No more excuses! Three quick and easy vegetarian breakfast ideas!

I know, you’ve all heard it before. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!”

But you just don’t have time, or energy, or skill, or food, or WHATEVER ELSE you might think you need in the morning to actually eat breakfast. So you go on through your life living on that convenience store coffee and donut (or worse, nothing at all) and somehow survive until lunchtime when you then gorge yourself because well, you feel like you’re starving.

Well, NO MORE, my friends! If you’ve been following me for a while, you may remember my Four Super Simple and Portable Breakfast Ideas from a long ways back. Those are still totally A-game breakfast ideas, but I decided it’s time for some fresh new ones. So, this post is dedicated to three more really easy, really quick, and totally meatless breakfast dishes that are oh-so-much better for you than that glazed Krispy Kreme donut.

Quick Breakfast #1: Fruit, Yogurt, & Granola Parfait

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No joke, it’s just three ingredients! How easy is that?

Just get yourself a nice pretty glass (because that makes eating breakfast more worthwhile) and layer it with your choice of yogurt, fresh fruit, and granola.

I used regular vanilla yogurt and strawberries, but the combinations here are literally endless. Little tip, if you plan on making this fairly frequently, you can buy yogurt in 38oz containers, so you can just spoon out however much you need.

Also, granola is typically found in the cereal aisle of your grocery store. They make several different kinds, but the store brand is always cheapest and totally fine.

Health bonuses: You get protein from the yogurt and fiber from the granola. These will help you to feel fuller, longer!

Total prep time: 3 minutes (or less).

Quick Breakfast #2: Spinach & Veggie Omelet

DSC_1459Yes, this one actually requires the stove, but if you’ve got ten extra minutes, it’s worth it! Just saute 1/4 of a red onion, 1/4 of a green pepper, and about a 1/4 cup of frozen spinach with olive oil for about five minutes. Remove that from the pan, coat it with about a 1/2 tablespoon of butter, and then add two beaten eggs to the pan on a medium-low heat.

Let the eggs cook slowly until they are almost cooked through, then add a handful of shredded cheese and your veggies to one side. Let it cook another minute or so, fold it in half, and then plate it!

If you’re not watching your fat intake, this would be totally amazing with sour cream on top, but otherwise, it’s great with just some salt and pepper!

Health bonuses: eggs are packed with protein and the spinach is full of vitamins!

Total prep time: 10 minutes.

Quick Breakfast #3: Cranberry-Pecan Oatmeal

DSC_1463“Ew, oatmeal??”

I can almost hear the groan of distaste. I know, most people think oatmeal is for little kids or the elderly, and that it’s a mealy, gross, nasty bowl of lukewarm nothingness. I get it. But this oatmeal will change that.

Quick-oatmeal can be made right in the microwave. I use 3/4 cup of quick 1-minute oats and 1/2 cup of milk – microwave that for 60 seconds and then take it out and stir.

Meanwhile, roughly chop about 1/4 cup of pecans. When the oatmeal is done, add the pecans, 1/4 cup of dried cranberries, a few tablespoons of granola (for additional crunch) and a tablespoon of brown sugar. Stir and enjoy!

Health bonuses: you get fiber from the oatmeal and granola and protein from the pecans. Plus, the cranberries give you a nice serving of fruit!

Total prep time: 2 minutes.

So, no more excuses! Including the linked back post, here are seven total breakfast ideas that are good for you, filling, and super quick and easy. I promise, it will make SUCH a difference in your life if you start eating a decent breakfast every day!

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Coconut Chicken with Pina Colada Glaze and Hawaiian Rice

Happy Valentine’s Day to all! This would be an awesome dish to make your valentine if you’re sick of the cold and want to imagine you’re in the tropics with a Mai Tai in your hand and not a care in the world! (Stay tuned later this week for my amazing take on a mai tai.) Of course, this is also just an awesome dish in general – I’d even wager that your kids would like it, as long as they don’t have anything against coconut or pineapple.

The title is a little of a mouthful (sorry!) but there’s a lot of moving parts to this meal and there’s just so many good things about it that I had to include as much in the title as I could!

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The recipe following is for four, but feel free to adjust as necessary!

