Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Breakfast, is it really all that?

Breakfast.  I love to eat it by myself at the local diner, cup of steaming coffee in hand, a fresh copy of the days newspaper to peruse, eggs cooked to my exact specifications, and best of all, a waitress poised to clear up the mess.  In real life however, breakfast is usually noisy, involves spilled milk and likely someone has smeared jelly on the funnies.  The only person to whisk away disasters is yours truly. 

So, I've tried skipping breakfast. Or at the very least, downsizing it.  How about a granola bar?  Won't that do?  Or a pop-tart? Okay, maybe some toast.  My experiments have only served to prove that breakfast is not a thing to be taken lightly.  I feed the troops here, and then I also have the privilege of educating them. I see first hand, the results of breakfast. There's nothing worse then hitting the 10:30am slump.  Just as we are really digging into our lessons of the day, a tummy growls and there go the attention spans. Forget sentence diagrams or math facts when all they can think about is counting the minutes till lunch.  Which, technically,  is math.  Just not the math I am trying to teach. 

What I have found is, my kids do much better if they have a generous serving of protein in their breakfast.  Attention spans are longer, focus is improved, the teacher has a  much better morning. To this end,  I am always on the hunt to find breakfasts that  are easy, relatively healthy and with a decent dose of protein. One that hits all these marks is a simple Fruit and Nut Baked Oatmeal.   Oatmeal may not spring to mind when thinking of protein, but this powerhouse grain will surprise you.  One cup of old-fashioned rolled oats, has 11 grams of protein. This recipe boosts that count even further with the addition of eggs, milk and wheat germ.  Best of all, it is easy to throw together the night before.  The next morning the only requirement is popping it into the oven while coffee brews and the paper is fetched. Fragrant and warm, it's reminiscent of eating a giant oatmeal cookie for breakfast.

Fruit and Nut Baked Oatmeal
4 cups old fashioned oatmeal
1 cup toasted wheat germ (33 grams protein)
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup applesauce
1 1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups dried fruit and nuts - we like dried cranberries & toasted walnuts.

Tip:  Vary the fruit and nut mixture to suit your families tastes.  Diced apples, golden raisins, fresh blueberries, chocolate chips, dried figs, apricots, or cherries are all fun options to try.

Method:  In large bowl, stir together oatmeal, wheat germ, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  In smaller separate bowl, beat eggs, add brown sugar, melted butter, applesauce, milk and vanilla.  Beat together.  Stir wet ingredients into oatmeal mixture.  Add in fruits and nuts.  Stir to combine.  Pour into greased 9x13 pan.  Bake immediately or chill overnight and bake first thing in the morning.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.  Serve with milk if desired.

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