Salad for Breakfast - January 30, 2010

Last week I was lucky enough to be able to go on a great getaway to Mexico with three of my best gal pals. Beautiful weather, gorgeous turquoise water soft warm breezes and yoga twice a day had us in ultra relaxation mode. We had lots of time to catch up on our reading..., three of us with our old fashioned "books" and Mariah with her Kindle. "Listen to this", she said as she read to us from a "book" she was reading called Born to Run by Christopher McDougal who set off to find a tribe of the world's greatest distance runners and learn their secrets.

This brown text is taken directly from the book - Luckily, I spoke to Dr. Ruth Heidrich first. " Have you ever had salad for breakfast?" she asked me. Dr Ruth is a six-time Ironman triathlete and, according to Living Fit magazine, one of the ten Fittest Women in America. She only became an athlete and a Ph.D in health education, she told me, after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, twenty-four years ago. Exercise has been shown to cut the risk of breast cancer reoccurrence by up to 50 percent, so even with the sutures still in her chest from her mastectomy, Dr. Ruth began training for her first triathlon. She also started researching the diets of noncancerous cultures and became convinced htat she needed to immediately transition from the standard American diet - SAD, as she called it - and eat more like the Tarahumara.

"I had a medical gun at my head," Dr. Ruth Told me. "I was so scared, I'd have bargained with the devil. So by comparison, giving up meat wasn't that big a deal." She had a simple rule; if it came from plants she ate it; if it came from animals, she didn't. Dr. Ruth had much more to lose that I did if she got it wrong, but almost immediately she felt her strength increasing.

Her endurance increased so dramatically that within one year, she'd progressed from 10ks to marathons to the Ironman. "Even my cholesterol dropped from two hundred thirty to one hundred sixty in twenty-one days", she adds. Under her Tarahumara-style eating plan, lunch and dinner were build around fruit, beans, yams, whole grains, and vegetables, and breakfast was often salad.

"You get leafy greens in your body first thing in the morning and you'll lose a lot of weight." she urged me. Because a monster salad is loaded with nutrient rich carbs and low in fat, I could stuff myself and not feel hungry - or queasy - when it came time to work out. Plus, greens are packed with water, so they're great for rehydrating after a night's sleep. And what better way to down your five vegetables a day then forking them down all at once"

"Wow", I said "I love that idea!" I'm not a huge breakfast person and I prefer a savory breakfast over a sweet one so I decided right there to give it a try when I was back home. I'm not on a vegan quest, but I do love to eat my veggies and this seemed like a challenge that would spark my kitchen creativity as well. And who knows what it might lead to? So here we go with this blog topic where I will share pictures and content of my breakfast salads and I'll document my thoughts and discoveries about eating salad for breakfast. Anyone want to join me?? Remember, we can bring you anything you like if you want to load up on SFB goodies!

Day 1 - Didn't think of taking a picture. Ingredients - spinach, chopped broccoli, chopped carrots, edamame, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds with a ginger soy vinaigrette.

Day 2 - Ingredients - Boston lettuce, edamame, cucumbers, pickled red cabbage, almonds, ground flaxseed with lemon juice and olive oil. After eating salad for breakfast yesterday, I wasn't hungry until about 3:00. It really filled me up and kept me going. I had some fruit for a snack at 3:00 and then a regular dinner.

Day 3- Ingredients - Bibb lettuce, mango, blackberries, blueberries, chopped medjool dates, ground flaxseed, toasted hazelnuts and bee pollen with a honey miso vinaigrette. Was really looking forward to my salad this morning! I have been waiting until after exercising in the morning to have my salad, but maybe I'll try having it before my workout since the author said he was easily able to exercise after salad for breakfast. Stay tuned.

Day 4 - Out to breakfast with the family and didn't get to have salad for breakfast! Instead I had an egg white omelet with spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms and feta cheese with dry rye toast. I actually missed having the refreshing, light effect of SFB!

Day 5 - Went way out of season here, but my Mexico vacation gave me the taste of summer and I wanted to experiment a little. Ingredients - watermelon, whole mint leaves, arugula, alfalfa sprouts, pine nuts and feta cheese drizzled with a little bit of white balsamic vinegar and pomegranate molasses. Wow! This was SO refreshing and made my mouth water while I was eating it! You can get pomegranate molasses at most grocery stores...I'll look into getting it as part of our pantry items to offer. It's a really unique ingredient that adds amazing depth to so many dishes.

Day 6 - Let's talk fiber for a second. The average adult consumes only 14g of fiber a day - less then half of the recommended 30g. Hmm....I find it sort of ironic that I am getting less fiber in each big bowl of salad for breakfast then I do with my ususal bowl of high fiber cereal with organic skim milk. I just did some adding up and today's salad is about 5 grams of fiber as opposed to the 8 grams in my ususal breakfast. Day 3's salad with blackberries, mango and dates was really high in fiber...blackberries have a whopping 7.6 grams of fiber per cup and 5 dates have 3.3 grams. Maybe after a couple of weeks of SFB I'll do Salad for Lunch and have my morning fiberlicious cereal. I'm liking this experimenting!

All of that being said, having SFB does sort of set the tone for me and I find myself eating a lot more fruit and veggies for snack and lunch. Not to mention that I'm getting all of the great enzymes and phytonutrients in my salads and rehydrating my body first thing in the morning. I'm thinking more beans and grains to my SFB are in order to boost it's fiber content.

On to today's salad. Ingredients - Chopped Romaine lettuce, 3 whole green onions (green parts too), chopped unpeeled cucumber, chopped raw cauliflower, alfalfa sprouts, chopped raw walnuts, and dill with a drizzle of super fruity olive oil and citrus champagne vinegar.

Day 7 - Ingredients - Spinach, brown rice, warm butternut squash, Allegheny chevre from Firefly Farms, chopped walnuts, chopped celery leaves and a drizzle of hazelnut oil and ume plum vinegar.

Here I am, at the end of a week of SFB. Actually, I had 6 SFB - day 4 being a restaurant for breakfast day. The thing I've liked best about it is the lightness I feel afterwards and the fact that I know I'm getting that many more veggies in my daily diet. And, I've loved the challenge of creating new combinations everyday. I must say though, that except for day one, I have been ravenous after my salad for breakfast! I'm thinking it would be an ideal eating plan for someone who wakes up early, works out hard and then eats again about 10:00. Say for a long distance runner such as the man that wrote the book or the woman who inspired him to eat salad for breakfast?? Wink, wink. So until I start training in the pre-dawn hours, I think I will go back to starting my morning with a big mug of hot water and lemon first thing and a bowl of high fiber cereal about 8:30 with organic skim milk or almond milk. Stay tuned for Salad for Lunch!!!