Category Archives: breakfast


Pumpkin Oat Breakfast Bars

My friend Erin recently shared this delicious recipe for a great on-the-go-snack bar. With pumpkins in season, it’s easy enough to make your own puree. If you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own, the canned stuff works just fine. A couple of words of caution, however, when choosing canned pumpkin:

  • It’s best to use a brand that has a BPA free lining
  • Organic pumpkin is preferred
  • I highly recommend that you read the label and make sure that you are getting only 100% pumpkin. You don’t need all those other ingredients.

These breakfast bars are fabulous for a quick breakfast, perfectly portable if you need to have breakfast on-the-go. And so tasty that they also make a great snack. If you’d like, add a serving of protein powder to make your bars even more nutritious. If you do add the protein powder you may find that you need just a Tablespoon or two of water so the mix isn’t too dry.

Pumpkin Oat Breakfast Bars

3/4 cup pumpkin purée
2 eggs
1/4 cup organic butter or ghee at room temperature
1 large or 2 small ripe bananas
1/4 cup honey
2 cups rolled oats (not the quick cook variety)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped (you can also use walnuts or sunflower seeds)
2 Tbsp shredded coconut, unsweetened
1/4 cup oat bran (optional)
1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
pinch of Celtic sea salt
1 Tbsp grated orange rind
1/4 cup dried currants
1/4 cup dried blueberries

Measure out the 2 cups of oats and pour just enough warm water over them to cover them
Soak for about 5 minutes while you’re mixing up the wet ingredients
In a mixing bowl, stir together the pumpkin, eggs, butter or ghee, honey, and banana
You may want to mash the banana before adding to the bowl if it’s not really soft
Before adding the oats, drain them well

Add the oats, nuts, coconut, oat bran, cinnamon, salt, orange rind, currants, and blueberries, and stir until ingredients are well combined (this step is where you would also add the protein powder, if using)
Spread mixture into a lightly greased (butter, ghee or coconut oil) pan so the batter is no more than an inch or two deep. An 8” x 10” baking dish works well
Bake in a 350 degree F. oven for 40-50 minutes, or until golden brown
For very crisp bars, remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack
Cut the bars when cool
 
raspberry smoothie for breakfast

Five Fabulous Breakfast Ideas

A healthy breakfast is a great way to start your day; not only is breakfast the first meal your body has had in more than eight hours, but studies find that what you eat for breakfast influences what you eat for the rest of your day. Those who skip their breakfast tend to snack before lunch and throughout the day, on unhealthy, high-calorie foods.

Here are some easy to make, tasty, and nutritious breakfast recipes to start your day with.

Super Spinach Omelet:  A great way high protein way to kick-start your day. To prepare this recipe beat three eggs in a bowl and gently pour the mixture into a preheated, pre-oiled skillet. Once the underside is cooked, add ¼ cup chopped Roma tomatoes, ¼ cup sliced mushroom, ¼ cup chopped organic baby spinach leaves, 1 tablespoon chopped green onions, and 2 tablespoons of crumbled feta cheese to the half of omelet. Add spices to taste such as basil or oregano, plus sea salt and pepper.  Fold the remaining part over filling. Serve topped with a dollop of salsa and a couple of slices of avocado.

Burritos:  Want a little spice for breakfast?  Try Southwestern flavors with spicy, zesty burritos. To prepare burritos with tomato basil topping, saute 1 cup shredded sweet potatoes with finely chopped onions until golden brown. Add two eggs and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Spread this mixture evenly on a gluten-free tortilla. Add salt, basil and spicy Mexican sauce to 1 cup finely chopped tomatoes. Top evenly with organic cheese and finely chopped tomato mixture. Roll up in burrito style.

Brown Rice Cereal:  Consider it a takeoff on prepared cereal. This is a unique and delicious treat. Brown rice is loaded with fiber and vitamin B complex that keeps you energetic and your stomach full for a pretty long time. Instead of cereals, use cooked brown rice or any of the cooking grains (quinoa, teff, millet, or oats). Cook the rice the night before, and then in the morning, add a spoonful of honey and 1/4 cup walnuts plus a sprinkle of cinnamon to the bowl of cooked rice.  Top with a poached egg for protein to balance out this breakfast.

