A Different and Wholesome Start to the Day

Breakfast seems to be the one meal of the day for which we tolerate repetition. A slice of toast with peanut butter; a bowl of cereal with milk and half a banana; cooked oatmeal with raisins, nuts, chopped apple, day after livelong day; all of these breakfasts I have witnessed among friends. Personally, I like a different breakfast each day: oatmeal one day; soft-boiled egg on cut up toast; sausage and apple fried; French toast; scrambled egg and home fries; yogurt and granola with fruit. There are so many lovely combinations of breakfast foods that I am reluctant to confine myself to just one.

Fortunately, I never was a breakfast doughnut or coffee cake kind of person. It always struck me like eating dessert first thing, though, as a child, I liked frosted corn flakes for breakfast. Thank goodness, I outgrew that.

Recently a friend described a breakfast she has decided to give a whirl and it sounded so delicious that I have added it to my regular rotation with variations on it. She has been enjoying a dollop of cooked rice topped with some Brussels Sprouts or some similar vegetable and a fried egg. Of course, you have to like Brussels sprouts, which I do, and you have to keep cooked rice on hand in the fridge.

I gave it a try, using some leftover roasted Brussels sprouts which were mixed with other roasted vegetables: cauliflower, green beans, carrots, and winter squash. They had been roasted at 450 degrees with garlic and onion, and afterwards I dribbled some balsamic vinegar on them. Whenever I assemble a pan full of those, I add extra vegetables anyway so I can get two meals out of it because the leftovers are so easy to rewarm. A spoonful of those on top of warmed rice, and an over-easy egg with nice runny yolk breaking and dribbling into the rice and vegetables; salt and pepper and yum! Good enough to make me want to go back to bed and get up all over again for another breakfast.

So here come the variations. Instead of rice, try cooked farro, steel-cut oats, barley, or bulgur. Just about any leftover cooked vegetable, preferably solid vegetables–carrots, turnips, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, or even some raw ones like pea or other sprouts; salad greens, leftover salad (I like leftover salad as long as it isn’t slimy); or slightly wilted greens like broccoli rabe, or kale, chard, or spinach. Sometimes I dribble on salad dressing—not much—or tamari or soy sauce, or I plop some salsa on it. The egg can be soft-boiled, poached, or fried over easy because I like runny yolks, and sometimes scrambled.

I like this breakfast because it stays with me until the middle of the day. None of this hankering for a piece of toast around 10:30 which at my age and state of metabolism turns out to be such a bad idea. Plus, I have been trying to figure out how to eat more vegetables anyway. I grow so many of them, I really have to power through them before the next growing season. Vegetables at breakfast is a running head start on my daily vege assignment. And it is helpful to keep the carbs down to a dull roar at the beginning of the day.

So now I cook a little more of any grain I need for dinner and stash it away for a vege filled breakfast. If you keep extras of cooked vegetables on hand, this breakfast is as fast as the time it takes to cook an egg. Tonight, I am cooking more than enough polenta for an Italian style dinner. Tomorrow, I’ll slice off a small chunk of the extra, warm it on the pan next to the egg, top it with vegetables and there’s breakfast. Join me?

Rice, Vegetables, and Egg Breakfast
Serves: one
  • ¼ cup cooked rice or other grain
  • ½ cup, more or less, roasted or steamed vegetables (Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, winter squash, carrots, green beans, etc.)
  • 1 egg cooked as preferred
  • Handful salad greens, sprouts, or wilted chard, kale, spinach
  • Salad dressing, soy sauce or salsa, optional
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Rewarm the grain and the cooked vegetables (stove top or microwave)
  2. Cook the egg as you prefer and put it on top of the vegetables and grain.
  3. Top with the egg.
  4. Garnish with raw vegetables and optional sauce or dressing; add salt and pepper to taste.


Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.