Breakfast “Crunch”? – How to Ace the Morning Madness

granola

Apparently I missed the fact that the new school year starts in about three minutes. I am already feeling behind! What happened to summer? The pool is still OPEN for Pete’s sake; and I just bought fresh bottles of sunscreen! Remember when school started after Labor Day, when it wasn’t sweltering outside and you could sort of get your head around wearing something besides flip-flops and zinc oxide?

Well, friends, time marches on and I spend my insomnia-filled middle-of-the-night anxiety sessions trying to simplify, um, everything.  I am constantly on a quest to find the easiest, quickest, healthiest ways to feed my crew of four, myself, my husband, and the gaggle of neighborhood friends that pop in and out of our door. Planning ahead seems to be the best way to accomplish this goal and still stay sane. It also helps avoid a morning filled with heavy sighing and lots of eye-rolling (from me), and the mad dash to the bus sans tied shoes and brushed teeth (also from me).

This Coconut Macaroon Granola, recently highlighted by health guru and all-around smarty pants Kris Carr, is an ideal make-ahead dish. Double this recipe and keep the goods sealed in an airtight container; it makes a great on-the-go snack that you can eat with one hand while trying to answer an email or unload a dishwasher or dress a Barbie doll.

I use this granola as part of a mini breakfast buffet. I place all non-perishable items out on the table the night before school (granola, bowls, spoons, napkins, cups, the overdue library books, an unmatched sock, etc.) and then add milk, yogurt, cinnamon, whole fruit, and berries in the morning. Kids and adults can choose from an array of mixtures and toppings, but there is nothing on the table that isn’t full of good stuff to keep the body and mind (no matter what the age) going. Plus, I’ve seen my children empty an entire box of $4 cereal which makes me want to cry almost as much as a teacher in-service day.

Coconut Macaroon Granola (thank you Abra Pappa and Kris Carr!)

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 15 minutes | Serves: 10-12

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of organic oats
  • 1/4 cup of almond butter
  • 1/3 cup of agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup of organic slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup of coconut flakes, unsweetened
  • 2 tablespoons of chia seeds

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 300° F
  • Combine almond butter and organic oats in large mixing bowl. Mix until even.
  • Add organic agave nectar, almonds, coconut flakes and chia seeds. Mix until all ingredients are combined.
  • Evenly spread mixture on a cookie sheet and bake for 15.
  • Remove from oven, toss with spatula and return to the oven for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool.
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Quick and Easy Back to School Breakfasts

Oh – Happy Day

There’s nothing like the first days of summer – no more scrambling out the door searching for backpacks, homework, shoes, and the last shreds of your sanity. But there is something so very appealing about back-to-school. More structure, less sunscreen, and that feeling of, dare I say – happiness. After spending the better part of the summer months counting heads in the pool, wiping up popsicle spills and trying to figure out how one wraps and stores a watermelon, fall brings a sense of what I like to call ahhhhhhh.

But the morning rush hour does hit full force. While it would be so easy to throw some sugary cereal at the little munchkins, it would be unfair to them AND their teachers. And God forbid bad behavior leads to suspension – then you are stuck with them again! So here are two make-ahead breakfast recipes full of protein and fiber sure to do those little bodies good:

cot-cheese-egg-muffins-on-plate

Mighty Man “Muffins” – Serves 12 (or 3 teenage boys)

These are SO easy, so good, and offer a great source of protein in the morning

Ingredients:

  • 12 eggs
  • 12 slices cheese such as cheddar or mozzarella
  • 12 slices low-fat ham or turkey
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Prep Time: 10 mins

Total Time: 30 mins

  • Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray or line with paper muffin cups
  • Line each muffin cup with ham or turkey
  • Crack one egg into each cup and pierce several times with a fork
  • Top with salt, pepper and a slice of cheese
  • (Store muffin pan in refrigerator until ready to bake or bake immediately, wrap in foil and reheat in a 200 degree oven)
  • Place on center rack and cook in a 350 degree oven for approximately 15 minutes or until eggs are set.

*You can add anything to these – tomatoes, onions, potatoes, chopped veggies from last night’s dinner. Give them a pizza flair with mozzarella and a bit of tomato sauce. These are delicious and nutritious and kids can eat them with one hand while running for the bus.

Overnight Oatmeal – serves 6

Sweet and savory and perfect for cold mornings

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 6 cups water
  • Spices to taste (cinnamon and nutmeg work well)
  • Dried fruits to taste such as raisins or cranberries

Directions:

Prep Time: 5 mins

Total Time: Overnight

  • Put the oats and the water, along with anything else you want to add to the mix, in the crock pot, turn on to low, kiss the little darlings goodnight and hit the pillow
  • Place maple syrup, brown sugar, fruit, milk and nuts on a tray in the fridge – older kids can help themselves to their choice of toppings in the morning
  • Wake up feeling like you just won the Parent of the Year Award because breakfast is ready and the house smells great. Pull out the tray of toppings and smile – you may just have enough leftovers for breakfast tomorrow!

Stephanie Blackford
Marketing Director, Epicurean Culinary Group
sblackford@epicureanCG.com