I Eat Plants: Veggies for Breakfast

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Why would a vegan need to worry about getting more veggies into their diet?

One of the surprising things about being a vegan is that sometimes we have to work at eating vegetables.

There are some vegans who are fantastic at it, but then there are those of us that have to make an effort.

I know, I know, how does that happen?

It’s easy to get carried away eating bread and pasta and French fries.  Sometimes when we’re out they’re some of the few things that we can have.  They’re simple to prepare (or buy, in the case of fries).  They taste good.  They’re comforting.

Vegetables can be that way, too.

Although I tend to eat heavier on the high-carb side of things, I’m usually pretty good about making sure that I have veggies with dinner.  Still need some work with being consistent about getting them at lunch- but breakfast- abysmal, unless you count the scallions in the vegan cream cheese I like on a bagel.

(Bagels haven’t been so common in my diet as of late, but that’s only because the bagel shop selling vegan cream cheese on my commute closed).

For me, breakfast had been things like pita bread and hummus, baguette and tomato garlic oil, or a couple of snack packs with nuts and dried fruit, or oatmeal.  I’m working on replacing those with healthier choices (and eating breakfast before I leave for work, making the whole “make it portable” issue a non-issue), but I figured I should be working more veggies and less well, bread in my breakfast.

So, with you I will share a few ideas for getting veggies in with your breakfast when vegan.

1.  Scrambled tofu/breakfast burrito.

Scrambled eggs are popular for vegetarians and omnivores alike, and while their effect on cholesterol may be in question, their contribution to animal cruelty isn’t, which is why we vegans avoid them (yes, even from happy backyard hens).  Tofu makes a tasty alternative- and for those of us who are pressed for time in the morning, you can make up a big batch on the weekend and eat it over the course of the weekend.  It’s easy to add veggies in when you’re first cooking it.  Onion and bell pepper always make it into the base of my tofu scramble, but you can add in any other veggies you have around, from green beans to mushrooms to celery and broccoli or leafy greens.  On caution when using leafy greens: if you’re making a large batch to eat in small portions over the next few days, don’t add your leafy greens until you’re ready to serve each portion.  Something hearty like kale you can add in when you start to reheat, and something more delicate like spinach add in at the very end, depending on how much you like it cooked.  They’ll be much tastier this way, instead of limp and sad.

My version of a breakfast burrito is more or less scrambled tofu in a burrito wrapper, sometimes with beans if I have them left over, but same veggie rules apply.

2.  Green smoothies.

I own a juicer, but I rarely use it, as I am more in the smoothie camp.  This one does better with a high speed blender, like a VitaMix or BlendTec, but people also do well with less expensive versions like from Breville, or Nutribullet.  If you’re using a very basic blender, I’d stick with greens like baby spinach.

Green smoothies don’t always come out green, depending on what fruit you’re using vs which green, but even a dark red smoothie using frozen cherries and baby spinach or romaine lettuce can still easily get you 1-2 servings of veggies (hint: you need to add a lot more than you think).  If you’re just starting out with green smoothies, start with something like spinach or romaine- these sweeter, milder tasting veggies will be a lot less weird in a smoothie to start.  Unless you love, love, love kale, it’s not for the green smoothie beginner.

Dark cherries in this smoothie make it not appear green, but rest assured, there's plenty of baby spinach in there.

Dark cherries in this smoothie make it not appear green, but rest assured, there’s plenty of baby spinach in there.

3.  Greens on the side

Some of us really like to have something sweet at breakfast, like pancakes or waffles- and these are not terribly conducive to adding veggies in their more traditional forms (though you can definitely get creative).  Sautéed greens on the side are always nice, though, and don’t take long.   I may be unpopular for this one- but if you want to add granulated/powdered garlic instead of taking the time to chop it in the morning- hey, it’s okay.

Tofu and Greens

4,  Dinner for breakfast

I’m sure this will be surprising, given how few times I’ve mentioned miso soup/ramen, but one of my favorite breakfasts is… miso soup.   You can load that up with veggies.  Leftover dinner is also a valid option for breakfast, and it may feel a little more legitimate to eat veggies that way.

These are just a few suggestions, and there are many other ways to eat more veggies at breakfast!  Do you eat veggies at breakfast every day?  I’d love to hear your tips!

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About Author

I Eat Plants columnist Jodie Deignan went vegetarian in 2004 and fully committed to veganism in 2007. By day she’s a psychiatric nurse practitioner and by night she spends a lot of time cooking delicious vegan food for herself and her friends. She’s a bit of a picky eater, with a special distaste for mushrooms, seaweed, raw tomatoes, and eggplant, though she’s discovered along the way she’s a little more open-minded than she once thought. She blogs at The Picky Vegan.

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