Shawn Nesaw

Our staff returned to the office after the holidays with our bellies full and our taste buds’ hearty winter cravings fulfilled. We decided we needed to switch gears and hop onto the crowded “It’s-a-new-year-and-therefore-I-need-to-start-eating-well” train along with the rest of the universe.

Where better to start than with the first and most important meal of the day?

Consumer Reports published an article offering an explanation behind this old bromide, stating “because the time between dinner and the next morning’s meal is the longest your body goes without food, breakfast has an effect on you that’s different from any other meal.”
It continues, “Eating within two hours of waking can make a difference in the way you metabolize glucose, or blood sugar, all day.”
For our Bright Lights, stable glucose levels mean the possibility of enhancing our memory, attention, the speed of processing information, reasoning, creativity, learning and verbal abilities — all critical capabilities in our daily execution of services.

So we held a healthy breakfast potluck competition as a part of our internal health and wellness program, Active ABI.

We had several worthy concoctions that competed for best tasting and healthiest, but our administrative assistant, Donna Nelson, took the cake – or in this case, an assortment of fruits and veggies packaged neatly in a shiny silver colander.

Below, you’ll find all of the excellent recipes we enjoyed that helped kick-start our early January day. Try them out and transform your breakfast into a winner.

EggWhite EggBake – Winner!

  • 1 dozen egg whites only
  • 1 medium red pepper, diced
  • ¼ cup chopped chives, sliced
  • Brown and crumbled Turkey Sausage
  • 1 cup chopped fresh broccoli
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • Splash milk
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 9 x 13 baking dish

Spray the baking dish with non-stick spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Scramble egg whites with milk and salt and pepper. Add vegetables and meat to pan. Pour eggs over the meat and vegetables. Jiggle pan to evenly spread eggs. Bake until eggs are cooked through. Takes 45 minutes to an hour.

Variations: Add any vegetables or meats you want. You can also add shredded or diced potatoes to the bottom (first layer). Multi-grain bread is also a good first layer.

Raspberry-Cream Cheese Muffins


  • 2/3 cup (5 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
  • ¼ cup finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine cream cheese and butter in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at high speed until well blended. Add sugar; beat until fluffy. Add vanilla, egg whites and egg; beat well.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and buttermilk to cream cheese mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Gently fold in raspberries and walnuts.
Place 24 foil cup liners in muffin cups. Spoon batter evenly into liners. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pans; cool on a wire rack.

Healthy Veggies Egg Muffins

  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a muffin tin with spray and set aside (I used a mini muffin tin).
In a large skillet on medium heat, drizzle olive oil and sauce onion, green pepper and mushrooms for about 4 minutes until tender. Fill each muffin tin about ⅔ full with veggie mixture.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, spinach, cheese, tomato and salt and pepper, and fill each muffin tin evenly, being careful not to over-fill.
Bake muffins for about 20 minutes (around 12 min. if using a mini muffin tin), until they’ve risen and are slightly browned. Enjoy!
Mini BLT Quinoa Cups (gluten free) – Runner-up!

  • ¾ cup dry quinoa
  • 1-½ cups chicken broth (could use water)
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed then squeezed completely dry
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup cooked and crumbled bacon (about 8 slices center-cut)
  • ½ cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Rinse quinoa very well in a fine mesh strainer under cold running water. Meanwhile bring chicken broth to a boil in a saucepan then add rinsed quinoa, place a lid on top, and cook until broth is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove lid and let cool slightly.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Add cooked quinoa then stir to combine. Spray mini muffin tins very well with nonstick spray, then fill to the top with quinoa mixture, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Let cool 5 minutes then run a sharp knife around the outside of the cups and pop out with a spoon. Cool completely on a cooling rack. Store in the refrigerator, or freeze then reheat by microwaving for 30 seconds.
Pumpkin Spice Breakfast Quinoa

  • ½ cup milk – I used almond milk but any milk will work
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2-4 tablespoons chopped pecans

Bring milk and water to a boil in a small to medium sized saucepan. Add quinoa, cover, reduce heat to simmer, and let cook 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff with a fork, then stir in the pumpkin, maple syrup, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Taste and adjust any amounts to your liking (i.e. add more sweetness or spices). Divide into two bowls (add milk if desired) and top with desired amount of pecans.