Healthy Kitchen Hacks: Breakfast Enhancers

Healthy Kitchen Hacks: Breakfast Enhancers | Food & Nutrition Magazine | Volume 10, Issue 1

Bump up the nutrients — and the flavor — in your basic breakfast. According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, many of us don’t consume enough calcium, potassium, dietary fiber and vitamin D. Use these tips to add these important nutrients to your morning meal.

Kid-friendly starters: Older kids and teens also don’t eat enough nutrient-dense grains, dairy foods and beverages, and fruits and vegetables. This means low intakes of phosphorus, magnesium and choline. Additionally, adolescent girls don’t consume enough vitamins B6, B12, folate, iron and protein.

When paired with protein-rich dairy milk or a fortified soy beverage, dry cereals contain many of these nutrients. Fill a zip-top bag with whole-grain cereal and a sprinkle of a “fun” cereal, along with a to-go cup of unsweetened low-fat or fat-free milk or soy milk.

Waffle makers are uniquely equipped to make warm, crispy breakfast concoctions by heating both sides quickly and at the same time. Coat the waffle iron with cooking spray before preparing portable quesadillas, creating grilled cheese on whole-wheat bread or transforming frozen plain shredded potatoes into hash browns. You can even “waffle” pizza dough, then top the cooked dough with tomato sauce and cheese.

Breakfast beans: One serving of cooked beans helps provide several nutrients people need, including calcium, potassium, dietary fiber and protein. Beans can be counted as a serving of vegetables or as a protein food.

Microwave frozen edamame and pair with a hardboiled egg and fruit to keep you full until lunch time. A bean burrito will fill your belly, too. Search “tortilla hack” on social media and make a creation with any bean, vegetable and cheese combination on a whole-wheat tortilla.

Hummus can be a savory or sweet start to the day. Spread plain hummus on whole-grain toast or cut-up vegetables, or smear sweet cinnamon hummus on graham crackers or pieces of fruit. To make your own sweet spread, puree a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas and add 3 to 4 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup, plus your favorite spices and some vanilla extract.

Frozen quick fixes: To control the amount of sodium and calories from saturated fat and added sugars, create your own frozen packaged breakfasts. For breakfast sandwiches, make simple homemade patties using vegetables or lean meat and freeze each with a whole-grain English muffin top. Then make scrambled eggs in round egg rings and freeze each with an English muffin bottom. To serve, warm each half side-by-side (not on top) at 60-percent power in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes, flipping halfway through.

Use an ice pop mold to make a breakfast treat. Fill the mold with low-fat or fat-free plain yogurt, fruit and granola that’s low in added sugars, then freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight. For best results, use small berries or thinly sliced juicy fruit such as mango, melon, pineapple or kiwi.

Overnight success: Take a few minutes the night before to prepare a ready-to-eat breakfast for morning.

Make savory overnight oats by mixing dry oats, plain yogurt, a drizzle of olive oil and a shake of both kosher salt and crushed red pepper. Refrigerate until morning. Quick barley is chewy and nutty after an overnight soak in milk, yogurt or 100-percent fruit juice. Or soak cooked brown rice, quinoa or farro overnight in a sweet or savory liquid, then add toppings such as dried fruit and nuts or leftover cooked vegetables with salsa or kimchi.

Sandwiches are great portable breakfasts and they’re even better with a smear of mashed avocado. To keep avocado from turning brown, place sandwich fillings tightly against the avocado or use plastic wrap placed smooth against the avocado to prevent oxidation.

Travel mug meals: Pack a spoon to get the goodies out of the bottom of your to-go cup. For a super soup (yes, for breakfast!), heat a can of soup and add any of these nutrition-enhancers: frozen vegetables, canned beans, leftover cooked vegetables or cooked meat.

Use a microwave-safe mug or a 12-ounce canning jar to make a microwave egg scrambler. Mist the inside of the mug with cooking spray, add two eggs and whisk with 2 tablespoons milk or water. Stir in 3 tablespoons of chopped vegetables such as mushrooms or spinach, then microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir and microwave 70 to 80 seconds more, or until eggs are firm.


Add Hearty Flavor to Recipes: Cannellini Beans. Bush Beans website. Accessed February 15, 2021.
Microwave Cheese & Pepper Coffee Cup Scramble. The Incredible Egg website. Accessed February 15, 2021.
U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. Dietary Guidelines website. Published December 2020.
White kidney beans. USDA Food Data Central website. Accessed February 15, 2021.

Deanna Segrave-Daly and Serena Ball on Facebook
Deanna Segrave-Daly and Serena Ball
Deanna Segrave-Daly, RDN, is a food-loving dietitian based in Philadelphia and co-owner of Teaspoon Communications, LLC. She blogs at Follower her on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Based in St. Louis, Serena Ball, MS, RD, is a food writer and owner of Teaspoon Communications. She blogs at and produces bi-weekly Facebook LIVEs. Serena co-created She is happiest in her aqua-blue kitchen baking bread. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.