Heart-Healthy, Energizing Shakshuka Recipe

By Ahna Crum, R.D.N.
April 12, 2024

Dealing with a packed to-do list can leave you feeling overwhelmed and depleted. Although you might be tempted to reach for a caffeinated beverage when fatigue strikes, the boost you get is usually short-lived. Eating nutritious foods, particularly for breakfast, is the best way to get energy to last the whole day.

Incorporating the following into your meals can help you beat fatigue and give you the fuel your body needs:

Avocado: This fruit (no, really) is rich in healthy, unsaturated fat that can aid nutrient absorption to sustain energy. Although they’re not as high in omega-3 fatty acids as animal sources, avocados contain high levels of alpha-linolenic acid—the plant form of omega-3. Research has highlighted the fatigue-improving effects of omega-3s. Avocados also pack a punch when it comes to fiber, helping you regulate your blood sugar levels and feel fuller longer.

Beans and whole grains: These two foods are full of slow-digesting complex carbohydrates that offer a sustained, stable release of energy over time without the blood sugar fluctuations that make you fatigued. They also provide a powerhouse of additional nutrients, like B vitamins, that can help you avoid a crash in energy.

Eggs: The nutrients in eggs, like B vitamins, choline, and leucine, help the body convert food into energy. The protein content also helps sustain your blood sugar and stave off hunger.

Spinach: This leafy green vegetable boasts beneficial antioxidants and phytonutrients and is also packed with iron. Iron deficiency is a driver of chronic fatigue, and incorporating spinach may help perk you up or prevent an energy decline.

An Easy, Energy-Boosting Recipe

The primarily plant-based Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains, beans, and olive oil, is a great basis for building a healthy, energy-boosting meal.

Shakshuka is a Mediterranean dish that allows you to throw everything together as a one-pot meal, batch-cook with minimal prep, and save time and energy. Shakshuka is high in protein and complex carbohydrates and loaded with nutrients. The staples of the dish are poached eggs, tomato, bell pepper, and warm spices.

The best feature of this recipe is its versatility. Shakshuka can be prepared to match your taste and your schedule, as the ingredients (aside from the tomato) are easily substituted, and it only takes about 30 minutes to make. It can be served straight from the skillet for a meal, incorporated into a breakfast to help start your day with energy, or stuffed into a pita for a healthy and filling lunch.

This recipe is: vegetarian, heart healthy, low sugar, anti-inflammatory

Start to finish: 35 minutes

Serves 4

shakshuka recipe ingredients


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced and seeds removed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon minced garlic)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (low sodium or no salt added)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)
  • Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander (optional)
  • 15 1/2-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 1 avocado, cut into slices for topping (optional)

In a 12-inch skillet with a lid, over medium, heat the oil. Add the onion, red bell pepper, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook for 6 to 7 minutes, until the onion is translucent.

Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, paprika, cumin, chili powder, maple syrup (optional), cayenne pepper (optional), cardamom (optional), and coriander (optional). Stir to combine and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat.

pan of chickpeas, tomato, tomato paste, and other ingredients combined

Add chickpeas and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until sauce is thickened.

pan of chickpeas with fresh spinach sprinkled on top

Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted.

cracked eggs added to pan of mixed ingredients

Make 4 wells in the sauce using the back of a spoon. Add an egg to each well and cover the pan. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes. The timing will depend on how runny you like your egg yolks.

Modify or add seasonings to taste. Adding more cayenne or chili powder will increase the spiciness, and adding more maple syrup will increase the sweetness.

Garnish with your choice of toppings, like cilantro, avocado, microgreens, and/or hummus.

For breakfast, serve as is or alongside whole-grain toast, avocado, and/or Greek yogurt. Each serving is about a quarter of the pan including one egg.

finished shakshuka in a pan with a plate of stuffed pita sandwich next to it

For a healthy lunch, stuff in a pita and top with hummus and microgreens.


  • Don’t skimp on the simmering time for the tomato sauce. It should be thick to support the eggs.
  • Use however many eggs are appropriate for your skillet, leaving a little space between each egg.
  • The duration of cooking for the eggs depends on how you like them: 5 minutes will usually leave the yolks runny, whereas 8 minutes will result in firmer yolks.
  • Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
  • You can pack in more spinach or add kale, romaine, or chopped zucchini into the mix.
  • If you want to omit eggs, use mushrooms to up the protein content.

Nutrition per breakfast serving suggestion with 1 slice of whole-grain toast and 1/2 cup nonfat, plain Greek yogurt: 525 calories; 21g fat (4g saturated fat); 193 mg cholesterol; 373 mg sodium; 56 g carbohydrate; 14 g fiber; 17 g sugar; 31 g protein.

Nutrition per lunch serving suggestion with half a 6-inch pita, 1 tablespoon hummus, and 1/4 cup microgreens: 474 calories; 23 g fat (4 g saturated fat); 186 mg cholesterol; 400 mg sodium; 52 g carbohydrate; 15 g fiber; 13 g sugar; 20 g protein.

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