The first meal of the day is the most important. Home cooks are always looking for a variety of dishes to serve loved ones when it comes to breakfast.

There are, of course, the tried and true recipes such as bacon and eggs, pancakes, French toast and oatmeal. Breakfast, however, lends itself to much creativity. Experts say ingredients used for morning meals are perfect for experimentation.

Items such as eggs, breakfast meats, potatoes, fruit and more can be mixed and matched in various recipes. When aiming to make a healthful breakfast, there are many tips to consider.

According to Medline Plus, a publication of the National Institutes of Health and the Friends of the National Library of Medicine, among tips to consider when creating a healthy morning meal are:

• Balance calories

• Enjoy food but eat less

• Avoid oversized portions

• Make half your grains whole grains

• Compare sodium in foods

If you're looking for some new recipes to serve for breakfast, try the following dishes.

Ham and Ranch Potato Fritatta

1/2 pound ham, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 cups frozen hashbrown potatoes with peppers and onion, thawed

4 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup ranch dressing

1/4 cup milk

Salsa

DIRECTIONS: Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat the oil in a 10-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium high heat. Add the hash browns and cook 4-6 minutes or until the potatoes begin to brown. Add ham cubes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Whisk the eggs, dressing and milk in a medium bowl. Pour over potatoes. Cook 4-5 minutes or until the eggs begin to set, lifting the edges and allowing the uncooked egg to flow underneath.

Baked 15-20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut into wedges to serve.

Serve with salsa.

Serves 4

Tip: Sprinkle with 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese when the frittata is removed from the oven.

From The Pork Board and porkbeinspired.com

Ham and Egg Breakfast Burrito

12 ounces ham, 97 percent fat-free, chopped

1/3 cup red bell pepper, chopped

1/3 cup green bell pepper, chopped

1/4 cup onion, chopped

3 egg whites

2 eggs, whole

2 tablespoons milk, nonfat

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

4 8-inch flour tortillas, heated

1/3 cup salsa

fresh cilantro, OR chives, chopped (optional)

Nonstick cooking spray

DIRECTIONS: Cook red and green bell peppers and onion over medium heat in large nonstick skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray for 3-5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

Beat together egg whites, eggs, milk, salt and black pepper in medium bowl until combined.

Pour egg mixture over vegetables in skillet. Cook over medium heat, without stirring, until egg mixture begins to set on bottom and around edge. Lift and fold the partially cooked egg mixture with spatula so uncooked portion flows underneath. Continue cooking and folding mixture until eggs are cooked through, but still glossy and moist. Fold in ham; continue cooking until heated through, gently folding mixture occasionally.

Remove skillet from heat. To assemble, spoon mixture near the center on each tortilla. Fold bottom up over filling. Fold in side and roll to enclose mixture.

To serve, top with salsa. Garnish with cilantro or chives, if desired.

Makes 4 servings

From The Pork Board and porkbeinspired.com

Breakfast Grilled Cheese

1/2 pound crumbled hot breakfast sausage

6 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons water

1/2 teaspoon Jane’s Krazy Mixed-up Salt, optional

4 tablespoons butter, softened, divided

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Wisconsin colby cheese

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Wisconsin monterey jack cheese

1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled Wisconsin cotija cheese

8 slices sourdough bread

Fresh baby spinach

DIRECTIONS: Cook sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Drain sausage on paper towel; wipe out skillet.

Whisk eggs, water and salt if desired in bowl. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in same skillet over medium-high heat, swirling to coat bottom of pan. Add egg mixture; cook and stir until eggs are almost set. Add in sausage. Cook and stir until eggs are set. Remove from skillet; keep warm. Wipe out skillet.

Combine cheeses in a bowl. Layer a fourth of egg mixture on four slices of bread. Sprinkle each with cheese mixture. Top with spinach leaves and remaining bread. Spread the outsides of sandwiches with remaining butter.

Toast one sandwich, covered, in a warm skillet over medium heat for 4 minutes. Flip sandwich; cook, uncovered, 4-5 minutes longer or until bread is lightly golden brown and cheese is melted. Repeat with remaining sandwiches. Serve immediately.

From Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board

Hash Brown Casserole

3 cups frozen shredded hash browns, thawed

4 tablespoons butter, melted

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 cup diced cooked ham

1 cup (4 ounces) Wisconsin cheddar cheese, shredded

1 cup (4 ounces) Wisconsin swiss cheese, shredded

1/4 cup diced green pepper

DIRECTIONS: Heat oven to 425°F.

Coat 9-inch pie plate or oven safe skillet with nonstick spray. In large bowl, combine hash browns, butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Toss until evenly coated. Press into bottom and up sides of prepared pie plate. Bake 25 minutes; remove from oven. Reduce heat to 350°F.

In small bowl, whisk eggs and milk. In separate bowl, combine ham, cheeses and peppers. Pour egg and milk mixture over partially baked hash brown crust. Top with ham, cheeses and peppers. Return to oven and bake until golden brown and set in the middle, 25-30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

From Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board

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