Tag Archives: Breakfast

Make Ahead Egg Muffins

 

Usually, my morning routine looks something like this:

6:10 – hit snooze
6:17 – hit snooze
6:24 – finally get up, go make coffee
6:25-7:15 – enter a black hole in space and time
7:16 – realize I’m gonna be late if I don’t move it
7:17-7:20 – pack lunch, maybe breakfast
7:21-7:30 – run out the door and pray for light traffic

Now, I don’t know what your mornings are like. But if you’re anything like me, you like your sleep and don’t have time for a long and leisurely brekkie every day. And if you do, good for you! You can still use this quick-and-easy make ahead recipe and then have more time for you in the AM.

Make ahead egg muffins in muffin tin

These egg muffins are so simple, and you make a dozen at once. That way you can put 2-3 in baggies and refrigerate or freeze. Then breakfast all week is only a push of the microwave button away! You can scale up to feed a big family, or even make just one serving by mixing 2 eggs and desired ingredients in a coffee mug and microwaving. (Didn’t know that little trick? Oh yeah, it’s the best.)

You can also customize it to your taste preferences. Anything you would normally eat with or in scrambled eggs you can probably adapt to this recipe. Try sausage, or bacon, or ham. Vegetarians, this is a blank canvas! Add zucchini, shredded carrots, sweet potato, broccoli or cauliflower. And cheese is optional, but highly recommended!

Butter mushrooms and onion

Ingredients (makes 12 egg muffins):

  • baker’s dozen (13) eggs
  • 1 med onion, diced
  • 1 pint mushrooms
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 cup raw spinach
  • Optional: shredded cheese, breakfast meats, other veggies

butter and onions in pan

Step 1: In a pan over medium heat, add the butter and diced onion. Cook 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion becomes soft and see-through. Pre-heat the oven to 350, and spray a muffin tin really well with cooking oil. (Stuck, baked-on egg is the worst.)

scrambled egg and greased muffin tin

Step 2: Add the diced mushrooms, and cook another 5-7 minutes, until softened. You can add a few tbsp water or chicken stock if they seem to be sticking or burning. Just before pouring into the muffin tin, add the spinach to wilt.

scrambled egg in muffin tin and eggs

Step 3: Break all the eggs into a bowl, and whisk violently for a minute or two. Mix in the cooked onion, mushroom, and spinach. Pour into the muffin tins until 2/3 full; leave a little room because the egg will puff up as it cooks.

make ahead egg muffins with cheddar cheese

Step 4: If desired, sprinkle with shredded sharp cheddar or whatever cheese you like. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, until egg is fully cooked. Watch carefully at the end so that it doesn’t brown or burn.

I’d recommend letting these cool for a few minutes, then removing to a different plate or container quickly. You don’t want the egg to set and harden in the tin. It’s so easy to whip up a batch of these on the weekend, and you can even mix up the mix ins to have tons of options every day.

As for the cost? A dozen eggs is .99 – 1.29, or 4.50 for organic cage-free. Depends greatly on what you use to mix in, but the cost for an onion (~.50), mushrooms (.99 on sale), butter (maybe .50), and spinach (~.25 for 1 cup) for me comes to about 2.25. This makes 12 muffins, and I generally eat 2 for breakfast, so 6 servings. Let’s estimate high:

4.5 + 2.25 = 6.75 / 6 = basically just barely over a dollar per day, and that’s if I use the fancy eggs! For plain jane eggs, the cost drops to maybe 50 cents for an awesome breakfast that includes protein, fats, and a serving of vegetables! I can get behind that. I hope you can too!

 

Freezer Smoothie Packs

 

We all know mom always said breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  But we all know that sometimes it is the hardest meal of the day. It’s too early, we don’t have time, we can’t think of anything that sounds good, you don’t want to cook… the list of excuses goes on and on.

It’s hard to come up with something that is tasty, healthy, and also can be made in the 5 minutes you have before you rush out the door for the day.

Don’t worry dear reader, I’ve got your back.

