The beautiful and creative Sareen Akharjalian from Ink on the Side asked a question last week regarding different types of “lebanese” breakfasts – the famous man’oushe comes to mind.
Let’s get into that a little bit, because this IS a popular breakfast around here – especially for working men and women who want an easy breakfast on the go, that will keep them full for a while. However, do you know the benefits, if any, of what you’re eating? We know it’s yummy, but what else?
To put it simply, a store bought “zaatar” or thyme man’oushe can range from 300 to 500 calories (GULP!) and the cheese one even higher, reaching up to 800 calories depending on the size and amount of cheese added. That’s NOT even the worst news.
A few points to remember, besides calories, to help you curb your manoushe appetite:
- Most “commercial” bread nowadays contains a lot of milk and sugar, to make the bread softener and easier to bite into – this also means added calories in your breakfast. The high sugar content often means that you will get hungry quite quickly after.
- The oil in the thyme manoushe is placed into high temperatures which means it equals frying. Also, sesame seeds are known to soak up a lot of oil, so it’s possible that up to 60% (and even more in some cases) of your breakfast calories are from FAT. That’s a lot of calories to consume for the whole day, much less only for breakfast!
- Cheese is already high in fat, add to the that all the above – it’s like eating a pizza but without the added vegetables and tomato paste benefits, and it will most probably have more cheese as it is the main ingredient – and this isn’t your lunch even, just breakfast.
- A report published in the Daily Star back in February of this year, suggests that there have been cases of thyme “fraud”, and that some bakeries cheat their customers by using thyme that is actually anything but – it is “mix made purely from bran, some spices and a green dye that gives it an herbal smell and look resembling the real ingredient” AND (drum roll for this one please!) WOOD SHAVINGS.
Make your OWN! WHY?
- You have the option to use whole wheat bread, bread with no added sugar, or high fiber bread
- you have total control over how much oil to add. It is very easy to heat your bread separately and then add thyme and just a tablespoon of OLIVE oil on top as it is cooling, instead of heating the oil with the bread.
- you get to buy your own thyme with however much wood shavings you like – I don’t know about you, but if i’m going to eat wood, it has to be the very best quality! Seriously though, you get to buy local thyme from a trustworthy source and get the antioxidant, anti-fungal, and antiseptic benefits of it!
- With cheese, its the same thing – portion control is YOURS! opt for white cheese instead of yellow cheeses, and obviously for the lower fat, lower salt alternatives.
- with these changes, you can be cutting your caloric and fat intake BY HALF!
If you think making your own manoushe at home is a hassle, I know a lot of people that choose to even BAKE their own bread. They make the bread in batches and freeze it – the bread is thawed out the night before and baked for the next day’s breakfast. If this doesn’t work for you, opt for toast and cheese, or just a regular thyme sandwich and keep the manoushe as an indulgence! if you absolutely MUST MUST have your morning manoushe, try these suggestions:
- Share it
- Start with the vegetables that come with it, so lots of cucumbers and tomatoes
- Ask your baker to decrease the thyme and/or cheese
- Pick your bakeries – manoushe does differ from one baker to another, and this might mean a difference in oil content, milk and sugar
I’d like to thank Sareen for her question and for inspiring this post, and I’m also “stealing” this comic of hers to share here, you’ll understand why once you see it: