'The Healthy Kitchen': Breakfast

Eating healthy can involve creating dishes that are not only good for you, but are also fun to prepare and delicious. Integrative medicine guru Dr. Andrew Weil, and Oprah Winfrey's former chef Rosie Daly teamed up to write The Healthy Kitchen, which starts off with advice about breakfast, and some mouthwatering recipes.

Here is an excerpt from The Healthy Kitchen: Recipes for a Better Body, Life, and Spirit, by Andrew Weil and Rosie Daley.

Chapter One: Breakfast

I always eat breakfast, and recommend that you do too. We all need food in the morning to resupply ourselves with sources of glucose, which is not stored in the body and is needed to fuel the brain. Studies show that those who eat breakfast are more productive at school and work than those who skip it. But there is disagreement over what should be eaten for the first meal of the day.

I myself like leftovers. I've never cared for most of the common American breakfast foods and feel just terrible if I eat some of them (pancakes, sweet rolls, and fried potatoes, for example). I do fine on a traditional Japanese breakfast of steamed rice, broiled fish, miso soup, pickled vegetables, seaweed, and green tea. I also like fruit, nuts, some fresh cheese, and olives. You will have to experiment to find out what you like and what works best for you.

In any case, eating breakfast makes it easier to meet your daily nutritional requirements. Research shows that people who eat breakfast get more vitamins A, C, and E, folic acid, calcium, iron, and fiber than those who skip it. They also do better with weight control, because they are less prone to overeat at other meals or load up on high-calorie snacks later in the day.

Perhaps the most common excuse for skipping breakfast is lack of time; but considering the nutritional importance of the first meal of the day, you should try to find ways of eating something in the morning that is quick and easy to prepare. (And I don't mean a cup of coffee and a doughnut.) Breakfast should provide one-quarter to one-third of your day's protein, some good (i.e., low-glycemic-index) carbohydrate, and some fat. Here are some ideas:

A bowl of whole-grain cereal with calcium-fortified soymilk and some fruit. The most nutritious fruits are kiwi, cantaloupe, papaya, mango, blueberries, strawberries, and bananas. Add a tablespoon of freshly ground flax seeds as a source of essential fatty acids.

A soy shake: blend one-half cake of silken tofu, 1/2 cup apple juice, 1 cup frozen, organic strawberries, and one banana.

Keep some hard-boiled eggs on hand, or scramble up a few eggs to eat with whole-grain toast. Include a glass of calcium-fortified orange juice or a container of plain yogurt to which you can add some berries or other fruit.

Finally, if all you take in the morning is coffee, try switching to green tea for the protection it provides against cancer and heart disease. — A.W.

Eggs Florentine with Orange and Dill Sauce

The orange-dill sauce drizzled over the poached eggs has a faint fruit flavor due to the orange juice, a spiciness from the balsamic vinegar, and a hint of the exotic, penetrating flavor of turmeric — a spice relative of ginger. This dish makes a vibrant breakfast — colorful, easy, and healthy.

Ingredients:

• 1 pound washed spinach, stems removed

Orange and Dill Sauce

• 1 egg yolk • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar • 2 teaspoons lemon juice • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric • 1/2 teaspoon salt • 3 tablespoons butter at room temperature • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill

• 1 teaspoon white vinegar • 6 eggs • 3 English muffins, split in half • 2 beefsteak tomatoes, sliced

Garnish

• Fresh cracked black pepper (optional)

Ingredients:

1. Fill a medium pot with water and bring it to a boil. Drop in the washed spinach and cook for 3 minutes, stirring several times. Drain the spinach in a colander. Put a bowl or plate directly on top of the spinach, inside the colander, and press down to squeeze all excess water from the leaves. Cover and set aside.

2. Fill the bottom of a double boiler halfway with water and place over medium heat. Set the top pot over the water and drop in the egg yolk. Add the orange juice and stir until blended. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and the lemon juice, then the turmeric, salt, and butter. Add 1 teaspoon of the dill and whisk until all the ingredients are thoroughly blended and the sauce has a thick creamy consistency (approximately 2 minutes).

3. Remove the top part of the double boiler and set aside. Pour the white vinegar into the water in the bottom pot and heat it just to the boiling point. Gently crack the eggs one by one into the simmering water, and poach for 3 minutes. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and let the water drip from the spoon so they aren't watery. Transfer the eggs to a warm platter and cover.

4. Toast the English muffins on the middle rack under the broiler. Remove them from the oven and put them on plates. Place 1 tomato slice on each muffin half and spoon 1/4 cup of the cooked spinach on top. Arrange 1 poached egg on top of that and drizzle a spoonful or so of the orange-dill sauce over everything. Sprinkle some of the remaining 1 teaspoon of chopped dill and black pepper (optional) over the sauce as garnish. Serve immediately.

