Everybody Eats: Ideas for the most important meal of the day

  • Photo

Confession: I often leave the house without eating breakfast.

I know this is wrong. I know breakfast is important. And it’s not that I don’t love breakfast food — I’m a huge supporter of brinner (breakfast-for-dinner) and brunch — but there never seems to be enough time.

Actually, that’s an excuse. I’m awake around five every morning. I don’t leave the house until a quarter to eight. My children are teenagers who wake themselves up and get ready for the day without me running interference.

So what is my deal with breakfast?

When I wake up, I’m starving — but I don’t eat. I make my coffee, have a few sips, and then head out the door for my morning run which, at this time of year, is to the gym a few blocks away so I can run on a treadmill. By the time I get home, I’m not hungry. It isn’t until my stomach is growling a few hours later that I realize my error.

I keep packets of instant oatmeal in my desk to ward off the temptation of visiting the vending machine or having lunch at 10:30 a.m. That’s OK in a pinch, but stovetop oatmeal is better.

Growing up, I used to watch my dad make a batch of oatmeal in the morning, turn the dial to low, take the dog for a walk, and return to a hot breakfast, which he doled out for anyone who didn’t want cold cereal. Milk and sugar were our choice of toppings, though sometimes we added chocolate chips, too.

Leave it to kids to find a way to make healthy food less so.

When I remember to have breakfast, I usually top my oatmeal with blueberries and cinnamon, and a little bit of almond milk. The sweetness of the fruit negates the need for sugar, plus the oats “stick to my ribs” until well past the mid-morning stomach growls.

According to the Whole Grains Council, Americans buy more oatmeal in January than any other time of year, which makes it fitting that January is National Oatmeal Month. January also marks our return to reality after the culinary indulgences of the holidays, making it a perfect time to reintroduce this healthy grain in our diets.

Speaking of healthy, did you know oatmeal is good for the environment, too? We have proof in the Corridor, thanks to a joint project with Quaker Oats and the University of Iowa project. Since 2003, oat hulls have been burned in a biomass boiler at the UI’s main power plant. The use of biomass fuels, along with combined heat and power, co-generates energy for cost-effective electricity, cooling and water treatment on campus, while reducing traditional air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions.

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.

CHERRY VANILLA OATMEAL

1 3/4 cups water

1 cup Old Fashioned Oats, or Quick Cooking Oats

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup dried cherries

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons cherry jam, or to taste

1/4 cup 1 percent low-fat milk, plus more to taste

Put water, oats, salt and cherries into a medium sized saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes for Old Fashioned Oats, or 1 minute for Quick Cooking Oats. Remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla extract and cherry jam. Put into serving bowls and pour 2 tablespoons of milk over each bowl.

Makes 2 servings.

Source: “The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life” by Ellie Krieger (Taunton Press; first edition; January 1, 2008)

PEACHES ‘N CREAM OATMEAL PARFAIT

For the oatmeal

1/3 cup old-fashioned oats

1 no-calorie sweetener packet

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/4 cup sliced peaches packed in juice, drained and chopped

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the parfait

1/2 cup fat-free vanilla yogurt

1/2 cup sliced peaches packed in juice, drained and chopped

To make the oatmeal, combine oats, sweetener, cinnamon, and salt in a small nonstick pot on the stove. Add Almond Breeze, peaches, vanilla extract, and 3/4 cup water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 9 minutes, stirring often, until thick and creamy.

Allow to cool slightly. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 1/2 hours.

To make the parfait, stir oatmeal thoroughly until uniform in texture. Spoon half of the oatmeal into a tall glass, and top with 1/4 cup yogurt and half of the peaches. Repeat with remaining oatmeal, 1/4 cup yogurt, and peaches.

Makes 1 serving.

Source: “Hungry Girl to the Max!: The Ultimate Guilt-Free Cookbook” by Lisa Lillien (St. Martin’s Griffin; first edition; October 16, 2012)

OATMEAL APPLESAUCE BREAD

For bread

1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats

2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

½ cup chopped dried apples

1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon or apple pie spice mixture

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 ¼ cups unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup vegetable oil or canola oil

2 large eggs

1/3 cup cultured buttermilk

For spiced pecan crumbs

¼ cup pecans

2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon or apple pie spice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, rolled oats, brown sugar, dried apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

To make the spice pecan crumbs, place the pecans, light and dark brown sugars, and cinnamon in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse to finely chop the nuts. The mixture will have a sandy texture. Set aside.