Veggie Deluxe:  Think outside the box and consider an open face sandwich for breakfast.  Spread a layer of hummus on a slice of multi-grain gluten-free bread. Top with sliced veggies and sprouts of your choice. Grate organic cheese on top and grill/broil until cheese starts to bubble. Top with a few slices of fresh avocado. Yummmm

Raspberry Pom Smoothie: With just a few ingredients, you can make an antioxidant-rich breakfast beverage. Blend a cup of raspberries, half cup of pomegranate arils and a handful of organic baby spinach with a cup of Greek-style yogurt.  If desired this can be thinned slightly with organic whole milk or an alternative dairy of your choice.

Adam Evans is a team member of crockery suppliers. He writes blogs for his restaurant and catering business and shares recipes and reviews. In his free time he likes to read about new places.

 

Granola

Revisiting Granola

Granola or Muesli?

I was talking with my mother the other day when the conversation turned to granola.  Mostly because I was making some.  I have a basic recipe that I use, changing it up as needed or as whimsy strikes.

I was low on molasses and didn’t have quite enough.  Spying the pomegranate molasses I have from Turkish cooking classes I asked if she had ever used it and did she think it would be a good substitute.  She hadn’t used it so I tasted it and realized that it was probably more tart than I would like in my granola. So extra honey it was.

“I never make granola,” she said, “I make muesli.”  I suddenly realized that I’m not sure what I make.  It’s not really granola because it doesn’t have the hard, crunchy bits that so many people like in granola (mine is less crunchy mostly because I use less sweet stuff).  However, muesli (pronounced moos-lee), isn’t baked at all.  Rather it’s mixed together – flaked grains, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits.  Some people add sugars to it but I prefer to leave those out.  When you want some you put it into a bowl, cover it with milk or yogurt and let it sit in the fridge overnight to soak.  You can eat it without soaking but if you do soak it you get a great consistency and high digestibility. When I make muesli I usually top my soaked bowl of goodness with some shredded apple, a pinch of cinnamon and a dusting of fresh nutmeg.

Although I can soak my granola it certainly doesn’t form the same consistency as muesli because of the sweeteners and the oil.

Over time I have modified the original recipe and I no longer bake in the fruit.  If I want fruit I’ll add it at the time I serve it which makes things easier for everyone.  I have, however, started adding in a lot of seeds to help boost the nutrition.  Often my base recipe now includes sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds; all raw and unsalted of course.  This batch, however, is sesame seeds only since when I went to make it I discovered that the pumpkin and sunflower seeds had been raided for hamster treats. (And, quite frankly, I’m not sure how I feel about that.  But that’s probably a story for another time.)

 I was trying to decide what to call this cereal I make. It’s probably somewhere in between granola and muesli.  Muesola sounds silly.  On the other hand gruesli sounds completely unappetizing.  I think I’ll  stick with calling it granola and leave well enough alone.

The Basic Recipe

Here’s the base recipe for both with instructions below:

4 C. flaked grains – oats, quinoa, your preference
1 C. raw, unsalted nuts, chopped – my favorites are pecans or almonds
1/4 C. flax seed, ground
1/4 C. sesame seeds
1/4 C. raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
1/4 C. raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds

Mix ingredients together well
Store in an airtight container

If making muesli:

Place 1/3 C. of the mixture into a bowl
Add 2-4 T. of dried fruit
Mix in 2/3 C. milk, yogurt, or apple juice
Cover and place in the fridge overnight
In the morning top with 1/4 apple, grated and spices
Yum!

If making granola:

Preheat oven to 350F

Put dry mixture into a large 9 x 13 casserole dish

In a saucepan mix together
1/3 C. honey – I prefer raw and local
1/3 C. molasses
1/3 C. coconut oil

Heat in a small pot until just starting to bubble
Pour mixture over the base recipe, coating evenly
Bake 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to avoid burning

Pull mixture out of the oven and sprinkle with 2 t. vanilla extract, incorporating well

Let mixture cool completely before storing in an airtight container

To serve:

Place 1/3 C. of the mixture into a bowl
Add 2-4 T. dried or fresh fruit
Mix in milk to the desired level
Enjoy!

