Weekend mornings in January typically operate at a slower pace during the winter months at my house. The laid-back atmosphere is a welcome change from the hustle and bustle of the holidays and end-of-semester obligations. With shorter daylight hours and colder temperatures, I’ve stopped waking up at the crack of dawn to get an early start on my run or outdoor workout – although I will eventually get moving! The kids have finished up a nice long holiday break and, although they are back in school, haven’t resumed their loaded sports, band and volunteer schedules. Yahoo, we now have time for sleeping in and general lazing about on Saturdays and Sunday mornings. However, I must admit, all this loafing around until mid-day has made me mighty hungry, despite moving as slow as molasses kept on the window sill. Some might say my increased appetite is nature’s way of bulking me up for a long winter nap, the behavior is consistently seen in hibernating animals. Others suggest that simply being cold could be the root of my hunger and, by a leap of hopeful logic, being cold could actually make me skinny. A recent study published in the August 2013 Journal of Clinical Investigation reports that exposure to cold temperatures increases the number and activity of “good” brown adipose fat cells. Unlike our “bad” white fat cells that hold onto fat, these brown fat cells are prolific energy torchers. So, in cold weather, more food may be needed to maintain a constant weight! Corroborating this nosh-worthy news is the science behind shivering. Shivering is a homeostatic, subconscious function that helps regulate body temperature. According to the American Council on Exercise, up to 400 calories an hour are burned just from shivering. This means that, when I do finally decide to step out into the cold to move and groove, I’ll be burning a ton of calories until my core temperature warms up to its normal level. I learned this lesson the hard way when I once shivered for nearly two hours waiting for a marathon to start in freezing conditions. Now I know why my energy stores were prematurely depleted halfway through the race; my body had gone into homeostatic shiver overdrive in an effort to keep me alive.
Ingredients Ready for the Oven
So, what’s my point with all this talk about cold weather and calorie-burning? The point is – EAT! I think winter mornings should begin with a satiating breakfast that will provide fuel for whatever the day holds. Even if my morning starts off slow and lazy (as they have been lately), I very well could be barraged later with howling winds, sheets of sleet and frosty flakes of snow. However, just because I am burning extra energy to combat wintry conditions, doesn’t give me a free pass to pig out on excess sugar and fat. My hearty and healthy breakfast recipe for Spinach & Artichoke Blue Cheese Baked Eggs fills me up with the nutritious goodness of eggs, spinach, blue cheese, tomatoes and artichokes all drizzled with the tangy deliciousness of Litehouse Food’s OPA Blue Cheese Dressing. And, even though it’s easy enough to assemble and bake for a busy workweek morning, this recipe is perfectly suited to a slower-paced, relaxed winter brunch! I suggest you stoke the fire, batten down the hatches and bake up this healthy egg dish immediately – enjoy!