Emphasizing fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains while limiting salt and red meat, the Mediterranean diet has been described by the Mayo Clinic as a heart healthy plan. As with any diet, breakfast is essential — and doesn’t have to always mean Greek yogurt parfaits. The basic principles you apply when selecting a whole-grain dinner choice apply at the breakfast table too. Even if you aren’t on the Mediterranean meal plan, you’ll want to make one of these six recipes to add a little variety to your morning routine.
1. Mediterranean Breakfast Couscous
With this recipe from Health.com you’ll be rethinking how you classify couscous. You may have made the dish before with dinner, but with a bit of brown sugar and dried fruit, you can bring the whole grain to your Mediterranean diet. It makes about 4 servings.
- 3 cups 1 percent low-fat milk
- 1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick
- 1 cup uncooked whole-wheat couscous
- ½ cup chopped dried apricots
- ¼ cup dried currants
- 6 teaspoons dark brown sugar, divided
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 teaspoons butter, melted and divided
Directions: Combine milk and cinnamon stick in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; heat 3 minutes or until small bubbles form around inner edge of pot (about 180 degrees Fahrenheit.) Do not boil. Remove from heat; stir in couscous, apricots, currants, 4 teaspoons brown sugar, and salt. Cover the mixture, and let it stand 15 minutes. Remove and discard cinnamon stick. Divide couscous among each of 4 bowls, and top each with 1 teaspoon melted butter and ½ teaspoon brown sugar. Serve immediately.
2. Chickpea and Potato Hash
Eating Well’s hash will be a suitable meal choice anytime of the day, including breakfast. It will certainly keep you full, containing 14 grams of protein, and 6 grams of fiber per serving; it will make enough for 4 people.
- 4 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
- 2 cups finely chopped baby spinach
- ½ cup finely chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed
- 1 cup chopped zucchini
- 4 large eggs
Directions: Combine potatoes, spinach, onion, ginger, curry powder, and salt in a large bowl. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the potato mixture and press into a layer. Cook, without stirring, until crispy and golden brown on the bottom, 3 to 5 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium-low. Fold in chickpeas and zucchini, breaking up chunks of potato, until just combined. Press back into an even layer. Carve out 4 “wells” in the mixture. Break eggs, one at a time, into a cup and slip one into each indentation. Cover and continue cooking until the eggs are set, 4 to 5 minutes for soft-set yolks.
3. Avocado Toast
Make sure you pick a bread made with whole grains in order to keep this breakfast from Taste.com on the right track. Herbs and seasonings are used in the Mediterranean diet to keep food tasting fresh. Substitute rye for a preferred type of bread if desired.
- 2 small firm ripe avocados, stone removed, peeled
- 80 grams soft feta, crumbled
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, plus extra to garnish
- squeeze of fresh lemon juice, to taste
- 4 large slices rye bread
Directions: Place the avocado in a medium size bowl and mash roughly with a fork. Add mint and a large squeeze of lemon juice, mash until just combined. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Toast or grill rye bread until golden. To serve, spoon ¼ of the avocado mixture onto each slice of bread. Top with feta. Serve immediately garnished with extra mint. Tip: try adding some thinly shaved ham or top with a poached egg.
Get a side of whole grains with your Greek yogurt by making a stack of pancakes using the recipe from Oikos. Top them off with fresh fruit, toasted nuts, more Greek yogurt, or sweeten the stack with a dash of syrup. It makes about 6 servings.
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons flax seeds
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla)
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons agave or honey
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- syrup, fresh fruit, or other toppings
Directions: Combine first five ingredients in a blender and pulse process 30 seconds. Add yogurt, eggs, oil, and agave and blend until smooth. Let batter stand to thicken, about 20 minutes.
Heat large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Brush skillet with oil. Working in batches, ladle batter by ¼ cupfuls into skillet. Cook pancakes until bottoms are golden brown and bubbles form on top, about 2 minutes. Turn pancakes over; cook until bottoms are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to baking sheet. Keep warm in oven. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing skillet with more butter as necessary. Serve with desired toppings.
5. Mediterranean Frittata
Getting vegetables at breakfast isn’t always easy, but with a frittata — like this one from Better Homes and Gardens – you have a chance to add a bit of produce to your baked egg breakfast. In this case, it is onion, red peppers, and olives, but other varieties of peppers could also be added. It yields 6 servings.
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 eggs, beaten
- ¼ cup half-and-half, light cream or milk
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese (2 ounces)
- ½ cup chopped bottled roasted red sweet peppers
- ½ cup sliced kalamata or pitted ripe olives, optional
- ¼ cup slivered fresh basil
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ cup onion-and-garlic croutons, coarsely crushed
- 2 tablespoons finely shredded Parmesan cheese
- Fresh basil leaves (optional)
Directions: Preheat broiler. In a large broilerproof skillet cook onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons hot oil until onion is just tender. Meanwhile, in a bowl, beat together eggs and half-and-half. Stir in feta cheese, roasted sweet pepper, olives (if desired), basil, and black pepper. Pour egg mixture over onion mixture in skillet. Cook over medium heat. As mixture sets, run a spatula around the edge of the skillet, lifting egg mixture so uncooked portion flows underneath. Continue cooking and lifting edges until egg mixture is almost set (surface will be moist.) Reduce heat as necessary to prevent overcooking.
In a bowl combine crushed croutons, Parmesan cheese, and the remaining tablespoon of oil; sprinkle mixture over frittata. Broil 4 to 5 inches from heat for 1 to 2 minutes or until top is set and crumbs are golden. Cut frittata in wedges to serve. If desired, garnish with fresh basil leaves.
6. Banana Nut Oatmeal
Walnuts are one of the nuts the Mayo Clinic lists to have on hand for a snack when following the Mediterranean diet, but don’t limit your walnuts, almonds, or cashews to afternoon munching. Top off a bowl of oatmeal with chopped nuts, like in this AllRecipes.com oatmeal.
- ¼ cup quick cooking oats
- ½ cup skim milk
- 1 teaspoon flax seeds
- 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 banana, peeled
Directions: Combine the oats, milk, flax seeds, walnuts, honey, and banana in a microwave-safe bowl. Cook in microwave on High for 2 minutes. Mash the banana with a fork and stir into the mixture. Serve hot.