Nutritious, delicious, practical vegetarian breakfast ideas

June 18, 2018 at 10:10 pm (breakfast, Menus, Monthly menu plan: brunch)

I know a lot of people eat the same breakfast every day. Here in Germany it’s often muesli or bread with jam or fresh spreadable cheese. But we get bored of the same thing. I like to mix it up. Here are some of our regular breakfast ideas. Some are quite fast, some are moderately time consuming,  and others are either ones we make ahead of time or we reserve for the weekend.

For quick weekday, school-morning breakfasts we tend to rotate between the following options, ranked roughly in order of Alma’s current preference (as of September 2022):

  1. orange almond cream of wheat
  2. amaranth “parfait”, made with frozen raspberries, pre-cooked amaranth, almond butter, sliced bananas, and milk
  3. muffins (from the freezer), like the zucchini flaxseed muffins or the superhero muffins
  4. scrambled tofu, with tomatoes or fruit (often frozen) or applesauce on the side
  5. pan-fried tempeh strips, with tomatoes or fruit (often frozen) or applesauce on the side
  6. eggs (yolky or scrambled), with sauerkraut and fruit on the side
  7. peanut butter honey toast
  8. banana and nut butter
  9. amaranth porridge with blueberry sauce (with lots of blueberry sauce! and sometimes sliced almonds)
  10. oatmeal (either reheated or started the night before), often with fruit and/or nuts
  11. almond chia pudding with frozen cherries (or better yet, chocolate chia pudding or pumpkin chia pudding or some granola added for crunch. We make the chia pudding the night before.)
  12. müsli (included here because it’s fast, but Alma is never very excited about this option. She’s happier when it’s chocolate müsli. If we have them then granola or cornflakes or other cold cereals are also a very fast option.)

Some other options we don’t currently make, but that I’d like to try to start incorporating into weekday breakfast are breakfast burritos (with pre-made filling or from the freezer), avocado egg toast, miso soup, pancakes (from the freezer) and quinoa croquettes (from the freezer).

And here is a more complete list, including items that take way too long to make on a weekday morning.

Hot (or cold) porridge. I usually serve these with fruit (fresh or from the freezer) and flax seeds or sometimes nuts. If they’re too hot for Alma I’ll cool them off with a splash of soymilk or almond milk.

  1. Oatmeal. I often make steel cut oats, either using the overnight method or in my instant pot. Derek prefers oatmeal from rolled oats though, so sometimes we use them instead. I usually serve oatmeal with fresh or frozen fruit and sometimes nuts or nut butter. We have tried the uncooked overnight oats recipes, but no one likes them. I’ve also tried various baked oatmeal recipes, but I haven’t found one that’s not essentially dessert and that everyone loves. I would like to mix it up a bit by trying out some new topping combinations.
  2. I have made these baked oatmeal cups (which Alma calls oatmeal muffins) a few times now. And if I let Alma put chocolate chips and shredded coconut as the toppings on hers they are a hit. She’s also happy to eat them for snack. The recipe is sweetened with apple sauce (2 tsp. per muffin) and maple syrup (1 tsp. per muffin), so they’re not super sweet. Derek eats them with jam. I’ve made them a few times now and depending on exactly what i put in people either find them okay or pretty bad. The recipe isn’t super flexible. It’s easy to screw up.
  3. Amaranth porridge with blueberry sauce or parfaits. Derek isn’t a big fan but Alma and I like amaranth porridge (especially with a warm blueberry sauce), and it makes a nice change of pace. I often freeze cooked amaranth in small glass jars and pull one out of the freezer the night before. Lately I’ve been using leftover amaranth in a “parfait”: the bottom layer is sliced bananas and almond butter, the second layer is amaranth (sometimes room-temperature), then frozen raspberries, and finally I pour milk or coconut milk or soymilk over the top. Alma loves it.
  4. Creamy millet porridge (often with baked pears or apples). I usually make this on the weekend and freeze the leftovers, but next time I want to try to make it in my instant pot.
  5. Cream of wheat. I’ve made this orange almond cream of wheat recipe many times now, and each time everyone liked it. Alma begs us to make it. I think cream of wheat doesn’t have much fiber compared to something like oatmeal, but maybe the almonds and whole milk help to slow down the digestion and make it more filling for a longer time. Also depending on which brand of cream of wheat I buy, it seems like it isn’t always as devoid of fiber as I thought.
  6. I’d like to try other porridges. When I visited China I really enjoyed having congee for breakfast. Maybe I should try congee with bok choy and scallion oil again? Or instant pot green congee? I used to make a barley quinoa porridge that I liked, but I haven’t made it since Alma showed up. Other ideas? Maybe broccoli polenta for breakfast? Or maybe some kind of a dal would be a nice change? Not sure if Alma would go for it though. Maybe kichadi?