The first thing you’ll need to do is preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and then put together your breading assembly line. Doing any kind of “breading” process on meat is very simple, but so many people wind up with their yummy coating not sticking and falling off the meat! There’s an easy trick to it, as some may remember from my Parmesan Breaded Chicken (which was a popular hit on Pinterest!): you have to coat the meat in flour first, THEN egg, THEN the breading. Coating in flour first gives the egg something to stick on to, which then makes the breading adhere better!

So, you’ll need three shallow dishes:

Dish 1: 2 tablespoons of flour plus 1 teaspoon of salt plus 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
Dish 2: 1 egg, beaten
Dish 3: 1 heavy cup coconut flakes plus 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

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MAKE OR BREAK TIP: Adding the salt and pepper to the flour ensures that the flavor is close to the chicken and doesn’t get lost in the breading. Follow this rule any time you’re breading meat, especially with coarser coatings like this one!

Next, prep your chicken. I tend to buy the store brand of chicken breast, and they are HUGE, so I cut one of those babies in half to make two better portioned pieces. Cut two large breasts in half to make four pieces and then get a few tablespoons of canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Coat the chicken first in the flour (shake off excess), then the egg, and finally the coconut. You’ll really need to use your hands to coat the chicken thoroughly. Lay each piece carefully in the pan and allow to brown on both sides. (About 2 minutes or so per side.)

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Once the chicken is browned, put the pieces in a glass baking dish, sprinkle with some additional coconut (1/4 cup or so) and bake for 20-25 minutes. (Conveniently, that should be about the time you’re finishing up everything else.)

Next, you’ll need to get your pina colada glaze reducing. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup pineapple juice, 1/4 cup cream of coconut, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 cup coconut flakes, and 2 ounces of crushed pineapple (1/4 of an 8 oz can). Stir well and keep over high heat, allowing it to boil and then reduce down while you’re making the rice.

KITCHEN TIP: You can find cream of coconut in most liquor stores, or in the section of your grocery store where they sell drink mixers. As my loyal readers know, I’m a bit of an amateur mixologist, so I always have some on hand for when I make tropical drinks!

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I use regular old Uncle Ben’s white rice, which takes about 20 minutes to cook. Put 1 cup of rice and 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan, allow to boil, then cover and reduce heat to low to allow the water to soak into the rice while it cooks. (Otherwise, follow the directions for whatever kind of rice you use.) Once the rice is going, you can work on the rest of the components to make the rice super delish. 🙂

I call it Hawaiian rice, but really, it’s essentially just fried rice with some minor changes… I gave a recipe for excellent fried rice in my Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken recipe, but since this is a bit different, here’s a refresher:

Dice 1/4 of a sweet onion and 1/2 a green (or red, or yellow, or orange…) pepper. Put these in a skillet over medium high heat with a few tablespoons of oil. (I just washed the pan I used for the chicken and used that one – less dishes later!) Once these have sweated for about a minute or so, add 3/4 cup frozen peas, stir to distribute, and allow to cook for 4-5 minutes. Just before it’s done, add 1 clove of minced garlic.

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KITCHEN TIP: Buy your peppers in bulk and prep them once your home – I usually like to julienne some and dice the rest. Put them into separate Ziploc freezer bags, labeled with the date, and freeze them! They’ll be good for up to 6 months, and then you can just take out what you need.

Once the veggies are cooked, push them to the side and pan-scramble one egg in the empty space of the pan. It’s not going to look super appetizing, since it’s going to pick up the oils and juices from the vegetables, but don’t worry. The brown stuff is packed with flavor!

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Once the egg is cooked, mix it in with the rest of the vegetables. Add your cooked rice, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, and 1 tsp ground ginger, along with 6 ounces of crushed pineapple (the rest of the can you opened earlier for the glaze) and 2 tablespoons each of soy sauce and teriyaki sauce. Stir this all together until combined and then remove from the heat.

By the time your chicken is done, your glaze should have reduced nicely. Take the glaze off the heat and get the chicken out of the oven. You’re ready to plate and serve! Top the chicken with the glaze and serve immediately. (You could also double the glaze recipe and add it to the rice, too!)

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I’m not responsible for when this dinner disappears faster than you can blink! Once you get the process down, it works like a well-oiled machine, and I’m sure this will become a staple dinner for your house!