Crockpot Breakfast Casserole

Overnight breakfast success

Recently I received an email from Susan who wrote in wanting to know if I had any great recipes for breakfast.  She had seen the crockpot granola I shared and was intrigued by my idea of using the crockpot to cook breakfast over night.  I love using my crockpot for all different kind of recipes.  And really, there’s no reason not to use it.  Crockpots are simple to use easy to clean up, and an energy efficient way to cook.
 
And they’re not just for dinner. There’s nothing better than coming downstairs to a nice hot breakfast, ready and waiting. But you didn’t have to cook it. Because you made it in the crockpot. After all, if you’re willing to leave it on all day to make dinner, why not leave it on overnight to make breakfast? Especially when you’re cooking for a crowd. After all if you’ve got a house full of guests that’s the time you don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen cooking anyway. So let your crockpot do all the work and you’ll look like a kitchen star.
 
This casserole is one we enjoy. While it takes a little bit of prep time it’s so delicious and totally worth it. 
 
Sweet potato crockpot breakfast casserole
Print
Ingredients
  1. Slow Cooker Breakfast Casserole
  2. 2 large sweet potatoes, washed and shredded
  3. 1 onion, chopped
  4. 1 bell pepper, chopped
  5. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 3 tablespoon coconut oil
  7. 1 pound cooked meat - organic and preservative free
  8. 1 cup shredded cheese - we prefer white cheddar
  9. 1 dozen organic eggs
  10. 1 cup whole organic milk
  11. 1 teaspoon herbs of choice - suggestions include oregano, basil, chives, thyme, but you can use whatever you prefer
  12. 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  13. 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Instructions
  1. Grease inside of crock
  2. In a pan saute potatoes in 2 tablespoons coconut oil until starting to brown, remove and set aside
  3. In remaining 1 tablespoon of coconut oil saute onion, peppers and garlic until warmed through and starting to soften
  4. Layer in the crock 1/3 potatoes, 1/3 vegetables, 1/3 meat, 1/3 cheese, repeat layers, top layer will be cheese
  5. Mix together eggs, milk, herbs, salt and pepper
  6. Gently pour egg mixture over layers in crock
  7. Cook on low 8-10 hours (or overnight) until eggs are set
Notes
  1. Delicious served with a little salsa on top
The Ingredient Guru, Mira Dessy https://www.theingredientguru.com/
 

Back To School — What’s For Breakfast?

it’s that time of year again….moms and kids are out shopping with the school supply list, major retailers are stocked to the brim with classroom supplies, school clothes, sports gear, everything the returning student needs.  It’s also time for the cereal and other breakfast food manufacturers to boost their campaigns to win a place at your breakfast table.  Unfortunately they don’t deserve that place and I hope you don’t give it to them.

not for breakfast | photo: cohdra

In my practice I see so many people who start their day (or their kids day) with what has come to be recognized as the typical American breakfast — cereal, milk, juice, maybe toast and jam.  Or perhaps a bagel and cream cheese.  Many confess to just a donut and coffee — which these days is a grande double shot caramel macchiato extra whip but that’s a different post altogether.  I’m often surprised at how many people say “I know breakfast is supposed to be the most important meal of the day but I just don’t have time.”

This is a reminder.  You need to make the time.  Not just for your kids, but also for you.  Yes, breakfast IS the most important meal of the day.  It replenishes the furnace of your body after the metabolic slowdown of sleep.  It should provide protein to help boost the amino acids that are needed for neurotransmitter production.  It should provide a healthy fat to help keep that furnace going slow and steady instead of heading into overdrive with quick-to-digest, blood sugar crashing, simple carbohydrates.

This is also a reminder to avoid front-of-label packaging.  The pretty pictures may look nice and the marketing verbiage may sound good but when you actually read the label it’s a different story.

The ad to the side there is a perfect example.  It’s part of a video ad online that shows energetic, active, healthy-appearing children.  However the product does little to support their health.  Sure it’s made with more whole grains than it used to be, but what about all of the sugar, the artificial colors, the other chemical non-food ingredients.  Plus the ads usually say something along the lines of “part of a balanced breakfast” with a big cup of juice and some toast.