Serves 6

Per serving: Calories 236.2, Fat 12.5 g, Saturated fat 5.5 g (46.5 percent of calories from fat), Protein 11.6 g, Carbohydrate 20.7 g, Cholesterol 266 mg, ber 2.6 g.

Tips from Rosie's Kitchen:

This recipe uses a double boiler. If you do not have one, you can improvise by setting a medium stainless-steel bowl inside a large saucepan, so that the top of the bowl fits snugly onto the top of the pot. If you use this setup, be careful not to burn yourself #151; the steam from the bottom pot gets very hot!

Andy suggests: I would happily substitute olive oil for the butter in the Orange and Dill Sauce.

Are Eggs Good for You?

It's hard to keep up with medical opinion about eggs. First they were good, then they were bad, now they're good again. Egg yolks contain a dazzling array of essential vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamins A, D, E, and K and iron, while the whites are a great source of high-quality protein. The egg's once-tarnished reputation had to do with its yolk, a source of saturated fat and cholesterol. As fat and cholesterol became Public Health Enemies Numbers One and Two, health-conscious consumers scratched eggs off their shopping lists. The egg industry then launched advertising campaigns to tell us exactly how many eggs a week are safe to eat without increasing the risk of heart disease. The really interesting news, however, is that certain eggs can actually improve cardiovascular health because they provide omega-3 fatty acids.

My favorite source of omega-3s is fish, particularly salmon and sardines. Flax seeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts are other sources. Eggs may now join these foods, provided that hens get omega-3s in their diets, which in turn will be incorporated in the yolks of their eggs. Most of the eggs in grocery stores come from factory-farmed chickens, which do not get to eat the required sources, such as soybeans and greens. In order to obtain the benefits you want from eggs, choose those from free-ranging, organically fed hens.

Recently, farmers have begun to produce "designer" eggs, containing more omega-3 fatty acids than regular ones. They do this by fortifying chicken feed with a meal made from algae or flax. These new eggs taste better than regular eggs — and they're better for you. They also cost more, but I think they're worth the extra money.

Even if you eat only the best eggs, you should still not eat them with abandon. Dietary cholesterol may not be as great a culprit as many people think-its negative effect on serum cholesterol is dwarfed by the effect of saturated fat in most people's diets — but whole eggs turn up in so many prepared dishes and processed foods that we can easily end up eating too many of them, especially in combination with sugar, milk, cream, butter, and cheese, classic recipes for atherosclerosis and heart disease. You can often substitute egg whites for whole eggs in recipes or even leave out eggs altogether. Experiment. If you like eggs, I think it's fine to eat one or two a day, as long as you cook them without a lot of fat and use them in dishes that are consistent with the guidelines for healthy eating. — A.W.

Scrambled Eggs with Fresh Salsa

There are two words for this dish: easy and nourishing. Everybody has time to make scrambled eggs! This meal is a good combination of protein from the eggs and carbohydrate from the bread. If you want to forgo the toast, wrap the scrambled eggs inside of a warm whole-wheat tortilla to make an egg burrito. No matter how you serve the scrambled eggs, the fresh salsa is what really makes this traditional breakfast food better than usual.

Keep in mind that if you are concerned about cholesterol, you can make this dish using only egg whites and get just as much nutritional value from it.

Salsa Ingredients:

• 1 bunch cilantro (1/2 cup cilantro leaves) • 1 cup chopped tomatoes • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper • 1/4 cup diced red onion • 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Egg Ingredients:

• 1 tablespoon olive oil • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms • 1/2 cup sliced green onions or scallions • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper • 1/2 cup chopped yellow or green bell pepper • 6 whole eggs • 1 teaspoon salt • 1/4 cup milk

Garnish Ingredients:

• 6 slices whole grain bread • 6 slices honeydew melon

Directions:

1. Make the salsa: Hold the cilantro under running water to wash off the dirt. Pinch the leaves off the stems, coarsely chop the leaves, and put them in a small bowl with the remaining salsa ingredients. Toss thoroughly until everything is blended together. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Smear a nonstick medium sauté pan with 1/4 teaspoon of the oil and set it over medium heat. Sauté the mushrooms, onions, and peppers in the pan, tossing them occasionally, until limp, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

3. Whisk the eggs, salt, and milk together in a small bowl. Coat the bottom of a separate pan with the remaining olive oil, set it over low heat, pour in the eggs, and partially cook them for 3 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon until they are no longer runny. Transfer the partially cooked eggs to the pan with the vegetables and cook everything together for 1 minute, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

4. Cut each bread slice diagonally, put them on a cookie sheet, and toast them under the broiler on the lower rack for less than 30 seconds on each side. Serve the eggs with toast, a slice of honeydew melon, and a small ramekin of salsa.

Serves 6 Per serving: Calories 977.6, Fat 44.7 g, Saturated fat 7 g (38.3 percent of calories from fat), Protein 17.6 g, Carbohydrate 144.4 g, Cholesterol 217 mg, Fiber 12 g.