Combine the applesauce, oil, eggs, and buttermilk in a small bowl and beat with a whisk until smooth. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir in the applesauce mixture with a large rubber spatula or dough whisk. The batter will be slightly lumpy. Do not overmix.

Using a large rubber spatula, scrape half the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle with half of the pecan crumb mixture, top with the rest of the batter, and sprinkle the remaining crumbs over the top.

Bake on the center rack of the oven for 55 to 65 minutes, or until the top is firm to the touch, the loaf pulls away from the sides of the pan, and a cake tester inserted into the corner comes out clean. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack to rest 15 minutes before turning out of the pan and cooling to room temperature. Do not slice before the loaf cools completely or it will clump.

Source: “Bread for Breakfast” by Beth Hensperger (Ten Speed Press; February 27, 2001)

PEACHES ‘N CREAM OATMEAL PARFAIT

Makes 1 serving

For the oatmeal

1/3 cup old-fashioned oats

1 no-calorie sweetener packet

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/4 cup sliced peaches packed in juice, drained and chopped

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the parfait

1/2 cup fat-free vanilla yogurt

1/2 cup sliced peaches packed in juice, drained and chopped

To make the oatmeal, combine oats, sweetener, cinnamon, and salt in a small non-stick pot on the stove. Add Almond Breeze, peaches, vanilla extract, and 3/4 cup water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 9 minutes, stirring often, until thick and creamy.

Allow to cool slightly. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 1/2 hours.

To make the parfait, stir oatmeal thoroughly until uniform in texture. Spoon half the oatmeal into a tall glass, and top with 1/4 cup yogurt and half the peaches. Repeat with remaining oatmeal, 1/4 cup yogurt, and peaches.

Source: “Hungry Girl to the Max!: The Ultimate Guilt-Free Cookbook” by Lisa Lillien (St. Martin’s Griffin; first edition; October 16, 2012)

CHERRY VANILLA OATMEAL

1 3/4 cups water

1 cup Old Fashioned Oats, or Quick Cooking Oats

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup dried cherries

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons cherry jam, or to taste

1/4 cup 1 percent low-fat milk, plus more to taste

Put water, oats, salt and cherries into a medium sized saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes for Old Fashioned Oats, or 1 minute for Quick Cooking Oats. Remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla extract and cherry jam. Put into serving bowls and pour 2 tablespoons of milk over each bowl.

Makes 2 servings.

Source: “The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life” by Ellie Krieger (Taunton Press; first edition; January 1, 2008)

OATMEAL APPLESAUCE BREAD

For bread

1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats

2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

½ cup chopped dried apples

1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon or apple pie spice mixture

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 ¼ cups unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup vegetable oil or canola oil

2 large eggs

1/3 cup cultured buttermilk

For spiced pecan crumbs

¼ cup pecans

2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon or apple pie spice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, rolled oats, brown sugar, dried apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

To make the spice pecan crumbs, place the pecans, light and dark brown sugars, and cinnamon in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse to finely chop the nuts. The mixture will have a sandy texture. Set aside.

Combine the applesauce, oil, eggs, and buttermilk in a small bowl and beat with a whisk until smooth. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir in the applesauce mixture with a large rubber spatula or dough whisk. The batter will be slightly lumpy. Do not overmix.

Using a large rubber spatula, scrape half the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle with half of the pecan crumb mixture, top with the rest of the batter, and sprinkle the remaining crumbs over the top.

Bake on the center rack of the oven for 55 to 65 minutes, or until the top is firm to the touch, the loaf pulls away from the sides of the pan, and a cake tester inserted into the corner comes out clean. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack to rest 15 minutes before turning out of the pan and cooling to room temperature. Do not slice before the loaf cools completely or it will clump.

Source: “Bread for Breakfast” by Beth Hensperger (Ten Speed Press; February 27, 2001)

Like what you're reading?

We make it easy to stay connected:

to our email newsletters
Download our free apps

Give us feedback

Have you found an error or omission in our reporting? Tell us here.
Do you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.