Overnight Oatmeal

I don’t know about you, but breakfast isn’t always our most important meal of the day.  Trying to feed four, sleepy Littles breakfast at 6:30 am before they rush out the door to school puts a damper on the whole make-breakfast-the-most-important-meal-of-the-day theory.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the foods we are eating and how I can do a better job fueling the Littles with nutrient-rich choices to help power them through the day.  I thought I’d share with you some of the experiments I’m trying and pass along those that rate at least two (out of four) thumbs up!

Overnight Oatmeal was an instant success.  Three out of the four Littles love this breakfast, so it has permanently found a place on our morning rotation.  The best part? You make it the night before!

Overnight Oatmeal

2 cups oatmeal (not instant)

2 cups almond milk

2 Tbs flaxseed (optional)

Mix almond milk, oatmeal, and flaxseed in a bowl.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  My Littles like the chill taken off their oatmeal, so I microwave the entire bowl for a minute or two, then dish into 4 bowls and let them pick their toppings.

Topping Options:

banana slices

almonds

fresh berries

cinnamon

honey

mini chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life brand which are dairy, soy & gluten free)

Maybe your eyebrows raised a bit at Almond Milk?

Well, it’s all part of my experimentation.  I’ve mentioned before that at least one of the Littles may have a dairy intolerance.  It’s not a full-blown allergy, but it definitely merits monitoring our dairy intake.  Husband & I have almost completely eliminated dairy from our diets (well, since Christmas anyway) and so I’m trying out options to see what passes muster.  So far Almond Milk is tolerated.  Not straight out of the glass, but definitely in Overnight Oatmeal.

Have fun experimenting with the toppings and please, please share with us any favorite breakfasts you have!

*** Gluten-Free Update: We now use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free oats for this weekly staple at The Schell Cafe. And, we love our Almond Milk!

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Shrove Tuesday: A Pancake Feast!

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Ahhh…Mardi Gras.  Here you are again.  I knew it was coming when beads started popping up on the store aisles last week and king cakes were positioned front and center at the bakeries.  Needless to say there will be lots of revelry taking place tonight as the world seems to embrace this now secular mini-holiday.

We’ll be preparing our hearts for the Lenten season tonight with Mardi Gras’ lesser known cousin, Shrove Tuesday.  I’m going to share with you a letter that our amazing kindergarten teacher sent home explaining how the children will be celebrating Shrove Tuesday today.  Her words are far better than mine and I’m certainly not a believer in recreating the wheel:

We will be spending a bit more time than normal on “Chapel” topics this week since this is the beginning of Lent. The day before Ash Wednesday is known as Shrove Tuesday. The word “Shrove” comes from an ancient word “shriving” which, means “confession.” On Shrove Tuesday, we confess our sins and prepare our hearts for the beginning of Lent. On Shrove Tuesday, we prepare our homes for Lent as well. In some traditions and families, Lent is a time of strict fasting – a time when no meat, eggs or sweets are eaten. During ancient times, families would cook cakes on Shrove Tuesday to use up those things that were “forbidden” during Lent and that would not last until the Easter celebrations begin. Eggs, butter, and sugar syrup were on the list of things that needed to be used up. Thus, the tradition of serving pancakes on Shrove Tuesday to use up (not waste) certain foods began. We will cook pancakes during lunch time on Tuesday. Please send in “sides” for your child to have WITH his/her pancakes…or pack a regular lunch if your child would prefer not to have pancakes for lunch.

Another fun part of our Shrove Tuesday celebration is having pancake races. The pancake races come from a legend that long ago, in England, a woman was cooking pancakes for her family when she heard the church bell ring telling her that worship was beginning. Afraid of being late, she took off running down the street wearing her apron and carrying her frying pan with the pancake still in it! In many places today, pancake races are a SERIOUS tradition. We’ll have our own, NOT SO SERIOUS, races Tuesday. It will be lots of fun.

Sweet  Littlest Middlest went to school today, but she is smack dab in the middle of a 24 hour food allergy test and won’t be able to share in the pancake feast with her friends.  Her allergy test ends at 4pm today so I asked her to help me plan our own Pancake Feast for this evening.  We’ll start with Grandma’s Hot Cake recipe and then add special toppings.  Each of the Littles picked their special topping and guess what they came up with — marshmallows, frosting and sprinkles, strawberries and jelly beans.  Hmmm…I’m not sure how this will help prepare our hearts, but our bellies will clearly be up for a fast!

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Look how they are passing right over those strawberries!

