Help me change my breakfast routine for the better!
September 7, 2014 8:11 PM   Subscribe

I've been stuck in a multigrain Cheerios + sweetened soy milk + scrambled egg rut for wayyy too long. I'd like to eat healthier, filling breakfasts with whole grains, and learn to like savory foods for breakfast as well. Details inside!

I've always been one for super traditional breakfasts - cereal, pancakes, muffins, scones, etc. But my current breakfast regime has a lot of added sugars and doesn't keep me full for very long. I am looking for breakfast suggestions that meet one or more of the following options:

1 - Whole grains with little or no sugar.
2 - Savory - I'm particularly looking for ways to start incorporating vegetables into my breakfasts, which I know will be a challenge for me.
3 - Relatively easy to make or reheat in the mornings. Totally open to things that can be made on weekends and reheated (for example, I've started making a batch of steel-cut oats on Sundays and having some in the morning for the next few days, with fruit added and a scrambled egg on the side).
4 - High (or at least higher) in protein.
5 - Incorporates fruit, including frozen fruit that I can get during the winter.

I'm a reasonably competent cook/baker and have a pretty well stocked/equipped kitchen. I just checked my pantry and currently have the following on hand: couscous (tiny and pearl), wheatberries, buckwheat kasha, buckwheat groats, millet, hullless oats, steel cut oats, amaranth, quinoa, semolina flour, light rye flour, teff flour, garbanzo bean flour, and quinoa flour.

I also have the cookbooks "Whole Grain Mornings" by Megan Gordon and "Whole Grains for a New Generation" by Liana Krissoff and Rinne Allen, but have not really started exploring them yet.

I'm not averse to other variations on cereal + milk either, but I'd also love recommendations for a nonsweetened nondairy milk, preferably one that's easily available. I'm using Costco's Kirkland brand organic soy milk right now.

My stomach and I thank you all! (I'm tired of being hungry an hour and a half after I finish breakfast...)
posted by skycrashesdown to Food & Drink (32 answers total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
What about breakfast burritos? You could use a whole grain tortilla, your eggs that you already like, and then fill it out with veggies and good cheese.
posted by xingcat at 8:21 PM on September 7, 2014

Frittatas are one of my go to easy meals. You can throw whatever leftovers you have on Sunday night into a skillet to reheat, add several beaten eggs, and cook on the stovetop until almost set. Finish under the broiler to fully cook the eggs. Kale and sausage or bacon make a great frittata filling, and you can easily portion it out for three or four days.

If sodium is not a concern, how about fish? Lox, smoked trout, or white anchovies all pair well with scrambled eggs. You could add some wilted spinach or other greens.
posted by SobaFett at 8:25 PM on September 7, 2014 [5 favorites]

What about frittatas with vegetables? I have a recipe for a bell pepper and feta frittata with collard greens on my blog, meMail me if you would like the link. Doesn't take too long to make, cut up in wedges, and reheat in the morning. It's one of the best ways to hide vegetables in your breakfast.
posted by at 8:26 PM on September 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Plain old oatmeal is easy and filling. 1/2 cup rolled oats (thicker cut is better, Quaker old fashioned are too thin), scant 3/4 c water, pinch of salt. 3 - 4 minutes in the microwave (less time for thinner oats). Sweeten to taste.
posted by leahwrenn at 8:31 PM on September 7, 2014

Steel cut oats instead of Cheerios.

You can make them the night before - bring the water to a boil, put the oats in, immediately turn off the heat and put a lid on. In the morning you will have perfectly cooked oats.

You can add soy milk, nuts, raisins or my personal fave is 1tsp blackstrap molasses.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:32 PM on September 7, 2014

I recently made a switch to savory breakfasts, and what works best for me is a pile o' veggies, a la a hash, with a couple of eggs on top - usually fried or soft boiled, but sometimes poached. I'll make up the veggies at the beginning of the week, and reheat them each morning. Kale, mushrooms, sweet potatoes and sun-dried tomatoes is typical for me. Last week I made a ton of extra filling for veggie enchiladas, so I've been eating that with eggs. If I need a bit more food, I'll have some fruit, a piece of toast, or some avocado. I'm breastfeeding (read: using lots of extra calories) and the time since I started eating breakfast like this is the first time in my life I haven't been hungry an hour after breakfast.
posted by linettasky at 8:40 PM on September 7, 2014 [8 favorites]

I had a shakshuka on the weekend for the first time at a cafe, when I looked up the recipe its so easy to make! The one I had had harissa in it though, so perhaps its more like this (which is even easier). Its savoury, filling and delicious. Its also pretty high in protein due to the eggs. To bulk it up I've heard of people using capsicum, or chickpeas. Its a pretty versatile kind of dish.
posted by Admira at 8:49 PM on September 7, 2014 [7 favorites]

