Breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day, right? The only problem is that morning is also the busiest time of day for a lot of us, meaning that breakfast can become a bit of an afterthought.
When it comes to breakfast, I’m all about making sure my meal tastes great (this should go without saying, but sadly in this day in age, it doesn’t.), is easy and quick to prepare (I’m not a morning person), and aligns with the Mediterranean diet. You can read all about the Mediterranean diet - and why I think it’s wonderful - here.
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My 3 Main Components
Almost every breakfast I eat has 3 components: a breakfast “main dish”, 6-8 ounces of kefir, and some kind of fruit. These three components give me energy and keep me fueled throughout my morning. They’re a great balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat, which means steady energy until lunchtime! Whole grains, fruit, vegetables, lean protein, and fermented dairy are all components of the Mediterranean diet, and they’re included in various breakfast options I rotate through:
Baked eggs are my number one favorite breakfast “main dish”! They’re fairly easy to put together (about 10 minutes of prep and 30-40 minutes in the oven) and taste so fancy! I really have no other way to explain the way they taste. I made one this weekend and the first thing I thought when I took my first bite was “country club”.
Jeremy and I have also been comparing our baked eggs to an omelet from First Watch! If you don’t have a First Watch nearby, I’m sincerely sorry. But it’s all the more reason to try making my baked eggs! :)
The best part is that they provide a breakfast “main dish” for us for three days! I’ve tried a few different recipes and particularly different ratios of milk to eggs, and I’ve found what works perfectly for us. I don’t have amounts listed for vegetables or eggs, because it’s up to you to decide what looks right. I like to use a lot of vegetables in our eggs so we can get in almost a full serving right at the beginning of the day. :) Here’s how I make my baked eggs:
- 8 eggs
- ½ cup of milk
- A variety of vegetables
- Shredded or grated cheese (different kinds work best with different veggies)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prep the vegetables. This could mean chopping up peppers or broccoli or sautéing kale, spinach, or sliced mushrooms in olive oil with a clove of minced garlic and salt (Most vegetables can go into the recipe raw, but green leafy vegetables and mushrooms need to be cooked in olive oil before going into the recipe, or the flavors and textures won’t be right. I’ve learned this the hard way...).
Shred the cheese. I buy my cheese in block form and shred it with the shredding attachment on my food processor because it tastes fresher to us (because unlike pre-shredded cheese, block cheese doesn't have cellulose powder added to prevent it from sticking together) and is a little cheaper. Obviously it’s up to you if you want to buy shredded or block cheese, and it won’t make much difference in the taste of your baked eggs.
Spray or rub an 8 x 8 inch metal baking pan with extra virgin olive oil. I'm a huge fan of this olive oil sprayer.
Add the prepped veggies to the pan and spread them out so that they cover the bottom of the pan.
Sprinkle the shredded cheese evenly over the vegetables.
Beat the eggs and milk in a medium bowl, then pour evenly into the pan. Stir, if necessary, so that all of the elements are evenly spread out in the pan.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the sides start to pull away slightly from the edge of the pan and the center is no longer jiggly.
Cut into 6 pieces and refrigerate for up to 3-4 days.
My husband and I are the only ones eating our eggs, so I recommend increasing the recipe size and making it in a 13 x 9 inch pan if you have a larger family.
Here are my current favorite combos:
- Sautéed spinach (with garlic) + Sautéed mushrooms (with garlic) + Parmesan
- Bell peppers + Spinach + Sharp cheddar
- Broccoli + Sharp cheddar + Canadian bacon (optional)
Oats are one of the cheapest healthy foods you can buy and are incredibly versatile. Baked oatmeal is a close second favorite breakfast "main dish" to baked eggs. We usually rotate between the two.
Just like with baked eggs, I can make up a batch of baked oatmeal in less than an hour: about 10 minutes of prep and 40-45 minutes in the oven the night before. This will make 8 servings and provide our breakfast “main dish” for 4 days. All we do is microwave them on a plate (or at work) and we have a satisfying hot breakfast!
Budget Bytes has a ton of incredible baked oatmeal recipes that are the perfect combination of healthy and yummy. Each recipe has oats, fruit, and sometimes nuts in it, so it's a good source of whole grains, fruit, and sometimes healthy fat (for the ones with nuts). They all have a little sugar added for flavor, and I'm 100% happy with this. Here's why:
We follow the 80/20 rule, which means that we eat meals made from healthy, whole foods 80% of the time and purely "fun" foods like added sugar or cookies 20% of the time. The small amount of sugar added to baked oatmeal is well within our 20%. :)
Here are some of the delicious Budget Bytes baked oatmeal recipes we've tried. We've made some of them multiple times. Every single one is truly fantastic!
- Pumpkin Pie Baked Oatmeal
- Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal
- Peanut Butter Brownie Baked Oatmeal
- Oatmeal Cookie Baked Oatmeal
- Date and Walnut Baked Oatmeal
- Funky Monkey Baked Oatmeal
Even though baked oatmeal is our staple breakfast, I want to be up-front with you. We DO buy boxed cereal as a treat for when we're craving Reese's Puffs (my favorite) or Cinnamon Toast Crunch (one of Jeremy's favorites). We also have them on hand for days when we're out of baked oatmeal or baked eggs and haven't had time to make the next batch. Cereal is either a treat or a gap-filler for us.
