- Food and Cooking
The Sattvic Breakfast - for a blissful day
More than just a breakfast
I raise my hands and admit it - I’m a breakfast fiend. I love breakfast.
And I’ve eaten every kind of breakfast I can lay my hands on – in Thailand I've shovelled down spicy fish with rice at seven in the morning, in Malaysia I've scraped up potato curry from a banana leaf with my hands (in a restaurant, I hasten to add, not raiding the bins outside), in France I've chewed on croissants and pain-au-chocolats, in Italy I've dunked my brioche into my cappuccino and that of other's; before I became vegetarian I piled in English breakfasts in London like there was no tomorrow, I've chewed on Mackerals and Haggis and Black Puddings and Bubble and Squeak at unreasonably early hours and without being paid to – yes, I’ve been around when it comes to breakfasts.
So it’s got to the point when I ask myself – what is a good breakfast supposed to give me?
It's often said that breakfast is important because it ‘breaks the fast’ which I suppose is true (although how much of a fast is it if you sit down for breakfast at six am after having a slap up meal at nine the evening before..?) but I feel there's something more important than just satisfying hunger. It’s all very well having a big, tasty breakfast but if after half an hour you feel like a concrete rhino has plonked itself on your head and are dropping off at your desk, has it really served its purpose?
Well, that’s where coffee and tea comes into the equation! you cry.
But then we’re sucked into that vicious circle of 'lift me up' followed by 'boot me down' again - and why be slave to that forever? Mental equilibrium as well as physical is important and yes, breakfast is important – not just because it breaks the fast but because it influences your mental approach to the day. In other words, if your breakfast doesn’t provide positive energy you’ll be stuck on a downer for the rest of the day.
What is this jibberish?! you cry.
I shall of course hide at this point and say 'it wasn't me! It was that Eastern philosophy that said so!' According to Ayurveda and Yoga (to name a few) what we eat is having a huge effect on our mental (and spiritual) wellbeing. And if our first meal of the day is setting us off on the wrong footing, where does that leave us for the rest of the day?
That’s why after my Grand World Tour of breakfasts I’ve finally plumped for the Sattvic way of breakfasting.
More than just a flavour kick
So what is this Sattvic thing?
Well, it’s a way of eating - I’ve talked about it before but I’ll just remind you – in a rather rough nutshell, it’s what Yogis and Sadhakas (spiritual aspirants) follow to bring about mental peace and prepare themselves for yoga and meditation. According to Easter philosophy, energy is separated into three categories (the three gunas) and food also falls under these categories – the most beneficial being Sattvic food which creates positive vibrations and aids anyone intent on finding the path to happiness, or rather bliss. Fresh fruit and vegetables, cereals, grains, honey and milk are just a few of our Sattivic friends.
Now wait, before you run off, anyone can follow the Sattvic diet – you don’t have to be a Yogi or a Sadhaka (unless your name’s Neil of course), all you need is a desire to have a little mental peace, and in Western society especially, that's something that is often in short supply.
If you’re prone to anxiety, panic attacks, stress, uncontrollable anger, depression – all the classic Western society symptoms then I recommend you have a look at the Sattvic way of eating.
One of the main culprits for the above afflictions, according to the Yoga philosophy, is Tamasic food – meat, fish, eggs, red lentils, onions, garlic, mushrooms are a few of the Tamasic gang.
So what do we Sattvic loonies eat then?
Predominantly Sattvic food with a limited amount of Rajasic (coffee, tea, chocolate and cocoa are a few that are classified as Rajasic in case you were wondering).
As I said before, you don’t have to follow Yoga and do meditation to eat Sattvic, and neither do you have to cut out your old eating habits straight away – just phase in more Sattvic and see if you feel better. And what better time to start than the morning? That way our mental energies will be inclined towards the positive for the whole day. Lovely jubbly!
So let’s get preparing this Sattvic breakfast, shall we?
Coconut and Banana Bliss
Ok, I just made up the name but you get the idea of what it's aiming to achieve. Here's what you'll need:
- A tub of plain or Greek yogurt,
- brown sugar,
- one or two bananas (ripe, but not overripe),
- a few tablespoons of dried coconut.
And here's what you have to do...
Put a couple of spoonfuls of brown sugar with a little water into a pan and let it boil down to a caramel...
pour some yogurt into a particularly inspiring bowl (well, if we can't be inspired in the morning, when can we be...?)
after placing some chopped bananas over the yogurt, pour on the caramel...
sprinkle with dried coconut to finish off.
Happy Breakfast to you all!
You can eat it on its own or if you want something more substantial you can try the variations below or accompany it with a chunk of bread or my old ‘cake base’ which I’ve harped on about before.
Is that it?! you cry. Isn’t that just the ingredients for a yogurt shake arranged differently?!
It may seem like it but in fact with the Sattvic way of eating the key is to tamper with the ingredients as little as possible – therefore whizzing the whole lot up in a blender whilst still being Sattvic would not be as Sattvic as serving them up this way. Phew, that got round that tricky question!
- For a little extra vitamin content you can sprinkle it with chopped walnuts or hazelnuts – any nut that takes your fancy in fact.
- Add sliced mango or strawberries as well as bananas.
- Mix cream cheese or whipped cream into the yogurt for a more substantial breakfast.
- Sprinkle the whole lot with cocoa or, if you want a pure Sattvic breakfast, with carob powder (a naturally sweet alternative to cocoa).
And to drink?
Of course, even Sattvic eaters allow a little Rajasic in their diet so a cup of tea, coffee or cocoa is permissible - if you’re really serious about going Sattvic you can drink Rooibos instead of tea, it’s very beneficial to the intestine as well. As an alternative to cocoa, use the old carob powder again – just put a couple of teaspoons in a mug and add some hot milk (no sugar required, it’s naturally sweet).
Alternatively you could accompany it with some freshly squeezed orange juice but I'd be wary of it - citrus fruits together with yogurt tend to upset the stomach. Pineapple juice would be a better option.
A few healthy, Sattvic tips
- Squeeze a slice of lemon into a glass of luke warm water with a little salt and drink it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach – it cleans out the digestive tracts.
- Try not to drink together with your food but rather a little time after eating.
- Use wholemeal or granary bread, good quality yogurt (or even home made) and brown sugar or sugar alternatives like Agave syrup.
- It’s true that breakfast is important but don’t overeat – this also gives tamasic energy. What's more, eating too quickly give Rajasic energy. (You just can't win, can you?)
- Eat sitting down with people you love and trust.
- Sit down to breakfast (or any meal for that matter) in a calm frame of mind. If you have ten minutes before breakfast do a couple of yoga moves to focus the mind.
- Sit facing the direction the sun rises (just not glaring in your face )
- Give yourself plenty of time to eat breakfast.
And there you have it!
You may believe it or not that food can have such a profound effect on your consciousness, or even that food is capable of supplying positive and negative energy at all, but really, the best thing you can do is try it out. I will say though that it's a way of eating that has been tried out for a few thousand years with unvarying results.
According to Yoga, Sattvic food helps to keep the body healthy, the skin smooth and without blemishes and enhances the whole body's resistance - if our body can have all that for breakfast, well, who knows what it'll be like by dinnertime!