Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Breaking the monotony

I'm a big fan of breakfast. Health professionals and moms will tell you it's the most important meal of the day because it jump starts your metabolism and replaces glycogen stores depleted during the night. I like breakfast simply because I'm really hungry when I wake up.

Most days my breakfast consists of a bowl of oatmeal (NOT the steel cut variety) with blueberries and soy milk. This works well for me because it's low in sugar and fat (I don't add any sweetener other than the blueberries), high in fiber, and quite filling. It ensures that I'm getting a couple servings of fruit and provides me with enough energy for a dawn patrol or a lunch ride.

Usually the oatmeal is complemented with a glass of orange juice (no pulp, not from concentrate, in case you're wondering) or a mug of hot cocoa. Sometimes both.

My hot cocoa is my own recipe: 1 1/4 cups 1% milk, 2 T baking cocoa, 2 T Guittard Hot Chocolate mix. It's mostly bitter and just a little sweet--just like me, according to my wife. It's not hot cocoa for the faint-hearted or those who like mild flavors. And with all the cocoa, it's loaded with antioxidants and all the other good stuff you get in cocoa, without the fat and sugar of eating chocolate.

But once in a while I get sick of the oatmeal routine and have to do something else. If it's just that I need a day off, a bowl of cereal will often break the monotony just enough. Sometimes I need a long-term solution, in which case, I ask Rachel to make a batch of honey granola. The granola still has lots of good stuff, but a lot of bad comes with it.

Every so often, though, I need something that's a complete and utter departure from the routine. Something that's intended to satisfy my hunger and just provide pleasure to my palate. Enter the buttercream maple bars from Harmon's.

I'll admit that I like pastries, but I'm in no way unable to resist them. Once, after getting an upset stomach from eating a donut, I swore off of donuts and didn't have one for several years. Even today, I can walk by the donut counter and most days not be tempted. On Monday, someone brought donuts to work. I resisted until I was so hungry at 4:00 that I could hold out no longer. After two disappointing bites of a chocolate twist that looked better than it tasted, I threw the rest away.

But the buttercream maple bars hold an allure all their own. Which is why this morning I rushed out of the house with a mug of hot cocoa and no other solid food. Going into Harmon's is more of a hassle than grabbing a donut from the Chevron, but to me it's worth it. The maple bar was gone by the time I got on the freeway. And it was delicious.

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