Eating more vegetables for breakfast could be an easy way to hit your 5-a-day target, especially if your busy schedule prevents you from eating healthily throughout the day. Understandably, the idea of topping up your vegetable intake first thing in the morning may not sound too appealing. Most of us are used to sweet-tasting breakfasts that are rich in carbohydrates, fats and sugars. However, there are many good arguments for packing more vegetables into the first meal of the day.
First and foremost, vegetables are rich sources of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber, as well as powerful antioxidants, like flavonoids and carotenoids. All of these important nutrients will help to keep you energized for the rest of your day. Most vegetable dishes don’t require you to spend long hours in the kitchen either, so they may save you a bit of time. And when done right, eating more vegetables for breakfast can bring joy to your taste buds.
Here, we’ve compiled a list of 14 easy ways to include more vegetables in your morning meals. And if you’re wondering, ‘is breakfast important?’ you can find the answer here at LiveScience.
If a classic cooked breakfast is your go-to breakfast choice, combine it with a hefty dose of vegetables to create a tasty salad that’s bursting with healthy ingredients. Crispy bacon bits, boiled eggs and mushrooms will go well with a big bowl of aromatic spinach or flavorsome watercress. Add some avocados, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and a sliced bell pepper, and you’ve got a hearty, nutritious breakfast to start your day on the right note.
If your salad feels too dry, a spoonful of creamy tahini or hummus can add some moisture and tie everything together. Lastly, sprinkle your dish with a handful of pine nuts or sunflower seeds to get your daily dose of healthy dietary fat.
Morning is the perfect time to put your blender to good use. Smoothies are an easy and effortless way to eat more vegetables for breakfast. Within minutes, you can create a nutritious blend that can satisfy your hunger and set you right for the day ahead. What’s more, it allows a great degree of flexibility. Mix a couple of fruits, like bananas, apples and berries, with a handful of spinach or kale leaves to top up your intake of vitamin K, folic acid, iron, and calcium. But don’t shy away from experimenting with new flavors – it will help keep the boredom away while ensuring you get a variety of different nutrients. How about adding some steamed, cooled beetroots or boiled carrots?
3. Sweet potato jackets
Since loaded sweet potatoes take quite some time to prepare, they could be a great option for those lazy mornings when you don’t have to rush anywhere. But don’t be put off by the workload - this dish is definitely worth the effort. Just like your bowl of oats, baked sweet potatoes are packed with complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber and healthy micronutrients. What’s more, you can get creative with your toppings. Add a serving of sautéed greens, beans and corn kernels for a savory kick, or stay on the sweeter side with a spoonful of yogurt, a few toasted pecans and a touch of maple syrup.
4. Scrambled vegetables
You’re probably used to eating scrambled eggs with a small handful of grilled vegetables, but how about reversing the ratio? Place a hearty load of kale, tomatoes, butternut squash and mushrooms on the pan and start gently frying them in some coconut oil. Once they reach the right temperature, add an egg or two to bring the dish together. For a vegan option, swap the eggs with some firm tofu or a suitable plant-based egg replacement.
5. Vegetable side dishes
While some people can’t go without a hefty breakfast, some of us struggle to eat a substantial meal first thing in the morning. For those who like quick, light breakfasts, vegetable side dishes could be the perfect choice. The idea is simple – swap your usual banana, apple or orange with a handful of carrot, cucumber or celery sticks. Vegetable side dishes served with hummus, guacamole or a dip of your choice is a great combo to try.
6. Loaded toasts
Can’t live without avocado toasts? No problem – you can easily supercharge your breakfast classic with a load of healthy vegetables. Avocado toasts pair well with raw sauerkraut, grated beet, beans, roasted cauliflowers, tomatoes and many other plant-based ingredients. Load up the vegetables and add a drizzle of tahini, hummus or cream cheese on top.
