16 March 2012

It's About Time

OK, if anyone there still reads this blog, no I am not dead, or retired, or moved on to something else.  Believe me, Break the Fast is continually on my mind.  But....it's not my job, and my job, unpaid though it is, takes precedence, so The Blog must wait.  Hurray, that I have time today!

I have a huge backlog of items to post, but today I thought I'd keep it simple.  Not too many weeks ago, I was folding laundry and listening to the Meal Makeover Moms podcast.  Their focus on this particular episode was breakfast.  Yeah!  I love breakfast.  They reaffirmed everything I believe about breakfast and then addressed the conundrum that many of us, including me, find ourselves in: how to make a kid-friendly, tasty, nutritious breakfast in a very short time that will get your children from early morning to school lunchtime without crashing. Yes, we can fry eggs and bacon, but surely not every day?

The key word is protein.  Protein is what is going to get you through the morning.  Let's see: we can have eggs, bacon, sausage, and at this point I run out of ideas for the typical morning sources.  None of these is going to kill us, but a daily dose is not only boring but also not the best for overall well-being.  Don't get me wrong, I looooove bacon, and nothing beats an egg for a quick, satisfying start to the day, but come on, there must be something else out there.

Meal Makeover Moms to the rescue!  How about a peanut butter smoothie?  Well, yes, how about it?  I listened to their recipe, and then just went to my trusty blender and started in.  My beef with smoothies has always been that they don't have staying power.  Cool Guy, in particular, could do a smoothie every day, but I resist because it takes time, cleaning up time, and it isn't enough.  For that same amount of time, I could get something much more substantial on the table.  But, hey, a peanut butter smoothie might work, so I tried.

And yes, one glass of Elvis-inspired smoothie was not only tasty, kid-appealing, and full of good nutrition, but it also kept us happy until lunch.

I didn't really follow the recipe.  I just took the idea and used what I had, which I would encourage you to do, also.

Here it is.  If you try this, hope you're as happy as I.

Elvis Smoothie
1 banana
vanilla yogurt
peanut butter
ice cubes

Place all in the blender.  I usually put in a few serving spoonfuls of yogurt, a splash of milk and a large serving spoon of peanut butter.  Sorry I can't be more specific.  I don't think you can screw this up.  Consistency is what you're working for, not too thick, not too runny.  The ice cubes help thin it out and give a frostiness, which is nice.  A nice touch, if you're feeling indulgent, is to add some chocolate syrup, but the shake is delicious with or without.

16 January 2012


Some call it zeitgeist, or serendipity.  I'm calling it confluence today.  It's where all of a sudden, ideas start appearing, seemingly randomly, and all are pointing at an idea.

I've been experiencing this lately.

The idea is answering a call, and yes, this does apply to breakfast.

Not to get too personal, let's just say that the call that I am answering is my job as a mother.  Sometimes, usually in the two dark months after Christmas, I tend to get the winter blues.  Part of it could be due to lack of fresh air and sunshine, part of it to the post-holiday letdown, though I would definitely say that has decreased over the years.  And part of it is the prospect of three more months of this weather until things just begin to get better.  Definitely retiring somewhere warm year-round.

Back to the call.  Why am I here?  What is my  purpose in life?  (I am getting to breakfast.  Bear with me.)  What in my life is meaningful?  Purposeful?  Why do I get up every morning?  This is something that each of us, at some stage - if we reflect at all - must face.  And the midst of the winter blues brings this kind of reflection to the fore.  I am here because I have a very big job to do: raise my sons to be healthy, whole, productive, and happy beings.  My job happens to be harder than some other mothers' and not as hard as others.  I have daily challenges.  I can crumple, or I can soldier on.  I choose to soldier on, though it is often by will alone that I do so in January and February.

Confluence: what was that all about?  Things run across my path.  I was at Mass yesterday, and the theme was answering the call.  I have been reading things, and those things point to my call.  Notably, I just finished the book version of Supersize Me, the documentary by Morgan Spurlock about his month of eating only McDonald's food and upping the portion when it is offered.  The upshot is that he gained an enormous amount of weight and did some major damage to his health.  In the book, titled Don't Eat This Book, he tackles many other facets of America's problem with bad eating and overall bad living.

My call is not just to avoid fast food, though I do, despite the whine factor, despite non-stop media bombardment.  My call is, among many other things, to provide food which will be the most beneficial to my family.  It must be nutritious and satisfying on all levels, even if it isn't featured on TV or accompanied by a toy.

