Zebra Print Frittatas

I am all about the breakfast lately.  I’ve written about this before, but when I get a good, healthy start to the day, it’s motivation for me to stay healthy all day.  Basically, I don’t want to have a great breakfast and then screw things up.  I normally eat yogurt with granola and nuts, oatmeal with a bunch of toppings, or those dandy little granola bars I made not too long ago.  But stepping away from the crunchy side of life for a minute, I’ve got another super quick and easy breakfast dish for you today: muffin frittatas.

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This doesn’t look easy, I know.  On early mornings, I can’t even mange to make oatmeal.  The trick to this breakfast, as with all great meals, is planning ahead.  And in this case, making ahead.  But even though there is work involved, they are pretty easy to put together.  I used eight eggs this time and got ten muffins.  I added in red pepper, red onion, scallions, mushrooms, and of course, cheese.

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This is already looking pretty good.

The first time I made these, I just diced, chopped, and stirred everything into the eggs.  They were good, but I started thinking about how much better they would be if I sautéed a few things first.  Now I’m convinced this is the only way to do it.  And what’s not to love about sautéed mushrooms and peppers?

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If you don’t make a mess, you’re not doing it right.

After I had my veggies prepped, I whisked up the eggs in a big bowl, added a tablespoon of baking powder (it makes all the difference – trust me), 1/4 cup of milk, a little salt and pepper, and the vegetables.  After lining the muffin tin with cupcake wrappers, I filled each one and topped with some shredded cheddar, making a fine mess of my tin in the process.  These went into the oven at 350 for about 25 minutes.

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Obviously, zebra print wrappers are a must.

And here they are – cute, delicious, nutritious, and ready to eat in the morning in no time.  All the qualifications of a brilliant breakfast!  They were really puffed up when they came out of the oven, but they deflated as they cooled; the final taste and texture is exactly what you want in eggs.  Try them out!

 

Muffin Frittatas

Ingredients

8 large eggs

4-5 scallions, diced (hint: use kitchen scissors)

1/2-1 red pepper, chopped

1/4-1/2 red onion, diced

1 8-ounce package sliced white mushrooms

1/4 cup milk

1/4-1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon baking powder

Salt and pepper

Cupcake wrappers

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees; line muffin tin with wrappers

2.  Sauté pepper and mushrooms over medium-high heat for about 8 minutes

3. While the pepper and mushrooms cook, whisk eight eggs with milk

4. Stir in mushrooms, peppers, scallions, red onion, baking powder, and salt and pepper to taste

5. Spoon egg mixture into lined muffin tin; top with cheese

6. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes

7. Let cool completely before removing

Word to the wise: if you use a cupcake wrapper with any kind of metallic lining, be sure to take that off before microwaving in the morning!

I hope you enjoy these!  I’m looking forward to experimenting with all different kinds of veggies, but this combo is working pretty well for me right now.  Happy cooking!

Dating

Before I went gluten free, I’d grab a granola bar for breakfast or an afternoon pick-me-up in a minute.  Obviously they had to go out the door with the gluten, but there was another good reason to ditch them.  Two words: added sugar.  Like so many other processed foods, so-called “health bars” are usually loaded with sugar, preservatives, and other, well, stuff.  So it wasn’t really a tragedy not to have them anymore.  Still, I like the idea of a granola, health, or protein bar as long as it’s made well.

I’ve heard of people making granola bars before, but I never tried it until a couple weeks ago.  Here’s what started this: I bought the wrong kind of granola to put in my yogurt.  It had banana chips in it, so picky me went back to the store to buy the right kind.  I didn’t want to waste the banana chippy granola, though, so I thought I’d turn it into bars.

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I know what’s in my granola bars!

I searched the internet and specifically The Food Network, but all the recipes I saw included wheat germ.  Finally I found a fantastic gluten free recipe here.  It was really easy to follow and, like all of my favorite recipes, open for suggestions.  I followed the recipe but subbed in a little bit of my leftover granola for some of the oats and added chocolate chips per Steve’s request.

I haven’t been eating them for breakfast, but I’ve had them for an afternoon snack, and more than once they’ve saved me from going for something really bad like a candy bar or “candy coffee” (Hi, Starbucks.).

The ingredients were really easy to find – they came from the bulk and organic sections of Wegmans, and most of them are things I keep in my pantry anyway.  Except dates.  Can we just talk about dates for a second and how they look like bugs?   I’m not one to get squeamish with raw chicken or mysteriously congealed leftovers, but these?  Yikes.  I like them much better when they’re pulverized.

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Dates… charming, aren’t they?

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Pulverized

Weird squishy things aside, this recipe turned out really well.  The only cooking involved is melting the honey and peanut butter together on the stove and roasting your almonds and oats – if you want.  Once it’s all mixed up, it goes into a square baking dish and freezes for a while. Super easy and super tasty, although I must admit my bars probably had a little bit more sugar than they should have because I used honey roasted peanut butter instead of regular, but I could just cut down on the honey and take care of that.

FullSizeRenderThese are quickly becoming a staple around here.  You should definitely check out the recipe or find one that you like and try it.  Just don’t make the same mistake I did a few days ago and buy regular dates with pits in them (or if you do, remember to pit them first).  Your food processor won’t like it and neither will you.

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Ta-da!

 

Lesson the First

I’ve learned a lot since I started eating better and particularly since I (most of the time) eliminated gluten: portion control, reading ingredients, planning meals, budgeting… the list goes on, and I’m quite sure I’ll elaborate on each item in more detail than you could want to know in the future.  Trying not to obsess, I’ve paid close attention to my eating habits.  I’ve learned that when I eat regular, healthy meals, I don’t have the afternoon crash; I’ve learned that I can cook vegetarian and even vegan meals that are filling and delicious; and, I’ve learned that if I start my day with a really healthy breakfast, I’m more likely to stay on track for the entire day.

