Savory breakfasts have been a staple for me this winter. Much as I love my customary bowl of oatmeal, banana and PB, I’m enjoying the variety of flavor and seasonings that savory breakfasts afford. Plus, they’re a great way to incorporate dinner leftovers into the morning routine. This yellow split pea coconut breakfast porridge is savory breakfast at its finest. It’s full of gently warming spices, like turmeric, ginger, and black pepper, but sweet carrot and a swirl of coconut milk help to keep it mild and balanced. It’s hearty, but not heavy, and–mixed with a bowl of nutty brown rice–it’s a wonderful way to start the day.
NEDA week has me thinking about the ways in which recipes and larger themes of recovery can intersect. It’s appropriate that I’m writing about breakfast today, because in many ways I see a nourishing breakfast as an integral part of my self-care routine with food.
I’m a breakfast devotee now, but I wasn’t always. Back when I was wrapped up in the idea of a “detox” lifestyle, I spent so many mornings sipping on chilly green juices. I’d convinced myself that this was the healthy choice, but I deeply craved a balanced, grounding morning meal instead.
And then there are the many mornings I spent punishing myself for last night’s food infraction–whether that was feeling as though I’d eaten too much, indulged on dessert, or whatever–by skipping breakfast, replacing it with a liquid meal, or choosing something “light” that totally failed to satisfy.
I’ve made long strides since then. Of course I’m not immune to waking up with food guilt or regret now and again–who is? But I have very different coping strategies nowadays. Rather than denying my body good nutrition in an effort to offset whatever guilt I’m carrying around, I do the opposite: if I’m feeling vulnerable about food, I give myself an especially nourishing breakfast to eat.
I know that this will
a. give me the energy I need to start my day on a good note
b. prevent me from making a bad body day worse with deprivation (and the subsequent mood swings and/or overeating it creates), and
c. remind me that eating is a vital act of nourishment and a means of showing appreciation for one’s body.
Approaching my morning meal with this attitude and these reminders in place almost always helps me to cast off whatever anxieties I’ve woken up with. I’d hesitate to say that breakfast is my favorite, or the most important, meal of the day; I like them all, really, and I see them all as nutritionally significant. But I think breakfast is unique in that it allows us to set the tone of the day with food. It may sound silly to make such a big deal of eating breakfast, but in the context of my own history, it means a lot to choose to start each day with good food–regardless of whatever emotional baggage I’m carrying around.
So, here’s to hearty, sustaining, and energizing breakfast foods. And here’s to this porridge.
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds (optional)
- 1 white or yellow onion, diced
- 2 large or 4 small carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 teaspoons grated or minced ginger (or ½ teaspoon ground ginger)
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1½ cups yellow split peas
- 4 cups water
- ½ cup coconut milk (canned, not boxed)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- For serving: 3-4 cups cooked brown rice, chopped scallions, green onion, or cilantro, extra coconut milk, avocado slices
- Heat the coconut oil in a Dutch oven or a medium sized pot over medium high heat. Add the mustard seeds, if using, and allow them to cook until they start to pop. Stir in the onion and carrots. Saute the vegetables for 8-10 minutes, or until they're very soft and the onions are clear, adding a tablespoon or two of water if the vegetables start to stick. Stir in the ginger, turmeric, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper. Add the split peas and water and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover.
- Cook for 35-40 minutes, or until the split peas are tender. Check the split peas a few times to stir them and make sure they're not sticking to the bottom of the pot; if they're very thick, stir in a half cup of water.
- Once the split peas are very tender, stir in the coconut milk and lime juice. Check seasoning and adjust salt, pepper, lime juice, and turmeric to taste. Serve with rice and toppings of choice.
I should mention that in addition to being warming, satisfying, and so on, the porridge is also really easy to make. I whipped it up after dinner on a night when I was also studying for an exam, which I wouldn’t have had the patience to do were it not really just a matter of chopping and then simmering. The next morning, I woke up to a fragrant bowl of goodness, and I was so glad to have put in the time the night before. Next time, I’ll probably make it over the weekend and enjoy it for a whole week after that–it makes about 4-6 servings. Needless to say, I’m calling it porridge here, but it’s not just for breakfast: the dish is perfect for lunch and dinner, too!
This recipe was developed as part of my ongoing partnership with the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council to celebrate the International Year of Pulses and the many health and environmental benefits of pulses. Yellow split peas sometimes get overshadowed by beans and lentils, but they’re one of my favorite pulses to cook with. I love their rich protein content, their texture, and the fact that they’re so incredibly inexpensive. A really wonderful plant-based protein source! To learn more about pulses–and peruse a ton of recipes–check out the Pulse Pledge website.
I hope you’ll all enjoy the porridge. And in keeping with the NEDA week theme, I’d love to hear what food routines or specific meals/mealtimes are important to you when it comes to self-care through food. Any particular habits stand out?
Have a great Wednesday, all.
This post was created in partnership with the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council. Opinions are my own. Thank you for your support, and I can’t wait to share more pulse recipes with you this year.