Healthy and Hearty Top Breakfast Trends in 2011

Wow, it’s been a busy couple of weeks in food news, hasn’t it? With sales slumping at some fast casual restaurants, big chains are working quickly to revamp their menus and make necessary changes to stay afloat.

Being a Portlander, my heart (and stomach) is loyal to breakfast – but breakfast menus appear to be rapidly changing to keep up with the current trends. According to Nation’s Restaurant News, upscale, healthy breakfast items, like crepes and oatmeal are on the rise – while more traditional, heartier breakfast items like French toast and egg skillet dishes are on the way out.

Luckily for me and fellow breakfast loyalists, the breakfast market is continuing to grow rapidly with no signs of slowing down. QSR Magazine reports that the breakfast market is expected to grow 13 percent by 2014, with the early morning meal representing nearly 60 percent of the restaurant industry’s traffic growth over the past five years.

Since consumers are always on the go, it makes sense that quick breakfasts like oatmeal and breakfast burritos are on the rise with our grab and go culture rapidly increasing. As massive chains like Starbucks and McDonald’s make the move to offer more fast morning options, they are paying attention to customer’s need for quick, healthy meals. Wendy’s is also jumping onto the upscale breakfast scene with a handful of menu items that include ingredients like Applewood bacon, asiago cheese, hollandaise sauce, poblano peppers and artisan breads. Others are going a step further by incorporating both the upscale and health trends into one menu item, like Dunkin Donuts that offers an Egg White Turkey Sausage Flatbread Sandwich – which uses higher end ingredients and checks out at less than 300 calories and 9 grams of fat.

The other half of the breakfast trend includes upscale breakfast items like frittatas, steak and eggs and crepes. While fine dining establishments have featured these items for years, it will be interesting to see what fast casual restaurants come up with to make breakfast a little fancier and a lot healthier.

~Kirsten Saladow

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