Unprocessed Fast Food: Drive Through Your Own Kitchen to Find Quick, Tasty, and Nutritious Meals

Beth Lee is the kitchen-table storyteller you wish lived next door. Formally a Silicon Valley marketing professional, in 2010 Beth realized she’d rather talk about pita chips than memory chips and started her food blog OMG! Yummy.   Beth is also a freelance writer, teaches cooking classes, and co-leads a worldwide virtual cooking community called Tasting Jerusalem that explores Middle Eastern Cuisine. She has two arugula-loving kids, Dormant-Chef husband, and a carrot-loving cockapoo.  When not cooking, writing, or photographing, she is an accomplished golfer, wannabe world traveler, and grocery store geek.  You can find Beth talking about food on Twitter, FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.

A Deconstructed Breakfast Sandwich with Whole Grains and Eggs

When you read my blog, you’ll see a recurring theme about my frantic, frazzled, always-on-the-run lifestyle. Fast food drive-thrus must have been invented for just my family’s hurried pace. Two kids, two different schools, both more than a half-hour away from our home plus time-consuming extra-curricular activities. Not to mention that we live in the busiest traffic area in Northern California.

Fortunately my family’s taste buds have never allowed me to follow the fast food path. My daughter refused to eat McDonald’s ever again after watching the movie Super Size Me and my son never enjoyed any meal from a fast food chain. As a result, many of the stories I tell on my blog tie into recipes and prep techniques I adapt to fit our hurried pace, such as the time I taught my son to roast a chicken using a smartphone.

So if your lifestyle is anything like mine or you just find yourself succumbing to the ease of fast, processed food, my suggestion is to create your own fast food at home. Healthy unprocessed foods can be prepared quickly (and affordably).

Eggs are a great example. You can hard boil them and have them ready to grab at anytime. Or in less than five minutes, you can scramble, poach, or pan fry them to create so many different protein-rich meals to start or end your day. Frittatas can be prepared when you have a little time at home, but are easily stored in the fridge for later use as a breakfast on the run, a sandwich, or paired with a salad for dinner.

Recently, I’ve been preparing a quick meal for breakfast marrying eggs with whole grains. Think of it as a deconstructed breakfast sandwich, where the grain is enjoyed in its natural state, rather than ground into flour and then baked into bread. (not that there is anything wrong with that)

Inspired by an award-winning cookbook published in 2011, Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck, I have been exploring different types of grains, especially those packing nutty flavor and protein. Two recent favorites are farro and wheat berries. But many other choices would work as well including brown rice, bulgur, quinoa, or couscous.

The technique is so simple – Heat a frying pan to medium, add a quick splash of olive oil and about a ½ cup of any leftover grain you have in the fridge: farro, wheat berries, bulgur, or rice and sauté to heat through and crisp it for a few minutes, adding a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Then move it to the edges of the pan, creating a circle in the center and crack in an egg or two, also adding a bit of salt and pepper if you like. Fry to your taste and enjoy with the crispy grains. When you crack the yolk, it creates a sauce that is a lovely complement to the grain’s nutty, crispy texture.

Want to step it up a notch? You could certainly sauté some onions or shallots or mushrooms before you add in the grains. Or add some halved cherry tomatoes – the freshness of the tomatoes with the yolk and crispy grains is heavenly. Or as Maureen Abood suggested in her blog Rose Water and Orange Blossoms, sprinkle za-atar seasoning over the eggs – so simple but such a wonderful surge of flavor and one that would be perfect with the tomatoes.

There are many methods for cooking the different grains (all simple) – some are quick cooking, some are slow-cooking but all will stay fresh in the refrigerator for several days. Cook some up on a Sunday and make use of them all week. Most grains are as easy to cook as a pot of pasta – here are some tips and trick from Maria on selecting and cooking a variety of whole grains.

A Deconstructed Breakfast Sandwich with Whole Grains and Eggs
Author: 
 
Think of this recipe as a great way to use up leftovers, enhanced by the protein punch and flavor of fresh eggs. Serves 1, but easily doubled, tripled, or quadrupled. Only limited by size of your pan and amount of leftovers.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup of already-cooked whole grains such as farro, wheat berries, bulgur, or brown rice
  • 1 or 2 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Optional Additions:
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Za-atar seasoning (found in middle eastern grocery stores or easily made at home)
  • Shallots or onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Any leftover vegetables or herbs
  • A sprinkling of your favorite cheese
Instructions
  1. Heat a small or medium size sauté pan to medium heat. Add the olive oil as the pan warms, then pour in the grains and stir them around until they glisten with the olive oil.
  2. Add some salt and pepper to taste. Let the grains crisp up for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring every minute or so.
  3. If you are using tomatoes, add them in with the grains.
  4. When the grains are crispy, push them to the outer edges of the pan, leaving a hole in the center for the egg (s). If you are not using a non-stick pan, you might want to add another drop of oil or butter to the egg spot.
  5. Crack the egg (s) and prepare either sunny side up or over, as you like them. If you are using additional seasoning, add it after you crack the eggs into the pan.
  6. When the eggs are done, remove the contents to a plate, break open the yolk and enjoy.
  7. The whole process will take you far less time than stopping at a fast food restaurant and ordering a highly caloric, low-in-nutrition, high-in-fat breakfast sandwich, I promise.

