Often touted as “the most important meal of the day,” breakfast has long been associated with a healthy lifestyle. Eating a nutritious breakfast is linked to benefits such as higher diet quality, improved cognitive function and decreased risk of diabetes and heart disease. However, many observational studies (some funded by breakfast brands such as Quaker and Kellogg’s) reinforcing the importance of breakfast note that breakfast eaters tend to have better dietary habits overall, possibly confounding the correlation.
The wellness-promoting qualities of breakfast assume it is not primarily composed of simple carbohydrates and added sugars. The invention of flaked grain cereal marked a dramatic shift in American breakfast. Popular breakfast desserts like the cinnamon roll, coffee cake and donut contribute to an average intake of 34 teaspoons of sugar a day. The USDA calculates this as over 500 calories per day and more than 100 lbs per person each year!
What’s more, “healthier” breakfast options tend to have as much sugar as the aforementioned. Choices like bagels, granola, waffles, fruit smoothies, flavored yogurt and sweetened oatmeal spike blood sugar as much as a bowl of ice cream. Pair these with orange juice or a sugary latte and you’ve eaten more than the recommended daily allotment of sugar within the first few hours of waking.
The rising popularity of intermittent fasting (often skipping breakfast) has many of us asking if we need breakfast at all. A prolonged fast has been associated with many of the same pros of eating breakfast: weight loss, lower risk of diabetes, heart health and benefits to the brain. Turns out, it’s not when you eat that seems most important, but what you eat.
With convenience and ease of preparation being primary considerations, we created satisfying breakfast options to help you feel and perform your best. Sweet potato hash is chock full of flavor from salty pancetta, halloumi cheese, smoky paprika, cumin and citrusy cilantro. Portobellos stuffed with garlicky spinach, plenty of parmesan and a jammy egg are quick to the table or to go in Tupperware. With these two recipes, you can enjoy a hearty, life-giving breakfast any time of the day.
Sweet Potato and Halloumi Hash
Makes 4 servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
1 lb sweet potato, scrubbed and cubed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 oz halloumi, cubed
4 oz pancetta, chopped
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt, plus more for potatoes
1/8 tsp chipotle pepper
For garnish: chopped green onion and cilantro
Optional: 4-8 fried eggs
Place potatoes in a large deep-rimmed pan. Cover with 2 inches of salted water and boil on medium-high heat until all the water evaporates.
Add olive oil, bell pepper, halloumi, pancetta and spices to boiled sweet potatoes. Sauté an additional 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally until halloumi is golden brown. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with green onion and cilantro. Serve hot, with 1-2 fried eggs per person.
Egg Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
Makes 4 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
4 portobello mushrooms, stems removed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper, divided
2 cups frozen spinach, thawed and strained
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp breadcrumbs
Preheat the oven to 400°. Using a spoon, gently scrape out the gills of each mushroom to provide more room for the filling. Chop mushroom gills coarsely and set aside.
Lay mushrooms, cap down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.
In a medium bowl, combine mushroom gills, spinach, cheese, garlic, breadcrumbs, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. After stirring the mixture well, divide it evenly and spoon into the mushroom cavity. Crack a raw egg onto the top of the spinach mixture and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and more breadcrumbs. Repeat for the remaining mushrooms.
Bake mushrooms for 15 minutes, until egg white is mostly set, but yolk is still runny. Serve immediately.