I don't know about you, but when I think of breakfast I often think sweet — cereal, pancakes, toast with jam. Sure, I opt for eggs, too, and sausage or bacon on weekends, but the common denominator is that there aren't any vegetables.
And I'm not alone. Google "Americans vegetables breakfast" and you won't get recipes — you'll get dozens of articles bemoaning our tendency to basically eat sugar every morning and forget all about this very important food group.
But when we eschew veggies in the a.m. hours, it's a giant missed opportunity to get another ever-important serving of them into our bodies. The trouble is finding the time to cook them. So, knowing how time-crunched and chaotic mornings can be, I sifted through the frozen food aisles at several grocery stores to find the best frozen breakfast options that pack a veggie-loaded, low-calorie punch.
There was a lot to comb through: The frozen breakfast category has exploded in recent years, moving well beyond hash browns and waffles into fritattas, bowls, wraps, and dozens of sandwiches. According to the Institute of Food Technologists, "Breakfast products constitute the three fastest-growing categories in the grocery sector." And, "Approximately 80 percent of consumers eat frozen breakfast foods."
As I scoured, I noticed the flavors didn't stray far beyond Mexican or classic Americana, and more often than not, every option followed the same formula: some form of protein (eggs, sausage, ham) mixed with some kind of simple carb (buns, potatoes), plus cheese. The "healthy" options add whole grains to their buns and use egg whites instead of whole eggs. But they also seem to scale down their serving size to 3 or 4 ounces in order to make the numbers look good — and I worried there was no way 4 ounces of food would fill me up until lunch.
But I did find a few options that were filling, put an emphasis on vegetables, provided a healthy hit of protein, and didn't go heavy on saturated fat, sodium, or additives. Here are the two frozen breakfast items that truly started my day off on the right foot.
Best handheld option: Good Food Made Simple Sriracha Scramble Burrito
I spotted these breakfast burritos at Target and was impressed by the ingredient list, which was so simple it could pass for homemade. The Sriracha version combines protein-packed egg whites and black beans with tomato salsa, sweet potatoes, spinach, and avocado — all wrapped in a wheat tortilla. It's a rainbow of veggies, livened up with a bit of cheddar and a hit of spicy Sriracha. I could totally eat this burrito every day.
One six-ounce burrito has 315 calories, 9 grams of fat, 4 grams of sugar, 440 milligrams of sodium, 12 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fiber.
The picture on the box actually downplays the amount of kale you get in this bowl, which I found at Whole Foods. There was a ton of leafy greens, which made me happy, as my goal was to eat an actual serving of veg. And the roasted potatoes, onions, and bell peppers offered a savory, breakfast-y counterpoint. I could barely taste the cheese, so I cheated and added just one tablespoon of shredded cheddar. That's all it needed to be really quite good. And when I added a squirt of Chipotle Tabasco sauce, the meal became downright yummy.
One 198-gram bowl (almost 7 ounces) has 200 calories, 8 grams of fat, 2 grams of sugar, 510 milligrams of sodium, 12 grams of protein, and 3 grams of fiber.
What's your favorite veggie-heavy frozen breakfast?