High-Protein Freezer Breakfast Burritos

If you are or have ever been one of my clients (or friend or family member), and you tell me you don’t usually eat breakfast, chances are I’ve given you a lecture. I pause, I take a deep breath, and I start ranting about why you should eat breakfast and easy ideas of things you can eat and so on. Most people hang their head and say “I know, I know,” but do they really know? Why is it that breakfast is “the most important meal of the day?” Let’s discuss:

Why Should I Eat Breakfast?

This is where I get all science-y in explaining why your body loves breakfast. I’m going to explain this very simply and if you need more information, just Google it. Your body has many mechanisms in place to keep you alive when you’re sleeping (and not eating). One of these mechanisms is your liver releasing stored sugar to stabilize your blood sugar and keep your brain functioning while you’re off in dreamland. Unfortunately, your liver doesn’t have a high, medium, or low switch which means that it’s pumpin’ sugar with all its might, slowly but surely raising your blood sugar. When you wake up, since we can’t say, “Okay liver, I’m good, you can stop producing sugar now,” it’ll just keep going and going until… you eat breakfast! Wow, what?! It’s that easy? Yes! When you eat breakfast, specifically a breakfast with carbohydrates, you’re telling your body that you can now control your own blood sugar. In this article, which happens to be another easy breakfast option, I talk about why you want a stable blood sugar.

Who is Breakfast a Non-Negotiable Meal for?

You must eat breakfast if you have diabetes, (including gestational diabetes and type 2 diabetes both taking medication/insulin and diet-controlled, as well as type 1 diabetes), Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), have ever experienced “hanger,” feel like your mood fluctuates throughout the day, battle with fatigue, are thin, are overweight, are pregnant, are an active person, are a woman, are a child.. you catch my drift?

Reasons People Don’t eat Breakfast:

  • I don’t have enough time in the morning. If you feel like you can’t spare 10 minutes in the morning to make or eat breakfast, your only option (other than grabbing fast food) is to make your breakfast ahead of time. I might be foreshadowing here…
  • I’m just not hungry. I’d encourage you to still eat breakfast. First, ask yourself how late you’re typically eating at night. If a late dinner time or evening snacks are hindering your morning hunger, I suggest you adjust/eliminate that. Otherwise, start eating breakfast consistently and I guarantee you will start to wake up hungry. It just might take a few weeks.
  • I’m trying to lose weight or cut calories. Remember how I mentioned that your liver produces sugar until you eat in the morning? Well, a high blood sugar level causes your body to release that hormone insulin which, in excessive amounts, can lead to weight gain. Bottom line: Skipping breakfast to lose weight is counter-productive.
  • When I eat breakfast, I get hungry again sooner than normal. Good news, that’s your metabolism working for you! Two suggestions: 1. Make sure your breakfast has adequate amounts of carbohydrates, fiber, and protein to keep you satiated longer. 2. Plan to have a snack between breakfast and lunch, such as an apple with a small handful of almonds.

All of this brings me to why I started making these burritos in the first place. My adorable husband often skips breakfast, gasp. Well I should say, he used to skip breakfast until these burritos came into the picture. His excuse was that he wakes up super early to go exercise and doesn’t come home afterward so would have to buy something which is either unhealthy or expensive and blah blah blah. He’s not immune to my lectures so he’s heard my “why you should eat breakfast” speech a time or two. I eventually figured, as his loving and concerned wife, I should help him out. I wanted to make him something hearty enough to fill him up and keep him full until lunch. For an active guy with a big appetite, a breakfast burrito is not only hearty and filling, but delicious as well. The beauty of these is that they are also completely customizable.

burrito ingredients
Ingredients for simple breakfast burritos

I found these humongous tortillas at the commissary on post one day and I knew they were a winner. With a whole wheat option that provides a few grams of fiber, contains no shortening or partially hydrogenated oils, and a whopping 9 grams of protein, these were a no brainer. I chose an all-natural, uncured sausage to add protein and flavor but not a ton of sodium and preservatives. For the herbs, feel free to add any herbs you like, fresh or dried!

burrito potatoes
A medley of potato, onion, and herbs. Yum!

