My Power Breakfast

One of the things I heard from a lot of you in our recent reader survey is that you’d like to see more of the stuff I eat on a daily basis. Not the feel-like-a-master-chef recipes — although there were requests for those, too, which I’m happy to accommodate — but the run-of-the-mill, sometimes-you-just-gotta-eat kinds of meals.

I recently gave my breakfast a makeover after reading tips in Chris Kresser’s book Your Personal Paleo Code for how I could work on lowering my blood pressure and improve the health of my gut. Sexy!

I’m not sure that any of you will want to adopt my freakish breakfast, but I thought I’d share — if only to help you appreciate your breakfast more. And if you’re feeling bold, maybe you will give this a try. It’s delicious and seriously packed with nutrition.

breakfastNope, that’s not a ghost on my plate. It’s the steam from my just-cooked spinach.

For context, you should know that I’m currently on a fat-loss mission. I’ve gained about 20 pounds in the last two years because of a variety of health-related adventures, but my status is pretty good right now, so I’ve made some tweaks to try to drop some LBs. Specifically, I’ve mildly reduced my overall volume of food, with the full approval of all of my expert advisors, and I’m keeping my macronutrients around 40% fat, 30% protein, 30% carbs. That seems to be a good place for me to support adrenal and thyroid function, while still giving me enough energy for my workouts and a sufficient deficit to lose a little weight. Note that I’ve been very specific about the amounts below. That’s just to give you an idea of what I’m doing — what I’m not doing is obsessively measuring, weighing, and monitoring…

Let’s take a tour of my typical breakfast plate…

Grilled Chicken Breast, 2-3 ounces: I season bone-in chicken breast with garlic powder, salt, and pepper and let it marinade in the seasonings while the grill heats up, about 20 minutes. I grill the chicken, bone-side up, on high until it’s brown and crisp, about 5 minutes, then flip it bone-side down, turn the heat to low, and cook it through gently for about 15-20 minutes. Oddly enough, I like to eat it cold for breakfast, and, if I’m being honest, I usually use my fingers. I’m eating chicken breast for now, instead of thighs, to help keep my fat in the 40% range.

Organic Pink Lady Apple, 1/2 large: For a long time I avoided eating fruit at breakfast because something I read somewhere sometime said that fruit in the morning was a bad idea. I call that food voodoo, and I hate it. I’ve since discovered that I feel better if I eat more carbohydrates — and fruit in the morning doesn’t have an adverse affect on me. Pink Lady apples are tart-sweet, and I like to use them as a delivery device for my luscious chopped chicken livers.

Chopped Chicken Livers, 2-3 ounces: As I explained in my recipe post, livers are a nutrition superfood, and since I really like the taste, this is a giant morning win. I’m committed to eating 4-6 ounces of liver every week, and I feel like I’m being super indulgent and luxurious when I eat my chopped chicken livers for breakfast.

Spinach, 1 cup: This leafy green is one of the vegetables known to help lower blood pressure, and since my BP is being a major jackass right now, I’m doing everything I can with food and supplements to gently wrangle it back in line. I always have a bag of frozen spinach defrosted in the fridge so I can eat a pile of it at breakfast (and sometimes lunch, too). I squeeze the excess water from the leaves, then sauté them in duck fat (about 1 teaspoon) with salt, pepper, and dried chives. Honestly, sometimes eating the spinach feels a little bit like homework, but it’s got to be done — and the chicken livers+apple make up for it.

Not pictured, but still important…

Hibiscus tea: I’m drinking 2-3 cups of hot hibiscus tea every day to help with blood pressure. I don’t love it, but I don’t actively dislike it, either. It’s fine: warm, kind of tart, and while I drink it, I visualize my BP readings going down.

Brazil nuts, 2-3 nuts: These tasty nuts are a great source of selenium, which is helpful for thyroid function. I only have about 1/3 of my thyroid left after having nodules removed in 2008, so I try to give it all the support I can so that the thyroid hormones I take very day can work their optimal best. Also, Brazil nuts taste crazy-good and make up for the need to drink hibiscus tea instead of coffee (which I would love to be drinking with lots of cream and sugar… sigh).

80% dark chocolate: F, yeah! One of Kresser’s recommendations in his book is that I eat 1/2 ounce of 80% dark chocolate every day to help manage blood pressure. OK, Chris. If you insist.

