Jack links
Bowls provide chefs and diners a blank canvas to get creative by mixing and matching ingredients to produce a culinary masterpiece. This personalization of meals has mostly focused on lunch and dinner, but in the past year, more quick-service restaurants have started offering breakfast bowls. And why not? Bowls have long been used for the morning daypart. Think cereal and milk. They are now being used to create hearty, savory, protein-centric meals. 

Prepared food manufacturers are jumping on this opportunity and getting creative with fully cooked breakfast bowls that go from refrigerator or freezer to microwave and are ready in minutes. Most of these bowls contain cheese, eggs and some sort of meat or poultry product, most notably bacon. This provides for a high-protein product to satiate and satisfy until lunchtime. 

Choosing cheese and meat ingredients is pretty straight forward. The challenge comes with eggs. Unlike fresh breakfast bowls, where culinary professionals can add a sliced hardboiled egg, or something direct from the stove, formulators must work with egg products. 

Egg products are minimally processed, convenient forms of eggs for foodservice and food manufacturers. These products can be classified as refrigerated liquid, frozen, dried and pre-cooked products. They present a more useful format than whole shell eggs, especially in the manufacturing environment. Egg products can be white only, yolk only or whole egg. They are available with many varied certifications, including organic and cage free. 

Product developers often find that value-added cooked egg products make the most sense, as they ensure consistency and reduce food safety hurdles by not bringing raw liquid (refrigerated or frozen) eggs into the manufacturing environment. These meal components are available both refrigerated and frozen and in forms such as scrambled whole, scrambled whites, patties, filled omelets and even mini quiches. 

To reduce costs, breakfast bowl manufacturers may select from various dried egg products, which require hydration and often cooking prior to addition to the prepared bowl meal. Many egg products may be customized to include other ingredients, such as herbs, spices, cheeses and diced vegetables. Sometimes they will contain other ingredients to maintain product quality and assist with freeze-thaw stability.

Depending on bowl format and other components, product developers may prefer to use raw liquid egg to have the eggs work for the application, as eggs possess more than 20 functionalities. This includes ingredient binding, building structure by creating a foam, thickening through coagulation, emulsification, and, of course, boosting protein content. 

Indianapolis-based HercuLean Meal Prep has a number of frozen breakfast offerings, including shredded round steak with seasoned diced potatoes topped with scrambled egg whites, and a turkey scramble made with our lean turkey meatballs, sweet potato hash browns and scrambled egg whites prepared onsite. 

Pinnacle Foods Group LLC, Parsippany, New Jersey, is growing the Evol brand with frozen breakfast bowls that all include cage-free eggs. Varieties include Breakfast Sausage & Uncured Bacon with potatoes, red bell peppers and a cheddar/parmesan cheese sauce (17 grams protein), Smoked Uncured Ham Benedict with broccoli, spinach and lemony hollandaise sauce (11 grams protein), and Spicy Chipotle Chorizo with roasted potatoes, black beans, red and green bell peppers, and a spicy chipotle cheese sauce (14 grams protein). 

The Jack Links brand from Golden West Food Group, Vernon, California, is rolling out perishable Jack Link A.M. breakfast cups that can be merchandised in the refrigerator or freezer. The package is designed to fit in a car cup holder. The two heat-and-eat meals come in Bacon, Egg & Cheese and Sausage, Egg & Cheese varieties, both with hash brown potatoes. The cups contain 23 and 25 grams of protein, respectively. 

New from the Kraft Heinz Co., Pittsburgh, is Just Crack an Egg, a line of breakfast products featuring diced vegetables, Oscar Mayer meat, Kraft shredded cheese and Ore-Ida potatoes. The perishable products are packaged in single-serve cups that may be prepared in less than two minutes. With this product, consumers are instructed to stir in their own egg and microwave to create a portable morning meal containing 15 grams of protein.

Varieties are: All American (uncured bacon, sharp cheddar cheese and diced potatoes), Denver (ham, mild cheddar cheese, onions, green peppers and diced potatoes), Rustic (turkey sausage, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, onions, red peppers and diced potatoes) and Ultimate (pork sausage, mild cheddar cheese, onions, green and red peppers and diced potatoes).