Meal Idea: Microwave Breakfast Quiche

One Upping the Ubiquitous Breakfast Burrito

Microwave Breakfast Quiche

Go one better than a breakfast burrito with this fast, breakfast quiche that is easily transportable.  Double the recipe and cook in separate dish for a time-free breakfast the next day.

Breakfast burritos are everywhere.  While they are a lot healthier than donuts to be sure, it’s always wise to step back from a craze and evaluate the common wisdom, especially for foods that “everybody” assumes to be healthy.  Taking an objective view of the standard breakfast burrito, what I see is:

  • a tortilla that is white, rather than whole grain, and
  • makes up the largest part of a take-out burrito,
  • leaving very little space for good protein, like eggs and beans
  • but incorporating a significant amount of high-fat cheese
  • yet lacking completely in vegetables
  • or including them in negligible amounts;
  • in other words, a breakfast option that is a step in the right direction, but leaves plenty of room for improvement.

Microwave quiches are a quick option that takes no longer than stopping to buy a ready-made burrito.  If you have time, be sure to use some of the beautiful spinach coming into season now.  Otherwise, packaged or frozen work as well.  Because red peppers are nowhere near in season, I use strips that I froze last autumn, also a timesaver, as is ready made pesto.  For a GF option, use Food for Life’s brown rice tortillas (they work surprisingly well.)

Step 1:  Saute Vegetables  In 1-2 tsp. butter or olive oil, saute 1/2 to 3/4 cup red peppers diced to 1/2.”  Once they are lightly browned, add a couple good sized handfuls of fresh chopped spinach and cook just until it begins to wilt, stirring frequently. (Timesaver:  use about 1 cup frozen chopped spinach and cook until completely thawed.)  For flavor stir in 1-2 Tbsp. of your favorite pesto or 2 tsp. dried leaf basil, 1 tsp. Italian Herbs and a pinch of chili flakes.

Step 2:  Prepare “Crust”  Lightly butter a small casserole dish.  Tear a whole grain tortilla into 5-6 pieces and lay enough pieces over bottom of dish to cover.  Top with cooked vegetables and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Step 3:  Add Cheese If desired, sprinkle vegetables with a high-impact (i.e., a-little-goes-a-long-way) cheese like Parmesan or a goat chevre.

Step 4:  Make Egg Mixture  In a small mixing bowl, beat together 2 eggs and 3/4 cup milk or soy milk.  Pour gently over the vegetables.

Step 5:  Microwave  Cover and cook in 2-minute intervals at 50% power, stirring gently between intervals to bring uncooked interior parts to outside of dish.  Cook until entire quiche is done to taste.

Step 6:  Top with Tomatoes  Also optional, top with high quality chopped canned tomatoes for color and flavor, especially if not using cheese.  Microwave 30 more seconds to warm tomatoes.

Enjoy a 100% healthful breakfast.

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Fast Lunches–for Big Kids or Small

School’s back and with it, the daily tedium of packing lunches.  Even those without kids have to deal with this tedious task if the goal is to eat healthfully.  Here’s an article I wrote for Boulder Weekly‘s CU Student Guide, for dorm students who want a homemade, healthy option on occasion.  I realized this advice could be equally helpful for busy parents and others seeking fast but healthy lunch options.

Quick Recipe:  Microwave Thai Rice Bowl

No fuss, no mess–frozen veggies are a boon to busy cooks, especially with nutritional values that are nearly, if not completely equal to fresh.
Picture courtesy of Jina Lee, Wikipedia Commons

Looking for quick lunches that are wholesome, too?  The frozen foods aisle has a good selection of real, whole foods all washed, cut and ready to pop in the microwave.  Combine with a few strategic deli purchases and ready made sauces for a meal that’s faster than fast food but still tasty, fresh and healthful.  What’s more, it’s easy enough for older kids to make on their own.