Cold cereal.

  1. Muesli. Sometimes I buy it, and sometimes Alma and I mix our own. I try to buy ones with grains and nuts and dried fruit, but not wheat. German muesli often has wheat in it, not sure why. We eat enough wheat. So I prefer the ones made from oats, rye, barley, puffed amaranth or quinoa, etc. I try to serve it with yogurt but Alma vastly prefers it with soy milk. So I do a mix, or serve the yogurt plain on the side. Often we add some granola for a little crunch. Derek isn’t a big muesli fan, and Alma eats it grudgingly. She likes it better when the müsli includes chocolate, not surprisingly.
  2. Granola. I make it myself, so I can use good-quality oils and keep the sugar content (relatively) low and and the nuts and seed content high. I used to have a recipe that I liked but the last couple times I’ve made it nobody has loved it. Maybe I cut the sweeteners back too much (even though they still seem quite high to me), or maybe I just need to start over from scratch with a new recipe? I’ve since tried a few other granola recipes that came out well. I’ll try to come back here and add links.
  3. Corn flakes or cheerios. We don’t eat these cereals all that often, but we usually have one around. When I serve them I try to add slivered almonds and/or fruit to it to slow the digestion a bit and make them a bit more filling.

Bread-based breakfasts. I try to buy good-quality hearty whole-grain or rye bread for breakfasts. Toppings vary. Whatever I serve, we usually have fresh or frozen fruit on the side.

  1. Bread with nut butter, and sometimes jam or honey or date syrup, or just mashed berries. If we’re in a big hurry I’ll make sandwiches that we can eat on the run. But normally we have them open-faced at home. We prefer these with whole-wheat bread or barley bread, but we’ll use whole grain rye if that’s all we have.
  2. Savory toast. Usually on 100% rye bread. Sometimes we just eat just avocado toast with fruit or a smoothie, but if we have more time I will serve the toast with pan-fried tofu slices or what Alma calls “yolky eggs.” (I’m not sure what the proper term for these eggs is—maybe sunny side up?)  I usually top mine with sauerkraut as well. Alma often eats her sauerkraut plain and Derek usually skips it entirely. In the summer, if we have good tomatoes I will use those instead of or in addition to sauerkraut. If we have sprouts on hand, I might add those as well. Sometimes we don’t have avocado and then we have our toast with just tofu or eggs and sauerkraut.

Egg-heavy breakfasts. Sometimes eggs are a quick breakfast for us, but other times they’re more of a weekend thing.

  1. Scrambled or fried eggs. Derek loves scrambled eggs but Alma prefers “yolky” eggs. We mix it up. We usually serve them with fruit of some sort, and sometimes with chia pudding or chestnuts or smoothie or toast (see savory toast idea above). I’d like to figure out how to make poached eggs, but no matter how many how-tos I read, I always find them a pain and error-prone.
  2. Spinach and feta omelet. Derek makes us a spinach and feta omelet for Sunday brunch at least once a month. We usually eat it on rye toasties, which are kind of like a cross between an English muffin and rye pumpernickel bread.
  3. Broccoli feta lime frittata. This is another Sunday brunch item that everyone likes. We usually have enough leftovers for one more weekday breakfast. I’ve never tried freezing it. I wonder if I could freeze a whole frittata? There are also similar baked egg breakfast casseroles that I could try.
  4. Chard and onion quiche. This is something I’ve just recently started making. I always thought quiches were full of heavy cream and cheese, but this recipe does not. It’s got eggs and milk and some cheese, but not a huge amount. If I make the quiche for dinner then we’ll have enough leftovers for one breakfast a few days later. Everyone was very happy the last time I made it. I might also try some other crustless breakfast quiche recipes.
  5. I’d love more veggie-heavy, but still quick and easy breakfast ideas. For a weekend breakfast I really want to figure out some sort of egg in tomato sauce recipe. I’ve tried this shakshuka recipe a few times, but Alma mostly ends up eating white bread, and Derek is never excited. I’ve also tried Italian baked eggs in tomato sauce, but I have trouble cooking them to the right degree, and the ramekins are a pain to clean. I saw a recipe recently for an Ethiopian scrambled egg dish with lots of tomatoes and onions and chilies and garlic. It looked super yummy.
  6. I occasionally try one of those egg vegetable breakfast muffin recipes, but so far I haven’t found any we’ve really liked. These instant pot egg bites look interesting.

Sweet (mostly flour-based) breakfasts.

