What's For Breakfast: Waking Up to Healthy Food

As I chop this ingredient and sprinkle that ingredient into my cereal bowl each morning, I wonder: Am I finally in tune with my body's nutritional needs or have I just become a totally anal eater?


With nearly a decade of focus on food and nutrition under my belt, I've gradually absorbed a few things about how to eat well. I think I've finally got the beat on why I crave potato chips after I've run a few miles: my cells are crying out for salt and potassium to regulate my body fluids and distribute nutrients to replenish the ones I’ve just depleted. And I can now catch myself after I've skipped my morning cup of java, just as I'm thinking that I am literally starving for something I can't quite put my finger on. Ah-ha! It's not hunger, it’s that caffeine fix that I'm desperately seeking. If I tune in to my body, I can recognize misreading thirst for hunger and do myself a favor – drink that big glass of water my dehydrated cells are rioting for, instead of diving into something sweet, greasy, or chocolatey.


You, too, probably have some eating insights of your own, that could help others wake up and eat well. So let's start with breakfast. Let's have a Breakfast Exchange that poses the big question: What's your breakfast ritual? Do you dive right in or take a while to work up to eating? Do you drink two liters of fluid, as David Wolfe, the raw food guru, suggests? Or do you flush your system with a cup of coffee? Do you eat the exact same thing each day? Treat yourself on weekends? Do you capitalize on protein? Or do you consider it your time of day to indulge in carbs you'll have all day to burn? Do you savor this meal time? Eat hurriedly in your car or at your desk? Do you consume handfuls of supplements? Or do you choose foods that match known health risks in your family genes? Do you do anything else that customizes your morning intake to your personal beliefs about health?

I'll share my thoughts about food in general, and breakfast in particular, then invite your response. Pretty please, with local maple sugar and wild berries on top, comment and share. With your help, we'll all have more and healthier choices to chew on.



I was 29 years old the first time I gave any serious consideration to what I ate for breakfast. My wake up call? I was eating for two. Pregnancy gave new gravity to my choices. I wanted to eat well, but wasn't sure what that meant. I wanted to keep my weight gain reasonable, but also to make sure I was eating plenty of the right things.


My idea of good nutrition came from my childhood, eating a variety of foods from the basic food groups of that era: meat, milk, vegetables/fruits, grains. I came from a very large rural family. Processed foods were pretty much beyond our means, but we had access to our own garden vegetables, milk, butter, and pastured meat. From neighbors, we got eggs. And basic grains -- oatmeal, wheat and corn flour, pasta, rice, and beans -- were affordable necessities.


As a mother-to-be, I decided to add a couple of indulgences I had a particular hankering for to my childhood understanding of a healthy diet. For breakfast, I hungered for whole wheat bread, saturated with a scramble of eggs and milk, topped with wheat germ, nutmeg, and honey. Not a big indulgence, but I savored it daily after a 2-mile bike ride and before heading off to my writing job. This breakfast routine held for my second pregnancy as well.


Since those mornings of long ago, I continue to appreciate that breakfast is probably the most important meal I eat. Choices at the front end of the day assure our bodies that they'll be listened to and cared for all through our waking hours.


I recall an herbalist who explained that grazing animals eat intuitively, routinely avoiding certain bitter native plants, yet seeking out those plants when their immune systems needed a boost. So wouldn't it make sense that we humans have evolved with an intuitive sense of what our bodies hunger for? And might it make sense that first thing in the morning is the ideal time to listen to our gut and consider intuitive choices, before the demands of the day blur such subtleties? Morning is also a good time to start the day fresh, avoiding processed foods that contain "food-like" ingredients that are not technically even recognizable to our digestive tracts, as Michael Pollan points out.


Our pre-breakfast ritual includes a snowy walk for farm choresOur pre-breakfast ritual includes a snowy walk for farm chores



Since my husband and I moved to Lanesboro several years back, I've been dazzled by how much friends at local potluck gatherings know and share about nutritious food and healthy living. It is amazing how much good information a group can generate regarding food. So, I offer you my approach to breakfast and hope you'll return the favor with a comment below.


First a couple notes about health sensitivities that figure into food choices at our house:  

Me: I have a slight thyroid deficiency, so take a low-dose prescription supplement. I'm a runner so pay attention to foods for bone health.
My husband, Keith: His dad had prostate cancer, which has a genetic component. His mom had macular degeneration and dementia, also believed to have genetic links.  


I begin my day by downing a big glass of water. Keith revs up with a cup of coffee. Then we make our rounds, first to feed the chickens, then out to tend the horse and cats (soon we’ll have three long-horned Scottish Highland cattle, too!). Once we’ve squared away the animals, which entails about a half mile of walking, it’s breakfast time.

We eat the same thing for breakfast most every day:

Shallow bowl of Nature’s Path Heritage Flakes (no sugars or processing additives) topped with extras intended to shore up our shortcomings:


  • Chopped banana (vitamins C & B6, fiber, potassium, antioxidants, trace minerals from topical soils – good for eyes/macula)
  • Wild local berries (fresh or frozen, high in antioxidants - to keep us young!)
  • Sprinkle of coconut (potassium, selenium, trace minerals for thyroid and prostate health)
  • Two finely chopped brazil nuts (ditto)
  • Sprinkle of Grapenuts (for crunch)
  • Dollop of whole milk yogurt (pro-biotic cultures)
  • Skim milk from the local dairy Kappers Big Red Barn (hormone-free, not ultra pasteurized, not homogenized resulting in more live cultures, more taste) 
  • Dash of nutmeg (flavor, and that intuitive appeal) or dash of turmeric (potent against cancer)
  • A drizzle of prairie flower honey from my bees (an indulgence and a blessing)


We eat together at a counter in our country kitchen, often listening to morning news, sipping coffee. We also drink a little diluted fruit juice to chase basic supplements we take somewhat sporadically, more so in winter or after a string of eating on the run: fish oil capsule, Vitamin D, magnesium, and calcium tablet.


Maybe I’m compulsive and have more time to think about breakfast as the years go by. But I’m so very curious whether I'm alone in this mania or whether you, too, have strategies for making the most of health as a conscious part of a breakfast routine.



So now it's your turn to add the most important part of this posting: your voice. Please help turn up some collective wisdom that could improve the health of other individuals, families – maybe even whole communities. Use the comment box below. Also please request other topics you'd like us all to chew on, such as: Lunch & dinner foods; Foods you avoid and why; Foods you use to correct or ward off health issues; Your healthy snacking habits; After dinner eating/drinking rules; Eating out.


Thanks for your interest and energy.



Kitty Baker grew up on a mixed ag farm, then in a small town, near Rochester, MN. She and husband Keith raised two daughters, living in Kansas City and Minneapolis. A professional writer, Kitty enjoys topics of lifestyle and food, especially since 1999, when they bought a farm, Root River Wilds, just north of Lanesboro, MN. The farm’s spectacularly varied acreage -- bluffs and woods, pastures and restored prairies cut with trails and wrapped in the oxbow of the North Branch of the Root River -- is rich with opportunities to discover and share ways to live abundantly. Her last article for SGT was: Stored Solar Greenhouse Supplies Local Salad Greens from Fall to Early Spring.


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