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Non-breakfast food for breakfast

This last week I have played hostess to my ten-year-old niece. Her father - who does not eat breakfast - is appalled because she doesn't want breakfast foods at breakfast. She wants hot dogs, cheese sandwiches, spaghetti and real food for breakfast.

I was happy to indulge her, having the same attitude myself. I can remember making hamburgers for breakfast when I was a teenager. My mother certainly didn't care; she just wanted to be sure we'd started the day with food in our stomachs that wasn't 95% sugar.

Anyone else out there with the same attitude? I've suggested to my sister (mother of visiting niece) that she do a cost analysis of breakfast food vs. regular food. I am sure that cereals are ridiculously expensive and perhaps if she shows this to her husband - a former accountant - he'll realize that cereal is a waste of money and he should pay attention to what kids will really eat.

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  1. Ask your brother-in-law to think like an adult, not a parent when he looks at the food choices. Why is costly breakfast cereal OK and a cheese sandwich not OK? The cereal is made of grain just like the sandwich bread and I'll wager that BIL has eaten cheese before noon, likely in the form of a cheese omelet. Milk is OK but cheese is not? Hmmmmmmm. Ask him how he feels about eating unborn chickens. I've never had anyone think that is an OK choice when phrased in this way. Spaghetti is a no-no but I'll bet when the parts are analyzed he cannot have any argument with the noodles being grain, the tomato sauce being (botanically) fruit and the cheese topping being dairy. Hence, the spaghetti is nutritionally the equivalent of a bowl of cereal with fruit & milk, simply in another guise.

    You can continue this analysis if you'd like. Are ham and sausage OK because they're "normal breakfast foods" but hot dogs are unacceptable because they're generally eaten later in the day? Food Historians call this behavior "Cultural Bias" and it is rife in every population.

    One of my favorite uncles answers the "Are you hungry for lunch?" question with "What time is it?" instead of a yes or no. Reared by his proper British mother and nanny, he was taught that lunch came at noon and not before.

    Thank God that your niece is happily eating. I hope that her parents will worry about important things instead of making this a battleground needlessly.

    1. I have the same attitude. I've never liked breakfast food, at least the traditional American breakfast food. However, I have found that I enjoy traditional Japanese breakfasts (grilled fish, miso, rice) as well as Middle Eastern, which I hear is mainly yogurt/lebneh and pita...mmm.

      I think some people just don't like a lot of grease, acid and sugar in the morning.

      3 Replies
      1. re: eeee

        My Japanese mother was big on yakitori-style stirfried leftovers for breakfast: throw in some shredded vegetables, cold chicken from last night's roast, whip up an egg, and fry the whole deal in a wok. Used to call it "hodgepodge."

        But my favorite was hot soup poured over cold rice to make a thick, porridgy gruel. Hearty and filling.

        1. re: monkeyrotica

          Ditto on the hot soup over rice, sometimes with an egg in it.

          1. re: OCAnn

            anything soupy for breakfast is excellent. pho, broth over rice both with and without an egg, ramen, congee...

      2. DH &I always eat leftovers for breakfast...we are low-carb so cereal is out...I enjoy leftovers and look forward to them the next day,much more filling and satisfying than typical breakfat foods...protein is more filling/better for you than carbs.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ClaireLiz

          I do leftovers for breakfast pretty often too- but I love having breakfast at dinner! Pancakes anyone?

        2. I'm with you, I don't like most traditional American breakfast food for breakfast, either. I'd rather have a sandwich or a taco or slice of pizza, or leftovers. French toast and the like are ok for brunch or supper, but not early morning, ugh.

          I expect your BIL is worrying more about what "should be" than about $. People get amazingly hung up on "shoulds."

          1. Cold pizza...YUM! In fact, my final evaluation of any pizza is based on how good it is cold the next morning.

            I'm too deeply addicted to eggs to forego them every day, but I've been known to brunch on cold quesadillas, cold spaghetti or mac'n'cheese, and of course pie. And whenever I make a quiche of any kind, I always try to keep enough set aside to have cold for breakfast. I think I like it even better cold than warm, and NEVER reheated.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Will Owen

              As I spend a large part of the year in Chicago but NYC is home, I've been lucky enough to try both ends of the cold pizza spectrum. And I have to say - I really think deep dish wins the cold pizza contest for yumminess.

