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THE HEALTHY PLATE: Recipe for broccoli cheddar breakfast muffins

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When fall rolls around and it's back to school and work, wouldn't you love to start your day with something tastier and more substantial than that all-too-typical bowl of cold cereal? It's just so boring day after day. And that's apart from the fact that most cereals will fail to tide you over until lunchtime.

Here, then, is a meal in a muffin, a delicious and substantial alternative to the usual breakfast fare.

The base is a mix of white whole-wheat and all-purpose flours. Don't fret over the whole wheat. White whole-wheat flour — which is available at most supermarkets — is made from a variety of wheat that is lighter in colour and flavour than a traditional whole wheat, but just as healthy.

The flour mix is moistened with eggs (a terrific source of protein), a combo of olive oil and just a little butter, as well as a bit of buttermilk and some Greek yogurt. The latter is a wonderful ingredient. Somehow the version with zero fat delivers all of the creamy mouth feel and tangy depth of flavour that anyone could wish for. And it boasts double the protein of regular yogurt.

Next come the veggies. I've chosen broccoli and roasted red peppers, but you're welcome to replace them with carrots or chopped green beans. Your choice, as long as they add up to 1 3/4 cups. And by the way, you don't need to pre-cook the vegetables before adding them to the batter.

I've amped up the flavour with modest amounts of Canadian bacon and full-fat cheddar cheese. The finished muffins are good to go: tasty and filling without a ton of sugar and fat. Breakfast may never be the same. For that matter, these muffins would be great for lunch, too.

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BROCCOLI CHEDDAR BREAKFAST MUFFINS

Start to finish: 1 hour (35 minutes active)

Makes 12 muffins

2 cups white whole-wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 large eggs

1 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt

3/4 cup buttermilk

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3/4 cup finely chopped roasted red peppers, plus 1/4 cup of the pepper liquid from the jar

1 cup small raw broccoli florets or chopped thawed frozen broccoli florets

1/2 cup diced Canadian bacon (about 3 ounces)

3/4 cup coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 3 ounces), divided

Heat the oven to 425 F. Mist a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray, or line with cupcake liners.

In a large bowl, stir together both flours, the baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, buttermilk, olive oil, butter and pepper juice (if the jar did not have 1/4 cup of juice in it, supplement with water). Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until combined. Add the peppers, broccoli, bacon and 1/2 cup of the cheese, stirring well.

Scoop the batter (it will be quite thick) into the muffin cups, filling them completely. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the tops of the muffins. Bake on the oven's middle shelf until the tops are golden, about 25 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan and cool on a rack.

Nutrition information per serving: 240 calories; 90 calories from fat (38 per cent of total calories); 10 g fat (3.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 45 mg cholesterol; 28 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 10 g protein; 520 mg sodium.

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Sara Moulton was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years, and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows. She currently stars in public television's "Sara's Weeknight Meals" and has written three cookbooks, including "Sara Moulton's Everyday Family Dinners."

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