Americans tend to eat the same thing when it comes to breakfast. The vast majority of us, surveys say, start our days with Starbucks or cold cereal — and those of us with children are more likely to buy the kinds of cereal with the most sugar. Children all over the world eat corn flakes and drink chocolate milk, of course, but in many places they also eat things that would strike the average American as strange.
In Australia – a bowl of cold cereal
In Brazil – ham, cheeses and bread, served with coffee and milk
In China – Dim Sum
In Cuba – cafe con leche (coffee with milk) with a tostada
In England – eggs, sausage, bacon, beans and mushrooms.
In France – croissants and coffee
In Germany – cold meats, local cheeses and fresh-baked bread
In India – fermented black lentils and rice served with chutney and sambar
In Japan – miso soup, steamed white rice and pickles.
In Morocco – bread, jam and cheese
In Nigeria – moi moi, a ground bean paste that is wrapped in leaves and steamed
In Russia – sirniki or baked farmers cheese pancakes and hot oatmeal
In Turkey – bread, cheese, butter, olives, eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers, jam or honey
In italy – a cappuccino and sweet roll or biscotti
While the benefits of eating breakfast are well-known — it can prevent weight gain, boost short-term memory, lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, and even make us happier — most of those health rewards depend on choosing the right foods. You want to aim for a breakfast that combines good carbs and fiber with some protein. Good choices include eggs, whole grains, fruit, peanut butter and yogurt.
Some Quick Fix Options
- For a portable breakfast: Place in a ziplock bag: a cut up apple, 2 ounces of cheddar cheese cubes and ¼ cup of fiber and protein-rich walnuts.
- Instead of dousing a whole-grain toaster waffle in syrup, cut the sugar and boost the protein and fiber by spreading it with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter.
- Take a slice of crusty bread, spread it with 3 tablespoons of low-fat ricotta and add sliced plum tomatoes. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil (about 1 teaspoon) and a little salt and pepper. Place under the broiler for a minute or two.
- Slice a hard-boiled egg, then roll it in an 8-inch whole-wheat tortilla with a slice of lean ham and a slice of cheese. Add a tablespoon of salsa for a shot of flavor.
Feel like trying something different for breakfast, check out these recipes:
Mini Spinach Frittatas
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2/3 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
- 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 24 – 1/8 inch thick slices of fully cooked Italian chicken sausages
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
In a small bowl, combine the first eight ingredients. Place a sausage slice in each of 24 greased miniature muffin cups. Fill muffin cups three-fourths full with the spinach mixture.
Bake 20-25 minutes or until completely set. Carefully run a knife around the sides of the muffin cups to loosen the frittatas. Serve warm. Yield: 2 dozen.
- 1 cup fresh or frozen fruit
- 2 teaspoons melted butter or vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon almond meal or almond flour, divided
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons rolled oats
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar for garnish – optional
- 1 teaspoon slivered almonds
- Additional fresh fruit, optional
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Combine the fruit and the 2 tablespoons of almond flour. Toss until well coated.
Place in a 6” oven safe bowl leaving about 1 inch at the top for the crumble topping.
Combine the remaining 1 teaspoon of almond meal, butter, oats, vanilla and cinnamon. Spoon over the fruit.
Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
Garnish with almonds, additional fresh fruit and confectioners’ sugar.
Creamy Breakfast Polenta
If crème fraîche is unavailable, use lightly sweetened sour cream.
Makes about 6 cups; 4 to 6 servings
- 3 cups low-fat (2%) milk
- 1 cup quick cooking polenta
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 to 6 tablespoons blackberry jam
- Lightly sweetened crème fraîche
In a 2 1/2 to 3 quart pan over high heat, bring 3 cups water and the milk to a boil. Reduce heat so liquid is barely boiling. Stirring constantly, pour in polenta in a thin, steady stream, pausing occasionally to break up any lumps. Stir in sugar and salt.
Simmer, stirring often, until polenta is soft and creamy to the bite, about 20 minutes (if heat is too high, bubbles may “spit” hot polenta out of the pan).
Ladle polenta into bowls and top each serving with about 1 tablespoon blackberry jam and a dollop of crème fraîche.
Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce
Serve with a slice of baguette for dipping.
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/2 green bell pepper (seeded and finely chopped)
- 1/4 cup red onion (finely chopped)
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 cups crushed Italian tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt (divided)
- 8 medium eggs
- 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves, finely chopped
In a wide, deep skillet, heat oil on medium. Add bell pepper, onion, oregano, coriander and cayenne and sauté, stirring frequently, for 4 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 1 more minute.
Add tomatoes, orange juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir to combine and increase heat to medium-high. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 4 minutes.
Crack 1 egg into a small bowl or cup. Gently slip the egg into the sauce without breaking the egg; repeat with the remaining eggs, leaving 1-inch between each egg. Reduce heat to medium-low and sprinkle remaining salt ove rthe top. Cover and simmer gently until egg whites are opaque and yolks are firm, 6 to 8 minutes. Carefully ladle sauce and eggs into serving bowls and top with chopped parsley.
Mini Pancakes with Greek Yogurt and Fruit
Makes 10-12 depending on the size of your muffin cups.
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup almond-milk or low-fat milk
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup fresh berries or fruit in season, plus extra for garnish
- 1/2 cup sliced frozen peaches, defrosted
- 1/4 cup of your favorite jam
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place all of the batter ingredients into a blender and pulse until smooth.
Pour batter into greased or lined muffin cups, filling halfway.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until puffy and brown. The pancakes will deflate when you remove them from the oven.
Place a few sliced peaches on top of the pancake. Spoon on a tablespoon of yogurt followed by a teaspoon of jam. Decorate with berry slices, if desired.
You think fruit, then dessert: fruit pies, fruit crumbles, fruit crisps, fruit compote on spongecake, fruit in ice cream or fruit on its own. When it’s hot and you need something refreshing, summer fruit fills the need– from tart blackberries to sweet strawberries to juicy peaches. However, there’s a savory side to summer fruit, that definitely deserves your attention.
Fresh fruit, summer fruit in particular, can really add something special to your recipes. When combined with the right ingredients, summer fruit can take on a savory flavor that’s far from a dessert — and just as good. I have included both desserts and savory dishes in the recipes in this post.
These summer fruits celebrate the freshest flavors of the season:
- Passion Fruit
Vegetable Salad With Blackberry-Shallot Vinaigrette
Chopped salads add a splash of color to a meal. If you’re making this salad in advance, keep the salad and dressing separate and hold off adding the tomatoes and avocado until just before serving. You can substitute vegetables that are in season for some of the ones listed in the recipe.
- 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
- 1 cup chopped green beans or asparagus, steamed just until tender
- 1 orange bell pepper, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped radishes
- 1/2 head radicchio, chopped
- 2 avocados, pitted, peeled and chopped
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 10 blackberries, halved
- 10 whole blackberries
- 1 shallot, finely minced
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
In large bowl, combine chopped tomatoes, green beans, bell pepper, radishes and radicchio. In a separate small bowl, toss avocados with lemon juice to coat and then fold into the salad.
For the dressing:
Set a fine-mesh strainer over a small bowl and place whole berries for the dressing in the strainer. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mash berries through the strainer to separate the juice from the pulp and seeds. Discard pulp and seeds. Whisk together the blackberry juice, shallot, olive oil, red wine vinegar, maple syrup, lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.
Drizzle desired amount over the salad. You may not need to use the entire amount of dressing. Top with pine nuts, the halved blackberries and serve. Serves 4.
Summer Fruit Soup
Makes about 4 cups; (serving size: 1 cup)
- 2 cups ripe cantaloupe chunks (about 1 inch)
- 3-4 ripe peaches (1 lb), peeled, pitted and cut into chunks
- 3/4 cup white Zinfandel wine
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Honey (optional)
- 1 cup raspberries, rinsed and drained
- Mint sprigs, rinsed
In a blender or food processor, puree cantaloupe, peaches, white Zinfandel and lemon juice until smooth. Taste and add honey if desired.
Pour soup into a container, cover, and chill until cold, at least 1 hour or up to 1 day. To chill faster, nest container in a bowl of ice water and stir soup often until cold, about 30 minutes.
