This stuff is going to need a more careful third iteration, but at least it's coming together at a fast clip.
Breakfast, tragically, is all too often breakfast cereals, which are expensive and full of refined carbohydrates and tons of added sugar. Runner-ups for bad breakfast ideas include oatmeal (which is a wonderful food on its own) that comes in little packets (again, expensive, and full of sugar), single servings of flavored yogurt (another wonder food that contains obscene quantities of sugar, and is expensive), “breakfast bars” (again, expensive and loaded with sugar)
Meals of this sort are a wasted opportunity to eat whole grains, fruits, and especially vegetables. All of that added sugar leaves people hungry for snacks halfway to lunch, and leads to terrible health problems.
For egg recipes, see the Egg section (#). For toast, see recipe #. For a Southern breakfast gravy, see recipe #.
Plain yogurt is an exceptionally nutritious food, and has a refreshingly tangy flavor that pairs nicely with fruit. A bowl of diced fruit topped with yogurt makes a great breakfast. Toss in uncooked oats or nuts for some crunch. If you like a sweeter yogurt, drizzle some honey or maple sugar on top, or add a spoonful or two of jelly.
If you have fruit, yogurt, and a blender, you can make a smoothie - just toss diced fruit in with the yogurt, and blend. If the mixture needs to be wetter in order to blend well, add a splash of milk, water, or juice. Want it colder? Add ice. Sweeter? Add sugar, honey, maple syrup, or jelly.
Want to sneak some vegetables into your smoothie? Add a little kale, or other greens. (This is particularly easy if you have some washed and chopped in your freezer.) Got half a can of pumpkin puree left over from yesterday’s Pumpkin French Toast? Add that. Or add raw, scrubbed carrot.
Almost any smoothie can be improved in its consistency by adding a banana, if you happen to like banana.
If you can’t bear to part with breakfast cereals entirely, but want a healthier or more filling breakfast, you can try combining your boxed cereal with oats, which are delicious raw. Other things you can add are dried fruit (cut into small pieces, if necessary) and nuts (cut or smash them up, if you like.) For convenience, all of these things can be mixed together in a Tupperware box and kept in the cupboard.
Oates are one of the best possible things you can eat. They are highly nutritious and high in fiber. Oates are edible both raw and cooked. Oats come in “rolled” and “quick” varieties - quick oats being rolled
This is how to make a single serving of oatmeal in the microwave. Oatmeal can also be cooked on the stove top.
Rolled or quick oats
Milk or water
(optional) pinch of salt
(optional) sweeteners such as sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, blackstrap molasses
(optional) pumpkin pie spices, such as cinnamon or cloves
(optional) dried fruit, such as raisins, dried apple, chopped prunes, dried cranberries
(optional) chopped nuts or seeds, such as pecans, or flax seeds
To make a single serving of oatmeal in the microwave, put the desired amount of oats into the bowl, along with whatever optionals you want. Pour just enough water or milk over the oats to cover them, and stir. Microwave for a minute or two, until the oatmeal softens and absorbs the liquid. If the oatmeal is too solid, add more liquid. Add additional optionals to taste.
Oatmeal can also be topped with yogurt or fresh fruit.
Toddlers love oatmeal. Fix it with less water so that the oatmeal has a doughy consistency, give it a few minutes to cool, and it can then be eaten by toddlers as finger food - or it will stick helpfully to the spoon.
Universal Pancakes (quick meal)
Contrary to popular belief, in baking, it is not necessary to measure out ingredients exactly. As long as you don’t mind your baked goods turning out a bit differently from one batch to the next, it is perfectly acceptable (and fun!) to improvise with ingredients and quantities. This is especially true of pancakes. You can use what you have on hand - from leftover oatmeal, chopped or pureed fruits, and even some vegetables.
For best results, mix together all of the dry ingredients first. Then stir in the wet ingredients, just to the point that the batter contains a few lumps, and cook immediately. The batter should be just wet enough that it can be slowly poured. If it is too dry, add more liquid; if too wet, add more flour.
At their most basic, pancakes need only two ingredients, in approximately the following ratio:
1 cup flour (of any sort, but whole wheat is preferable)
1 cup liquid
For the liquid, milk is traditional. However, you can also use fruit juice, or pureed fruit or vegetables (such as canned pumpkin). Combinations work well.