  • 1 bag frozen peas
  • 1 bag frozen brown rice
  • 1 cooked chicken breast from a deli or a couple portions of chicken from a leftover rotisserie chicken, cut or torn into small pieces
  • 2-4 spoonfuls San-J Spicy Peanut Sauce, to taste

Step 1  Microwave peas in a big covered glass dish, as directed on the package.

Step 2  Microwave rice a second big, covered glass dish, as directed on the package.

Step 3  Combine the cooked peas with cooked rice.  Stir in chicken and sauce to taste.  Microwave 1-2 minutes, stir and taste.  If not hot enough, microwave another 1-2 minutes.  Eat and enjoy!

Notes: 

Enjoy some variety and have fun being creative with this dish

  • Vegetables:  Practically any frozen vegetable can work in this dish:  green beans, chopped spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. Experiment with different brands for the best flavor.  Stahlbush (at Vitamin Cottage) has reliably good taste, as does Safeway’s O brand of green beans
  • Sauces:  Teriyaki, Szechuan, Sweet and Sour, Hoisin and Sesame Ginger are just a few options.  Or go Italian with Marinara or pesto.  Just read the ingredient listing and stick to sauces made with real, whole ingredients you can pronounce!
  • Protein:  Scour the deli and salad bar for options like baked tofu, roasted turkey pork roast, and garbanzo beans.

Also, be sure to use brown rather than white rice–it has a lot more flavor and the natural nutrients haven’t been stripped away.  Whole Foods sells it, or just freeze your own with extra leftover rice, so it’s all ready when you need it in a hurry.

6 Reasons to Love Tupperware Cupboard Organizers

Why Make the Plunge and Invest Now

Reason 1 : If you’re interested in healthy eating, Tupperware makes it a lot easier.  That statement may sound pretty far-fetched.  I certainly wouldn’t have bought into it–until I got Tupper-ized 20 years ago!

Whole Grain Brown Rice

Whole grains, like this brown rice, are one of the healthful foods experts recommend

Think about it:  What do all the experts tell us to eat for good health?  Fruits and vegetables  get top billing, but close behind are whole grains, legumes and nuts and seeds.  And how are we advised to flavor our foods?  With healthful, no-calorie herbs and spices instead of overly sugary, salty and fatty flavorings.

I took this advice seriously and used all these ingredients while feeding my two pre-toddler children many years ago.  But what a pain in the neck!  Little paper bags of herbs and spices stuffed in a drawer.  Ten unmarked  jars of grains stuffed into a top cupboard shelf alongside seven types of flour.  Flimsy bags of nuts and seeds, stuffed into a bottom cupboard.  Beans in more jars in another cupboard.  Each meal, I could spend five to ten precious minutes searching for things, with hungry kids nipping at my heels!

Then I met “Tupperware lady” Donna Davis, and discovered why Modular Mates are perfect for storing healthy foods, explained below.

Reason 2: Modular Mates’ design makes everything readily and quickly available while maximizing cupboard space. Unlike other containers, Modular Mates provide “front-to-back” rather than  “top to bottom” storage.  That means everything can be accessed from the front of the cupboard, so there’s no digging for containers, bags and boxes that get stashed and shoved

Tupperware's Front to Back Design

Note how Modular Mates utilize the entire cupboard depth, from front to back.

to the back of a cupboard.  It also means every square inch of air space gets used, from the bottom clear to the top.  And with units available in 2″, 4″, 6″ and 8″ heights, there is a space-maximizing container for whatever quantity you buy.

Reason 3: Modular Mates keep freshness in and unwanted visitors out. Things like nuts, seeds and whole  grains and flours are attractive targets for bugs and small critters.  Modular Mates are virtually air tight, however, so they can’t be invaded by outside pests, and the contents inside stay fresh.  (And if bugs should come home with you from the grocery store, at least they will be trapped in one container rather than spreading throughout the kitchen. )

Reason 4: Modular Mates are convenient time savers. Label containers if you can’t readily identify the contents and get top seals with flip up lids for anything that can be poured, like grains and beans.  Then, it’s a snap to find just the ingredient you need and measure them out.

