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Breakfast: Shake it up a little

By Deirdre Parker Smith


Maybe you or your kids want exactly the same thing for breakfast every day.

You do instant oatmeal, a bowl of cold cereal, a piece of toast. Maybe you have cold pizza, or a soft drink and a granola bar.

You can do better.  Your brain and your body need fuel to get started, and for many of us, lunch may not be built into the schedule. We’ve got to start treating our bodies right early on, or we get into bad habits, eating too much processed food, too much sugar, fat or salt.

Remember the avocado toast craze, or did it pass you by? Then there was a fried egg on top of everything. We embraced oatmeal, but the instant oatmeal has lost much of its nutritional benefits by the time it hits the bowl.

Have you tried the breakfast crackers or cookies in the grocery store? Did you read the label? There’s protein, and fiber, and as much sugar and salt as a full-blown chocolate chip cookie. Doesn’t matter how it’s packaged, sugar is sugar.

Most of these recipes avoid sugar, and the one that does use sugar is also packed with the nutrients and fiber of sweet potato. You can make that your sometimes thing.

The others make use of things like old-fashioned oats, and the new fashioned supergrain, quinoa. Cooking old-fashioned oats takes about 5 minutes, and you’ll get the benefits of fiber to make you feel full longer.

Try these out — most were tested by kids and given a thumbs up. Surprise the family one weekday with something different.

Chocolate Banana Oatmeal

1 cup water

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1/2 small banana, sliced

1 Tbsp. chocolate-hazelnut spread

Bring water and a pinch of regular salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in oats, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand 2-3 minutes. Top with banana and chocolate spread.

To make overnight oats, combine 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats with 1/2 cup water and a pinch of salt in a jar or bowl or jar. Cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, add toppings. Eat cold or heat p. Makes about 1 cup.

Here’s a super easy granola recipe that you can make ahead and serve several times.

Maple Granola

2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

1 Tbsp. canola oil

1/4 tsp. vanilla

1 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup chopped pecans

1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp. kosher salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine maple syrup, oil and vanilla in a medium bowl. Stir in oats, pecans, cinnamon and salt until evenly combined. Spread on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake the granola, stirring halfway through, until golden, 10-15 minutes. Let cool completely before storing for up to 2 weeks.

Serve with milk or yogurt and top with fruit such as banana, blueberry, strawberries or apples.

This recipe is for your more sophisticated eater, or for you. It’s full of fiber and protein to make you feel full longer.

Quinoa & Chia Oatmeal Mix

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup rolled whet and/or barley flakes

1 cup quinoa

1 cup dried fruit, such as raisins, cranberries or chopped apricots

1/2 chia seeds

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

3/4 tsp. salt

To make the hot cereal dry mix, combine oats, wheat and/or barley flakes, quinoa, dried fruit, seeds, cinnamon and salt in an airtight container.

To make 1 serving of hot cereal, combine 1/3 cup of the cereal mixture with 1 1/4 cups water or low fat milk in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, partially cover and cook until thickened  12-15 minutes. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir in a sweetener of your choice and top with nuts or more dried fruit.

Eating Well

Shredded Sweet Potato Muffins

1 1/4 cup walnuts or almonds (or 1 cup pre-ground nuts )

1 large sweet potato, peeled, cut into large chunks

2 eggs

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tsp. vanilla

1 cup sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare muffin pan with paper liners

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse nuts until they’re finely ground

Add sweet potato chunks and keep grinding until everything is blended together. Add the eggs and pulse a few times, then add olive oil and vanilla and pulse again to mix.

Throw in the dry ingredients and mix just until blended, scraping down the sides, if needed.

Full muffin cups 3/4 full and bake 20-22 minutes for regular muffins or 10-12 minutes for mini muffins.

You can add raisins, dried cranberries or dried cherries with the flour if desired. Makes 12 muffins.


If you’re eating a smoothie for breakfast, the kids can, too, and you can sneak in greens in ways they’ll never notice, like this recipe.

Deceptively Purple Green Smoothie

1 banana

1 big handful of spinach

1 1/3 cups frozen blueberries

1 medjool date (for sweetness)

1 1/3 cups (300 ml) almond or other milk

If using a regular blender, put the milk, date and spinach on the bottom and add the blueberries and banana on top so it will blend better. Whir it up and serve.

If you don’t want to bother with the date, try using a heaping tablespoon of peanut butter.

Happy Veggie Kitchen

And this smoothie has protein thanks to quinoa that you can cook the day before. With one of the more powerful blenders, you just give it an extra bit of time to make it super smooth.

Quinoa Smoothie

1 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1 banana (fresh or frozen)

8 oz. mixed fresh berries

1/2 cup cooked quinoa

1/2-1 tsp. honey

Cook quinoa according to package directions the day before you plan to make the smoothie. Allow to cool and store in the refrigerator.

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. You can adjust the amount of honey to your taste.

My Fussy Eater



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