It is 7am as I write this. I woke up this morning as I usually do, ready for a cup of coffee but not breakfast. In fact, I rarely wake up ready for breakfast. I’m pretty sure some of that might be biological, but I believe part of it is because I find breakfast rather boring and limited.
What I wanted this morning was something bright and refreshing that wouldn’t weigh me down, so at 6:30am, I ate a salad. Don’t get me wrong: I love a beautiful flaky and buttery pastry, a housemade slab of bacon, a crunchy bowl of cereal, a perfectly poached egg and a cheesy omelet. I am not here to knock tried and true breakfast classics, but rather address the limiting options to breakfast. I don’t understand why we can eat anything under the sun for dinner but breakfast is off limits to so many foods. Perhaps this is because we are just not ready for a culinary adventure first thing in the morning? Traditional breakfast also seems laden with fat, sugar and carbs and light on good fiber. I think any good meal should have something bright in it, and with the exception of fruit or raw onion on your bagel and schmear, there is nothing particularly fresh, bright and alive on the breakfast plate.
I am always looking to incorporate more healthy options into my morning meal, a little less carbs and a little more fiber and vitamins. I want to eat something that doesn't weigh me down but rather makes me feel energized. So here are some of my favorite ways to incorporate more vegetables into your morning meal.
On the Side
The absolute easiest thing to do is to serve a green salad with your eggs. If you have never tried this, I’m sure you will be hooked to the habit quickly. The key is a great vinaigrette with good quality vinegar and oil. You need a vinegar that has some acidity but that doesn’t make your mouth pucker. Here is one of my favorite recipes but you can simply use a good oil, vinegar, salt and pepper tossed with your greens.
For the vinaigrette:
1 shallot, minced
1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
1 to 2 teaspoons Dijon, whole-grain or tarragon mustard
3 tablespoons good-quality vinegar such as apple cider or Banyuls
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Put all ingredients in a blender and puree.
Mix Them In
I also love to toss handfuls of spinach or arugula into my scrambled eggs. After you scramble the eggs, just mix in some greens. They don’t fully cook but rather wilt a bit. Serve with a few slices of ripe tomato and a sprinkle of large flake sea salt!
Toast a nice piece of whole grain or Ezekiel bread, schmear a little mayo, horseradish, black pepper and salt over it. If you don’t want to use mayo, try some Greek yogurt instead. Sprinkle some capers or slice cornichons, pickled onions over that. Topped with an over easy or sliced hardboiled egg and top with a giant mound of greens, arugula, watercress, spinach or butter lettuce.
Bring on the Veggies
My favorite way to get more vegetables in my morning meal is to make vegetable hash. Not that you can’t or shouldn’t add potatoes, but you don’t have to stop there. Add onions, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, corn, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, peppers, parsnips, carrots or whatever you have on hand. Pan fry or roast the vegetables, add your favorite herbs and seasonings and top it with some poached, scrambled or over easy eggs.
Tuck Them In
Clearly omelets, crepes, pancakes and French toast are just waiting to be stuffed, so how about stuffing them with some vegetables? I don’t think the concept of veggies in an omelet or crepe seem strange to most people, but pancakes and French toast are happy to nestle some yummy vegetables inside too! Think about chicken and waffles. Savory and sweet make a great combination, so stuff that French toast with some sautéed mushrooms and spinach, fill that omelet with sautéed carrots, cumin and chilies, fold that cornmeal pancake and fill it with sweet corn, asparagus and peppers, and fill those crepes with fresh asparagus and roasted peppers.
Sauté some shallot and toss in a whole box of spinach or kale, mushrooms, carrots, peppers or whatever you have lying around. Sauté till tender and add a couple tablespoons of cream and cook a few minutes more. Add a little salt and pepper and top those tasty omelets, crepes, pancakes, poached or scrambled eggs with this creamed vegetable medley. If you don’t want to add the cream, try a little Greek yogurt instead. I love creamed spinach and poached eggs!
I hope you feel some license and motivation to vegetable up your breakfast plate! If you are looking for more breakfast inspiration, try these upcoming classes at The Chopping Block:
- Bloody Mary Brunch Sunday, June 23 10am Lincoln Square
- Brunch Al Fresco Saturday, June 15 10:30am Lincoln Square
- Bellini Brunch Saturday, June 29 10am Lincoln Square