Americans don’t value their breakfast. According to a study from the Kellogg Company, only 34 percent out of over 14,000 report eating breakfast daily. But even for the few who partake, processed carbohydrates like Pop Tarts, Fruit Loops and Eggo Waffles dominate the American breakfast routine. Though delicious, these options are not the best for jumpstarting your metabolism and fueling your brain.  

Photo by Franki Chamaki on Unsplash

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We all know the adage, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” but we often end up mindlessly throwing it together in an early-hour daze. With the chaos of life, convenience usually wins over quality. But in the wake of the pandemic, more people have found themselves in the kitchen. It’s time to venture past that boring box of Cheerios, take advantage of the hours inside and recalibrate your breakfast routine.

We’ve collected recipes from around the world (plus a few Chicago suggestions on where to get the real deal) for you to expand your culinary horizons beyond the 50 states. Who knows? You might find kanapki pairs perfectly with your morning coffee. 

1. Gallo Pinto — Costa Rica

Move over huevos rancheros, there’s a new dish in town. Gallo pinto is a Costa Rican staple chock full of black beans, rice, and veggies. It's delicious topped with eggs, avocado or tostones (fried plantains) if you’re feeling fancy. Directly translated to “spotted rooster” from the polka-dot pattern of the beans in the rice, gallo pinto is a ready-in-a-pinch meal that will have you powering through your 9 ams.

Get the recipe here!

2. Pão de Queijo — Brazil

Pão de queijo, or Brazilian cheese bread, is a pillow of cheesy goodness. Typically served as a light breakfast or snack with coffee, this recipe will transport you to the streets of São Paulo. Naturally gluten-free from tapioca flour, these little rolls won’t last long once they’re out of the oven.

Get the recipe here!

Where to Find it in Chicago: Mulata Kitchen (*bonus* it’s woman-owned and delightful)

3. Kanapki — Poland

Poland loves their open-faced sandwiches. Eaten for breakfast, lunch, or an evening appetizer, kanapki is the perfect remedy to your avocado toast exhaustion. The possibilities are endless with these super customizable, color bites. All you need to do is follow the basic structure of bread + spread + protein + veggie.

Bread: baguette, rye, sourdough, ciabatta, cracker, bagel crisp

Spread: cream cheese, herb butter, mayonnaise, tapenade, mustard

Protein: ham, salmon, bacon, egg, cheese, hummus

Veggies: bell peppers, pickle, onion, radish, peas, cucumber, olives, tomato, herbs

Get some more inspo here!

4. Syrniki — Russia

A breakfast list wouldn’t be complete without a pancake. Shake up your brunch menu with syrniki, the Russian version of the American buttermilk classic. These delectable little fritters are what you’d get if a cheesecake and a pancake had a baby. If you can’t find tvorog (sold as “Farmer’s Cheese” in the U.S.) used in traditional syrniki, ricotta is a perfect replacement. Top with powdered sugar, jam, or fresh fruit!

Get the recipe here!

Where to Find it in Chicago: Jibek Jolu

4. Shakshuka — Israel, Middle East, North Africa

You must add shakshuka to your weekly line-up. Tomatoes, onions, garlic, spices, and poached eggs, which are easier to make than you think, come together in a healthy and nourishing morning meal. Eaten across the Middle East, Israel, and Egypt, this vegetarian dish bursts with flavor. Crumbled feta, avocado slices, and pita bread are great extra additions.

Get the recipe here!

Where to Find it in Chicago: Cira Restaurant

5. Pho — Vietnam

There's nothing better on a freezing Chicago day (looking at you Polar Vortex) than a piping hot bowl of soup. Pho is a go-to breakfast in Vietnam. It’s a balanced and energizing dish sure to wake you right up. Incredibly versatile, pho can be made with chicken, beef, pork, tofu, or vegetables, so there’s something for everyone. The ingredients are simple, and you probably have most of them already laying around.

Get the recipe here!

Where to Find it in Chicago: Tank Noodle

6. Injera — Ethiopia, Somalia, and Yemen

Everyone’s had a French crepe before. Instead, head south of Paris to Ethiopia and try injera, a spongy, sweet-and-sour flatbread. Its unique texture and flavor will have you coming back for seconds and thirds. Injera can be made sweet with cinnamon sugar, honey, and fruit or kept savory as a dipping bread for stews, meats, and eggs. 

Get the recipe here

Photo by Tom Hermans on Unsplash

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Your passport may be out of commission, but your palate doesn't have to be. Each one of these international breakfasts is sure to make you feel like a seasoned traveller from the comfort of your kitchen. Test them out, explore new flavors, and always keep an open mind. A world of food awaits, and breakfast is the best place to start.