Health & Beauty
Vegetables for breakfast is easier than you think
We all know that we should be enjoying eating more vegetables every day. One meal of the day, arguably the most important, is breakfast, but this is where Australians can find it difficult to include vegetables on their plates. My mission is to change that.
Cereal topped with yoghurt and fresh fruit is a popular breakfast choice, but kicking off your day with two serves of veggies will certainly have you on your way to achieving the recommended five serves – and it’s easier than you think.
I’m reminded of the wonderful breakfast culture of Israel, where their diet, like many countries that straddle the Mediterranean sea, is centred around seasonal vegetables and fresh produce. I have fond memories of enjoying an Israeli buffet style breakfast complete with eggs, babaganoush, hummus, labne and of course fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, olives and radishes.
The Israeli appreciation for good food, full of fruit and vegetables is carried on throughout the day. Especially into summer evenings during the watermelon season with famous watermelon salad platters, served on the beach and cafes for people to sit back, relax share and enjoy.
I really enjoyed the breakfasts in Japan too – another cuisine where vegetables are heavily featured, usually in side dishes known as ‘kobachi’. In addition to pickles and seaweed, both cooked vegetables as well as fresh salads can be incorporated in a traditional Japanese breakfast.
With this inspiration in mind, my challenge was to start enjoying more vegetables for breakfast. I’m already a pretty good vegetable consumer however I still find it difficult to fit in five serves a day. I’ve taken the CSIRO VegEze Challenge and it’s a really useful app to help anyone on a mission to eat better, or take the Healthy Eating Quiz which is designed to help identify areas in your diet that can be improved. Participating in these challenges certainly convinced me that including vegetables for breakfast had to become part of my new normal.
Most mornings I go off for a run or a paddle (I’m lucky to live close to the lake and kayaking is a hobby of mine) and found my standard Aussie breakfast cereal habit was leaving me a bit short, so I started swapping cereal for a quick morning veggie cook up.
Armed with my trusty non-stick fry pan, I heat a tiny bit of olive oil and pop two of my favourite super tasty cocktail tomatoes on the pan after pricking them with a fork so they don’t split.
By the way, if you haven’t tried these wonderful smaller sized tomatoes then you are really in for a flavour treat. They are the perfect size for a couple of smashed tomatoes on toast or simply quartered and served on top of the salad. Tomatoes are also a good source of lycopene - maybe that’s one of the secrets of the Mediterranean diet!
Back to my cook up.
Without too much thought, I add a handful of chopped vegetables, mostly small pieces of broccoli or carrot since they are always in the fridge, but sometimes a stick of celery or a couple of sliced mushrooms. I toss the vegetables for a few seconds, then crack an egg into the pan, pop the lid on and let it cook while I throw two slices of wholemeal bread in the toaster. By the time the toast is done, my morning fry up is ready to serve. I add a few drops of the infamous Worcester sauce, some fresh herbs (parsley or basil) from the garden and I’m set ready to read the paper with my breakfast and a coffee.
What I really like about this breakfast is it is a quick, no fuss way to get more veggies in your daily diet. It’s also easy, fresh, tasty and versatile – you can add some chillies, ginger, a splash of soy sauce, or serve it with a dollop of hummus or avocado with some lemon juice. Or, add a side of smashed sardines for a real kick start.
After a few weeks taking this challenge, I’ve managed to swap the cereal to a healthy veggie breakfast about three times a week and the proof is in the pudding. I feel better with a good breakfast. It has to be the best way to start the day.
So how will you get your veg on in the morning?
Check out these terrific breakfast salad recipes.