There were some recent answers here about savory oatmeals and other savory breakfasts that you might find useful. Personally I eat a lot of leftover dinner food for breakfast because I don't like sweet stuff and I don't want to spend a long time cooking and cleaning in the morning, but some of the recipes in that link sound wonderful to me.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:55 PM on September 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm really into avocado toast for breakfast. Toast whole wheat bread (I get Double Fiber Wheat for extra goodness). Mush up some avocado (1/4 avocado per slice works for me), and sprinkle salt and pepper.
posted by radioamy at 9:04 PM on September 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

Here are some savory breakfast ideas with quinoa:
  • Sweet potato, spinach, and quinoa [breakfast] patties: can reheat and eat on the go! (I'd probably use some sort of tahini sauce for dipping, but you could also make an easy plain Greek-style yogurt and cucumber dip for even more protein — this recipe = 15g protein
  • Quinoa Breakfast Bake: warm, easily reheated, and with spinach
  • Quinoa "spanakopita": this has spinach, too, plus added protein from feta cheese and the richness of pine nuts
  • Cauliflower fried "rice": this recipe calls for an entire head of cauliflower, plus has carrots, peas, and corn — and you can easily reheat
  • [This one is not like the others] Even the baker of these quinoa energy bars says, "These are not healthy," but they incorporate some fruit, and you could omit that 1/2 cup of sugar for dried fruit (e.g. soaked raisins, etc.) in case you find yourself needing a snack after already breakfasting on the above options
  • Savory breakfast quinoa: eggs, spinach, quinoa, other veggies = yum (and you could cook quinoa portion the night before, reheat, and just cook an egg and place on top)

posted by simulacra at 9:06 PM on September 7, 2014 [4 favorites]

Fruit has sugar too. It is natural sugar that is accompanied by fiber and nutrients, but it's still sugar and still has the same effect in your body.

I personally love burritos for breakfast. Burritos made with egg and some combination of vegetables, potatoes, bacon or cheese -- whatever you want. Or an actual bean burrito. Filling, full of protein and fiber, and very convenient. You can make them yourself and freeze it, or try to find some frozen ones that are made with real ingredients and not preservatives. I make these for breakfast every morning.

You can make little quiche/frittata types thing in a muffin tin and freeze them too.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:15 PM on September 7, 2014

As a general note you'll feel fuller if your breakfast is protein and fat heavy and lighter on the carbs (both sugar and grain). I think Radioamy's toast with avocado is a good example of moving in that direction, as are some of the other ideas like breakfast burritos and frittatas.
posted by MillMan at 9:19 PM on September 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

This misses the first couple of your criteria, but splendidly hits numbers 3, 4, and 5, so I thought I'd throw it out there. I've been having a cup of plain unsweetened full-fat Greek yogurt for breakfast, and I have found it extremely filling - far more than carb-heavy breakfasts. It has a lot of protein and fat, which makes it surprisingly hearty for under 200 calories. It's extremely quick, obviously, and can be eaten as-is, or can be eaten with sweetener/honey and/or fresh fruit added, or - as I do - mix up a little bit of instant coffee with hot water until it dissolves, and then stir it into the yogurt for extra morning energy. Also, you can add add water (or non-dairy milk), frozen fruit, and possibly sweetener, and stick the whole thing in the blender for a fast smoothie. Recent studies have suggested that full-fat dairy aids in weight management, as well, and all of the good bacteria and fermentation are good for GI health.
posted by ClaireBear at 9:31 PM on September 7, 2014

One of my go-to breakfasts is smoked salmon with baby carrots & an orange, or cucumbers & a banana, or whatever fruit plus vegetable one loves. Delicious.
posted by KathrynT at 10:25 PM on September 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

In a similar vein to ClaireBear's suggestion, my everyday breakfast is a smoothie made with the following:
- 7 oz Greek yogurt (a single serving cup)
- 1/2 frozen banana
- large handful frozen blueberries
- small handful frozen strawberries

It blends up very quickly with an immersion blender and cleanup is minimal. It's high in protein and healthy fat. It tastes soooo good.
posted by telegraph at 10:29 PM on September 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

My husband makes me fruit porridge in the morning. It's oatmeal that's as high protein as possible with milk, and then he sprinkles chopped nuts and seeds on, and then he stirs in a lot of fruit - it's important to have 40% fruit (whatever is around - apples, bananas, plums - just cut into tiny chunks) and the oatmeal is super-thick and almost chewy. Sometimes with a dollop of yogurt on it. You can make porridge in advance overnight and just stir everything into it in the morning. It's nice with spices too. He made several variations but it wasn't until he made it dense and very fruity that it was delicious.
posted by viggorlijah at 11:57 PM on September 7, 2014

Go-to breakfast in our household has been a chickpea flour pancake lately, which has the benefit of being both high in protein and CRAZY EASY to make.

