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Stress and diet are an impossible combination, at least for me. In the years of Lev’s declining health, I gained 10 pounds. After his death, I gained 10 more. In the 28 months I have been blogging, I have written often about widows’ need for self-care and healthy eating, and I have shared my efforts to get my weight under control. I did well for more than two years, losing 20 pounds and staying within a five-pound range of my goal.

Until Hurricane Harvey showed up. I gained five pounds in 10 days. Pizza, barbecue, French fries, an extra glass of wine in the evening. Even my first Coke in months or years. I stepped on the scale Monday morning, and I was appalled. Back to Basic Training—healthy breakfast, salads, lots of vegetables, serious reduction of fat and carbs, rotisserie chicken and grilled shrimp instead of steak and fried fish.

Back on My Diet

I am convinced that it’s the big, high-protein, low-carb breakfast that includes vegetables that enabled me to lose weight and keep it off until now—when days of not-so-healthy breakfasts in restaurants and hotel dining rooms sabotaged me. And, yes, after three days of paying attention to what goes in my mouth, I have lost 4.5 pounds.

In recovery mode, I am encouraged by a recent article in the New York Times, The Case for a Breakfast Feast. There’s good scientific evidence that eating a big meal early in the day jump-starts our metabolism and helps prevent obesity.

In my first post-Harvey trip to the grocery store, I bought the basics, including eggs, Canadian bacon and spinach. But I can only eat so many Eggs Benedict without the Hollandaise sauce and English muffins. I dusted off my healthy egg recipes, including some new and improved recipes I created this summer on Nantucket. All three recipes are gluten-free and easily adapted to be vegetarian. Egg muffins are my grab-and-go staple, but no-carb hash and eggs are delicious when I have a few minutes to cook, and the Tex-Mex egg casserole is great when I have company, especially since it is prepared ahead of time.

Gluten-Free Freezable Breakfast Egg Muffins

8 eggs
½ cup milk
1 tablespoon canola oil or melted butter
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. each salt and pepper
2¼ cups lightly cooked, favorite omelet or quiche fillings
dash Tabasco sauce (optional)
½ cup grated cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 6-cup nonstick double-size muffin tin lightly with Pam. (Do not use a standard size or uncoated metal muffin tin. You will not be happy with the results.)

Beat together eggs, milk and oil. Blend together salt, pepper and baking power; lightly sprinkle over egg mixture; add Tabasco sauce if desired; then blend.

Fill muffin tins about halfway with whatever mixture of chopped, cooked meat and vegetables that you like in omelets and quiches. If you are starting with raw vegetables, allow about 1 cup raw vegetables for each ½ cup cooked vegetables. My favorite combination is 1/3 sausage* and 2/3 chopped, steamed broccoli, Fill muffin tins almost to the top with egg mixture, then sprinkle with cheese. Bake 25-30 minutes.

Cool on a rack; then store in Ziploc bag in refrigerator or freezer. Wrap in waxed paper and zap in the microwave for a minute or so to reheat. While it works fine as finger food, I like mine with picante sauce on top. Hint: Since egg dishes tend to get rubbery if microwaved too long, I prefer those that are refrigerated, rather than frozen. I like to set a muffin out when I make my first cup of coffee, then heat for only 50 seconds when I’m ready to eat.

hash and eggs

No-Carb Hash and Eggs

Quick, colorful and delicious with minimal cleanup, especially if you cook the sausage crumbles ahead of time and use a nonstick griddle to cook both the hash and eggs.

¼ cup lean ground sausage, crumbled*
1 tablespoon diced onion
1–2 brown mushrooms, chopped
¼ cup chopped tomatoes
½ cup raw spinach, chopped
pico de gallo to taste*
salt and pepper
¼ c. grated cheddar or Mexican cheese
1–2 eggs

Spray large nonstick skillet or griddle with Pam. Using medium heat (I use 350 degrees on my cooktop griddle), brown sausage. In the order listed, add one ingredient at a time, mixing with the sausage. Before adding spinach, when sausage mix appears well cooked, “fry” eggs in Pam on nonstick surface. Stir in spinach, turning mix regularly to wilt the spinach. Season to taste. When spinach is wilted, add cheese, turn off heat, mix to melt cheese. To serve, top hash with 1 to 2 eggs. Serve with a side of picante sauce or other salsa if desired.

Serves 1. Can easily be multiplied for a larger group, though the hash will probably require a separate skillet if cooked in larger quality.

Gluten-Free Tex-Mex Egg Casserole

12 eggs
½ cup whipping cream
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese, divided
1 pound ground sausage*
½ cup chopped onion
½ bell pepper, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 4-oz. can chopped green chiles
½ teaspoon ground cumin
additional salt and pepper to taste
1 16-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
Tabasco sauce (optional)
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced (optional)

Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish. Beat together eggs, cream, salt, pepper and 1 cup shredded cheese. Set aside at room temperature. Brown sausage in a large skillet over medium to low heat, crumbling it as it cooks. Remove from skillet; set aside. In the same skillet sauté onions until translucent, then add bell pepper, then tomatoes, then green chiles; stir together and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper; add cumin. When vegetables appear to be tender, add black beans and cook over low heat until most of the moisture evaporates. Turn off heat and stir in sausage. Spread the mixture in the baking dish; set aside to cool. When both sausage mixture and egg mixture are close to room temperature, pour egg mixture over the sausage and vegetables. Top with an additional cup of shredded cheese. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove from refrigerator about an hour before baking. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Serve with salsa. Serves 10-12. Leftovers can be reheated in a microwave.

For a spicier casserole, add a dash of Tabasco sauce to the egg mix and/or include a jalapeño pepper in the sautéed vegetables. For a vegetarian casserole, increase the vegetables and omit sausage.

*I purchase HEB premium reduced-fat pork sausage, which I crumble and cook all at once, dividing it in two Ziplocs, one for the freezer and one for my refrigerator. Sometimes I sautée the sausage with a small carton of fresh mild pico de gallo. I use it in omelets, taquitos, homemade pizzas and taco salad and as a seasoning for soups, stews and vegetables.