The friend who set me this quirky challenge probably meant it to last for more than a week, but if there’s one piece of advice I would pass on to anyone with young children attempting 40 challenges in a year, it’s not to set yourself something that you need to do every day for a very long period of time. (See a future blog post on pilates.) The challenge appealed because it has a serious point behind it for me, namely that I never try to make breakfast exciting. It’s definitely an essential meal for me - I’ve never been one of those people who can just grab a quick coffee then rush out the house. I need food in my stomach by nine o’clock in the morning or my blood sugar levels plummet and I can’t function on any sort of rational level. However, what I eat for breakfast never really changes – for years it’s been some variation around a theme of a banana, cereal, toast, a glass of orange juice and, if time, a cup of herbal tea. The type of cereal, toast topping and herbal tea may vary, though muesli, peanut butter and nettle seem to be the default options. Occasionally I may juice my own oranges or have yoghurt instead of milk on the muesli, or sometimes rice milk instead of dairy. On special occasions, Dave and I may treat ourselves to a croissant or pain au chocolat. But that’s as exciting as it gets, unless we’re staying in a bed and breakfast or hotel in the UK, in which case a massive plate of cooked cholesterol becomes instantly compulsory. Abroad (in the dim and distant past), we still usually ended up having bread and jam, though sometimes (if in Germany or Scandinavia) cheese.
I put this challenge off for a long time as I thought it would take a lot of planning to come up with exotic menus, go shopping for all the ingredients and then have time to make everything whilst still ensuring that I was showered and dressed before Dave left for work and that Charlotte also got fed and her usual tantrum-preventing morning routine. But procrastinating so long was a bit stupid, as it would have been much better to do the challenge over the summer, when colourful English berry fruit was in season and at its sweetest. And I also wouldn’t have had to take photographs of food when it was pitch dark outside, so the pictures might have come out a little less flash-bleached.
But in the end, the challenge started quite spontaneously last Friday, as I admired the intense red hue of a glass of freshly squeezed blood orange juice. I realised that I might as well carry on from there. As it turned out, it wasn’t difficult at all to introduce a colourful element to my breakfast each day, and ambition naturally kicked in as the week progressed. I needed only one extra trip to the shops to make sure I had everything I needed and it didn’t take that much longer to prepare the special dishes than it does to plonk cereal in a bowl and make toast. By the end of the week, I was thoroughly looking forward to my breakfast each morning, which was a wonderfully novel experience. I was also amazed by how much clearer headed I felt for eating a lot of fresh fruit or protein in the morning, and for eating rye rather than wheat bread. It’s been a really fun and interesting experiment, and I recommend it. I really hope that I can keep some elements of it up.
Here is my menu:
RED – A glass of freshly squeezed blood orange juice. (Organic blood oranges from our Riverford fruit box.) With a cup of cranberry herbal tea.
GREEN – A plate of grapes and kiwi fruit. (Kiwi fruit also organic from Riverford.) Washed down with nettle tea.
BLUE – American-style blueberry pancakes cooked for all the family on a Sunday morning.
|OK, so some of them burnt and none of them look very blue|
PINK – Smoked salmon on rye bread with fresh strawberries. The rye bread was home-made of course and will feature in another bread update sometime soon. The salmon was chestnut smoked and marinaded in lemon and basil oil. though this was not a special creation of my own – it just happened to be the only smoked salmon they had in the Sainsbury’s down the road.
YELLOW – Scrambled eggs on rye bread, with slices of banana. (Eggs free range and sourced locally. Banana organic from Riverford.)
ORANGE – segments of clementine, pieces of mango and marmalade on rye bread. (Mangoes happened to be on special offer at the greengrocer down the road – two for a pound.)
|Charlotte ate most of the mango, unfortunately|
BROWN – Nutella and peanut butter on freshly toasted crumpets, with a handful of raisins and a cup of builders’ tea.
WHITE – Fay Ripley’s recipe for breakfast trifle, with German Lebkuchen left over from Christmas and a glass of milk. White consists of every colour in the spectrum and cleverly (though I say so myself) the white Greek-yoghurt topping covered a fruit salad containing every colour of the rest of the week – red strawberries and raspberries, green kiwi and pear, blueberries, yellow banana and orange mango. Plus there was brown sugar on top. The blueberries and raspberries were English (previously frozen), and the pear as well.
|What was underneath|
|Lebkuchen and milk|
|White was kind of appropriate, given the weather outside|