Diet, food, health, Traditional Chinese Medicine

How to have breakfast like an Emperor (or Empress) every day

Brown rice congee

There is an old saying that goes “Eat breakfast like an emperor, lunch like a king and dinner like a pauper”.  That is, make breakfast a larger, nutritious meal, lunch as a moderate meal and dinner, well something light so as not to distract you from a sound slumber.

So, breakfast as an Emperor, what does that mean?  The Emperor (or Empress) needs breakfast to provide him (or her) with energy for the day, both physically and mentally.  And so do you.

To enjoy a good breakfast, firstly you need to wake with a good appetite.  If you don’t, this needs attention and should be brought up with your acupuncturist, herbalist or naturopath.

Secondly, breakfast, where possible, should be consumed around 7-9am.  This is when your digestive system is at its strongest according to the Traditional Chinese Medicine Clock (a system that had similarities to the circadian rhythms, at different times of the day, different systems in the body will function more predominately). For the majority of people, this time is a logical time to take their first meal of the day.  For some people, to eat breakfast around this time takes planning.  (For example, take your food to work if you leave home early.)

Thirdly, this meal needs to be fit for an Emperor.  I don’t mean you should stuff yourself silly, but rather go to town with good quality and nutritious foods.  Now, would an Emperor possibly think that tea and toast or cornflakes for breakfast will allow him the energy to get through a day?  Definitely not.  So think:

  • Keep it interesting.  Eat as many different foods in your meal as is reasonably possible and heightens the taste and enjoyment factor.  Choose different colours and textures.  Make sure to include a mix of protein, high quality carbohydrates and good fats.  Think: wholegrains, nuts, seeds, fruits and spices.
  • Warm is best.  Stoke your digestive fire for your first meal of the day with a warm, cooked meal.
  • Portion size.  Usually the rule of eating until you are 80% full is a useful way to judge the size of your breakfast.  There is no need to skimp as this meal should keep you satisfied until your mid-morning snack.

Some of my favourite Breakfast as an Empress recipes:

  • Millet porridge with the works – Great to cook up while you get showered and ready for the day
    • Add 1/4 cup hulled millet (or brown rice), 1 grated apple, a handful of almonds and your choice of seeds (eg. sunflower, linseed) to a saucepan with 1 cup water.  Boil, then reduce heat to a simmer until no water remains and millet/rice is cooked through.  Serve with a dessert spoon of tahini, a sprinkle of LSA and some fresh berries.
  • Congee with ginger and shallots (and chicken or tofu or egg) – make this one in advance and freeze in portions.
    • Add to a large saucepan: 1 cup of brown rice, 6 cups of water, 1 tablespoon of grated ginger, 6 sliced shallots (white part only), 1 tablespoon soy sauce and optional: 1 whole organic chicken (skinned).  Bring to the boil then simmer covered for 3 hours or until rice is mushy, resembling porridge.  If using chicken, remove bones from the soup.  For the vegetarian version, omit the chicken, now add 1 cup of mashed silken tofu and stir through rice mixture until warmed through or poach an egg and serve on top of the congee.  Top with chopped coriander and sliced green shallots.  I find this recipe is best made in advance and frozen in single serve portions to be quickly reheated as needed.  This is a good winter breakfast to fire up the furnaces.
  • Poached eggs with avocado, tomato and greens – for when you can take your time
    • Poach some eggs, toast some gluten-free or your favourite wholemeal bread.  Top the toast with avocado, a few slices of tomato and some baby spinach.  Garnish with a few basil leaves.
  • Organic muesli with rice, nut or soy milk – A quick fix
    • When you are in a hurry, having some good quality organic muesli on hand can be your saviour.  I like Therapeutic Gourmet’s ‘Get up and Goji’ available from health food stores and the West End Markets.  Serve with warm rice, nut or soy milk.

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

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