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Brilliant breakfasts: 10 delicious, healthy ways to start the day – from shakshuka to pancakes

From a simple but tasty porridge to an Indian omelette, here are some great reasons to get out of be..

From a simple but tasty porridge to an Indian omelette, here are some great reasons to get out of bed in the morning

A breakfast plate of kippers
Treat yourself: its possible to have kippers without the overpowering smell from baking them. Photograph: clubfoto/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Breakfast used to be the easiest meal of the day. Everyone ate whatever they had time for (which, on a regular day, would be toast or nothing). None of us had to think too much, because even if you didnt stay full until lunch time, you would probably be working and have to wait to take your break. Now that there is nothing to stop any of us eating all day long, this needs a little more thought.

The new logistics are baffling. I feel like I am running a haulage company. If everyone in the household eats when they wake up, you will have cleared up the kitchen five times before lunch. This is insane; you might as well mill your own flour. Ideally, you want to wait until the last person is hungry, which is around 11.30am. Perfect: you have rolled breakfast into lunch, and now you only have two avalanches of dishes to worry about. But now the breakfast has to be good: nobody is going to wait until 11.30 for cornflakes.

Other than “good”, my criteria in this top 10 are: interesting; low effort in technical terms (no piping bags), but Im not ruling out a bit of an overnight project; moderately healthy; meat-free. If I let meat into the mix, I would basically eat sausages every morning, and then I would have nothing to eat for dinner.

Beans on toast

Sure, just get beans out of a tin and put them on toast if you like. But you can do your own baked beans as a magnificent gift to the family at the start of the week. And I assume that you are making soda bread around the clock anyway, since you have surely run out of yeast.


Rich and luxurious: shakshuka. Photograph: Felicity Cloake/the Guardian


These Middle Eastern baked eggs arent fast, but they are only a moderate pain to make and the result is fabulously, alchemically good. The tomatoes become rich and luxurious, and the peppers offer a sweetening contrast to the eggs. You wont find many other sound reasons to get this many vitamins into a breakfast.

Jugged kippers

The chef Fergus Henderson is pretty adamant that kippers should be baked with butter and washed down with a black velvet (champagne and Guinness). I have nothing against the black velvet, but I do have reservations about how much your oven smells, and by extension, your whole house, and for how long – which is all day. If, instead, you put the kippers in a jug in their bag, pour in boiling water and leave for four minutes, they are just as good and much less assertive, and you can put the butter on afterwards.

Turkish breakfast

This isnt really a recipe: on your table, assemble white pitta bread, very punchy black olives, feta, cucumber and tomatoes, jam and honey. Eat in whatever order or combination you like. Close your eyes. Wham! Youre on holiday.


This is easily the best vegan breakfast I know: jasmine rice cooked super-slowly so that it turns into – look away, novices, Im going to use a technical term – gloop, then loaded with vegetables and chillis, to become an emotionally complex experience of ultimate comfort and pure excitement.

Overnight oats with chia seeds and blueberries and honey.

Overnight oats with vanilla, blueberry and chia

On no account let your 10-year-old find an overnight oats recipe from YouTube, because you will end up with something loaded with bananas, syrup, bits of Wispa and not enough milk, that is as heavy as a brick, as sweet as baklava and totally disgusting, which pride will force her to chow her way through, to cries of “Stop! Stop! Youll end up in a coma” that can be heard for miles about.

A very basic bircher recipe, on the other hand, is wonderful – hearty, wholesome, filling, but quite light, especially if you use apple juice rather than milk or almond milk. Take 100 grams of oats, grate in an apple, moisten with enough juice so that the mixture is soaked but not swimming, and leave overnight. Using vanilla, blueberries and chia creates a more professional version.

Soaked porridge

Mr Z soaks oats in water overnight, cooks them in the same water the next day, and says they taste better than cooking from scratch. I have always totally disregarded this idea, as it sounds like a faff and I have never liked porridge. (When I was a kid, we lived near the old Youngs brewery in Wandsworth in south London and had a childminder. She told me that the disgusting brewery smell was porridge. Her rationale was that she didnt want to put me off beer. Fair play; I am now an adult who hates porridge and really likes beer.)

Imagine my surprise, reader, when I tried Mr Zs tip for research purposes, and it was incredible. The result was inexplicably rich, although I did add a tablespoon of double cream and one of jam, so maybe it can be explained.

Indian omelette

I usually use Madhur Jaffreys recipe, but this one, by Vivek Singh, is also perfect. The green chilli is a kick in the chops, but it is a delicate and charming one, such as you might get from a rabbit. The coriander is wonderfully lively, too. If you stack the omelette with vegetables, it hits just about every note of nutritional excellence, offering enough protein and fat to keep you full and no carbs to make you sluggish.