I always cook the eggs first then let them sit to cool. Cooking eggs is so easy that maybe I just want to get that out of the way first. I usually crack my eggs straight into the pan so I don’t dirty a separate bowl in the process. While the sausage is in the oven, I then start on the potatoes. It takes a little practice to get the potatoes perfectly fork tender, while allowing them to sear long enough to develop that golden brown crust. They’ll taste delicious whether they’re perfectly cooked or not, so don’t worry.

Spinach added for more nutritious & filling fiber!
Spinach added for more nutritious & filling fiber!

I add spinach to anything I can since it adds so much nutritious fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. Spinach pairs so perfectly with eggs, especially in a quiche, yum!

This tortilla is ready to roll!
This tortilla is ready to roll… literally!

Allowing all of the ingredients to cool before assembling is crucial. You don’t want your tortilla getting soggy from the steam accumulating inside your burrito.

Assembling these burritos makes me so hungry, it’s hard not to shove one in my mouth right then. With all the vibrant colors, tastes, and smells, this is a breakfast that’s sure to provide you with the energy you need to have a productive morning.

An assembly area makes it easy to portion out the ingredients equally.
An assembly area makes it easy to portion out the ingredients equally.

Rolling the tortilla into a burrito takes practice, I’ll be honest. You can probably find some YouTube videos on how to do it but for me it just took patience. Once you get the technique down, you’re golden. The key is to fold the bottom over the ingredients and squeeze everything together firmly. Then you fold in the sides, then the upper edges, then roll until closed. Do the same thing when you wrap it in the aluminum foil.

Burritos ready for the freezer
Burritos are ready for the freezer. Don’t forget to remove foil before microwaving.

After the burritos are rolled and nicely stacked, I’ll put them into a bag and label the bag with the instructions: Remove foil before microwaving. Trust me, sometimes we all need a little reminding, especially if you’re eating this before you’ve had your morning coffee.

Freezer Breakfast Burritos

Ingredients

  • 5 large tortillas, preferably whole grain
  • 12-15 eggs
  • 6-7 red potatoes, skin on (or one large sweet potato)
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6-8 oz shredded cheese, I use cheddar
  • 2 large handfuls fresh spinach
  • 1 Tbsp butter (or canola oil or avocado oil)
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp parsley
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • Pinch of salt and pepper, plus more to taste
  • *Optional: 2 sausage links, preferably all natural/no preservatives, low-sodium

Other optional additions: mushrooms, tofu, zucchini, kale, feta cheese, black beans

Directions

  1. Cook eggs in pan on medium heat. Let cool completely.
  2. *Cook the meat according to package directions. Let cool completely. Cut into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Mince the onion and add to a pan (a separate pan from the eggs) on medium heat with the butter or oil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook 1-2 minutes.
  4. Chop the potatoes into small bite-sized pieces and add to the pan with the onions. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to coat the potatoes in the butter/oil.
  5. Let the potato/onion mixture cook for about 2 minutes then stir again and cook another 2 minutes. Add the herbs and stir to coat. Let cook another 1-2 minutes until the potatoes are golden brown.
  6. Add water to pan and cover with lid to steam the potatoes for about 5-7 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. If you notice the water evaporate and the potatoes are still hard, add another 1/4 cup water and steam until soft.
  7. Add spinach and replace lid for 1 minute then stir the mixture until the spinach is wilted throughout. Let cool completely.
  8. Place each tortilla on a separate sheet of aluminum foil. Once all the ingredients have cooled, start to assemble your burritos.
  9. Place equal amounts of cheese on each tortilla.
  10. Place equal amounts of eggs on each tortilla.
  11. Place equal amounts of potato/onion/spinach mixture on each tortilla.
  12. Place equal amounts of meat on each tortilla.
  13. Fold and roll each tortilla firmly to keep all ingredients tightly packed inside.
  14. Wrap each burrito in aluminum foil for freezing.*
  15. When ready to eat, remove the aluminum foil and place your burrito on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave for 3-6 minutes, flipping over halfway through.

*If you plan to store these burritos for longer than one week, wrap the burrito in plastic wrap before wrapping in foil, to help prevent freezer burn.