              1. re: theannerska

                deep dish is another whole dining experience from NY style. I love deep dish for a sit down meal, and the thin slice is great when you're by yourself and in a rush. after having great deep dish pizza in the great lakes region, i wish there were more places on the east coast that serve it.

                1. re: fara

                  I sometimes wonder why more places don't attempt the deep dish, but then again, have you ever had "New York style thin crust" in the midwest? It's just not the same...

              2. re: Will Owen

                Me too on the cold pizza & cold spaghetti!!!

                1. re: OCAnn

                  Me too, and cold lo mein is my favorite breakfast. Eggs are ok, but I'm lukewarm about them.

              3. The rule at my house for my daughters is that they have to have a hot breakfast before they leave for school. Beyond that, they can tell me what they want to eat and I will cook it. They have never been traditional breakfast eaters so their requests have ranged from won ton soup to pork steak to chow mein. I have tried to accomodate them as much as I can and think they actually eat more nutritious breakfasts than kids that grab a quick bowl of cereal on the way out the door.

                1. Cold pizza is great as is cold chinese food. Also like cold fish, especially something like fried catfish. I guess some would call it weird but hey, works for me on occasion. But, there are cold mornings in the winter when a big bowl of hot oatmeal also really hits the spot.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: rtmonty

                    I'm agreeing with both of these. Growing up, there was nothing better for me if there was a container of leftover lo mein in particular to be picked on for breakfast. Pizza too. My parents thought I was nuts - but they never discouraged me from doing this.

                    1. re: sivyaleah

                      I'm not the only one!! Just posted about cold le mein for bkfst, my fave.

                  2. Cold pizza is my #1 non breakfast food when it comes to non breakfast food.

                    I don't anymore because I eat before I leave the house but I used to head to this place that had good chili and I'd have a bowl of chili for breaky. Now that's good eatin'


                    1. My daughters favorite breakfast is a baked potato with bacon, broccoli & sour cream. This morning she had a bowl of vanilla icecream with blueberrys & sliced banana. Lately she's been on a peanut butter and celery stick kick. The kick before that was toaster-oven english muffin pizza's.

                      1. Funny, I eat a ham sandwich (ham; butter; bread) and a cortadito for breakfast. I've never thought anything of it.

                        1. My son, who does love breakfast foods, ate mac and cheese for breakast this week. I have no hang up about when foods are eaten. I love french toast for dinner.

                          1. Isn't this why god invented leftovers? What's better than cold bengan bartha or ginger soy broccoli to get the day started? Only downside I've ever noted is there's no box to read. ;>

                            1. i would much rather have leftovers from the night before before i would have an omlette, pancakes, french toast, etc. usually some fresh fruit and i am out the door. but cold pizza is fantastic - i like the post that said that the quality of the cold slice the next day really determines greatness. never thought of it that way but i agree. cold chicago deep dish is great.

                              back when i was growing up, i learned from my grandfather who was an early riser and started the day with polish ham, salami, & mustard on pumpernickle sandwich. it was a treat to spend the night at their house or vacations at the cottage in caseville on lake huron. great memories.

                              1. Your BIL sounds a lot like my mother. Breakfast made her queasy and couldn't understand how anyone else could eat breakfast. Convincing her that people wake up hungry and/or need food in their stomachs to function was beyond her ability to comprehend. Your niece is lucky that she has a close relative who understands.

                                1. Something about the smell of a traditional American breakfast makes me feel sick, so if I do eat, I eat light.
                                  Sounds like my husband, though. If given a free choice of what to eat for breakfast, 9 times out of 10 he'll pick leftovers, or make a salad.

                                  1. I am all for eating whatever you want for breakfast. My son is 12 and all he wants for his cereal is sugar, so I don't buy it for him. I tell him "Eat what you want, but you must eat" So he eats sandwiches, soup, leftovers, mac and cheese, or whatever is there. He likes bagels and cream cheese, and will eat Bear Mush (a hot grain cereal similar to Malt 'O Meal) and oatmeal. I am happy that he eats and don't care what it is. For me though, breakfast is usually cereal and fruit, toast, an egg.....normal breakfast foods.

                                    1. I often eat leftovers for breakfast. I love cold leftover rice with milk over it..and a little cinammon and sugar. I also love cold silken tofu topped with minced green onions, bonito flakes and tamari. I love cold spaghetti.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: melly

                                        cold spaghetti eaten out of the fridge on the sly with your fingers is the best.

