Pressures for change in the traditional American diet are mounting. Eat less fat, sugars and salt, say revisionist nutritionists. Increase consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. The place to begin, you would think, is with breakfast.
But breakfast is probably one of the hardest-meals to change. For those who eat it regularly, the menu is often an ingrained habit. One person always grabs a doughnut with coffee. Another finds it impossible to start the day without eggs, toast and bacon. When you do attempt to change, you run into roadblocks. Cold cereal should be a wise choice, but many of them have added sugar, are made from refined grains and contain additives.
As an alternative, I've developed several recipes that avoid these problems and offer some variety to perk up interest in breakfast. The first one requires a long drying time, but a large supply may be made at one time and it keeps very well in the refrigerator.
2 cups of rolled oats
1 cup of barley flakes
1 cup of untoasted wheat germ
1/2 cup of instant powdered milk
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 to 1 cup of water
Mix all dry ingredients together. Add vanilla to water and mix with dry ingredients. Spread this mixture in a shallow baking pan. Bake in 225 degree oven until cereal is dry. Mix occasionally to prevent sticking, and to allow cereal to brown evenly. Drying time is approximately 2 hours, depending on size of the pan.
Serve cereal with sliced banana, raisin or currants and skim milk. It may be mixed with commercial cereals to make them more nutritious.
The basic recipe can be varied by changing the grains. For example, add a cup of wheat or triticale flakes, or substitute almond flavoring for vanilla. The recipe can be easily doubled or tripled and keeps well in the refrigerator.
APPLE AND OATS CEREAL
1 medium apple
3/4 cup apple juice
1 tablespoon instant, non-fat, dry milk
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons raisins (optional)
Grate apple and mix with apple juice. Add remaining ingredients and mix all together. Chill for at least 10 minutes. Serve plain as cereal.
This recipe is easily made in the evening, and ready for breakfast in the morning. It will keep a week in the refrigerator, and may easily be doubled.
SPREADS FOR TOAST
If you like toast with your coffe or tea and juice, and want something sweet and nutritious, you can make a really good jam with dried fruit. Moreover, dried fruits are a good source of fiber and apricots and peaches are tremendously rich in Vitamin A.
Here are two recipes that take less than 20 minutes each to make.
UNCOOKED DRIED FRUIT SPREAD
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup raisins
1 cup dried figs
1 cup dates
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Cover apricots with water and soak overnight. In the morning or at your leisure, put all fruits through a grinder. Add the water the apricots have been soaking in and the lemon juice. Mix. Cover and store in refrigerator.
If your blender will grind, you can mix everything in the blender.
COOKED DRIED FRUIT SPREAD
1 cup dried pears
1 cup dried peaches
1 cup dried apples
1 cup water or apple juice
Combine fruits and liquid in saucepan and simmer until fruits are soft. This takes about 10 minutes. Allow to cool and puree mixture in a blender. Cover and store in refrigerator.
In either of these recipes you may vary the types of fruits used.
If you are the type who only has time to "drink" breakfast, here are some recipes that are nutritious and not loaded with sugar.
ORANGE MILK SHAKE
1 cup orange juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup nonfat dry-milk granules
1/2 cup fresh or frozen strawberries (optional)
Put all ingredients into blender and whirl for 30 seconds; if your blender will crush ice cubes, add one or two cubes. Garnish with slice of orange.
1 cup plain, non-fat yogurt
3/4 cup fresh or frozen fruit or 6-ounce can frozen fruit concentrate
Put all ingredients into blender and whirl for 45 to 60 seconds. Add cinnamon or nutmeg to taste.
1 cup plain non-fat yogurt
1 cup tomato juice
1 or 2 drops of lemon juice
Put ingredients into blender and whirl for 45 to 60 seconds. This is especially good for weight watchers.
Ripe bananas are especially sweet. If you like a very sweet tasting drink then add one banana to any of the above recipes (except tomato juice-yogurt).