Smoothie packs ready for the freezer

Enter: the freezer smoothie pack.

Just a few minutes of prep ahead of time on a weekend and you can have a whole week’s worth of healthy, on-the-go breakfasts ready and waiting in your freezer. These little bags are such a simple yet brilliant answer to the morning breakfast rush. And boy, are they customizable! All you really need is a good handful of greens, a fruit or two or three, and some baggies.

In the morning, just grab one bag, toss it in the blender with enough liquid (milk, almond milk, coconut water, tea, juice, whatever you like), blend and go. And if you have the kind of blender that makes single servings and you drink right out of it, your morning could not BE any simpler!

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For each smoothie pack, you will need:

  • 1 medium zip-top baggie
  • 1/2 – 1 cup greens (spinach, beet greens, kale, collards, etc)
  • 1/2 – 1 banana
  • 1/2 – 1 cup chopped other fruits

You can try just about anything in these freezer bags. It makes a great answer to almost-mushy fruits in the fridge, halves of things left over, and whatever fruits are in season and on sale. I used peaches, pears, bananas, local blueberries, and avocado. I also had half a pineapple and some beet greens from my garden, so I tossed those into a few bags as well.

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Step 1: Wash, peel, and cut up your fruits as needed. You can also slice your greens into smaller pieces to make blending easier.

Smoothie pack and blender

Step 2: Toss your baggies into the freezer. That’s it! When you are ready for a super quick healthy breakfast (or lunch, or snack, or dessert…) pour the contents of the bag into a blender, and add your liquid of choice. I like green tea for a gentle caffeine kick, or almond milk for some creamy smoothness.

Enjoy!

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Mexican Breakfast Strata

 

Don’t you just love it when you make something that takes literally just a few minutes, but turns out amazingly delicious and also very impressive looking?  Me too!  So the other day, my coworkers and I realized that it was someone’s birthday.  We had totally forgotten, and felt terrible, so we decided the following day would be birthday breakfast!  Obviously, I volunteered to cook something.  Problem was, I didn’t think that through…

The next morning, I checked the fridge, and didn’t see much besides some eggs.  But whatever I made had to be transportable; sunny side up doesn’t travel well, and reheated scrambled eggs is icky.  Then I saw a half loaf of bread and the light bulb went on: Strata!  Strata is a breakfast casserole based mostly on eggs and bread.  You can add anything at all pretty much, and it makes a delicious layered meal.

Upon checking the freezer, I found some turkey bacon, and a half bag of frozen corn and peppers/onions.  Since I always keep cans of diced tomatoes and different types of beans around, it just made sense that a Mexican themed strata came together.  Full disclosure: I had no idea how this would come out!  I threw it all together, popped it in the oven, and got in the shower.

Once it was done, I covered it in tin foil, wrapped it in towels to keep it warm, and stuck it in a reusable bag to take it to the office.  An hour later, after a round of “Happy Birthday” which was satisfactorily embarrassing for the coworker in question, came the moment of truth.  I pulled out the pan, uncovered the casserole, and the whole room erupted in “Oh my GOSH that looks amazing!” and “that smells SO good, what is it!?”.  Once we dug in, the compliments just kept rolling.  Almost everyone had seconds, and we finished the whole pan between 6 people!

All this is not to brag, but mostly to convince you that even though it might sound complicated, it is really not.  Even if the combination sounds weird, it does work well.  Just give it a try and see.  You can make strata for the first time on a weekend just to be safe and make sure you have time to get it just right, as long as you make it.  And then tell me I’m right.  🙂

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Ingredients:

  • 8-10 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 loaf of bread
  • 1/2 pound turkey bacon
  • 1 cup peppers and onions
  • 1/2 cup frozen or canned corn
  • 1 1/2 cup salsa or 1 can diced tomatoes with chilies
  • 1 cup black beans (or other type)
  • Optional: shredded cheddar cheese
  • Optional: fresh or dried oregano

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Step 1: In a large bowl, break all the eggs and scramble them well with a fork.  Add the milk and mix well.  Tear the bread into rough chunks.  You can also use a few days’ old bread for this, just add a splash more milk.  Some recipes call for leaving the bread overnight to soak, but I just made it right away and it turned out great, so it’s up to you.