Sometimes I add a cup of Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup and on non-chicken liver days, I sometimes swap in smoked oysters to go along with the grilled chicken. It’s a little bit like eating cocktail party food, only instead of a little black dress, I’m usually in workout clothes and sporting some serious bedhead.

My life is ridiculously glamorous.



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  • Valerie says:

    Hi Melissa,

    WOW! Fantastic timing! I just bought your Well Fed book, and decided I wanted an example of “typical breakfast fare,” and here it is!

    Thank you!!! This is very helpful.


    • Mel says:

      Yay! Glad you like it. I recognize that it’s pretty weird for people who eat standard American breakfast, but I really like this combo.

      • Valerie says:

        One of my favorites is Grilled Tilapia. It’s great before heading out for a long bike ride. (Oh, and bacon and sweet potato pucks). Being “normal” is what got us in trouble to begin with!

  • Elaine says:

    Thank you for sharing & thanks to the readers for asking about typical meals. I do appreciate seeing your ‘real world’ menu. I’m a sweet potato & chocolate chili for breakfast kind of girl, so I’m open to good food anytime of the day.

  • It’s good that you like the taste of liver. I am trying to make myself eat it at breakfast too. I don’t like it and I find that it kills my appetite for hours. I am wondering if it’s because of all the nutrition or because I’m so repulsed by it. Either way, good weightloss tool.

  • Love this breakfast – seems like exactly what I crave in the morning. I just have to work on portion control with the liver (I adore liver.) I still have to read Chris Kresser’s book – I know I’m going to love it 🙂

  • Cathy M says:

    I have read and love Chris Kresser’s book too (actually got to see him here in Denver in February) and I have wondered if, in light ofhis recommendatios about thyroid stuff, you had changed you eatung window for the day.

    Hope things continue to improve for you on the health front!

  • Kathy says:

    I think you are so cool. You are very real and I love your website. Thanks for all you do.

  • Melissa says:

    I am still on the fat loss mission too and it sucks. I took for granted that I was easily able to maintain for 7 years. Screw hormones and thyroid!

    I need to get into liver. I love breakfasts outside the box

  • Chance Bunger says:

    Where do you get your Chicken Livers? I love them too! Making your best chicken you will ever eat recipe tonight, except I do it with pork tenderloins! So yummy! : )

  • Tiffany says:

    Thanks for sharing! My current go-to breakfast is your Mediterranean zuchhini noodles with sardines (I usually leave out the spaghetti squash). Lately, I’ve been inspired to turn it into a sort of pasta puttanesca. When the recipe calls for frying the garlic in the olive oil from the sardines, I’ve added a tablespoon or two of tomato paste. I also add some capers to finish everything off. So delicious and satisfying!

  • JennF says:

    I love liver for breakfast! I got into the habit of eating it then because my hubby hates the smell of it so much – I make it after he leaves for work and the smell is gone by the time he comes home. I usually eat beef liver as I can source grass-fed liver locally. I’ll have to try your resources for chicken liver, as I love it, but can’t find a pastured resource around here. Thanks for the info!

  • Katie says:

    I love this post! Thanks for sharing – this is inspiring my breakfast choices. I was interested in your chopped chicken livers recipe but seeing it in action is what I needed in order to give it a try.

  • Mel B says:

    I had to report in… I just made

  • Mel B says:

    I had to report in… I just made a “clean out the fridge” sort of gazpacho/tomato soup thing and whizzed it in the Vitamix last night… I had it for breakfast this morning with a few shreds of umami parmiggiano-reggiano, and it was pretty good!

    All hail the savory breakfast. I think many other cultures of the world (especially Asian cultures) have stuff to teach us Americans about eating savory breakfasts.. 🙂

  • Muriel says:

    Just started on the paleo diet due to health issues. Am feeling a little confused and today found your site and love it.
    Your tip on cutting and roasting spaghetti squash works better than any others I have tried.

    Question: do you think the silky zucchini soup will work for a cold summer soup?

    • I hope eating paleo helps you feel better soon — and I’m so glad you’re finding my site helpful. Best wishes to you!

      My dad eats the zucchini soup cold all the time. I bet it would be awesome with a little dollop of homemade mayo on top and some fresh chives, if you want to make it fancy.