Friday, January 31, 2014

Breakfast Like A Queen

I don’t much care for food rules, preferring instead to make healthy food choices for variety and texture and taste. I try to focus on eating real food in a mindful manner. 

But there is one rule that I fully support.

Breakfast like a queen.  Lunch like a princess.  And dinner like a pauper.

Breakfast Queen eating pancakes

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I often fall asleep dreaming of my plans for breakfast the next morning, and I always wake up starving and ready to eat. I am a morning person, and the minute my fit hit the floor, I’m awake. Even on a cold and wintry day, the morning light in my kitchen is soft and sweet and comforting.

pottery at the kitchen window

The foods of breakfast – eggs, yogurt, granola, oatmeal, waffles, pancakes, muffins, toast – make for a surprisingly healthy parade of choices. I avoid the processed breakfast foods like sugary cereals, instant oatmeal, toaster pastries, and donuts, and opt for whole grain mornings instead. (This is the new me . . . the old me would eat a brownie and a soda for breakfast.)

Because I love to eat, I love to cook.

And because I love to cook, I love reading food blogs.

The delightful and talented Molly Wizenberg writes the blog, Orangette, which is mostly about food, though worth visiting if for no other reason than to meet her sweet daughter, June. From Molly’s blog, I found another good person to know, Megan Gordon. Megan writes the blog, Sweet Spoonful, and her first cookbook, Whole Grain Mornings, was published this month.


Bowl of porridge

Megan’s cookbook is a journey of breakfast through the seasons. Her book is so much more than a collection of tried and true recipes. There are educational entries like those that describe the various whole grains and their respective cooking methods, guidelines for how to make better granola, and suggestions for a well-stocked pantry.  But, my favorite pages are those that tell the story that is Megan’s life. Her cookbook is really the story of how she built her business, Marge Granola, and fell in love with a guy named Sam.  It’s a heartwarming story.

granola on baking sheet

And, of course, for me, every book is all about the pictures. The photography by Clare Barboza is inviting and inspiring.  I took a virtual tour of her studio and felt like a kid in a candy store – the light, the surfaces, the props – a photographer’s dream. I’ve bookmarked her website as a place to visit often and have my sights set on attending one of her workshops in the future.

In the spirit of pursuing a healthy lifestyle, I’m trying recipes from Whole Grain Mornings and taking pictures along the way.

Signature Granola
granol on baking sheet with spoon and towel

stirring granola

Greens and Grains Scramble

Green and Grains Scramble

Pear- Hazelnut Oat Muffins

pears in colander

muffins in tin and under glass dome

Whole-Grain Buttermilk Pancakes

stakc of whole grain pancakes

Easiest food rule and best goal for a healthy lifestyle . . . eat breakfast every day, and if you are lucky, more than once a day.

Behind the scenes.  In creating this blog post, I am the baker, maker, writer, photo stylist, and photographer (except for the picture of me, which my talented husband took). Lest you think that either I or my efforts are perfect or nearly so, let me banish the thought.

I baked the first batch of granola a little too long making it look burnt and brown and not nearly photogenic.  I mixed the entire muffin recipe and slid them into the oven only to discover the melted butter, called for in the recipe, still sitting on the counter.  I started all over.

Making a bowl of porridge look tasty is difficult since it’s really quite mushy. I took shots with no less than five different bowls trying to find the one that brought light to the oats and grains and didn’t make the peanut butter look like a glob of mud. The winner was a simple and elegant bowl with swirls of garden green and gold, Pottery by Hand from local artist, Hannah Janney.

On the bright side, no animals were harmed in the making of this blog post. On the down side, I gained 2 pounds.

I am linking up with Kim Klassen today and my Friday Finds are the wonderful cookbook, Whole Grain Mornings by Megan Gordon, and Pottery by Hand from Hannah Janney. 


