Easy Breakfast Treats
Let's face it: Even the best of intentions won't change the fact that many of us are tired and rushed in the morning. Also, since some people are just not that hungry first thing, the not-yet-awakened appetite is none too ambitious. It's unfortunate that the first hour of the day is rush hour, but for most of us, that's the reality.
My sons have always liked a fairly hearty breakfast, so for us, the morning meal is a given. We try to decide the night before what to have for breakfast on school days, so that if the choice is waffles or a hot cooked cereal, I know to allow a little extra time. And because time is so short in the morning, one of my strategies has been to compile a list of possibilities so we're not scrambling for ideas. Speaking of scrambling, you'll note that eggs play a small role in this chapter, with a suggestion or two in the simple breakfast ideas and breakfast sandwiches list; that's because most people who eat eggs already have a set of simple ways to fix them to their family's liking. Instead, you'll find many ideas and easy recipes based on whole grains--these complex carb foods are perfect for getting revved in the morning yet are easy on the palate. Smoothies and other fruit-augmented recipes round out the selections.
A Basic Breakfast Pantry
One way to mitigate the breakfast rut is to have an array of good-quality breakfast foods on hand. Go through some of the recipes and ideas in this chapter and jot down the basic ingredients to shop for. See if you can clear a portion of a pantry (or at least a couple of shelves) to keep together all your nonperishable breakfast items--such as hot and cold cereals, granolas, and pancake mixes.
Here is a list of what you might consider keeping in your pantry. Of course, you need not buy everything on this list, only what appeals to your family. Once you have a basic breakfast repertoire, you may enjoy adding new items from time to time or changing some items seasonally.
* Good-quality cold breakfast cereals: Have an assortment of organic, whole-grain varieties on hand.
* Granolas: These are good on their own or mixed with other cold cereals.
* Hot cereals: See the listing of possibilities.
* Embellishments for hot and cold cereals: Dried fruits, nuts, and seeds.
* Flour tortillas: These are great for roll-ups and breakfast quesadillas.
* Fresh fruits in season: Bananas are welcome all year around, berries are good for summer, and oranges and mangoes are delicious in winter. Serve as is or use for making juices and smoothies or topping cereals.
* Whole-grain flours for pancakes and waffles: Whole-wheat pastry flour, spelt flour, and cornmeal are especially useful. You might also like to stock good-quality prepared pancake and waffle mixes if you can't see starting from scratch on weekday mornings.
* Whole-grain frozen waffles: If you're not inclined to make fresh ones in the morning, there are some excellent organic toaster waffles available.
* Maple syrup and/or honey or other natural sweeteners: Use sweeteners, even natural ones, sparingly in the morning!
* Fresh whole-grain breads, rolls, bagels, and English muffins: Mix and match for variety; keep some in the freezer.
* Spreads for bread: All-fruit preserves, nonhydrogenated margarine, dairy or nondairy cream cheese, peanut and other nut butters.
* Yogurts: Organic low-fat dairy or nondairy varieties; aside from eating on their own, yogurt is useful in homemade pancake and waffle batters, and for making biscuits and other baked goods (see Chapter 10).
* Organic dairy or nondairy cheeses and cottage cheese
* Organic cage-free eggs
* Soy-based faux breakfast meats: This one is entirely optional, but if you like this type of product, you can keep "sausages" and "bacon" in your freezer to use from time to time as a side dish or in breakfast sandwiches.
Some Simple Breakfast Ideas
Breakfast Burritos: Wrap a flour tortilla around a scrambled egg or a small portion of the basic recipe for Tofu Scrambles Galore; Sprinkle with grated dairy or nondairy cheese if desired. Roll up snugly. Serve with orange slices in the winter and strawberries in the summer.
Breakfast Quesadillas: For each serving, place a 6- to 7-inch flour tortilla in a dry skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle the entire surface lightly with dairy or nondairy cheese and cover. When the cheese is melted, fold over to a half-circle. Continue to cook on both sides, uncovered, until the tortilla begins to turn golden and crisp. Cut in half to form two wedges to serve. Serve with a fruit smoothie (see page 000) or a breakfast fruit salad (see below) for a lively way to start the day.
Peanut Butter and Banana Roll-ups: For each serving, heat 1 flour tortilla in the microwave until warm and flexible, about 20 seconds. Spread the entire surface with peanut butter (or other nut butter) and place thin banana slices here and there (you'll need about 1/2 medium banana). Roll up snugly; cut in half crosswise to serve.
