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Family Meals Matter: Speedy start for back-to-school

Staff Report • Aug 5, 2013 at 11:43 AM

Family Meals Matter: Speedy start for back-to-school



While it might seem incredibly early, back-to-school season is upon us — ready or not. Whether you’re headed back to school or off to work, better days begin with a balanced breakfast.

Following the “3 out of 5 model,” a balanced breakfast includes something from Grains food group plus a Fruit or Vegetable and either a Milk Product or a Meat + Bean food group item. This might sound like a complicated equation, but it’s the perfect recipe for the energy and nutrients kids and adults need for success.

With a little planning and preparation, a balanced breakfast can be speedy, too. Thrown together quickly in the morning or prepared the night before, we have the recipes you need for a quick start to your morning.

This week’s featured family meal consists of simple, healthy breakfast recipes like Creamy Wheat Berry Hot Cereal, Banana Breakfast Shake, and Vegetable Quiche Cups. Try some other speedy breakfast recipes this week like Yogurt-Bran Muffins, Egg Mock-Muffin Sandwich, Fruity Yogurt Parfaits and Toast Danish to help you and your kids get out the door and back to school on time with full stomachs and energized brains.




Total Preparation Time: Fewer than 15 minutes

Actual Cooking Time: Fewer than 15 minutes

Number of Servings: 4 (340 calories/serving)

This warming whole-grain porridge pairs cooked wheat berries with rolled oats, fruit and nuts for a filling, fiber-rich breakfast. Using a microwave makes preparation speedy, especially if you’ve thawed frozen cooked wheat berries overnight in the refrigerator.


1 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup raisins

2 cups fat-free milk

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups cooked wheat berries (recipe follows)

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted (see tip)


Place oats, raisins, milk and salt in a large, microwave-safe bowl. (No microwave? See Stovetop Variation.) Stir to combine. Microwave on high, uncovered, for 3 minutes. Stir in cooked wheat berries and microwave again until hot, 1 to 2 minutes more. Let stand for 1 minute. Stir in brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and serve.

— Recipe for Wheat Berries:

2 cups hard red winter-wheat berries

7 cups cold water

1 teaspoon salt

Sort through wheat berries carefully, discarding any stones. Rinse well under cool running water. Place in a large heavy saucepan. Add water and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer gently for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Drain and rinse. To serve hot, use immediately. Or, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

— Stovetop Variation: Bring milk to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in oats, raisins and salt. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in cooked wheat berries and cook until heated through, about 1 minute more. Remove from the heat. Stir in brown sugar and cinnamon; let stand for 1 minute. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and serve.

— Tip: Toast slivered almonds in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.



Total Preparation Time: Fewer than 15 minutes

Actual Cooking Time: No cooking required

Number of Servings: 4 (99 calories/serving)

Breakfast doesn't get faster than this! Pair with a muffin or an English muffin for a balanced start to your day.


1 banana, medium, sliced

1 cup fat-free milk

3/4 cup fat-free vanilla yogurt

1/4 cup pineapple juice

1/2 tablespoon honey


In a blender, process the bananas, milk, yogurt, juice and honey until smooth. Serve immediately.



Total Preparation Time: Fewer than 15 minutes

Actual Cooking Time: 15 to 30 minutes

Number of Servings: 6 (77 calories/serving)

This is a great breakfast. It is easy to fix, and will be ready to eat in 20 minutes. A good way to kick off your day.


1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach

3/4 cup liquid egg substitute or just 3 regular eggs.

3/4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheese

1/4 cup diced green bell peppers

1/4 cup diced onions

3 drops hot-pepper sauce (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Microwave the spinach for 2 1/2 minutes on high. Drain the excess liquid.

3. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with foil backing cups. Spray the cups with cooking spray. You could also use silicone cupcake holders. If you use these there is no need to use cooking spray.

4. Combine the egg substitute, cheese, peppers, onions, and spinach in a bowl. Mix well.

5. Divide evenly among the muffin cups. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

— Cook's Notes: Quiche cups can be frozen and reheated in the microwave. Any combination of appropriate vegetables and reduced-fat cheese may be used.











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