Food Diary: Sweet and Savory Breakfast Polenta

Poached Egg with PolentaBrace yourselves, people: I broke a major habit on Monday. In a strange turn of events, I did not have Bircher muesli for breakfast.

Instead, I decided to embark on an experiment. Enter: the savory breakfast.

I am not the first to foray into this territory. Savory breakfasts are popular in many cultures, such as Japan, where miso soup is a popular breakfast item, or China, where porridge-like congee is typically eaten with meat, vegetables and herbs. And let’s not forget the ever popular omelets, hash browns, and full english breakfasts.

Still, when it comes to breakfast at home, sweets seem to dominate the kitch table: sugar-frosted cereal, honey-sweetened oatmeal, syrupy waffles, sweetened breakfast bars, and my fruity Bircher muesli.

Don’t get me wrong – I love Bircher muesli. But I wonder – is it really a good idea to eat the same food day after day? According to Dr. Andrew Weil, eating the same foods won’t affect you adversely, but “it may be possible to develop intolerances to foods you eat often – you may find you are less able to digest them than you used to be or that you react badly to some of them.”

I also wonder if it’s necessarily good to start the day with such a carbo-loaded meal. Last September, a study published in the British Medical Journal showed that people who ate high-quality protein foods for breakfast had a greater sense of sustained fullness throughout the day compared to when more protein was eaten at lunch or dinner.

Food intolerances and fullness aside, the bottom line is that variety is the spice of life, so I decided to give something new a try. I took a little inspiration from Heidi’s breakfast polenta and enjoyed a simple breakfast of poached egg on polenta porridge.

Food Tip #9: Polenta is great alternative to oats for breakfast.

This is the first time I had polenta as a breakfast porridge and it did very well, both in ease of cooking and in taste and texture. It reminds me of grits, and I suspect that cheese would go down a treat with this meal. The beautiful thing about polenta porridge is that it’s totally open to variation. As Heidi suggests, you can add fruit, maple syrup, cream or, in my case, a poached egg and a sprinkle of chopped parsley.

But was this savory breakfast better than Bircher muesli? Well, that depends.

One of the things I love about Bircher muesli is its variety of flavors and textures. One bite might be of crisp apple, the next, a crunchy almond, and after that, a hazelnut with a bit of apricot. So many taste sensations! With the egg and polenta, things got a bit “samey” after a while. In the future, I would definitely add some variety to the mix, such as sundried tomato, chopped chives or steamed spinach.

My other issue with this breakfast is that it didn’t really feel like breakfast. I think it would be terrific for lunch, but at the end of the meal I found myself missing my muesli. I wonder if the whole savory breakfast thing is simply a matter of taste adaptation. Maybe I just need practice.

Bonus Recipe: For those of you who do like your breakfasts sweet and in bar form, Clotilde of Chocolate and Zucchini just posted an enticing recipe for Wholesome Banana Chocolate Breakfast Bars. They are vegan, sugar-free, gluten-free and sound absolutely delicious.

Monday Food Diary

  • Lemon and honey tea
  • Yoga
  • Breakfast: Poached egg on polenta porridge with black tea.
  • Snack: Sliver of no knead bread with peanut butter, apple and peppermint tea. I baked a loaf of no knead bread and couldn’t resist a taste test.
  • Lunch: Leftovers. Scrambled tofu, tofu steak, savoy cabbage thoran, rocket, slice of no knead bread. Predictably, it was awesome.
  • Walk around the park
  • Beer: Pint at The Prince. Caught up with Tim and Henry for a pint before dinner. Very risque for a Monday night but that’s London for you.
  • Dinner: Big salad with balsamic vinaigrette and refried pinto beans. Did the Greek yogurt thing on the pinto beans again, with a pinch of smoked paprika. SO good. Also had a couple corn chips and a grapefruit (not shown).

Poached Egg with Polenta

No Knead Bread: Precious First Slice

Tea and an apple

Leftover Tofu with Cabbage, Rocket and No Knead Bread

Backlit Hoegaarden

Salad and Refried Pinto Beans with Greek Yogurt

5 thoughts on “Food Diary: Sweet and Savory Breakfast Polenta

  1. Momma

    Monica… is “polenta porridge” the same thing we call “corn meal mush” here in the midwest? If so, I have that at least once a week… a nice bowl of it, with assorted options for topping. A drizzle maple syrup is tasty, but the savory options are wonderful, too. (I have lots of cornmeal, feel free to make all the porridge you wish while you’re here!)

    A few years back, when I lived near that Indian grocery, I sometimes went for breakfast there on weekends. An Indian breakfast is savory as well, including things like soups, chutneys, idli and porridges. You surely remember that place, the owner Bedma taught me so many tips in Indian cooking!

  2. Dana aka Gluten Free In Clevel

    Breakfast foods are my favorite above all else. Thanks for all of the nutrition-important information about breakfast, and I had no idea you could possibly develop intollerances to things you eat too much. I mean, it seems obvious now, but I never imagined such a thing.

    But mmm, poached eggs and polenta sounds like a fantastic combination. And as far as getting used to a savory breakfast? Well, practice makes perfect, right? 🙂

  3. LOLfitness

    My morning oatbars are made with soy milk, wheat bran and egg, so i end up with a fairly high protein and fibre breakfast. Keeps me going till lunch (or a little beyond, if necessary)


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