Thursday, December 23, 2010

Breakfast: Cinnamon, Smoked Salmon Kale and Eggs

Cinnamon, Smoked Salmon Kale and Eggs

Breakfast worth licking the plate over.  Have you had that in awhile?  Well, here is my answer to the "You can eat eggs every day?" question: Yes.  Yes, I can.  Because they are that damned good.  And I can change them up in an infinite number of ways if I grow bored.  But I haven't yet.

Today's recipe comes from the advice of my acupuncturist to eat more dark, leafy greens to "build my blood." Whether that makes sense or not, dark, leafy greens are unquestionably good for you and nourishing, so I take that advice and run with it.  I'm on a low-carb, paleo-style diet, so it's mostly meat and veggies for me.  This breakfast fits perfectly into my life and I love it.

Why Breakfast? 

Why am I focusing on breakfast with the Holiday Season so plastered on every available venue online and abound? Because it is the simplest way to start your day right and set up your body, especially your  blood sugar, for a day that might not be as "on the diet" as you hope.  Tis the season for indulgence and this breakfast will taste like an indulgence without actually being one, which leaves more room for real indulgences worth the cheat later on.

Some others who follow a similar diet might point to intermittent fasting as a great way to start a day, indulgence later or not, and that's also valid for some.  But for me, personally, my blood sugar is temperamental and I hit low, lows if I skip breakfast.  It's so much so that I can't help but overeat for at least the rest of that day, if not a few days.  Therefore, breakfast is key, at least for me.  My advice is if you are going to eat breakfast: start your day on the right foot with nourishment as your fuel!

Why Cinnamon?

I'm addicted to cinnamon, that's why ;)  Truth be told, Ceylon Cinnamon is a more subtle, fruitier cinnamon that doesn't pose the same over-dose warnings as Cassia based cinnamon (the most common cinnamon you can find, regretfully).  Read my last treatise on the topic here: Apple of My Eye.  I found my Ceylon Cinnamon through mail order from The Spice House and just love it.  

It's hard to say if  Ceylon Cinnamon has the same benefits as Cassia-based cinnamon, but here is the World's Healthiest Food's rundown on cinnamon.  I specifically like the anti-microbial properties and blood sugar moderation.  

For this recipe, Ceylon Cinnamon just adds a great flavor that catches the sweetness of the salmon and butter.  It delights the senses and adds an earthy, wintry spark. 

A delicious Christmas gift from Aunt Kathy--thank you!

Why Smoked Salmon?

Wild-caught Alaskan salmon is a national treasure and still on the Best Choice list for salmon by the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch List.  Salmon is chock full of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, B vitamins, and protein.  It's notable for promoting heart health, being anti-inflammatory, protecting against cancer, benefiting cognitive function, and more.  For more on it's incredible benefits, check out the World's Healthiest Foods: Salmon page--it's a long one!  

Try to find wild-caught, Alaskan smoked salmon without the sugars and nitrates if possible.  NOTE: you might want to reduce your high dosage omega-3 fish oil when you eat a lot of fish or else you run into the upper limit digestive tract nasties.  If you have been there, you know it isn't pretty! :)

Why Kale?

Kale is delicious and nutritious. Packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, CALCIUM, and over-rated fiber, this veggie is a superfood.  It is known for fighting and preventing cancer and detoxifying your body. As for blood building, it has iron, B vitamins, and folate, plus that detoxifying effect.  For more information on kale's benefits, check out this resource: World's Healthiest Foods: Kale.

And check out my previous recipes:

Why Eggs?

OMG, do you have to ask?  They are perfect little packages of everything you need from an animal food, including protein (ALL the essential aminos), fat (yes, the healthy kind), and some other beneficial stuff like vitamins, minerals, and cholesterol (Yes, that's a good thing.  If you don't know that, read this short list of cholesterol facts from the author of The Cholesterol Myths).

There are a couple potential downsides to eggs.  One is the antinutrients in the egg white.  No, not it's heart disease risk, silly.  That's an old dietician's tale.  Read this from Eat Wild:

Eating eggs does not appear to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease or stroke
Cutting back on egg consumption has been widely recommended as a way to lower blood cholesterol levels and prevent coronary heart disease. Is this valid advice? Recently, researchers took a close look at the egg-eating habits and heart health of 118,000 men and women. The scientists reported that "we found no evidence of an overall significant association between egg consumption and risk of CHD [coronary heart disease] in either men or women." In fact, they found that people who ate from 5 to 6 eggs per week had a lower risk of heart disease than those who ate less than one egg per week.
One wonders what the scientists would find if they looked at the heart health of those lucky people who eat eggs from pastured hens?
(Hu, F. B., M. J. Stampfer, et al. (1999). "A prospective study of egg consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease in men and women." JAMA 281(15): 1387-94.)
So back to the egg white.  Read The Incredible, Edible Egg for more on why eggs whites are INFERIOR to egg yolks.  So people who say they are having egg white omelets for their health are grossly misinformed to put it lightly.

