What do you do when you’ve been diagnosed with a food allergy and your favourite foods are taken away? Fear not! Each month FBC member and certified nutritionist, Sondi Bruner, takes a look at how to adapt to an allergen-friendly diet, while still eating delicious and healthy food. This month she presents a wide range of savoury vegan breakfast ideas with links to many great recipes.
There once was a time when everything I ate came out of a box, can or package. Every morning, I tore open a packet of instant oatmeal — maple nut, apple cinnamon, cinnamon spice, or sometimes even chocolate chip — and zapped it in the microwave. This was my breakfast almost daily for years after leaving home and venturing out on my own. If oatmeal wasn't on the menu, then I was devouring toasted bagels, chocolatey muffins or cereal. All sweet, never savoury. Nowadays, you're more likely to find me chowing down on a savoury vegan breakfast rather than a sweet treat in the morning.
If you were to spy on me having breakfast (I'll get dressed first, don't worry) you might be surprised at what you'd see. I'm an enormous fan of savoury vegan breakfasts — something I've raved about multiple times on my blog — and it's not unusual for me to eat butternut squash soup or a lentil hash to get my day started.
Throughout North America, we've devolved into downing sweet treats that are basically desserts for breakfast. I'm not criticizing desserts; sweetness in our lives is important, especially when they're natural and nutrient-rich. I've shared my recipes in this space for vegan ice cream, chocolate chip cookies, pies and tarts, dairy-free chocolate and more. And there's certainly nothing wrong with eating a bowl of oatmeal or a dense dairy-free smoothie.
Yet breakfast is a time when we are literally breaking the fast since we ate dinner the night before, which could be anywhere from 10 to 14 hours earlier, depending on when you eat dinner and when you wake up. Our bodies need protein, complex carbohydrates, and a good source of fat and fibre to keep our blood sugar levels balanced, boost brain function and keep us energized and satiated throughout the morning. Often, sweet breakfasts like pastries or waffles or cereals don't offer us those results.
This is where savoury breakfasts can step in and save the day. If you're vegan or don't eat eggs, the typical scrambled eggs or omelette with bacon or sausage just won't work. Thankfully, there are many savoury vegan breakfast ideas that will get your day started off in a delicious, satisfying way.
Favourite Savoury Vegan Breakfast Ideas
Here are some of my favourite savoury vegan breakfast ideas:
1. Tofu and Tempeh Scrambles
Both tofu and tempeh are high-protein soy products that make a great substitute for eggs. (You can learn more about what to do with tofu and tempeh here). Since tofu comes in different styles, from soft to extra firm, you can change the texture depending on what you prefer. A soft tofu will yield a runny "egg," while firm or extra-firm tofu will offer a thick scrambled egg vibe.
While tempeh generally isn't available in different textures, its firmness also makes it a wonderful substitute for eggs. Tempeh makes a fantastic bacon substitute, too.
2. Chickpea Omelette or Frittata
Chickpea flour is an incredible gluten-free flour that is easy to use in savoury vegan breakfasts. When mixed with water and cooked, you can easily transform regular chickpea flour into a vegan omelette or frittata. I will typically use chickpea flour and water in a 1:1 ratio when making chickpea omelettes or frittatas and then add whatever veggies I have in the fridge to the mix.
Some vegan chefs prefer to make the omelette separately and before adding cooked veggies as the filling. I don't usually do this, as it's an extra step to sauté the veggies first before making the omelette and then folding it over the vegetables. But it often looks prettier, so it really depends on what you're up for!
3. Savoury Oats
This is one of my absolute favourite savoury vegan breakfasts of all time. It's like the popular sweet oatmeal, but with veggies and savoury spices instead of the sweet ones.
Here's my formula for creating savoury vegan oats (1 serving):
- 1/4 – 1/3 cup gluten-free oats
- 1 cup (or more) of shredded or finely diced veggies
- 3/4 – 1 cup water or veggie broth (or more, depending on how soft you like your oatmeal)
- Condiments/herbs/spices to taste. Some ones to consider: tamari, sesame oil, cumin, nutritional yeast, coriander, za'atar, chili powder, kimchi, sauerkraut, tahini, sunflower seed butter, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, parsley, cilantro or dill, salsa, avocado. What you use will really depend on what flavour profiles you love!
Try This: Savory Spinach Cauliflower Oatmeal
This Israeli dish can be easily veganized since really, shakshuka is all about the sauce anyway. Simply simmer your sauce and instead of eggs, use tofu, tempeh or beans instead.
Try This: Vegan Shakshuka
5. Veggie Breakfast Bowls
People always ask me how to incorporate more veggies into their meals and breakfast is the perfect time to do it. To make an awesome breakfast bowl:
- Roast a huge tray of veggies at the beginning of the week.
- Cook a big batch of your favourite grain, such as quinoa, wild rice, brown rice, millet, sorghum, teff or amaranth.
- Cook a large batch of beans or lentils.
- Make a good sauce or condiment like salsa, pesto, romanesco sauce, hummus, a vinaigrette, or my ultimate fave: the best dang sauce ever.
Then, when it's time for breakfast all you need to do is assemble! Eat cold, room temperature or warm up your breakfast bowl. You can also add more toppings like nuts, seeds or fresh herbs.
Try This: Sweet Potato Savory Breakfast Bowl (omit the egg)
6. Breakfast Polenta and Veggies
Polenta has a thick and hearty consistency that's very satisfying, especially if you're the type who likes porridge. You can either make your polenta fresh and keep it soft and porridge-like, or make it the night before and chill it in a lined baking pan. Once it's solid, you can cut it into cubes or slabs and sauté it like tofu.
Corn is the obvious go-to for polenta, but other ingredients will work as well. Ground buckwheat, quinoa and even chickpea flour can create a polenta-like consistency. You just may need to play around with the amount of liquid or broth.
Whatever consistency of breakfast polenta you choose, be sure to serve it with a healthy heap of vegetables.
Congee is a rice porridge that originated in Asian countries. You can eat it any time of the day, of course, but it's delicious in the morning, especially in the wintertime. If you have a slow cooker, leave your congee overnight and when you wake up all you'll need to do is ladle and breakfast is served.
Congee is usually made with white rice, but I like to use brown or at least a mix of white and brown rice. Millet and quinoa are also great in a congee mix. Cook your congee with plenty of veggies (purees of sweet potato or squash are an extra way to sneak veggies in) and add some cubed tofu or tempeh for protein.
Try This: Slow Cooker Squash Breakfast Congee
8. Avocado Toast
Avocado toast has become a huge thing in the culinary world and there's a reason it's so popular with vegans and non-vegans alike: avocado toast is just the best.
I usually prefer to keep my avocado toast simple, with a drizzle of oil and a few pinches of salt. When possible, I'll use home-baked bread for more nutrient density (this gluten-free and vegan recipe is my go-to). Of course, there are many, many ways to top your avocado toast so do what you love! If I'm feeling "wild," I'll either add a dollop of salsa or a tablespoon of sauerkraut.
Try This: 3 Unique Avocado Toast Recipes
Leftovers are a seriously underrated savoury vegan breakfast. Sometimes we get set in our ways about what times of the day we should be eating things and this is nonsense. If I can enjoy vegan chili at 6 pm, I can eat it at 8:30 am.
I encourage you to get into the habit of incorporating leftovers into your breakfast routine. Whether you had vegan lasagna, burritos or split pea soup for dinner, you can easily eat these for breakfast too. And the bonus is no cooking! All you need to do is heat and eat.
Try This: Whatever you've got in your fridge: have it for breakfast!
10. Miso Soup
Warm up a veggie-packed miso soup for a morning breakfast that can be as light or dense as you want it to be. If you're not super hungry, make a mug of miso and add some green onion, spinach and hemp seeds. If you're in the mood for a full meal situation, bulk up your miso with cubed tofu, hunks of your favourite vegetables (whatever's in season!), greens and either gluten-free grains, buckwheat noodles or rice noodles.
