I’m going to say something now that just might baffle a few who have had the pleasure of indulging in this traditional English dish.
Healthy Full English Breakfast
Notice the odd word out? When you go to a pub anywhere in England, you’re almost bound to find some version of the Eggs, Bacon, Chips, and Beans breakfast. Some people have made it their life’s goal to track down and try out each establishment’s version. We’ve made it our own tradition to have this wonderful (high carb, yet so satisfying with a cup of PG Tips) meal once a weekend.
Your typical English Breakfast will include the following:
This lovely specimen came from a pub right around the corner of Harrods. The meal was substantial and it only lacked one item that my hubby was very glad to do without: fried tomatoes. That’s another key word: fried. In order to make a “real” English Breakfast, everything should be fried, or so I’m told. You should fry it all up in one big pan (minus the beans) and let it all marinate in each other’s juices and oils.
If you’re like me, your stomach would have turned over a bit after reading that. I looked at my hubby appalled when he instructed me in the art of breakfast making in the early years of our marriage. Needless to say, that wasn’t going to be happening in my kitchen. Ever.
So, I set out to make the breakfast healthy yet still traditional enough to satisfy our tastebuds.
Here’s what the iscribbler household eats:
Looks similar, no? Let me give you the rundown for what makes this healthy (er):
- I love hashbrowns so we traded the chips for one oven cooked hashbrown.
- Sausage and bacon are cooked without oil and drained. Bacon is low sodium variety (or center cut).
- Eggs, mushrooms, and tomatoes are all cooked using non-stick spray (separate from the meats).
The last item is the trickiest. We love having the beans but in order to make this authentic, we couldn’t just buy a can of our favorite baked beans and plop them on the plate. For one, they would be the wrong color (American baked beans are much darker than English beans). For another (and the most important), they’d taste completely wrong.
English baked beans are typically your standard blue can Heinz Beans. These beans have a more mild flavor and they highlight the tomato sauce more than the spices found in your American bean. In fact, there are only a dusting of spices in these beans.
These beans can be hard to find here in the U.S. You can buy them at specialty markets, but they usually cost at least $1.50 a can. Considering how these beans are about as cheap as you can get, we couldn’t find it in ourselves to spend that much on them.
We began experimenting with vegetarian beans at our local grocery and settled on a store brand that was close to the Heinz. We happily ate our breakfasts with these beans up until a year ago when we noticed that they had increased the sugar content and that the salt was a bit too much for our tastes.
So, I made my own.
And after many trials and failures, I finally settled on a recipe that was not only close to the old blue can, but was even better. Not too spiced, not too tomato-y, and perfectly healthy for a balanced breakfast.
British Baked Beans
(Note: This recipe makes quite a bit, but they freeze really well. I usually separate it into little pots for two portions.)
- 1 lb dried navy beans (washed, soaked overnight)
- 1 14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes (with onions and green peppers)
- 1 tsp onion salt
- 1 – 2 cloves garlic (I use about 1 tsp crushed garlic)
- 1 cube Knorr vegetable bouillon (or equivalent of your broth of choice – not sure how it might alter the taste, though)
- Place beans in a large pan and cover with water. Cook until just soft.
- In a food processor, add can of tomatoes and pulse until smooth.
- Once beans are soft, add bouillon directly to boiling bean water. Stir to dissolve. Then add tomatoes, onion salt, and garlic. Stir.
- Add pepper to taste.
- Simmer until spices mingle and beans soften. Add water if broth becomes too thick/dry.