                                        1. re: lintygmom

                                          Yeah, tilt head back and slide it into mouth...and keep returning every few minutes. Lol. Guilty!

                                      2. Jillp, This week I bought some fresh Vietnamese Spring rolls (not the deep fried spring rolls, these were fresh vegi wraps with smoked salmon.) They were so great for breakfast, all I can say is: "Why didn't I think of this before?"

                                        1. as others have mentioned, i think that a number of people have been trained to believe that certain foods for breakfast are better for you simply because they've become mainstream. a med student friend of mine has noted that a good amount of protein in the morning is the best thing to get you going and when i know i'm working a 12hour or so day... i start off with a chicken laden salad in the mornings.

                                          but, i'm also known to be the first person in the kitchen with her head in the fridge eating turkey off a drumstick while rummaging for the sweet potatoes and string beans right after a holiday meal.

                                          and nothing... absolutely nothing... hits the spot better than a solid bowl of pork bone congee by my grandmother.

                                          1. I'll often eat cold pizza, soup, sushi (and sashimi) for breakfast and then end up having a bowl of cereal (or pop-tarts) for dinner ...

                                            1. I've often thought our traditional breakfast was strikingly unhealthy, since fruits and vegetables are barely part of it (and the traditional fruit, orange juice, is far too acidic for early morning). I usually have a bowl of organic cereal with fruit, but when I run out of milk I have to get creative. This morning it was a cup of blueberries. Panera makes a sausage and apple thin-crust pizza that's fantastic leftover for breakfast.

                                              1. I've always eaten odd things for breakfast: leftovers including Brussels sprouts and salad, cold pizza, cake or pie, refried beans, etc. The only constant was coffee. But my husband stopped me during my "kimchee on egg matzoh" phase (trust me, it's a killer taste. And I usually hate egg matzoh) because he couldn't stand to come in the kitchen and smell the garlic.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: lintygmom

                                                  I have been on a "peanut butter of any variety on egg matzah" "phase" since...I think two years ago, when a friend introduced it to me. One particular sub-phase was when I acquired a jar of cinnamon-raisin peanut butter...and no, it really didn't seem like a bad idea to have it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or all three meals.

                                                2. had a bowl of penne w/ marinara this morning and stuffed grape leaves w/ pita and hummus for breakfast last week...I also have no problem with cereal for dinner!

                                                  1. My all-time favorite breakfasts were on the Chesapeake Bay. We'd canoe around picking up oysters the size of your hand, soft-shelled crabs out of the traps and then collect fresh herbs, lettuces & veggies from the garden. The combination of good friends, fresh fixings & a beautiful setting will stay with me forever.

                                                    1. I rarely eat breakfast and I think it stems from the morning zoo of a house I grew up in. My stomach never really feels good in the morning. Anyway, I love breakfast foods (eggs, waffles, bacon, pancakes, etc.) just not at breakfast.

                                                      1. Growing up my sister was a VERY picky eater. My co-dependant mother would cook anything at any time that my sister would eat. When she was about 12 years old, she went through a fried okra phase. Every morning that entire school year my mother fried okra for my sister for breakfast.

                                                        1. Liver pate. I realized that I really liked that for breakfast when I visited Germany. That said, I don't eat it often; breakfast for me is just a cup of coffee, and occasionally a muffin. However, if I made Madeleines the day before....yummy!

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: souschef

                                                            You reminded me of my every morning Tuscan crostini w/liver pate spread when last in Florence - yum!

                                                          2. I remember when I was a kid that my mother ate Boston Baked Beans on toast for breakfast. These were beans she had made herself and they were delicious- but being a purely breakfast food breakfast person I never understood this.

                                                            1. I don't have much time to eat breakfast, so it usually ends up being me sorting through the fridge looking for easy to eat leftovers...
                                                              So far its been BBQd veggie couscous, BBQd veggie & goat cheese sandwich, and other stir-fry/casserole things that I can wolf down in 5 minutes... or less.

