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Start the day right with protein

By Deirdre Parker Smith

deirdre.smith@salisburypost.com

These dreary, dark mornings call for something more than cold cereal or a banana. Do yourself a favor and kick off your day with protein to sustain you, and a few carbs to wake you up and give you quick fuel.

Protein comes in many forms, from everybody’s favorite bacon to the old diet standby, yogurt.

Add variety to your protein by using eggs, cottage cheese, tofu, ground chicken, turkey or beef, peanut butter and other butters such as almond butter. Try smoked salmon or trout, make your yogurt Greek for added protein, try ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, edamame or a variety of nuts and seeds.

It can be as easy as adding nuts to your oatmeal or sprinkling flax seeds into your eggs. And don’t get stuck in a rut of eating the same thing every day. Add variety — add spice.

Eggs are the most familar go-to for a high protein breakfast, and work in so many ways, unless you are vegan.

The first three recipes are from Eating Well.

These Tomato-Parmesan Mini Quiches are pretty and sneak in a vegetable.

Tomato-Parmesan Mini Quiches

Nonstick cooking spray

12 4-inch round thin slices of lower sodium cooked ham

1 1/2 cups seeded and chopped roma tomatoes

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

1 Tbsp. snipped fresh basil, or 1 tsp. dried

1/4 tsp. black pepper

2/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

6 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 12 2 1/2-inch muffin cups with cooking spray.

Line prepared muffin cups with ham. Divide tomatoes, green onions, basil and pepper among cups. Top with cheese. Pour eggs over tomato mixture.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until puffed and a knife comes out clean. Cool in cups 5 minutes. Remove. If desired, serve with more green onions and basil. Serve warm.

Make your eggs in a hole with bell peppers, instead of bread.

‘Egg in a Hole’ Peppers with Avocado Salsa

2 bell peppers, any color

1 avocado, diced

1/2 cup diced red onion

1 jalapeño pepper, minced

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish

2 tomatoes, seeded and diced

Juice of 1 lime

3/4 tsp. salt, divided

2 tsp. olive oil, divided

8 large eggs

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, divided

Slice tops and bottoms off bell peppers and finely dice. Remove and discard seeds and membranes. Slice each pepper into four 1/2-inch thick rings.

Combine the diced pepper with avocado, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, tomatoes, lime juice and 1/2 tsp. salt in a medium bowl.

Heat 1 tsp.oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 4 bell pepper rings, then crack 1 egg into the middle of each ring. Season with 1/8 tsp. each salt and pepper. Cook until the whites are mostly set but the yolks are still runny, 2-3 minutes. Gently flip and cook 1 minute more for runny yolks, 1 1/2-2 minutes more for firmer yolks. Transfer to serving plates and repeat with the remaining pepper rings and eggs.

Serve with the avocado salsa and garnish with additional cilantro, if desired.

Low-Carb Seeded Quick Bread

1/4 cup unsalted hulled sunflower seeds

1/4 cup unsalted hulled pumpkin seeds

2 Tbsp. flax seeds

3 Tbsp. sesame seeds

1 3/4 cup almond flour

1/4 cup coconut flour

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

3 large eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup avocado oil

1 Tbsp. chia seeds

1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

Combine the sunflower, pumpkin, flax and sesame seeds in a medium dry skillet, toss over medium heat, stirring, until light brown and beginning to pop, 5-7 minutes.

Reserve 2 Tbsp. of the seed mixture in a small bowl and transfer the remaining seeds to a large bowl. Add almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to the large bowl, whisk to combine. Whisk in eggs, buttermilk, oil, chia seeds and maple syrup (if using) in a medium bowl. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with reserved seeds, pressing them gently into the batter to help them adhere. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Bake the loaf until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes before turning out of the pan and onto the rack to cool.

Serve with butter, or peanut or another nut butter and a natural fruit spread, if desired.

Mini Ham and Cheese Quinoa Cups

2 cups cooked quinoa (about 3/4 cup uncooked)

2 eggs

2 egg whites

1 cup shredded zucchini

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 cup diced ham

1/4 cup loosely packed parsley, chopped

2 Tbsp. shredded or grated parmesan cheese

2 green onions, chopped

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix to combine. Liberally spray a mini muffin tin with non-stick spray and spoon mixture to the top of each cup. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges of the crust are golden brown. Let cool for at least 5 minutes before removing from the mini muffin tin.

To freeze, place baked cups on a baking sheet, then freeze until solid and transfer to a  freezer bag. Microwave for 20-40 seconds, depending on how many you’re reheating.

Iowa Girl Eats

Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookies

2 cups rolled oats

2 large bananas, peeled (about 1 cup mashed)

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1/2 cup shredded carrots

1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Preheat oven to  350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas. Mix in the rest of the ingredients until well combined.

On a lined baking sheet, scoop 1/2 cup of the mixture and flatten slightly with damp fingers into a cookie.

Bake 15-18 minutes until set. Let cool.

Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

The Organic Dietitian

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