This post is from contributing writer Haley Stewart from Carrots for Michaelmas.
I recently took my six-year-old to the pediatrician for his annual check up. The doctor was shocked to see on his chart that the last time he was in the office was his five-year-old check up–a full year ago. “You’re the healthiest kid I’ve seen all week!” she said.
I started to wrack my brain to remember when the last time I took ANY of my three kids in other than their well-child visits. What a change from last year!
A year and a half ago it felt like we lived at the pediatrician’s office. The kids all seemed to pass around virus after virus and I kept getting tonsillitis that wouldn’t go away without miserable rounds of antibiotics. It felt like our whole family was sick for months.
“How did we get so healthy this year?” I asked my husband the other day. Sure, we’ve had our fair share of mild colds now and then. (And my daughters are currently getting over a cough that’s been bugging them this week.) But we haven’t been in that miserable cycle of illness that we used to go through every year between November and February.
There were two changes to our lifestyle that we could pinpoint: Less sugar and healthier breakfasts. Now don’t get me wrong. Even kids eating a fantastic healthy diet get sick sometimes. I am well aware that we’ve been given a nice dose of luck this year along with our efforts to be healthy, but I do believe those two changes have made a big difference for us.
The older I get, the worse I feel when I have processed sugar. I can very easily fall into being a sugar addict and I have no willpower when sweets are around. None at all. So, our only option is to keep sugary foods out of the house.
It comes as no surprise that our kids are much better at eating nourishing meals when they’re not filling up on sweets. They still have treats at grandma’s house and I definitely bribe them with the lollipops at Trader Joe’s to survive our weekly grocery store run. But dessert at home is a real treat, not part of our typical weekly meal plan.
Last fall in order to kill my sugar addiction I did a Whole30. (I know Katie’s husband is doing a Whole30 during Lent this year, too). So oatmeal, pancakes, and french toast were officially off the menu and we had to branch out.
Since we have backyard chickens, we’ve always eaten eggs for breakfast on a regular basis, but we also got in the habit of just putting some steel cut oats on the stove on busy mornings. Cutting out grains meant that we needed to broaden our high protein breakfast horizons beyond our go-to bacon and fried eggs.
One of the benefits of doing a Whole30 is not just cutting out grains and processed foods and sugars, but adding in plenty of vegetables. This was a challenge for me because veggies in the morning never seemed very appealing and I would eat pancakes every morning if they didn’t give me a sugar crash by 11am. But veggies with every meal is really a must during a Whole30 (as grains, dairy, and legumes are out).
My husband started sauteeing spinach on the side, adding mushrooms, broccoli, or kale to scrambled eggs, and making sweet potatoes instead of grits, etc. (But don’t feel too sorry for us, when not Whole30-ing we definitely do the south proud with our consumption of cheese grits.)
After a couple of weeks the extra veggies and protein just became a habit! And I think the combination of more veggies and less sugar gave our immune systems a little boost.
(For more ideas on how to get more veggies in breakfast, Debra wrote a fantastic post of creative ways to add them in.)
Avoiding Egg Boredom
We eat eggs almost every morning (in fact, I can’t remember the last time I didn’t eat an egg with breakfast), but so far we aren’t bored with them. Adding different sides helps keep things interesting, but we also switch up how we cook our eggs. Try something different and mix it up!
Our favorite ways to eat eggs in the morning are:
- Soft-boiled eggs. I’ve never been a huge fan of hard-boiled eggs but soft-boiled eggs are a different story. The yolk is a little bit soft and the texture is delicious. Our kids love peeling them (we just make sure there’s a bowl handy for them to drop the egg shells in the middle of the table) and I think they look fancy on top of fried potatoes or sauteed veggies.
- Egg Frittata. Similar to an omelette or crustless quiche, a frittata is a combination of eggs and whatever else you want to add. My husband Daniel often uses whatever breakfast meats like bacon or sausage we have on hand, plus veggies that are in season in the garden. You could add sweet peppers, kale, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, you name it. Sometimes we add cheese on top or even mix in grits or rice if we have some leftover from another meal. Including pieces of veggies too small to be picked out is a great way to sneak some extra greens into your family!
- Poached eggs. It takes a little practice, but poached eggs are a treat.
- Fried eggs. Just add a little bacon grease to the pan, fry and flip. Fried eggs are our go-to breakfast, but that doesn’t make them mundane. Add some bacon or sausage on the side and a fruit salad and voila!
- Scrambled eggs. We add cheese (and sometimes cream cheese) and our kids go nuts.
- Veggie and Egg Hash. About a year ago my husband started cooking sweet potato and egg hash with veggies and sometimes sausage or bacon and now we eat it several times a week. It’s just so good!
This recipe is one version of our typical breakfast (and it’s a meatless version since it’s Lent).Print
- 1 lb. sweet potatoes, diced
- 1 large head of broccoli cut into small pieces
- 5 eggs
- Bacon grease (you can substitute other fats or oils, but you can’t beat the flavor!)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the bacon grease over medium heat. Add the diced potatoes. Stir occasionally and be patient! The temperature can be just a smidge over medium. The idea is that you need to heat them long enough to cook through without burning the outside. You may need to add more bacon grease. I usually end up using about 2 tablespoons.
- Once the inside is cooked and the outside is just beginning to crisp, add the broccoli. Cook for a few minutes longer.
- Crack the eggs over the vegetables. Let them cook for a minute and then stir. Cook and stir until the eggs are done. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Enjoy! (And add chili sauce if you want to be adventurous!)
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