My particular job is to make sure that my ADHD child gets a good whallop of protein in the morning to help him focus just a little bit better.  And it has to be appealing and tasty or he'll have none of it.  And it has to be joyous, a tiny morning celebration, or the day will never go in a positive direction.  I have talked before about making the morning breakfast an early version of the Family Dinner Table.  I can carve out time in the morning to at least sip that second cup of coffee while breakfast is going on, and to make pleasant conversation anticipating the events of the day, making a few jokes, and in general easing everyone into a state of mind to take on the world.

It's a tall order, and it occupies a great deal of my brain.  I also need variety, if only to keep my own psyche stimulated.

I was at first reluctant to talk about this, afraid that I would sound preachy or over proud, but then I reckoned that my thoughts might be the bit of information traveling across someone else's path to add to her own confluence.  If you've hung in so far, thank you.  On to the preaching (or motiviation.)  If you are the primary care-giver in your home, ask yourself where your strengths are.  We are all going to excel in some areas and need improvement in others.  Of late, I have been a pretty good home-manager.  I have gotten us fairly organized.  I keep a multitude of appointments each week, and I am on time, pay on schedule, and keep good records.  I get three meals on the table seven days a week.  My grocery bill is high, but not as high as an eating out bill would be.  My family consumes well above the national average in fruits, veggies, and whole grains.

On the minus side, I am not as patient with the delights of a child as some would be.  I get bored playing blocks or legos, or pushing cars and trucks around.  I don't do that as well as I should.  I like to escape to my books as soon as possible.

Whatever your own weakness, are you at all able to make it better?  Are there some tiny steps you can take to make your own home a little easier to live in?  More joyous?  Healthier?  Less stressful?  Are there things you could give up?  Are there things that are non-negotiable?  Baby, it's cold outside.  Take some time to think about this while cooped up indoors.  What is truly important?  If your world crashed on you tomorrow, what would you hold onto?  In ten years, what will you regret?  What will you be proud about?

Are you answering your own call?  Honestly?  Are you striving?

Back to breakfast: In my quest of the Holy Grail (or Grails) of breakfasts, I have stumbled on a few of late.  Stirring vanilla protein powder in a bowl of oatmeal makes Cool Guy happy while adding the protein he needs.  He likes the added vanilla flavor, and I like that it holds him until lunch.  Do I notice any discernible difference in his focus?  Not that I can tell, but then who knows how scattered he'd be without it?

The second uber-breakfast was recently discovered.  This is called a Bird's Nest.  You butter a slice of toast and then tear it up into pieces into a bowl.  Add a 3-minute egg on top, to be the egg in the nest, and then pour a little syrup over it.  When you break the egg, most of yolk soaks into the syrupy toast, and you have an absolutely wonderful taste treat.  It is comfort food at its finest.  The presentation is happy, the taste is sublime.  If the toast is whole wheat, and you include a glass of juice and a fruit, you have a perfect breakfast. Kid-appealing, good for you, better than fast food, and it only takes 5 minutes, start to finish.

If I have inspired you to examine your own calling, I am glad.  I would love to continue this conversation further.  If I have inspired you only to try the Bird's Nest, then that is enough.

06 January 2012

New Year's Resolution

Hello, Dear Reader,

Have you made a New Year's Resolution yet?  Two years ago, mine was to cook real breakfasts as often as possible, and I think that one changed my life.  (Not drastically, but change it did.)  If you don't have a resolution yet, may I suggest that one?  Just jump in there, scramble an egg or two (no more time involved than a bowl of cereal) and see how your year goes.

My resolution - outside of my usuals: eat less, pray more - is to make a commitment to post on this blog at least once a week.  In order to do that, I must put it on my TO DO list, which I follow religiously (unlike praying, which I should do religiously *sigh*).  Right now, my mind is buzzing with topics.  I have a really good fancy-schmancy breakfast cookbook, from which I'd like to try quite a few recipes, preferably whittled down and simplified to fit a real person's life.  I'm going to begin with the egg chapter this week, so tomorrow, I go to the farmer's market to get some really good, really fresh eggs.

And then, I've got quite a few product reviews.  After 26 years of marriage, I decided that the cruddy old pots and pans that I've struggled against should be retired, and I've done the research, and made the plunge.

Also, I've noticed that my posts of late have been rather slapdash, which is fine some of the time, but definitely not what I had set out to do.  So I am planning on incorporating a little more research into what I'm blogging about so that we can all (including me) learn exactly WHY such-and-such thing is good for us, and exactly HOW it is so.

I am very excited about upping the level of the blog, and hope that you all will check in from time to time.  Look out next week to see if my resolution is holding. :)