And here is a counterpoint to the arachadonic acid (AA) being a "benefit." This is what Whole Health Source had to say about omega-3 eggs:

Eggs are an exceptionally nutritious food, as are all foods destined to nourish a growing animal. However, one concern lies in eggs' high concentration of arachidonic acid (AA), a long-chain omega-6 fat that is the precursor to many eicosanoids. Omega-6 derived eicosanoids are essential molecules that are involved in healing, development and defense. Some of them are inflammatory mediators that can contribute to disease when present in excess. Eggs are one of the main sources of AA in the modern diet.
Not everyone has access to pastured eggs. "Omega-3 eggs" come from hens fed an omega-3 enriched diet*. Not only do they have a much higher omega-3 content than conventional eggs, they also contain less AA [. One study found that omega-3 eggs contain 39% less AA than conventional and organic eggs. Omega-3 eggs were also rich in short- and long-chain omega-3 fats. Omega-3 eggs are certainly not nutritionally equivalent to pastured eggs, but they're a step in the right direction. 
I don't really know if the AA content of eggs is a concern. Eicosanoid biology is complex and it doesn't like to fit into simple models. I'll look forward to seeing more research on the matter. In the meantime, I'll be eating pastured eggs, and when they're not available I'll eat omega-3 eggs.
*Typically from flax seeds, but some operations also use seaweed. The hens in the paper I cited were fed flax. The hens managed to convert a substantial portion of the alpha-linolenic acid into the important animal fat DHA, and presumably EPA although it was not measured.

Ah, but the controversy isn't over!  There is also the issue of the omega-3 'enrichedness' of eggs.  Robb Wolf and other esteemed sources like the omega-3 enriched because the chickens are fed flax, algae, and/or fish oil, so their eggs are chock full of omega-3s.  The ratio of EPA, DHA, and ALA might vary by source, but you probably should be getting your omega-3s by fish and fish oil anyhow.  

However, just when I thought omega-3 enriched eggs were second only to naturally pastured, Dr. Mercola burst my bubble.  He says that omega-3 enriched eggs result from chickens fed RANCID flax, so they are LESS healthy than regular pastured eggs.  According to Dr. Mercola we should avoid omega-3 eggs because they oxidize faster and don't last as long as other eggs.  ARGH!  

So the oxidation concerns may be legit, but I couldn't find other vocal sources demonizing omega-3 eggs.  Have you? 

So, I'll take eating the whole egg of pastured chickens when I can get them, or omega-3 enriched organic, pastured, free-range, cage-free, hippie-dippie store brand when I can't.  But then, whether oxidized or not when I get them, I am no egg saint because I cook them scrambled or fried.  I KNOW, KNOW--the overcooked egg is creating free radicals that are going to kill me, but damn it, I don't like runny, wet eggs.  I'm sorry.  I'll find the best quality eggs I can and I'll take a hit on the cooking method.  Sorry.  If you want to be a better human being, don't overcook them like me :)

And looks like I am not alone.  How to cook eggs, according to Robb Wolf:
..over medium or soft boiled is likely best. Love scrambled however. Keep the flame kinda low, use plenty of olive oil (antioxidants in there) and enjoy IMO. I may be wrong but I doubt this poses a significant risk with regards to oxidized fats.
Of course, I have read contrary advice on olive oil--that it should only be used to flavor food upon serving, never used for cooking.  So the moral of the story is: you are probably going to find someone out there that disagrees with everything you do.  Suck it up and make your choices based upon as much information as you can, plus a little faith that eating a real food diet MOST of the time with meat and veggies, nuts and seeds and healthy fat, some fruit and dairy if you want it, a little starch, and no sugar will do you infinitely more good than the stress involved in splitting hairs over every detail. :)

Why Butter?

Why not?  You don't actually still believe the saturated fat myth, do you?  Mark's Daily Apple has a great summary of that argument.  

