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Where Y'Eat: A Modest Proposal for Lighter Breakfast (Even in New Orleans)

Ian McNulty
An acai bowl for a healthier start in the morning.

I love grillades and grits and biscuits and gravy. To me, the aroma of sizzling bacon mixing with brewing coffee smells like victory.

But sometimes, what I really need is a breakfast that doesn’t make me want to slouch back to bed. Lately, it’s become much easier to find a morning meal that fits that bill, even in New Orleans.

The comfort food quotient of breakfast is off the charts. It’s the meal least receptive to trends. But even breakfast is starting to see new styles — lighter, fresher, often meatless, sometimes vegan.

Is it frou frou? Yeah, sometimes. But I’ve developed a periodic craving for it. It’s for those times when I want something restorative – dare I say, virtuous.

Yes, I’ve had the roasted carrot yogurt at Molly’s Rise and Shine, and at HiVolt the bowl of eggs with greens and quinoa they call the Ozzy.

I’ve ordered one breakfast bowl at the Daily Beet often enough that the counterman has patiently counseled me on pronouncing its key ingredient - that wondrous Brazilian berry açaí (to make myself remember I go a little Cajun with it). I’ve had fancy granola teeming with fruit at Pagoda Cafe and breakfast tacos at Lamara with nothing more indulgent in them than avocado crema.

It’s about balance. If eating well across this city has taught me one thing, it’s that ledger must be righted. If your big dinner out shoots the moon, maybe breakfast should go the other way, right?

This is the time of year to try, and maybe play catch up. We are in one of the small windows of the New Orleans calendar between celebrations. The holidays are packed away, football is done, we’ve had the first rush of king cakes but the parades parties are still a ways off.

Essentially, if you can’t eat a little lighter now, and at breakfast no less, you never will. Now pass me the chia seed pudding and don’t you dare pour me any decaf.

Ian covers food culture and dining in New Orleans through his weekly commentary series Where Y’Eat.