But by themselves, those two ingredients make tasteless pancakes. For more flavor, add the following:
1 tsp sugar (of any sort)
1 pinch of salt
a bit of vanilla or pumpkin pie spices
To add protein, add:
To reduce sticking on pans which don’t have a non-stick surface, add:
2 tbsp oil or melted butter
For lighter, fluffier pancakes, add:
1 tsp baking powder (or baking soda, if an acidic ingredient such as orange juice or honey is used)
Add flavor and get more nutrition by adding:
1 cup canned, pureed, or grated pumpkin, squash, sweet potato, beet, turnip or other vegetable, or mashed banana (overly ripe bananas are even better!), or grated apple or pear. Or add a cup of cooked oatmeal.
Finally, you can add extra chunks to the batter, or sprinkle them into the still-gooey pancakes after you have poured the batter onto the griddle:
Up to 1 cup chopped nuts, seeds, chopped fresh or dried fruit, fresh or frozen berries.
Heat the griddle or pan on medium heat. Flick a few drops of water on the surface of the pan to gauge the temperature. When the drops of water skitter around on the pan, the temperature is just right for cooking pancakes. (Water drops that just sit there indicate that the pan is too cold, and water drops that evaporate immediately indicate the pan is too hot.)
Pour the batter into pancake-sized dollops on the griddle. After five minutes, use a spatula to lift one pancake. If the pancake is browned underneath, flip all of the pancakes over, and continue to cook until both sides are browned.
Pancakes can be kept warm on a plate in the oven at the oven’s lowest setting. Serve with butter, maple syrup, honey, or jelly.
Pancakes can also be frozen to save for later. Use parchment paper between pancakes to keep them from sticking together when frozen. Frozen pancakes can be reheated in a toaster or under the broiler.
Breakfast Bread Pudding
(cook in advance)
This casserole makes a filling meal for a whole family. Only the eggs, milk, and bread are necessary - everything else can be substituted with other things or left out. This recipe is also good for hiding vegetables in, if you have picky children to feed.
The necessary parts:
6 cups of torn-up stale or toasted bread (6 slices of sandwich bread)
1 ½ cups milk
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
(optional) Other spices of your choice, including sage, rosemary, cumin, garlic, or whatever sounds good.
(Optional) Add up to two cups of any of the following:
ham, cooked chicken (recipe #), cooked bacon (recipe #), cooked sausage (recipe #), or other cooked meat
Cheese, grated or cut into cubes
Chopped or grated vegetables, including onion, summer or winter squash, greens, or peas
Mix together all of the ingredients, and pour into a loaf pan (which will be filled to overflowing) or casserole dish. Bake at 400 degrees for about an hour if you use a loaf pan, or 30 minutes if you use a casserole dish. The pudding is done when it has become solid all the way through the middle, and a sharp knife stuck in the middle comes out mostly clean. To take the guesswork out, you can also use a thermometer. The pudding will be done when the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.
Cook this casserole over a cookie sheet to catch any overflow.
French toast is the perfect way to use up stale sliced bread, or sliced bread that may have been in the freezer a bit too long, warmed up in the toaster, or otherwise thawed. Exact measurements aren’t necessary. For a very small batch of French toast, whisk together:
½ to 1 cup of milk
A pinch of salt
(optional) pumpkin pie spices (recipe #) or a dash of vanilla
Heat a griddle or pan on medium heat. Flick a few drops of water on the surface of the pan to gauge the temperature. When the drops of water skitter around on the pan, the temperature is just right for cooking French toast. (Water drops that just sit there indicate that the pan is too cold, and water drops that evaporate immediately indicate the pan is too hot.)
Melt a tablespoon of butter onto the pan, if it isn’t non-stick, and then place the soggy bread on the pan. After five minutes, use a spatula to lift one. If the French toast is browned underneath, flip all of the toast over, and continue to cook until both sides are browned.
French toast can be kept warm on a plate in the oven at the oven’s lowest setting. Serve with butter, maple syrup, honey, or jelly.
French toast can also be frozen to save for later. Use parchment paper between the slices of toast to keep them from sticking together when frozen. Frozen French toast can be reheated in a toaster or under the broiler.
Pumpkin French Toast (quick meal)
This variant on French toast uses canned pumpkin, or canned squash, or canned sweet potato, or home-made versions of any of these. The added sugar and pumpkin-pie spices will give this the flavor of pumpkin pie. Use the French Toast recipe and the following ingredients:
About ½ loaf stale, fresh, or thawed bread
½ of a 15-0z can of pumpkin
½ to 1 cup milk
Pumpkin pie seasonings of any sort (optional)
1 tsp brown or white sugar (optional)
1 pinch of salt