With the holidays in full swing, everyone has a lot on their plates. But as Christmas quickly turns into the New Year, there might be one more thing we all need to add to our plates: a heart healthy breakfast. It is the time of the year for making resolutions, after all.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about new beginnings. With New Year’s come fresh goals and plans to make 2012 even better than 2011. After Harboring Hearts started this food blog, I’ve had a goal to become more conscious of my eating habits. I know that living a healthy lifestyle can help me do that. This year I’m focusing on eating less refined sugars and more fresh fruits and whole grains for breakfast. Also, when I think of the passing of my own father from a heart-related disease, it inspires me to help even more people through Harboring Hearts Housing. I’m finding motivation for change and improvement all around me—and I’m sure you can think of some in your own life.
And what better way to start off a new year than thinking about the start of each day—with breakfast? When I was growing up, my mom made sure my brother and I ate breakfast every single morning, and I’m glad I obeyed—it really is the most important meal of the day! Breakfast is especially important for children, whose growing bodies and brains rely on the regular intake of food. Children are also proven to perform better in school if they eat something first thing in the morning. For adults, skipping breakfast can actually make weight control more difficult. In fact, studies have shown eating breakfast actually makes it easier to lose weight. So when I started thinking about New Year’s, new beginnings, and what I would write for this food blog, breakfast was the first thing that came to mind.
Even though I love breakfast, I also know that finding that perfect, heart-healthy recipe can sometimes be a challenge, so I turned to my friend Sophia Brittan for help. Sophia is the creator and chef of the charming Victory Garden found in NYC’s West Village, home to goat’s-milk ice cream and other delightful foods such as sandwiches and cakes—most of which are of Sophia’s own creation. In a word (or two), Sophia is a recipe genius. She’s also a healthy breakfast enthusiast herself, and makes sure to serve health-conscious breakfasts at Victory Garden. I asked Sophia to share with me a delicious, heart-healthy recipe for starting off the New Year right and, of course, she did not fail me. In fact, she was generous enough to share not one, but two recipes!
The first recipe is for an Alpine Red Berry breakfast. This recipe calls for strawberries and raspberries, both of which are full of anti-inflammatories that reduce the risk of heart disease. This breakfast also contains pumpkin and poppy seeds, which are great sources of protein, iron, and fiber.
Alpine Red Berry Breakfast
2/3 cup Swiss- style yogurt (Emmi brand is perfect)
3 T creme fraiche
1 T sugar (or, if you want to avoid sugar, try 1 T of coconut sugar which has a low glycemic index!)
1 cup strawberries and raspberries
1 T rolled oats (you can also use spelt flakes)
1 T pumpkin seeds
1 tsp. poppy seeds
- Rinse the berries and dry them well.
- Slice the stems off the tops of the strawberries and cut them into quarters.
- Place the raspberries in a bowl and use a fork to mush them up a little bit, so that they are bruised slightly, and their juices are released.
- Mix in the strawberries and sugar. Let them macerate for an hour if you have time.
- Combine the creme fraiche and the yogurt in a bowl.
- In the serving dish, place the berries with a little bit of juice on the bottom, covered with a nice even layer of the yogurt cream.
- Toast the rolled oats and pumpkin seeds lightly, and let them cool off.
- Decorate the top of the desserts with the oats, pumpkin seeds, and poppy seeds for a delightful texture.
The next recipe is for Sophia’s Chocolate Quinoa. This quinoa contains dark chocolate, which is high in anti-oxidants. Also, quinoa has more calcium than milk and is a good source of iron, zinc, phosphorous, B vitamins, and Vitamin E.
Sophia’s Chocolate Quinoa
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
Pinch of salt
About 1 T of dark baking chocolate powder, like Droste or Valhrona brand (but any dark baking chocolate powder will do)
Agave nectar or honey to taste
- Bring the water, quinoa, and salt to a boil.
- Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the quinoa is cooked through.
- Stir in the chocolate powder and agave.
Yields two – three servings.