I’ve taken to eating yogurt with granola in it, adding in various nuts and berries, but the granola has seven grams of sugar… and the yogurt has seventeen.  I don’t care for Greek yogurt, and my two options for regular, plain yogurt at the grocery store are non-fat and low-fat.  Granted, I eat a small serving, but still… all this sugar adds up. I would happily buy full fat, mainly because low-fat products tend to come with added sugar to balance out the taste if it were available (Ahem… Wegmans).  Until that happy day, I’ve decided to change up breakfast a bit.  Enter oatmeal.

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What a ton of ingredients, right?  I’ve always been a fan of oatmeal, but it usually came out of a packet.  (Yes, this oatmeal has a packet in a manner of speaking.)  But one thing I’ve discovered in my quest to eat well is that it’s almost always better to make things yourself.  I haven’t gone so far as to live solely off the land (saving that for retirement), but I’m making adjustments where I can.  This is the new normal, and if there’s a step beyond this, I know I’ll be better prepared to take it now.

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So what exactly is in my oatmeal?  Well, I started using Bob’s Red Mill Scottish Oatmeal, but it takes close to ten minutes to cook.  Not great for those early mornings.  I recently switched over to Bob’s Quick Cooking Oats, which are a little different in texture, but just as good.  The great thing about oatmeal is that, like any great meal, you can make it your own.  I add in chia seed, chopped walnuts, raisins, cinnamon, and honey.  Yes, there is still some sugar in this, but none of that pesky added sugar.  It’s nutrition-packed, warm and delicious, and keeps me full all morning.

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Breakfast is still not perfect.  I usually have half a glass of orange juice, which is loaded with sugar, but I do try to moderate it.  In fact, once upon a time I made my own orange juice, which was really a treat and something I want to do again.  One good thing I can say about my sugar consumption is that I’ve really cut down on it in my coffee, and my tastes have really changed there.  I put about a quarter or a third of a teaspoon of sugar in a pretty big mug of coffee now, something I wouldn’t have been able to drink a couple years ago.  I’ve heard that gradually cutting back is the trick, and it seems to be so.

As I said earlier, when I have a good breakfast like this, it sets the tone for the whole day.  First of all, I’m not having a sugar meltdown two hours later, and second, when I begin my day on the right track, I’m much more motivated to keep eating well and not screw it up by eating junk later.  It doesn’t always work, but so far the success rate is looking good.

Till next time – happy eating! ❤

 

Healthy, Tasty, Time-Saving Breakfasts

Just when I thought I’d gotten into a good blogging schedule, I go a whole week without a single post!  This was the last week of summer semester, which means I’ve been grading.  A lot.  Given how busy I’ve been, I did sort of fall off the “healthy bandwagon” earlier in the week, but I’m back on track now.

Having to get up early, spend an hour commuting in D.C. traffic, and then teach all day has really helped me see the importance of eating a good breakfast.  When my classes start later in the day, I’ll sometimes get up and cook eggs and take a little more time making breakfast.  But when I’m already waking up at 6:00 to make it to an 8:30 class, cooking takes a backseat.

Luckily, I’ve discovered that you don’t need to get up and cook to have a good breakfast.

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Well, okay.  This did involve cooking – baking, really – but not at 6:00 am.  I found a great recipe for bran muffins that is healthy as can be.  Instead of the usual baking suspects like refined sugar and flour, this recipe calls for things like egg whites, wheat germ, bran, and honey.  Pretty good, huh?  They’re not bad, either, but if you’re expecting a sugary, cupcake-type muffin, you’ll be disappointed – these taste more like granola bars.  Once you know that, though, they’re pretty tasty and very filling.  Even though I wasn’t eating the best dinners last week, I had this for breakfast just about every day: a bran muffin, a handful of walnuts, and a small bunch of grapes.  It takes about a minute to “prepare” this breakfast in the morning, but it’s a variety of tastes and it keeps me full for hours.  And even though I know Michael Pollan would fuss at me for saying this, you could eat this on the go too.

Since we’re speaking of quick breakfasts, I don’t think we can ignore cereal.  I’ve always been a cereal fan, but I’ve been working on eating better types of it lately.  It’s another easy-to-prepare breakfast, which is fantastic, but it’s also a breakfast that can easily turn unhealthy.  (I don’t know about you, but I do love those Lucky Charms.)  Rather than starting my day with a ton of processed sugar and potentially hormone- and antibiotic-ridden milk (though I’ve recently started buying organic), I’ve lately been satisfying my cereal craving this way:

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I discovered almond milk a couple of years ago and have become completely hooked on it.  It’s so tasty – although, yes, that is the vanilla variety.  My absolute favorite healthy cereal is Special K with dried strawberry slices with vanilla almond milk.  I generally like to mix up what I eat for breakfast, but if I had to eat one thing for breakfast every day, that would be it.  The other day I picked up the above-pictured organic granola cereal with quinoa, which I’ve heard a lot about.  (Does anyone eat it regularly?  How do you use it?)  You can have this cereal with milk or heat it up and have it as oatmeal (better than the Quaker packets, I suppose).  I tried it cold this morning with almond milk and a banana, and it was really good.  It also kept me full for a surprisingly long time.

So there you have it – my new and improved, quick, healthy breakfasts!  If you have any healthy breakfast ideas to share, I’m listening!