Nancy Wolfson-Moche's favorite breakfast takes seven minutes to prepare. Seven minutes from pulling the greens from her garden to a quick blanch, then to her plate.
"There's something so refreshing about it; I feel like I'm getting the energy, the charge of the earth," said Wolfson-Moche, a certified practitioner of macrobiotics, yoga and Torah yoga who recently released her first cookbook "Vegetables for Breakfast from A to Z."
The book, released in June, scrambles our cultural ideals of what breakfast should be. Instead of carb-heavy favorites like pancakes and waffles, Wolfson-Moche offers up recipes for Jerusalem Artichoke, Parsnip and Fennel Pancakes or Napa Cabbage Roll Ups.
"Breakfast should be gentle and easily digestible. After any fast, the first food introduced should be soft," she writes in the introduction of the cookbook. She goes on to explain that it should also include a warm soft grain, nutrient-dense vegetables and a plant-protein, such as nuts, seeds or beans. She also said it should contain a wide variety of flavors.
"One major thing is [vegetables for breakfast] bring different flavors to your table," she said in a phone interview from her home in Cornwall, Conn. "As Americans, we're used to eating a sweet breakfast, but there are five or six flavors, and sweet is only one of them. ... If our breakfast is entirely sweet, we will crave sweet throughout the day. Breakfast should include a range of flavors, so we can be more satisfied."
If the idea of sauteed mustard greens or arugula at 8 a.m. sounds tough to swallow, Wolfson-Moche understands. Her journey to vegetables at breakfast began almost two decades ago when, after marrying later in life, she decided she wanted to have children. Because of her age, she was ruled out for high-tech fertility intervention, she said. So she and her husband set out on a quest to find natural, alternative routes to help them conceive a child. At the time, Wolfson-Moche was a journalist, writing and editing for high-end fashion, beauty and travel publications (she spent 12 years in Italy as the correspondent for Departures magazine), so she approached her journey to non-invasive fertility treatments like she would a story, researching and pursuing every tip she could find. From acupuncture to yoga and macrobiotics, Wolfson-Moche tried it all and it worked. The now mother of two daughters — a 19-year-old and a 13-year-old — also found a heightened sense of awareness, an overhauled digestive system and lost 10 pounds without even trying. While she believes many of the things she tried contributed to her fertility journey, switching to vegetables for breakfast felt like a major change in her lifestyle that "helped me turn a corner," she said.
"Eating vegetables for breakfast changed the whole environment inside my body, it helped me create the miracle in my own life [birthing her first daughter] and what I wanted to share with people is their lives might change too," she said. "It helped me become more vital, more energetic."
And while she didn't plan on it while writing this book, this concept could be a welcome change during COVID-19 as more of us are staying at home, eating breakfast as a family at the table instead of on-the-go, hunched over desks. For those looking to slowly introduce more vegetables in the morning, Wolfson-Moche, a pescatarian, suggests enjoying the crunch of a raw carrot, or even a pickle can do.
"The truth is in the morning most of us are looking for rising energy — unless you have job in which you work through the night — we want rising energy, to feel energized," she said. "We want to eat something not long cooked; I suggest a steamed or blanched vegetable, a summer raw vegetable salad. ... Generally, in my real life, I eat something cooked very simply in the morning, not a combination of too many vegetables together, like a quick sauteed arugula. We love that in our family."
Wolfson-Moche is currently sheltering at home with her husband and youngest daughter and enjoying the extra time spent taking care of her vegetable garden. Normally, the founder of the business "You are Because You Eat" teaches in-person cooking classes or workshops. (For more information, visit www.youarebecauseyoueat.com.) But now, she is offering them virtually, including a "Supper Club" where she and her students cook a three-course meal in their own homes.
We asked Wolfson-Moche about a few of her favorite books related to cooking, health and wellness.
Q. What is your favorite cookbook? The one you go back to time and again?
A. As a collector of cookbooks, that is like asking which is my favorite child. I whittled it down to these: "Green Kitchen at Home," by David Frenkiel and Louise Vindahl (and really all of their books) because of their simple, authentic approach to cooking and eating. They transport me to Sweden with its clean, spare purity. "An Everlasting Meal," by Tamar Adler. This beautifully written book is as much about how as it is about what to cook.
Q. What is your favorite vegetable-focused cookbook?
A."Red, White and Greens," by Faith Willinger. She culled the recipes from Italian farmers selling at green markets throughout Italy. No one knows vegetables better than the people growing and harvesting them. And no one knows how to manifest the innate goodness of an ingredient like an Italian cook. "The Forest Feast for Kids: Colorful Vegetarian Recipes That Are Simple to Make," by Erin Gleeson. Designed for kids but relevant for everyone, this creative cookbook is about cooking and eating food infused with curiosity, love and passion.
Q. What book would you recommend to those looking to dive into their spiritual wellness in the middle of this pandemic?
A. "This is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared," by Alan Lew is a book about the journey of transformation aligned with the Jewish calendar. And "How to Cook a Wolf," by M.F.K. Fisher. Published in 1942 during the uncertain times of World War II, there are many parallels to this time, with good advice about how to live gracefully and simply with less convenience and abundance.
Q. When researching your own journey through fertility and health, what were some books, resources you used?
A. "Inconceivable," by Julia Indichova inspired me to believe anything was possible (and it was!). "The Self-Healing Cookbook," by Kristina Turner taught me a whole new way to perceive the power of food, dish by dish. The Torah, for its infinite, deep wisdom.
Q. What is the best book you read recently and couldn't put down?
Q. What's your favorite children's book?
A. I love children's books more than any books! So this is hard ..."Cain & Abel Finding the Fruits of Peace," by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso; "One Grain of Rice," by Demi; "The Hungry Clothes and other Jewish Folktales," by Peninnah Schram.
Q. What books are currently on your nightstand?
A."Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change our Minds & Shape Our Futures," by Merlin Sheldrake; "The Overstory," by Richard Powers; "Living in the Presence," by Benjamin Epstein, Ph.D.; "Dreams from My Father," by Barack Obama; "The Water Dancer," by Ta-Nehisi Coates; "When They Call You A Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir," by Patrisse Khan-Cullors; "What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their Stories," by Laura Shapiro.