For some of you less fortunate, you’ve already started the sprint called BACK TO SCHOOL! My family and I are facing this unavoidable chaotic time with white knuckles. We are putting on a brave face as we organize the school supplies that I purchased last month. I know. That’s ridiculously early, but I was shamed into doing it early by my hyper- organized friend and neighbor, Colleen. Fortunately for me, that’s all I got done early. Wouldn’t want to change my entire persona in one year. I’m trying to remain “real”… also I can’t possibly have more forethought than that. A little tip, buy the already sharpened pencils. It’s totally worth the extra money because you’ll just break your new pencil sharpener trying to sharpen the 52 pencils you’ll try to jam in the always too small pencil bag.
Clearly this post will not be about organizing your children for the back to school death march. This one will try to give you some guidance regarding feeding the above mentioned children during the school year. I will try to give you the strength to resist reaching into your wallet to hand over the $ for the kids to buy their lunch at school. This also includes dodging the temptation of putting money on their accounts for substandard “food” in the cafeteria. I’m going to empower you so that you can send your offspring out the door well fed so they don’t fall apart at school. We want them to learn enough so they are actually able to leave the house after college and don’t return to live in your basement. These are the thoughts that haunt/inspire me daily. Realize that these will just be ideas and guidelines. You can just put your dreams of a meal plan, grocery list and recipe box away with your dreams of being the next American Idol.
This post will be part 1 of a series. It just occurred to me that I never read a super long post. I know I’m not alone so for those equally attention challenged, I give you …
Breakfast of Champions!
I see you. It’s early. No one has anything they need. All efforts to be prepared the night before have been thwarted. Everyone is moving like a sloth, not moving or spinning out of control like the Tasmanian Devil (PLEASE tell me you get that reference). No, I’m not peeping in your window. I’m living this life, just like you are and I know it’s maddening. The idea of feeding anything besides the dog sounds impossible in the middle of all of this! Fear not. We can do this!
1) Make ahead
2) Easy assemble
3) Eat whatcha got
1) Make ahead requires you to set some time aside to make a few dishes so you can just grab, heat and eat. Here are a few of my favorites.
• Baked egg cups – Do yourself a favor and use cupcake liners unless you enjoy scrubbing your muffin tins for an eternity or believe, as my husband does, that magic fairies clean your tins while they soak for 3 days (they never show up). If you are making these ahead, you will want to cook them until the yolk sets and then wait for them to fully cool before chucking them into a re-sealable bag to stash in the fridge. Make them your own by using Canadian bacon or adding other favorite ingredients. If yolks freak your family out, whisk a mess of eggs and add your favorite other ingredients and pour them into the ham/bacon lined cupcake liner tins and bake until set. Here’s the link for the original recipe – http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/baked-egg-cups-217235/
• Baked oatmeal – This is a family fav! Peanut Butter, Banana, honey baked oatmeal. This is so much deliciousness in one pan!
This recipe is my version that I have tweaked to bump up the nutritional value
*3 Cups old fashioned rolled oats (not quick oats)
*1/2 cup brown sugar
*1 ½ cups milk (skim, almond, coconut almond, rice – whatever you prefer or have on hand)
*2 large, very ripe bananas – mashed up
*2 eggs or ½ cup of egg whites
*2 tsp of baking powder
*3/4 tsp of salt
*2 tsp of vanilla (just splash a bunch)
*1/2 cup of natural peanut butter or almond butter (again, just blob in a bunch)
* ½ cup of chia seeds (optional but a power house full of omega 3’s and fiber)
*big squeeze of honey ( I didn’t even try to measure this)
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and dump into a 9×13 baking dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until the top is crunchy. Cool completely, cut into squares and refrigerate. Serve warm with cold milk and top with cold berries or grab out of the fridge and head to the bus stop.
• Breakfast burritos – this is truly a “put whatever you want in the burrito” burrito – this is not a recipe. It’s a guideline, a map of sorts.
*Scramble a bunch of eggs, egg whites or a combination of both and add whatever your family prefers. We like diced, canned green chilies, spinach, chives or cilantro. Set them aside to cool.
*Cook thoroughly crumbled breakfast sausage, bacon, Canadian bacon or my family likes the Morningstar vegetarian breakfast sausage. Set that aside to cool.
*Shred or buy shredded cheese of your choice or use blobs of goat cheese or feta.
*To give the burrito a little more staying power, you can add prepared shredded hash browns to the assembly line.
*Find a wrap of your choosing. They vary in size and ingredients. We like the whole wheat, carb smart variety. Take into consideration the size of the appetite you are trying to feed. I will beg you to choose a whole wheat version. Warm it slightly so it will be more pliable.
*Now get assembling – Resist the urge to make a HUGE pile. The burrito/wrap will not close if you make it to huge. Simple concept. – First place the wrap on the plate, scoop some egg mixture onto it, next the meat, cheese, potato, a little more cheese and wrap it up. Double wrap them in plastic wrap tightly so they don’t dry out. Heat and eat in the morning. This is a hearty breakfast. You may have to experiment to figure out how big to make them. I will be making smaller ones so they heat up faster. My daughter will probably eat one and my boys might eat a few. God help me.
2) Easy assembled breakfast – keep some key ingredients on hand your family can throw a breakfast together in no time.
• Yogurt parfait – vanilla or plain Greek yogurt, berries, granola of choice. Layer it all up in a bowl or cool glass and you are good to go.
• Peanut butter, honey and banana toast/whole grain frozen waffles –top toast or waffles with natural peanut butter, sliced bananas and drizzle with raw honey.
• Cream cheese roll up – whole grain tortilla, light cream cheese, no sugar added fruit preserves all rolled up.
• Smoothies! – frozen banana, frozen berries, vanilla almond milk, handful of spinach if you can sneak it in (blend it in the liquid first so you don’t have chunks of spinach floating around), scoop of vanilla protein powder or vanilla Greek yogurt. Blend it all up and slurp it up using a fat straw. Don’t use a skinny one. It’s a tough way to start a day.
3) Eat whatcha got! – One of my favorite things to do is have the kids pull out leftovers from dinner. Make extra at dinner and the kids all fight over who gets to finish it in the morning! Who says you need to have “breakfast” food for breakfast. There are no rules. Lots of us have breakfast for dinner and we all know how popular that can be.
My parting thoughts – Think protein, good carbohydrates and good fats. You need to be sending your kids and yourselves out the door ready to attack the day. A breakfast loaded with simple sugars will have your family unfocused and drowsy by 2nd period or by the time you get off the train. Protein gives you the staying power and keeps your blood sugar from spiking. Good carbs from whole fruit, vegetables and whole grains last longer and are a powerhouse of nutrients. Good fats keep you satisfied, are good for your brains (we need brain food) and taste fantastic.
If you have any other ideas, be a share bear and leave it in the comments below. Be brave. Try something new. Think beyond Pop Tarts and a bowl of cereal. Some days that’s all your brain may be able to put together. That’s okay. Make it the exception and not the rule and your family will be just fine.
That’s it that’s all for part 1. Keep an eye out for Part 2- Lunchtime Lowdown!- coming soon.
Until next time…Live well!