Secret Ingredient Smoothie Bowl

I have to admit, I’m not a huge smoothie person. I read an article years ago that argued we don’t feel as satisfied when we drink our calories versus when we eat them. It suggested that the actual sitting down for a meal, tasting our food, and being mindful of what we’re eating helps us to stay full longer. I get it. It’s so easy to drink our calories that people often wonder why they’re slowly gaining weight when they drink over 400 calories per day in <insert sugary beverage here>. Dr. Cheung a lecturer at Harvard School of Public Health, suggests that mindless eating is contributing to the national obesity epidemic we see today. Why is this smoothie different? Why does this smoothie allow us to eat mindfully? Because you eat it out of a bowl

A smoothie contains ingredients you likely already have at home. You can even put your smoothie ingredients together the night before, so in the morning it literally takes you 5 minutes to blend. A smoothie is a great option when you’d otherwise skip your meal because you’re in a hurry or you don’t feel hungry. Smoothies are also kid-friendly! They’re a great way to sneak fruits and vegetables into your child’s diet.

I always talk about blood sugar regulation and how it affects everything from our mood to our energy. Smoothies can be “dangerous” in the sense that it’s easy to add a lot of sugar into one. Most of the ingredients that go into a typical smoothie have carbohydrates aka sugar, including the fruit, milk, juice, and yogurt. The problem with this is that people don’t balance those carbohydrates with protein. Protein is the secret weapon in a smoothie. Protein helps those liquid calories keep us full longer, but most importantly, it helps to mitigate the blood sugar spike we get from drinking a fruit smoothie. I add a scoop of grass-fed whey protein to my smoothie. It’s flavorless so I can’t even tell its in there. The protein is crucial, as I’ve mentioned, and ultimately transforms your smoothie from a snack into a balanced meal.

cauliflower berry smoothie with coconut
Smoothies are versatile and can be sipped from a cup or eaten with a spoon from a bowl!

The smoothie I’m about to share with you checks all of the boxes I look for when building the perfect smoothie:

  • taste
  • carbohydrate-to-protein balance
  • includes vegetables
  • color
  • texture

The best part about this smoothie is that it contains a secret ingredient that you can’t even tell is in there: cauliflower. Although cauliflower may seem boring, its actually a nutritional powerhouse. Cauliflower contains anthoxanthins, which give this vegetable its creamy white color, as well as its antioxidant properties. Antioxidants fight damage within the cells of our bodies, helping to prevent cancer and degeneration of our eyes and brain cells. Although “green smoothies” are often praised for their health benefits and antioxidant capabilities, other colors including white, offer just as many benefits. Cauliflower also contains Vitamin C (which also acts as an antioxidant), potassium, folic acid, and fiber. Needless to say this often underrated vegetable is the nutritional star of this smoothie.

Cinnamon. The cinnamon flavor is subtle but gives this smoothie a special hint that makes you say, “Mmmm, what is that?” Cinnamon is sweet and spicy at the same time, teasing your taste buds but allowing the other flavors in the smoothie to shine through. Cinnamon might also help to keep blood sugar down for people with diabetes, high five!

Almond butter. Creaminess, protein, healthy fats, and flavor. I can’t think of a better combination than almond butter and banana. To me, the nutty, earthy flavor of almond pairs so perfectly with a sweet banana. This smoothie has both. Throw the cinnamon on top and oh. my. gosh. Enough said.

Avocado. Who would have guessed that this beautifully purple smoothie had avocado in it? Avocado adds creaminess which makes this smoothie spoon-worthy. It also adds monounsaturated fats, potassium, and fiber. Yes please.

I love the idea of eating a smoothie out of a bowl. It’s almost like eating ice cream, but healthier. I love that this smoothie is thick which allows you to scoop a heaping spoonful into your mouth. Feel free to top it with whatever you like- I chose hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, and coconut flakes. Because I eat mine out of a bowl with a spoon, I don’t have to worry about my toppings getting stuck in a straw.

smoothie bowl with coconut, pumpkin, and hemp seeds
I topped my smoothie bowl with hemp & pumpkin seeds for crunch and coconut flakes for flavor, yum!

