WAKE UP: IT'S time for breakfast.
Too busy, you say. Never can eat in the morning. Got to get the kids up, dog walked, cat fed, coffee made, paper read, lunches packed, self dressed and out the door. Who has time to eat breakfast, let alone cook it?
True, weekday mornings are not the time for most of us to whip up pancakes or even scramble an occasional egg. But aren't you weary of the old cereal-bagel-toast-juice routine?
Thought so. Why not rethink the day's first meal? How about breakfast pizza? A baked apple? A toasted slice of homemade quick bread with cheese? A made-by-you frozen yogurt pop? A warm slice of homemade quiche?
Imagine the first bite from a bowl of cold, juicy grapefruit and orange sections, sprinkled with a few berries and a mango slice.
Impossible? Nah. Not if you're willing to do a little planning, a little night-before preparation and a little weekend baking. Then, rely on the microwave and blender to jump-start your mornings.
Most of these recipes are easy and designed to be made on weekends or the night before, then wrapped and refrigerated or frozen. That puts you just minutes away from breakfast, even on those days when just opening the refrigerator to get the juice seems more than you can handle.
* The night before: Do everything you can. Portion cereals, cut grapefruits, set up the coffee maker. If you know you'll be eating on the run, pack up breakfast as you would lunch to grab on the way out the door.
* Breakfast pizza: Why not? And who says pizza has to have tomato sauce? A slice of mozzarella cheese on an English muffin or pita bread, a sprinkle of oregano, a minute under the broiler and you're set.
* For quick baked apples, prepare the night before and refrigerate. Rewarm in the microwave and add a dollop of vanilla yogurt.
* Spend a little extra for individual boxes of cereal to toss into a briefcase or lunch box. Or be more frugal and portion out cereal from a big box.
* Bananas are a breakfast cook's best friend. They're great eaten straight. They add nutrition and oomph to cold cereal. They make for moist muffins and quick breads. They add body to quick breakfast shakes.
* Yogurt. Need we say more? We like it with a helping of wheat germ on top. Stir in a spoonful of all-fruit spread. Add a few raisins.
* Bake a breakfast quiche from your favorite recipe, but substitute Canadian bacon, liquid egg substitute and reduced-fat cheese for higher-fat ingredients such as bacon or ham, eggs and rich cheese. Cool, slice into servings, wrap well and freeze. Rewarm in the microwave.
* Top a rice cake with cottage cheese and berries or peanut butter and bananas.
* Top your favorite toast with sliced tomatoes and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Broil until bubbly.
Here are some child-friendly breakfast ideas. They're easy enough for older kids to do themselves.
* Make fruit and cheese kebabs: Alternate cubes of cheese and fruit on small wooden skewers, wrap well and refrigerate overnight.
* Make your own trail mix and pack it into little plastic bags or containers to eat on the way to school or work.
* For fun, make miniature muffins instead of regular size. If they're a few days old, split and toast them, then spread with cream cheese.
* A sandwich for breakfast? Put together a cheese sandwich the night before and quickly grill it in the morning.
* Scoop yogurt into an ice cream cone. Add sprinkles of wheat germ or raisins or a dollop of all-fruit jam.
Cheddar Apple Bread
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup chopped tart apple (1 medium, peeled and cored)
1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/3 cup chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour one 9 1/2 -by-5 1/2 -inch loaf pan or 3 5 3/4 -by-3 1/2 -inch loaf pans.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar; add the eggs and beat until light. Stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together. Add with the apple to the creamed mixture. Fold in the cheese and nuts. Turn into the prepared pan or pans. Bake 1 hour for a large loaf, 40 to 45 minutes for small loaves, or until they test done. Cool in the pan for five minutes, then turn out onto a rack to finish cooling.
Make your own frozen yogurt cups:
1 8-ounce container yogurt
1 small sliced banana
1/2 cup sliced strawberries or other fruit
Stir fruit into yogurt, then spoon into paper or plastic cups. Insert a Popsicle stick (or small plastic spoon) and freeze. When firm, wrap in foil. Makes two small pops.