41—It makes sense to eat...

Leftovers for Breakfast

A man clears his unfinished dinner plate from the table there will be leftovers for breakfast

Join the Breakfast Club

A lot of people are confused as to what constitutes a ‘healthy breakfast’.

To the ‘health conscious’, all our traditional options are off limits as they contain gluten (toast, cereals, and porridge). They also don’t contain ‘green leafies’ (shock/horror). The traditional options are also often processed or contain a lot of sugar.

On the other hand, some people are happy to chomp away on toast (and vegemite) or Weet-Bix on a daily basis. They think that these types of foods are perfectly acceptable everyday solutions to break-the-fast and maintain their good health.

It would appear we’re at odds once again.

Leave it out

When making breakfast decisions, keep in mind that not everyone has Coeliac disease, nor does everyone have a gluten or wheat intolerance. The majority of people can eat gluten and wheat products in moderation1.  And thank goodness for that,  as the majority of people couldn’t afford to feed their family the expensive substitutes on a daily basis (e.g. Paleo cereals or Gluten-free breads & cereals).

And, if you’re someone who feels obligated to have a Green Smoothie for brekky everyday, please realise that we don’t actually need to consume extra veggies and fruit in our diets. We just need to make sure we consume the required amount (preferably organic). Many of us were too busy getting into our cereal, bread, pasta, dairy products, rice and processed foods, that we forgot to eat enough fresh foodstuffs.

Note: Remember that Green Smoothies are not the only way to incorporate veggies into your breakfast if you are struggling to get your quota in throughout the day.

What I really find interesting though, are the people that consume toast or Weet-Bix for breakfast! Now-days, when so many people are trying to avoid or reduce wheat and gluten in their diets, these people are actively consuming them on a daily basis! These people will most likely develop a gluten or wheat intolerance — if they haven’t already.

May I suggest a way around all this confusion about what constitutes a ‘healthy breakfast’? Why not just eat last night’s leftovers for breakfast?

Last night's leftovers for breakfast

You could eat leftovers every day if you wanted to (because they will be varied), or you could just use this as a meal idea a few times per week. You could include two other options to have on the days you don’t have leftovers.

For example, you could alternate with:
1—A couple of pieces of toasted sourdough with nut butter and tomato
2—A bowl of Gluten-free cereal,  fruit and non-dairy milk

If you do this, not only are you keeping the gluten low in your diet, but you’re also keeping down the number of expensive GF products you might need.

By eating last night’s leftovers, you also get more veggies into your breakfast regime — if this is your goal.

Note: If you’re used to taking your leftovers for lunch, you’ll now simply make yourself something fresh to take with you e.g. a chicken salad sandwich, throw together some tuna and salad, or make yourself a ‘wrap’.

Reconstruct your leftovers

Get creative and have a play around with the following:

  1. Omelettes or Frittatas

  2. Veggie hash/fritters

    Make sure you include some protein (eggs/salmon/sardines/beans/lentils/haloumi or meat)

  3. Bubble & Squeak 

    Shallow-fry leftover vegetables and add some protein to this (eggs/salmon/sardines/beans/lentils/haloumi or meat)

  4. Garbage soup 

    The general jist of Garbage soup:
    Over a period of weeks or months, you bag up leftover bits of veggies, meat, poultry, rice, mashed potatoes or gravy and pop it into the freezer. When there is enough,  you ‘toss it’ into a pot to make a batch of this soup. Bon apetite!  

    Note: Some vitamins in food ‘don’t like’ to be frozen i.e. Vitamins B5, B6, Folate, and Vitamins C and E.  This can affect the overall nutrient content.

It doesn't make sense to eat Weet-Bix

Why are Weet-Bix a breakfast staple in Antipodean counties? These bricks of grain are more likely to ‘bung you up’ than they are to turn you into an All Black or a top Triathlete.

Bricks of grain don’t taste good — unless of course they have been ‘enhanced’ (by sugar, salt and barley-malt extract). The ‘total carbs’ make up 20g of a 30g serving (2 bricks). Only 0.8g is ‘sugar’. 3.3g is made up of fibre.

So where are the other 15.9g of starch? What % is the Barley Malt Extract (a sweet, treacly substance)?
If this ‘brick’ is so good for you, then why do they have to add vitamins and minerals to it?

Wake up to another breakfast, Kiwis & Aussies! Whole grains shouldn’t need to contain additives.