Indian omelette

I usually use Madhur Jaffreys recipe, but this one, by Vivek Singh, is also perfect. The green chilli is a kick in the chops, but it is a delicate and charming one, such as you might get from a rabbit. The coriander is wonderfully lively, too. If you stack the omelette with vegetables, it hits just about every note of nutritional excellence, offering enough protein and fat to keep you full and no carbs to make you sluggish.

Pancakes with yogurt and blueberries

Pancakes with yogurt and blueberries … versatile. Photograph: Arx0nt/Getty Images

Buttermilk pancakes

My Mr also wanted this smiley-faced pancake pan, which I completely overruled on grounds of cost, and limited use, and the fact that our children are too old, and it was silly etc etc. It was only when he made the appeal on behalf of our unborn grandchildren that I realised how much it meant to him. It was thus that I discovered the marvellous versatility and incredible yield of the buttermilk pancake. This recipe will feed everyone who is pancake-inclined for a week (cook them all on the first day, then keep them in the bread bin). They are lovely with bacon, and also with berries. If you are out of buttermilk, you can use watered-down yoghurt.


Not the smoky sauce (thats harissa), but the sweet pearl barley dish. If I had been living out of the store cupboard for a year, it would never have occurred to me to soak barley overnight and then cook it with cinnamon and sugar. The look is exquisite, pomegranate seeds sparkling like jewels in the rough. The smell actually is a bit brewery

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UK beef exports to US resume after more than 20 years

British beef is back on US menus for the first time in more than 20 years as exports restart on Wedn..

British beef is back on US menus for the first time in more than 20 years as exports restart on Wednesday.

The beef was banned after the BSE outbreak in 1996 when cattle were infected by what became commonly known as Mad Cow Disease.

Some UK beef was cleared for export in March after US inspections in 2019, and shipments from Northern Ireland’s Foyle Food Group will be the first to leave.

Ministers said the US market will be worth £66m to the UK over five years.

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, a body funded by farmers and the supply chain, called the resumption of exports a “historic moment”.

Dr Phil Hadley, a director at the board, said: “The US represents an important potential market for our red meat exports and today’s first shipment is the result of the hard work and persistence of industry and government to bring about this crucial next step.

“This important milestone will bring a fantastic boost to the sector and we look forward to seeing more of our red meat served up on dinner tables across the US in the months and years to come.”

In 2019, the US Food Safety Inspection Service undertook a series of audits at UK beef, pork and lamb facilities. Pork exports to the US continue as usual, while exports of lamb have yet to commence.

“This is great news for our food and farming industry, helping the sector go from strength to strength,” said Environment Secretary George Eustice.

Post-Brexit deals

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said: “This could be just the tip of the iceberg. The free trade deal we are negotiating with the US will create a host of export opportunities for British agriculture. We are seeking an ambitious and high standards agreement that benefits farmers and delivers for consumers.”

However, those free trade talks remain controversial, with critics warning the government not to lower UK food standards in order to strike a deal.

This week a group of celebrities and chefs, including Jamie Oliver and Joe Wicks, said post-Brexit trade deals should not open the floodgates to lower-quality food, citing chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-injected beef.

However, Ms Truss has previously insisted the UK will not allow US chlorine-washed chicken to be stocked in supermarkets as a ban is already written into law.

She said the UK will not compromise on environmental, animal welfare and food standards in its quest for trade agreements.

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Dietary advice needs to be more environmentally friendly, say scientists.

After looking at recommen..

Dietary advice needs to be more environmentally friendly, say scientists.

After looking at recommendations from around the world, a new study has found that 98 per cent of government dietary guidelines are falling behind current science for both health and environmental impact.

Theres a good chance youve never taken a second look at your countrys dietary guidelines. Despite this, they often find their way into our lives as the basis of food education, policy-making and labelling initiatives.

Research recently published in the British Medical Journal looked at available dietary guidelines from 85 different countries in every region of the world. They judged each set of guidelines against five environmental targets and one health target that governments had pledged to reach.

The health target was to reduce early deaths from non-infectious diseases by a third, while environmental targets were linked to the 2C limit set by the Paris Climate Agreement. Other environmental targets considered pollution from farming, land use and destruction of nature.

Lead researcher Dr Marco Springmann at the University of Oxford told Euronews Living that our food system is “a major driver of environmental impacts”.

“Without dietary changes towards more plant-based diets, key environmental limits related to climate change, land use, freshwater extraction, and biogeochemical flows associated with fertilizer application risk being exceeded,” he added.