                                                              1. By 'breakfast foods' do you mean cereal?

                                                                Chowhound has volumes of discussions on getting kids to eat, encouraging choices other than sugar, instilling an openess to new foods. We've also got plenty of threads on breakfast foods for dinner, capuccino after 11:00am, and dear family members who won't venture past the Perkins. Your niece is starting the day with food in her stomach, and that is a good thing. As long as her daily nutrition is in balance then the usual meal category for that food is a tiny, tiny detail.

                                                                And she's 10 years old, right? Adolescence is on its way; not a moment too soon to practice picking one's battles. When even the sweetest kid is 14 her dad will wish for the days when this was the biggest controversy.

                                                                1. Some years ago (the '80s) there was a top ten professional tennis player named Date (two syllables, Da-te), a tiny Japanese woman. She won by endlessly getting the ball back and either getting an opening to counterattack or an error, meaning stamina and maintaining a high energy level were key ingredients to her success (I saw her take Graf to three sets>2 hrs with long points on the fastest of all surfaces, grass!). She ate sushi (rolls) for breakfast on match days. I tried it when I had long active days in heat and humidity--it's great, complete with protein, carbs, electrolytes, and low in bulk and easier to digest than most comparably nutrition-intense breakfasts. cheers

                                                                  1. When growing up my father only requred that we have something for breakfast, not that it be "breakfast" food. One of my sisters hated cereal and would eat leftovers from dinner. Now my son is like that. He does not like breakfast food, can't stand eggs in the morning, etc. He will eat whatever else is there, loves it when there is left over spagetti, and as long as he has something before going to school, I don't care.

                                                                    1. I was so happy to see this post! I'm Filipino-American, and often, there isn't that much distinction between breakfast/lunch/dinner foods! If my husband can help it, he eats rice at every meal. It actually makes things a lot easier when you're not confined to eating certain foods at certain times of day. And rice w/some form of protein is definitely a better breakfast than a muffin - it's tastier and healthier!

                                                                      1. Tell bro-in-law to relax. As long as his daughter is eating something nutritional. The reaon why certain foods are associated with certain times of day is strictly SOCIETAL PATTERNS. I for one tend to eat trail mix or toasted cheese sandwiches for breakfast. I prefer cereal as a snack. And I like scrambled tofu with vegi bacon and hash-browns for breakfast, lunch OR dinner. (Been a vegetarian since 1988!)On a related note, I once ordered pancakes for dinner in a restaurant (the only non-meat-containing thing on the menu, and my then-sweetheart looked at me with surprise on his face and said "Who eats pancakes at night?" I think there's something so soul-satisfying about making an evening meal from traditional "breakfast" fare.

                                                                        About the beans on toast -- that IS a traditional breakfast dish in the British Isles, or so I have read

                                                                        1. I also love dinner for breakfast! However, I hate breakfast for dinner! My family loves it and I have to end up having it!

                                                                          1. I have two comments on this. One is a memory of my grandma in Montreal serving my cousin mac and cheese for breakfast all the time. I only saw it when I vistited from NYC and was sooooo jealous!! the other thing is that although I am a dyed in the wool Chowhound and still cannot control my hankering for GOOD food, I did have gastric bypass surgery several years which put me in a place to get AS MUCH protein as any human could have. It was then that I started eating ham and cheese or left over chicken breasts or even beef chili or any "non-traditional" breakfast food you could think of, just to "get my protein in". My persoanl fave? I love egg rolls far better cold in the morning than I do hot and freshly delivered.

                                                                            1. Cold Pizza is the best breakfast food. Period!


                                                                              1. I think that any food is fair game as breakfast food! But I cannot tolerate eating "breakfast food" for dinner. No cereal, omelets, toast with butter and jelly, pancakes...not for dinner. For some reason I find it depressing. I have no idea why.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: Kagey

                                                                                  I love a big diner breakfast with over easy eggs, homefries and bacon late late for dinner...it comes of having been a band wife, and going with the band after gigs for some grub...nothing better at 4:30 in the morning after having a little too much to drink...well, I guess 4:30 is almost breakfast time!

                                                                                2. Completely agree. In my house, my Eastern European mother scorned breakfast cereal. We are soup-- often borscht, cabbage roles, you name it. I still remember being MORTIFIED in first grade when we were studying nutrition. Everyone had to say what they had eaten for breakfast-- I had eaten tomato soup with rice. Even the teacher thought I was nuts!!

