30 December 2010

Dinner for Breakfast

Don't start making gagging sounds at me.  It's not quite how it sounds.  I'm not serving beef stew - yet anyway.

No, what prompted this post was that I was up way too late last night watching my college team WIN their bowl game.  Being on Eastern Time, I didn't get to bed until 1:00, roughly 3-4 hours past my usual time, which means that I slept in this morning!  Until 7:00, I did.

What to have for breakfast?  Daylight (figuratively speaking since it was still dark) was burning.

Well.  We had pork tenderloin roast for Christmas dinner, and there were three slices left.  Perfect!  Fast, easy, full of flavor and protein.  Add some fruit: I had Grandma's Fruit Salad, Cool Guy had a banana, and Encyclopedia had an orange.  Finish the nutritional balance with some whole wheat toast with apple butter and some juice, and voila!  Very tasty, very satisfying, very filling way to start the day.  And it took less than 10 minutes to get it all ready.

This could have also been a planned breakfast; it just didn't happen to be so today.  But oftentimes, I will consider what we had for dinner and see whether I could successfully "repurpose" it for breakfast.  So a ham could become fried ham slices with biscuits, or some leftover roast beef could be hash, which is a super treat.  I have also used leftover stuffing as the main filler for breakfast and just served some fruit alongside to make a quite acceptable dish.

If you have some favorite Dinner for Breakfast ideas, I'd love to hear them.

28 December 2010

Further Proof

I got my Eating Well in the mail yesterday and got into my Mom Cave last night to read it.  What do you know, someone had written in asking if it was really healthiest to eat breakfast.  I think common wisdom would give us a resounding "yes," but The Nutritionist gave thorough answers based on many studies.

I'll summarize:
1. People who eat breakfast regularly are leaner.
2. Breakfasters lose weight and keep it off more easily.
3. People who eat breakfast consume more fiber, calcium, vitamins A and C, and other good things.
4. They also consume less fat and cholesterol.
5. They also have less incidence of the bad cholesterol, compared with those layabout breakfast skippers.
6. Same layabouts have more belly fat.
7. I'm not making any judgements on anyone, BTW.
8. More than one study shows that eating breakfast increases focus and mood.

And one word of advice: if you're not hungry right away, eat a little later in the morning, but EAT, DARNIT.  Make sure you're eating fiber and protein and not donuts chased by a Mountain Dew.

I think we all know in theory that eating breakfast is better for you than skipping it, and I think we all know in theory that eating a healthy, rib-sticking breakfast is better than a processed food breakfast.  And we all know that baby steps are easier to accomplish than giant sweeping reforms.  My challenge to you is to decide on a baby step and do it for awhile, maybe a month, and see how much better you feel and/or how much more smoothly things go in your day.

Here are some suggestions:
1. Get up 20 minutes earlier once a week to allow time to cook a good breakfast.
2. Get breakfast prep done the night before once a week so that a good breakfast can be ready in a flash.
3. Make eggs once a week, any style.
4. Make whole grain muffins on the weekend and freeze them to have during the week.
5. Make homemade granola (recipes abound on the web) on the weekend to have on those harried mornings.

This is just a list of ideas to get you started thinking of your own baby steps.  Just start, that's the point, and if you don't make it one day, it's no biggie.  Heck, no one expects wonders for breakfast anyway, so any upgrade is going to be super-appreciated.

I think you will find that the more you do, the more you'll get out of it.  At least that's how it works around here. 

Have fun, and I hope someone lets me know how it's going.

27 December 2010

Let Them Eat Cake.

Coffee cake, that is.

Does anyone do coffee cake anymore, or is it old-fashioned?  When I was a kid, it seemed pretty common, but I haven't seen it around or heard it mentiond in ages.  It's not sold ready-made on shelves; it's not on the drive-thru breakfast menu, so it may be becoming an endangered species.

If so, it's time to revive it.

I'm not going to say that coffee cake is particularly quick or particularly healthy, but it can have some healthy elements in it, making it healthier, especially by adding fruit and whole grains.  And the point is, we all need some sweetness in life.  Coffee cake fills the bill.