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24 Comments on "Unprocessed Fast Food: Drive Through Your Own Kitchen to Find Quick, Tasty, and Nutritious Meals"

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Mallory@forkvsspoon
Guest
October 8, 2012 3:46 am

I am always looking for new ideas for quick meals (which for me always includes eggs)…this is perfect! Thanks for the ideas.

Beth (OMG! Yummy)
Guest
October 8, 2012 5:03 pm

Glad you are inspired by it! And it’s so easy to put your own spin on it as well.

Maureen Abood
Guest
October 8, 2012 5:30 am

Hi Andrew! Love your EATING RULES!! Especially this post on healthy grains, tasting so good sauteed with a fried egg. Thanks for the mention about my za’atar fried eggs…I’m going to try them with a whole grain like bulghur or any of the ones you mentioned, and SOON!

Beth (OMG! Yummy)
Guest
October 8, 2012 10:21 pm

Hi Maureen! I found your site through Cheryl Sternman Rule and just loved the idea of the za’atar on the fried eggs! Simple but so yummy. On my FB page, someone told me they added black beans and cilantro – doesn’t that sound good too?

Cheryl
Guest
Cheryl
October 8, 2012 7:20 am

What great ideas, Beth! Thanks for sharing!!

Beth (OMG! Yummy)
Guest
October 8, 2012 10:22 pm

Thanks for coming by Cheryl. Come back and let us know when you try it. So many great ideas come from each person’s kitchen!

Sarah
Guest
October 8, 2012 8:01 am

That would be nice for lunch as well!

Beth (OMG! Yummy)
Guest
October 8, 2012 10:23 pm

And I’m a big fan of breakfast for dinner – this could certainly hit the spot for lunch or dinner.

Amber
Guest
October 8, 2012 8:37 am

Great post, Beth! Love this idea for a fast breakfast. Very clever. 🙂

Beth (OMG! Yummy)
Guest
October 8, 2012 10:24 pm

I was looking for you at the Denver airport today but you weren’t there – did our travel schedules get off sync? 🙂 Great seeing you last week and thanks for coming by to read and comment!

LiztheChef
Guest
October 8, 2012 8:45 am

Terrific idea, one I plan to try with leftover red quinoa – pronto!

Beth (OMG! Yummy)
Guest
October 8, 2012 10:25 pm

That will probably look as fantastic as it will taste! Let us know Liz!

Ellen
Guest
Ellen
October 8, 2012 12:01 pm

Great idea about cooking up a batch of grain and using it throughout the week. I plan to do just that to help round-out my healthy repertoire of foods-available-fast.

Beth (OMG! Yummy)
Guest
October 8, 2012 10:27 pm

Such a simple thing to do yet so many of us (me included) don’t always get it done. But how much simpler is it to tackle some small kitchen projects on a Sunday, than during the total exhaustion of breakfast or dinner on a Monday! Let us know what you try Ellen!

Jeanette
Guest
October 8, 2012 4:56 pm

I love this idea of a deconstructed breakfast sandwich!

Beth (OMG! Yummy)
Guest
October 8, 2012 10:28 pm

Come to think of it, reverse engineering many of our foods will probably naturally result in more unprocessed eating, won’t it? 🙂

Alli
Guest
October 8, 2012 6:02 pm

Love the tip about cooking grains during the weekend and then using through the week.

Beth (OMG! Yummy)
Guest
October 8, 2012 10:29 pm

Do it Alli! Such a relief on a busy morning or evening to find healthy foods ready to use.

Jane
Guest
October 8, 2012 6:50 pm

I love this! What a creative way to make use of leftovers, not to mention jazz up a traditional brunch. Yumyum. Can’t wait to make this if I ever have a morning off again…

Beth (OMG! Yummy)
Guest
October 8, 2012 10:30 pm

So quick even on a busy morning but try it for lunch or dinner – hearty, healthy, filling, and fast! Someone on my FB page made it with the addition of black beans and cilantro for a quick meal one evening.

Hannah Cordes
Member
October 8, 2012 8:32 pm

This is a terrific post, Beth! I’m a big fan of za’atar and haven’t seasoned eggs with it. I will soon! Grains and eggs make a wonderful breakfast and you’ve inspired me to cook some short grain brown rice for tomorrow morning. I’m thinking of adding some miso and spinach. Looking forward to breakfast!

Beth (OMG! Yummy)
Guest
October 8, 2012 10:32 pm

Japanese breakfast is one of our favorite things – what a great idea Hannah! Some crushed seaweed would be a nice little extra topper for that version.

The Wimpy Vegetarian
Guest
October 9, 2012 12:04 pm

I love this one!! I may do this for dinner. Tonight!

Beth (OMG! Yummy)
Guest
October 9, 2012 5:23 pm

Yippee – report back what you come up with – been fun to hear all the different combinations.

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