“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” We have all heard this cliché before, but there is some truth to the saying. Who can focus and, ultimately, survive during that dreaded 8 a.m. class all the way to lunch on an empty stomach? The solution is simple: plan ahead and stock your pantry with a few basics to establish a balanced breakfast routine, all without the typical cereal.
Homemade granola and chia seed pudding are two great ways to start your morning. Make large batches at the beginning of the week and you’ll be grateful for the easy-to-make meals that are based on what you have on hand. There are endless possibilities to liven up your morning routine: top the recipes with berries and almonds; mix the granolas with yogurt or even mix the two together.
Granola is an excellent way to move beyond the usual cereal routine and can be served with milk, yogurt or just by the handful. This recipe is the result of an ill-fated attempt at making homemade granola bars. Needless to say, the mistake yielded even better results in creating a more versatile form of a simple bar. This recipe calls for coconut oil, which sounds exotic, but can be found at most any supermarket. Vegetable oil will work as a substitute if necessary. The almonds can be omitted or replaced with a different raw nut, as well any dried fruit; think dried cranberries, dried cherries, pecans or sunflower seeds.
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup raw sliced almonds or any other dried fruit or nut (optional)
Heat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Spray an 8 x 8 inch pan with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
In a medium sized bowl, combine the oats, salt and almonds, if using.
In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt together the coconut oil, honey, and sugar until it has a smooth consistency. Then, stir in the vanilla.
Pour the coconut oil and honey mixture over the oats and toss until everything is lightly coated.
Spread the granola on the prepared pan.
Bake the mixture for roughly 40 minutes, stirring every 10, until the oats become golden brown. Reminder: the granola may still appear soft when you remove it from the oven, but will become crisp as it cools.
Chia seed pudding is a personal favorite, a creamy treat made with very few ingredients to create a protein-filled breakfast. Admittedly, the texture of chia seed pudding is unusual, as the chia seeds swell when combined with liquid. Nevertheless, give it a try.
Chia seeds contain many healthful properties and are high in antioxidants. The type of milk used can vary, and dairy, coconut, cashew and almond milk are all good choices, with each lending a slight difference in flavor. The easiest way to make chia seed pudding is in a jar as the components can simply be shaken to combine. However, stirring the ingredients in a large bowl will work as well.
Chia Seed Pudding:
Makes 1-2 servings
3 tablespoons chia seeds
1 cup milk of choice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon maple syrup, honey or sweetener of choice.
Combine all ingredients in a screw-lidded jar. With the lid sealed, shake the jar to combine ingredients.
Let it sit for 5 minutes then shake again.
Refrigerate overnight or for a minimum of 2 hours before serving.
Top with berries and/or toasted nuts prior to serving.