Secret Ingredient Smoothie Bowl

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cauliflower, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 banana, frozen
  • 1/2 cup berries, frozen
  • 1 cup liquid (I did 1/2 cup whole milk, 1/2 cup water)
  • 1 scoop of protein, plain or vanilla
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 2 Tbsp almond butter
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Optional toppings: pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, coconut flakes, cocao nibs, berries, banana slices.

Directions:

  1. If using frozen cauliflower, add that to the blender or food processor first, by itself, to start the blending process. Blend until small (bite-sized) chunks before adding other ingredients.
  2. Add the banana and blend.
  3. Add all of the other ingredients and blend until thick and creamy.
  4. Pour into bowl or cup and top with your favorite toppings.

Makes 1 serving.

Estimated nutrition facts via MyFitnessPal per serving: calories 375. protein 21 grams. carbohydrates 40 grams. Results will vary based on specific ingredients used.

Veggie Lover’s Quiche

Tired of boring eggs in the morning? Looking for the perfect dish to bring to your next potluck brunch? This veggie quiche is a game changer. Make it once and you’ll find yourself going back to this recipe time and time again. It’s fresh, vibrant, and flavorful. Quiche is a one-dish meal, making clean-up easy. I also love how versatile it is. You can literally add anything to a quiche, or omit any ingredient you don’t care for, except the eggs of course. You can also eat it for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner.

This quiche recipe is full of fiber goodness (aka vegetables) and sprinkled with a little bit of tangy goat cheese for flavor. Feel free to substitute feta for the goat cheese, or omit it altogether. Most people don’t tend to think of vegetables as a “breakfast food” but in this recipe, they’re the stars. I love when I can load my breakfast with veggies, as it sets my whole day on the right path.

When we have company stay with us, chances are I’m making a quiche. It’s always a crowd pleaser, or at least I can say I’ve had no complaints. I stock up on pie crusts when they’re on sale and keep them in the freezer. You could make this recipe without the crust and call it a frittata, but the crust makes it extra special and delicious.

Have you ever made quiche? What do you like to put in yours? Let me know in the comments!

quiche2

Veggie Lover’s Quiche

Ingredients:

  • 1 pie crust, preferably without shortening or hydrogenated oil. I love Immaculate brand.
  • 8-10 large eggs, depending on how many people you are feeding
  • Splash of milk, about 1/8 cup (I use whole cow’s milk)
  • 1 oz goat cheese, crumbled (or substitute with feta cheese)
  • About 2 c vegetables*
    • 3-4 mushrooms, sliced
    • 2-3 asparagus spears, chopped
    • 3-4 cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 1 handful of fresh spinach
    • 1/2 onion, diced
    • *Other veggies I’ve used include: bell pepper, zucchini, broccoli, potato
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Prepare the pie crust in a pie dish according to package directions. I usually just bake it at 350 degrees for 7-9 minutes.
  2. Cut vegetables as indicated above. Add to pan on medium heat with olive oil and garlic. Sauté for up to 5 minutes to slightly soften vegetables and wilt spinach.
  3. Pour vegetables onto plate covered with paper towel to soak excess liquid from vegetables, then transfer to prepared pie crust.
  4. Whisk eggs and milk in a separate bowl.
  5. Add egg mixture to pie dish.
  6. Crumble goat cheese onto quiche. Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until center is no longer jiggly.
  8. Enjoy by itself or paired with sliced avocado and a drizzle of sriracha, yum!

Tip: Prepare (cut and sauté) the veggies the night before to make assembly super easy in the morning.

Here’s Why Chia Seed Pudding is an Ideal Breakfast for the non-Breakfast Eater

When I discovered chia seed pudding, I think my life changed. Okay maybe I’m being a little dramatic. The fact that I can easily prep something at night and enjoy it in the morning with the only effort being unscrewing the lid to a mason jar makes me giddy. I’m also a huge “texture person” (is that a thing?) so I drool over its creamy texture. I love adding crunchy toppings to play off the creaminess of the pudding. By now, I’ve probably made chia seed pudding 50 different ways, all of which were delicious and kid friendly!