The base recipe is 1 cup gram flour (or chickpea flour, or besan) whisked with 1 tsp baking powder and a variety of spices for flavour (my standard combination is 1 tbsp nutritional yeast + 1 tsp turmeric + sometimes some cumin + always a ton of black pepper), then I whisk in 1 cup water + 1 tbsp olive oil. Sometimes I'll fold chopped fresh spinach into the batter. You cook it like a regular pancake - it's kind of like a giant vegan omelette - and I treat it as a condiment conveyance device. I usually serve with sauerkraut, mustard, avocado and salsa - it's weird but it works. It takes no time at all and is VERY filling.

Edited to add: before I became vegan in January I'd slice a ton of veggies on the weekend and keep 'em in a zip loc bag, then make scrambled eggs with sausage and veggies. I'd brown the sausage, add a few handfuls of veggies (usually zucchini, red onion and capsicum), cook all that down, then add an egg or two. VERY filling and the weekend prep means it's super quick to make.
posted by nerdfish at 12:58 AM on September 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

Nthing frittatas - I like to fry up a sliced chorizo and some mushrooms in an ovensafe pan, add six beaten eggs (sometimes with a bit of milk stirred in), top with crumbled feta and halved cherry tomatoes, and bake till it sets. Also delicious (and more portable) on brown grainy toast with a slather of pesto.

You can bake eggs individually in muffin pans, as a tiny frittata or in a ham cup, or add in spinach, mushroom and tomato or capsicum, spinach and avocado.

Frittatas are pretty forgiving, so you can basically add any vegetables you like in. Alternatively, you could cook up a batch of plainish frittata, baked or boiled eggs, and also cook up a pot of mushrooms, spinach, or whatever other vegetables you'd like at the start of the week. Portion them out with a serve of eggs and a serve of vegetables, microwave on the morning and eat.

Also great are these cottage cheese muffins, which are made with only 1/4 cup of flour - and I've found wholemeal works fine. They're savoury, high protein, easy to make and are delicious at room temperature or after a quick zap in the microwave.
posted by escapepod at 3:41 AM on September 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Take a trip abroad to at least two countries that are vastly different from yours. There you will realise that breakfast mores are very different from one place to another.

On a more serious note, the Internet is awash with useful resources and you can pick a habit or two along the way, such as a hot beverage (tea, coffee, milk) with honey for the sweet taste, then a bowl of fruits salad or boiled eggs - no bread
posted by Kwadeng at 3:57 AM on September 8, 2014

If you're already scrambling eggs, why not throw some veggies in? You can prepare (chop, sautée) the veggies ahead of time, then just throw them into your eggs, maybe with cheese. I personally love broccoli, mushroom and mozzarella. The key is to chop the veggies up pretty small and sautée them first so they don't make your eggs watery.

If you want, you can make a frittata, or fold the veggies into an omelette, but I've found just throwing them into a scramble works too. Add a slice of whole wheat toast and you're good in less than 10 minutes.
posted by lunasol at 4:26 AM on September 8, 2014

I adore Almond Breeze unsweetened almond milk. It has a better flavor and texture than soy, and is better for you. Also, if you have a Whole Foods, their 365 brand is good too.
posted by DoubleLune at 4:35 AM on September 8, 2014

What helps make my oatmeal more filling for longer is adding protein powder. Not a full serving, but as much as I can stand the taste of. It's actually a pretty nice flavor in appropriate amounts. I use the unflavored Garden of Life Raw Protein which is vegan.

My go-to breakfast for heavy workout days, though, is Greek yogurt with frozen blueberries, pineapple/cherry/mango depending, protein powder and a hearty sprinkling of Bob's Red Mill granola. It really keeps me satiated.
posted by equestrian at 4:38 AM on September 8, 2014

If you're feeling adventurous, a great thing to do with your millet is to make ogi, a fermented porridge that's delicious with both sweet and savory additions. Here | are | instructions.

