A golden rule, diligently abided by in the world of nutrition, is to always start your day with breakfast. The simple act of skipping breakfast has been shown in study after study to increase your chances of weight gain, while decreasing focus and concentration. The one thing that is not mentioned often enough though, is what should be in that breakfast bowl. In our opinion this makes all the difference. Not all breakfast foods are created equal.
Somehow, breakfast has become the time of day when sugary dessert-like foods have become completely acceptable. Donuts, cinnamon rolls, stuffed French toast, waffle egg sandwiches…some of our worst food habits happen before 10 a.m. Even the so-called “healthiest” breakfasts has the ability to blind side your health with toxic ingredients like genetically modified grains and soy, refined white sugar and wheat, antibiotic and hormone-laden dairy products. Before you know it, that innocuous egg on a piece of toast, or bowl of bran cereal becomes the underlying cause of your persistent eczema, headaches and indigestion.
To detox your breakfast bowl, take the time to read labels. Ditch the junk, and load the morning meal with ample nutrition instead. That way, no matter how the day unfolds, you are prepared for anything – feeling vibrant, radiant and centered. The healthier the first meal of the day is, the higher the chance your lunch and dinner choices will follow suit…
Detox your Breakfast Bowl
Organic or Plant-Based Milk and Yogurt
Milk – it’s the basis of so many “wholesome” breakfasts, and yet it has the possibility to be very damaging to your health. Conventional, non-organic milk and yogurt exposes you to antibiotics, hormones and pesticides, due to the treatment of the cows. Antibiotic exposure can lead to antibiotic resistance, which can be dangerous when antibiotics are truly needed. Pesticides and hormones increase your chance of organ dysfunction and cancer, and may lead to hormone imbalance as well. So opt for organic to avoid these dangerous three. Another reason to go organic is that organic milk and yogurt is more nutrient-dense. Organic dairy has higher levels of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids – DHA, EPA and CLA – and lower levels of the inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. Organic also contains higher levels of vitamin E and beta-carotene, which are beneficial for the cardiovascular system, eyesight and the skin. If your system does not deal well with dairy, or if you suspect an allergy, choose a plant-based milk or yogurt instead.
TCM Pick: Homemade Hemp Milk
Organic, Low-sugar, Raw Granola and Cereal
Granola and cereal are often hiding an array of health-damaging ingredients that can easily be avoided. To many people’s surprise, most regular brands contain GMO soy and wheat, refined sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors – even in the “healthy” kind! GMO foods may lead to birth defects, infertility and cancer, while refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup can cause diabetes, obesity, cellular aging, and raise your chances of chronic disease. Finally, artificial colors (FD&C Blue No.1, Red No. 40 etc.) are linked to behavioral disorders such as ADD. In addition, high-sugar, low-nutrient granolas and cereals easily cause a blood-sugar crash, leaving you irritable, tired and unable to focus – exactly what you don’t need when you’ve got a long work day ahead. Look for an organic, low-sugar version, preferably raw. Raw cereal and granola’s food enzymes remain intact, which increases their nutrient density, and enhances the ability of the body to utilize those nutrients. In addition, these versions use natural sweeteners such as raw honey, dates or coconut sugar, which do not disturb blood sugar levels like the refined versions do. Need one more reason to go raw? Raw, low-sugar granola and cereals are typically loaded with superfoods, including cacao, sunflower seeds and healthy oils such as coconut oil, which only help to improve your energy, mood and the beauty of your skin, hair and nails.
A piece of toast is as basic as breakfast gets…or so it seems. What you may not know is that bread, whether it contains 100% whole wheat or the dreaded refined white flour, is made of grains that are not easily processed by the body. This is because conventional bread may contain pesticides and genetically modified grains, which are toxic to the body, and because wheat is difficult for the body to break down and absorb. All forms of wheat contain a variety of proteins that are not digestible by the body’s enzymes, and contain phytic acid, the “anti-nutrient.” Phytic acid has the capacity to lock up minerals in the intestine, resulting in non-absorption and therefore deficiency. As a result, no matter what form of non-sprouted bread you choose, you are left with a food that is not beneficial to the body, and can even be harmful. That is why we suggest switching to organic, sprouted bread. Lucky for us there are quite a few companies making sprouted breads, making it easy to convert your favorite morning toast, and even bagel and English muffins to a organic sprouted version.
