Wednesday, January 27, 2010

If All Else Fails...Breakfast Never Does

     I could tell you that when all else fails at our house, sometimes we do give in and head to Carl's Jr. for that oh so good double cheese super star beefy and meaty burger with criss cut fries and topped off with a "it always goes down smooth" chocolate hand scooped shake. But I won't. Not that it doesn't happen (or didn't last night after a semi rough day) but I want to  focus on the beauty of an entire food group; Breakfast. 
     I may have mentioned once or twice that cereal works when you are out of time, ideas, or concern. But let's talk for a minute about the pure joy that comes from hearing shrieks of delight over buttermilk pancakes on the weekend, or cold cereal for lunch after days of experimental dinners and only the occasional kid delight of popsicles or ice cream. Maybe I spoil them, but I have to hear that sound every so often to reinforce that I am not doing so bad, even if it is just for MY vain pleasure, something so easy could hardly be harmful to their little well being's. In fact, I would like to extend some suggestions to make an anytime breakfast as healthy as any fresh chopped cobb salad. 
     ALWAYS pair fruit with your grain (unless your on some kind of food combing diet, then eat the fruit by itself). The easiest way to get fruit into my kids is to have it with breakfast foods, they just expect it now and are quite willing to eat slices of fresh or canned goodness at any waffle or french toast gig. If you can't afford the nice stuff all the time, switch back and forth. This is where the canned fruit comes in handy (those 29oz cans of peaches for $1.25 go much farther in smoothies and yogurt than $1.25 per lb. of peaches at the store!) I try to keep pure maple syrup around, but when I can't always afford it we buy some "no high fructose corn syrup" store brand and use it til we can. Or try making your own, my mother has a quick recipe of 1-1-1 that works every time (1 c. granulated sugar, 1 c. brown sugar, 1 c. water, bring to a boil and add a few drops maple syrup flavoring and whala!) 
     Between pancakes, waffles, hot cereal (you know, oatmeal, creamy wheat, that stuff you probably vaguely remember since you were a kid...or since you fed it to your baby) eggs done at least 10 different ways and cold cereal, you have a quick and easy option for ANY time of day, or meal. Our kids practically expect breakfast for dinner once a week, and we love to get them into it by peeling potatoes for hashbrownns or fried potatoes (non of which have to be fried by the way, a tablespoon of olive oil with a little butter can go very far in terms of flavor and cooking). I often keep a gluten free pancake mix around just to break things up a bit and to try eating different grains (also something they are used to as we had them on a gluten free diet for a whole year, that's another story though!) Some of our favorite pancakes have been made with pumpkin, super easy to slip into almost any recipe, just try about 1/2-3/4 c. in your favorite pancake batter with a pinch of cinnamon. It has even worked with bisquick. Here is another great one from the Vegetarian Times, a magazine I would recommend for anyone interested in learning more about veggies. You don't have to be eating like a vegetarian to get many of the benefits, they have some great articles and food preparation suggestions. This one is super yum;

Pumpkin Pancakes with Honey-Raspberry Syrup

Vegetarian Times Issue: November 1, 2008   p.83

ingredient list

Serves 6
Honey-raspberry syrup
1 lb. frozen raspberries, divided (4 cups)
½ cup honey

Pumpkin Pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. salt
3 large eggs
¹⁄3 cup honey
1½ cups low-fat milk
1 cup pumpkin purée or canned pumpkin
½ tsp. vanilla extract


1. To make Honey-Raspberry Syrup: Place 3 cups frozen raspberries and 1/2 cup water in saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer 5 minutes, or until berries are soft. Mash in pan until smooth. Strain berry mixture through sieve into separate saucepan. (You should have 1 to 1 1/4 cups.) Stir in honey, and return mixture to a boil. Remove from heat, add remaining 1 cup frozen raspberries, and cover to steam and thaw whole raspberries. Set aside.
2. To make Pumpkin Pancakes: Whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt in bowl.
3. Beat eggs and honey in separate bowl. Whisk in milk, pumpkin purée, and vanilla extract. Stir egg mixture into flour mixture with spatula or wooden spoon.
4. Coat nonstick skillet or griddle with cooking spray, and heat over medium-high heat. Ladle 2/3 cup batter onto skillet for each pancake. Cook 3 minutes, or until bubbles begin to form in center of pancakes. Flip, and cook 2 to 3 minutes more, or until pancakes are browned on both sides. Serve warm with Honey-Raspberry Syrup.

     A quick word about grain; add variety. If you like the hot cereal and toast option, there are several gluten free or multi-grain ones by companies like Bob's Red Mill that are fabulous. Just add a little of whatever milk you have around, fresh or frozen (well partially defrosted in that case!) berries, a mild sweetner like agave, honey or maple syrup and eat with a little toast, a fresh smoothie or fruit salad. My kids go bananas for this stuff, as it is considered a "dippy" food around here with the toast and all. Cold cereal is the same, go for minimum sugar and maximum grain variety, even Corn or Rice Chex can go a long way. Add the same kind of side favorites as with your hot cereal.
     Lastly, eggs pretty much rock my socks. They are always easy to do, you can go for the cage-free if you have a little exra money, pair with some homemade banana muffins or prepare them as a frittata or omelet. One great little purchase over Christmas was a cast iron skillet. After sauteing some potatoes, green onion, spinach, and cherry tomatoes, we threw in some scrambled egg, let the stove cook it for a few minutes and the oven finish it for another yummy and easy dinner. Just add multi-grain toast and fresh squeezed orange juice, and your on your way! V8 or homemade vegetable juice is another great side option with egg dinners, and yup my kids drink that up too!

Elizabeth's Frittata

1 large potato washed and diced
1 small bunch cherry tomatoes halved or small tomato diced
1-2 stalks green onion diced
1 large handful spinach roughly chopped (more if desired!)
Any other vegg you might like (chopped mushrooms etc)
6-8 eggs beaten with a Tbsp or so of water
1-2 oz. shredded cheddar cheese (stir into egg mixture)
Optional;  Add any meat you might like (or you can skip for a meatless dish, saving money too!)
Fresh basil, fresh cracked pepper, sea salt

Preheat your oven to 400^. Use a pan that is oven safe. Prepare your meat (we've used a little bacon or sausage links chopped up here before) saute the potatoes in a little olive oil and butter for about 4-6 minutes til golden. Add tomato, onion, spinach and possible other ingredients and saute for another 2 minutes or so til spinach is wilted. Add the beaten egg mixture and move around in the pan a little to begin cooking process and incorporate ingredients. You can also skip this part if you want food to stay at the bottom of the frittata. Then carefully move to a 400^ oven and cook for about 15 min (check often, til eggs are set in the middle) Remove with an oven mitt as pan will be hot and let set for another few minutes, adding torn fresh basil, fresh cracked pepper, and a pinch of sea salt to the top. You can even a side salad and really double the value of your "meat" free meal!


  1. That Frittata sounds ahh-mazing. Husby loves breakfast at breakfast time. I love breakfast for dinner! maybe we will give it a shot!

  2. I'm with you! Breakfast is fun any time, and it was always a favorite with my children! Love the recepies and ideas!


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