Lebanese-inspired, protein-rich breakfasts

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I’ve waxed, and then waned, on the subject of breakfast more than once here (like this), and a lot more than once over the course of…well, a lifetime. Breakfast has ruled me the way the croissant dough wants to rule the rolling pin. At a certain point you have to shake the big pin in the face of its conquest and let it know who’s in charge.

The issue is this: I like to skip breakfast. Despite what we know about brain-power and energy and metabolism, despite what we know about post-workout protein, I just have had no discipline to change my breakfast habits. Go to culinary school and then launch a blog wherein one gets to indulge her every interest in food and pastry, then start playing the back nine (as in, I’m now over 45) and you land in a place that doesn’t do much for a svelte waistline, Mediterranean diet aside (doesn’t matter if your thin elsewhere; it’s called “flabby skinny” and it’s not good).

Add to that the lifelong grazing mentality that has, I’m starting to believe, prevented me from eating fully satisfying meals with enough calories to sustain me for the several hours in between that are needed to encourage healthy metabolism (I’ve been reading about this), and what do you get: something short of optimum health. And a perfectionist is not so keen on anything that is “something short.”

My meatless/sweetless March has blossomed into facing down the breakfast bitty. This week we’re going to take a look at some of the protein-rich breakfasts that I’ve been cooking and eating lately. They’re inspired by the bright Lebanese ingredients we love, and they taste so good you start to really look forward to breakfast, and you start thinking about what to make (ahead whenever possible) for the bigger meal of the day that’s now at breakfast rather than lunch and dinner.

One of my favorites is a bowl of thick lower-fat labneh (I’d love to sit around and eat Noosa all morning, it’s so insanely delicious, but the fat content is tough) with nuts and honey; I also like a scoop of toasted wheat germ on top, and more often go no-honey. The nuts I’m showing here are beautiful and imported from the Middle East; I found them at the New Yasmeen bakery in Detroit, and I can’t seem to find them anywhere online for you. But chop up lots of nuts and drizzle honey over top with the labneh, and you’re there.

That’s just one element of what’s on my breakfast table each day, though—there’s an egg or two, some fruit, sometimes cottage cheese, and hot café blanc with lemon (good for the liver and digestion).

I can’t believe I’m eating this much first thing in the morning, but you know what? Never felt better. It sustains the system for a good 5 hours until lunch—when I’m now not so ravenous that I’ll eat anything I can get my hands on—and then again until dinner, which is light (but protein-rich) and early and sustains me until the next morning when I do it all again.

Stay tuned this week for homemade fruit power bars, spinach sumac quiche, and Lebanese breakfast beans. Ladies and gentleman, start your engines!

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  1. Danielle says:

    Absolutely delicious! I sometimes take my granola cereal with labneh rather than milk–the contrast between sweet and tangy is enticing.
    On another note, Maureen, I tried emailing you at your posted gmail address about a week ago–it concerns a feature I’m writing up about Lebanese chefs. Did you receive it, or did it go to junk?

  2. David Abowd says:

    Maureen are those dishes (the physical dishes in the pictures today) from the Fostoria New Ohio Hotel? They really look similar.

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      They sure are! Special!

  3. Rosemary says:

    Love the “In-O-Ways” dishes. I have some of those!

  4. angelitakarmalita says:

    I loved this post, because it pretty much sums up how I feel about breakfast too. During the week, when I work Monday through Friday, 9a until 6p(ish), I’m more structured, and try to take something (homemade) everyday for breakfast. But I find that I have to wolf it down around 9:30a, just to say I had breakfast before 10a. Then I’m not hungry for lunch until like 2p, and then I eat dinner around 7:30-8p…. not good. Forget the weekends, I’d rather drink water all day, and just eat dinner. I’m looking forward to some of your breakfast ideas to enspire me, and to get me up and eat more breakfast earlier, and heck maybe even daily!

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Amen sista!