Everyone, or just about everyone, has (or should have) and needs a go-to breakfast, the one they eat just about every weekday morning without thinking, a breakfast that is easy to prepare, can be eaten while reading the paper, and is a breeze to clean up. It should be reasonably filling, not too fattening, and nutritious according to some objective standard.
Your go-to breakfast can't be bacon and eggs or pancakes with sausage, because those are too unhealthy, fattening and time-consuming. Either of those could be your weekend go-to breakfast, but that's not what we are talking about here.
One of my most enduring memories of my dad, who died when I was 12, was watching him every morning eat his go-to breakfast of a Thomas' English muffin, farmer's cheese, and lingonberry jam. My wife's weekday go-to breakfast is currently a container of 2% Fage Greek Yogurt, and before that it was Brown Cow Maple Cream Top Yogurt. A little austere, a little too tart for my taste, and it has no crunch, but fine choices nonetheless.
Mine is a toasted Kossar's bialy, a schmear of cream cheese, and a glass of Minute Maid light limeade. Let me explain why.
What is a bialy? In her definitive book The Bialy Eaters, Mimi Sheraton describes a bialy as "the squashy, crusty, onion-topped bread roll eaten as an alternative to the bagel." She then goes on to say that "I cannot remember when I first ate one of these fragrant rolls, but surely it was addiction at first bite, starting with the mouthwatering scent of onions and yeast and the crisp bread's affinity for sweet butter and fluffy cream cheese."
Sheraton and I don't agree on much, but we both share a passion for these rolls that a cheeky waiter at New York's Barney Greengrass restaurant once described to an uninitiated friend of mine as the Jewish English muffin.
A toasted bialy (and you must toast a bialy, unless you get one fresh out of the oven) is the perfect vehicle for cream cheese or butter. It's light and substantial, crunchy and pliant, and just salty, yeasty, and oniony enough. Though many bagel bakeries across America sell holeless bagels they call bialys, in reality only a handful of bakeries in New York still make an authentic bialy, which is made with a completely different kind of dough than a bagel, and is simply baked—rather than boiled and then baked as a traditional bagel is. Bialys ship and freeze beautifully, and, thankfully, Kossar's on Grand Street in New York City, arguably the preeminent bialy baker in America, sends them all over the country.
My cream cheese of choice is Breakstone's whipped cream cheese. It's lighter than than those Philadelphia brand bricks. If your grocery store doesn't carry Breakstone's, buy Philadelphia brand whipped cream cheese. I have discovered another commercially available whipped cream cheese, Zausner's Original Amish Recipe , I like even more (it's slightly saltier), but I've only been able to buy it on Cape Cod. And my absolute favorite cream cheese in the world is Zingerman's farmstead cream cheese which is not whipped, but is wonderfully tart and creamy and has larger curds than commercial cream cheese. It has the rough-hewn texture of farmer's cheese.
I drink the Minute Maid Light Limeade with my bialy and cream cheese because it's simultaneously tart and sweet, has a nice spicy, citrusy tang, and very few calories. My first choice for a breakfast beverage to accompany my bialy would be fresh-squeezed orange juice, but I try to save the calories. Maybe I'm being silly here, as I believe an eight-ounce glass of orange juice has less than 100 calories.
So that's my weekday go-to breakfast. It has less than 250 calories, and is oh so satisfying.
I think there's a chance my dad would have switched to it if he could have seen this post.