The pandemic has changed our habits a lot when it comes to what we eat and how we eat it, breakfast included.

During the shutdown, routines were in upheaval and fast-food restaurants had modified hours and modified menus — if they were even open —  and people chose to scarf down a bowl of cold cereal at home before heading to work, if they were at work, skipping the quick-breakfast-sandwich-and-java pickup on their way to the office.

Breakfast, previously, could be a boring routine and a drudge to make. As some semblance of pre-pandemic activity has been slowly returning, our new breakfast and work-at-home habits may have taken a grip on our morning routine and may be here to stay. 

Here are a few quick and easy breakfast ideas that break out of the conventional bacon-and-eggs start to the day, including a look to world cuisine. Many dishes can be made ahead; many can be transported to the office, whether that is upstairs or a 20-minute commute away.

Traditional bacon and eggs are composed on a plate and eaten at the table, but it’s time to start to thinking outside of that box.

Bowls and beverages  

Mixed bowls are quick and easy and travel well; there are dozens of possibilities. Put together a bowl with quinoa, a neutral seed that accepts other flavours. Then load the bowl with avocado, fresh fruit and vegetables. You can add egg if you wish. These breakfast bowls can be savoury and sweet.

Overnight oats are an easy breakfast that benefit from preparation the night before. Combine steel-cut oats, yogurt, chia seeds (which help thicken), vanilla, honey and milk or almond milk in a sealable jar, and refrigerate. In the morning, this  can be a super-quick breakfast at home or at the office.

The idea of breakfast as a beverage in the form of smoothie is quick and easy, taking only 30 seconds in the blender if you freeze the ingredients overnight. It’s much healthier than the thin veil of nutrition that is in sugary juices, and healthier for you than just a cup of coffee.

To make it, combine some spinach and fruit and protein powder in blender cup, and freeze. The next morning, add a bit of liquid and whiz it in the blender. It’s delicious and nutritious and filling (and you can adjust the fruit and vegetables to have more or less sugar). Recipe is below.

World view 

The idea of a combined bowl for breakfast can be elevated when you look around the world at cultures that often eat breakfast differently than many Canadians.

Eggs are part of a Salvadoran breakfast, but so are fried plantains and refried beans, prepared versions of those are found in better grocery stores.

Shakshouka, a popular breakfast food in the Middle East. (Andrew Coppolino/CBC)

A Japanese breakfast of rice, eggs, black beans, sweet potatoes and corn, like the dish prepared by chef Jonathan Gushue at Sounds of the Season a few years ago, is another one-bowl wonder that can be made ahead and re-heated in minutes at home (frying can give it a nice crispiness), or taken to the office microwave.

Middle eastern or northern African breakfasts may or may not include eggs. In Israel, Syria and Turkey, eggs are poached in a mildly spiced tomato sauce and called shakshouka.

We can also take our cue from the legumes that are called phool or ful, regularly cooked in Palestine, Egypt and other places. Smashed fava beans make for hearty eating with make-ahead preparation and the addition of olive oil and lemon juice. Use a bit of warmed pita to scoop it up.

“We might add a kind of Mediterranean salsa of crushed hot peppers, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil and eat that with phool,” according to Easra Aburaneh of Nanaz Kitchen in Waterloo.

Smashed fava beans with hot peppers make for a different kind of breakfast, no doubt. And the timing of its consumption might also smash your breakfast habits, notes Aburaneh.

“In Palestine, we might eat breakfast between 10 in the morning and noon,” she says.
 


Blender breakfast smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 packed cup of spinach.
  • 1 banana.
  • ½ cup frozen fruit (blueberries are my favourite).
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla protein powder.
  • ½ cup yogurt or water (adjust for desired thickness).

Method

  • Combine the ingredients, except the yogurt and water, in a blender or the cup of a personal “Ninja-style” blender.
  • Store in freezer overnight.
  • Next morning, add approx. ½ cup of yogurt or water (or your preferred liquid) and whiz until smooth. You can adjust the amount of fluid you add to achieve the thickness you desire.