As I’ve mentioned above, this is far from a balanced breakfast.  Is it better than skipping breakfast?  I hesitate to say it but the answer there would be yes but not by a whole lot.  Anything is better than skipping breakfast.  However if you want to have your kids get a good start to the day you will do best to feed them nutritionally dense foods.  This in turn will help them stay focused, keep their blood sugar level, and help reduce some of that 5 p.m. “witching hour” behavior (believe it or not that behavior starts with a poor-blood-sugar-balancing breakfast).  You need to feed them real food.

Brazilian Breakfast Buffet | photo:  Jeff Belmonte

Protein can be eggs, beans, chicken breast, preservative free sausages or bacon.  For a healthy fat choose avocado, coconut oil, or real organic butter.  Get in some delicious whole foods, fruits and veg are a great choice.  While it may seem a little unusual to start your day that way that’s simply because it’s not what you’re used to. But you can make changes that are healthy and will help you to feel better.  Changes such as the Brazilian Breakfast Buffet on the right there.  I see meats, dairy, vegetables, and and egg to go along with some bread, butter and jam as condiments.  Learn to think outside the box (literally).

green shake | photo: alvimann

Are you an on-the-go-don’t-have-time-for-breakfast teen or adult?  Then make yourself a protein smoothie.  With a great balancing whey protein, a good nut milk, some chia seeds, a piece of fruit and a handful of spinach it can be a filling and nutritious start to your day.  For many of my clients who fit this profile I point out that this is a wonderful, quick way to get out the door.  They can then have a second breakfast or snack later in the day and continue balancing their blood sugars with a great avocado chicken tomato wrap or veggies with hummus or….the possibilities are endless.

Many times clients who’ve made this shift discover that they are no longer experiencing that 3:00 p.m. I-need-a-candy-bar crash.  They feel better, and they are nutritionally going to do better by supporting their body.

School starts soon and many of us are going to be back on that tightly scheduled roller coaster.  Plan now so you know what you’re going to serve.  Give them a good start.

Breakfast Shake

Back at home after my travels I’m re-adjusting to the local time zone and wondering why the laundry fairy never shows up when I’m not home.

I enjoyed a number of fabulous meals while I was one the road with family in Northern France.  I indulged and ate outside my usual patterns.  I am a big believer in taking the time to enjoy the culture and opportunities that travel offers you and I certainly wasn’t going to pass up some of the delicious experiences.  Who knows when I will find myself back in Northern France again.

One of the big changes was breakfast in a Chambre d’Hotel.  A Chambre d-Hotel is often a room available  in someone’s house (although a few of them had a separate building) that you can rent.  There are little signs on the street indicating if someone has a room to rent in their house.  You drive up and inquire if there is space for the night (or if you plan ahead, you can call and make a reservation).  We did not plan ahead which meant that some days we looked at several places before finding one.

The prices seem to vary widely  depending on the size of the room, if there is a suite arrangement, the location of the town, etc.  Each place offers breakfast with the chambre.  What is for breakfast varies.  Every place offers fresh baguette and cheese plus jam.  Most of the time the jams were homemade and absolutely fabulous.  Each place also offered juice, coffee and tea.

Some of the different items in addition to the above which we had for breakfast (it depended on where we were and what they wanted to serve):  different breads or baked goods, sliced ham, cold cereal, yogurt served with stick packets of sugar, or fresh fruit.

Overall the breads were delicious and the yogurt that I ate there was fabulous.  I don’t normally drink milk however it was so good that a couple of mornings I had a bowl of warm milk with my breakfast, something I don’t normally do at home.

Now I’m back in my regular surroundings and getting back to my normal routine.  Part of that includes eating more in the pattern which works best for me.  I usually don’t eat gluten as I find my system works better if I avoid it.  I do not have celiac or other illness that require me to be gluten free which is a good thing because in the French countryside I think that would have proven to be quite problematic.  I also tend to eat a high protein breakfast, again because that’s what works best for my body.  Truthfully I believe it’s what works best for most people, we need that protein boost in the morning to stabilize our blood sugar after our overnight sleep-fast.

After 12 days away from it I’m really enjoying my morning smoothie again.  It’s such a great way to start the day, filling and delicious.

