The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans report advises at least two cups of fruit and two and a half cups of vegetables each day. It’s good advice. The problem, according to the CDC, is that only about 10 percent of Americans actually eat the recommended amount, which leaves the vast majority of people woefully unprepared to fight diseases. Per the CDC, “Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables daily can help reduce the risk of many leading causes of illness and death, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and obesity.” So, it pays to add more produce to your diet. One way to do that: eat more vegetables for breakfast. It’s doesn’t have to be a meal that’s dominated by cereal, eggs, and bread or skipped entirely.
“Veggies to start your day is a smart choice,” says Leslie Bonci, R.D.N., founder of Active Eating Advice, because you won’t have to play catch-up later in the day to reach your recommended servings. She notes that vegetables provide you with fiber, vitamins, and nutrients, and they help fill you up—not out.
For inspiration, here are six recipes that will help you add more healthy vegetables to your morning meal.
One of the easiest ways to spice up eggs is by adding your favorite vegetables. Here, Bonci shares one of her go-to breakfasts—a vegetable frittata.
½ cup sliced zucchini
1 cup baby spinach
¼ cup sliced mushrooms
¼ cup sliced bell peppers
Salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese, for topping
Bruschetta sauce, for topping
- Sauté vegetables in a pan with 1 tablespoon oil. Cook until veggies are soft.
- Separately, beat eggs with water and add Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper to taste.
- Pour eggs over the sautéed vegetables and let cook until set, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, and top with bruschetta sauce.
Power Greens Breakfast Skillet
This warm, savory recipe from registered dietitian Elle Penner uses an assortment of greens, such as baby kale, spinach, and Swiss chard, plus caramelized onions for a veggie-packed start to your day.
1 medium yellow onion, sliced into thin rings
4 cups assorted greens, such as kale, spinach, and baby Swiss chard (chopped if not baby greens)
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
Salt and cracked black pepper
Bacon and sourdough toast (optional but recommended)
- In a medium-size cast-iron skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add onion, stir to coat, and cover pan with a lid.
- Allow at least 30 minutes for the onions to caramelize. Stir occasionally and, while doing so, make sure the condensation that collects on the lid returns to the pan. Onions will brown prematurely and not actually caramelize if they dry out or the heat is too high.
- When onions are done, set the oven broiler to low. Add greens to the skillet, and continue to cook on the stove until wilted.
- Form 3 wells for the eggs. Crack 1 egg into each well and cook for 3 minutes until whites start to set.
- Sprinkle with cheese before transferring to oven, and broil eggs until they are cooked to your liking. Serve with bacon and sourdough toast.
In this tasty breakfast, Carlene Thomas, R.D.N., deconstructs the classic bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich into a salad, complete with protein, greens, and ciabatta croutons.
1 large or 2 small heads Bibb lettuce
2 slices bacon, chopped
3 hard-boiled eggs, halved
1 handful toasted ciabatta or French bread, cut into large cubes
1 heaping tablespoon capers
½ tablespoon chopped fresh dill
½ tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
½ tablespoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
- To make dressing, add ingredients to a bowl and whisk, or add to a small jar and shake to combine.
- Compile salad, drizzle with dressing (start with a small amount and toss to lightly coat ingredients).
Roasted Asparagus, Pancetta, and Blue-Cheese Oatmeal
Candice Kumai’s unique recipe is savory and delicious. Plus, it pairs the healthy fiber in oats with all the good things you’ll find in asparagus, such as folate and vitamins A, C, E, and K.
1 cup rolled oats
1 thin slice pancetta
Handful of asparagus
Crumbled blue cheese, for topping
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook rolled oats in approximately 2 cups of water.
- Cook pancetta in a pan with oil, and add to oats.
- Roast asparagus in the oven until lightly browned. Chop into pieces, and add to oats.
- Crumble blue cheese on top.
Berry Spinach Smoothie
For an easy way to get two cups of greens, try this smoothie recipe from Amy Goodson, R.D.N. It’s loaded with vitamins and fiber.
1 medium banana (previously peeled, frozen, and quartered)
½ cup mixed frozen berries
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
1 heaping tablespoon natural almond butter
½-¾ cup vanilla milk
2 cups fresh spinach
- Add everything to a blender, and blend until smooth.
- Pour and enjoy.
Savory Steel-Cut Oats With Spinach, Mushrooms, and Tofu
For another unique take on oats, Sharon Palmer, aka The Plant-Powered Dietitian, whips up this protein- and veggie-packed option.
1 cup steel-cut oats, uncooked
3 cups water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14-oz. package extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
1 cup sliced mushrooms
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 pinch salt
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes
1 bunch fresh spinach, chopped
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- Bring water to a boil in a small pot, and add oats. Cook for about 20 to 25 minutes, according to package directions, to desired texture.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet or sauté pan. Add red onions, garlic, and tofu, and sauté for 4 minutes. Then add mushrooms, black pepper, salt, dried basil, and sun-dried tomatoes, and sauté for an additional 4 minutes.
- Add chopped spinach and vinegar, and sauté for 2 minutes, until wilted but bright green.
- Divide oatmeal among 4 bowls.
- Top each bowl with spinach tofu mixture.
Don’t leave vegetables out of your first meal of the day. Kick off your daily diet with one to two servings of the good stuff with these recipes.