I don’t know how much longer I can put up with this – cooking breakfast. If you’ve been following this column, you’ll know that this is my least favourite meal to prepare. For me, preparing breakfast takes too much time, calls for too much variety and creativity, all of which I would rather not bother with first thing in the morning. If I could hire someone specifically to make me breakfast, I’d be a very happy woman.
Last year, I did a course in nutrition and it cemented what loved ones have been pleading with me to do all along – eat breakfast! Let me hasten to add that the pleading was not as a result of me ever showing any of the typical signs of some people who have not had breakfast – tiredness by mid-morning, drinking lots of coffee to keep them up, eating sugary treats, not performing well at work etc. Rather, their imploration was out of concern. You see, I would not eat breakfast, and have my first and main meal for the day some time in early to late afternoon.
From the nutrition course, I understood that glycogen, which is formed after digestion is needed to ensure that the body has a reserve of energy that can be used quickly when needed. Our bodies can only store a limited supply of glycogen, enough for about 12 – 18 hours, so it is important that this fuel be replaced from food when supplies run out; hence the importance of breaking the fast (breakfast) when we wake up.
I also read an interesting article in a magazine that made perfect sense to me; it basically suggested that the first meal be anchored with plenty of complex carbohydrates (pasta, yam, cassava, root vegetables, oats, whole grains, potatoes, peas, beans, green leafy vegetables, pumpkin, carrots, fruits such as pineapples, papaya, mangoes, bananas). A breakfast with such hearty ingredients will provide lasting energy and will help you to eat fewer calories throughout the day. Being full also means that you have the rest of the day as you go about your activities to burn the energy. It also means that your other meals will be smaller and hopefully, you’ll make better choices. According to dietician Jim White, “You don’t need fuel overnight; it will go unused and become fat.”
Armed with these pieces of information, I set about making an earnest effort at having breakfast and I have come to realize three major things. First, I want my breakfast to have variety. In other words, some days I want to have traditional breakfast things like cereal, toast, eggs, scones and tea and then there are many other times that I want food. Food as in a cooked hot meal – rice, stew, curry, pasta, that sort of thing. Second, I don’t want to be the one preparing my breakfast. I just want to wake up and have it already prepared, fresh and hot when I am ready to dine. Third, I do not want to know in advance what I’m going to be having for breakfast, I want to be surprised each morning.
Given my lofty aspirations, you may be asking, ‘so how’s that working out for you?’ It isn’t! And it is not from a lack of trying. I’ve been going through various phases – making my own granola, my own yogurt, fruit compote etc. I’ve been baking like crazy, cooking extra food to heat up the next day to have as breakfast, trying new recipes etc. But rather than be pleased with my exploits, I am frustrated because all of these things take time to make. And because I want them fresh and hot, that means waking up earlier some mornings and on others, it means not eating breakfast until about 10 am! You see, this is why I need a cook to make me breakfast!
It doesn’t help that I live abroad. If I were in Guyana, I’d easily identify 7 homes to which I’d go for breakfast – one for each day of the week. Well, mommy would insist I eat at her place twice, so the other days I’d go to my brother, my sister, my cousin Dave, my good friends Safie and Desiree. There are many other homes that I could go to but I’m thinking here of proximity.
So what are the criteria for the cook’s job? She or he, must be able to cook well – they must know to bake also. A wide cooking repertoire is desirable but not necessary. I don’t mind someone who can make a few things but do so exceptionally well. The person must be willing to experiment. Most importantly, the person must be willing to accept my preparing dinner for them as payment. But until I find such a person, I have no choice but to battle my way through cooking breakfast.