I’ve counseled numerous people that tell me they skip breakfast for various reasons. The most common reason I hear is that they are often rushed in the morning, trying to get to work on time. Also very common is that many people don’t feel hungry in the morning – sometimes even the thought of food makes them nauseous. I’m here to tell you that if you’re one of these people, I would encourage you to start eating breakfast. You might have to force it at first, but eventually you will start to wake up hungry. Also consider eating dinner earlier in the evening. Eating late at night or right before bed could impede your morning hunger.

Eating breakfast is beneficial in so many ways, both physically and mentally. While you’re sleeping and not eating, your body has systems in place to keep your blood sugar stable, thank you liver. When you wake up, you want to tell your body that you can control your blood sugar now, instead of keeping yourself on autopilot. You do this by eating, preferably within an hour of waking up. Your blood sugar affects everything, including your mood, energy, alertness, and appetite. You’ve probably heard the term “hangry” (hungry+angry), right? If you’re someone who typically gets hangry before meals, it’s likely your blood sugar speaking to you. Fluctuating blood sugar levels can make it hard for some people to lose weight, especially those with insulin resistance, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), or diabetes.

Breakfast doesn’t have to be an elaborate meal, hence this recipe. The important thing is that your breakfast includes both carbohydrates and protein. The carbohydrates are what stabilize your blood sugar, while the protein helps keep it stable for longer. The reason chia seeds fit the bill for a well-rounded breakfast is because they contain both carbohydrates and protein, with 11 grams of fiber per serving to boot!

Chia seeds also contain calcium, iron, and essential fatty acids. Due to their fat content, its best to store them in the refrigerator or freezer so they don’t turn rancid. You’ll know your seeds are rancid if they smell “off” or slightly fishy. The soluble fiber in chia seeds give them the unique ability to “gel” when added to liquid. This type of fiber also helps to lower cholesterol and, wouldn’t you know it, stabilize blood sugar.

seeds
The chia seed is a nutritional powerhouse!

The reason I use cow’s milk in this recipe is to bump up the protein a bit. Keep in mind if you use a milk like almond milk with little protein, you could pair your pudding with some eggs, or perhaps a scoop of peanut butter, or even nuts to help keep you satiated longer. You can easily make this recipe vegan by using any plant-based milk you like.

chia_ingredients
4 ingredients for chia seed pudding

Making this recipe in a jar with a lid makes prep a breeze. You literally just add your ingredients, screw on the lid, and shake. A jar is also portable, which means you can take this with you to work or school without worrying about spilling. I usually just eat the pudding straight out of the jar so I don’t have a separate bowl to wash. High five!

I think the pure maple syrup is crucial for taste in this recipe. I’ve tried it with “pancake syrup” and it wasn’t the same. Vanilla is added for obvious reasons, but optional if you don’t like it. If you’re interested in making a chocolate version, add 1-2 tsp cacao powder before you shake your jar. I use Navita cacao powder. I prefer cacao powder to traditional cocoa powder due to its naturally high magnesium and potassium content. If you have a sweet tooth like me, you’ll appreciate cacao’s chocolate flavor without the added sugar.

A jar of chia seed pudding. A jar with a lid is essential for shaking your ingredients and storing overnight.
A jar with a lid is essential for shaking your ingredients and storing overnight.

The topping options are endless with chia seed pudding. I’ve topped mine with mango, strawberries, coconut flakes, banana, and cinnamon, but not all at the same time. Come to think of it, that might actually be delicious. What toppings will you try?! Let me know in the comments section if you’ve found a delicious new combination!

Chia Seed Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup milk (I use whole cow’s milk)
  • 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Tip: for a chocolate version, add 1-2 tsp cacao powder

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients into a large jar with a lid. Shake jar and hips vigorously for 5-10 seconds.
  2. If possible, in about 30 minutes, shake jar vigorously again for 5-10 seconds. This step is not critical, but it helps prevent lumps from forming.
  3. Let sit in fridge overnight and enjoy in the morning with your favorite toppings!

My favorite toppings include: coconut flakes, dark chocolate chips, cinnamon, and/or berries.

Adapted from: Oh She Glows