Incredible Breakfast Trends

Promoting Veggies to Center of the Plate

Most Americans today embrace some kind of diet philosophy, like gluten-free or vegetarian. With the trend moving away from crash diets and toward intentional eating, consumers focus on how their dining choices affect their own health as well as that of the planet. Eating natural, minimally processed foods from local sources supports increased well-being of both, and dishes made with fresh produce is one way to do that.

A Natural Union

Virtually any protein can augment creative mixtures of vegetable flavors and textures. But one that’s able to satisfy both vegetarians and meat-eaters alike with its protein, flavor and versatility is the incredible egg. Eggs are:

  • Like fresh produce, unadulterated and unprocessed
  • A popular vegetarian protein that’s also nutrient-dense
  • Providers of a silky and indulgent flavor and mouthfeel
  • A versatile partner – acting as a carrier, topping, co-star or sauce

The fact that eggs come in their own nature-provided packaging for freshness and purity is just another bonus.

Breakfast Food for Thought

Popular veggie-centric Mexican-influenced breakfasts have already infiltrated American consumers’ habits across operator segments. Classic Huevos Rancheros is made of tortillas, tomatoes, onions, jalapenos and beans topped with eggs. Breakfast burritos and tacos commonly are made with the same ingredients arranged differently. (Morning burritos have been served via drive-thrus at chains including McDonald’s, Burger King and Sonic for decades.) Chilaquiles and Huevos Divorciados are found on more and more menus.

No less an expert than Rick Bayless of Chicago’s award winning Topolobampo had this to say at the 2017 National Restaurant Association show: “European food is all based – flavor wise – on how to get the most meat flavor into everything on the plate...Mexican cuisine is a vegetable-based cuisine.”

Consumer interest

Chain Reactions

Chains respond to this trend with their own veggie menu changes and tests. Houlihan’s recently launched spiralized veggie “noodles” and offer Spiralized Beet Chips and French Fried Asparagus as appetizers. Sonic Drive-In is the first national QSR chain to test a “blended burger,” made with 25-30 percent mushrooms. And Pret A Manger just introduced 20 more veggie options and the U.S. test of a Veggie Pret concept, based on vegetarian dishes having “been a particular success for us in the last year.

Operator Creativity

Creative menuing offers an experience that generates buzz about the flavor first, and the vegetables second.

  • The Breakfast Salad served at Hugo’s Restaurants in the L.A. area includes turmeric rice scrambled with egg whites, almonds, currants, spinach, mixed mushrooms, ginger, garlic and organic tamari sauce on mixed lettuce with balsamic vinaigrette.
  • Not Your Average Joe’s Ramen comes with seared pork belly in broth with ramen noodles, poached egg, shitake mushrooms, cilantro, scallions and bok choy, from New England through Virginia.
  • Chicago’s Handlebar serves its Pepita Scramble made from eggs with sweet potatoes, red peppers, kale, poblanos, pumpkin seed pesto, crispy onions and breakfast potatoes.
  • Tuna conserva, mixed greens, soft boiled eggs, asparagus, snap peas, spring onion, croutons and lemon vinaigrette is on the menu at Pausa in San Mateo.
  • NYC’s The Breslin offers Poached Egg with Asparagus, Fiddlehead Ferns, Peas & Crushed Potatoes.
  • Spring Vegetable Baked Bomba Rice adds foraged mushrooms, grilled baby squash, farm egg and pimenton aioli at Arroz in Washington, D.C.

Approaching the Menu

There are sound business reasons for moving veggie dishes to the COP.

  • Veggie seasonality is a natural reason for refreshing menus to reflect the freshest produce.
  • In-season veggies are at their peak of abundance, making them cheaper and more profitable.
  • Veggie entrees are not just for vegetarians – meat eaters like veggies too.
  • Veggie dishes project an image of a sustainable and locally sourced menu.

Nothing about veggie-centric says meat should not be involved, but it acts as a supporting character, not a star. Including eggs in the list of protein options to top veggie entrees, salads or sandwiches is an easy way to keep every guest happy, whether vegetarian or carnivore.

The Final Say

A veggie-forward approach is not about leaving something out, but rather, adding more flavor, options and creativity, giving consumers something they’ll want to talk about. Brooks Headley, chef-owner of New York City’s Superiority Burger, a vegetarian restaurant, has said, “In the end, we’re just doing our best to make really delicious, very accessible food that anyone can have.”


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