7. Breakfast burrito
Most burrito options come loaded with meat, scrambled eggs, cheese and a touch of salsa, but you can make them way more nutritious by adding a hefty load of vegetables. Wrap some sautéed bell pepper strips, caramelized onion, mushrooms, tomatoes and baby spinach in a whole wheat or brown rice tortilla. Lightly grill or steam your burrito to release more flavor and make it satisfyingly crunchy.
You could also consider adding a meat substitute for a plant-based hit of protein.
Pancakes don’t have to be sweet – there are many great savory options to choose from, and they’re just as easy to make. Ditch the chocolate chips and fold shredded carrots, baby spinach, zucchini, yellow squash, or beetroots into your pancake batter. Top your dish with a splash of coconut oil and vegetables of your choice. Broccoli, sauerkraut, mushrooms, or onions will add a great flavor to your breakfast pancakes, while vastly increasing your daily intake of dietary fiber and cancer-fighting phytonutrients.
A quiche is an unsweetened, custard pie filled with savory ingredients like spinach, mushrooms, or ham. Blending finely chopped pieces of broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, leeks and roasted tomato into a quiche is an excellent way to eat more vegetables for breakfast. Serve it with a handful of olives or nuts to load up on healthy monounsaturated fats at the same time.
10. Breakfast tacos
Having a veggie loaded taco is another effortless way to top up your vegetable intake in the morning. Tacos are quick and easy to prepare – all it takes is to put the fillings and the whole wheat tortillas together. There are endless varieties and combinations to try out, so don’t shy away from experimenting. But if you want your tacos to have a true breakfast feel to them, fill them with scrambled eggs, crispy bacon bits, shredded cheese and a hefty portion of finely chopped vegetables.
11. Butternut squash bake
Butternut squash is a nutritional powerhouse, packed with dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, magnesium and potassium. It also boasts a sweet, nutty flavor that adds many good qualities to baked foods. So if your goal is to consume more vegetables for breakfast, consider making a butternut squash bake. It takes about an hour to prepare, but it’s worth the wait. Butternut squash bakes have a great mouthfeel and allow for a great flexibility. Add as many different types of vegetables to this dish as you wish - most of them will pair exceptionally well.
While waffles are usually served with fruit, custard, maple syrup, peanut butter and other sweet ingredients, this doesn’t mean we can’t think outside the box. Savory waffles are just as tasty and nutritious, especially when they’re loaded with vegetables. Combine them with sweet potatoes, butternut squash or carrots to top up on beta-carotene. Another great option is to serve them with a fried egg and spinach for a complete protein boost.
13. Pumpkin quinoa oatmeal
A steamy bowl of oats is truly a breakfast of champions. Not only is it filling, energy-dense and highly nutritious, it’s also easy to combine with fruit, nuts, seeds and other sweet ingredients. If you are an oatmeal fan, consider trying a savory version of your favorite morning staple. Pumpkin quinoa oatmeal is a tasty way to eat more vegetables for breakfast, and it doesn’t require a lot of preparation. Quinoa is also a fantastic source of complete plant protein, while pumpkin puree will deliver a hefty dose of vitamin A and antioxidants.
If you want to eat more vegetables for breakfast, look no further than a veggie omelet. Quick and easy to prepare, this classic food staple packs a solid dose of complete protein to fuel up your day. What’s more, you can get creative with your vegetable choice. Peppers, onions, mushrooms and zucchini will fit in particularly well, but keep experimenting until you find your favorite combination. Add a splash of sriracha or peri peri sauce on top for a more fiery aftertaste.
Sign up for the Live Science daily newsletter now
Get the world’s most fascinating discoveries delivered straight to your inbox.
Anna Gora is a health writer at Live Science, having previously worked across Coach, Fit&Well, T3, TechRadar and Tom's Guide. She is a certified personal trainer, nutritionist and health coach with nearly 10 years of professional experience. Anna holds a Bachelor's degree in Nutrition from the Warsaw University of Life Sciences, a Master’s degree in Nutrition, Physical Activity & Public Health from the University of Bristol, as well as various health coaching certificates. She is passionate about empowering people to live a healthy lifestyle and promoting the benefits of a plant-based diet.