The most important meal of the day can still be exciting even without fried eggs
Breakfast. What we don’t talk about nearly enough is the fact that sitting down to have breakfast is one of the easiest ways to indulge in the most decadent food. Eating fried eggs and bacon or tapsilog first thing in the morning is not exactly the healthiest way to start the day. And even “healthy” alternatives like granola bars or cereals have fat and sugar whose effects can’t always be tempered by a fruit or two.
No one knew this better—or perhaps no one chose to ignore this reality more—than writer Hunter S. Thompson. In a letter to Lapham’s Quarterly, Thompson recounted, in amusing detail, his idea of the perfect breakfast.
Alone, and “almost never before noon,” he partakes in a feast of four glasses of bloody mary, two grapefruits, a pot of coffee, Rangoon crepes, a half-pound of either sausage, bacon, or corned beef hash with diced chilis, a Spanish omelette or eggs Benedict, a quart of milk, a slice of key lime pie, and two margaritas.
This unapologetically ostentatious meal is likely not the most shocking aspect of Thompson’s famously precarious lifestyle. It’s also just as likely that he made this list public to trick a few people to take on a ridiculous feat. We asked sports nutritionist Timothy Jeffe Ting for healthy ways we can indulge like Thompson—and the breakfast alternatives he recommends prove that there are such things as delicious and guilt-free, high-nutrient breakfasts.
Instead of cereals, eat oatmeal
“Cereals are often loaded with sugar, but it should be noted that some of them are also fortified with vitamins and minerals. The best alternative to cereals is steel-cut or rolled oatmeal; a cup of which contains a host of vitamins and minerals like B vitamins, iron, selenium, magnesium, and zinc. It also contains about three to five grams of dietary fiber and a soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which has been linked to lower cholesterol by binding to it and excreting it out of the system.”
What to do if you can’t give up tapsilog
“One key principle of making a dish is balance, and most of the components of tapsilog is fried and drenched in oil. The best alternative is to simply swap the garlic rice for plain rice, and the fried egg for poached. Doing so will dramatically reduce calories as a gram of carbohydrates gives off approximately four calories while fats give off nine calories. Ideally, some sliced tomatoes are also added for the fiber, lycopene, and vitamin K content. The main protein (tapa) is unchanged as its fat content helps carry fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K from the egg into the system.”
Swap waffles and pancakes for vegetable omelettes
“Waffles and pancakes are mostly made of eggs, flour, sugar, and butter, which make them extremely energy-dense and a nightmare for people trying to watch their weight. Swapping pancakes for a mixed vegetable omelette (one whole, two whites) would dramatically increase fiber and protein content, which will also make it a more filling and nutrient-dense alternative.”
Lay off the pandesal and eat more sweet potatoes
“Pandesal (salt bread) is deceptively rich in sodium with about 200mg per serving, and while it’s great for more active individuals to replenish electrolytes lost in sweat, it’s not as helpful for sedentary adults where excess sodium is linked to a higher risk of high blood pressure and kidney disease. The best alternatives for pandesal are underappreciated root crops like kamote, yams, and carrots, which are rich in fiber, vitamin A, and potassium.”
Fried eggplant is the new bacon
“Bacon is salty and smoky. The closest alternative is the vegan version, which is basically fried eggplant, cut into thin strips with a mandolin or peeler and seasoned with smoked paprika and salt. However, while eggplant is a good source of fiber, vitamin B1, and copper, it’s tough to find a proper alternative for bacon so just exercise portion control and mindfulness.”