They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and for me, this has always felt more like a written-in-stone rule of life than a platitude. Maybe it's because I have been known to wake up at 3 a.m. simply because I was hungry. Maybe it's because I enjoy coffee, but it's always been food that actually gets me going in the morning. Maybe it's because my stomach is a bottomless black pit that doesn't care if I have to leave for work in ten minutes OMG FEED ME NOW.
No matter the reason, the only way I skip breakfast is if I sleep through it. But that doesn't always jive with my reluctance to get up early and my inevitable habit of losing track of time while I do my makeup and simultaneously watch TV.
My solution? Eat breakfast at work. Sounds simple, and it is, once you have a few go-to items that travel easily, keep well, and are quick to grab. Here are mine:
WHATEVER-YOU-LIKE GRANOLA (& GREEK YOGURT)
Granola truly is hippie food. It welcomes all, works best within a loose structure, and is usually a little nutty. This is the recipe I follow, but it's incredibly forgiving and allows for customizing based on what you have on hand and what you, personally, enjoy. No flax seed? Whatever. (That stuff took way too long to use up, anyway.) Want more orange flavor? Add a little zest in, along with the juice. It's allllll good, man.
4 cups of oats
1 1/2 cups almonds
1/2 cup pecans
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
2 tablespoons flax seeds
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
Heat the oven to 300° F and cook for 30 minutes, pausing to stir the mix at the 15-minute mark so it cooks evenly. When you remove the batch, I find it best to stir once more before leaving it to cool; this way the granola won't stick to the pan.
Once it's ready, I dump the batch into a gallon Ziploc bag and keep it in my desk until it's all gone. Sure, I look like a weirdo, using my mug to scoop granola out of my top drawer and into my bowl of yogurt, but I'm usually too hungry to care.
Adapted from this original recipe.
OVERNIGHT CHAI OATS
The oatmeal I knew growing up was mushy, came from a pouch, and only tasted good if you got the brown sugar & cinnamon kind. I'll still eat it, but nowadays, I save those for camping and make my day-to-day oatmeal a bit more substantial.
Want to know why everyone's raving about steel-cut oats? Because they taste better, nerd. The fact that they don't have the consistency of homemade paste alone makes them superior to regular oats, but I admit the longer cooking time is a hassle. So, overnight, no-cook oatmeal is kind of the greatest thing ever.
1 cup steel-cut oats
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
2 tablespoons ground flax meal
1 tablespoon maple syrup or brown sugar (whichever I have around)
1 1/2 to 2 cups plain almond milk
Mix together and leave to set in the refrigerator overnight.
It took a little trial and error, but these are the ratios that I prefer. Following the original recipe produced something too spicy for my tastes; it required a lot more sugar to even out the taste, so I simply dialed down the spices. Also, the 1:1 ratio of oats to almond milk made it too dry and crunchy; adding more milk really makes a difference. (And serving with crushed pecans and coconut flakes doesn't hurt, either.)
You can make it in any container you'd like, but mason jars make you look extra cool and have the bonus of not exploding in your purse on the way to work. Unlike Trader Joe's chicken marsala with mashed potatoes. THANKS, TJ'S.
BREAKFAST CRUNCH WRAP SUPREME
Taco Bell has given us many great things in life: cheap, filling food when you're drunk; a life-long hatred of Chihuahuas; and the perfect method for turning a tortilla into a portable carrier of deliciousness.
This one takes more preparation and planning than the other two, but some days, oatmeal and granola just won't cut it. That's when these these packets of deliciousness come in handy.
My friend, Leela, sent me this recipe when I was moaning about my lack of good breakfast options, but I honestly used it more for the assembly directions than the recipe itself. Where they mixed just scrambled eggs, hot sauce, and cheese, I prefer to fill mine with eggs, sauteed onion and red pepper, hash browns, and sausage. (I start with six eggs and just kind of eyeball the rest of the ingredients to make it an even spread.)
Be sure to take a look at the helpful instructional video to master the perfect folding technique. Or to laugh at the horrible video graphics that Taco Bell tortures all its new employees with.
Once you've assembled you're wraps, I recommend placing on a cookie sheet to freeze, and then storing them all together in (you guessed it) yet another gallon Ziploc bag. For best reheating results, first microwave for 1-2 minutes and then finish in a toaster oven or panini press for a crispy exterior.
Happy breakfasting, folks.