Looking for new options for adding protein to breakfast? Try making these homemade sausage patties for you and your kids. They are healthier than processed breakfast meats and are easy to make-ahead of time, freeze, and reheat when you are on the go.
Before becoming a mom, I used to be satisfied with a breakfast of cereal, oatmeal, toast, or a smoothie. Egg dishes, or other bigger breakfast plates, were more of a weekend brunch thing. But then I became pregnant with my first, and everything changed. I was so nauseous in the mornings, but I figured out that if I could force myself to eat something with more protein for breakfast, like eggs or cottage cheese, I felt much better. Then after my son was born, my need for a serious breakfast became even greater. The multiple night feedings left me feeling totally drained by the morning, and in need of a proper meal. Flash forward 5 years later, and I am still breastfeeding, now with my youngest, who is nearly ready to wean. The nights have gotten much easier, but I still can’t go back to my pre-motherhood type of breakfast. I definitely can’t handle anything sweet, and even something like toast with almond butter or avocado leaves me hungry and irritable a half hour later. So I try to go right for something savoury with vegetables and protein, like this plate of homemade sausage, roasted sweet potatoes, and greens.
I’ve found that my kids do much better with this type of breakfast as well. Like mother, like sons. They sleep 12 hours a night (with at least one wake up for my youngest), and by the time we sit down to breakfast, it has been around 14 hours since they have last eaten. Needless to say they are very hungry. My kids do like cereal, especially unsweetened Shredded Wheat. But I try to discourage them from having just cereal, and here’s why: they typically ask for seconds, which is fine, but then they still tell me they are hungry a half hour later. And this inevitably happens right as I am trying to help them get their shoes on to walk out the door for school. Giving them a handful of nuts to go with their cereal helps, but what works even better is skipping the cereal in the first place and instead proposing a plate like this one. With a higher protein breakfast that includes vegetables, they are more satisfied, less whiney, and less likely to ask for snacks (or sweets) for the rest of the day.
So assuming we wake up on time, we have a full breakfast together. I make these sausages whenever we start to get tired of some of our other favorites, like scrambled eggs with spinach or sandwiches with smoked salmon, cream cheese, and cucumber. I keep the sausages in the freezer, so all I have to do is pop them in the oven to warm while we get dressed. To go with them, I reheat leftover cooked vegetables, which I make ahead of time in big batches to use for various meals.
I like this sausage because it doesn’t have preservatives or fillers like most commercially-made sausage, and it has less sodium and fat. I can select the exact type and source of meat I want to use, like today’s free range ground pork. Turkey is nice in this recipe too. As for seasonings, there are so many different ways you can go – see the recipe notes for other ideas. But especially if you are a pregnant and are experiencing nausea, I highly recommend using fennel, as it is known to help settle the stomach.
I totally understand how not everyone can imagine waking up and going right for a full, savoury breakfast like this one. My Italian friends who eat a small, sweet breakfast like to tease me for my new habits. But I find it comforting to know that in many countries, breakfast is similar to lunch and dinner. Not only do I find that I have more stable blood sugar levels, crave less sweets, and feel better overall when I eat this way, I also find it convenient. I can use more foods interchangeably between meals. In fact, I sometimes use these sausages for dinner, either as a main course by themselves or as an addition to tomato sauce for pasta or polenta. I also eat dinner leftovers of many types for breakfast. My kids don’t question having the same foods at breakfast that they sometimes eat for lunch or dinner, and I notice how much they benefit from a more complete morning meal just like I do.
P.S. Stay tuned for a vegan version of these sausages that I am working on developing…
Homemade Fennel Breakfast Sausage Patties
We love the fennel flavour in these sausage patties, and because fennel is often used as a home remedy for nausea, it can be useful in pregnancy. But all of the spices listed are optional, and you can add in different ones to cater to your tastes. I often make a version with lamb, parsley, garlic, red onion, allspice, cumin, and cinnamon. I also make a Thai-inspired version with pork, cilantro, ginger, garlic, shallot, soy sauce, and curry paste. Feel free to try out whatever you have on hand. The method is always the same and is very simple: mix some seasonings into ground meat, shape into patties, and brown in a skillet.
Ingredients (Makes 12 patties):
–1 pound (450g) ground meat (turkey, pork, chicken, lamb, or beef)
–1 small onion (or two shallots) finely chopped (optional for those who don’t like onion)
–1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
–1 teaspoon fennel seeds (can increase to 1 1/2 for extra fennel flavor)
–1/2 teaspoon sage
–1/2 teaspoon oregano
–1/2 teaspoon salt
–1/4 teaspoon pepper (black or white)
–1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
–1 Tbs olive oil (or other cooking oil of choice)
–In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients together except for the oil.
–Shape the mixture into thin patties (about 2.5 inches in diameter and ½ inch thick), making about 12.
–Heat the oil in a frying pan on low to medium-low heat. Wait until it is actually hot until you start adding the sausages or else they will stick.
–Fry the sausages slowly, making sure they are well-browned on one side before flipping them over. Depending on your pan, this will take about 7 minutes per side to cook throughout.
–Transfer them to a serving plate.
–These can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and re-warmed in a pan or in the oven. Or they can be cooled and frozen for up to 4 months. I prefer to brown the sausages before freezing them as I find it easier for reheating in a hurry. If you freeze them raw, defrost them overnight in your refrigerator and brown them in a skillet in the morning.