Food pros learn how to make breakfast meat-free and tasty

Emory University Hospital Executive Chef Mike Bacha is working quickly, knowing he will soon have a crowd lining up for breakfast.

"We're feeding about 100 people today," Bacha says.

Grocery store bins of oranges and apples

Breakfast in the South usually means eggs, sausage, bacon and grits. But the Humane Society of the United States is teaching food professionals how to reinvent breakfast and prepare a meat-free meal. (FOX 5 Atlanta)

Yet, instead of the typical Southern breakfast of bacon, sausage, eggs and toast, Bacha is whipping up a plant-based breakfast burrito, using something that looks like eggs, but isn't.

"The main ingredient in this egg substitute is mung beans," Bacha says.

He places the egg substitute on a tortilla and adds a mixture of black beans and sprouted red rice for protein.

Then, Bacha sprinkles some vegan cheese on top of that and adds Pico de Gallo.

He tops the burrito off with a cashew-based sauce designed to add a shot of flavor.

"(It's made with) cashews that we soak overnight in water," Bacha says.  "We mix with a little oil, lemon juice and chipotles."

One breakfast burrito packs 8 grams of protein, he says.

Bacha says customers at his Atlanta hospital are increasingly asking for vegetarian and vegan-friendly options.

But, Bacha says, they also want foods and flavors they can recognize.

"If I just cook these plant-based eggs for people, they're going to be, like, 'I don't want to try that," Bacha says. "But, when you say the word 'burrito,' they're, like, 'Okay, maybe I'll try that!'"

Grocery store bins of lemons, avocados and grapefruit

Breakfast in the South usually means eggs, sausage, bacon and grits. But the Humane Society of the United States is teaching food professionals how to reinvent breakfast and prepare a meat-free meal. (FOX 5 Atlanta)

And trying new foods is what the Humane Society of the United States' Forward Food leadership symposium is all about. 

Registered dietitian Lauren Pitts and her team have invited food service professionals from the Atlanta area to come taste and learn about plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy products.

Pitts, who works with the HSUS, helps host these free seminars around the country, hoping to encourage food pros to incorporate meat-free options into their menus.

"We always have a few naysayers, of course," Pitts says.  "But, at the end of the training, after they've tasted the food, they're completely hooked, they're convinced.  They're always raving about how the food tastes."

Pitts says these meat-free cooking classes are about more than taste.

She believes plant-based eating is better for us that a diet heavy in meat and dairy.

"If you think about the chronic diseases now plaguing our country, about 90% of type 2 diabetes, 80% of heart disease, and 40 to 70% of cancers are considered entirely preventable with a healthier lifestyle," Pitts says. "So, changing your diet is key to living a longer, healthier life."

Rebecca Portman, a Food and Nutrition Specialist for Forward Food, which sponsored the event, recommends starting small, and gradually incorporating more plant-based foods.

"Really, it just starts with maybe one meal, it maybe starts with one day," Portman says.  "It doesn't have to be all or nothing."

If you're not sure where to start, Food Forward has created a list of more than 100 plant-based recipes. Below are just a few of the breakfast specialties:

Burrito –

  • 1 cup *egg substitute – scrambled soft
  • ¼ cup vegan cheese
  • ¼ cup Pico de gallo or your favorite salsa
  • 2 TBL cashew cream
  • ½ cup red rice or other rice such as brown
  • 6 Warm flour tortillas for wrapping
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1.  Scramble eggs separately and mix with cooked rice
  2. Assemble burritos using egg/rice mixture, cheese, pico, and cashew cream.  Serve immediately or wrap in foil and hold in a warm oven (170 degrees) until ready.


Cashew cream –

  • 3 ounces of cashew nuts covered with water and soaked over night
  • 3 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ c water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 TBL chipotle in adobo


  1.         Drain cashews and discard water
  2.        Add cashews to blender along with all ingredients
  3.        Blend until smooth


Chocolate Avocado Mousse:

  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 70 grams cup melted chocolate (dark no dairy)
  • 40 grams cocoa
  • 118 grams almond milk
  • 4 TBL maple syrup
  • 4 TSP vanilla bean or extract
  • Pinch salt
  • Mix all ingredients in food processer
  • Portion into containers for serving and chill until set
  • Makes 28 (2 ounce) servings


Mango chia seed pudding:

  • 500 grams mango puree or any other puree of your choice
  • 160 grams chia seeds
  • 960 grams coconut milk
  • 8 TBL maple syrup
  • Mix and Portion into containers for serving and chill until set


Almond Date Bars:

Crust -

  • 30 dates
  • 300 grams of almond flour
  • 6 TBL cocoa
  • 125 grams of almond butter
  • Mix in food processor until a ball forms to shape a crust


Filling –

  • 500 grams of almond butter
  • 2 can coconut milk
  • 120 grams powdered sugar
  • 80 grams of melted coconut oil
  • Salt TT
  • Blend until smooth and evenly mixed


Ganache –

  • 50 grams of melted chocolate
  • 50 grams of coconut milk
  • Melt chocolate and mix in coconut milk


To assemble -

Layer a deep serving dish or sheet pan (cookie sheet) with the crust.  Rolling out until even and about ½ think

Pour filling on top of crust and refrigerate until set

Pour ganache on top of set filling and refrigerate until set

Cut and serve