A lot of the breakfast recipes I’ve shared on Happily the Hicks are sweet (blame it on my sweet tooth), so today I decided it was time to share something different! This is my last recipe post for February, and I have to admit… it’s a good one. I usually crave sweet things in the morning, or eat some avocado toast, but every once in a while I love me a good and hearty breakfast. Especially while training for a half marathon, a breakfast like this is a great recovery meal after a long run, and won’t leave me starving just a few hours later!
But before we get to the recipe, I thought I would spend a little time talking about protein. I’ve briefly mentioned some of my favorite forms of protein before (which you can read about here), and today I’m sharing my go-to vegetarian forms of protein that are perfect for breakfast.
Everything You Need to Know About Protein
Before we kick things off, though, I do want to make it clear that I am not a vegetarian, nor do I want to be one. I love meat. However, most mornings I either don’t have the time to cook some or I don’t feel like eating meat, so I opt for other ways of getting in the protein that my body needs. It’s also fun to mix things up, which is another reason vegetarian forms of protein are so popular in my kitchen.
Benefits of Protein
Protein is a critical component of every cell in your body, and your body uses it to repair muscle and build tissue. It also plays a part in making enzymes, hormones and is a building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. Our body needs a LOT of protein (hence why it’s called a macronutrient), and since your body does not store protein like it does fat and carbohydrates, you need to eat it daily.
Although protein is a macronutrient, we really don’t need to eat as much of it as we think we do. According to the US Department of Health, active men and teenaged boys need about seven ounces of protein a day, children, most women and older people need five ounces and active women, teenage girls and most men need six ounces. Eating a high-protein diet has many drawbacks (which you can read about here), but there is a lot of evidence showing that eating a high-protein diet can decrease your feelings of hunger and help you feel satisfied for longer than high-fat or high-carb diets. So as long as you are staying within the recommended amount of protein that you need, then you will be golden! Also, try to stick to leaner proteins like fish, poultry, beans, nuts and soy that will keep your body healthy and happy.
Proteins are built of amino acids. There are twenty different kinds of amino acids that can form a protein, and nine of them the body cannot produce on its own (also known as essential amino acids). In order for the protein we consume to be considered a “complete protein”, it needs to have equal amounts of each of those essential amino acids. Meats and eggs are complete proteins, but beans and nuts aren’t. So when it comes to finding alternate forms of protein, you need to try and make sure you are consuming all the amino acids your body needs. Here are some of my favorite vegetarian forms of protein:
- Ezekiel Bread
- Chia seeds
- Greek Yogurt
- Legumes and Seeds
- Grains and Nuts/Seeds
- Legumes and Grains
- Legumes and Nuts/Seeds
For more information about legumes, you should read this three part series that was written by one of my friends, Dixya on her blog, Food, Pleasure and Health. There’s a LOT of great information in there, and I definitely look at legumes differently now.
So regardless of whether you eat vegetarian forms of protein, or stick to more meats, I hope this helps you understand a little bit better just how great protein is for you!
Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash
Today’s recipe is a delicious mixture between savory breakfast foods and all things healthy. I decided to go a more savory route than some of the other breakfast recipes I’ve been sharing this month. It’s jam packed with veggies, sweet potato and lots of protein!
(It also goes great with a side of toast or a waffle.)
I decided on sweet potatoes over regular russet potatoes, because they are high in vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, fiber and many other nutrients your body loves. It gives the dish some healthy carbs to keep you full and ready to tackle the day. I also included some butternut squash (because it’s just so delicious!), zucchini and onions. It was the perfect mix between sweet and savory. I included eggs and some white beans for some texture and to add some protein to the dish. So so good, y’all!
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 medium sweet potatoes
- 1 onion
- 1 zucchini
- 2 cups butternut squash
- 1 can Great Northern Beans (or any other white bean)
- 2 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 8 eggs
- Avocado (optional)
- Heat the olive oil in a large cast iron skillet. Preheat oven to 350.
- Chop the sweet potato into 1/4 inch cubes. Add to the skillet and begin cooking.
- Chop the onion, zucchini and butternut squash into 1/4 inch cubes. Add to the skillet and cook on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until softened.
- Add the beans (and their liquid) to the skillet. Stir and simmer for 5 minutes or until sauce has thickened.
- Make eight wells in the veggies and crack an egg into each well.
- Bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes or until the egg whites are cooked.
- Top with some avocado and dig in!
Now it’s your turn to talk! Answer one of the following questions in the comments below:
What is your favorite vegetarian form of protein?
Do you have a savory breakfast dish you LOVE?