Cream Cheese and Berry Roll-ups: For each serving, heat 1 flour tortilla in the microwave until warm and flexible, about 20 seconds. Spread the entire surface with dairy or nondairy cream cheese. Place thinly sliced strawberries over most of the surface or sprinkle with small wild blueberries (or use a little of each). Roll up snugly; cut in half crosswise to serve.
Pasta for Breakfast: I'm always happy to find plain leftover noodles in the refrigerator in the morning. Angel hair or any small pasta shape (tiny shells, elbow macaroni, ditalini, and such) seem more palatable for breakfast than large, chunky shapes. I like mine with a bit of nonhydrogenated margarine and a little salt, generously topped with wheat germ and ground flaxseed. My husband likes his mixed with nonhydrogenated margarine, cinnamon, and natural granulated sugar, then topped as I do mine. I haven't yet convinced my sons to try pasta for breakfast, but maybe they'll learn eventually. This meal is nicely completed by a fruit smoothie.
Breakfast Fruit Salad with Cottage Cheese or Yogurt: For a refreshing start to the day, consider fruit salad. To make it more feasible, make your fruit salad the night before and pack it in an airtight container. Summer is easy, with its abundant offering of melons and grapes; strawberries, blueberries, and other berries; peaches and nectarines; and more. Winter fruits are more limited, but you can still get creative with bananas, pears, mangoes, orange slices, and canned pineapple; embellish with some dried fruit if you'd like, such as apricots or pitted prunes. Top your breakfast fruit salad with a mound of cottage cheese or a scoop of low-fat vanilla yogurt or soy yogurt. If you'd like, sprinkle with chopped nuts or granola. Serve with a slice of whole-grain toast or an English muffin.
Cottage Cheese Salad: For those who are open to veggies in the morning, this is a tasty way to start the day. Simply mix some finely diced tomato, cucumber, and bell pepper into a scoop of cottage cheese. If you'd like, sprinkle with toasted sunflower seeds and fresh dill. Serve with a slice of whole-wheat toast.
Morning Parfaits: I always thought of parfaits as dessert, even if they were made with yogurt rather than ice cream, until a reader gave me a new view of this treat. Layer low-fat vanilla yogurt or soy yogurt with seasonal fruits in a tall glass or parfait dish, and top with toasted walnuts, almonds, or a sprinkling of granola. Serve with a toasted English muffin or whole-grain bagel.
Dressed-up Cold Cereal: There are all kinds of ways to make cold cereals more exciting. First of all, make sure the cold cereals you choose are whole grain and all-natural. If they're organic, so much the better. Top cold cereals with any of the following or with any combination that appeals to you:
* Fresh fruit (berries and diced peaches in summer, sliced bananas in cold weather)
* Dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, chopped apricots, dates)
* A sprinkling of chopped nuts (toasted slivered almonds or chopped walnuts are particularly good on cereal)
* A sprinkling of granola
* Wheat germ
* Ground flaxseeds
* Toasted sesame or sunflower seeds
Spreading something nourishing between two slices of bread is an easy and sensible way to start the day. But in the morning, most appetites dictate lighter choices than those you might crave for lunch or dinner. You don't need recipes for making breakfast sandwiches, just a cache of good ideas. Here are some to get you going, and remember, if using dairy cheeses or cream cheese, choose organic whenever possible.
* Nut butter (try almond, cashew, or soy nut butter as alternatives to peanut butter) and banana on whole-grain bread
* Any nut butter or fruit butter or all-fruit preserves on whole-grain bread or a roll (apple butter, pear butter, or orange marmalade offer a change of pace from all-fruit preserves)
* Grilled cheese (using dairy or nondairy cheese of your choice; try sliced rice cheese, which is low in fat and high in calcium) on whole-grain bread; add sliced tomato, if desired
* Cream cheese (dairy or nondairy) on good-quality cinnamon-raisin bread or Quick Cinnamon-Raisin Bread (page 000)
* Cream cheese (dairy or nondairy) and sun-dried tomatoes or cured olives on a whole-grain English muffin or bagel
* Scrambled or fried egg and a slice of organic dairy or nondairy cheese or sauteed soy Canadian bacon on a whole-grain roll
* Sauteed soy Canadian bacon and a slice of dairy or nondairy cheese on a whole-grain English muffin
* Sauteed soy Canadian bacon, tomato, and mayonnaise on a whole-grain roll for the heartier appetite
* Grated organic Cheddar or Cheddar-style soy cheese melted over thinly sliced apple, avocado, or tomato on open-faced English muffins
4 to 6 servings
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
11/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds, optional
11/2 cups low-fat yogurt or soy yogurt
11/4 to 11/2 cups low-fat milk or rice milk
2 tablespoons nonhydrogenated margarine
Pure maple syrup, all-fruit preserves, or one Quick Fresh Fruit Sauce (page 000)
Total fat: 6 g
Protein: 13 g
Fiber: 5.9 g
Carbohydrates: 44 g
Cholesterol: 7 g
Sodium: 485 mg
Total fat: 6 g
Protein: 8 g
Fiber: 6.5 g
Carbohydrates: 49 g
Cholesterol: 0 g
Sodium: 444 mg
Basic Yogurt Pancakes
This recipe is wonderful as is, or it can be used as a starting point for variations. Buttermilk is the traditional base for pancakes, but for me, this raised several dilemmas: One, even the largest supermarkets were often out of stock, and two, even when I did find it, it was never organic. I discovered that yogurt is an excellent base for pancake batter, producing tender, golden results. Once we went vegan, I found that soy yogurt works just as well.
1Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and flaxseeds, if using, in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the yogurt and milk. Stir with a whisk until the batter is just smooth; it should have an easy-to-pour consistency, but not too thin. Add more milk as needed. Don't overbeat.
2Heat a nonstick griddle or a large nonstick skillet that has been lightly coated with some of the margarine. Ladle on the batter to form 3- to 4-inch pancakes. Cook on both sides over medium heat until golden brown. Serve hot with maple syrup.
Multigrain: Substitute 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the flour with another type of flour such as spelt, kamut, buckwheat, cornmeal, or rye, or use a combination of two different types of flour equaling 1/2 to 3/4 cup.
Fruity pancakes: Add a cup or so of thinly sliced fruits--one kind or a combination--to the batter. Try pears, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, wild blueberries, or other berries.
Cinnamon-apple pancakes: Add 1 heaping cup very thinly sliced, peeled apple (any soft cooking variety such as Cortland, McIntosh, or Golden Delicious) and ground cinnamon to taste to the batter.
Banana-nut: Add 1 medium thinly sliced banana, 1/4 to 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans, and a pinch of ground nutmeg to the batter.
the basic pancake recipe (page 00) makes a good waffle batter if you reduce the amount of milk to 1 cup, or just a bit more if needed. You can use the multigrain variation, but the fruity variations may be too chunky and/or sticky for your waffle iron (waffles are delicious, however, topped with any of the Quick Fresh Fruit Sauces, below). Before cooking the waffles, I like to lightly spray the waffle iron with cooking oil spray (light olive oil spray is a good choice). On weekday mornings, I don't consider it a big job to prepare waffles, if I cut the Basic Yogurt Pancakes recipe in half to yield 4 large Belgian-style waffles.
Quick Fresh Fruit Sauces
for yogurt, pancakes, and waffles
These nifty combinations of finely diced fruit and all-fruit preserves create nearly instant sauces. Each combination makes enough for four to six 1/3- to 1/2-cup servings as a topping.
Peach or Nectarine Sauce: Combine 2 cups finely diced peaches or nectarines with 2 to 3 teaspoons all-fruit peach or apricot preserves. Stir together well.
Strawberry or Strawberry-Blueberry Sauce: Combine 1 pint thinly sliced strawberries (or 1 cup each blueberries and sliced strawberries) with 2 to 3 teaspoons strawberry jam. Stir together well.
Pear and Mango: Perfect for winter! Combine 1 cup diced, peeled pear and 1 cup diced mango with 2 to 3 teaspoons peach or apricot all-fruit preserves. Stir together well.
Purely Mango: Combine 2 cups diced mango with 2 to 3 teaspoons mango, peach, or apricot all-fruit preserves. Stir together well.
4 to 6 servings
2 ripe bananas, well mashed
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
Pinch each ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg
1/2 cup dark raisins, optional
1 cup low-fat milk, rice milk, or soy milk
2 tablespoons nonhydrogenated margarine
Maple syrup or all-fruit preserves, optional
Total fat: 5 g
Protein: 5 g
Fiber: 4 g
Carbohydrates: 30 g
Cholesterol: 2 g
Sodium: 62 mg
Total fat: 5 g
Protein: 4 g
Fiber: 4 g
Carbohydrates: 34 g
Cholesterol: 0 g
Sodium: 56 mg
Excerpted from The Vegetarian Family Cookbook by Nava Atlas. Copyright © 2004 by Nava Atlas. Excerpted by permission of Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.