In Photos: My 7 days of healthy breakfasts

Erica Sarmiento

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In Photos: My 7 days of healthy breakfasts
Quinoa, squash, kale, apples, zucchini – just a few of the components of a delicious, healthy breakfast

In life, shortcuts are inevitable, and for many, they begin at breakfast.

This is true especially when we resort to the easy-to-open cans day after day. Rather than fueling and nourishing the body with the supposedly most important meal of the day, time (or lack thereof) is the first priority. Some skip breakfast altogether. 

Recently, I decided to exert a bit more effort in the morning to have a hearty meal that would provide me just what I need in the morning. It also helped that I swore off canned goods, especially the preserved meats, in favor of more fresh food.

Here are 7 of the meals I’ve made for myself so far:

1. Garlicky squash with toasted almonds on spinach, quinoa, and lettuce. Drizzled with dark apple cider

This was made from leftover squash I got from our fridge. I toasted some almonds in a dry pan for ten seconds, added the squash and spinach, then waited for my quinoa to finish boiling. I am a big fan of raw vegetables, and I found that the whole dish worked well on top of lettuce, with dark apple cider as dressing.

2. Kale and spinach stir-fry with carrots

Kale is a great vegetable that I found more fun to eat stir-fried than juiced. Who said you cannot have greens in the morning? The carrots gave the dish a wonderful color, and it is so good with chicken. Did I mention that this took no more than five minutes to toss around in a pan?

3. Tinapa, garlicky sweet potato, fresh shiitake mushrooms, spinach, and egg on quinoa

Sweet potato is one of my favorite breakfast ingredients. The color is so vibrant, and the energy that it gives me is sometimes better than the buzz from coffee.

Ten minutes was all I needed to prep this: I sautéd the diced kamote in garlic and olive oil, added chopped fresh shiitake mushrooms, spinach, and a generous serving of my favorite tinapa (the bottled ones are really good and convenient for quick fixes). After the quinoa finished boiling, I tossed it in and added a fried egg. Heaven, my goodness.

A note: try to use olive oil instead of regular cooking oil to fry eggs.

4. Sweet potato hash

Here is another sweet potato dish. Typically, hash is associated with potatoes, but in this case, I used sweet potatoes, grated like how you would mozzarella, dusted with paprika and minced parsley. I cooked the onions and garlic until fragrant, then tossed in the hash until it browned after five or so minutes. The finishing touch:  a fried egg.

5. Quinoa with shaved apples, flower honey, chia seeds, and dark apple cider

I usually juice my apples to bring to work or have it before my workout. I did not realize that apples and quinoa went well together until I tried this out of curiosity. Shaved apples stewed on a pan for a few minutes, cooked quinoa, sprinkled with chia seeds for fun and drizzled with flower honey and dark apple cider. Breakfast or dinner? It is only a matter of perspective.

6. Jambalaya breakfast

Pair anything with fried egg and it instantly becomes breakfast. I love using dinner leftovers for the next morning meal. My mom makes a fantastic Jambalaya with chorizo, chicken, and seafood. I livened up the dish with beans sautéed with mushrooms, topped off with a runny sunny side-up fried egg. The lazy way to beautify any dinner dish is to really chop it up into bits and heat it with rice for a few minutes. Voila, fried rice! 

7. Roasted zucchini, baby carrots, squash quinoa pilaf with pistachios.

Some people say that the more colorful a meal, the healthier it is. I say that the more colorful a meal, the more I want to eat it. This dish is composed of green zucchini, a few baby carrots, a handful of diced squash, all roasted in low-medium heat pan with olive oil for 10 minutes (with the lid on). As usual, the rice – I mean, the quinoa – is tossed into the hot vegetable medley and sprinkled with green-violet pistachios.

Cooking up a good breakfast every now and then is really worth getting up earlier by about 20 minutes. For me, the goal was to provide myself with a hearty and delicious meal. The health benefits were just a bonus.

Eating shouldn’t be a chore – personally, I find myself to be more effective at work and relating better to people when my mood is lifted by a sumptuous meal at 8 in the morning. I suppose that is the main point of a first meal – to give you energy and to jumpstart the day’s activities.

At the very least, I try to let my breakfast each day be a catalyst for happiness, and hope that good things will follow. –

When she is not crunching numbers at the bank, Erica loves to draw in pencil, listen to hip-hop music, de-stress with a few Vinyasas, swim with a lot of sunblock on, read books in paperback, and spend time with friends and family over coffee or wine. When she is hungry (which is quite often), she likes to keep her food as simple and genuine as possible, preferably healthy as well.

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