Morning Smoothie

1 cup plain organic whole fat yogurt
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk
1 cup fresh spinach (pack this in well)
1 small banana (or other fruit)
1 tablespoon unsweetened raw almond butter
1 tablespoon fresh ground flaxseed

Place all the ingredients into a blender and whir together until well incorporated

Makes two servings

As a side note, whenever I share this recipe I always get at least one person who says “Spinach in your shake?  Seriously?”  Yes, seriously.  It is delicious and gives a great boost to the shake.  Truly, aside from the color, you won’t know it’s in there as the other flavors hide the flavor of the spinach.  If you haven’t tried it before I think you should, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.  It’s a great way to get some veggies into your system first thing in the morning.

Breakfast – Break Away From The Box

Israeli Breakfast | Lior Bakalu

Over the last couple of days I have been seeing articles in the news that have made me literally cringe.  I’m not going to link to them here because the information contained in them is just so wrong I cannot bring myself to share it even as an example of bad information.

What is it?  It’s breakfast.  One article claimed that a bowl of cereal was shown to be the best breakfast and a good way to start your day, preventing you from snacking on sugary foods later in the day.  I was unable to find a link to the study that the article referenced but based on what I know about nutrition I’m guessing that the study group was comparing to either breakfast skippers or people who ate a donut or muffin and called that breakfast.  Sadly a bowl of cereal is not enough.  Yes the milk is going to provide a small amount of protein but you are typically getting an over-processed, sugary product in the cereal.  While it’s better than not eating breakfast I’m here to tell you that it is not better by much.  Your body will still feel the effects metabolically and it will not be supportive of your blood sugar.

Another article absolutely horrified me by claiming that if you were a picky eater there were some nutritional strategies that allowed you to still get all the nutrition you needed.  Don’t like salmon?  The article suggests eating a bowl of cereal instead.  While you will get some vitamin D from the milk you are certainly not going to get the levels of protein and amino acids in cereal that you do from fish.

The third article referenced healthy choices at fast food places.  I’m sorry but I have never been a fan of those.  The food is fatty, over-processed, chemically laden and very few of these places offer a truly healthy start to your day.

Oddly enough just before all of these articles came out College Crunch contacted me about their recently written article.  10 Breakfast Foods Your Body Hates.  They state the facts clearly and correctly.

So what do you eat?

1.   First and foremost it is important to start your day with breakfast.  Don’t skip.
2.   Eat protein, your body needs to refuel after the “fast” of sleeping.
3.   Get fiber, supportive to your digestive system it also helps sustain you as your blood sugar balances
      out with this first meal of the day.
4.   Limit sugar. Too much sugar (think cereals, syrups, muffins, etc) will cause a spike in insulin and
      then your body begins the blood sugar roller-coaster.
5.   Avoid simple carbohydrates (pancakes, toast, boxed cereal) your body will digest them too quickly
      and they are not supportive of blood sugar stability.

You don’t have to have what is considered “breakfast” food for breakfast if you don’t want to.  I know a number of people who start their morning with a chicken breast and veggies.  I had one friend who served her children beans for breakfast and they loved it.  The breakfast in the picture above is from Israel.  Eggs with lots of veggies (fresh and cooked) and fresh herbs.

Break away from the box; eat something that will nourish and support your body.

Reinventing Comfort

When I was a little girl my mother used to make something called rice cereal.  My brother and I loved it.  Leftover white rice in a bowl of hot milk with a huge dollop of butter and a spoonful of sugar on top.  It brings back memories of the small kitchen we had when we were young.  Sitting at the table with my brother, legs swinging, enjoying this dish which we viewed as a treat.

When my children were growing up I would make the same dish for them.  And they loved it just as much.  Even now my 16 year old will assemble a bowl if we have the ingredients at hand (which we often do).  It was a great way to use up extra rice — filling, tasty, and warming to the tummy.  I even served it on occasion to overnight guests.   One such guest, a dear friend from my high-school days, exclaimed about this wonderful breakfast, wanting to know where the recipe came from.  My answer?  My mom.  And probably from her mom.  I think it was simply a frugal way to use leftovers.  But it sure was, and still is, tasty.

