We’re all going to die someday. You, me, him, her, them. Maybe not Keith Richards, but he’s got some sort of special deal worked out. The rest of us need to eat vegetables.
And most of us don’t do that at breakfast. It seems weird. But we should. Vegetables are not actually going to make us immortal or thwart a faulty-braked bus that’s careening toward us, but eating them will likely make the remainder of our existence more physically tolerable. We’ll perhaps feel vaguely less sluggish than we would on an all-ham-and-muffin regimen, poop in a more efficient and thorough manner, and retain possession of our teeth and gum blood, which is hella sexy.
“But my smoooooothies and juuuuuuuuiiiices!” you might say. Nuts to your smoothies and your juices. (Nuts are nutritionally beneficial, too, but let’s stay on topic.) You are presumably a grown-ass adult with access to the internet and still in possession of at least several teeth. Use them to chew on the notion of including these plant-based, life-improving ingredients in your morning meal so you may live to see a slightly more physically tolerable day.
Yes, they are botanically classified as vegetables. You are being pedantic, which last I checked, didn’t do a hell of a lot to stave off scurvy. Think outside the Denver omelet. (And avocados are a fruit. A green one, yes, but still.)
What Doesn’t Kale You Makes You Stronger
Again, you have the internet and live in this decade, so you know all things under heaven and earth about kale and its many benefits (iron, folate, calcium, vitamins A and the scurvy-staving C), but collard, beet, and turnip greens get short shrift at breakfast. Unless you’re truly inclined to wake up before the rooster crows, use leftover cooked greens (Southern Living knows what’s up) and fold them into omelets. If you’re feeling extremely ambitious, use the nutrient-packed potlikker (that’s the liquid left over from cooking greens) to poach eggs and win at being a human.
Breakfast Salad: Just Go with It
Full disclosure: Just yesterday, I actively pointed and laughed at a photograph of a granola-strewn “breakfast salad” I saw online. A couple of hours later, chef Jessica Largey strode into our test kitchen and made stunning scrambled eggs (with radishes, asparagus, pea tendrils and all manner of fresh spring vegetables) paired with an herb-forward farmers'-market-inspired salad that had me rethinking many aspects of my life. Her only regret: Not picking up some pumpkin seeds to add for crunch. Learn from our collective angst. (And you’ll see the recipe here soon.)
Squash Your Dreams
Think of winter squash (butternut, acorn, delicata, kabocha, spaghetti) as a potato—starchy and solid, but possessed of magnesium, potassium, B6, C, and E vitamins, as well as beta carotene, which plays a vital role in eye health. Perhaps you may see your way clear to roasting it, shredding and cubing it into hash, or baking it into a quick bread. Light, low-calorie summer squash (crookneck, pattypan) is just wacky-full of Vitamin C and ideal on a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich on a bagel.
Muscle in Some Brussels Sprouts
Breakfast potatoes are fairly compelling evidence that a higher power is looking out for us. Adding a gentle crunch with thinly shaved or chopped Brussels sprouts (especially if they’re quick-pickled and lightly tangy) is proof-positive that we humans aren’t doing too badly, ourselves. The sturdy little crucifers are chock-a-block with protein, iron, potassium, and plenty of other rah-rah health benefits. Add them raw or sauté lightly (don’t lose the crisp!) to retain maximum nutrition and texture joy.
Honorable Fermention: Cabbage
Putting kimchi in your oatmeal is one of the best possible ways to attack the morning. Hear me out: If you can mentally reframe oatmeal (ideally the steel-cut, long-cooked stuff) or oat bran as a base grain like any other, you will crack the breakfast Matrix. It’s a perfect vehicle for all manner of savory mix-ins (tomatoes, hot sauce, cheese, leftover barbecue, black vinegar), queen of which is long-fermented, spicy cabbage laden with lactobacilli, which aid digestion. You may have a backyard in which you can inter a jar, but store-bought kimchi works just as well. It lasts something close to forever in your fridge and only improves over time—just like you might if you heed this advice.