Pour the soup into shallow bowls. Scatter raspberries on top. Garnish with mint sprigs.
Mozzarella, Basil and Nectarines with Balsamic Glaze
- 4 large nectarines
- 12 large basil leaves
- 12 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced into 8 thick round slices
- 1 cup plain panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
Combine vinegar and brown sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a very low simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the liquid is slightly syrupy. Remove fromthe heat and pour the vinegar into a glass measuring cup. Set aside to cool and thicken.
Cut the nectarines into ¼ inch thick circles, going around the pit and keeping the slices whole.
Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil and sear both sides of the nectarines for 1 minute or until warmed, but still firm. Alternately, you can grill the nectarines directly on the grill. Keep the nectarines warm while you prepare the other ingredients.
In a large bowl, combine the panko crumbs, flour, parmesan, salt, pepper and cayenne, mixing thoroughly to combine.
In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Take each slice of fresh mozzarella and coat it in the beaten egg, then dredge it through the bread crumb mix, pressing on both sides to adhere. Repeat with the remaining slices.
Add the remaining olive oil to the skillet and when hot, saute the coated mozzarella slices, turning carefully once, until golden and the cheese starts to melt but still retains its shape, about 1 minute on each side. Drain on paper towels.
To assemble: place one nectarine slice on a plate, top with 1 slice of mozzarella and then a basil leaf. Repeat the layer one more time and finish with a nectarine slice. Garnish with basil and freshly grated pepper. Drizzle on the balsamic glaze.
Pork Tenderloin with Plum Sauce
- 1 pound pitted, chopped plums
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup finely minced onion
- 1 minced hot pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried mustard powder
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
- Salt & Pepper
- 2 boneless pork tenderloins
- Vegetable oil
- Salt & Pepper
To make the sauce:
Bring all ingredients except the plums to a boil. Stir in the chopped plums. Reduce the heat and simmer very slowly until thick and syrupy, about 45 minutes. Depending on your preference for consistency, either puree in small batches in the blender, blend with an immersion blender or mash with a potato masher. The sauce may be made two days in advance.
To prepare the pork:
Heat an outdoor grill. Bank the coals on one side, so that one half is very hot and one half can be used for indirect cooking. If you have a gas grill, turn off one burner after the grill heats. Brush the hottest part of the grill with a little oil so the pork won’t stick.
Pat pork tenderloins dry with paper towels. Lightly salt and pepper them on all sides. Sear the pork on all sides over the hot side of the grill. Move the pork to the indirect heat, brush liberally with some plum sauce and cover the grill for about 8-10 minutes. Total cooking time, including searing is 15-18 minutes. If you have a thermometer, cook to 155 degrees F.
Heat some plum sauce in a small saucepan on the stove or the grill. Remove the pork from the grill and tent with foil, allowing the meat to rest for 5-10 minutes.
Slice the tenderloins. Pool the plum sauce on the plate and serve with the sliced tenderloin fanned out on top. This dish goes well with garlicky, sautéed greens.
Creamy Rice Pudding with Peaches
- 5 cups whole milk (or any combination of whole and 2 percent reduced-fat milk), divided
- 1/2 cup Arborio rice
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 egg yolks
- 4 ripe peaches, peeled and mashed
Combine 4 cups milk, rice and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until rice is tender, about 30 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the salt and vanilla. Whisk egg yolks and about 1/2 cup of hot milk mixture together in a small bowl. Whisk back into the pan and add the remaining 1 cup milk. Place over medium heat and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Let cool and chill at least 2 hours before serving. Top with mashed peaches.
Blackberry or Blueberry Crumble
Blackberries were plentiful this year where I live. I had more than enough to use in fruit salads and decided to make this dessert.
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/2 cup oats
- 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
- 4 cups mixed berries
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons King Arthur clear gel for fruit pies or cornstarch
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray.
In a large bowl combine flour, brown sugar,the 1/4 cup granulated sugar, cinnamon, salt and oats. Using a pastry blender, a fork or your hands cut in the butter. Keep mixture cold until ready to use.