For an early riser, it's not a big deal to whip out.  It's not complicated, no fancy, exotic ingredients, and it is such a nice treat, much nicer than a box of donuts, much easier than a pan of cinnamon rolls.  And the smell as it comes out of the oven.  That makes it worth it.

There are a bazillion coffee cake recipes out there.  I have tried a few from King Arthur: rhubarb coffee cake, which is our favorite, and peach coffee cake, also good.  Today, we had Blueberry Buckle coffee cake, again from King Arthur Whole Grain Baking Book,  and that may be the NEW favorite.  Cool Guy thinks it has a piecrust taste.  I think it's a light, fluffy, crumbly, cinnamony muffin taste.

I encourage you to look around for a recipe that strikes your fancy.  You can begin making it healthier by substituting some whole wheat flour for the white, about a half-cup swap for starters, and definitely a whole grain swap in the streusel topping, if there is streusel.

One piece of my cake gave me 19 whole grains, 252 calories, 8 grams fat, 4 grams protein, 3 grams fiber.  I can live with that now and then.

26 December 2010

A Versitile Topping

Here's a Bah-Humbug for you - for Christmas morning breakfast we had....oatmeal.

THAT's a bit anti-climactic.  I mean, here's the Breakfast Blogger serving oatmeal on the day of Christ's birth?

The justifications:
1. Oatmeal happens to be Cool Guy's food jag for now.
2. Time was tight.  Two of us were serving at 9:00 Mass, and the boys SLEPT IN until we woke them a little after 7:00.

There's nothing wrong with oatmeal at all, but it's just not that festive.  I decided to try dressing it up a little for Christmas.  I checked in one of my trusty tech manuals, A Real American Breakfast, and came across a topping idea.  You take equal parts of softened butter, sugar, nuts, and dried fruit and mix them all up together.  I used brown sugar, pecan bits, and dried cranberries.

This made serving the oatmeal so easy!  Everything but the milk was in one bowl, and we only had to scoop out what we wanted and stir it in.  Cool Guy picked out the cranberries, but I would include them again, for no other reason than that they add some festive color to an otherwise greyish-brownish dish.  But I liked the cranberries beyond just the color.

Now here's the cool part: I woke too early again this morning and began thinking breakfast.  What to have, what to have?  Eureka!  We have some apples that have been sitting awhile on the counter, not being eaten because of the wonderful oranges.  These are largish apples and are a little softer than we like.  So I baked them and filled the centers with the leftover oatmeal topping.

Wow, what a fantastic breakfast!  What a fantastic idea, if I do say so myself!

One topping, two breakfasts, I love it.

The next time I do this, I think I'll try adding some cinnamon to the topping, or a mix of cinnamon and nutmeg.  I could add other fruit, even some fresh diced apples, maybe some maple syrup in place of some of the brown sugar.  The possiblilities are endless.  Anyway, here's what I did.

Oatmeal Topping/Baked Apple Filling
(From A Real American Breakfast)
6 Tablespoons of each:
butter softened
brown sugar
small pecan pieces
dried cranberries

Baked Apples
1.Take the peel off the top of the apples, about 1/4 way down.
2. Core the apples.  This is usually the hard part, but this time I tried using a melon baller to scoop out the core, and it worked well on soft apples.
3. Place the apples in a pan with sides just big enough for them and fill them with the topping.
4. I put a little liquid on top, orange juice, but you could use cider, maybe some maple syrup, or just water.  Just a little liquid.
5. Put in 350 oven, covered for about 30 minutes and then uncover, check and return to oven until they are done to your liking.
6. Put the apples in bowls and spoon as much drippings as you like over the top.

These are delicious.  We had them with some leftover pork roast.

Grandma's Christmas Fruit Salad

Thanksgiving fare around here is pretty much a given: turkey, stuffing, on down to the pumpkin pie.  Christmas dinner, at least in our house, has not been set in stone.  One year it might be ham, another something else.  In Burt's home growing up, it was always Beef Burgundy, but I never got the hang of that one.  There is one dish, however, that we always have for Christmas and only for Christmas - Grandma's Fruit Salad.

It's nothing fancy, nothing complicated, and there's no reason that we couldn't have it at other times.

