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From a fluffy stack of pancakes to a simple bowl of Cheerios, there are plenty of options when it comes to the first meal of the day.
But what if I told you that I love having British baked beans for breakfast? And that I’m in some very royal company.
Baked beans were Princess Diana’s breakfast of choice
Chef Darren McGrady — who worked for the Queen at Buckingham Palace for 11 years before moving to Diana’s Kensington Palace home from 1993 to 1997 — previously told Insider’s Mikhaila Friel that the princess requested a tin of Heinz baked beans for her breakfast at least three times a week.
She ate the beans alongside a pink grapefruit, a cup of coffee, and a glass of orange juice before going to the gym, he added.
Diana even left her chef notes requesting the baked beans, as seen in the photo provided by McGrady below.
“She wanted Heinz beans because someone had told her they are low in carbs, low in fat, and high in protein, which is great for someone working out,” McGrady told Insider.
But when Chef Darren McGrady moved to the US, he realized beans weren’t part of (most) Americans’ breakfasts
While baked beans are essential to a traditional English breakfast (also known as a “full English,” a “fry-up,” or “The Greatest Hangover Cure of All Time,” as I like to call it), you’d never find them alongside your pancakes, bacon, and eggs at a local Waffle House or Denny’s.
“I remember cooking for a family when I first came over here, and I made the cardinal sin of serving baked beans for breakfast like it was the norm,” McGrady told Insider. “They didn’t eat them.”
But I’m ready to tell Americans that baked beans are a great choice for breakfast
Long before I learned that beans were Princess Diana’s favorite way to start the day, I was already pairing them with my daily serving of eggs.
I was introduced to the concept of beans for breakfast when I lived in London and had my first fry-up. I happily drenched my eggs and toast in the beans’ tomato sauce, building perfect bites with the accompanying bacon, sausage, and mushrooms. There was truly nothing better, especially after a big night out in Shoreditch.
After I moved back to the US, I found myself yearning for a good, full English breakfast — or at least the delicious beans that always came with it. I even brought some cans back with me whenever I visited the UK.
Then, one day while I was strolling down the international food aisle at my local Ralph’s, my eye caught sight of that signature turquoise tin. British baked beans! Right here in LA! No more carrying them across the Atlantic!
Since that fateful encounter, I’ve been eating British baked beans almost every day of the week
Just as Diana did, I’ve found that baked beans are a great way to fill and fuel me up before a midday workout. I usually pair them with fried eggs and some feta cheese (I am Greek after all). I’ll also add some slices of avocado if I’ve got one around to brighten up both the plate and flavors. And I always douse my beans with plenty of hot sauce and freshly ground black pepper. The beans also taste great with scrambled eggs and toast, adding the perfect hint of sweetness to an easy weekend brunch at home.
It takes just two and a half minutes to warm up the beans, and they’re healthy. I use half a tin per breakfast, which comes to 150 calories, nine grams of protein, and zero grams of fat.
If you do want to try them for breakfast, just remember the US and UK versions of Heinz baked beans are actually pretty different. The American variety is much sweeter and thicker because it’s cooked with pork molasses and brown sugar, while the British tin is vegetarian-friendly and has a thinner tomato sauce.
“Heinz made a British bean with less sugar — the Brits don’t want sugar in their breakfast,” McGrady told Insider.
As someone who grew up with Oreo O’s and Cookie Crisps always on top of the fridge, I’m no stranger to a sweet breakfast. But now I’m savory all the way, and Heinz baked beans have been the best way to start my day.
Plus, when it comes to good taste, Princess Diana always had it in spades.