Begin with eggs and low-fat turkey sausage, then blend in a variety of tasty cheeses and spices to make a flavorful breakfast casserole. Your choice of colorful vegetables adds the finishing touch to this heart-healthy breakfast that your family will love. For a stress-free breakfast, make the casserole the night before, then bake it in the morning.
Turkey sausage has all the flavor and protein of pork sausage, usually at about half the fat. Like pork, turkey sausage is available in a variety of flavors. Kids often prefer mild or maple-flavored sausage, but you can also use spicy, sage or Italian flavors. If you have leftover Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey, shred or cube the turkey, then use it in your breakfast casserole instead of turkey sausage.
Eggs, rich in flavor and protein, form the base of a breakfast casserole. If you want to limit the cholesterol in your breakfast bake, replace each whole egg with two egg whites. Don't replace all the eggs in the recipe, because leaving a few yolks provides vitamins, flavor and color. You can also use a liquid egg substitute at the rate of 1/4 cup of substitute for each whole egg.
Streamline meal preparation by grating cheese ahead of time. You can also purchase cheese that is pre-grated and ready for use. The type of cheese is up to you. Cheddar -- either regular or sharp -- is a favorite, but you can also opt for a lower-fat cheese such as mozzarella, Monterrey Jack or Swiss, or add a bit of fire with pepper-jack cheese. A blend of two or more cheeses such as cheddar-jack adds variety. Reduced-fat cheddar cheese is available, but it doesn't melt well in baked dishes.
Even people who don't like vegetables often enjoy vegetables in a breakfast casserole. Try sliced mushrooms or colorful vegetables such as chopped green peppers, cherry tomatoes or green onions. Often, a breakfast casserole is a good way to use up cooked, leftover vegetables such as broccoli or asparagus. Most breakfast bake recipes call for bread and milk. You can opt for regular white bread or fiber-rich whole-grain bread and either half-and-half or lower-fat milk such as 2 percent or skim. Reduce the amount of cheese in the recipe and mix Parmesan dressing into the eggs for a creamier consistency. If you like a topping, use a dollop of sour cream or lower-fat Greek yogurt just prior to serving. Kids often enjoy a breakfast bake with a light drizzle of warm honey or maple syrup.
Bake your breakfast casserole according to recipe directions. When the top of the casserole is golden brown, test for doneness with the blade of a table knife. If the casserole is fully cooked, the knife comes out clean. If eggs stick to the knife, let the dish cook for a few more minutes. Once the casserole is removed from the oven, let it set up for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Otherwise, the eggs may be slightly runny. For a bit of color, sprinkle paprika or chives lightly over the top of the casserole. Cut the breakfast casserole in squares, then serve.