A Tale of Two Breakfasts

Oh Breakfast!  You’re such an important meal, but so annoying to deal with at the same time.  That’s how I feel most mornings when I wake up and realize that I need to eat something.  It’s taken a long time for me to develop a good relationship with Breakfast.  When I was little, I’d eat cereal, oatmeal, or eggs and toast because my mother fixed it for me, but I never felt a particular affinity for the meal — that was saved for dinner!  In middle school, when it was up to me to fix my own breakfast most days, I ate a lot of cereal.  By the time I was in high school, a real breakfast was something of the past.

Most days, I went to school having eaten nothing more than one of those Carnation Instant Breakfasts that I’d mix with milk.  Chocolate milk for breakfast, yes please!  Besides, it was too early to eat something solid, and I didn’t have time for anything more than that, anyway.  At least, that was my rationale.  There as not a single day that I didn’t regret that decision by lunchtime, but that was my routine.  In college, I kept the routine going.  8:00 classes meant that I’d rather have to get up really early to make it to the dining hall before class, or I could sleep a little longer.  Sleep won, so I bought Slim Fast shakes to have for breakfast before class, not because I wanted to lose weight, but because I just didn’t want to take the time to eat.  Once I realized how expensive that was, I gave up and would sneak apples out of the cafeteria to serve as my morning meal.  Some days, that meant that I might not have more than two apples before 2:30, depending on how busy the day was.  Yep, my morning meal was a mess!

It’s only within the last two years or so that I’ve begun to appreciate breakfast for the excellent start to the day that it is.  I actually do eat breakfast most days now, and can tell the difference between the days when I eat a well-balanced breakfast and the days when, for one reason or another, cereal reigns supreme.

Some days, I’m really hungry, so eggs are a must.  the protein an fat help fill me up and keep me satisfied until lunchtime.  I like to add vegetables to my breakfast whenever possible, so I will often make scrambled eggs with onions and peppers, or fried eggs with a sweet potato hash on the side.  The easiest way to prepare these kinds of breakfasts is to have the veggies cooked ahead of time.  If you have some time the night before while dinner is in the oven, you can prep the veggies for your morning meal.  I like to cook big batches of sweet potato hash that I can keep in the fridge all week and reheat while my eggs are cooking.  You could even have an entire breakfast prepared before you settle in for the night.  One of my favorites is a frittata!  It keeps well in the fridge and is easy to reheat, or can even be eaten cold.  Here’s an easy and delicious veggie frittata that served as two breakfasts this week.

The first step is to gather and chop the veggies.  This is a great way to use up veggies that have been hanging around a little too long, or a great way to show off Summer’s bounty.  I used onions, peppers, mushrooms, and tomatoes, but you can use whatever veggies you like here.  Kale or spinach are delicious, and asparagus make a very nice addition if you happen to have them.

Vegetables on a cutting board

Next, heat a nonstick pan with about 1/2 tablespoon of butter and add your veggies.  I like to add the mushrooms first, if I’m using them because I like my mushrooms to have a really nice sear on them.

Browned mushrooms in a pan

Peppers and onions added to the mushrooms

While the veggies are softening, beat eggs with a splash of water and a pinch of salt (this helps keep the eggs from turning to rubber).

Three eggs in a bowl

Spread out the veggies into an even layer and add the eggs to the pan.  Now is the time to place slices of tomato or other soft, juicy veggies on top.  Not only does this make the frittata pretty, but it keeps the juices from these veggies from making the eggs soggy.

Eggs and tomatoes have been added.

Finally, sprinkle the cheese on top and bake at 375ºF until the eggs are set and the cheese is melted — about 10 minutes.  Then, all you have to do is cut it and serve it!

The finished frittata

I know, I didn’t tell you how much of anything to use, but there’s a reason for that.  You can make this recipe serve as many or as few people as you like.  And you can add as many or as few veggies as you like.  The variations really are endless!  I made a 3-egg frittata, but you could easily make a 12-egg frittata in a 12-inch skillet and serve the entire family plus a couple of friends!  Just keep in mind that the larger your frittata, the longer it will take to cook, so check on it once in awhile to see how it’s doing.

As much as I love a good, hearty breakfast, there are days when I’m just not that hungry in the morning.  On those days, i like something simple, like this quick grain-free granola with vanilla yogurt.

This is a really simple and quick granola that can be thrown together a few minutes before you eat it.  I happened to have almonds, pecans, and walnuts on hand, but you can use whatever nuts you like.  First, choose a base.  I used sliced almonds, but shredded coconut would also be delicious.  Use 2 tablespoons of your base, then add 1 tablespoon of each of your mix-ins, along with some kind of fat.  I used a little bit of unrefined coconut oil.

A mixture of nuts and coconut oil in a nonstick pan

Once the nuts begin to test, stir in a pinch or two of cinnamon and a teaspoon of honey to bring everything together.  Cook it until it begins to feel dry, then spread the granola onto a plate or a small baking sheet to cool.  Just make sure it doesn’t stick to whatever you put it on!

The finished granola cools on a small stone pan

At this point, you can add it to your yogurt!  I just had yogurt and granola this time, but fresh fruit would make a lovely addition to the mix as well, especially once the local berries are in season!

Granola topped yogurt ready to eat

Now you know two of my favorite breakfasts — what do you like for breakfast?

Catherine Hall

About Catherine Hall

Catherine lives in Bangor, Maine with her family. She gained her appreciation for food and cooking from her grandmother and learned most of her technical knowledge from watching the Food Network. When not in the kitchen, Catherine can be found outdoors attempting to grow vegetables (not always successfully), practicing yoga, and taking Capoeira classes in downtown Bangor. Catherine can also be found walking around town with her Guiding Eyes guide dog, Caleb.