What's the cost difference between baked oatmeal and boxed cereal, you ask? Here's the cost per serving. I used normal cereal portion sizes - not the tiny portions listed on the side of cereal boxes to inflate the number of servings per box. The cost will vary a little based on what size of box you buy, your personal serving sizes, and whether ingredients are on sale.
- Reese's Puffs: $0.50
- Aldi Peanut Butter Cocoa Puffs: $0.40
- Peanut Butter Brownie Baked Oatmeal: $0.47
As you can see, there isn't a big cost difference, but the real difference here is in health value, the fullness factor, and taste. Baked oatmeal keeps us full for a good 3 to 4 hours! This is compared to a bowl of cereal, which only lasts Jeremy or me an hour or two.
Since we're fuller longer, it prevents us from needing to have snacks often between breakfast and lunch. We also eat much healthier breakfasts this way because baked oatmeal contains whole grain oats plus some kind of fruit baked into it. Even the peanut butter brownie kind has bananas in it.
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If you’ve been following me for a little while or you’ve talked with me in person about nutrition for more than 5 minutes, you probably already know that I like kefir. A lot. Jeremy and I drink around 6-8 ounces a day (whatever amount fills our juice glasses).
I work in digestive health, so I’m extremely aware of the importance of balance in the digestive system. A lot of this balance depends on eating lots of minimally-processed plant foods that contain plenty of fiber to feed our gut bacteria.
You may have heard about this before, but the community of microorganisms (trillions of them, primarily bacteria!) in the digestive system is referred to as the microbiome. This is comprised of both good and bad microorganisms.
Recent research is showing that the microbiome may be wildly influential for our overall health, not just our digestive health.
As Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.”
It doesn’t take a fancy supplement or powder to have a healthy and robust microbiome. It pretty much comes down to two things: minimally processed plant foods with lots of dietary fiber and foods that are natural sources of probiotics, in that order.
A daily glass of kefir is my preferred source of probiotics. I’ve talked about kefir in depth in a previous post, so I’ll let you read more about my “why” there. It is a major component of my breakfast nearly every day, however, so I want to give a few tips.
First, I buy my kefir at Aldi. It costs about $2.30 for a quart, compared to around $4 for a quart at most grocery stores. Jeremy and I go through 3 quarts per week, so this saves us around $5 per week. This amounts to a savings of $260 a year. Yay!!
Second, I do not buy the plain kind. It tastes like drinkable sour cream, so no thank you. I like the blueberry, strawberry, and raspberry flavors from Friendly Farms (the Aldi brand), and the Madagascar Vanilla, mango, and pomegranate from Lifeway (when it’s occasionally available for a limited time at Aldi).
The added sugar isn’t a concern to me because A) kefir provides many health benefits that outweigh the sugar, in my opinion, B) there’s no way I would enjoy drinking it daily if it was plain, and C) the majority of the food I eat doesn’t contain added sugar, so my overall eating pattern is very balanced and fairly low in added sugar.
Berries or other fruit
The third main component of our breakfast is some kind of fruit. I try to make sure that we have berries at least 3 times per week, so this usually means that we have 3-4 strawberries each (or a handful of blueberries or blackberries) with our breakfast for the first three days after I buy groceries (berries do not last!). The rest of the time, we might have grapes, pineapple, kiwi, or mangos - usually whatever fruit was on sale at Aldi that week!
We usually have nuts with lunch or as snacks rather than at breakfast, but occasionally if we’re going somewhere for the morning and know that we’re going to be extra hungry, we’ll have them with breakfast.
Sunday mornings are the perfect example. It seems like no matter how big our breakfast is before church, we’re always hungry before we get home! (Does anyone else have this problem, too? I’m really curious.)
We just measure out our ¼ cup of whatever kind of nuts we have on hand (usually lightly salted and never coated in sugar), put the measuring cup back in or on the container, and go!
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leftover pancakes or waffles from the Freezer
I love baked oatmeal and baked eggs so much that we don’t have pancakes or waffles very often, but they are fun to have to shake things up a little sometimes. :)
We only make pancakes or waffles on Saturdays or when we’re having breakfast for dinner (simply because of time), but since there are only two of us eating, we usually have leftovers when we make them! These are easy to throw in the freezer in a ziploc bag and pull out in the morning. Waffles are great toasted (homemade Eggos!) and pancakes are perfect for microwaving. We usually top them with sliced berries or bananas and peanut butter or vanilla yogurt instead of syrup.
This whole wheat pancake recipe from Pinch of Yum is amazing! I wish this blog allowed me to use emojis so I could put the heart-eyes emoji here.
I also drink tea on an almost-daily basis. Green tea is a favorite for all of the antioxidants and a little caffeine. Right now, I’m absolutely loving Get Charged, by Republic of Tea (an amazing tea company that my sweet aunt is a rep for!). It’s caffeine-free but has a blend of energy-boosting herbs, including ginseng and ashwagandha. I like it on ice.
Most habits I’ve formed and stick to are fairly easy - including drinking tea! One of my very favorite kitchen gadgets that I use DAILY is my electric kettle. I boil my water, fill my insulated cup halfway, and brew my tea. After it’s brewed, I add a bunch of ice (in the summer) and drink it on my way to work. Drinking tea is one of my favorite daily habits. :)
Make it a good one :)
I hope these ideas have given you some new options to try! For me, it’s all about finding a few delicious, easy, and quick breakfast “main dishes” that will last for several days, then adding my fruit and kefir to round it out. Please let me know in the comments about your favorite Mediterranean breakfasts! What did you have for breakfast this morning?