Sometimes you have a day where you want comfort food.  This morning was one of those days.  As I was assembling, and then happily eating, my bowl of comfort I realized that I have changed the recipe.  Modified it to be more in line with my healthier eating habits.  But it was still just as comforting, warming and satisfying as it ever was.  Reflecting on this I realized that the concept of comfort food is a state of mind.  Yes it’s a comfort to the tummy and makes us feel good; but part of what makes us feel good is the memories associated with that food.  Changing the food doesn’t change the comfort level as long as the basic concepts are the same.

So I’m making an offer, what are your comfort foods?  What do you eat when you feel the need for that emotional lift?  Share the recipe and the concept below.  If you’d like (and please ask below) I’m happy to make suggestions to help boost the nutrition or health factor while still helping you get that bowl or plate of comfort you are after.  Eating well to be well doesn’t mean we can’t still have comfort.

Reinventing Comfort

When I was a little girl my mother used to make something called rice cereal.  My brother and I loved it.  Leftover white rice in a bowl of hot milk with a huge dollop of butter and a spoonful of sugar on top.  When I had children I would make the same dish for them.  It was a great way to use up extra rice — filling, tasty, and warming to the tummy.  I would even serve it to guests sometimes.   One time a friend exclaimed about this wonderful dish, wanting to know where the recipe came from.  My answer?  My mom.  And probably from her mom.  I think it was simply a frugal way to use leftovers.  But it sure was tasty.

Sometimes you have a day where you want comfort food.  This morning was one of those days.  As I was assembling, and then happily eating, my bowl of comfort I realized that I have changed the recipe.  Modified it to be more in line with my healthier eating habits.  But it was still just as comforting, warming and satisfying as it ever was.  Reflecting on this I realized that the concept of comfort food is a state of mind.  Yes it’s a comfort to the tummy and makes us feel good; but part of what makes us feel good is the memories associated with that food.  Changing the food doesn’t change the comfort level as long as the basic concepts are the same.

So I’m making an offer, what are your comfort foods?  What do you eat when you feel the need for that emotional lift?  Share the recipe and the concept below.  If you’d like (and please ask below) I’m happy to make suggestions to help boost the nutrition or health factor while still helping you get that bowl or plate of comfort you are after.  Eating well to be well doesn’t mean we can’t still have comfort.

What Kind Of Oats?

Oats | kateshortforbob | Wikimedia Commons

Bob wrote in and asked “I have heard that not all oatmeal has the same nutritional value, and I’m confused. There are so many types of oatmeal, steel-cut, instant, etc, etc. What is the most nutritious type?

This comes up a lot. We’re told that oats are really good for us, they are, and that we should eat more of them for reducing cholesterol, to help reduce cardiovascular disease and to stabilize blood sugar. Oats are a wonderful food. They contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is easily digested and helps the body by slowing down how quickly it can process simple starches and sugars. Soluble fiber also breaks down within the digestive tract, binding with cholesterol and thereby escorting it out of the body. Insoluble fiber cannot be digested and helps to create bulkier stools which move through the system more quickly. They also help mitigate certain bile acids.

More than just fiber, oats also provide manganese, selenium, tryptophan, phosphorus, and magnesium. They even provide a modest amount of protein (6 g per cup).

Quick or instant oatmeal is not as good a choice since it is broken down; your body can get through it too quickly. It’s also it’s more highly processed and the more processed a food is is the less nutritious it typically is. Oat groats and steel cut oats are generally considered to be the best. The groats are the whole grain, containing all of the fiber, bran and the beneficial germ. Old fashioned or rolled oats are also very good although they don’t have all of the bran since some of that is removed during the rolling, or flaking, process.  I keep all three, oat groats, steel cut oats, and thick rolled oats, in my pantry all the time.  They’re very versatile and are great for a wide range of recipes.

One cup of oats per day is considered to be very beneficial, especially if you have high cholesterol or are looking for foods to help stabilize blood sugar. Making it with milk will add more protein and some calcium. Adding fresh ground flax seeds, about one tablespoon, will further increase the fiber content and add a healthy omega 3 boost. Adding fresh berries, my favorite is blueberries is great, a dash of cinnamon on top and you’ve got a really great meal to get you going in the morning.