Ahhh summer; it is finally here. It is, without hesitation, my favorite season. The sun, the farm fresh produce, the ability to wake up later than usual and the lack of schedule.
But summer’s downside can also be an extreme lack of schedule. While I am one for not overstuffing my family’s schedule and can truly enjoy whiling a day away reading, cooking and a little gardening, a total lack of schedule and structure does not serve us well either.
Enter summer of 2011 as an example: With a pre-teen, two teens and one collegian in the house, we were all over the place. Some of us, not yours truly, would be waking up at say, 2 p.m. I remember one day being in the kitchen just wrapping up lunch and seeing late waking son and simply saying “good morning.” Mind you this good morning salutation was at 2 p.m. in the afternoon! This was the norm last summer and it was not good. We often didn’t eat dinner as a family because some people would be just having “breakfast” at 2 or 3 in the afternoon. I would find myself catering to people at all hours of the day. Uhhh … not good for my attitude. I find even with normal routines, I am in the kitchen a lot. Not having any schedule whatsoever last summer made that even worse.
While I love to cook and provide wholesome meals and snacks for my family, I have other interests as well. My other interests got short shrift last summer. But shame on me, because of my lack of assiduousness. NOT so, this summer. We learn and grow each year and even after being a mom for 20 years, I am STILL learning how to parent my children.
So, when my wonderful husband decided that there would be more structure in this house and that in no uncertain terms, the children would wake up at 10 a.m. and do the following, I was completely on board:
- Wake up and be at the table by 10 a.m. for breakfast
- Learn a new vocabulary word for the day. Or review one from the past week.
- Do some small chore to help out. (This is usually a simple task such as loading up my car, fetching something from the basement pantry, carrying up a load of clothes from the dryer, watering the plants).
Now here is the SHOCKER … we both expected a cry to go up so loud about the 10 a.m. wake up, that you would’ve been able to hear it in neighboring states. Well, I am here to say that every once in a while your children surprise you for the better, and I am thrilled to say that is what has been happening here. They have been waking up without incident and our day is so much nicer. I now prepare a breakfast for a bunch of us at ONE time, instead of making breakfast, lunch and dinner at vastly spread out times during the day. I am no longer a dour faced short order chef, but a mom who has taken control and prepares a healthy wholesome breakfast which is on the table, without fail, at 10 a.m. each morning.
A Week of Healthy Breakfast Ideas
Mon-Farm fresh eggs, over easy, with whole grain toast. My eggs were from a local farm, nine miles from the house, truly free range. Raymond Francis, author of “Never Be Sick Again” says that 90 percent of commercially raised chickens have cancer by the time of their slaughter. I only buy organic eggs, local and organic is even better.
Tue-Millet porridge topped with golden raisins, chopped toasted almonds and a teaspoon of pure maple syrup. Wash millet well, put 1 c. in a pot with 3 c. of water and a pinch of salt. Simmer 20-25 minutes. Stir frequently. Millet is an alkaline grain and just a great alternative to oatmeal. Something different.
Wed-Steel cut oatmeal with cinnamon, maple syrup and topped with chia seeds. I soaked the oatmeal for three hours before cooking. You can also soak overnight. This shortens the cooking time. About a 1/2 cup of oats per person. Cover oats by about an inch with pure water. Add a pinch of salt if desired. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for about 20-25 minutes. You may need to add more water. This was one of our favorite breakfasts. Steel cut oatmeal is both creamy and chewy and very satisfying. It takes a little longer to prepare, but it is worth it. It can also be cooked the night before and put in fridge. You can reheat on the stove but will need to “loosen” it up with some water to regain that creamy consistency. A side dish to todays breakfast was a bowl of cut up organic pineapple, which I’ve been finding for $2.99 at Wegmans.
Thur-Microwave made old-fashioned oatmeal. This is an easy, quick way to get oats into your body with out prepping and soaking and boiling on the stove. A nice sized portion is 1/2 cup of old-fashioned oats in a bowl with 3/4 c. of water. Microwave for two minutes. Done. Add toppings as desired. For us it is usually a teaspoon of maple syrup and a sprinkle of chia seeds and cinnamon,
Fri-Yogurt Parfaits. For myself, I prefer Fage plain yogurt with fruit only, andsometimes a teaspoon of local honey drizzled over the top. I actually like the tang of the Fage. I find most commercial, even most Greek yogurt to be way too sweet. My kids like Chobani vanilla, which has 13 grams of sugar. I also like Stonyfield Oikos Vanilla, which is organic and has 11 grams of sugar. But most of the times I go for the plain Fage which has only si grams of sugar. Other brands of Greek vanilla yogurt such as Dannon and some supermarket brands weigh in at 17-18 grams of sugar. Sickeningly sweet. Add fresh ripe fruit for your sweetness and then you gain the benefit of fiber along with the sweetness of the fruit. For the children’s breakfast this morning, I added some granola for fun and crunch. They downed it like it was a dessert. Sweet to see!
Sat-Today was smoothie day. Smoothies are infinitely variable. I use a very highquality whey powder for my smoothies from Standard Process. It is non fractionated and non denatured. Great source of protein for my growing children. I plan on doing a blog post just on smoothies, so stay tuned.
Sun-Sunday is pancake day! No commercial mixes in this house. They usually contain hydrogenated fats and bleached flour. I adapted this Sneaky Vegetable Pancakes from Family Fun Magazine. This is my version; it is delicious and even a little healthier. The original version called for white flour and canola oil. Not in my version.
Very Veggie Pancakes**
Before you start recipe, grate in food processor one small yellow zucchini and one small green zucchini. Set aside.
Combine in a large bowl:
1/4 c. cornmeal, 1/2 c. quinoa flakes*, one c. white whole wheat flour (I used KIng Arthur brand), 1 T. Rumford non-aluminum baking powder, 1/4 t. salt, 2T, sugar.
Combine in smaller bowl or large glass measuring cup:
One c. buttermilk, two free range or organic eggs, two T. melted organic unsalted butter.
Whisk liquid ingredients together. Add to dry ingredients. Do not over mix. Add 1 and 1/2 cups of the grated squash. Heat unsalted butter on griddle so that a drop of water sizzles. Use a 1/4 c. scoop for pancakes. This recipe makes about 9-10 4″ pancakes.
* Quick cooking oats can be substituted for the quinoa flakes. But quinoa flakes are great and are worth searching out
** Much of the work of this recipe can be prepared the night before. Mix all dry ingredients and leave bowl on counter. Measure out buttermilk and leave in fridge. Add the eggs and melted butter in the morning. Also grate squash the night before and leave in fridge.