The word breakfast means to break the fast which a human being has kept through the night, while we sleep. The last meal we would have eaten would normally be dinner which we would have eaten usually between 7.30 – 9.30 pm. So if we eat breakfast between 7.30-9.30am., we would have been fasting for about 12 hours. The greatest need of the body in the morning is for energy and therefore it is very important to eat breakfast and ensure that a good portion of carbohydrate in the form of a cereal item (rice, wheat, corn, oats, jowar, bajra) must be consumed. This must be combined with a protein item such as milk, eggs, curd, dhal or sambar to give us a balanced meal.
In the Indian menu the traditional items would be idli or dosa made from rice eaten with sambar. Wheat rotis or parathas eaten with curd or dhal. In certain areas traditional jowar or bajra, rotis or ragi may be prepared. In the West many would eat bread (wheat) with eggs.
Unfortunately today with working mothers, nuclear families and children commuting long distances to school we are observing that the whole family skips or misses breakfast. Some may just have a glass of milk or a fruit. This is one of the worst habits that can be cultivated as individuals are unable to study or work efficiently with out the basic energy needed by the body which has been fasting.
In the first century AD Germanic tribes prepared oats porridge which could be one of the simplest breakfast foods that can be prepared. Two to three heaped tablespoons of oats must be cooked into a porridge with 200 -250 ml of milk to make a complete carbohydrate plus protein balanced meal. A little sugar or jaggery may be added to sweeten the porridge. Those with diabetes should not add sugar or jaggery. It is seen that the starch in oats is digested and absorbed slowly, therefore porridge provides a slow steady release of energy that lasts for several hours.
Oat grains contain vitamins B2 (Riboflavin) B5 and Vitamin E. It is also rich in minerals calcium, iron, manganese and zinc. Oats are also a rich source of both soluble and insoluble fiber and this combination makes them an ideal food for maintaining proper bowel movement by guarding against constipation. Soluble fiber in the oats helps to lower blood cholesterol levels and thereby reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
So for those who are in a rush in the mornings and unable to prepare the traditional breakfast we would recommend that you would at least prepare a bowl of oats which would cook in 3-5 minutes and eat it rather than rush out on an empty stomach. Ragi powder or broken wheat (dalia) may be prepared into a porridge and consumed with milk or curds in the same method and proportions as oats.
Oats is a popular dish among young couples, middle aged and elderly people but unfortunately most children do not enjoy oats. Yet we must not allow them to leave the house without breakfast.
In 1899 John Harvery Kellogg invented cornflakes which is a ready to eat cereal preparation. Corn or maize is a gluten free cereal. It is rich in B vitamins and fiber. Also most breakfast cereals are fortified (contain added) calcium iron and B vitamins.
Today we have a wide range of cornflakes with different flavours that appeal to children as well as wheat flakes. These cereals are ready to eat so no extra time is necessary for cooking. Hot or cold milk must be added and it is ready to eat and along with the milk it gives the correct carbohydrate plus protein balance. Children may consume one cup (225ml) or 30gm cereal with 225ml of milk. Adults may consume one - one and a half cups with 225ml milk. Therefore there is no excuse at all for skipping breakfast!!!