Note: I originally wrote this post in 2016 but it’s been updated for 2019.
Are you psyched for Stampede breakfasts? As a born and raised Calgarian who moved to the US for university and didn’t return for 16 years, I unapologetically love Stampede breakfasts, not so much for the pancakes and sausages, but rather for our famous Western hospitality. Where else in the world do communities and businesses all over town welcome their neighbours with breakfast parties for 11 days straight?
If you drop by just one or two breakfasts during Stampede, a little syrup, bacon, or sausages won’t hurt. But if tend to hit one every day or two (hello fellow Stampede breakfast fanatics!) or you just prefer more nutritious fare, we’ve got you covered.
Here are eight breakfasts that go above and beyond, offering perks like whole fruit (vs juice), eggs or other protein-rich foods (vs processed meat), or whole-grain pancakes.
1. Ismaili Muslim Community 23rd Annual Stampede Breakfast
Saturday, July 6, 7:45-11am. Free.
The Ismaili Muslim Jamatkhana and Centre
1128 45th Avenue NE.
This is one of my favourite events. There are friendly volunteers galore and they move the huge crowds through with speedy efficiency. Mayor Nenshi can usually be counted on for a few inspiring words about building bridges in our community by making breakfast for each other. (Amen!)
In addition to pancakes, there are spiced eggs and bharazi, a coastal East African dish made with pigeon peas in a mild coconut curry. Pigeon peas are little nutrition powerhouses: fiber, protein, potassium and more.
A great (vegetarian) food adventure, and reportedly one of the most popular breakfasts in town, typically welcoming about 6000 people! The community also opens their Jamatkhana (place of worship) for free tours and there are activities for the kids. This year they’re raising funds for Inn from the Cold.
2. Get Stacked Vegan Pancake Breakfast
Saturday, July 6, 9-12pm. Free.
Bridgeland Riverside Community Association.
(Bring your own reusable cup and plate!)
A vegan Stampede breakfast! In Calgary? Yes! It’s actually very popular. (The wait last year was over an hour in line at the peak.)
Is vegan necessarily heart-healthier? That depends on what replaces the bacon, sausage, and other animal foods. If it’s mostly whole, minimally processed plant foods, like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, or legumes, I’d say yes, and they’ve got ’em.
The menu has yet to be announced, but highlights last year included:
- Tofu scramble, which can be much tastier than you might think, depending on the seasonings used. Give it a try! You might be pleasantly surprised.
- High-fibre pancakes! The first ingredient was sprouted spelt flour. Nice! Sprouted grains are whole grains, and they raise blood sugar relatively slowly (i.e. low glycemic index). The second ingredient was refined/white flour, but the ingredients listed after that give you a nice little fibre boost: Oat bran, oats, ground flax, and chia.
- Fresh fruit. Whole fruit beats juice, but it was just bananas. Tough to do more for such a crowd.
In addition to the breakfast, there’s music, a great playground for the kids and interesting products and causes on exhibit.
3. Green Party Stampede Breakfast
Saturday, July 6, 10am – 1pm. Free.
4411 Manitoba Rd. SE
A third vegetarian event on the same day! (It was the only day Green Party leader Elizabeth May was available.)
Brunch will be vegan bannock and stew, catered by Yvonne Citas who works out of the reportedly delightful new(ish) Dandelion Cafe in Ramsay. In addition, Green Party organizers will be bringing fruits, vegetables and light snacks.
Green Party of Alberta Leader, Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes, will also speak and there will be live music.
4. Cava Bien Hair Studio & Day Spa Stampede Breakfast
Sunday, July 7, 8-11am.
Minimum $3 donation, with funds going to support Pregnancy & Infant Loss Programs.
2049 42 Ave SW
I include this one every year because their breakfast is rounded out with a beautiful fruit salad and eggs, done how you like them. Yes, they cook eggs to order! And they raise funds for charity. This will be their 20th annual event!
If you get there early the line isn’t bad, but later in the morning it can get pretty long. Meanwhile, enjoy the live band and later a chair massage while the kids play games or get a mini-manicure.
5. Minas Brazilian Steakhouse Stampede Breakfast
Wednesday, July 10, 9-11am.
$2 or a non-perishable food item, with all proceeds to the Calgary Food Bank.
