This post is written in collaboration with The Bakers and Millers of Britain.
I remember the day morning we went out to brunch at Bills with a group of runners after a 10K race a few years ago, and was dismayed by how many people were asking for their breakfast without toast. These were fit runners who were not trying to lose weight and had just pounded out a hard 6 mile race. They were also did not have coeliac disease or a gluten intolerance.
Why no toast?
Because bread been given a bad reputation in the past and I fear that many of the running/fitness bloggers were aware that everyone could hear their order and would judge them based on that. And don’t even start me on the gluten debate.
(For the record I think I ordered pancakes that day)
Last week I was invited along by the Federation of Bakers to attend their Toast or Hands pop-up café to try some try Unicorn Toast – basically toast with colourful, sparkly cream cheese. The pop up Toast or Hands cafe was set up for the day bust common myths about bread and tackle the misconception that bread is ‘unhealthy.’ Sliced loaves have been around for a long time and have been a staple part of the British diet. I remember my Granny used to wrap up a piece of bread in clingfilm alongside a glass of milk and leave it on her landing when I stayed over incase I got hungry in the night. I always used to force myself awake just to eat my midnight feast – it was a special part of staying over at her house!
Have you ever avoided bread because you thought it was ‘unhealthy’? I’m not talking about a brioche bun with your burger, (although ordering a ‘skinny burger’ makes me feel really sad), but the sliced loaf? It absolutely can and should be eaten as part of a balanced diet.
Bread is high in fibre (check out my post on why we should be paying more attention to fibre in our diet), naturally low in sugar and fat, and is only 80 calories a slice. Plus it’s really affordable, convenient and easily accessible carbohydrate. We keep a loaf in the freezer all the time, ready to pop in the toaster. We rely on bread a lot in our house for breakfast (scrambled eggs with marmite on toast is a Saturday favourite), sandwiches for both Tom and I for on the go lunches, and to eat with soup. You can find out more about bread by following @weheartbread on Twitter or Instagram.
As I’m marathon training currently, I am hungry all the time, and find myself adding in a post-run piece of toast with almond butter and berries, or a pre-long run peanut butter on toast with banana (it’s been my pre-race meal for years).
The reason the lack of toast at our post run brunch surprised me is because as ‘athletes’ (albeit hobby athletes), in particular endurance runners, we NEED carbohydrates in our diets. Energy consumed by our bodies during exercise is predominantly supplied by carbohydrates and fats, and it’s important for improvement of endurance to regulate metabolism of these substrates. (Exercise and Functional Foods, Nutritional Journal).
When you’re about to go for a long run/bike ride/swim etc taking carbohydrates immediately before or during exercise is also an effective method of improving endurance. Whilst post exercise intakes of protein along with carbohydrate is more effective for the rapid replenishment of muscle glycogen after exercise. (Exercise and Functional Foods, Nutritional Journal). The addition of protein to carbohydrate at a ratio of 3 – 4:1 (CHO: PRO) has been shown to increase endurance performance during both acute exercise and further bouts of endurance exercise (Nutrient Timings, International Society of Sports Nutrition). An excuse to spread that nut butter thickly over your toast 🙂
Although Unicorn Toast might not make an appearance on your plate anytime soon, Avocado on toast has long been an Instagram classic. My friend and former boss at Good Housekeeping, Meike, recently sent me this delicious looking recipe for Avocado Pesto, which trust me makes a delicious twist on the classic version. She wrote the recipe for her soon-to-launch toddler based recipe website and Instagram @nomnommtime, however it definitely got thumbs up from all ages in our house. Plus with sneaky addition of cashews and parmesan – it fulfils the post run protein, carb and fat hit. Spread on toast, or dip with grown up soldiers while you foam roll/stretch or just lie on the ground!
‘My eldest son is a pretty good eater, he tries most things and not much is a no-go. Ironically, avocado is a no-go….or was until my Avocado Pesto hit the scene. The health benefits of the avocado need little heralding, here they’ve just been supercharged with the addition of the mineral, vitamin and antioxidant-rich cashew. For kids, add no salt, but if the recipe is intended for adults, salt to taste and add a sprinkle of chilli flakes if you fancy. This pesto makes a sexy toast topping (add a poached egg and you’re in brunch heaven); you can also stir it through warm pasta, serve it as a dip with crudités or even alongside some chilli. Very versatile and very good for you – what’s not to love?’
30g unsalted cashews
40ml extra virgin olive oil
1 ripe avocado
Handful basil leaves
Squeeze of lemon juice
25g grated Parmesan
Whiz the cashews in the small bowl of a food processor, or in a blender, until well chopped. Halve and de-stone the avocado and spoon the flesh into the mixer/blender. Add the remaining ingredients and whiz to your desired texture. Season if not intended for little ones (though pepper is fine!) and serve how you wish.
Will generously cover 2 large slices of toast, and go further if smaller eaters are involved. Best enjoyed immediately but can be stored in the fridge if you scrape into a bowl and press a layer of clingfilm on to the surface (or cover with a thin layer of oil). The top of the pesto will discolour slightly, but the taste won’t be affected. Keep for up to a couple of days and allow to come to room temperature before serving.
While we’re here can I just give Meike a shout out. This girl hired me with no cooking skills beyond a passion for cooking at home, showed me how to write and triple test recipes to a Good Housekeeping standard, taught me how to work hard, fight for what you believe in and power through a migraine. She is the best boss I have ever had (or am likely to have), she led by example and told us exactly what was expected of us whilst making our stressful job a lot of fun. I really appreciate the feedback and encouragement she gave me throughout the years and I honestly don’t think I would be here today without her support, advice and input.