Labeled Tupperware

Take a couple minutes to label containers for easy recognition.

Reason 5: Modular Mates are a life long investment. In my work as a professional kitchen organizer, I’ve found most kitchens could benefit from a Modular Mate investment.  I use the word “investment” deliberately because Tupperware, which lasts for life, should be viewed as a lifelong purchase rather than a consumable or passing fad.

I remember feeling completely ridiculous spending $500 to outfit my kitchen.  But that was 20 years ago and honestly speaking, that purchase has repaid me every time I cook. That means I really bought time savings plus a tremendous amount of convenience for 7,300 days, at a cost of 7 cents per day.  That is the kind of long-term investment thinking we need to get good meals on the table despite our busy and hectic lives.

Flimsy Bags of Beans

Is this what you're facing to make a healthful meal? Time for organization!

Reason 6: Modular Mates are on sale! This could be the best motivator of all.  From January 15 to February 11, 2011, Modular Mates are 40% off.  So take a look around your kitchen.  Could you make better and more frequent use of healthful ingredients if they could be found and pulled out quickly and without a hassle?  Then take some action!

Need some help deciding what to do about your kitchen, where Modular Mates could be of benefit, which containers would be best,  and so on?  Give a call for a kitchen coaching session with Mary Collette Rogers.  Or check out Mary’s book, Take Control of Your Kitchen, the guide to organized, manageable and stress-free meal making.

Ready to order?  Donna Davis has retired after many years as a top salesperson.  But her supervisor, Joannie Flynn, continues in the business after 49 years!  Just email her:  joannie818  @  yahoo.com (without spaces), and she will take care of your order and answer any questions you might have.

Convenience Foods: Would You Buy a 4-Seat Sedan for a 5-Person Family?

Apples and OrangesMore about time, apples and oranges

What’ s the biggest barrier we face on the journey to healthful eating?  20 years as a healthy eating coach reveals the surprising answer, and it’s not that we can’t cook, don’t have the right recipes or need more gadgets.  No, that devil Time is what gets in our way.  “I don’t have time to cook healthy meals,” is an all too familiar refrain.

Convenience and fast food makers have responded by manufacturing food products requiring less and less preparation time, until we’ve come to believe meals can be made in NO time.  An earlier post busted this myth.  Comparing a fast food meal to a real food meal really can’t be done, it explained.  While cooking is indeed minimal for a frozen meal, drive through burger or box of mac ‘n cheese, the end result bears no resemblance to a real food meal which not only fills a hunger void, but also provide deep satisfaction and  essential nutritional value.  Comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges.

Since writing that post, I thought of another way to explain this “apples and oranges” metaphor:  Imagine a couple with three children, in need of a vehicle.  At the car dealership, the salesman shows them a barely 4-person sedan, declaring it to be a perfect fit.  “As long as it runs, a car’s a car,” he quips.

The obvious shortcomings in his claim are no different than those of a manufacturer advertising that its frozen meals are the equivalent of real, Everyday Good Eating meals.  Sure, they may do the basic job of filling a hunger void, but just like the car that wouldn’t hold the 5th member of your family, a frozen meal misses a critical part of what it’s supposed to do:  nurture and nourish the body so we can work, play and enjoy good health.

It’s easy to tell if your meals aren’t fulfilling a critical part of what they’re supposed to do:  Indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, sleep trouble, colds and flus, weight issues and skin problems aren’t random vindictiveness being meted out by the universe.  Instead, they are signals from the body that it’s not getting the nutrients it needs.

If you’re not enjoying good health, you can do something about it starting tonight.  Make a real foods meal.  Don’t know how?  Join a Whole Kitchen cooking class and learn how easy it is to make meals that don’t just fill a hunger hole, but also fill the need for nurture and nourishment.

Remember, we’re supposed to be healthy.

