Food and drink: Short on time, but long on breakfast 

Don’t be a slave to Daylight Saving

If you're one of those people about to write your MP to get rid of this stupid habit called Daylight Saving - or Daylight Slaving Time, as the cheeky monkeys call it, then this is for you, assuming you're alert enough to read it. I think of the poor sods, like my husband, who normally get up at 5 a.m. and now find themselves shaking their biological clocks at 4 a.m.

No solid proof exists that Daylight Saving Time saves electricity, energy or anything worthwhile. On the other hand, psychologist and sleep expert Stanley Coren says that losing one hour's sleep is equal to a three-hour jet lag; it may take months for you to adjust.

All this because a natty Englishman and avid golfer thought in the early 1900s that there were too many Londoners sleeping in and wasting a summer's day when they should be "doing something." He also hated ending a round of golf because there wasn't enough light in the evening.

So never mind the increased likelihood of heart attacks and car accidents, the mushy brain, the nodding off at your desk or steering wheel in the afternoon, what about your poor missing brekkie? People usually feel squished enough for time in the a.m. to get a decent bite and with another hour nipped out of their mornings, we're all the more likely to skip this wildly important meal.

Okay, so you've heard a million times why breakfast is so crucial, but here's a more scientific take from Columbia University.

Our brains and central nervous systems run on glucose, the fuel we need to think, walk, talk or do anything. If the last time you ate is 10 or 11 p.m. and then you skip brekkie and don't eat until Noon, that's 13 or 14 hours with nothing in your system. Not good at the best of times but with your poor brain already coping with one hour less sleep, it is definitely deprived.

Not only that, your body has to work extra hard to break down stored carbohydrates or turn fat or protein into a usable form for your brain to function. Which is asking a lot, especially if you're at school, trying to concentrate, or doing any other work.

Eating breakfast has been proven time and again to improve concentration, problem-solving abilities, mental performance, memory and mood. Tell that to your cranky boss.

And if you think skipping breakfast is okay because you want to lose weight anyway, think again. Skipping meals often leads to overeating. Getting too hungry can trigger a lack of control and mixed-up "hunger" signals, making it hard to tell when you're full. So you might eat even more calories later. In fact, it's easier to control your weight by eating smaller meals and snacks more often.

So how can you get a good brekkie fast? Here are some tips, plus a new twist to boot.

2-minute pocket breakfast
Keep a carton of good yogurt in the fridge. What's good? Tasty, rich, made close to home, organic, ideally no sugars, flavours or those cheatin' gelatins. Hey, that sounds like Olympic yogurt! If you gotta sweeten it, do it yourself.

Think you don't like yogurt? Try a rich, creamy, whole fat kind and you might. And if you're lactose-intolerant, you've likely discovered that the lactose is mostly digested by the bacterial culture, so what a great way to get some calcium into your bones and your stressed nervous system.

If, even after this brave tasting, you still don't like yogurt, how about good cottage cheese, or just plain cheese? Get out a spoon and eat right from the carton, or slice a chunk. Wash it down with a glass of good juice - juice, I say, not fruit "drink" where sugar and water are the first ingredients.

Keep a carton of Medjool dates on hand - oh come on, they're in season right now and only shipped from California, not Australia or Chile or, god forbid, China. Throw some dates in a wee bag, add almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, whatever. Stick a banana in your other pocket. Eat on the bus, eat on the lifts, but eat.

3-minute smooth breakfast
Make a really good smoothie. What's a smoothie?, someone asked the other day. Okay, so we didn't all grow up in the '70s. A smoothie is a thick drink you make in a blender. I think they were called "smoothies" to distinguish them from milkshakes because you don't use milk, not that milkshakes do. But you can use some ice cream, as long as you play it cool on the sugar side.

No blender? Get thee to Value Village and buy one for 10 bucks. Pour in some juice - see that? Juice. How much? You'll quickly figure it out. I eyeball about 3/4 cup. Now add the fun stuff. One of those over-ripe bananas you hate to eat but are perfect for smoothies. Some of that good yogurt.

And the only ice cream I'll let you use because it's real food is a little of The Udder Guy's from Cowichan Valley. Wild Blackberry, fragrant with perfume; the Roasted Coconut, better than a night in Maui. Wheat germ adds some body. An apple is good. Raw almonds. Berries you froze last summer. A dollop of peanut butter. Half a ripe avocado. Heck, throw in a slice of ham.

Then whirl away. Smooth or chunky, it's still a smoothie and breakfast is served as soon as you pour. Plus you don't need any of those "protein" powders. Ugh. Too weird and too expensive.

6-minute cooked breakfast
You know I'm a big porridge buff. If you haven't gotten in the habit yet, how about trying farina, or "creamy rice hot cereal" as Bob's Red Mill calls it. Follow the directions on the package and it's ready in a flash. Cook up a load and you can refrigerate the leftovers, nuking some the next day and the next for a super-fast meal.

But here's your new move: My Eastern European hubby is constantly decrying our Canadian fascination with sweet brekkies. When he's not eating fish or cold cuts in the morning, he sprinkles his porridge with soy sauce, chopped green onions or even red pepper flakes, congee style.

Come on, it's as good as cold pizza for breakfast. But if that's too much for your delicate Canadian sensibilities, try this UN compromise: Sprinkle it with good grated Parmesan cheese (not the Kraft shaker kind) or thinly slice cheese on top so it melts. Add salt, or Tabasco sauce, Spike, toasted walnuts, green onions, and/or a bit of something milk-like, if you insist. But if you have enough of the right kind of cheese you won't need anything else. Have fun - and get to bed early tonight!

Glenda Bartosh is an award-winning freelance writer who loves her breakfast.

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