I went with Kerrygold butter today because my local source of Organic Pastures Raw Grassfed Butter just can't keep up with the demand and the stores are always out of stock (or maybe it's another reason--but I can't reliably find it anymore).  Kerrygold is pasteurized, boo, but the cows are pastured, yay.  Here is more info from The Nourishing Gourmet.  You should have seen my beaming smile when I read in Robb Wolf's book: The Paleo Solution that I could partake in butter without being a paleo rebel.  He says: 

So, what's the story with butter? It's dairy, right? Therefore on the Paleo "no fly" list? Well, butter is dairy; it can present some problems for folks with autoimmunity because of the milk protein content and lectins that are still a part of the butter. Sorry hippies, even clarified butter (ghee) is a problem. I would, however, put grass-fed butter on the "occasional" list. The fatty acid profile is better (lower in palmitic, much higher in CLA) and the antioxidant content is nothing short of impressive. Butter is mainly fat, so if we clean up the lectin problem, and push the fatty acid profile toward that of healthful grass-fed varieties, it's tough to build much of a case against grass-fed butter unless you have autoimmunity. See, I'm not a zealot after all.

The Weston Price Foundation LOVES butter too.  Read more about it here: 

Whole Health Source got me on the butter kick with its article on vitamin K2 from butter. 

So without further ado, here is the recipe!

Cinnamon, Smoked Salmon Kale and Eggs 
Butter makes this breakfast lip-smacking delicious, but the players: kale, eggs, cinnamon, and smoked salmon make this nourishing fuel.  Way to start your day!

Cooking Time: 15min start to finish including preparation

Quantity: play around with the quantities to get the desired serving size for each diner.  I usually have a couple of eggs and ounce or two or salmon.  That'll satisfy me well into the afternoon. 

  • Pastured Butter (grass-fed, raw if possible), salted or just add a pinch of salt to taste 
  • Kale to cover the bottom of the skillet for each diner such as 2-3 stalks each of curly kale and purple kale, use any variety of kale/chard as you like--as much or as little as you want, remember: it cooks down
  • Pastured eggs (or omega-3 enriched, organic, free-range, cage-free, etc.)
  • Ceylon Cinnamon (note: if you aren't a cinnamon lover, just omit this, I won't be offended ;) )


Start the skillet over medium heat and melt a pat of butter till the bubbles subside and it starts to darken.  Meanwhile, tear the kale greens into bite-sized hunks from the woodier parts of the stems and rinse in warm to hot water to start the cooking process.  Squeeze them dry and add them to the melted butter in the skillet.  Stand back and watch out for popping if your greens were wet!

Give the kale some time to wilt and then turn them.  Once you feel they are pretty tender (5min give or take), remove them from the pan.  Alternatively, you can try to spread them out to the sides of the skillet and create a well in the middle for the eggs to cook.  Start a little earlier so the greens don't overcook, if so.

Add more butter to the skillet, wait till the bubbling stops and add eggs.  Cook your eggs as you desire them and sprinkle cinnamon on them if desired.  Remove the eggs (and kale if you had it in there) and add a bit more butter, melt it, and add the salmon.  Stir until you warm the salmon.  I don't normally cook the salmon before the eggs and scramble them together because it dries out the salmon too much.  I rather just a warming in hot butter :)

Once the salmon is done, pour it on top of the eggs, making sure you get ALL of the remaining butter from the pan.  Sprinkle some more cinnamon on top if desired.  Serve 'um up--one delicious, heart-heathy, brain-healthy, fuel-for-your-body meal that'll keep you satisfied for many hours to come!

And go on, lick the plate.  I won't tell :)


  1. re: kale:

    "blood building" properties also come from Vitamin K :)

    (I only know this because I am on blood thinners and was warned against eating kale and spinach, as those foods will actually negate the efficacy of the drugs.) :)

  2. Great post. Re: eggs...I completely agree with what you wrote but it was interesting to think that this was completely the OPPOSITE of what I was told growing up. "The egg white is less fattening...don't eat the yolk." I was glad you mentioned the recent studies on the link between high cholesterol as it was something I had actually wondered the other day. I do eat a lot of eggs but since I push myself hard physically never worried about it. Still, it's nice to hear scientists have changed their tune about the link between cholesterol and eggs. :)

  3. i eat egg everyday. :) i love eggs

  4. Just tried to make this, and very slightly cooked the smoked salmon, that is not a good idea. Stick with the straight smoked salmon, so much better.

    But I like the kale addition.