* Egg McMuffins, Eggs Enchiladas, microwavepancakes of Toster Strudels. In the quest to make a fast foot faster, restaurants and frozen food purveyors are selling breakfasts like hotcakes.
According to the National Restaurant Association, between 1978 and 1984, there was a 46 percent increase in restaurant breakfast sales. And between 1982 and 1985, breakfast visits to fast-food restaurants went up 72 percent.
Then, ignited by this growth in restaurant breakfasts -- particularly in fast-food establishments -- frozen-food manufacturers have started cooking the morning meal. One of the fastest growing categories in the supermarket freezer case, the frozen breakfast category totaled $578.3 million for 1985, according to Sales Area Marketing, Inc. (SAMI). In fact, while the frozen upscale dinner category has begun to show losses over the past year, frozen breakfast sales jumped 22 percent, according to SAMI.
While such already-prepared breakfast foods may be tempting to the single cook, breakfast is already a fast food. After all, how long does it take to pour a bowl of cereal and peel a banana? And whether it's yogurt, fruit or an egg, breakfast foods are naturally suited for servings for one.
In addition, some of those frozen-food and fast-food restaurant breakfast selections won't get your morning off to the healthiest start. Many fast-food restaurant breakfasts pack a load of calories, fat and sodium, and many of the new frozen breakfast foods, such as Pillsbury's Toaster Strudel, are made with saturated palm oil.
What is called for, then, are some alternatives for a single cook's breakfast that are not only fast but nutritious. Whether on bread, in a glass, in a bowl or under the broiler, these selections span the spectrum. And for those who have luxury to lounge in the morning, all are perfectly suitable for breakfast in bed. Breakfast on Bread Spreads (Try a Bagel, English Muffin or Whole-Wheat Toast)
* Combine low-fat cottage cheese with raisins, grated carrots and a sprinkling of cinnamon.
* Make your own peach butter by combining 2 skinned and sliced peaches with 1 teaspoon butter or margarine, 1 teaspoon honey, 3 tablespoons water and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg in a small saucepan. Cook for about 15 minutes. Pure'e and refrigerate. This should make enough for several breakfasts-on-bread and is also good mixed into low-fat cottage cheese.
* Spread bread with a thin layer of part-skim ricotta cheese. Make a funky design on top with halved grapes, placed cut-side down.
* Spread bread with jam. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts or halved ones, placed cut-side down, like the grapes (see above).
* Top bread with a thin layer of butter or margarine. Top with a slice of cucumber, a slice of tomato and a sprinkling of chopped chives or your favorite herb.
* Spread a thin layer of peanut butter on bread. Top with chopped figs, dates or prunes and cover with sliced apple.
Breakfast in a Glass
* Make a cantaloupe smoothie by combining 1/2 cup cantaloupe chunks, 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds, 1/3 cup plain yogurt, 1/3 cup skim milk and 2 tablespoons orange juice in a blender or food processor. Add an ice cube or two and process until smooth. Eat the rest of the cantaloupe, sprinkled with lime juice, for breakfast the next day.
* Make a peach-ginger shake by combining 1 peeled and sliced peach, 1 cup skim milk, 1 teaspoon honey, 1 tablespoon wheat germ, 1/8 teaspoon ginger and a couple of ice cubes. Process in a food processor or blender until smooth.
* For a calcium boost, combine 1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt, 1/3 cup skim milk, 2 tablespoons nonfat dry milk, 1/2 ripe banana, 4 small strawberries and 2 ice cubes. Process in a blender or food processor until smooth. Breakfast Under the Broiler
* Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar and a pinch of nutmeg over a grapefruit half. Broil for about 3 minutes.
* Top a bagel with a slice of pineapple (canned pineapple works well, if you can get the holes to match). Broil until pineapple is warm.
* Sprinkle a light layer of shredded cheese over a piece of toast. Top with a few slivered almonds. Broil until cheese is melted. Top with a dab of apple butter, if desired.
* Breakfast in a Bowl Sprinkle the bottom of a lightly greased ramekin or custard cup with 2 teaspoons grated parmesan cheese. Break an egg into the dish and sprinkle with freshly grated black pepper. Bake at 325 degrees for 12 minutes. Top with good-quality canned salsa, if desired.
* Make a ricotta sundae by mixing equal parts of part-skim ricotta with plain or flavored low-fat yogurt. Top with fresh, sliced nectarines, strawberries, blueberries and/or bananas, or chopped dried apricots. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts or crunchy granola (see recipe below).
Alter your breakfast cereal routine by mixing two cereals together. Breakfast on the Weekend
The following recipes, which can be prepared on weekends -- and eaten then, too -- make enough for a quick breakfast during the week. CRUNCHY SPA GRANOLA (Makes 2 cups)
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup whole unblanched almonds
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon wheat germ
1 tablespoon safflower oil
1 tablespoon honey
Toss all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Spread thinly on a baking sheet and bake at 225 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring often so that the ingredients brown evenly. Watch carefully. When the granola is golden and the texture starts to become crunchy, remove and let cool. Serve with milk and sliced strawberries or sprinkle on yogurt. You may store granola in an airtight container, unrefrigerated, for up to 2 weeks.
From "Spa Food," by Edward J. Safdie (Potter, $19.95) GINGER PANCAKES (1 serving)
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk or skim milk
Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and ginger together in a small bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined. Bake on a hot griddle, turning pancakes when bubbles appear on the surface. Serve with apple-maple syrup (below).
Time-saving tips: Quadruple the dry ingredients in the recipe and store them in an airtight container. Then, when you want to have the pancakes later in the week or for the next Saturday or Sunday brunch, just measure out about a 1/2 cup of dry ingredients and combine with the above amounts of wet ingredients.
To freeze them, which really only saves time if you have a microwave (it takes about 30 to 40 minutes to reheat pancakes in a conventional oven), quadruple the entire recipe, follow the directions for preparation and place the finished pancakes in 4 plastic freezer containers. Microwave from frozen. APPLE-MAPLE
SYRUP (Makes 1/2 cup syrup)
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Combine apple and maple syrup in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Serve over pancakes. Use remaining sauce to flavor plain low-fat yogurt.
CARROT BRAN MUFFINS (Makes 12 muffins)
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
*3/4 cup bran or 1/2 cup bran and 1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons brown sugar
Grated rind of 1 orange
3/4 cup grated carrots
Approximately 1 cup skim milk or buttermilk
2 tablespoons oil
1 egg, beaten
Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring just until combined. Add more liquid if necessary. Pour into lightly greased muffin tins and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Allow to cool and freeze all or part of the batch, removing muffins as needed.