Full recipe:

Coconut Chicken with Pina Colada Glaze and Hawaiian Rice

Yield: 4 servings

Chicken:

2 large chicken breasts, cut in half to make 4 pieces
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 egg, beaten
1 heavy cup coconut flakes, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
3 tbsp canola oil, for the pan

Glaze:

1 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup cream of coconut
3 tbsp sugar
2 ounces crushed pineapple
1/4 cup coconut flakes
1/2 tsp salt

Rice:

1 cup regular white rice
2 cups water
2 tbsp canola oil, for the pan
1/4 onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
3/4 cup frozen peas
1 clove garlic, minced
1 egg
6 ounces crushed pineapple
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp teriyaki sauce

Process:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare breading assembly line by combining flour, salt, and pepper in first dish, beaten egg in second dish, and coconut and pecans in third dish.

2) Coat a large skillet in canola oil and put over medium heat. Bread the chicken by coating first in flour, making sure to shake off the excess, then the egg, and finally the coconut. Use your hands to ensure the chicken is well coated in coconut and then lay each piece carefully into the pan. Brown on each side for about 2 minutes, then transfer to a glass baking dish, top with additional coconut, and bake for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through.

3) In a small saucepan, combine pineapple juice, cream of coconut, sugar, crushed pineapple, coconut flakes, and salt. Stir to combine and bring to boil over high heat and then allow to reduce.

4) In a medium saucepan, add rice and water. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce heat to low, allowing rice to cook through until all the water is gone.

5) In large skillet, heat canola oil over medium high heat and add onion and pepper, allowing to sweat for a minute before adding frozen peas. Let this cook for 4-5 minutes, then add garlic and cook for one additional minute.

6) Push the vegetables to the side of the pan and pan scramble an egg in the open space, then stir into the vegetables.

7) Once the rice is done, add to the vegetables, along with pineapple, salt, pepper, ginger, soy sauce, and teriyaki sauce. Stir to combine and then remove from heat until ready to serve.

8) After chicken is done baking, remove from oven and plate with the rice. Top chicken with glaze and serve!

Four Super Simple Portable Breakfast Ideas

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I work from home. Therefore, breakfast for me should be pretty simple – just get up and cook whatever is on hand, and voila, I have a nutritious, filling breakfast every day!

This is great in theory, but I also happen to be a full-time college student, and I make sure to register for 8am classes so that I can beat rush hour and then be out of classes by noon. So, on those days of the week when I have to leave the house at 6:30 in the morning for an hour long commute, I definitely need a breakfast that is quick, simple, and won’t leave my stomach rumbling only an hour or two later!

This blog post is dedicated to some of my favorite simple breakfast ideas that are not only really easy, but also very portable, so you can eat them on the go!

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BONUS: They are all pretty good for you, too! Each one has a variety of elements that help to keep the meal balanced and keep you feeling full!

Whole Wheat Bagel with Mascarpone & Apples

This one is probably my favorite. The combination of flavors really has a lot of depth and they blend well together. I also think this one is the most filling!

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All you do is take a whole wheat bagel, spread each half with mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese, if you prefer), drizzle with honey, and lay apple slices on top! Sandwich it together and you’re done! I make this one the night before, wrap it tightly in foil, and leave it in the fridge overnight. That way, in the morning, I just grab it and go!

Finished Bagel

Bagel-Apple-Sandwich

Yield: 1 sandwich

Ingredients:

1 whole wheat bagel
2 tbsp mascarpone cheese
1 tsp honey
1/4 apple, sliced thin

Process:

Spread each bagel half with mascarpone cheese. Drizzle honey, top with apple slices, and sandwich together. Can be stored overnight in refrigerator if necessary.

Good for you stuff:

Calories: 440
Fiber: 5.85g (24% DV)
Protein: 11g
Iron: 21% DV
Vitamin A: 8% DV
Vitamin C: 5% DV

Whole Wheat Banana & Nutella Sandwich

This one has all the sweetness of dessert without being horribly bad for you! I absolutely love Nutella because it is so versatile and goes with so many things – if it’s not a staple in your house, it will be soon!

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Toast two slices of whole wheat bread and spread each slide with Nutella. Slice about half of a banana (9 slices should be perfect) and lay them on one piece of the bread. Put it together and enjoy! This one should be eaten right away.

