Breakfast of champions

A couple of years ago, newly enthused about the raw-foods movement, I began drinking green shakes. Every morning I would put a bit of fruit in the blender along with kale or spinach, cukes, celery and whatever other vegetables came to hand, and top it all off with a ground chia-and-flaxseed mixture and a dash of Maine-seacoast vegetables (an upscale way of saying seaweed). Add water, blend and there’s breakfast.

Hint: Including half a banana is the best way to guarantee palatability.

My husband called it green slime and refused to join me in a smoothie of his own, despite my constant urging. He feels that vegetables should stay in their place, and that place is the dinner table. For breakfast, he prefers an egg sandwich, a bowl of cereal or—if we’re eating at Perkins—a mountain of pancakes.

Breakfast either is or isn’t the most important meal of the day, depending on which expert you heed. And there’s no agreement on just what you should be consuming first thing in the morning. The French and Italians, some of the world’s most eminent foodies, eat croissants or bread and jam, and don’t seem any the less healthy for it. The Japanese, on the other hand, have miso soup, while in Scandinavia, herring is on the breakfast menu.

So, why not vegetables, as in my smoothies? Of course, it’s not what we’re used to.

We baby boomers grew up eating an array of engineered foods for breakfast, from commercial cereals—most of them sugar coated—to toaster waffles, cinnamon buns from a tube and Dunkin Donuts (the chain was founded in 1950, near the beginning of the boom). Dessert for breakfast! What kid would complain?

A little later came liquid breakfasts—no, not Mimosas. I’m talking about packets of sugary vitamin powder that you mixed with milk. Smoothies for the Mad Men era.

Our generation served as guinea pigs for the convenience-food industry, chowing down on TV dinners and instant puddings the likes of which older Americans had never seen. We couldn’t get enough of the Hostess cakes, Eskimo pies, potato chips and frozen pizzas that beckoned from the neighborhood supermarket. How many chemical additives did we ingest along with them?

One summer when I was 11 or 12, my grandmother came to stay with us for a couple of weeks. One afternoon I suggested we make a cake for dessert that evening. Grandma protested that it was no easy job to bake a cake. Did we have a good recipe and all the necessary ingredients—lots of eggs and butter? Modern girl that I was, I scoffed at her old-fashioned ideas and pulled out a box of Duncan Hines cake mix, the first my grandmother had ever seen.

Just add water. And when it’s done, there’s frosting out of a can!

I suppose things like the raw-foods, locavore and farm-to-table movements are a kind of reaction to all those decades of processed foods. Let’s hope it’s not too late to change our taste buds. I’ll drink to that—something green, naturally.

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