Dr Springmann said that what the team behind the study discovered was “shocking and revealing”. Only two of these sets of dietary guidelines, from Indonesia and Sierra Leone, were in line with all 6 of the health, climate and pollution targets.

The report found that 98 per cent of the dietary guidelines looked at by researchers didnt meet at least one of the global environmental and health targets. Guidelines from 74 of the countries also failed to give recommendations that would keep dietary carbon emissions within the global warming limits set by the Paris Climate Agreement.

Some countries were worse than others. If everyone in the world followed advice from the US or the UK, for example, then food-related carbon emissions would be three times the limits for avoiding dangerous levels of climate change.


In every country the study looked at, people were eating more red and processed meat than recommended by WHO guidelines.

The researchers are recommending that new dietary guidelines are brought in line with current science with “stringent reductions in dairy and beef. They also say that there should be specific advice available for people looking to eat healthy and sustainable plant-based diets.

“We also looked at several examples of how reformed dietary guidelines could look,” lead researcher, Marco Springmann wrote in a blog post. “In short, they involved much stricter limits for meat and dairy, both for health and environmental reasons, and to be specific but not overly prescriptive, they included different dietary patterns based around plenty of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes.”

These reformed guidelines are similar to the science-based advice of the “planetary health diet” created by the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet and Health. This diet was created with the idea of providing nutritious food to the worlds growing population while addressing the role of agriculture in the climate crisis.


But Helena Gibson-Moore of the British Nutrition Foundation tells Euronews Living that it is important to remember that dietary guidelines are “also developed to provide adequate nutrition to populations.”

“Dairy products might not be the most environmentally friendly foods to produce but are important sources of calcium and iodine in many countries, so reducing intakes may increase the risk of nutritional deficiencies,” she says.

“Its also important to bear in mind other factors of a healthy and sustainable diet, for example, cultural differences, as well as the cost and accessibility to foods, to ensure that dietary recommendations are achievable for everyone.”

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James Martin makes brutal swipe about John Torrode

JAMES MARTIN hit out at MasterChef judge John Torrode this week during his segment on This Morning, ..

JAMES MARTIN hit out at MasterChef judge John Torrode this week during his segment on This Morning, joining Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield just weeks after the judge set fire to his kitchen live on-air.

James Martin not only has his own cooking show, but he also appears as a regular guest chef on ITV’s This Morning. During a live segment which aired earlier this week, James was on hand to chook a welsh rarebit for Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, and the chef narrowly missed out on a blunder occurring. While Phillip started to panic, he reassured those watching at home and took aim at John Torrode instead.

James Martin had been invited to cook for This Morning on Wednesday, not once, but twice with one savoury dish and one sweet.

First up, the chef made welsh rarebit but with fish instead of bread, which is the usual recipe.

This required him to use the grill to get a golden brown top to his cheesy delight.

James explained: “Its a really iconic dish if you look at Gary Rhodes recipe, this one stands out above anything else.

“When it starts to thicken take it off the heat and once it is set, lay it on top of the fish.

James put the fish under the grill, but Phillip very quickly noticed that whenever James opened the grill, there was quite a lot of smoke billowing from the oven.

This sent the host into peels of giggles thinking that lightning had struck twice and they were about to witness another on-air fire.

James opened the oven once more and viewers could see that there were in fact flames coming from the over.

Phillip very calmly pointed out the smoke and James said: “Oh, no, no. Dont panic.”

James just quickly shut the oven door not seeming particularly bothered by what was going on inside.

“Its not John Torrode.” the chef added whilst giving a cheeky smirk to the camera.

He opened the oven door again and another gasp of smoke billowed out and he said once again: “Nah, thats alright.”

It came after MasterChef judge John Torrode also joined Holly and Phillip on This Morning a few weeks ago.

He was showing the viewers how to make a classic DIY McDonalds breakfast for those who have been missing their takeaways in lockdown.

However, in a shocking on-air blunder, John left a tea towel on an open flame in his kitchen and the show was thrown into chaos when John didnt notice.

Those watching at home saw large flames emerge behind him.

Holly cried out: “John, your tea towel is on fire,” followed by Phillip, who shouted: “John your cookers on fire, your tea towel is on fire, behind you.”

The hosts continued to shout, “look behind you,” but the chef remained obvious due to the video link delay.

“Look behind you,” Phillip shouted. “Fire, youre on fire, fire John!”

The MasterChef host calmly turned around, thanked the pair, and moved the burning tea towel to the sink.

He was all ok, but it left Holly and Phillip shaken by the drama of it all.


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