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Step 2: In a frying pan, cook your bacon.  You can also use ham, sausage, and/or chorizo instead.  Or just omit the meat entirely to keep it vegetarian.

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Step 3: Add the vegetables and beans to the pan.  Heat well, and cook until peppers and onions are tender.

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Step 4: Spray a large 9×13 pan with cooking oil or spread with butter.  Pour in the bread and egg mixture.  Add optional cheese if using.

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Step 5: Pour the meats and vegetables and beans into the bread and eggs.  Mix it all together well.  You can also choose to keep it layered like a breakfast lasagna, if you have the time for that.

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Step 6: Bake the whole shebang in a 350 degree oven for about 35-45 minutes.  If you cover it with foil, it will bake faster, if you do not use foil, it will brown on top faster.

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Step 7: For the most impressive presentation, sprinkle with a little more cheddar and fresh oregano springs right when you take it out of the oven.  The cheese will melt from the heat.  Serve immediately, and try to keep yourself from devouring the whole pan in one sitting.

 

 

Mexican Breakfast Strata

Mexican Breakfast Strata

Ingredients

  • 8-10 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 loaf of bread
  • 1/2 pound turkey bacon
  • 1 cup peppers and onions
  • 1/2 cup frozen or canned corn
  • 1 1/2 cup salsa or 1 can diced tomatoes with chilies
  • 1 cup black beans (or other type)
  • Optional: shredded cheddar cheese
  • Optional: fresh or dried oregano

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, break all the eggs and scramble them well with a fork. Add the milk and mix well. Tear the bread into rough chunks. You can also use a few days' old bread for this, just add a splash more milk. Some recipes call for leaving the bread overnight to soak, but I just made it right away and it turned out great, so it's up to you.
  2. In a frying pan, cook your bacon. You can also use ham, sausage, and/or chorizo instead. Or just omit the meat entirely to keep it vegetarian.
  3. Add the vegetables and beans to the pan. Heat well, and cook until peppers and onions are tender.
  4. Spray a large 9x13 pan with cooking oil or spread with butter. Pour in the bread and egg mixture. Add optional cheese if using.
  5. Pour the meats and vegetables and beans into the bread and eggs. Mix it all together well. You can also choose to keep it layered like a breakfast lasagna, if you have the time for that.
  6. Bake the whole shebang in a 350 degree oven for about 35-45 minutes. If you cover it with foil, it will bake faster, if you do not use foil, it will brown on top faster.
  7. For the most impressive presentation, sprinkle with a little more cheddar and fresh oregano springs right when you take it out of the oven. The cheese will melt from the heat. Serve immediately, and try to keep yourself from devouring the whole pan in one sitting.
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Mediterranean Breakfast Sandwich

Though this sandwich does involve eggs, I hesitate to call it a “breakfast sandwich” because it would taste amazing any time of day.  Like my other recipes with Mediterranean in the title (such as my Mediterranean Meatloaf Muffins, Stuffed Mushroom Caps, Cashew Chicken, Vegetable Panini, or Chicken & Couscous), this recipe uses lots of healthy veggies, mostly bell peppers and avocado.  You could easily substitute or add in eggplants, zucchini, any type of olives, greens, or caramelized onions too.

Recipe makes 2 large sandwiches.  You can also turn these into wraps, or serve in a lettuce leaf, if you are avoiding carbs.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 jar roasted red bell peppers
  • 1 fresh avocado
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • 4 slices wheat bread
  • 2 slices cheese
Step 1: In a frying pan, heat the olive oil to sizzling.  Crack the eggs in, and fry 2-3 minutes, until whites are cooked.

Step 2: Flip the egg once all the whites have cooked.  Take the roasted peppers and add those to the pan.  The longer you cook the egg, the more solid and less runny the yolks become.

