Nutritious Breakfasts Don't Have To Be Time Consuming

IN THE KITCHEN

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It's back-to-school time and getting students off to a healthy start every morning may seem like a daunting task. But study after study has shown how important the first meal of the day is to making it through the rest of the day with energy and a sharp mind -- not only for students, but for adults as well.

And while what we eat cannot guarantee our success, if it is healthy, wholesome and meets our needs, it can lay the groundwork for achievement.

Time and energy are among the toughest obstacles to healthy weekday breakfasts, so work ahead -- set the table the night before, put something in the slow cooker and it will be ready and waiting in the morning. If waiting until the night before is too late to wait, take some time during the weekend and do some cooking for the freezer.

Ham and Tater Slow Cooker Breakfast

1 pound frozen tater tots

1/2 pound diced ham

1 chopped onion

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

6 eggs

1/2 cup milk

In 4- to 5-quart slow cooker, layer ingredients in order: tater tots, ham, onions, green peppers and cheese. Repeat layers two more times, ending with cheese.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs and milk and beat with whisk or egg beater until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour mixture over layers in slow cooker. Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 10-12 hours. Makes 6 to 8 servings

Slow Cooker Southwest Breakfast

2 teaspoons butter

1 pound bulk breakfast sausage, cooked and drained

1 onion, diced

1 green pepper, seeded and diced

4-ounce can chopped green chiles

2 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese

18 eggs

Grease inside of slow cooker with butter. Starting with sausage, layer meat, onions, peppers, chiles and cheese, repeating the layering process until all ingredients are used.

In large mixer bowl, beat eggs with wire whisk or eggbeater until combined, then pour over mixture in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 7 to 8 hours. Serve with sour cream or fresh salsa. Makes 12 servings

Slow Cooker Breakfast Cobbler

This easy and delicious recipe takes only a few minutes to prepare and tastes like apple crisp! Use your favorite brand of granola cereal in this recipe.

2 cups peeled, sliced tart apples

2 cups granola cereal

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons melted butter

Spray inside of slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Combine apples, cereal and cinnamon in slow cooker and mix well. Stir together honey and butter and drizzle over apple mixture. Mix gently. Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours. Makes 4 servings

Slow Cooker Oatmeal

Make sure to use steel cut oats in this delicious slow cooker breakfast recipe, they hold up better. You can find them in tins alongside ordinary rolled oats in the grocery store.

1 cup steel cut oats

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup dried dates

4 cups water

1/2 cup half-and-half

Spray inside of slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 8 to 9 hours.

Stir well before serving. Makes 4 servings.

A "low tech" version of this uses a wide-mouth insulated thermos container, boiling water and regular oatmeal (which costs quite a bit less than the instant dry packet version) -- Using the measurements recommended on the package of oatmeal, place grain and boiling water in thermos, seal tightly and let stand overnight. In the morning the oatmeal will be ready to eat.

Slow Cooker Apple Oatmeal

2 cups milk

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon melted butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup regular oats

1 cup peeled, cored, chopped apple

1/2 cup chopped dates

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Spray the inside of a 3- to 4-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker and mix well. Cover and turn on low setting. Cook overnight or 8 to 9 hours. Stir well before serving. Makes 8 servings.

Slow Cooker Egg Casserole

Use your imagination when making this recipe. Try Canadian bacon instead of ham. Use different cheeses. Add some other vegetables or minced jalapeno peppers if you like hot foods.

1 (32-ounce) bag frozen hash brown potatoes

1 pound cooked ham, cubed

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

12 eggs

1 cup whole milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

Spray inside of slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Place one third of the frozen hash brown potatoes in the slow cooker. Add one third of the ham, onion, green pepper and cheese. Repeat layers, ending with the cheese.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, milk and seasonings until well mixed. Pour over the ingredients in the slow cooker, cover and turn on low. Cook for 10 to 12 hours, until casserole is set and eggs are thoroughly cooked. Serves 12.

Quick weekday breakfasts from the freezer may take some time out of your weekend, but less stress on weekday mornings makes it a fair trade.

Bacon & Hash Brown Roll-Ups

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 slices Canadian bacon, cut into small pieces

2 cups frozen hash brown potatoes

8 eggs

16 (6-inch) flour tortillas

8 tablespoons salsa

1 cup shredded Pepper jack cheese

In large skillet, heat olive oil and brown bacon and hash browns. In large mixing bowl, combine eggs and salsa; beat well until combined. Pour into skillet with bacon and potatoes and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until eggs are set. Spoon egg mixture into flour tortillas, sprinkle with cheese, and roll up. Place roll-ups in freezer bags and freeze.

When ready to serve, place burrito in microwave, covered with a paper towel, and heat for about 1 minute on high power for each burrito. You may have to adjust heating time for your microwave.

Freezer French Toast

3 eggs

1 cup half and half or light cream

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup cornflake cereal crumbs

8 (1-inch thick) slices french bread

Mix eggs, half and half, sugar and vanilla in a shallow bowl. Dip the french bread in this egg mixture, leaving the bread in the bowl for a few minutes so it absorbs more egg mixture. Dip bread in the cornflake crumbs to coat. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze until firm.

When ready to bake, first preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place frozen french toast pieces on a greased cookie sheet for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and crunchy. Turn the toast once during baking. Makes 8 slices

Make Ahead Waffle and Pancake Batter

4 1/2 cups flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 package dry yeast

4 cups milk

1/2 cup butter

6 eggs

In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Heat milk and butter over low heat until warm and add along with eggs to flour mixture. Beat at medium speed until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days, stirring in 2 additional tablespoons sugar after second day.

For pancakes, lightly grease griddle and pour about 1/4 cup batter onto hot surface for each pancake. Turn when edges look cooked and bubbles begin to break on surface, then cook a few minutes longer until other side is browned.

For waffles, bake in a hot waffle iron until steaming stops.

Sausage Filled Biscuits

1/2 pound. pork breakfast sausage

1 1/2 cups baking mix

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoon milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large skillet, break up sausage and cook over medium heat until thoroughly cooked. Drain well and then drain on paper towels.

In a large bowl, mix baking mix, cheese and sausage until well distributed. In small bowl, beat together egg, milk and salt and pepper. Add to baking mix mixture and blend until mixture forms a ball. Shape into 24 balls, using about 1 tablespoon of dough for each. Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until browned and cooked through. Serve immediately or freeze. Reheat in microwave or oven until hot.

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