Veggies for Breakfast

I was taught to appreciate the importance of a good breakfast. Thankfully I didn’t grow up dependent upon sugar-infused cereals – though I was jealous of friends who had Captain Crunch and Count Chocula as breakfast companions. Mom served heartier, healthier fare – oatmeal, eggs and the occasional treat of sourdough waffles with fresh strawberries (a personal favorite).

That said, there have been times when I ignored all the messages we hear about eating a healthy breakfast. I shudder to think of the things I ate in the early mornings during my “I don’t care what I’m putting into my body – I just want it to taste good” years. A large latte paired with a pumpkin scone drizzled with pure sugar icing was standard fare. Close to zero nutritional value and a starch-infused whollop of countless calories that had my energy flagging by mid-morning. Granted, I still enjoy an indulgent brunch of gooey cinnamon rolls or steaming pancakes from time to time. But these days – especially during the work week – I try to navigate to something that will keep my motor running.

Two personal favorites of late …. muffins scattered with bright orange shards of sweet potato and green specks of zucchini and individual frittatas packed with healthy spinach and flavorful leeks. It’s not as hard as you might think to sneak in some extra vegetables and a hit of protein first thing in the morning. I’m a huge fan of preparing meals in advance and if they’re portable – all the better. So I want to take this opportunity to thank whoever invented the muffin tin. Because these two breakfast items I am alluding to can both be prepared in this ingenious kitchen apparatus. I give you Zucchini & Sweet Potato Muffins and Spinach & Mushroom Mini Frittatas.

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 Zucchini & Sweet Potato Muffins 

I stumbled upon a version of this recipe on Epicurious. Thanks to all the kind folks who leave comments about their personal experiences with posted recipes, I was able to develop a beautifully moist muffin chock full of healthy walnuts, nutrient-rich sweet potatoes and vitamin-packed zucchini. And this time around, my improvisation and substitutions paid off – adding whole wheat flour, replacing the majority of oil with apple sauce, cutting the sugar by half. You can elevate the flavor even more with the addition of  ½ cup of dark chocolate chips. Chocolate is made from plants after all, which means it contains many of the health benefits of dark vegetables (i.e. lowering blood pressure and cholesterol).

Yields: 12 (large) muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup walnut or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups zucchini
  • 1 1/2 cups sweet potato
  • 1 cup walnuts

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grate zucchini and peel and grate sweet potato. Chop walnuts.

Spray muffin tins with cooking spray and lightly flour.

Sift or mix first 7 ingredients into a medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat (or hand mix) sugar, oil, apple sauce, eggs and vanilla. Fold in zucchini and sweet potato. Add dry ingredients and walnuts and stir well.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins – filling twelve. Bake ~25 minutes. Allow to cool in tins for 10 minutes, then use a knife to cut around each muffin and remove. Let cool on baking rack another 15 minutes.

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Spinach & Mushroom Mini Frittatas

These diminutive treats pack a healthy serving of vegetables and protein and there is no end to the kinds of fresh produce that can be used. You can also jazz them up by tossing in some fresh herbs (or dried if that’s what you have on hand). Rosemary, thyme and/or oregano are all delightful additions. I have even made these without cheese for an especially healthy version and they were still satisfyingly delicious.

Yields: 1 Dozen

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 large bunch fresh spinach
  • 2 cups mushrooms (Cremini, button, whichever you prefer)
  • 1 small red pepper
  • 1/2 small yellow onion or a few shallots
  • 3/4 cup cheese (any kind will do – parmesan and goat cheese are personal favorites)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Dash freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray two pans of 6-cup muffin tins with cooking spray. Be sure not to omit this step, or the quiches will stick badly to the baking cups.

Steam the spinach in a microwave-safe container (about 2-3 minutes), press out all juice, then chop. Chop the peppers and onions into a small dice. If using shallots, mince finely. Thinly slice the mushrooms.

Whisk the eggs in a bowl and fold in all the remaining ingredients and stir well.

Fill the muffin tin cups with the mixture. Bake for approximately 20 minutes. You will know they are done when a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

These can be stored in the refrigerator or even frozen in freezer bags.

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One Response to “Veggies for Breakfast”

  1. I just made veggie frittata today for a brunch picnic and the kids loved it. I like how you made in muffin pan. I think I will do that next time since it will be more kid friendly. Thanks!

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