                                                                                  1. As a child, I found eggs a bit nauseating. I grew up on cereals, hot or cold. When my daughter was little, I started making open-faced melted cheese over tomato sandwiches, to which I am still addicted. Sometimes, my daughter and I substitute cottage cheese, s & p on wheat toast. On the advice of a friend, I started to eat smoked fish for breakfast. Most recently, I've been eating smoked trout or salmon, sliced tomato and toast with a tiny bit of cream cheese - pretty much all food groups covered.
                                                                                    Really, what difference does it make, as long as it's not harmful and you enjoy it?

                                                                                    1. not one mention yet of ice cream? it is so refreshing.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: himbeer

                                                                                        During finals I used to eat ice cream sandwiches (yes, multiple) every morning. It counteracted the effects of the pots of coffee that got me through the night.

                                                                                      2. An old boss of mine who had a two-hour commute to work each way used to have a deal with her husband. She made dinner when she got home, around 7:30 or 8:00, and he washed and cleaned up. Part of his clean-up duty was to wrap and refrigerate a plate with portions of the dinner's leftovers - lasagna, meat loaf, steak, fish - whatever it was, including the side dishes. That would be her breakfast the next morning at 5:30.

                                                                                        My adult niece usually has a traditional breakfast at home but, when she's visiting us in NYC, she likes to start her day with a rare roast beef sandwich on a kaiser roll (w/lettuce, tomato, mayo, S&P) from our local deli. She's been doing that since her first stay with us, when she was maybe 8 years old. She says she's never been able to get a truly rare roast beef sandwich in her hometown so, though that doesn't explain why she wants it for breakfast, who am I to argue?

                                                                                        1. I just had some delicious heated up pizzeria pizza for breakfast! There is nothing better for breakfast than pizza!

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: niki rothman

                                                                                            There IS . . . egg-fried lamb chops!


                                                                                          2. Some people believe, based on diet books they have read, that the human body cannot properly metabolize anything but fruit before noon. I wonder how our species survived before the invention of the clock?

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. I often eat dinner leftovers for breakfast, and breakfast foods for dinner. As a result, I often eat leftover breakfast foods for breakfast.

                                                                                              1. During my wife's Adele Davis flirtation (the less said about that the better), she often served liver or other organ meat for breakfast. I enjoyed the liver if it came with onions, but that fad came to a screeching halt when the eight-year old said with tears in his eyes, "Do we have to have HEART for breakfast AGAIN?

                                                                                                1. My trips to Japan and Korea (visiting in-laws and extended family)opened my mind regarding breakfast food. They often eat soup, rice, fish, meat, and - as a lot of people on this thread have mentioned - whatever is left over from the night before.

                                                                                                  There don't seem to be any rules regarding what is breakfast food and what isn't. This is actually kind of refreshing. As much as I like traditional American breakfasts, we seem to be more rigid in terms of defining "breakfast food".

                                                                                                  Eating fish in the morning is something that feels more natural to me now. They know that in the West Indies, too. Anyone out there ever had a Trinidadian Bake for breakfast? Great way to start the day.

                                                                                                  1. My Mom was also happy to make "whatever" for breakfast for as long as I ate and as long as it was not something sugar sweetened. I also regularly make "breakfast for dinner" for my own children. They love it!

                                                                                                    1. My attitude is that a meal is a meal. Oatmeal for dinner? Noodles for breakfast? Ice cream for lunch? Why not! The hard part sometimes is being able to find non-breakfast items during breakfast time at a restaurant. But anything goes at home.

                                                                                                      1. One year when my son was in high school we happened to buy a bushel of sweet potatoes at a farmers' market. He was very fond of sweet potatoes. I left for work an hour before he had to get up. I would put a big sweet potato in the oven to bake @ 400*. Before he left for school, he would eat it with butter and brown sugar and a couple of glasses of milk: an unorthodox but a filling and nourishing winter breakfast.

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                                                                                                        1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                          My daughter, another sweet potato fan, thinks your post is "cool". I think she may give that one a try - it's do-able in a dorm w/ a microwave. THX for the tip.

                                                                                                        2. I had no problem with breakfast growing up, but I just didn't like cereal with milk. I have finally forgiven my parents for failing to accommodate this minor pickiness. If your brother-in-law is lucky enough to have a healthy, happy daughter, he's an idiot to fight over something as inconsequential as breakfast food choice!