Step 3: Once the eggs are cooked and peppers are heated through, place one egg and 1-2 pieces of pepper onto each of 2 slices of bread.

Step 4: On two other slices of bread, add the cheese slice and half of the avocado.  Press the two halves of each sandwich together.

Step 5: If you need to, add 1 more tbsp olive oil.  Put the sandwiches into the pan, and cook for 4-5 minutes on both sides, until nice and browned and the cheese is melty.

 Slice the sandwiches in half, and enjoy!

Eggs in a Green Nest

 

One of the hardest hurdles when transitioning to healthier eating, at least for the majority of people, is eating leafy greens.  We all know that leafy greens are the healthiest things out there.  They contain tons of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  They cost us next to zero calories to consume.  Greens are full of digestible and indigestible fiber to keep your digestive system strong and healthy.

So why do they taste so bad?

Foods which to us taste bitter have an array of compounds in them that naturally protect the delicate leaves from insects who would love to snack at the salad bar of nature.  It is these compounds which tend to be so beneficial for our health.  Unfortunately, humans usually dislike the bitter taste at first.  Fortunately, you can re-train your taste buds to enjoy bitter, and there are many cooking techniques to make bitter foods more palatable.

Adding small amounts of high quality fat like olive oil, or a sour taste like vinegar or lemon juice, can help temper the bitterness of greens.  Sea salt or other salty sources like hard cheeses also helps mask the harsher flavors and draw out the sweeter notes.  My recipe for simply sauteed power greens uses these techniques to create a delicious side dish that even most greens-haters can enjoy.

Greens and Egg

In this simple breakfast recipe, I combine those techniques with fresh eggs for a superstar breakfast that is ready in under 10 minutes, packed with vitamins and nutrients and protein, and will keep you happy and full all morning long.  Enjoy over some brown rice or with whole wheat toast for a well rounded meal.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 fresh organic eggs, if possible
  • 1 large bunch greens (kale, collards, mustard greens, etc) or a mixture of greens to make about 1 – 1 1/2 cups
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp hard, salty cheese such as Parmesan
  • Optional: 1-2 slices wheat bread or 1/2 cup brown rice

Greens in Pan with Egg

Step 1: Rinse your greens to remove any dirt, and slice into thin strips or shred by hand.  Add the oil to the pan, then the greens, and drizzle with lemon juice.  Cover with a lid, and steam the greens for 5-7 minutes.  Optional: you can add a chopped clove or two of garlic

Greens and Egg Yolk and Toast

Step 2: Mix the greens, they should be bright and slightly wilted now.  Use a spoon or spatula to make a small indent in the pile of greens, and crack an egg into the hole.  Cover again, and steam for another 5-7 minutes.  The longer you cook the egg, the more well-done the yolk becomes.  5-7 minutes will leave it slightly runny, as in above photo.

Once the egg is cooked to your desired done-ness, remove to a plate and serve!  I sprinkled a little hard cheese over the egg, which gives it the perfect salty balance to the tart & bitter greens.  You can also use sea salt for the same effect.

You can easily increase this recipe to feed several more people, simply increase the volume of greens and crack in one to two eggs per person.  This is delightful plain with toast, or you could serve with black beans, salsa, hot sauce, relish… whatever floats your culinary boat.

 

Cranberry Orange Muffins

 

One of the best things about fall is all the wonderful scents and flavors that come into season.  Of course the powerhouse is Pumpkin Spice, undisputed king of the fall flavors.  But I’m more of a fan of the littler-known seasonal delights, like nutmeg, fall squash, citrus, and cranberries.

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And of course, cranberries & oranges go together like peanut butter and jelly in the fall. Cranberry & orange tastes great on chicken, pork, or fish, they go together in relish for your Thanksgiving turkey, or baked into bread, cookies, and of course muffins!