The next Whole Kitchen Cooking Classes begin Thursday, January 13 for 5 weeks at the Erie Community Center.  Find out more.

Creamy Roasted Pear and Butternut Squash Soup

Although this recipe starts by roasting the pears and squash, these ingredients can be roasted in advance to save time.  Roast a big batch for dinner one night, then a couple nights later, making this soup will be a cinch.  Although it may sound unusual, the squash-pear combo makes a delightful soup base or pasta sauce.

Step 1:  Roast Squash and Pears

  • 3 lb. butternut squash, peeled and cut in roughly 1” cubes
  • 3 med. pears (summer or winter), cored and quartered lengthwise
  • 1 1/2  Tbsp. olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 (F).  Place cut squash and pears on separate rimmed cookie sheets.  Drizzle squash with 1 Tbsp. of oil and pears with remaining 1/2 Tbsp oil.  Sprinkle both with salt and pepper, then toss, spread evenly across respective cookie sheets and bake 20 to 40 minutes, until tender when stuck with a fork.

Step 2:  Puree Squash and Pears

Once roasted, measure out 3 cups roasted squash and puree with pears in a food processor until fairly smooth, but with a little texture remaining, as desired.  Reserve.

Step 3:  Saute Vegetables and Spices

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 med. red (or yellow) onion, diced to 1/4”
  • 3 stalks celery diced to 1/4”
  • 1-2 shakes ground cayenne pepper (red pepper), to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg

While squash and pears are cooking, heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat until hot but not smoking.  Add onion and saute, stirring every couple minutes to prevent burning.  When onions are just beginning to brown, stir in celery and cook 5-7  more minutes.  Reduce heat to low, then stir in cayenne and nutmeg and saute another 2-3 minutes.  Add pureed squash and stir/whisk gently with a large fork to combine.

Step 4:  Add Broth and Milk: Simmer

  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups rich chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup plain (not vanilla) soy milk (or milk)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Gradually pour broth, then milk into soup, stirring/whisking constantly with large fork to combine.  Cover pan, bring soup to a simmer over low or medium low heat and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.  Taste and add more salt or pepper or 1-2 more shakes nutmeg or cayenne, to taste.  If desired, thin with more broth or milk and heat through before serving.

Step 5:  Serve

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Serve soup topped with a sprinkling of cheese.

Serving Options

Pasta Sauce Serve leftovers as a sauce for cheese ravioli, thinning slightly if necessary.  If possible get a whole grain ravioli or tortellini.  Pappardelle’s in the Denver metro area sells fresh, whole grain varieties and online ordering is available.

Mediterranean Style Odd as it may sound, this soup can go an entirely different direction when topped with a little plum (or other dark-fruit) chutney and maybe even a dollop of plain, whole milk yogurt.  There are many good chutney recipes on line, or buy a ready made chutney that is reasonable in terms of sugar content.

How’s Your Pantry Looking?

Syndicated Columnist Marni Jameson Gets Her Pantry Under Control with Kitchen Coach Mary Collette Rogers

Mary Collette organizes the pantry with syndicated columnist Marni Jameson

The last few posts have all mentioned the pantry in relation to healthy meal making, and with good reason:  The pantry is a vital link to manageable meal times.

With the right ingredients stocked, meal making can be not only fast but interesting, as a  previous post explained.  As important as stocking the pantry, however, is arranging it for speedy access.  How frustrating if you can’t quickly grab an ingredient when assembling a meal.

My book, Take Control of Your Kitchen, shows both how to stock and how to organize kitchen cupboards for quick and easy access.  That’s why nationally syndicated home improvement columnist Marni Jameson phoned for an emergency session when she needed to write about pantry organizing–and get her own pantry in order.

You’re sure to get a chuckle from Marni’s article, “Odeur du Jour Pushes Writer into Pantry Panic–and pick up a copy of Take Control of Your Kitchen if you’re ready to replace chaos with order in your pantry cupboards.

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