In a large bowl combine berries, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and clear gel or cornstarch; toss to coat. Pour the blackberry mixture into the prepared baking dish.
Top with the crumble topping. Bake until the top is golden and the fruit is bubbly, about 35-40 minutes. Serve warm.
- Sustainable Summer Grilling (jovinacooksitalian.com)
- Radicchio and Orange Salad (drsusansolutions.wordpress.com)
- Mojito Fruit Salad (cityliciousrecipes.wordpress.com)
Thyme once was associated with courage, bravery and strength. Roman soldiers exchanged sprigs of thyme as a sign of respect. Greeks and Romans burned bundles of thyme to purify their temples and homes and to evoke a spirit of courage in those who inhaled it. Greeks and Romans are also believed to have added this herb directly to their baths and oil extracts from the plant were used to make bath and massage oils.
Thyme was associated with health and vigor and believed to strengthen and purify the body. Today, its essential oil, thymol, still has many therapeutic applications – it is widely used as an antiseptic and disinfectant and infusions of thyme are believed to be an excellent remedy for respiratory and throat ailments – and even hangovers! Thyme is also said to help in the digestion of fatty foods.
Thyme is widely used in Italian cooking – where it is know as “timo, pronounced “tee-mo”. Though there are more than 300 varieties of this herb, the most common types used in cooking are Thymus vulgaris (common thyme), Thymus citriodorus (citrus thyme, Thymus herba-barona (caraway thyme) and Thymus serpyllum (wild thyme).
Common thyme, the variety most often found in Italy, is a perennial plant, six to twelve inches tall, with tiny oval leaves and a pungent aroma.
Fresh thyme holds up well with refrigeration and can often be purchased by the bunch or a group of sprigs in a plastic clamshell container. Fresh thyme can be used whole with the stem or just the leaves with the stem removed.
If a recipe calls for a “sprig” of thyme, the leaves and stem should be used together, intact. When adding a whole sprig of thyme to soups, stews or other recipes, the leaves usually fall off during cooking and the woody stem can be removed prior to serving.
To remove the leaves from a sprig of fresh thyme, simply hold the sprig of thyme at the top with one hand, pinch the sprig with the other, and pull backwards down the stem. The leaves will detach easily. Fresh thyme leaves are so small that they usually require no chopping.
Fresh thyme should be stored in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic or in the original plastic clamshell container. When stored properly, fresh thyme will retain freshness and flavor for about two weeks.
Dried thyme retains much of the flavor of fresh thyme and is a suitable substitution for fresh in many cases. When substituting dried thyme for fresh, use roughly one third of the volume of fresh thyme called for in the recipe. Dried thyme can be found in most major supermarkets year round. Store dried thyme in an airtight container, away from heat and light. When stored properly, dried thyme should retain flavor and potency for up to one year.
When cooking with thyme, unlike many other herbs, be sure to add it early in the process, so the oils and flavor have time to be released. Thyme is used in many typical southern Italian pasta sauces, featuring peppers and eggplant and is also a great complement for many vegetables, including tomatoes and roasted potatoes. In Italy recipes, grilled and oven roasted fish, such as spigola (sea bass) triglie al forno (mullets), call for thyme. Additionally, thyme combines well with sage and rosemary and, when you grill, you can get great results if you marinate the meat for a few hours before grilling with those three herbs (thyme, sage and rosemary), along with good quality Italian olive oil.
Eggplant Rolls with Fresh Ricotta and Thyme
- 2 medium eggplants, divided
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 3 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
- 12 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese, drained
- 1/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, freshly grated
- 3/4 cup flour
Preheat oven to 350ºF
Slice 1½ eggplants into ¼ inch slices lengthwise. Reserve the 1/2 eggplant for a sauce.
Sprinkle with salt and drain in colander for 30 minutes. Set aside.
For the eggplant sauce:
Peel remaining ½ eggplant and cut into small cubes, season with salt and place in another colander for 30 minutes to drain.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small saucepan, add garlic and sauté until garlic is translucent.
Add the cubed eggplant, salt and pepper and water. Cook until eggplant is very soft.
