This morning I suffered a semi-serious steam injury while hiding a frittata from my colleagues. I know. What kind of weirdo makes a habit of hiding frittatas? Especially hot-from-the-microwave frittatas? The eggy dish in question was especially excellent, I’d like to add: batch-made at home, heated up in its Tupperware shell when I hit the office, full of good greens and fresh feta, and a hundred times better than a sad bowl of cornflakes. But apparently the memo that states you can have a real meal, not just a bagel in a baggie, hasn’t reached the rest of my colleagues. To prevent another "ew" face, or, "What is that?" yelled at me across the office kitchen, I panicked and snapped the lid on my tub when a colleague snuck up behind me.
I’d smothered my hot frittata like a dirty secret and beamed as I sauntered back to my desk while the frittata—angered—shot hot microwave steam onto my hand where the lid wasn’t on right. Anyone watching might have thought my eyes were watering at the anticipatory joy of eating al-desko.
This isn’t the first time I’ve felt the need to hide my breakfast from co-workers. My chia seed smoothie was great: Greek yogurt sweetened with cinnamon, blended with almond butter and milk. One colleague shrewdly noted, with wild, scared eyes, that it looked "like sludge." Another informed all who were present that my oatmeal with added coconut "smells like a curry" and "is not breakfast." Well, who knew?
Coconut oatmeal, by the way, is something you want to try at your desk. It’s just as easy as regular oatmeal, only you sub some of your oats for shredded coconut. Use whatever milk you fancy and you have a breakfast bowl that’s warming and filling but with a fresh twist. If you’re not nuts about coconuts, ground almonds are also perfect.
For anyone who is still stuck on dehydrated boxed cereal, going from normal oatmeal to nutty oatmeal is like the moment you first discovered flavored syrups in Starbucks and your mind exploded with caramel and pumpkin spice.
And the frittata I mentioned? That will give you a morning experience that’s like being lifted to the heavens in a beam of shiny light à la the Day of Reckoning. You can batch cook it at home with little effort (chopped spinach, cumin, sprinkled feta) and be really smug because you have a cooked breakfast that fills you up and tastes incredible–even when served with a side of sneering colleague.
Criticizing someone else’s food choice is unexpectedly personal when you’re on the receiving end. As someone who’s actively tried to improve their day-to-day eating habits, it’s interesting to note that the healthier your meal, the more likely it is to end up in the line of fire.
If I put flaxseed on my yogurt and blueberries, it’s just a waiting game until someone tells me it looks like icky birdseed. Firstly, I don’t know what I’m meant to say when someone says my food looks bad. Do I laugh? Nod earnestly in agreement? I mean, you’re wrong and rude, but I totally get where you’re coming from, colleague I’ve never so much as borrowed a stapler from before?
In retaliation, I could easily point at your cereal bowl and tell you it’s at 50 percent sugar and 50 percent flaky cardboard and mouse droppings. I don’t, because I’m lucky enough to possess the power of empathy and know that probably wouldn’t make you feel great. Especially if you were really happy about your breakfast. Maybe it was the one good thing about your morning so far. Why would you ruin someone’s start to the day like that?
I pity the poor fools who’ve yet to break free from the reins of toast. They are unimaginative and inevitably starving by 10 a.m., yet still turn their noses up to having something that isn’t a "real" breakfast. Treat your breakfast with the same dignity you allow your dinner, and remember what your Mom taught you: If you don’t have anything nice to say about your co-worker’s breakfast-in-a-tub, don’t say anything at all.
Sarah Musgrove is a freelance writer and digital editor across the pond, who has written for the likes of metro.co.uk and Oh, Comely magazine. Her favorite breakfast is the kind that someone else makes for her.