Yes, breakfast quesadillas can be healthy
If you’re a fan of breakfast sandwiches and the ever-popular breakfast burrito, it’s time to try a breakfast quesadilla. It’s kind of like a breakfast burrito: it’s a trendy twist on a traditional Mexican dish that makes the most important meal of the day even better. They’re both deliciously wrapped in a tortilla, but it’s what’s inside that counts.
A breakfast quesadilla can be healthier and more balanced than a breakfast burrito because it’s not stuffed with extra carbohydrates from hash browns. Rather than filling up on fast-burning carbs that could make you sleepy, a high-protein breakfast quesadilla will keep you energized and awake throughout the morning. Loading it up with veggies will also give you a head start on your veg quota for the day.
Eat breakfast and lose weight
Research is mixed when it comes to the effect of breakfast on weight. Skipping breakfast can lead to more hunger and cravings, making it difficult to make healthy choices and avoid overeating later in the day. A study published in 2020 The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, suggests that eating a small or lower-calorie breakfast can also make you crave sugar. That sounds like a compelling reason to enjoy a heavier morning meal.
The National Weight Control Registry tracks over 10,000 adults who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for a year or more. And most of them — 78 percent, to be exact — eat breakfast every day.
What to put in a breakfast quesadilla
My breakfast quesadilla recipe is a great place to start trying this fun breakfast or brunch option. You can put your own spin on it by changing up the veggies or adding other ingredients you love. Go with classic Mexican ingredients or switch to other cuisines for a fusion breakfast quesadilla. For example, you could make a French version with Brie or Gruyere cheese and mushrooms. Or try a Mediterranean-inspired breakfast quesadilla with tomatoes, bocconcini, and fresh basil.
How to make a healthy breakfast quesadilla
Here are some tips to help you keep your breakfast quesadilla lighter and healthier:
Start with a healthy tortilla
- Opt for whole wheat or sprouted tortillas so you get more fiber and nutrients. Whole grains like whole grains, whole corn, quinoa, and sorghum are high in B vitamins, which help your body convert food into energy. And sprouted grains help make some of their nutrients more bioavailable, meaning they’re easier for your body to absorb, according to a review of studies published in a 2019 issue nutrient.
- If you’re gluten-free, you can find gluten-free tortillas made with gluten-free grains like corn, rice, or teff.
- For Paleo fans, there are tortillas made from plantains and root vegetables like sweet potatoes.
- For low-carb lovers, egg-based wraps are now available at most grocery stores, along with cauliflower- and cheese-based tortillas.
(Corn vs. Flour Tortilla: Here’s What You Should Know.)
Limit the saturated fat
To keep fat levels under control — and calories under control — sauté ingredients with a little olive oil or use avocado oil spray instead of loading butter.
Add some protein
Cheese is essential – you need gooey cheese to hold all the fillings together and help them stay in the tortilla. Here’s how you can enjoy cheese while limiting calories and saturated fat:
- Choose low-fat options like semi-skimmed mozzarella, low-fat cheddar, or pepper jack cheese.
- Use half as much regular cheese (to limit calories) and rely on other ingredients to bulk up your quesadilla.
- If you’re vegan or dairy-free, try a tasty cheese alternative.
Add eggs for high-quality protein
Eggs are another important protein that brings the “breakfast” to a quesadilla. In this recipe, each serving includes two large eggs to provide 12 grams of quality protein. You also get choline, an essential nutrient that many of us can’t get enough of.
Another benefit of eggs in your morning meal? A study published in 2020 in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, found that participants who ate eggs for breakfast felt less hungry and ate less at lunch than those who ate a higher-carb, lower-protein breakfast.
More protein ideas for your breakfast quesadilla
- Beans are another source of protein that will add deliciousness and fiber to your breakfast quesadilla. Pinto beans, black beans, and low-fat refried beans are all nutritious options.
- Brown some lean ground beef or turkey, or add leftover chicken or pork. (For best results, chop it up before adding it to your quesadilla.)
- If you want to make a sweet breakfast quesadilla, natural nut butters like almond butter, walnut butter, or peanut butter provide delicious plant-based protein. Add a few berries to spice up a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Adding veggies to your breakfast quesadilla ensures you’re adding nutrition. My breakfast quesadilla recipe includes spinach, an excellent source of vitamin K for healthy bones. It contains quercetin, a phytochemical that may promote brain and heart health; along with the antioxidant kaempferol, which may help prevent and fight cancer.
Some other nutrient-dense veggies for your quesadilla:
When making a sweet quesadilla, you can use fruit instead of vegetables. Peaches, berries, thinly sliced pears or apples, figs, mango, banana or pineapple are delicious options.
How to avoid a soggy quesadilla
You want the meltiness on the inside and the crunch on the outside. If you fill your quesadilla with too many veggies or fruit, it can fall apart. Since vegetables and fruits release water as they cook, it’s best to cook them beforehand and let the water evaporate from your pan. You can also serve vegetables or fruit in a salsa as a side or use as a topping.
Dip it or top it
Another fun part of quesadilla eating is the dipping. This is another opportunity to pack nutrition along with flavor. If dipping isn’t your thing, you can spread some of these delicious toppings onto your quesadilla.
Tasty dip/topping options:
- Salsa (choose low-sodium and low-sugar options or make your own salsa)
- Pico de Gallo
- Guacamole (or mashed or sliced avocado)
- Light sour cream or Greek yogurt
How do I make my healthy breakfast quesadilla?
My delicious and healthy breakfast quesadilla consists of a whole wheat tortilla filled with eggs, pinto beans, spinach and green onions. It’s recommended by nutritionists because it provides the nutrients for a filling breakfast that’s easy to make and oh so delicious.
Christy Brissette, MS, RD – Owner of 80 Twenty Nutrition
High protein breakfast quesadilla
Christy Brissette, RD, owner of 80 Twenty Nutrition
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 8 minutes
Total time: < 15 minutes
3 large eggs
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup spinach, roughly chopped
½ cup canned pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 thinly sliced spring onion
Two 8-inch whole-wheat tortillas
1 cup grated semi-fat mozzarella cheese
Dips and toppings:
avocado or guacamole
Hot sauce (optional)
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and pepper.
Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Pour in the eggs and stir, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes.
Add the spinach to the pan and stir until wilted (about 1 minute). Remove from the heat and stir in the beans and spring onions. Put aside.
Fold each tortilla in half. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, place each folded tortilla in half of the pan. Sprinkle ¼ cup of cheese into each tortilla, add half of the egg mixture and top with the remaining cheese. Close the tortillas and fold the top half over to rest on the fillings. Press each with a spatula or flipper to compress and even out the fillings. Cover the pan with a lid.
Reduce the heat to medium-low. Heat one side of each quesadilla until crisp and golden brown on bottom (about 2 minutes), being careful not to burn. Flip and let the other side crisp up.
Place your quesadillas on a cutting board and let cool for 1 minute to set. Halve or quarter to form triangles. Serve with dips and sauces of your choice. Enjoy!