Paleo Cooking Class No. 1 - Breakfast on the go!

Ah... breakfast. The most important meal of the day. Well, maybe that's true and maybe it's not. Today we're going to look at some of the science around the first meal and also do some cooking to show you what's possible with the slightest bit of effort in the kitchen.

With that in mind I've divided the post into two sections.

  1. How to use breakfast to control appetite, lose weight, tone up or have more energy.
  2. How to cook a quick convenient breakfast that's paleo friendly - courtesy of guest poster Rosanne Davidson:-) 

 So let's get stuck in.


Part 1: The Science of Breakfast

The UK Office for National Statistics database indicates that in 2005 that 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 5 children skip breakfast on a routine basis.

This is a real shame as countless studies have shown that having breakfast decreases the statistical likelihood of getting type 2 diabetes and obesity; it lowers cholesterol; it increases mental aleartness, and a whole host of other health benefits.

One of the most important roles breakfast plays in the day is as an appetite controller. People who eat breakfast are well known to be statistically less likely of snacking on highly refined fat and sugar products like chocolate bars, which leads to lower cases of obesity for such populations. But what kind of breakfast is the best breakfast?

Most people believe that breakfast is a meal that is different to the others. That somehow the nutritional rules that apply to lunch and dinner, do not apply to the first meal of the day. This has lead to the perception that a carbohydrate festival of cereals with toast, and croissants, and orange juice, is best for you to start the day.

Or as I describe it: "Would you like some sugar with your sugar sir?"

That's at best. At worst they end up treating breakfast as a junk food meal.

Or how about some type 2 diabetes with your sugar sir?

The idea that what is good for breakfast, is completely different from what is good for lunch and dinner, is quite frankly nonsense. Roughly speaking, what works well for lunch and dinner also works well for breakfast.

The breakfast I typically recommend to people contains the following two ingredients.

  • A rich protein source
  • A rich mono-unsaturated fat source.

A real world example of this would be...

  • Chicken and nuts
  • Omelette with olive oil drizzled over it
  • Salmon and olives.

These may sound like unusual things to put in a breakfast (and they are compared to the junk that most people eat) but macro-nutrient wise they are ideal for losing fat whilst preserving muscle tissue, sustaining energy levels, and controlling hunger.

The reason they work so well at controling appetite is down to a very curious hormone called Peptide YY (to which I'll refer to as "PYY" from here on in). 

Pictured here :-)

PYY is released from parts of the large intestine in response to feeding. Higher levels of it in the body seem to reduce hunger. Interestingly, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins (the actual three food groups) have different effects on how much this hormone is stimulated.

Fat seems to stimulate PYY twice as much carbohydrate calorie for calorie. And protein is even more potant stimulating PYY more than twice as much as carbohydrates, calorie for calorie.

An interesting study for the International Journal of Obesity looked at hunger levels associated with three different breakfasts.

  • The first group skipped breakfast entirely.
  • The second group had a breakfast with normal levels of protein.
  • The third group had a breakfast rich in protein.

Overall the study concluded:  

Breakfast led to increased satiety through increased fullness and PYY concentrations in ‘breakfast skipping’ adolescents. A breakfast rich in dietary protein provides additional benefits through reductions in appetite and energy intake. These findings suggest that the addition of a protein-rich breakfast might be an effective strategy to improve appetite control in young people.

Source: Leidy HJ & Racki EM. (2010). The addition of a protein-rich breakfast and its effects on acute appetite control and food intake in ‘breakfast-skipping’ adolescents. International Journal of Obesity. 34 (1), 1125-1133 .

So there you go. Protein rich breakfasts. Great if you want to lose weight and control appetite. Try it for a week yourself and you will notice that you are considerably less hungry in the morning. 


Part 2: Paleo Cooking School  

One of my favorite directors Robert Rodriguez once said that "not knowing how to cook is like not knowing how to f*ck. You have to eat the rest of your life, so you may as well know how" and I couldn't agree with him more.

My interpretation of the paleo diet can be very Spartan in nature (Which is another way of saying that I don't generally cook complicated meals).

That's fine for me; I've managed to fry my taste buds over the years from too much spicy food. If it's called Bombay Bang Bang on the menu then I'm probably the person (insert: idiot) to try it. As for the rest of the population I know how important it is to make this way of eating sustainable in the long term.

What I'm trying to say is that, you don't want to eat the same thing over and over again. If you do this, you'll get bored and give up. I don't want that, you don't want that.

With that in mind I wanted to bring in an expert on the subject of how to make eating paelo a hell of a lot more interesting than just steak and vegetables.

The content of the following recipe is a guest post by Rosanne Davidson. An excellent friend, paleo enthusiast and a far better cook than me. She kindly agreed to share some of her wisdom in the kitchen here for everyone's benefit, including me.


Enter Rosanne...

What a beautiful day! I've got some ideas for lunch/dinner but here's the breakfast. I've sorted the measurements so please see recipe below. 

Paleo Breakfast Muffins (6 portions).

During the week I need a breakfast on the go, that I can eat in the office. Cheap and quick you can essentially use up any left over vegetables you have. I often cook a bit more with dinner and mix them in. 

Equipment: Muffin tin or Yorkshire pudding tin.

Ingredients: (for 6 muffins)

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 finely chopped tomato
  • 1/3 of a cup of cooked spinach
  • grass fed butter (Kerrygold is good)  

How to:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees
  2. Grease muffin tin with a little bit of butter (so they don't stick)
  3. Whisk eggs until nice and fluffy
  4. Mix in tomato and spinach
  5. Add salt and pepper
  6. Distribute evenly between tins
  7. Bake for 20 minutes

Et voilà !
Note: Onion is also great in these, as is a bit of good quality shredded ham. 

A note from Nick: If you would like more recipies from Rosie, then you can check out her blog at

Aaaaand... back to Nick 

So there you go guys. A very simple, effective and tasty way to get some high quality protein into your breakfast if eating ham by the packet is getting old for you. Hopefully I'll be able to convince Rosanne to write up another recipe in the future.

Until then, should you wish to get busy in the kitchen beyond what's here, I would suggest googling "Paleo recipies". There are a whole hoast of websites out there, both within the paleo community as well as outside of it that encourage eating real minimally processed food, and I highly encourage you to get in the kitchen and learn about this stuff :-)

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