Note: For the 32 days between February 1st and March 4th, I’m adopting a completely vegan lifestyle. Every weekday I’ll be updating my progress with a diary entry and a recipe. For past posts, check here!
[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]
I’ve never been much of a breakfast eater, and it’s been years since I’ve eaten three regular meals a day. I know, it’s the most important meal of the day. You can’t function without it. Skipping it makes you eat more later in the day. Your body needs the energy. Yadda yadda yadda.
Thing is, I believe all that would be true, if I were a normal eater. As a Serious Eater, on the other hand, skipping breakfast has never been a problem for me. The odds are good that on any given day, I’ll be neck-deep in a taste test or recipe development by mid-morning anyway, and the entire rest of the day will be spent taking bites of this or that, all in the line of duty. Even before I started working as a recipe taster and food writer, life in the kitchen was not all that different. Your meals were largely taken piecemeal as a series of small tastes of whatever it was you happened to be cooking at the moment, along with a brief rest to shovel down a plate of family meal before service and an ice cold PBR to close down the shift.
But as a part-time vegan this month, I have an excuse to skip many of those non-vegan taste tests and snacking opportunities, which means that my meal plan has become largely normalized. I make myself (and sometimes Erin) lunch at the office or I’ll go out for a mid-day bite, I cook dinner at home for my (newly full-on vegetarian) wife and myself, I’ll indulge in the occasional late-night snack if I’m up working past 2 a.m. (which is most nights), and (!!!), I even eat breakfast these days. (Usually.)
While brunch can be an exciting affair, a normal weekday breakfast is something I need to be able to prepare in the few minutes I have between the time Yuba wakes up and the time she gives up and pees on the floor.
My go-to for the past month? Toast with refried beans and avocado. The idea is kind of similar to that mashed sardine and avocado diet that Alton Brown was on for a while. Crisp toast topped with a filling, protein-rich ingredient&beans in this case—along with avocado* provides a meal that’s not only healthy**, but also keeps you satisfied for hours, and is crazy delicious to boot.
*Which we all know is the illegitimate lovechild of a cucumber and a stick of butter.
**Supposedly, but who really knows?
It helps that in the post-Super Bowl glut, avocados are down to under a buck apiece ’round these parts.
This is another one of those foods that has made a permanent foray into my recipe rotation. I sincerely hope my wife doesn’t get sick of them. She hasn’t yet.
By the way, if you are trying to stay vegan, be aware that many supermarket breads are not vegan. Check out this article for tips on how to locate the ones that are (It’s pretty darn easy).
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About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.