Wait a minute, this is a breakfast blog; why am I bringing up Christmas Fruit Salad?  Leftovers, of course!  You can make this fruit salad as a side dish or even dessert and have the leftovers as a side for breakfast.

Usually, leftover fruit salad feels very, well, leftover, but not Grandma's, as you will see.  The longer it hangs around, the better it becomes.

This is a ratio-type dish, no exact amounts, and it is so simple, no fancy ingredients, that you could probably make it today and have it on New Year's Day in all its glory.

Of course, for me, the best part about this fruit salad is that it is Grandma's, so I always think of her when I make it and when I serve it.  It's a part of family being passed on to my children, which makes it the best of all.

Grandma's Christmas Fruit Salad
1 small can crushed pineapple, drained some
1 apple, peeled and cut into 1/4"  dice (not exact, just make it small)
1 banana, peeled and cut the same
1 orange, peeled and cut the same

I use a small serrated knife, like one used to peel tomatoes to cut the orange without losing too much juice.

1. Cut all the fruit very small and mix it with the crushed pineapple in a bowl.  Add more sugar than you think you ought.  For that amount, I think I added 1/2 cup, but maybe more.  Go ahead, put in a little more sugar and mix it all together.

2. Now cover the bowl and stick it in the refrigerator for a week and leave it.  All that sugar helps the fruit to ferment a little and get some tang.  That's what makes it.

This year, I was behind on things, like TODAY I'm going to write Christmas cards, so I didn't get the fruit salad made until only 5 days before Christmas, but it was still super.  It will be even better this morning and probably better tomorrow, if there's any left.

Now if any of you have special family breakfast dishes, I'd love hear.

21 December 2010

Mini Breakfast Pizzas

Here is a breakfast that is quick, easy, healthy, filling, and boy-approved.  What else could one ask for?  Although the idea of mini pizzas is not new, I hadn't thought to use the idea for breakfast until I saw this idea from Eating Well magazine.

I don't toast my whole wheat English muffins as directed, and I scramble one egg per person plus one.  I wish I could say that I made my own pizza sauce, but it just didn't happen this summer.  I checked all the labels of all available, and Contadina pizza sauce in the squeeze bottle is one that has less sugar than others.

Encyclopedia enjoys the entire pizza experience, with lots of sauce and a few extra turkey pepperonis, but Cool Guy is minimalist: no sauce, and no pepperoni.  He just likes the muffin, the egg, and plenty of mozzarrella on top.

Total time making this beauty was seriously under 15 minutes, and I had the good feeling that, with the addition of orange slices, I was sending the boys out filled with whole grains, protein, fruit, and dairy.  Not a bad way to start the day.

Expanding My Orange Horizons

We have fruit every morning as part of our breakfast.  I can't think of any morning in my boys' 12 and 9 years that we didn't have fruit.  Nada.  I am so consistent with the fruit, that it's not even an issue.  They know they'll get it, and it's just not worth the hassle to resist. 

Not that eating fruit is onerous, but sometimes there are more tempting things to reach for.

One bright spot about this time of year is that it is orange season.  At some point in my past, I was blase about oranges, but now I look forward to their season and buy, buy, buy when the season arrives.  I always get navel oranges and only navel oranges.

This year, it has been slim pickin's for the better oranges.  I don't know why, but unless one shops at Wal-Mart or Sam's it seems that the navels are all thin-skinned and dried out.  I suspect a deal was made.  I don't WANT to go to Wal-Mart, and I'm not going to endanger my life in our town's worst parking lot at the absolute least sane time of year.  Not even for oranges.

Burt was at Kroger yesterday and, at my request, hand-selected some oranges from what was offered.  This morning, what a surprise to see that he brought home a different kind of navel: the Pink Navel, also known as the Cara Cara.  At first, I thought it was a blood orange, but I think those have seeds.  The sticker on the outside told me what it was.

Like all navels, it is easy to peel and seedless.  It is smaller than the Florida navels we usually get, but it is really, REALLY intense in flavor.  The color is gorgeous, being more like ruby than pink.  Everyone in the fam was excited about this new find.

If you see some Pink Navels, give them a try.