If you have not tried coconut butter yet, you are in for a real treat. This sweet and decadent version of dairy butter is the perfect addition to your morning breakfast whether added into a smoothie, slathered onto toast, or mixed into oatmeal. Coconut butter, much like coconut oil, is composed of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), a saturated fat that can help to lower cholesterol and balance HDL-to-LDL ratios. MCTs can also improve energy and aid in weight loss. Unlike other fats, MCTs are sent directly to the liver for use, giving the body a burst of energy, rather than being stored as fat. Coconut butter is also nature’s richest source of lauric acid (a type of MCT), which is abundant in breast milk and has strong anti-infective properties. It differs from coconut oil in that it comes from the whole meat, making it lower in calories. It also contains some fiber and protein, where coconut oil has none. Unlike conventional dairy butter, coconut butter does not contain pesticides, hormones or antibiotics, which is very important, especially if you are eating it every day.
TCM Pick: Artisana 100% Organic Raw Coconut Butter
The egg is a near perfect food, containing ample protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and healthy fats, but there is a difference between conventional and organic. In a 2007 egg-testing project, Mother Earth News compared the official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for conventional eggs with organic eggs. It found that organic contains one-third less cholesterol, one-fourth less saturated fat, two-thirds more vitamin A, two times more omega-3 fatty acids, three times more vitamin E and seven times more beta carotene. But remember that you must eat the yolk. Most of the nutrition in an egg is in the yolk, not the white, which is basically protein. The yolk contains bioflavonoids and antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin (to help prevent macular degeneration), healthy fats such as phosphatidyl choline (essential for brain, kidney and nerve tissue), and sulfur (helps support strong hair, nails and joints). Ditch the conventional kind, and look for pasture-raised, free-range organic eggs at your farmers market.
TCM Pick: Quinoa Kale Egg Pesto Bowl
When you’ve grown tired of your usual bowl of oatmeal, try mixing it up with an açaí bowl. Açaí is a small, dark-purple berry that grows on the açaí palm in the Amazon forest of Brazil. The nutrients come from the pulp and skin of the fruit. The berry is high in antioxidants and essential fatty acids making it great for supporting the immune and cardiovascular system. It also promotes healthy skin while preventing aging. Açaí is rich in B vitamins, vitamin K, potassium and manganese, and potent antioxidants like resveratrol, which makes it the ultimate anti-aging food. Açaí is sold in frozen packets, tastes like a mix of berries and chocolate, and can be added to a smoothie, or made into a breakfast bowl. It is particularly satisfying on a hot summer day, so give this exotic berry a try!
TCM Pick: The Green Kitchen’s Açaí Bowl
Fresh Pressed Juice
In case you haven’t heard it enough, ditch the processed, fruit juice concentrate for fresh-pressed juice. Bottled fruit juices that are commonly sold on the market shelves are loaded with added sugars, and hardly contain any real nutrition at all. They are pasteurized, meaning that they are heated to the point where the beneficial vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes of the juice are destroyed. So what you are left with is glorified sugar water. In addition, beware of labels such as “made from 100% juice.” Food companies are allowed to say 100% juice on the label even though their juice contains additional additives, flavorings or preservatives. These additives can be harmful for the body, so while you may think you are doing something beneficial, you are not. Another thing to steer clear of are juice concentrates. These are essentially fruit syrups that have been extracted using chemicals and then rehydrated with water… not what you had in mind, I imagine. Finally, many bottled juices contain added sugar and citric acid, which may be genetically modified, as well as high-fructose corn syrup, which is known to cause obesity and diabetes. So switch to fresh-pressed juice that has been made-to-order, or made within the past couple days. The best juice to drink is raw and cold-pressed. This ensures the highest yield of nutrients from the juice, and delivers a big dose of enzymes. There is a huge difference, so choose right!
TCM Pick: Pressed Juicery Fresh Pressed Juice
* On a budget? Make your juice at home by following the lead of the experts. Pick up a copy of Pressed Juicery’s new book, JUICE, and start enjoying the real stuff straight from your own kitchen.
The good news is that if you adore coffee, you can go right ahead and keep on drinking it. Coffee has many reported benefits: It may protect against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver cancer and liver cirrhosis, as well as cardiovascular disease. That being said, you may not know that coffee is a significant source of pesticides. According to the CS Monitor, conventional farmers apply up to 250 pounds of chemical fertilizers per acre! With every sip of conventional coffee, you may be increasing your chances of cancer and hormone imbalance, as well as the other risks of pesticide exposure. Opt for organic coffee instead. If you use a coffee maker, be sure to use non-bleached filters. The bright white ones are bleached, and the chlorine used to bleach them can be extracted from the filter during the brewing process. Look for the brown paper filters instead. Finally, if you are going to drink coffee, avoid any coffee creamer that contains partially hydrogenated oil. This is another term for trans-fatty acids, which cause obesity, high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. Simply add a nut milk and a natural sweetener such a coconut sugar as a delicious and healthy replacement.