Gettin' down with real food.

Stress-Busting Breakfast

This isn't a recipe so much as a formula for invincibility.  Maybe not quite though.  I won't wax poetic about the power of healthy fats; I won't demonize quick carbohydrates.  I'll simply say that I have way more energy and pep in my step when I eat a morning meal of eggs and healthy fat than one of grains or sweet bready things.  When my breakfast consists mainly protein and fat, my brain just seems to work better and the hunger gremlin (or is it ghrelin?) doesn't start begging for lunch quite so early. 

Hear this: a recent study gave a group of overweight teenage boys one of three breakfast meals: eggs, steel cut oats, or instant oatmeal.  Unlike the egg and steel cut oat eating groups, the instant oatmeal group saw not only sharp rises in blood sugar, but also spikes in norepinephrine (a stress hormone!) following the glucose spike.

On the weekdays, we GO GO GO. We may even skip breakfast (gasp!). The pace of life can wear us down and this kind of intense, sustained stress leaves us craving sugar, refined carbs, and empty calorie snack foods. These foods give us “instant comfort,” but are the very ones that lead to surges and crashes in hormones and blood sugar, leaving us more susceptible to new stresses and usually feeling worse than before. It’s a vicious cycle.  So start the day with a breakfast modeled after the one below and perhaps when the proverbial shit hits the fan, you won't hit the vending machine...

stress-busting breakfast |

Stress-busting breakfast: Eggs + Greens + Healthy Fat

Eggs (hard-boiled, scrambled, poached, fried, etc.) – satiating protein staves off hunger and keeps hormone levels more stable; eggs also provide many essential amino acids our bodies need to function at their best.  Eggs provide one of the highest biological value protein sources, meaning our bodies have an easy time turning it into muscle or using it for tissue repair.

Greens (kale, spinach, collards, Swiss chard, arugula, etc.) – Dark greens gives us a wonderful cornucopia of vitamins and minerals.  They're tasty, nutrient dense, and support top-notch brain function.

Healthy Fat (pumpkin seeds, olive oil, avocado, whole milk yogurt, grass-fed butter, etc.) – Like protein, fat is satiating; of the macronutrients, it takes the longest to digest so hunger won’t strike as quickly and blood sugar levels will stay at an even keel.  Our brains are nearly 60% fat and we know that fatty acids are among the most crucial molecules that determine our brain's integrity and ability to perform.

BONUS: Omega-3s (smoked salmon, tuna, walnuts, hemp or flax seeds) - These amazing fats fight inflammation, helping our bodies to more efficiently manage stressors and making the body’s stress response system more flexible and resilient.  Omega-3s help cells in the brain communicate better and protect neurons against the damage caused by high levels of stress hormones over a long period of time. 

Zucchini and Cucumber Gazpacho with Lemon and Basil

Zucchini and Cucumber Gazpacho with Lemon and Basil |

Happy Labor Day weeeeeekend!

Class has only been in session a week, but I already feel I need this little break. My final semester before practicum aka internship, promises to be dynamic and full of opportunities for self-growth. (Read: crazy busy and emotionally demanding.) At times I find myself getting caught up in the scholarly whirlwind and losing sight of what’s most important: sharing healthy, delicious food with people from all walks of life. Thankfully that’s just what I was able to do today: with my very best friend and fearless classmate at my side, I took part in cooking and sharing a fresh, seasonal recipe with the lovely folks at the Wauwatosa Farmers market.

Zucchini and Cucumber Gazpacho with Lemon and Basil |

Our Zucchini and Cucumber Gazpacho with Lemon and Basil was a success. I loved listening to market goers' comments as they sipped the mint green, basil-flecked, chilled soup from Dixie cups.  They remarked on the light, herbacious flavor and how cool and refreshing it was amidst the heat and density of the late summer air. Not only did Chetney and I get to share our love of food and nutrition, but we were also able to promote our beloved blogs, yet another way to spread the healthy eating love around. And a special thanks to Kettle Rock Farm, who graciously donated all of the produce for today's recipe demo!

This recipe is a fantastic vehicle for using up some of the season’s plethora of zucchini and cucumber, which provide the base of our gazpacho. The flavor-soul of this soup comes from basil and lemon, which elevate the other ingredients with their botanical brightness while scallions lend a gentle allium scent and olive oil and whole milk yogurt bring richness and depth. To add visual appeal and textural variation, we topped the soup with diced heirloom tomatoes, so pretty! Serving this at home, I streaked the soup with yogurt, olive oil and coarse sea salt: abstract art in a bowl.

Zucchini and Cucumber Gazpacho with Lemon and Basil |

Talking through this recipe with market goers, we noted that any summer squash (pattypan, yellow squash, etc.) would work well in place of the zucchini.  We also tossed around the idea of using other herbs like cilantro, lemon thyme, or parsley.  Chetney even mentioned blending in some honeydew melon; I’d love to try that version! As with many of the seasonal recipes I’ve been sharing here lately, I encourage you to make this your own, add more of what you like and less of what you don’t. Share your creations in the comments below.  And be sure to pop over to Chetney's blog for the full story of our market cooking adventure as well as to follow along with her day to day food journey, an always inspiring read.

doing what I love - photo credit Chetney Dudzic

Now dear reader, your mission should you choose to accept it: grab your best knife and a blender and whip up this soup in 15 minutes or less.  Then let it chill and share it with the ones you love; the weekend is just beginning!

Zucchini and Cucumber Gazpacho with Basil and Lemon

adapted from Real Simple
Makes about 8 half-cup portions


  • 4 scallions (green onions), chopped
  • 1 lb cucumbers, seeds removed if desired, sliced
  • 1 lb zucchini, sliced
  • 3/4 cup  olive oil
  • 1/2 cup  fresh basil leaves, plus more for topping
  • 1/3 cup  fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup  plain whole milk yogurt, plus more for topping
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 large heirloom tomato, diced, for topping


  1. Puree the scallions, cucumbers, zucchini, oil, basil, and lemon juice in a blender, or in bowl using an immersion blender, until smooth.
  2. Add the yogurt, salt and pepper to taste (half teaspoon of each to start) and pulse to combine.
  3. Serve cold or room temperature topped with yogurt, torn basil, and diced heirloom tomatoes. Sprinkle with coarse salt if desired.