136 2nd Street SW
It may seem odd to include a steakhouse on this list, but I appreciate that you can get protein from three foods that aren’t processed meat: Roast pork loin, eggs, and beans (with rice). Yay for fiber-rich beans! There were also sliced oranges the year we went.
They also raise funds for charity: $1,664 plus 140lb of goods last year for the Calgary Food Bank. Plan for a long wait in line, but a fun Brazilian party at the end.
6. Unimarket Cocina’s Latin Stampede Breakfast
Wednesday, July 10, 8-10am. Free.
128 50th Avenue, SE
This is a new one for me, but the “Red Beans Colombian Style” caught my eye. In addition, they have scrambled eggs and a host of Latin treats: Red Mexican chilaquiles (tortillas covered in chili sauce with lots of cheese) and cachapa con queso (crumpets with cheese).
7. Repsol Sport Centre’s Healthy Stampede Breakfast
Thursday, July 11, 8-11am. Free.
Repsol Sport Centre (formerly Talisman Centre)
2225 Macleod Trail SE
I was part of the team of cardiac rehab dietitians that developed the menu years ago, so I might be a little biased, but here’s why I love it:
- Whole-grain pancakes, made with 100% whole-grain whole-wheat flour, a Stampede breakfast rarity.
- Blueberries! Reheated from frozen, with no sugar or anything else added.
- Omega-3 eggs, boosted with (a small amount of) DHA, the type of heart-healthy omega-3 fat found in fish. (No, they don’t taste fishy.)
- Smoothies: Commercially-made smoothies usually pack in the sugar, but at least smoothies have more fibre than juice, and the portion size on these is small. If the line is long they sometimes hand out smoothies while you wait.
- (One small) chicken apple sausage, which is lower in saturated fat and sodium than typical breakfast sausages. While frequent consumption of processed meat is associated with cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, most studies suggest that people who have it once a week or less aren’t at higher risk than those who never eat it.
The line ebbs and flows throughout the morning, but there is live music, entertainment, and the lovely Lindsay Park nearby.
8. Eritrean Stampede Breakfast
Saturday, July 13, 10:30am-1:30pm. Free.
Tuxedo Park Community Centre
202 29th Ave NE.
The YYC Eritreans organization is hosting their second annual breakfast, offering traditional Eritrean food, which is “marked by its authentic ingredients, aromatic spices, and uniquely, many vegetarian and vegan dishes.”
Along with pancakes and fresh fruit, they’ll be serving:
- Ful – a dish with fava beans, diced onions and tomatoes
- Kit’cha fit fit – spicy pieces of flatbread
- Hambasha – soft, light bread typically eaten with tea or coffee
I haven’t been to this one, but if you’re up for culinary adventure, I bet it will be fun. I can’t go that day, so if you go, I’d love to get a report and a picture!
9. Calgary Co-op
Various locations and dates. Free.
I think Calgary Co-op stores have been hosting Stampede Breakfasts since before I was born. They offer yogurt, bananas, and baked beans in addition to the basics. Some locations may offer granola and a selection of cheeses.
10. Your kitchen!
What if you want to hit your neighbourhood breakfast, but you like to start your day with fresh fruit, whole grains, and/or heart-healthier proteins? You could always eat before going. Half the fun is the entertainment and socializing anyhow, and this way you can skip the long, hot line and just enjoy the party.
Sometimes I eat early, when I’m hungry anyhow, and then just have a pancake or two when I get there. That way I’m not ravenous waiting in line.
Or you could bring some food to round out the flapjacks and bacon: Mandarin oranges travel well, as does cheese. Berries, almonds, or pumpkin seeds go nicely with pancakes. Need more snack ideas? Download my list of 15 heart-healthy on-the-go snacks.
Or host one yourself! Here’s a quick and delicious whole-grain pancake recipe we make all the time.
Not everything at these events would strictly be considered heart-healthy, but we’re not after a strict diet, are we? The sweet spot is that place where you find the balance between foods that support your health, foods you enjoy, and eating that works for you in other ways, like cost, convenience, and FUN! I hope these events and tips help you get there for Stampede.
And if you know of another breakfast that should make the list, let me know! Photos, comments, and questions always welcome on the Facebook page.