These muffins are light and moist, with a lovely sweet tang from the juice and the berries. Perfect for snacking, quick breakfasts, or midday snacks. These muffins can also be frozen in single layers and popped into baggies for an on-the-go treat later. Simply microwave or pop in a toaster oven for a warm fluffy breakfast.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 large orange
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup fresh, dried, or frozen cranberries
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda

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Step 1: In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder & soda, ) and in another bowl mix all the wet ingredients (egg, oil, juice). You can juice an actual orange for the juice if you have the ability.

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Step 2: Grate the peel of one orange, and mix it into the wet ingredients. Mix the wet into the dry ingredients, and fold together until moist. Add in the cranberries. If you’re using frozen cranberries, thaw and drain them first so your batter doesn’t get too watery.

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Step 3: Either spray muffin tins with cooking oil or line them with muffin papers. Pour about 1/3 cup of batter into each opening. Bake at 350 F for 25-30 minutes, until the muffins are browning on the top and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

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Remove your lovely muffins and let them cool enough to take out of the pan. Then enjoy at least one (or three, I won’t tell!) while they’re still warm.  MMMM MMM! So delicious with coffee, hot tea, or some fresh hot chocolate.

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Cranberry Orange Muffins

Cranberry Orange Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 large orange
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup fresh, dried, or frozen cranberries
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder & soda, ) and in another bowl mix all the wet ingredients (egg, oil, juice). You can juice an actual orange for the juice if you have the ability.
  2. Grate the peel of one orange, and mix it into the wet ingredients. Mix the wet into the dry ingredients, and fold together until moist. Add in the cranberries. If you're using frozen cranberries, thaw and drain them first so your batter doesn't get too watery.
  3. Either spray muffin tins with cooking oil or line them with muffin papers. Pour about 1/3 cup of batter into each opening. Bake at 350 F for 25-30 minutes, until the muffins are browning on the top and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
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Sausage & pepper quiche

 

This recipe is so simple, you can make it for one person or a dozen, using only a plastic cup & frying pan, or the fanciest of oven-safe cast iron cookware. I used one turkey sausage link and a few slices of bell pepper, plus bagged spinach. But feel free to use whatever veggies you have in the fridge, like onion, carrots, broccoli, etc.

Scale up by multiplying the ingredients list by however many people you are wanting to serve. You could also put bread in the bottom of an oven-safe pan and pour this over it to create a breakfast strata, or just scramble it all in a pan if you don’t have a stove-top-to-oven pan.

Ingredients:

  • 1 sausage link
  • 1/2 bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • Salt & pepper
  • Optional: sprinkle of cheddar cheese

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Step 1: In a frying pan or cast iron skillet, brown the sausage link. (You could also use a 1/4 cup of ground sausage or a patty). Cut the sausage into small bite sized pieces.

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Step 2: Break the eggs into a bowl or cup. Scramble them well with a fork, until fluffy.

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Step 3: In the skillet, using sausage oils, cook the peppers 5-6 minutes until softened, then add spinach. Cook just a few minutes, until wilted. Add the sausage back in and mix.

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Step 4: Pour the scrambled eggs on top, and distribute evenly around the pan. Let cook on medium heat, for 7-8 minutes, until the eggs are halfway cooked.

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If using, sprinkle on the cheddar cheese, and add the seasoning.

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Step 5: Assuming you are using an oven-safe pan, put the entire pan into the oven (carefully!) on 350 F for 10 minutes to fully cook the eggs. Alternatives here are to scramble it, or make it into an omelet by flipping it in half.

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Cut into pizza slices, and enjoy! This is a great brunch recipe, could be breakfast for dinner, and is even fast & easy enough to make for yourself on a weekday morning. Feel free to omit the sausage for a quick & delicious vegetarian breakfast as well.

