How to Build the Perfect Breakfast

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I’m a HUGE breakfast/brunch fan. It’s my favorite meal to cook. Until recently, breakfast to me always included cereal, toast, oatmeal, pancakes, bagels, waffles or other grains. It was always high in sugar and I would feel hungry a couple of hours later. In September I did the Whole30 Program and was completely lost as to what to eat for breakfast. I started out just eating eggs and that was it. I knew I had to be more creative so I started playing around in the kitchen. My on-the-go paleo breakfast will always be egg muffins (recipe here), but when my morning is a little more relaxed I love to make a big roasted breakfast! If you are following a strict paleo diet use sweet potatoes, coconut oil, and remember have your coffee black!

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1. Start with potatoes. Red potatoes, fingerling potatoes, sweet potatoes, any potato of your choice. Wash well and cut into small 1/2 inch cubes. I like to leave the skins on because they taste delicious and crunchy when roasted. Put your potato cubes in a large bowl and mix in the seasonings! Definitely sprinkle some salt and fresh ground pepper on the potatoes followed by any spice of your choice. I like using garlic powder, onion powder and smoked paprika (for a little kick). Coat the potatoes with a small amount of oil. I like using olive oil or coconut oil! Roast your potatoes at 425 for about 20 minutes or until crispy!

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2. Load up on veggies. I always struggled with adding vegetables to my breakfast. I just found it hard to stomach greens in the morning. I found that if I roasted the vegetables though they were much more enjoyable. I like using broccoli, carrots, peppers, kale, zucchini, cabbage and mushrooms. Chop up veggies of your choice, coat with a little bit of oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes on 425. You’ll find yourself loving kale for breakfast in no time!

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3. Bacon. Regular bacon, turkey bacon, veggie bacon….just any kind of bacon. You don’t need much bacon to add flavor to your dish. If I’m cooking breakfast for my husband and I, I use 3 slices (2 for him and 1 for me). I usually like it crunchy and chop it up to add to the mix. If you absolutely don’t like bacon try using black beans!

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4. Top it off with an egg! I like cooking my egg over medium because I love to dip my veggies in the yolk.

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5. Avocado. Avocado. Avocado. I LOVE avocado. I always think the best combinations are bacon & avocado and egg & avocado, so obviously all three together are amazing! So slice it up and don’t be afraid of the fat! It’s good for you.

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6. Coffee. No breakfast is complete without a  hot cup of coffee!

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Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

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Growing up in a British food (and might I add beer) loving family I had my fair share of fish and chips, curries and shepherd’s pies. Brits aren’t known for the most healthy of foods, but my mom always put a healthy spin on them when possible. It wasn’t until I left the house that I realized how much I would miss my mom’s home cooking! One day she served a version of shepherds pie made with lentils instead of the traditional ground beef. It was AMAZING! Since then I’ve always wanted to recreate it in my kitchen, but my mom, being the kind of cook she is, had no recipe (we Braid cooks just eyeball everything) so I went to work! This recipe is versatile and I truly believe you could throw whatever veggies you have in the fridge fresh, canned or frozen. To all the cooking virgins out there, before cooking lentils, make sure to always sort and rinse with water first (I’ve actually found little rocks in the bags before).

For my shepherd’s pie I like using sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes because I love the taste of them and they have more nutritional benefits, but feel free to use either. This recipe is both vegetarian and gluten free!

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Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients:
1 cup dry lentils washed and sorted
2 or 3 sweet potatoes peeled and cubed
1/2 an onion diced
1/2 a zucchini chopped
1/2 bell pepper chopped
1/2 bag baby spinach
2 TBS + 1 tsp olive oil
2 celery stalks minced
1 large or 2 small carrots minced
1/2 cup of corn or peas
1/4 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp italian seasoning
1/4 tsp garlic
3/4 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or milk or any milk substitute)
1 tsp balsamic vinaigrette
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 and spray an 8×8 glass baking pan. To cook lentils combine 1 cup of lentils with 4 cups of water and a pinch of salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on low heat for 20-30 minutes until tender. Meanwhile, place sweet potatoes in a separate pot with a pinch of salt and cover with water. Boil over medium heat until tender and drain (20 minutes or so). Add milk and 1 tsp olive oil, mash and set aside. In a sautéing pan heat 2 TBS of olive oil over medium heat. When oil is heated add onions and sauté for a minute or so until tender. Add bell pepper, zucchini, celery, carrots, spinach and the remaining spices/seasonings and cook stirring occasionally for an additional 5 minutes or so. Add the crushed tomatoes and balsamic vinaigrette along with the cooked lentils and simmer on low heat for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer lentil mixture to the greased baking pan. Top with mashed sweet potatoes and cook for 30 minutes or until the topping begins to crisp.

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