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bowls of oatmeal with a glass of milk

Starting your morning with a nutritious breakfast can set you up for a more focused, energized day — but it’s tempting to skip or skimp on a meal that happens so, well, early.

Maybe you’ve been getting by on coffee and counting the minutes until lunch, or maybe you’ve been relying on packaged grab-and-go fare to get through the early hours. Either way, you might feel clearer, brighter, and more energetic with some high-quality fuel in your tank.

The key to a healthy, satisfying breakfast on a busy morning is to plan ahead. These meals are designed to be prepped in advance, so you can pack individual portions in your favorite food-storage containers and wake up each day with one less item on your to-do list.

Baked Oatmeal, Three Ways

baked oatmeal

Makes six servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes

INGREDIENTS
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 ½ cups milk of choice, room temperature
3 tbs. ground flaxseeds or ground chia seeds

A chart showing various ways to put together a bowl of oatmeal

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and lightly oil a 9-x-9-inch pan or 2-quart baking dish.

In a large bowl, mix the oats, salt, baking powder, and spices and flavorings for your chosen flavor. In a medium bowl, combine the milk and flaxseeds; allow the mixture to sit until it thickens, about 10 minutes.

Add the wet ingredients for your chosen flavor to the milk mixture, then pour the wet mixture over the oat mixture. Add the mix-ins and stir until combined. Transfer to the prepared baking pan and sprinkle with toppings.

Bake until bubbling around the edges and set in the middle, about 40 minutes. Let cool on a rack for at least five minutes before serving.

If desired, cool completely and store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to a week.|

Stovetop Broccoli Frittata

Stovetop Broccoli Frittata

Makes six servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS
2 tbs. avocado oil
1 cup chopped shallots
3 cups chopped broccoli florets
1/2 tsp. dried red-pepper flakes
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
6 large eggs
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese or 1 small avocado, diced

DIRECTIONS
In a 10-inch skillet, warm the avocado oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and sauté until soft, about three minutes. Add the broccoli and cook until dark green and slightly softened, about two minutes more. Stir in the red-pepper flakes, thyme, and salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs. Pour the eggs evenly over the vegetables. Don’t stir. Use a spatula to pat the vegetables down into the eggs.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pan. Let cook undisturbed until the eggs are cooked through and puffed up in the center, about eight to 10 minutes. Remove from heat, then run a spatula around the sides of the pan to loosen the frittata. Sprinkle with the cheese or avocado.

Cut into six pieces and serve, or let cool and refrigerate individual servings.|

Sweet Potato and Beet Hash With Sausage

sweet potato and beet hash

Makes five servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS
2 cups peeled, diced sweet potatoes
2 cups diced beets
1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
6 oz. link sausage of choice (pork, chicken, or veggie) with casing removed, or ground sausage
3 cups chopped kale leaves, stems chopped and reserved
1/2 large apple, chopped
3/4 tsp. dried sage
1/2 tsp. salt

DIRECTIONS
Place diced vegetables in a steamer basket or colander, and steam over simmering water for about five minutes. Place the steamer in the sink to drain.

In a large sauté pan, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and sauté until browned and cooked through, about eight to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels; cover loosely with foil or a pan lid to keep warm.

In the same pan, add the steamed vegetable mixture, kale, kale stems, apple, sage, and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are browned and the kale is softened, about five minutes.

Serve hash with crumbled sausage on top, or let cool and refrigerate individual servings.|

Morning Mini-Meals

If you’re truly breakfast-averse or if you intentionally abstain from eating in the morning, consider one of these protein-and-fiber combinations for a light but satisfying fast-breaker. They’re easy to pack and transport to wherever your day takes you.

  • Berries (fresh or dried) and almonds
  • Apple slices and sunflower seeds
  • Baby carrots and a boiled egg
  • Pear slices and almond butter
  • Banana and peanut butter
  • Snap peas and hummus
  • Cucumber slices and tahini

Polenta Parfaits

polenta parfait

Makes four servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes

INGREDIENTS
Polenta
1/2 cup coarse cornmeal
1/2 cup chickpea flour
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Toppings
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped red onion
½ cup coarsely chopped baby spinach
1 tbs. capers, drained
1 cup plain, full-fat Greek yogurt
1 large scallion, chopped

DIRECTIONS
Wash and dry four 2-cup canning jars.

In the bottom half of a double boiler set over high heat, bring a few inches of water to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. In the top half of the double boiler, place the cornmeal and chickpea flour, then gradually whisk in the stock and olive oil until smooth. Cook over the simmering water, whisking often, until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. Whisk the Parmesan in until melted, then scoop ½-cup portions into each prepared jar. Smooth with a wet spoon and let cool.

In a small bowl, toss tomatoes with balsamic vinegar, then divide between the jars.

In a large sauté pan, warm olive oil over medium-high heat, and then add the onion. Sauté until soft, about three minutes. Add the spinach and capers, and stir until the spinach is wilted, about one minute. Place about 1/4 cup in each jar.

When the jars are cool, measure 1/4 cup yogurt into each one, then top with one-fourth of the scallions. Cover tightly and refrigerate.

Microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes before serving.|

Crispy Oat Waffles

crispy oat waffle

Make these vegan, gluten-free waffles and freeze them for the ultimate meal prep. Thaw in a toaster and top with yogurt or maple syrup, or go savory and serve with roasted veggies.

Makes five servings
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS
1 cup unsweetened almond milk or milk of choice
1 tbs. ground flaxseed
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. white or apple-cider vinegar
1/4 cup avocado oil or melted coconut oil
1 tbs. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups gluten-free rolled oats, divided
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt
Oil for waffle iron

DIRECTIONS
In a small mixing bowl, combine milk, flaxseed, applesauce, and vinegar; let sit for a few minutes. Add oil, maple syrup, and vanilla. Whisk thoroughly, then set aside.

Place 1 cup of the oats in a blender and grind to a powder, stopping to scrape down as needed. Add the baking powder and salt and pulse a few times to mix. Add the liquid mixture and process briefly to mix. Use a spatula to scrape the bottom of the blender container to make sure everything is mixed in. Add the remaining 1/2 cup oats and pulse just to mix in. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes until thickened.

Preheat the waffle iron according to manufacturer’s instructions, for about five minutes. When the iron is hot, open it and oil lightly. Measure 1/2 cup batter into the middle of the iron and close the top. In about two minutes, when the waffle is browned and crisp, transfer the waffle to a plate or a cooling rack. Repeat with remaining batter.

Serve hot, or cool completely and place in a zip-top freezer bag. To thaw, toast frozen waffle in a toaster or toaster oven, and serve with desired toppings.

 

This originally appeared as “Breakfast Matters” in the January/February 2020 print issue of Experience Life.

Photography by: Andrea D’Agosto; Prop Styling: Alicia Buszczak; Food Stylist: Paul Jackman

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