  1. Pancakes. We have a Sunday pancake breakfast about once a month. I make a double or triple batch and freeze extras for a midweek breakfast. I try to make pretty filling, hearty pancakes. We usually make banana oat pancakes with eggs and ground oats rather than wheat flour, and I add nuts and/or blueberries to them. When Alma was little I would often make some variant of the “two-ingredient” banana egg toddler pancakes and Derek would make these vegan banana nut pancakes. I’ve recently been trying out a slight variant with cottage cheese. We like the sourness it adds. I haven’t tried oatmeal pancakes without bananas, but the pictures looks good. I also recently got a yeasted buckwheat pancake recipe from a friend. He said they’re great.
  2. Dutch baby. Derek makes a lovely Dutch Baby occasionally on Sunday morning. We love it with lemon juice.
  3. My mother says she prefers waffles to pancakes, but I don’t have a waffle iron. And no, Mom, I DO NOT WANT ONE. Sorry for yelling, y’all. I just want to be clear that I am not in the market for any new appliances at this time.
  4. Matzoh brei. Derek makes matzoh brei for us occasionally. It’s essentially softened matzoh coated in eggs and scrambled. I like mine with sour cherries. Derek eats his with maple syrup.
  5. Muffins. For a long time I couldn’t find any muffin recipes I was happy to serve for breakfast. Most of the recipes I’ve seen are really just dessert in disguise. The blogger will rave about how the muffins are “chock full of vegetables” and then you actually do the math and each muffin contains like 1/12 of a carrot or 1 tsp. of pumpkin puree or 1 spinach leaf, along with a tablespoon or two of sugar. Oy. What’s the point? Just give your kid a carrot to munch on and a piece of cake! But recently I’ve round a few recipes that seem more substantial than cake and are still quite tasty.
    1. I quite like these zucchini flaxseed muffins. I’ve made them twice now and they’ve been pretty successful both times. They don’t really have enough zucchini in them to consider them a serving of vegetables, but they do have quite a lot of flax seed and (if you choose) nuts. So that makes them quite filling and satisfying I think. The original recipe calls for 4 tsp. added sugar per muffin, but I’m pretty sure you could cut that back if you want to use less added sweetener.
    2. Another new discovery is these gluten-free, low-sugar muffins, which you can make in all kinds of flavor combinations. So far we’ve tried zucchini lime and sweet potato nut. They have only about 1 tsp. of maple syrup per muffin, but are much richer than the zucchini flaxseed ones. They have a very tender, golden crumb. I liked them a lot when I first made them but they’re so greasy I was less excited about them when reheated.
    3. I’ve also been trying out variants of the superhero muffins, and they’ve been a hit. I’ve made the chocolate beet vegan ones and the original recipe so far. Both are keepers.
  6. I still don’t have any quick bread recipes that I make regularly for breakfast, but I’d like to add one or more to my repertoire. This breakfast oatmeal apple cake looks interesting, as does this cherry chocolate breakfast cake.

Other vegetable-included, time-intensive breakfasts. We either have these on the weekend or make them on the weekend and store the leftovers in the fridge or freezer for a midweek breakfast.

  1. Stuffed hashbrowns with steamed veggies, avocado, and/or cheese. This was one of my favorite breakfasts when I was a kid. Everyone loves it, but it’s a lot of work and doesn’t scale well. We only make it about once every six weeks as a Sunday brunch.
  2. Another vegetable-containing breakfast we occasionally make is quinoa spinach croquettes. I’ll make them for dinner and them leave some out for a breakfast two days later, and also freeze a batch for a breakfast at some future date. They take a while to make, but I like that I get enough for several meals out of them. And everyone likes them. They have both eggs and cheese in them, so they’re not at all vegan.
  3. A somewhat similar recipes I occasionally make for breakfast is cauli-tots. I’ll either make them for a weekend breakfast and have leftovers, or a weeknight dinner and have leftovers. Like the croquettes, they satisfy a desire for something warm and comforting and finger-licking good. They freeze well and reheat well in the oven. The main downside of these is that they contain quite a bit of  cheese. I’ve tried reducing the cheese content but then everybody is less excited about them.
  4. Bean tortillas with melted cheese or mashed avocado and salsa. If I have tomatoes or bell peppers or lettuce or sprouts or cucumbers on hand, I might add those as well. I also often add in any leftover cooked vegetables (especially leafy greens, winter squash, sweet potatoes, parsnips, cauliflower, and zucchini). Everyone in my family is happy with this breakfast. I usually use refried pinto beans or black beans that I’ve made in advance. I sometimes make a more breakfast taco version with scrambled eggs. If I am lucky enough to have corn tortillas, I make an open-faced corn tortilla tostada-ish breakfast. These don’t need cheese. Just refried or mashed beans and mashed avocado + salsa. I’d like to find a recipe for breakfast tacos or breakfast burritos (or this one?) that I can make in advance and freeze, but I haven’t tried it yet.
  5. Refried beans with crispy polenta squares or homemade plantain chips. This is something I’ll serve for breakfast if we have leftovers from dinner. It works well as a breakfast. I’d like to figure out a way to get some veggies in though. I once made parsnip chips, which Alma liked but Derek found a bit too sweet in combination with the beans.
  6. I occasionally try one of those tofu vegetable muffin recipes, but so far I haven’t found any we’ve really liked. Nor do I have any savory muffin recipes that I make regularly for breakfast, but I’d like to add one or more to my repertoire. Any suggestions?
  7. I thought a veggie burger might work well as a make-ahead breakfast, but I don’t have a recipe I’m happy with yet.
  8. Sweet potatoes. Sometimes I have leftover baked or roasted sweet potatoes that I serve for breakfast. I also found an interesting recipe for sweet potato peanut butter toast, but our first try wasn’t a success. You’re just supposed to slice the sweet potato and put it in the toaster and spread it with peanut butter like you would regular toast. But the texture wasn’t right. Next time I’m going to try to cook the sweet potatoes about halfway before slicing and toasting them.
  9. Another idea I’d like to explore is veggie fried rice or cauliflower fried rice. Any other ideas? I know we can just eat standard lunch and dinner foods (or leftovers) for breakfast, but right now this is still a hard sell. Plus we usually barely have enough leftovers for lunch, never mind breakfast too.
  10. Years ago I use to do miso soup for breakfast, but I stopped, not sure why.