 

Sausage & pepper quiche

Ingredients

  • 1 sausage link
  • 1/2 bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • Salt & pepper
  • Optional: sprinkle of cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. In a frying pan or cast iron skillet, brown the sausage link. (You could also use a 1/4 cup of ground sausage or a patty). Cut the sausage into small bite sized pieces.
  2. Break the eggs into a bowl or cup. Scramble them well with a fork, until fluffy.
  3. In the skillet, using sausage oils, cook the peppers 5-6 minutes until softened, then add spinach. Cook just a few minutes, until wilted. Add the sausage back in and mix.
  4. Pour the scrambled eggs on top, and distribute evenly around the pan. Let cook on medium heat, for 7-8 minutes, until the eggs are halfway cooked.
  5. If using, sprinkle on the cheddar cheese, and add the seasoning.
  6. Assuming you are using an oven-safe pan, put the entire pan into the oven (carefully!) on 350 F for 10 minutes to fully cook the eggs. Alternatives here are to scramble it, or make it into an omelet by flipping it in half.
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Perfect Diner Breakfast

 

Whenever you go to a diner, you know the kind, with linoleum floors, a jukebox, and likely some kind of dated decor, you have to get the classics. Hashbrowns, scrambled eggs, and toast. Don’t forget the endless coffee.

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While those are the classics, many people are intimidated by these simple breakfast favorites. Let me assure you, the perfect diner breakfast can be yours at home in under 20 minutes! If you really are unsure, just try one component at a time until you convince yourself that you really can do it all. Maybe start with toast 😉

This makes enough for two hearty servings. Coffee separate.

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • Optional: veg/meat for the eggs, I used deli ham and chopped sweet bell peppers
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 4 slices bread
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

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Step 1: If using veggies or meats, cook those 5-7 minutes in a frying pan. You can also just leave the eggs plain, or fry them over-easy.

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Step 2: Dice the potatoes into small cubes. To make it faster, microwave for 6-7 minutes. Heat the oil in a pan (you can use the same one from the eggs) and add the potatoes. Cook, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir and add seasonings, then cook another 5 minutes or until soft but crisp outside, stirring often.

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Step 3: Toast the bread using a toaster or by buttering and placing in the frying pan for 1 minute per side.

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Place all the components on a plate, and enjoy!

This looks very visually appealing, and tastes divine. Proof that you don’t need anything too fancy for a perfect and satisfying meal. Breakfast is also great any time of day, you can totally have breakfast for dinner. And breakfast foods tend to be cheap too, the cost of 3 eggs, 2 potatoes, and 4 slices of bread is likely under a dollar.

Perfect Diner Breakfast

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • Optional: veg/meat for the eggs, I used deli ham and chopped sweet bell peppers
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 4 slices bread
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. If using veggies or meats, cook those 5-7 minutes in a frying pan. You can also just leave the eggs plain, or fry them over-easy.
  2. Dice the potatoes into small cubes. To make it faster, microwave for 6-7 minutes. Heat the oil in a pan (you can use the same one from the eggs) and add the potatoes. Cook, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir and add seasonings, then cook another 5 minutes or until soft but crisp outside, stirring often.
  3. Toast the bread using a toaster or by buttering and placing in the frying pan for 1 minute per side.
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Recipe Review: Overnight Oatmeal from Oh She Glows

 

We all know by now that eating breakfast is a good idea. It gets your metabolism going, and should help keep you from eating everything in sight by 11am. Now, in an ideal world we would all love cooking, be world-class chefs, have a kitchen and pantry stocked with nutritious foods, be able to dedicate an hour every morning to whipping up filling, healthy delicacies, and have a personal dish-washer and house cleaner afterwards.

This is not how the real world works.

Many of you are decidedly *not* morning people, and the thought of heating up a frying pan or dicing veggies before three cups of coffee is repulsive. Many of you have children, and the idea that you will have more than ten free seconds to yourself is laughable. And many just don’t enjoy cooking, don’t want to wake up 20 minutes early to make time to cook, or for whatever reason just don’t want to cook a hot breakfast.

That is totally fine. I have a solution that is far healthier and easier on your wallet than running through a drive through and wasting $8 on a carb-heavy bagel, fatty cream cheese, and overpriced coffee that will just leave you with a mid-morning slump.

At the risk of giving away the secret, I’ll tell you: oatmeal.