Scrambled Tofu

Don't worry, you egg eaters, you aren't deprived of flavor here. So have some variety in your breakfasts, alternating between eggs and tofu (see more about tofu from Andy on page 192). This dish is light, well seasoned, and, like eggs, full of protein for get-up-and-go energy. Turmeric is what lends the color and mild flavor to this dish.

You can use the scrambled tofu to make a "tofu-salad sandwich" with lettuce and tomato, as opposed to an egg-salad sandwich, or you can mix the scrambled tofu with a little bit of the Pesto (page 160) for more of a side-dish type food.

• 1 16-ounce block firm tofu • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thin (11/2 tablespoons) • 3 tablespoons diced red bell pepper • 2 tablespoons olive oil • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric • 1/2 teaspoon salt • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper • 3/4 cup sliced green onions, scallions, chives, or 1/2 cup minced onion • 2 teaspoons soy sauce

Garnish

• Fresh salsa (recipe above) • Corn tortillas

1. Drain the tofu and crumble it, using clean hands. Sauté the garlic and diced pepper with the olive oil in a medium sauté pan on medium heat, for about 2 minutes. Stir in the crumbled tofu first, then add turmeric, salt, pepper, green onions (scallions, chives, or onions), and soy sauce. Cook the tofu for 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with salsa and warm corn tortillas.

Serves 6

Per serving: Calories 98.3, Fat 7.5 g, Saturated fat 1 g (65.9 percent of calories from fat), Protein 5.5 g, Carbohydrate 3.5 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Fiber 1.3 g.

Vegetable "Quiche"

This fresh vegetable "quiche" is made with a light, crispy potato crust and a filling of vegetables and herbs and spices.

This "quiche" makes a wonderful morning brunch or lunch or a simple dinner, served with a salad and a small, toasted baguette. If you should not be eating egg yolks, you can make it using only the egg whites.

• 1/2 cup purified water • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes • 1/2 pound asparagus (about 2 cups chopped) or broccoli florets • 1/2 medium onion, chopped • 2 cloves garlic, sliced • 2 tablespoons olive oil • 1 carrot, cut in small cubes (about 1 cup) • 5 mushrooms, sliced • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, or 1 teaspoon dried • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley • 1/8 teaspoon chili flakes • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg • 1/2 teaspoon salt • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper • 3 small red potatoes, washed and thinly sliced • 1/2 cup grated cheese, Pepper Jack or Swiss • 1/4 cup milk • 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream • 6 eggs • 1 medium tomato, sliced (seeds squeezed out) • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Directions:

1. Boil the water, pour over the sun-dried tomatoes, and allow to soak for about 15 minutes until they become soft and plump. Strain off any remaining liquid, and coarsely chop.

2. Cut off about 1 inch of the coarse ends of the asparagus stalks and discard or save them for soup. Cut the remaining stalks into about 6 pieces or chop coarsely. If you are using broccoli, cut into florets. Blanch the asparagus by boiling it in a medium pot of water for 2 minutes or less. Asparagus should be bright green and firm to the bite. Drain, rinse the asparagus in cold water, and drain again in a colander.

3. Sauté the onions and the garlic in the olive oil over low heat until the onions are transparent, approximately 10 minutes. Add the carrots, mushrooms, basil, parsley, chili flakes, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and continue to cook for 5 more minutes. Remove from the heat.

4. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Line the bottom with the potato slices, overlapping them slightly. Whisk together the cheese, milk, sun-dried tomatoes, sour cream, and the eggs in a large bowl. Mix in the sautéed vegetables and the blanched asparagus, coating everything with the cheese, milk, and egg liquid, then pour into the potato-lined pie pan. Arrange the tomato slices on top and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 1 hour, covering after 45 minutes if top browns. Completely baked quiche should be very firm. Let cool 15 minutes before slicing and serving. Leftovers can be wrapped and kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Serves 8

Per serving: Calories 205, Fat 12.6 g, Saturated fat 4.9 g, (53.8 percent of calories from fat), Protein 10 g, Carbohydrate 14.3 g, Cholesterol 175 mg, Fiber 2.3 g.

Tips from Rosie's Kitchen

1. Try to grate fresh nutmeg and Parmesan cheese yourself because it makes a noticeable difference in the flavor.

2. Drop the potato slices in cold water to prevent them from discoloring.

3. To blanch fruits and vegetables, boil them for about 2 minutes and then plunge them into cold water. This stops the cooking and sets the color. Blanching is also done to loosen the skins of fruits or vegetables such as plums or tomatoes.

From The Healthy Kitchen: Recipes for a Better Body, Life, and Spirit, by Andrew Weil, Rosie Daley. Copyright, April 2, 2002 , Knopf used by permission.

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