Other ideas, to mix and match, sometimes with some of the above items, sometimes with each other:

  • Banana and nut butter. This one is so trivial is seems not worth mentioning, but we’ll often eat it alone or along with one of the other items below and call it breakfast.
  • Yogurt and fruit. Again, pretty basic, but easy. We most often serve yogurt with frozen berries and ground flax seed.
  • Chia pudding. I usually make my mom’s super easy recipe with just almond milk and a tad bit of date syrup, but sometimes I make my pumpkin chia pudding recipe instead (with winter squash or sweet potato puree). With fruit this makes a quite light breakfast. I usually serve it with something else as well. I always make the chia pudding the night before.
  • Roasted chestnuts. I buy bags of pre-roasted chestnuts for quick breakfasts. Alma loves them, and they’re a nice unprocessed starch source to fuel her for the day. This year I plan to learn to roast them myself, but I’m not sure how much work it will be to peel them.
  • Pan-fried tempeh strips. I get a nice gyro-flavored tempeh at my local organic store. Alma doesn’t love it, but she will eat a few of the crispier pieces. Goes well with sauerkraut. (Update 2021: Alma now really enjoys pan-fried tempeh!)
  • Scrambled tofu. When I was growing up my Mom made sliced pan-fried tofu or scrambled tofu just about every morning. We don’t eat it that often for breakfast, but it is another idea to throw into the mix.
  • Smoothies. I don’t have any recipes that I use regularly. I just throw in whatever I have on hand. I generally prefer to chew my food, but smoothies do have some nice pluses. They’re a good way to use up fruit that otherwise wouldn’t get eaten (e.g., that peach that won’t quite ripen before going bad, the pear that somehow got a bit overripe, the banana that’s starting to turn brown…). I often throw this fruit in the freezer and save it for my next smoothie. Also, lately Alma hasn’t been very big on yogurt or flax seed, but she doesn’t mind them in a smoothie. I also make extra smoothies whenever I get the blender dirty and freeze them in regular drinking glasses or small glass juice bottles (with lids). When we’re really in a rush I put one glass in the fridge the night before and Alma drinks it in the car on the way to daycare. If the smoothie is all we’re having for breakfast, then I like to make it a bit more substantial by adding hemp seeds or hemp protein powder or flax seeds, as well as whatever nut/seed butter I have on hand. Or a bit of leftover porridge. This tropical green smoothie looks good, but a cup of spinach…really? What kind of a way is that to measure spinach? Or this green smoothie.
  • Dried fruit and nut bars. When we’re really in a rush I pull out the Lara bars. But they’re expensive. I want to try my hand at making them myself again. I’ve done it before (homemade Lara bars), but have gotten out of the habit. Clearly, a real sit-down breakfast is preferable, but if we’re really in a rush than a Lara bar is better than nothing.

1 Comment

  1. captious said,

    This morning I made scrambled tofu with leftover cooked green beans and leftover toasted sesame seeds. Alma ate it happily. She had hers with roast chestnuts, but if I had had some cooked grains that would have gone well together too. I wonder what other vegetables would go with scrambled tofu for a quick vegetable-containing, toddler-approved breakfast? Broccoli? Napa cabbage? Cauliflower? Grated carrots?

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