Finished Sandwich

Banana & Nutella Breakfast Sandwich

Yield: 1 Sandwich

Ingredients:

2 slices whole wheat bread
2 tbsp Nutella
1/2 banana, sliced

Process:

Toast both slices of bread. Spread with Nutella. Top one piece with banana slices, then sandwich together.

Good for you stuff:

Calories: 390
Fiber: 6.5g
Protein: 10g
Iron: 10% DV
Calcium: 10% DV
Potassium: 6% DV
Vitamin C: 9% DV

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

There are a whole lot of really complicated smoothie recipes out there that use a dozen and a half different ingredients to pack every possible ounce of nutrition into them. These have some merit, to be sure, but a lot of that stuff isn’t in the typical household (from what I’ve found) and it means it takes longer to put it together. This smoothie has only 4 ingredients, so it’s really quick and simple.

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In a blender, blend 1 banana, 3/4 cup strawberries (I buy the frozen sliced kind), 3/4 cup orange juice, and 1 container Yoplait Light Strawberry & Banana yogurt until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy! You can get some pretty awesome plastic re-usable travel cups from just about anywhere that are great for on-the-go smoothies.

Finished Smoothie

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Yield: 1 serving

Ingredients:

1 container Yoplait Light strawberry-banana yogurt
3/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup strawberry slices
1 banana, sliced

Process:

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Good for you stuff:

Calories: 315
Fiber: 5g
Protein: 9.5g
Iron: 3% DV
Calcium: 24% DV
Potassium: 12% DV
Vitamin A: 15% DV
Vitamin C: 212% DV

Apple Pecan Muffins

These do take a little bit of work the day before, but they stay fresh for a couple of days, so you can take a couple to work/school for a few days in a row! They didn’t even last 24 hours in my house, though!

Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees and line a cupcake baking sheet with paper baking cups. In a small dish, melt 4 tbsp (half a stick) of butter in the microwave. (45 seconds should do.) Set the butter aside to cool, and then dice a small-medium granny smith apple and roughly chop 1/2 cup pecans. Put the pecans on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven while it’s preheating. (5 minutes or so.)

Continue by combining 1 cup flour, 1/2 tbsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt in a small bowl. Set this aside, and then beat together 1 egg, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1/4 cup apple butter in a stand mixer. Keep the mixer on and slowly pour in your melted butter until everything is incorporated.

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Add your flour mixture to the liquid mixture and combine on the STIR setting for only a few seconds. You should still have flour visible:

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Add in your apples and pecans and then combine on STIR setting again for another few seconds until everything is mixed.

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MAKE OR BREAK TIP: You should have no more than 10 seconds or so of mixing time once you’ve added the flour to the bowl, and it is imperative you use the lowest possible setting on the mixer. If you don’t have a stand mixer, do this all by hand. Over-mixing the batter causes the muffins to be tough and dry instead of soft and moist!

Once your batter is combined, spoon it into your prepared baking pan. I found that it makes about 8-10 muffins if you fill each one almost to the top.

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Bake for 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of one of the muffins comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 5 minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve immediately, or place in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

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I think two of these muffins in an appropriate serving size that compares to the nutrition levels found in the other 3 recipes in this post.

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Apple Pecan Muffins

Yield: 8-10 muffins

Ingredients:

1 small to medium granny smith apple
1/2 cup pecans

1 cup flour
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

4 tbsp butter
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup apple butter

Process:

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with paper baking cups.

2) Melt 4 tbsp butter in the microwave for 45 seconds. Set aside to cool.

3) Dice apple into 1/2 inch or smaller chunks and roughly chop pecans. Put pecans on a baking sheet and toast them in the preheating oven for about 5 minutes.

4) Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

5) In a stand mixer, beat together egg, sugar, milk, cinnamon, vanilla, and apple butter. Slowly pour in melted butter while the mixer is still on.

6) Once everything is combined, stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and then add your flour mixture. Combine on stir setting for a few seconds, then add apples and pecans. Combine on stir for another few seconds until mixture is combined. (No more than 10 seconds total mixing time after flour is added!)

7) Pour into prepared baking cups and bake for 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of one of the muffins comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 5 minutes and then move to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.