The recipes and methods vary but I use a little info from each article, with the first being closest to my technique. Basically, grind two cups of millet, cover with four cups of water, transfer to a container and cover loosely with cloth, stir every day for a few days, when you notice a fermenty smell, start cooking by taking one cup of stirred mixture and one cup of water in a pot and stirring over medium heat until it thickens. Add a pinch of salt and serve with almost anything!
posted by danabanana at 4:57 AM on September 8, 2014

Can't get any simpler than good quality whole meal toast with a nice spread on it. My favorites include avocado, hummus, salami our other high portion spread, even a quick microwave poached egg is nice.
posted by wwax at 5:18 AM on September 8, 2014

I'll echo the breakfast burrito idea. We buy (read my dad buys) prechopped onions, peppers and celery. I'll throw those in with a couple eggs. Take a tortilla, toast it a bit over an open flame. Fill it with cheese, avocado and the egg/veg. To die for. I'm always full for a good part of the day when I eat a couple. I've made quiche before with and without the crust. Focus on lots of veg and maybe some leftover protein.

And here's the best: You like pancakes? Take an egg and a ripe banana plus a tablespoon of flour and blend them up. Cook like pancakes. They'll be thin like crepes and have a creamy texture like the best french toast. My brother saw the recipe (minus the flour) in a fitness magazine. Yummo.
posted by kathrynm at 6:33 AM on September 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Seconding shakshuka; I hew strongly toward the Smitten Kitchen recipe here.

Another nice thing to do is steam some asparagus (AB's method works really well), cook an egg or two either over easy or sunny-side, place the egg over the asparagus, spritz with a little lemon juice (maybe shred some lemon zest too) and pop the yolk so it oozes like a sauce over the asparagus.
posted by General Malaise at 7:30 AM on September 8, 2014

Oatmeal is not savory. Oatmeal is sweet. Very sweet.

If you want a savory hot cereal, try rye. Maybe barley.

Also, there's more to leftovers for breakfast than just cold pizza. You can have anything you want for breakfast-time. Cold steak. Reheated green beans. Curried pumpkin.

Don't let the breakfast industrial complex tell you what to eat.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 8:20 AM on September 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding leftovers for breakfast. I fry a bunch of eggs in leftover bacon fat on Sundays and then add one to each portion of leftovers, along with a little fruit. For example, this morning I had roasted chicken, broccoli, and potato in olive oil with a egg and a small bunch of grapes. Tomorrow I will have steak with garlicky buttery green beans with an egg and a banana. Judging by what we're having for dinner tonight, Wednesday's breakfast will be pork chop with applesauce, asparagus, and an egg. Tomorrow is burrito night, so Thursday's breakfast will be some kind of meat with black beans, pico de gallo, avocado, egg, and an apple.

The amount of food I eat for breakfast is pretty small (would probably fit in one cupped hand) but because it's high in protein and fat, I can go 4-5 hours on that before I get hungry again.

Enough protein is really, really key, and keeping carbs as low as possible and having enough fat is also extremely helpful to satiety.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:31 AM on September 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

If for whatever reason you, like me, are anti-burrito (I know, I know, it's a failing), you might find that the breakfast quesadilla provides an answer. I've been working on variants of that lately - haven't experimented yet with making ahead and reheating, but I think it would work. I'm also enjoying variants on the same blogger's make-ahead breakfast bowls work well, although including onions seems to make them too watery when reheated, so I'm still fine-tuning the vegetables to be included. You might peruse the breakfast recipes there in general - it seems like there are a lot of grain recipes, though I can't vouch for them.
posted by Stacey at 9:49 AM on September 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

A little bit different than your specs, but lately I've been making quiche in muffin cups. Super easy to freeze, super easy to pull one or two out to reheat.

You can make the crust with whole wheat flour, and add lots of veggies as suit your tastes.

(You can also just make a whole quiche, cut it into slices as you would a pie, and then freeze those pieces for easy removal later. Works equally as well as the muffin sized ones.)
posted by vignettist at 1:34 PM on September 8, 2014

Try quick-cooking steel-cut oatmeal or 9- or 10-grain cereal in the microwave with one or more of the following for a savory protein hit:

- A fried egg on top
- An egg mixed in right after cooking
- Nutritional yeast mixed in after cooking
- Nuts mixed in; I find pecans work well
- Soy sauce for extra umami

Or for a more sweet version:

- Frozen fruit mixed in before cooking. Add more time in the microwave and adjust the liquid to account for the liquid in the fruit.
posted by overleaf at 3:36 PM on September 13, 2014

Jon's amazing oatmeal:

oatmeal (rolled is fine, but steel cut is better). Nice and thick. Sticky
Grape nuts
Pecan pieces

The raisins add enough sweetness so you don't need sugar. The grape nuts add a really nice crunch. And pecans are just delicious.
posted by jpdoane at 6:55 PM on September 16, 2014

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