sprouted buckwheat + dried berries and an apple + 3Tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseed.
Inspired by your breakfast I started to mash a small banana in the plate too and really like that addition.
I start at home at eat the rest at work.
I really wish I would find the time to steam a bit of greens and eat them first thing in the morning. It felt really good to start the day with greens.


6 moonwatcher August 25, 2013 at 8:56 am

Thanks, Silva! Sounds like you have a progressive breakfast now too! I enjoyed hearing the variations on a theme. Thanks!


7 Nicole O'Shea August 22, 2013 at 11:48 am

Yum! I love the progressive breakfast. And I loved hearing the details of what you are able to now before breakfast as compared to before.

Girl, you *earn* that breakfast!



(ps – I eat kale or a green with breakfast most days! YOu are so right – so satisfying!)


8 moonwatcher August 25, 2013 at 8:57 am

Thanks, Nicole! 🙂 I just got some grief from my sister about how much I eat, and then I made her laugh by saying I know, I just wrote a blog post about how much I eat for breakfast!! Glad to know you like to have kale or some greens as part of your breakfast, too. xoxo


9 Tami @Nutmeg Notebook August 23, 2013 at 8:57 am

I usually have a big bowl of fruit with a 1/2 cup old fashioned oats and chia seeds for breakfast after my 3 mile morning walk. Sometimes I will have a green smoothie made with kale instead of cereal. Although I love kale I have never eaten a bowl of it raw for breakfast. I just might have to give this a try.

Your progressive breakfast sounds like the perfect morning routine.Beautifully written and a joy to read.


10 moonwatcher August 25, 2013 at 8:55 am

Thanks, Tami! Let me know if your try a bowl of raw kale as part of your own breakfast routine. Glad I’ve enticed you!


11 Michelle August 29, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Hi Maria:

OK I am going to adopt this as much as I possibly can. McDougall Maximum Weight Loss limits fruits to two a day and I see you use a good variety for breakfast maybe more even than my daily allotment. Still, I start most days with kale and oats or mixed fruit and oats – but I love the idea of having both and adding more grains to breakfast too.

I bet the nutrient density you are getting this way is just off the charts and clearly has added to your energy, stamina and improved health. I am all for being able to be up and exercising instead of laying down again for a nap just from the exertion of washing and dressing. I completely have been in that camp of fatigue and pain and am getting beyond that just now. In very large part DUE TO YOU and this blog and my other dear buddies at McDougall! Thanks for another wonderful blog post and tons of inspiration 🙂 Michelle


12 moonwatcher August 29, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Hi Michelle–thanks so much for this lovely comment. I am so glad you find this, and other things I write here, inspirational and practical, too. You are right, I eat a lot fruit in the morning. Most of the fruit I eat is at breakfast time, but not all. Since I don’t have to limit it in the way McDougall Maximum Weight Loss requires, I do eat more than you would in a day.Nevertheless, I’m sure you could adapt something like this to your requirements. I am very glad to hear your own fatigue index is improving, and may that keep on keeping on!! 🙂


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