It's been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

chef.JPGView full sizePORTLAND, OREGON – January 27, 2012 – Ken Gordon, owner of Kenny and Zuke’s Deli, was diagnosed with diabetes early this year. He will keep a diary of his efforts to help treat his condition with diet and exercise. In the first two weeks, he lost seven pounds.

It’s been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. That’s especially true, I believe, if you’re trying to eat healthy. Breakfast sets the tone for the rest of the day, gives you energy and takes the edge off your appetite. Which is a big plus for me since I’m always hungry.

Plus, I love breakfast and breakfast foods. Nothing gets the day’s juices flowing like the smell of buttered toast or frying bacon or warm maple syrup first thing in the morning. No matter the tasks and trials ahead, a good breakfast makes all seem right with the world. At least until breakfast is over.

Time was a good breakfast meant for me a lot more bulk than it does now. Three eggs, lots of bacon or sausages, a mess of potatoes, toast and butter and jam. Or many pancakes and much syrup. Ahhh, those were the good old days. They were also the days I was well on my way toward diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol. So I’ve learned to temper my appetite some, get a lot healthier, and still love breakfast.

I still eat some of the good stuff, just toned down a bit. Smaller portions and less fat, though certainly not devoid of. Again, moderation, not deprivation, is the key.

I mostly try to steer clear of refined carbohydrates and sugars. I’ll eat an occasional bagel and go lighter on the cream cheese with some altogether healthy lox. If I have toast, it’s usually whole grain with less butter, skip the jam. Hey, how else do you mop up the yolks?

I love eggs, and having four chickens in the backyard means a steady supply of luscious fresh ones. High cholesterol is not a good thing, but conventional wisdom these days seems to be that about 20 percent of your cholesterol level is affected by diet. The rest is genetic and exercise-related.

I love eggs just about any style. If I’m feeling virtuous, they are poached or soft-boiled. Most often, I go for over easy. If the diet bank account is flush, I splurge on softly scrambled eggs with a few truffle shavings; chives and bits of bacon if not. Or a soft two-egg omelet or frittata with asparagus, black forest ham and pecorino. Or some wild mushrooms in season with some softened leeks.

I love hashes as well. I go light on the potatoes these days, so my hash is only about half potatoes, a little butter or olive oil, some onions, peppers, mushrooms, whatever veggies are hanging around. Topped with a couple of those great eggs. Hashes are great catchalls for leftovers and are always delicious and soothing.

Pancakes aren’t much on my regimen these days, but I eat the buckwheat or cornmeal ones from time to time. And oat cakes are great, especially with fresh berries and real maple syrup.

Corn tortillas are just fine as a base for any form of Mexican huevos — last night for dinner we had a couple of griddled tortillas topped with a little ham, some vegetarian chili, a couple of fried eggs, some queso fresco and salsa. I love breakfast for dinner almost as much as I love breakfast for breakfast.

About bacon: Did you know that a piece of crisp bacon with most of the fat rendered only contains about 55 calories? Two would be 110. Not that much, all things considered. Maybe an extra mile on the walk to burn it off and so worth it.

I tend to try to keep breakfast to no more than about 400 calories. Sometimes a bit more, often less. When I do go a little over, it’s usually on Sunday.

Most weekdays I have my go-to breakfast: a half cup of yogurt (full-fat Greek-style), a cup of berries or mixed fruit with a half cup of Leslee’s Granola (see recipe). Every couple of months Leslee makes a big batch of this granola that’s both good and good for you, buying everything for it in one big trip to Bob’s Red Mill. Most granola is highly sweetened, has lots of oats and not too much fruit, seeds and nuts — the good stuff. Leslee’s has a lot of the good stuff, and is hardly sweet at all. In fact, I usually put an extra spoonful or two of maple syrup on mine.

Leslee’s Granola
 Makes 5 quarts  

5 pounds rolled oats

 1/2 pound pumpkin seeds

 1/2 pound sesame seeds

 3/4 pound sunflower seeds

 1/4 pound flaked coconut

2/3 cup peanut oil

 1/2 cup maple syrup

2/3 cup warm water

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 tablespoon cinnamon, blended into a little maple syrup

 3/4 pound currants

1 pound date crumbles

 1/4 pound chopped dried apples

6 ounces flax seed

1 pound roasted almond chunks

 1/2 pound roasted chopped hazelnuts


Mix together the oats, three seeds and coconut. Whisk together the liquid ingredients and toss well with the oat mixture.

Spread evenly on cookie sheets about 1 inch thick and bake at 325 degrees for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is golden colored. Let cool, then mix in large bowl with fruit, nuts and flax seed. Feel free to add other ingredients such as dried blueberries, dried diced peaches and pears, walnuts and pecans. Keep in airtight container.

Next Week: The third blood test and another reckoning

Any questions for Ken? Email him at [email protected]; you can also find him at