Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Early Birds

Ah, breakfast. For someone who's not a morning person, I eat breakfast like it's going to go out of style. In fact, the sight of me heating up leftover ribs or pasta chicken Florentine at 8 in the morning in the office breakroom often horrifies "breakfast purists" (you probably know one, the "eggs, bacon and biscuits only, please!" types of eaters).

In fact, while sharing a water cooler conversation with an officemate who admits to have no love for breakfast, I was once asked: "What type of dinner did you bring for breakfast this time around?" Leftover Mexican, of course!

But what if leftover is not an option? Well, in between prepping Ariana for school and braving the long queue of school drop-off, fixing a healthy breakfast can sometimes be tricky. But there are a few alternatives perfect for early birds (and night owls) who would never skip a good and healthy breakfast (or brunch).

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Southern-Style Bagel

Ingredients:

Butter (use coconut oil as a healthier alternative)

1/4 organic brown sugar

1 tbsp. ground cinnamon

4 Granny Smith apples (cored, peeled and sliced)

Bagel

Cream cheese

Instructions:

1. Melt butter or pour coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. 

2. Stir in sugar and cinnamon.

3. Cook apples until soft, about 5 to 8 minutes.

4. Toast the bagel and then spread cream cheese.

5. Top the bagel with fried apples. Serve warm. Pair with a cup of morning coffee.


Cinnamon-Sprinkled Amaranth Oatmeal

If you are burned-out of sugar-loaded cereal, consider something different: amaranth oatmeal. If you're familiar with quinoa (often used in salads), you've likely already heard of amaranth seeds. A staple in Aztec diet, amaranth is considered a "super seed" because it contains anti-inflammatory peptides, antioxidants known to help fight cancer as well as fiber and phytonutrients to help lower blood pressure.

There are multiple pieces of research that support the health benefits of this gluten-free seed, including a study by researchers in Peru that indicates how amaranth is a valuable source of protein and good fat for children. Amaranth is also high in lysine, which helps the body absorb calcium better, a mineral highly needed by growing children.

To properly prepare your amaranth oatmeal, be sure to soak the seeds overnight to help aid in digestion. When cooked, amaranth has an earthy and nutty aroma and flavor. I personally had difficulty getting past the earthy aroma at first, but adding a sprinkle of honey and cinnamon helped tone it down.   

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Ingredients:

1 cup amaranth

2½ cups water

½ cup to 1 cup soy milk (depending on desired consistency)

Cinnamon

Honey

Raisins, blueberries or blackberries or any healthy topping

Instructions:

1. Add amaranth and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and partially cover.

2. Stirring occasionally, simmer for 30 minutes or until water is absorbed.

3. In a bowl, mix amaranth with organic soy milk until desired consistency.

4. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sweeten with honey.

5. Top with your choice of healthy topping, like raisins, blackberries or nuts.

Filipino Torta Recipe: Healthy 15-Minute Family Meal

Surely you've had those dayswhen time is short and whipping up a 45-minute Chicken Marsala is not a dinner option. We have some of those days at home so, to ensure we don't "fall apart" on those jam-packed days, we have default 15-minute family meals that we can fix on a whim. One of our favorite quick meals is the Filipino torta, a hardier version of an omelette because it is packed with a few extra ingredients. Torta is easy to fix (even a clumsy kitchen rookie like me could do it!) This dish is filled with vegetables and ground meat, but the best part is that you can use any vegetable you want. Traditionally, the dish comes with onions, tomatoes, potatoes and garlic, but we love to experiment with our dishes by throwing in other vegetables like mushrooms, carrots and, occasionally, string beans. Bonus nachos? It is versatile enough for breakfast, but also sensible enough for either lunch or dinner. Plus, as a mom of a picky eater, it's also a great way to introduce vegetables to the little munchkin because veggies are somewhat hidden inside the torta, so you are not having an in-your-face-eat-your-vegetable dinner conversation at the table.  

Photography by Brian Johnson

Photography by Brian Johnson

Ingredients

1 pound of lean ground beef

1 small onion, finely diced

1 potato, peeled and cut into cubes 

3 cloves garlic, finely diced

1 diced tomato (optional)

1 small carrot, peeled and sliced thin (optional)

4 portabella mushrooms, sliced thin (optional)

2 eggs

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tbsp corn starch

1 tbsp of olive oil

1 cup of water

salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions

1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.

2. Sauté garlic and onion for about 2 minutes.

3. Stir in ground beef and cook for about 5 minutes. While cooking, break the beef into smaller crumbles and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. 

4. Add potatoes, carrots and water. Stir until tender. Mix in tomatoes and mushrooms. Set aside the meat and vegetable mixture.

5. Add beaten eggs and cornstarch blend. Pour the meat and vegetable mixture and form about 4 patties. 

6. Cook for about 3 to 5 minutes, then flip the torta to cook the other side. Drain excess oil using paper towels.

7. Best when served with freshly cooked Jasmine rice. For extra flavor, dip in ketchup or soy sauce. Or, if you want a bit of spice, pair it with sweet chili sauce.