Ok, cat’s out of the bag. For those of you who just thought “ugh, I refuse to eat gruel for breakfast”, stay with me.

Oats are a powerhouse food, containing the highest amounts of beta-glucan, a beneficial type of fiber, in any known grain. Beta glucan helps slow digestion, and lowers levels of the ‘bad’ cholesterol. This fiber also helps you feel full longer, by eating fewer calories. They also contain a bundle of trace minerals our bodies need for all sorts of functions.

The FDA claims oats can help lower risk of heart disease, and many publications back up that claim. The only caution against oats is that, although they do not contain gluten, they are often grown in the same fields or near other crops such as wheat or barley. Thus those who truly are gluten-intolerant should be cautious.

Anywhoodles, in order to up your oat consumption without feeling like the little kid from Charles Dickens eating his gruel, there are so many things you can do to spruce up a bowl of oatmeal. And making it yourself at home can also save you tons of money and loads of added calories, sweeteners, preservatives, thickeners, etc. over pre-packaged microwave oatmeal options.

The time-saving factor comes in when you try the recommendation of “Oh She Glows” blogger: overnight oatmeal.

Anyone who has tried using real, raw oats rather than the “instant” or “minute” stuff knows, it takes a looooooong time to cook. So by soaking the oats overnight in the refrigerator, problem solved! The oats are soft and ready to go, you just need to give it a quick blast of heat, then add toppings as desired.

My first go, I followed the recipe exactly. Since then, I’ve experimented with oodles of different toppings. I’ll tell you my current fave at the end of the post!

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1-2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/3-1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup almond/soy milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed
  • Optional: cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, sea salt, nuts/seeds/dried fruit

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Step 1: Mash your banana into a glass bowl. Add the oats, flax, and chia. Sprinkle on whatever spices you’re using: I added some cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.

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Step 2: Add the milk and water, and put it in the fridge overnight.

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Step 3: Now, while you sleep, the oats and chia are soaking up the moisture and getting nice and soft.

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Step 4: In the morning, add any other toppings you didn’t want to get too mushy, like dried fruits, nuts, or honey.

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I added about 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder, dried prunes, and chopped up almonds for a chocolate-banana feel and a little crunch.

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This is my oatmeal in the refrigerator, working its magic.

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All toppings added and mixed, ready to heat!

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Step 5: Just pop your bowl in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, or an oven set to 350 for 8-10 minutes, and enjoy!

 

Since I’ve tried every nut, fruit, and spice I could get my hands on, my favorite combo so far is:

  • 1/3 c oats
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 4-5 dried prunes
  • 4-5 dried dates
  • 1 tbsp golden raisins
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon

The dates have such a unique flavor, and the combination of dried fruits lends such a sweetness to the finished product. The almond butter gives it a nice burst of flavor too. I cut back on chia and got rid of the flax, because the original recipe was a little too… chewy for my taste. After all, people use flax or chia and water as an egg substitute, so they do make a bit of a gel-like texture.

Your ideal bowl may be something different, mix it up depending on your tastes, what you have available, and any allergies/sensitivities. But this is a quick, super easy, and economical way to start any day off right!

 

Rainbow burrito

 

Burritos are one of my favorite ways to sneak in extra vegetables. Because you can’t really see them, you can put all kinds of rainbow goodies in there and help your heart and health with little effort.

Obviously, sub in 1 cup of whatever veggies you have on hand. This is what I had, and it made a pretty breakfast.

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 strips red bell pepper
  • 1 slice turkey bacon
  • 1-2 strips orange bell pepper
  • 2 eggs, scrambled
  • 1-2 strips green bell pepper
  • 2 med purple cauliflower florets
  • 1 10 inch tortilla

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Step 1: In a frying pan, saute the veggies until soft when poked with a fork.

Step 2: Add the eggs, and cook 5-7 minutes, stirring every so often, until everything is cooked.

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Step 3: Pour it onto a warm tortilla and wrap it up, tucking in the ends. You can add in sriracha or other sauces if you like. Enjoy!