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Lighten Up

Breaking with unhealthful breakfasts

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STARTING OFF RIGHT A filling breakfast need not be full of bacon fat and butter.
  • STARTING OFF RIGHT A filling breakfast need not be full of bacon fat and butter.

No groundbreaking scientific study or trendy rumor has yet managed to undermine the status of breakfast, "the most important meal of day," as far as we're concerned.

And yet the face of the all-American breakfast is rapidly changing, as heavy, greasy pancake stacks and bacon manifestations make room for greener, lighter and more healthful meals. Versatile and ever trend-sensitive, the breakfast was the first meal to introduce smoothies, oatmeal and omnipresent kale, and it just keeps getting better for you—and better tasting.

The North Bay has certainly given way to earthy, natural, energetic morning starters in recent years, and although the cholesterol-laden breakfast still lurks, more healthful options are gradually taking over.

Slice of Life An endless menu lists lots of gluten-free options, and the breakfast section is elaborate and inviting. A vegetarian morning icon, the tofu scramble ($7.50), is especially good here, Simple and satisfying, it's full of flavor, courtesy of spices, sautéed onions and mushrooms—and it's customizable, too, with additional vegetables. 6970 McKinley St., Sebastopol. 707.829.6627.

The Spinster Sisters This local staple is charming after dark, but the breakfast macro bowl ($14) justifies a morning visit. When quinoa, red cabbage, kale, pickled carrots, mushroom broth and other goodies mingle with a decadent poached egg, nurturing comfort is born. Pricey, but utterly delectable. 401 South A St., Santa Rosa. 707.528.7100

Backyard The farm-to-table spot is well-known for its dinner and lunch, but the weekend brunch features some superstars too. The shiniest of them is the Alive and Healing Tempeh Scramble ($12), which, in fact, isn't a scramble at all; it's a feast of mushrooms, leeks, onions, potatoes and pungent kimchi, served with crispy toast. Alive and healing, indeed. 6566 Front St., Forestville. 707.820.8445.

Native Kitchen & Kombucha Bar The organic, biodynamic and seasonal menu is served all day, but the sweet corn cakes ($13) are perfect for breakfast. Served with quinoa, marinated kale and house made salsa, they provide an energetic starter, and prove that breakfast can survive without an egg. 110 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma. 707.559.3750.

Juju's In the Middle East, starting your day with hummus totally makes sense, as the rich, delicious paste is packed with iron, vitamin C and other energy- and wellness-promoting features. This small, welcoming place has some of the best hummus in the county—a bowl of it is perfect for a late, lazy breakfast ($7 with a pita bread). 3375 Old California Way, Napa. 707.226.6537.

Andaz Farmers Table Though it's part of the Hyatt group, the Andaz manages to feel local. The generally organic breakfast menu doesn't hurt, either. The Skyhill Farm goat-milk yogurt ($9), served with grapes and granola, hits the sweet-yet-lightweight spot perfectly. More healthful than a Belgian waffle, more luxurious than veggies. 1450 First St., Napa. 707.687.1234.

Comforts The sunny restaurant serves plenty of decadent breakfast temptations, but veggie lovers and calorie counters should consider the kale bowl ($12.50). Brimming with roasted squash, barley and quinoa, topped with two eggs and decorated with pumpkin seeds and currants, it easily outshines the heavier items on the menu. 335 San Anselmo Ave., San Anselmo. 415.454.9840.

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