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From behind Medium.com's paywall: Breakfast Hacks from the Rooms

Once upon a time I was a Stepford Wife in one of the many 12-Step programs for compulsive eating/not eating. I lost 188 pounds. The magic wore off when I ran up against Life.


But now life is living alone in lockdown, social distancing, the smell of campfires obfuscating the sun, Proud and Boogaloo Boys looking for a reason to shoot off their precious weapons, and the Orange Bobblehead making it hard to imagine we'll ever stop living in a soap opera.


The Serenity Prayer is looking pretty good right now. I'm thinking of going back to the Rooms or the call-in meetings.


Plus I want to lose some weight.


I remember my first days with the Stepfords. I ate a 16-ounce salad at lunch and dinner, with four ounces of protein and a tablespoon of oil at lunch, two at dinner. Breakfast could be a measured whole carbohydrate, the equivalent of four ounces or protein, and a fruit.


The concept of no flour, wheat or sugar was, of course, anathema. But I saw results in the stories I heard from other Stepfords. And after I got the hang of it, I've pretty much stuck to a Stepford breakfast every day.


EVERYONE had yogurt — one cup — at breakfast. They raved about it. They licked their bowls clean. In my universe, yogurt was in the category of tofu and fish with tentacles. But after a while, I got really tired of oatmeal and two eggs.


So here's what I finally figured out and it's so nutritionally sound and satisfying that I want you to have the option as well.


Extracts, preferably oil-based, are the best thing to happen to breakfast since bacon. If you go to an online store that specializes in extracts, you'll be dazzled or nauseated at the variety — root beer, blue raspberry fountain flavor (???), cake flavor, bubblegum, capsicum, salted caramel… the options are as wide and weird as your ability to type "extracts" into your search engine.


Here are some recommendations:


Lemon, hazelnut, key lime, blood orange, cherry, or coconut in yogurt is terrific. (Just warning you, peach, peanut butter, egg not, and honey extracts taste like ass.) Monk fruit is your new best friend. It's the only no-calorie sweetener that doesn't have an aftertaste or give my niece headaches. Buy from Amazon because it's not cheap. If you're planning to have it out in a sugar bowl, buy the white version. The brown clumps when exposed to air. If you're eating the dictated 1/2 cup berries, adding them to your yogurt makes it feel bulkier, as well as complimenting the flavor of extract you've chosen.


And here's the thing about weighed and measured food: you can eat all the fat you want because, hey, it's four ounces or one tablespoon. Plus, fat is now a "good" food. (I can't remember he new bad food since MedPagePlus hasn't issued any warnings against quinoa.) Greek yogurt hadn't happened when I was Stepfording, butI ate full-fat Brown Cow which had a layer of yogurt fat on the top. Now I eat 5% Fage and I snigger to myself when my brother takes one of those fruit-at-the-bottom molecules when I luxuriated in a full cup and a half cup of berries. He doesn't believe me that my yogurt is better ad healthier than his.


If it's summer and the thought of a hot breakfast makes you break out in heat rash, grab a Teflon skillet and toast your 1/3 cup oats while shaking the pan over the heat just until you can smell the sulphur. It takes two — three minutes.


Another summertime go-to involves cooking brown rice in the coolest part of your day. Using 2/3 of a cup of rice, add 1/2 cup cottage or ricotta (so good!) cheese, a bit of salt, monk fruit, almond extract and berries. This and the toasted oatmeal yogurt are perfect for taking to work or when traveling because they're one container meals.


Stone fruits are also good in yogurt, as is kiwi and pineapple. Some fruits are too dense or too wet for yogurt. But if you want watermelon in your Greek God, the extract is available.


Oatmeal, oatmeal, oatmeal. A world unto itself.


No, you don't get to have it with maple syrup or bananas (grapes, bananas, and cherries were considered too full of sugar), but you can add maple and butter extract and monk fruit. As we wait for the election, try pumpkin spice instead of the other flavorings, or apple pie spice with a chopped apple.


From my own experience, I advise you buy the large bottles of butterscotch, butter pecan and black walnut extracts. (In a fix, we could have two rice crackers, 8 ounces of milk, two tablespoons of cream cheese. Can I tell you that, while you shouldn't indulge often, butterscotch and monk fruit added to cream cheese and spread on your rice cracker is like being human again?)


Sometimes these breakfasts didn't hold me until lunch (I lived in Brooklyn at the time. Commuting is a lot of walking and the Stepfords didn't have snacks. My sponsor suggested I try six ounces of potato instead or rice or oatmeal.


A spud, whether white or orange, with a half cup cottage cheese or two eggs scrambled in a bit of water or a good Teflon pan is incredibly satisfying. It was my breakfast today. Sometimes I saturate the potato with hot sauce or wheat-free tamari or soy sauce. Butter extract made potatoes and oatmeal a homecoming.


The last item is coffee. I get really bugged by all the things baristas do to coffee because of our cravings. While the Stepfords drank it black, there were still simple things to fancy it up. Add cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, or plain cocoa to the grounds before brewing. A tablespoon added to a pot of hazelnut, vanilla, almond or whatever else pleases you will save you five bucks (if your happy place is a Starbucks salted caramel mocha) and a gazillion calories. Use a bit of peppermint extract and cocoa in your grounds for a taste of Christmas.


H'mm. I may be talking myself into making the phone call after all…

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