Try This: Fast and Easy Miso Power Soup
11. Huevos Rancheros or Tacos
Mexican flavours are very vegan-friendly and make for a great savoury vegan breakfast. Make your vegan huevos rancheros by brewing up beans, tofu or tempeh instead of eggs. Serve the dish on corn tortillas, over gluten-free grains, on lettuce wraps, or on a hefty pile of steamed greens for extra veggie power.
You can top vegan huevos rancheros with green onions, cilanto or parsley, cubed avocado and nut cheese.
Try This: Make-Ahead Vegan Breakfast Tacos
12. Savory Scones, Muffins and Baked Goods
For those of you who like to take your breakfast to go, a savoury vegan baked goodie is a helpful option. Aim to use high-protein, high-fibre gluten-free flours like chickpea, quinoa, buckwheat or coconut flour, and incorporate whatever spice/herb/veggie combos are most appealing to you. Some to consider:
- Thyme, rosemary, parsley and sea salt
- Tamari, sesame oil, ginger and green onion
- Kale, spinach, onion and garlic
- Cumin, coriander, cinnamon and currants
- Curry powder and spinach
- Sesame seeds, sesame oil, tamari and collard greens
- Roasted red pepper and tomato
- Oregano and olives
- Shredded carrot, shredded zucchini, parsley and olive oil
But really, the possibilities are endless! For an extra boost of protein and fat, spread your baked goods with nut or seed butter, or coconut oil.
13. Savoury Granola
Savoury granola is strangely delicious! Instead of cinnamon, natural sweeteners and dried fruit, use sea salt, olive oil, spices, dried vegetables, nuts and seeds. A variation on savory granola is a savoury crumble, where you add fresh veggies into the mix.
You may not want to eat savoury granola on its own with plant-based milk, but you can add a healthy dose as a savoury topping for veggie hashes, steamed or roasted vegetables, or sauteed greens.
Try This: Curry-Flavoured Lentil and Oat Granola
14. Vegan Veggie Quiche
Vegan quiches are a simple and easy savoury breakfast. I prefer using one of two bases for vegan quiche: tofu or chickpea flour. If you use tofu, again there is a range from soft to firm where you can decide the consistency you favour. With chickpea flour, you can also create a vegan quiche that's anywhere from soft and eggy to sturdy like socca.
Pack your vegan quiche with plenty of veggies (it's a great way to use up what you have in the fridge); just remember that watery veggies will affect the consistency. Many recipes will advise you sauté the veggies first to cook off the water and this is certainly something I recommend. Or, you can toss in roasted veggies too.
15. Vegan Breakfast Patties or Burgers
Veggie burgers are typically a mix of veggies, grains and beans that makes them a fantastic and filling breakfast option. Use your favourite veggie burger recipe and make smaller patties to serve alongside steamed or roasted veg, or you can use the patties in your vegan breakfast bowls. Falafel balls, samosa patties, lentil patties and veggie meatballs also work great too!
I hope these savoury vegan breakfast ideas offer you some inspiration. Who needs cereal when you've got all these options?
Check out more of Sondi’s Allergen-Friendly Guides and Recipe Remixes for great ideas on revamping your favourite recipes to make them allergen friendly!
- Allergen-Friendly Remix: What To Do with Hemp and Chia
- Allergen-Friendly Recipe Remix: Potato Salad
- Allergen-Friendly Remix: Edible Gifts
- Allergen-Friendly Remix: Sensational Salads
- Allergen-Friendly Remix: Healthy Summer Cocktails
Sondi Bruner is a holistic nutritionist, freelance writer and food blogger. She educates people who follow allergen-friendly diets about how to eat simply, deliciously and safely, allowing them to rediscover the pleasure of food. When she’s wearing her writer’s hat, she works with natural health brands to create content that will help their customers live fulfilling, healthful lives. Find out more at www.sondibruner.com. Or you can follow Sondi on Facebook or Twitter.