Here is Grandma Schell’s Hot Cake recipe in case you want to join in on the Shrove Tuesday tradition.

Hot Cakes (Her recipe also titles them Griddlecakes)

1 1/4 c sifted all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp sugar

3/4 tsp salt

1 egg

3/4 cup milk (She uses buttermilk)

3 Tbs melted butter.

Mix dry ingredients; mix egg, milk and butter. Combine wet and dry mixes together.  Pour onto hot griddle.  Makes about 12 cakes.

Simple Homemade Granola

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How about starting your day with this simple homemade granola?! The Littles sure did enjoy it this morning.  We found the recipe in Chef Bobo’s Good Food Cookbook and followed the simple instructions.  The Littles love it plain with flavors of maple and vanilla starring front and center.  Of course, I’ve already dreamed up several variations for the next few batches.

Why buy over processed cereal when you can make this simple granola? There is no excess or wasteful packaging, you know exactly what ingredients the granola contains and it tastes so much better. The Littles can’t decide if they like it served with milk and fruit for breakfast or sprinkled over yogurt  and drizzled with agave nectar for snack.  And judging from the empty cereal bowl I found in the sink this morning, Husband thinks its pretty good too.   Try it, you’ll like it.

Maple Vanilla Granola

5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats ***

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 cup honey

1 Tbs vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl mix the oats, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon.

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In another small bowl, mix the oil, maple syrup, honey and vanilla.  Pour the honey mixture over the oat mixture and mix with your hands until well combined.  This is messy!

Spread the granola on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake about 30 minutes or until golden brown.

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Cool completely then crumble granola into big chunks and small bits.  Store in an airtight container.

Thank you Chef Bobo! We love you and this granola.

*** Gluten-Free Update: We make this staple at The Schell Cafe with Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free oats

Baked Ruby Red Grapefruit

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We must have been more nice than naughty this year as we received a generous box of South Texas grapefruit this week.  As soon as I discovered the carefully packaged citrus at our doorstep I began to have visions of baked grapefruit with crystallized ginger dancing in my head.

These fresh, sweet grapefruit came straight from the Pittman & Davis orchard in Harlingen.  Don’t let a bitter grapefruit experience keep you from trying the very best Texas ruby red’s you can find.  The succulent sections can stand on their own or with a little extra love with the recipe below.

Baked Texas Ruby Red Grapefruit

2 ruby red grapefruits, cut in half and loosened from peel

1 tbs unsalted butter, melted

4 tbs or generous drizzle of agave nectar

4 tsp brown sugar

4 tsp crystallized ginger

Preheat oven to 375 and place the rack at the top level, closest to the broiler.

Cut each grapefruit in half with a very sharp knife to loosen the fruit from peel and the individual sections.  Remove any white pulp.

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Place the 4 halves on a foil lined baking sheet and brush each fruit with melted butter.

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Drizzle the agave nectar into each of the four center sections just to fill the hole.

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Sprinkle the halves with brown sugar and crystallized ginger.

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Bake at 375 for 5 -10 minutes, until grapefruit begins to bubble.

Turn broiler on high and broil for 2 minutes until the sugar and ginger are bubbly and browned.

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Best Blueberry Breakfast (pancakes)

I thought I’d share my latest breakfast treat.  I’ve made these pancakes every morning for the last few weeks and I don’t think I will ever tire of them.  They are perfect and pack a punch of nutrition into an amazingly hearty treat.

I’ve promised several friends that I would not become a Clean Eating Evangelist, but when the news is this good you’ve got to share.  One of the best resources for clean eating is Tosca Reno.  You can read all about her at www.eatcleandiet.com.  She has a familiar story and I have been very inspired by her clean eating for life.

It’s been fun to adapt old recipes and even more fun collecting new ones that balance the proportion of complex carbs and proteins for perfect clean meals.

Try these pancakes, you won’t be sorry.  I make them for husband and two of the four children.  The other two will get there eventually….

BBB Pancakes

1/2 cup oatmeal (not instant) ***

5-6 egg whites (I’ve started using 3/4 c Egg Beaters)

2 T ground Flax Seed

3/4 c blueberries

cinnamon

Blend ingredients in mini-blender.  Pour onto skillet lightly greased with Pam.  Makes appx. 8 hearty pancakes.  I splurge with a little sugar-free syrup, but I’m not sure it qualifies as a true clean food.

This recipe is for one serving believe it or not!

*** Gluten-free update: I continue to make these protein-carb balanced pancakes with Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free oats.