A nourishing breakfast - one with real staying power - includes protein, but many tell me they're in a rut, breakfast protein-wise. Happily, there are plenty of tasty and convenient solutions. First, there's no need to limit yourself to typical breakfast foods. Who says you can't start the day with some hummus and pita, a tuna sandwich or a bowl of lentil soup?
On the more classic end of the spectrum, there are eggs, of course, which seem to say "good morning" on the plate; milk (most people don't realize that a cup of milk has more protein than a large egg); yogurt; nuts and nut butters; and seeds. Health-conscious food lovers steer clear of breakfast meats such as sausage, with its saturated fat and nitrates. But if you are like me, you yearn for sausage's lip-smacking, savory flavor.
The accompanying recipe answers the call, adding another healthful breakfast protein to the arsenal and satisfying those sausage cravings as well.
These homemade turkey sausage patties are simple to prepare and can be refrigerated or frozen in advance. You mix into the meat a medley of quintessential breakfast-sausage seasonings: fennel seed, sage, thyme, garlic, salt, pepper and a pinch of allspice; turkey's neutral flavor is the ideal carrier. Then you form the mixture into disks that are smaller than hamburger patties. Be sure to buy ground dark-meat turkey or ground turkey sold as 93 percent lean, instead of a "low-fat" kind, because some fat is needed to achieve that rich sausage essence. Besides, even with that much fat, the meat qualifies as lean.
You can serve these patties just as you would other breakfast sausage: alongside eggs or pancakes, for example. But they also make a perfect, tasty protein for these breakfast sandwiches, stacked on whole-grain English muffins with a juicy slice of tomato, some spinach leaves and slices of buttery avocado.
Homemade Turkey Sausage Breakfast Sandwiches
Yield: 8 servings
For the sausage 1 teaspoon whole fennel seed 1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage 3/4 teaspoon salt 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic (garlic powder) 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice 1 pound ground dark-meat turkey (93 percent lean) 1 tablespoon olive oil
For the sandwiches 8 whole-wheat English muffins (not honey wheat) 2 cups lightly packed fresh spinach leaves 2 medium tomatoes, sliced Flesh of 2 ripe avocados, sliced Hot sauce and/or ketchup (optional)
Whisk together the fennel seed, sage, salt, pepper, thyme, garlic powder and allspice in a small bowl.
Place the turkey in a medium bowl, then sprinkle the seasoning blend evenly over it. Use your clean hands to gently work the seasonings into the meat, being careful not to over-mix; it's okay if they are not absolutely evenly distributed throughout. Form the mixture into 8 patties that are about 3 inches across.
Heat half the oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add half of the patties; cook until nicely browned on the outside and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate; repeat with the remaining oil and patties.
To make the sandwiches, toast the English muffins. Place a few spinach leaves on the bottom half of each one. Add cooked sausage patty, then slice of tomato and a few slices of avocado on each portion. Add hot sauce and/or ketchup, if desired, then place the top of the muffin on the sandwich. Serve right away.
Nutrition information per serving: 320 calories, 19 g protein, 31 g carbohydrates, 15 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 40 mg cholesterol, 440 mg sodium, 8 g dietary fiber, 5 g sugar.