Process the sauce mixture in a blender or with a hand immersion blender until smooth.
Add chopped tomato and 1 tablespoon thyme. Makes approx 1-½ cups.
For the cheese filling:
Mix ricotta cheese, parmigiano, remaining thyme and salt & pepper in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Coat eggplant slices lightly with flour.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high and sauté eggplant slices until light brown. Remove the eggplant and spread flat on level surface.
Divide ricotta mixture evenly among eggplant slices. Begin at one end and roll the eggplant into a cylinder. Repeat with remaining rolls.
Place rolls in 8×8 glass baking dish and bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and cheese is bubbly. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmigiano cheese. Serve the eggplant rolls with warm eggplant sauce.
Farfalle with Peppers and Thyme
- 1 lb Farfalle pasta
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups white onions, sliced
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
- 1 cup green bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup red bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup yellow bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons fresh italian parsley chopped
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and 1 sprig of fresh thyme. Sauté 5 minutes.
Add peppers and water to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Sauté an additional 10 minutes or until peppers are tender.
Drain pasta, add to the skillet with the pepper mixture and toss. Sprinkle with remaining thyme and chopped parsley.
Chicken Thighs Baked with Lemon and Thyme
In addition to the lemon and thyme, the chicken thighs are flavored with an emulsified mash of garlic, salt and olive oil.
- 2 large cloves garlic
- Coarse salt or sea salt
- 3 to 4 tablespoons. extra-virgin olive oil
- 12 chicken thighs, trimmed of fat, rinsed, and patted dry
- 2 large lemons, each cut into six 1/4-inch rounds
- 1-2 bunches fresh thyme, snipped into twenty-four 2-inch pieces
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup black olives (kalamata), cut in half
Mash the garlic with a large pinch of salt to create a coarse paste ( with a mortar and pestle or a small mixing bowl and the back of a spoon). Add the oil very slowly in drops while pounding and grinding the paste, continuing until thick, creamy and emulsified. Put the chicken in a bowl. Rub the garlic paste all over and under the skin. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
Heat the oven to 425°F and set an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Arrange the lemon slices in one layer in a large shallow roasting pan or baking dish (9x13x2 inches). Top each slice with two pieces of thyme. Set the chicken thighs, skin side up, on top; sprinkle them generously with salt and pepper. Bake until the skin is golden and the juices are clear, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Sometimes the lemons and chicken produce a lot of juices, in which case you can make a pan sauce. Transfer the chicken (keeping the thyme and lemon slices underneath) to a plate and cover loosely with foil.
Set the pan over medium heat (if the pan isn’t flameproof, pour the juices into a small skillet) and scrape up any stuck-on juices. Let the juices boil and reduce so they thicken to a saucy consistency. Drizzle the sauce around, not on, the chicken to maintain the crisp skin and garnish with olives.
- 6 nectarines, thinly sliced
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 6 thyme sprigs
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons wheat germ
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
In a bowl, toss the nectarines with the granulated sugar, juice, thyme and a pinch of salt; let stand for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
In another bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar and wheat germ with a pinch of salt. Using your fingers, work in the butter until the mixture is sandy. Press the streusel into small clumps and scatter on a rimmed baking sheet.
Spoon the nectarines, thyme and any juices into 6 individual baking dishes. Bake the nectarines for about 20 minutes, until the fruit is softened. Meanwhile, bake the streusel mixture stirring once, for about 10 minutes, until browned.
Sprinkle the streusel over the fruit, bake for 5 minutes longer and serve.
- Eggplant with chilli & thyme (cleoandrews.com)
- Rigatoni with Tomatoes, Hot Italian Sausage & Burrata (samencroute.wordpress.com)
- Chicken and prosciutto parmigiano (cheftoponkumer2013.wordpress.com)
- We Need More THYME! (momsperation.wordpress.com
- Cooking With Italian Herbs – Parsley (jovinacooksitalian.com)
- Cooking With Italian Herbs – Rosemary (jovinacooksitalian.com)
- Cooking With Italian Herbs – Oregano (jovinacooksitalian.com)
- Use Those Garden Herbs (jovinacooksitalian.com