  1. Hi Donna,
    I like your blog very much and the pancakes look absolutely yummi!
    I love the picture of the pottery scene in front of your window!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Best to you, Brigitte

    1. Brigette, I visited your blog and now I have fallen in love with your kitchen! It seems that you and I share a similar photography style and much in common. Thanks so much for visiting.

  2. Just as I'm about to re-do my pantry and food cupboards, you post this magnificent ode to healthy carbs. I'm about to pitch my white flour! Those pear hazelnut oat muffins look *wonderful* and I bet they taste even better. Did you have to hold your family back with a chair and whip while you photographed that stack of pancakes? Seriously, a good breakfast is the foundation for the way we eat all day long. Even though some of us cook but have to send off people early, many of those recipes can be made ahead of time and frozen (muffins, granola). But I do need milk on my oatmeal!

    And people? Donna has the most amazing collection of bowls. They aren't props, either. You want to sit down at her farmhouse table and have soup every day just so you can use those bowls. Donna, your food photography is top-notch and you don't need a studio.

    Now, I'm off to eat my own breakfast, cold sugary cereal (but with oats!). No crown for me. Sniff.

    1. I've decided, that as long as the grain actually looks like a grain, it's pretty healthy (oats, farro, quinoa, brown rice). My favorite breakfast from the Whole-Grain mornings cookbook is the scrambled eggs with farro and sauteed kale. It keeps me full all morning, and that's saying something for a girl who is always hungry!

      Come for breakfast soon - and I'll let you choose your favorite bowl for your oatmeal!

  3. Oh boy this does look good, since I am on a program where grains are very important. I am just loving all those pancakes.

    1. Barbara, Megan's recipe for pancakes includes buckwheat flour, oats, and spelt flour along with regular flour. It's a wonderful combination. I'm trying to add fresh fruit as a topping and just a tablespoon or two of maple syrup, but this is a challenge for me as I love sweet! Thanks so much for visiting.

  4. Beautiful photography Donna. I will be back for more!

  5. Oh my goodness! This post has made my whole day, Donna. Thank you so very much for your interest in the book ... the recipes look beautiful in your home and on your dishes (second career as a food photographer, perhaps?) Thank you again + enjoy your weekend! ~Megan

  6. Hi Donna,
    Thank You for such a lovely post. I am Megan Gordon's mother so I am quite fond of her book too. Love the tiara! Christine Gordon

    1. If Megan were my daughter, I'd be as proud as a peacock. So wonderful that our relationships with our children continue to blossom even as they are adults. I'm sure she's quite fond of you, too!

  7. Fantastic post with lots of inspiration for breakfast treats.

    1. I want to take some pictures of the snow and winter scenes, but it's so cold that I'm finding it hard to work up the motivation to venture outside. In the meantime, food photography seems like a great way to keep practicing while staying warm!

  8. hello dear friend.....

    this is such a beautiful post.... your pear image completely takes my breath away.....
    every photo - beautiful.

    what a wonderful tribute to Megan.....

    thanks for sharing at Friday Finds... off to explore the cookbook. have a beautiful weekend....

    xo, Kim

    1. Kim, None of this would be possible without you. Finding your blog was the beginning of a wonderful adventure for me. I vividly remember stumbling upon your photographs and immediately relating to your art work, your kindness, and your willingness to share. Thanks to you, I have at least some mastery of Photoshop, a better sense of composition and light, many lovely textures, and new friends.

  9. That first photo is too funny! I'll need to check out more of your posts. And this cook book. I'll be translating recipes to gluten free however.

    1. I called in favors from friends to find that tiara to borrow. It was fun to pretend to be a queen. I kept the tiara on the entire day, including when I picked my 16-year-old son up from school. He laughed when I told him, I'm following this advice, "Always act as if you are wearing a crown, and today I'm wearing one as reinforcement." Megan includes many Gluten-Free recipes in her book, too!

  10. Love your post soooo much. Great images .... I want my breakfast right now! Love the pottery very much.


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