Learn to Love a Filling Breakfast

When I was trying to lose weight, I bought into the idea that eating little meals more frequently is the best. Honestly, there is a lot of data to back this up, so who was I to argue? In the end of my weight-loss journey in January 2010, I was down a total of about 38 pounds and absolutely ecstatic. Best shape of my life! Seeing a personal trainer for a year also helped tone me up, so my body fat was down and muscle mass was up. How freaking awesome, right??

Though happy at the results, one thing that always bothered me in the back of my mind was the strict-ness of the eating schedule. I had a routine: breakfast at 6, snack at 9, lunch at 11:30, snack at 2, after-workout snack at 5, dinner at 7:30. I ate when I was “supposed to”, which wasn’t always when I was hungry; in fact, I rarely got hungry at all, which I’d attribute to my improving, faster metabolism. Sure, that part is true — my metabolism was and still is infinitely better than before I’d lost weight. When I was heavy, I’d “eat” a venti (20oz) Starbucks Caramel Macchiato with extra caramel (I’m not kidding!) usually with a muffin or bagel during my morning class; for lunch I’d eat whenever I had time, probably no sooner than 6 hours later, and it was usually a big sandwich from Au Bon Pain (my fave combo was turkey, fresh mozzarella, and globs of herb mayonnaise on a ciabatta or rosemary foccacia, along with a bowl of soup, the extra piece of baguette they serve with it, and a whole bottle of Nantucket Nectars); dinner tended to be very late, probably around 9-10pm, and commonly consisted of 3 slices of meat-lover’s pizza dunked in ranch dressing, cheesy bread dunked in ranch dressing, and a few glasses of Mountain Dew. That may not have been healthy, but at least I ate when I was truly hungry. (The real issue with my old eating habits was portion control, lack of veggies/nutrients, obviously!)

I may have lost weight and rejuvinated my metabolism, but I lost complete sense of my hunger signals. Once I dropped the weight, I turned into a perpetual grazer. Meals were snacks and snacks were meals. Take away the personal trainer and the 10+ hours per week of gym time, and add the lack of hunger cues, and you get a girl who wanders around work, the apartment, and life in general eating a “bite of this” and a “bite of that” all day, every day. How am I supposed to know if I’ve eaten too much if I have no idea if I’m truly full? How am I supposed to know what I’m lacking if I have no idea what or when I need it? One of my resolutions for the new year is to stop reading health books and websites (which I was also obsessed with during my weight-loss and maintenance) and focus on healthy habits; however, the last healthy-eating book I read was French Women Don’t Get Fat which was the catalyst in my eye-opening realization that what I was always wondering (“Do I have to eat now, even though I’m not hungry?”, “How many more minutes until I’m allowed to eat again?”) is common when eating at a super-specific regimen like I was.

I’ve known that eating a good breakfast is the foundation for a healthy relationship with food, as well as a healthy body. I’ve always considered “good” to be synonymous with “healthy”, but I forgot one other adjective: filling. I love oatmeal, but once in a while you need something different. So, I took a childhood favorite of mine and made it nutritious, wholesome, and filling enough that my hunger cues would tell me, “I’m full! I’m satisfied! Stop eating!”

Cream of Wheat, also known as wheat farina, is basically finely milled wheat. It makes a nice, smooth breakfast that I’ve loved my whole life. I had forgotten about it until recently when I was browsing my friend’s local green store and found Bob’s Red Mill Creamy Wheat.

Aside from being incredibly easy to make, one of the best things about wheat farina is that it is bland on its own (much like oats, but not as nutty-tasting) so it is extremely versatile!

First, the basic recipe:

Basic Wheat Farina
One serving.

  • 1 cup milk, non-dairy milk, or water
  • 1/4 cup wheat farina (I use Bob’s Red Mill or Quaker brands)
  • dash of salt, optional

Bring the milk or water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add salt and whisk. Remove from heat and slowly add the wheat farina while whisking. When combined, return to heat. Once it starts boiling, reduce heat to low and cook for 2-3 minutes or until thickened to your liking.

Once you make this recipe, you can do whatever you’d like to it to make it your own. I tend to add vanilla extract, some drops of stevia extract, some kind of dried fruit and/or nuts… really, it’s endless!

If you want to start eating a more fulfilling, satisfying, and healthy breakfast so you kick-start your day (and your metabolism!), give these recipes a try. I give you my latest creations!

Tropical Wheat Farina
Serves one.

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup wheat farina
  • 1 tbsp chia seed
  • dash of salt, optional
  • 5 drops stevia extract, or 1/2 packet of stevia crystals
  • roughly 1/4 cup roughly chopped dried mango, unsweetened
  • 3 tbsp light coconut milk

In a small saucepan, bring the almond milk to a boil.

Remove from heat and add the salt, stevia, and vanilla. Slowly add the wheat farina while whisking. Return to heat and bring to a boil while stirring. Reduce heat to low. Whisk until it begins to thicken (approximately 2 minutes), then remove from heat.

Whisk in chia seeds, mango pieces, and 2 tbsp of the coconut milk. Spoon into a bowl and drizzle remaining coconut milk on top. Enjoy!

AB&J (Almond Butter & Jelly!) Wheat Farina
Serves one.

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup wheat farina
  • 1 tbsp chia seed
  • dash of salt, optional
  • 5 drops stevia extract, or 1/2 packet of stevia crystals
  • 1 tbsp natural, no-sugar-added fruit spread (I use Smucker’s Simply Fruit)
  • 1 tbsp natural, no-sugar no-salt almond butter (I use Trader Joe’s brand; you can use any nut butter of your choice… I just like almonds!)

Follow the same directions above, but instead of adding the fruit, coconut milk, etc. just add the almond butter and fruit spread. Stir to combine and spoon into a bowl.

Enjoy!

I have no trouble figuring out if I’m full after this breakfast. In fact, on Sunday when I had the AB&J version, I couldn’t even finish it all! I wasn’t even hungry again until about 4 and a half hours after I’d eaten it!

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