April 20, 2011

Breakfast of Champions!

No, not Wheaties, but something better... Stuff that really sticks to your ribs and keeps you going until lunch. We're talking the types of breakfast foods that really truly help you get a good workout regimen going this spring and can help maintain that diet when you're back in shape.

Most manufactured cereal brands contain that dreaded HFCS anyway, so you want to really avoid those at all costs, especially when you're working out and trying to lose weight. As you can tell from our absence in Cyberspace, we were kind of fresh out of blog ideas at Spoonfoolery until I posted recently on our Facebook page, asking fans what they'd like to know. I got a resounding request for breakfast food. So here goes...

Granola and yogurt are two of the best things you can do for your body to kickstart the day. You've got protein and calcium in the yogurt, along with fruit and fiber in the granola. Most manufactured granola brands are high in fat and sugar. Try this one on for size. I've been making Cooking Light's Maple Almond Granola for years, and we love it every which by loose... In a bowl with milk, mixed in with yogurt, even sprinkled on top of ice cream! (You know, to make dessert worth something more than it really is!) I mix it up a bit each time too, using the following interesting combinations to replace the recipe's existing fruit/nut combination:

*pecans and dried cherries
*pistachios and dried cranberries
*walnuts and unsweetened banana chips
*cashews, unsweetened coconut, and dried pineapple or mango

For something you can grab and go, try the Hearty Breakfast Cookies at CDKitchen. I make them with whole wheat flour, add nuts (any kind), and even chopped cooked bacon or diced ham (if you buy prepackaged diced ham, drain in paper-towel-lined bowl overnight in your refrigerator before adding to cookie dough). These have become an integral part of our Healthy Snack lineup at the youth center where I teach, an endeavor that requires us to stay within the guidelines of a reduced sugar and fat after-school snack. And by the way, try and avoid margarine in actual baked product of any kind (this recipe suggests it, but I never use it). It contains too much water and wreaks havoc on the structure, is not as flavorful as butter, and don't even get me started on the whole trans fat thing!

Last but not least, here's a recent find that I unearthed during the last zucchini season: Low-Fat Chocolate Zucchini Muffins. These can almost pass as a cupcake, they're so rich and moist, but you're getting the power-packing benefit of a green vegetable in there, so you can feel good about the fact that you're feeding your family a chocolate muffin for breakfast! I've tried several of the mix-ins people mention, like chocolate chips (well, when you're a pastry chef, sometimes you just can't suppress your devilish nature), nuts, and even applesauce to replace the oil. All renditions turn out fine, and this recipe can be poured into a loaf pan and made into a zucchini bread as well.

There's no reason breakfast has to be boring. Be a champion, a baking champion, and make it from scratch your way, every day!