One pot wonders

You could gently reheat these on the stove or in the oven…

  1. Soup or Stew

  2. Stirfry or Risotto

  3. Homemade pizza

It doesn’t make sense — to 'drink' a Green Smoothie!

While it makes sense to drink fruit and veggie juices, it doesn’t make sense to drink Green Smoothies!

Fruit and veggie juices are beverages — as they are simply sugar, water and vitamins.

Green Smoothies however, make use of whole fruits and veggies.

While this upgraded juice (the Green Smoothie) sounds good on paper, it’s missing a vitally important final step: it’s no longer a drink — it’s a food. Food should be eaten.

It’s back to the ‘old drawing board’ me thinks.

Other breakfast options

While you might not have time to prepare these ‘fresh’ breakfasts during the week, make sure you do so in the weekend.

  1. Eggs — any style!

    Add fresh veggies (cooked tomato, courgette, spinach, or mushrooms)

  2. Beans

    Add fresh veggies (cooked tomato, courgette, spinach, or mushrooms) and a good quality piece of buttered Rye toast (if you’d like)

  3. Salmon

    Add fresh veggies (cooked tomato, courgette, spinach, or mushrooms)

  4. Sourdough toast

    With nut-butter/sardines/miso paste or tahini and tomato or avocado

  5. A simple home-made muesli

    Add fresh fruit and non-dairy milk

    Note: Please see my article on: Keep it simple, Sweetie — Less is more!

  6. Porridge or Grits

    Add fresh fruit and non-dairy milk

    Note: Grits is a dish of coarsely ground maize kernels boiled with water or milk

  7. Various types of smoothies

    Because Smoothies do not promote correct digestion (as you don’t chew them) be sure to ‘sniff and sip’  these to improve your digestion, and assimilation.

    Note: Please see LISA’S DECONSTRUCTED SUPER SMOOTHIE at the end of my Super Smoothie article.

Lisa says:

Leftovers are quick, easy, versatile, and they ensure you have a varied & complete breakfast

You don’t have to think about what you’re going to eat, as it’s already prepared (ideally ‘from scratch’). It will also be custom-made to suit your particular dietary requirements. All you need do is gently heat it, crudely reconstruct it, or eat it ‘as it comes’.

I’ve been through hundreds of peoples diets, and dinner is generally the meal of the day with the most variation. Therefore if you eat leftovers, you’ll also ensure you eat a varied breakfast daily. (Your diet needs to be varied to prevent food intolerance.)

A complete meal contains protein, fat, and carbs. Last night’s dinner will contain all these important food groups.

Leftovers stop waste and they're economical

Thinking about repurposing your food makes you more intent on using up your fresh produce. You can simply cook up extra food that night for the next morning’s breakfast.  (Have this with some protein).

It stops you from throwing out everyone’s left-over bits,  which can  be cobbled together for at least one person’s breakfast.

It saves you from having to buy expensive Paleo and GF cereals (or from going through them so fast)!

Leftovers stop you from over-eating at two meals

Instead of feeling like you should eat everything on your plate for dinner, you start feeling like you should really save some for breakfast the next day — or you’ll go hungry!

And, as opposed to drinking Smoothies, chewing your breakfast takes time. This process promotes satiety, which helps prevent overeating.

Having leftovers makes you appreciate how lucky you are

It’s ‘Thanksgiving’ for the majority of us every single day! Leftovers represent us having more than enough food to eat.

For 1/9 people around the world, this is unfortunately not the case. The latest statistics for world hunger estimated that about 805 million people/ 7.3 billion people in the world, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2012—2014. For details on this, please see: 2015 World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics.

Heck!  We even have a problem with hunger in New Zealand.  In low-decile schools, many students don’t eat breakfast and half won’t have anything to eat for lunch.

To read more about this problem: Kiwi kids continue to leave home hungry.

We should think ourselves bloody lucky that we have more than enough food to go around. Leftovers not only deserve more consideration, they should garner more R.E.S.P.E.C.T

Make an appointment with Lisa

Lisa Fitzgibbon is a degree qualified (2006), experienced and registered Naturopath & Medical Herbalist. She runs her own private practice – OOMPH in Grey Lynn, Auckland, New Zealand.

Lisa has been involved in the Natural Health industry for 16 years. She draws on her professional training and experience, as well as her own personal experience to bring you realistic, holistic health advice.

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