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Monday, January 24, 2011

Cooking Class Review: Healthy Breakfasts (Don't Skip The Day's Most Important Meal)

Back in the Spring of 2009 I took an eight week Natural Foods Chef Training course at the New Leaf Market in Santa Cruz. Each class had a theme which covered a full range of healthy eating topics. My posts began on April 17. These classes were great exercises of healthy cooking under the able guidance of natural foods Chef Jennifer Brewer. So recently when I saw that Jenny was teaching a class in healthy breakfasts at New Leaf it was a complete no brainer for me. After all, breakfast is very high on my list of important meals.

So why is breakfast such an important meal when it is so often just overlooked and not heavily factored into diet strategy? Jenny explained that what you consume for breakfast can greatly impact your body's need for nutrition during the rest of the day. She quoted a study where they contrasted two breakfasts. One was protein based (eggs) and the other carbohydrate based (bagel) but they were equal in calories. Those consuming the protein breakfast consumed 300 calories less than the carb eaters for 24 hours and yet still reported feeling fuller all day long. So it is true that the satisfaction factor of protein lasts longer and especially when consumed in the morning.

Classes at New Leaf always kick off with a short lecture where Jenny explains the recipes and their nutritional benefits of all the ingredients.

And in no time we form groups to tackle the recipes in a truly hands-on environment.

The students perform all of the prep steps which is essential to beginning any cooking process.

Our Breakfast of Champions Menu:

Spiced Apple, Buckwheat and Quinoa Porridge
Chard and Roasted Red Bell Pepper Frittata
Savory Scrambled Tofu
Gluten Free Coconut Blueberry Muffins
High Protein Breakfast Bars

Buckwheat and apples are high in soluble fiber. Brazil nuts are rich in the immunity boosting mineral, selenium and figs are one of Jenny's favorite sources of magnesium.

Chard and Roasted Red Pepper Frittata makes for an easy crust-less quiche. We also made a batch of baby round versions in a cupcake pan. This mini size can be stored in the fridge and easily reheated later.

As an alternative to eggs we also made a Savory Scrambled Tofu dish. Tamari (soy sauce) and Tumeric delivered the big flavors here along with sweet peppers, onions, cumin and thyme.

We tucked the savory scramble into corn tortillas to make tasty breakfast tacos. We toppped them with ripe avocado and Jenny's secret weapon of black beans with smoked paprika. Delish!

The biggest challenge of the menu was Gluten Free Coconut Blueberry Muffins. Baking is always an exact science and doing it with gluten free products ups the degree of difficulty. It is mostly a texture and not flavor issue. What I like about Jenny is that she is always experimenting with recipes to accommodate the many people with food intolerances, allergies and dietetic restrictions. She suggested we make one half of our batch by substituting the eggs with a surprising combination of ground flax seeds with almond milk.

Again, the texture was not terribly muffin like but all the flavors were there in a very healthy package. Pictured here are the blueberry muffins with the egg free version on the left.

The take away highlight recipe for me was the High Protein Breakfast Bars. I have tried to make other versions before but never with the success of these. This shot is of the whole batch which was quickly attacked by the hungry cooks. Heavy carb lovers can still have their sweet treats for breakfast only these are packed with nutritious almonds, hemp seeds, flax seeds and brown rice syrup.

My parting shot is of Jenny stepping out into the market to grab some more Brown Rice Syrup. One of the many advantages of these classes is whenever we run out of something it is just a few steps to one of the best selections of natural foods you will find anywhere. For more information on their healthy lifestyle classes visit New Leaf Markets.

1 comment:

  1. Great subject and info Carl. I'll keep my Sat. mornings open for a demo.