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For New Year's brunch, try apple and oat scones, bottom, and sausage and sweet-potato casserole. [GREG WOHLFORD/ERIE TIMES-NEWS]

Jennie Geisler: New Year’s Day holiday brunch will restore body, soul

Is it possible? Is it just a dream? Or could the holidays be just about, gulp, over?

Nope. Sorry. Not even close, my weary revelers. We have five more days of rocking and rolling before the parties are over and resolutions kick in. Leave the reindeer antlers on the car. Keep the spare room functional. You could probably even bake another batch of cutouts. I think you’re running low on peppermint Schnapps. (I was, but switched to straight whiskey at some point on Tuesday.)

Come on, everyone. We need to keep up our strength, especially in the mornings. The mornings after. Especially the big Morning After. New Year’s Day, the morning to beat all mornings after. You need your salt, protein and vitamins, and the other nutrients like the phytonutrients and the supercalifragilistic nutrients. And it has to taste good.

I like to call that meal “brunch.” It requires eggs, sausage and sauteed vegetables (I’d prefer some cheese, but I’m catering to my dairy-avoiding husband.) It also, for me, requires something dough-based and sweet, preferably something that absorbs warm pure maple syrup (which my husband will have nothing to do with. His loss.)

So today I give you Easy Paleo Breakfast Casserole (no soaking overnight necessary!) and Apple Scones.

Five things I learned:

1. I think I’ve described my husband’s diet before, but for those who don’t memorize my prose, the broad strokes are as such: It’s called the “paleo diet” and it eliminates all grains, dairy, legumes and refined white sugar and some other stuff derived from that, as well as synthetic preservatives and stuff like that. The idea is that our bodies evolved to eat certain food derived by hunting and gathering, and foods derived from modern agriculture are the reason for many of our ills. So no flour, no bread, no beans, no milk or cheese, no soy, no lots of things that I consider basic foods. He’s been eating like this for a couple of years. (He does cheat. Rarely, but he does.)

The funny thing about cooking for people following the paleo diet is that you eventually find that everything is either a thinly disguised frittata (start with eight or so eggs) or a sculpture made by molding clarified butter and almond flour. (Why clarified butter is allowed but not actual butter I do not understand.)

So, to finally get to my first point, you can make this breakfast casserole in the morning because it contains no bread. Most breakfast casseroles have to sit overnight to let the bread, which provides the structure, absorb the egg before baking.

2. There are, naturally, degrees of adherence to the paleo diet, and gray areas such as white potatoes (not really sanctioned, but come on), sausage (What’s in sausage? I don’t pay much attention, just get the good local homemade stuff and John eats it). Some people insist on grass-fed meat, but in addition to being a paleo dieter, John is also something of a penny pincher, so that’s where he draws the line.

Honestly, I think just skipping the white sugar and flour probably does him the most good, but I’m in no way qualified to tell anyone how to eat.

One thing that paleo dieters agree on is sweet potatoes and/or yams. They put those things in everything. I know they’re superfoods but, wow. I think my husband is going to turn the color of the president pretty soon. They are tasty, yes, and pretty.

3. It called for chopped spinach, which sent my mind immediately to the frozen 10-ounce block you use for spinach dip. I thawed it out, squeezed the daylights out of it and stirred it in. As I was doing so, it occurred to me that perhaps I should have purchased fresh spinach and chopped it. I’m still not sure. The fact that they called for 2 cups gave me pause.

The frozen kind stirred in easily, and fresh spinach might have been a challenge. If you go with fresh, use a really big bowl. I probably lost some nutrients in that green liquid I squeezed out of the frozen kind.

It’s up to you. For convenience, I’d stick with the frozen 10-ounce block (thawed and squeezed to almost dry). To pack in the nutrients, go with the fresh.

4. The Apple Scones couldn’t have been simpler. In fact, they were a little too simple. Next time, I’ll jazz them up a little with some raisins or dried cranberries, maybe chopped nuts or cinnamon chips. They’re excellent soaked in warm maple syrup, but I think I might have already mentioned that. Oh, well. It bears repeating. The part about the maple syrup, I mean.

5. If your tummy can take it, you could dress this breakfast up with a spot of orange juice spiked with sparkling wine in a Champagne flute to sip on, or a spicy Bloody Mary. But if not, black coffee or plain ice water might be a better idea.

— Jennie Geisler can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/@ETNgeisler.

Easy Breakfast Casserole

Total time: 50 minutes; prep time 25 minutes; cook time, 25 minutes; serves 6

2 tablespoons fat of choice (coconut oil or butter or ghee, etc.), melted

1 large sweet potato or yam, diced

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

1½ pound breakfast sausage

½ yellow onion, diced

2 cups chopped spinach

10 eggs, whisked

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Toss diced sweet potatoes in fat and sprinkle with salt.

Place sweet potatoes on baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until soft.

While sweet potatoes are cooking, place a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add breakfast sausage and yellow onion. Cook until no pink remains in meat.

Place meat mixture in baking dish, add sweet potatoes and spinach then add eggs along with salt and garlic powder and mix until well combined.

Place in oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until eggs are set in the middle.

paleomg.com/easy-breakfast-casserole/

Nutrition information per serving: 481 calories; 37 g fat (14 g saturated); 383 mg cholesterol; 1,318 mg sodium; 9.5 g carbohydrate; 1.9 g fiber; 2.6 g sugar; 27 g protein

Apple Scones

Total time: 30 minutes; prep time, 15 minutes; bake time: minutes; serves 12

2 cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup white sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup butter, chilled

1 apple, peeled, cored and shredded

½ cup milk

2 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons white sugar

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Measure flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt into a large bowl. Cut in butter or margarine until crumbly. Add shredded apple and milk. Stir to form a soft dough.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently 8 to 10 times. Pat into two 6-inch circles. Place on greased baking sheet. Brush tops with milk, and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Score each into 6 pie-shaped wedges.

Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes, or until browned and risen. Serve warm with butter or pure maple syrup.

www.allrecipes.com

Nutrition information per serving: 139 calories; 4.2 g fat (2.5 g saturated); 11 mg cholesterol; 237 mg sodium; 23 g carbohydrate; 0.9 g fiber; 6.5 g sugar; 2.7 g protein

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