After yesterday’s monologue about the intricacies of breakfast, Marie made a great point in the comments:
I have a hard time with breakfast. Without it the day’s a disaster, but I am NOT a morning person, in spite of which I am out the door by 7 am (in the darkness… so sad…). It’s a daily struggle, because if I make a good breakfast I get crunched for time, but if I have a teeny grab-and-go breakfast I’m starving well before lunchtime (5 1/2 or 6 1/2 hours later, depending on the day). I can often munch on a snack mid-morning, but the snack has to be something I can eat without direct snack-to-germ-and-ink-covered-skin contact. So I need breakfasts that are filling (but not heavy) and fast and snacks that are quick and easy to eat but not overly processed.
I hear ya, Marie! Being a teacher, it’s especially important for you to be energized during the morning. Your struggles with breakfast are common ones, and ones I’ve had myself (and I’m a morning person!). I believe in the power of a good breakfast, so I believe it is my duty – nay, life mission – to help everyone enjoy a good one. There are several things you can do to make sure you fuel up in the morning.
(1) Prepare grab-and-go breakfasts for the week during the weekend.
For this to work, the grab-and-go breakfasts can’t be teeny tiny. The more balanced and filling they are, the more likely you’ll last until lunch (or until your mid-morning snack). To make sure I’m getting enough in the morning, I always include at least one of each of the following groups at breakfast:
*A whole grain. This can be bread, cereal, crackers, oatmeal, even rice or quinoa (and yes, I’ve eaten both of those for breakfast).
*A protein. Try eggs, peanut butter, yogurt, even sliced chicken or tofu.
*A fruit or veggie. Banana, orange, apple, pineapple, dried fruit (without added sugar if possible) – choose your favorite. If you’re having eggs, a smoothie, or a sandwich, leafy greens are a nutritious addition.
Following this structure, we can build breakfasts:
*Baggie with mixed cereal, nuts, dried fruit. This one may be small, so throw in a yogurt if you can.
*Whole grain crackers, hard-boiled egg, cheese. Fruit on the side.
*Sandwich with sliced meat or tofu and veggies. I’ve done this before and it makes a fantastic change!
You can bundle these up in a Tupperware and bring with you to school – one for each day of the week.
(2) Wake up a few minutes earlier to make a fast-but-filling breakfast you can eat in the car (if you need to).
I know waking up earlier is not a popular option, so you need to decide if that’s something you want to do. If so, there are many breakfasts you can make in just a few minutes.
*Smoothies (if you have a blender). Peter used to drink these in the car on the way to work (which I’m not a fan of, but it works).
*Sandwich, freshly made. My favorite when I was in high school (and in my no-breakfast phase) was to spray a bowl with non-stick cooking spray, crack an egg or two inside, stir, cover, and microwave for one and a half to two minutes. I’ve also made versions where you add spinach, chopped tomatoes, and/or herbs. Stick between two slices of whole grain bread and enjoy! Alternatively, you can make a traditional deli sandwich with sliced meats and veggies.
*Throw yogurt, fruit, and cereal into a bowl or glass and eat with a spoon.
As for a mid-morning snack, I have a couple of suggestions:
*Fruit and nuts. Try packing an easily peeled fruit, like a banana or clementine, or one that can be eaten without much hand contact, like an apple, or something more exotic like a persimmon or kiwi (yes, you can eat the skin if it’s organic!). I like to pair fruit with nuts because the healthy fats help you absorb nutrients from the fruit, plus they slow digestion and help the snack last longer. A little baggie of nuts may work for you, or you can try what I did for a long time: carry a little Tupperware container with a spoonful of peanut butter and dip the fruit in it. NOTE: If you work in a nut-free environment, this will obviously need to be modified.
*Veggies and dressing. You can either precut veggies over the weekend or buy them precut. To prevent hand contact, you can put the veggies in a Tupperware container and drizzle dressing over the top, then eat with a fork.
*The ultimate in no-hands snacking: homemade or bought granola bars. When I worked in hospitals, I used to carry Fill-Me-Up Oat Bars in my lab coat pocket in plastic baggies. To chow down, I would hold the bar in the bag and eat through the open top. It’s a little wasteful in terms of plastic baggie use, but I did reuse the bags.
The biggest piece of advice I can give is actually not food-related at all, and that is: routine. Any change in lifestyle is difficult at first, but with time and patience, just about anything can become part of your routine.
I hope that helps, Marie!
This recipe is adapted from this one and has a lovely hint of lemon. Let me tell you: the aroma of lavender and lemon filling your kitchen is not to be missed. Unfortunately, this recipe only used 2 teaspoons of fresh lavender, so I’m still on the hook with the rest of my lavender. This is not a recipe to make lighter – the high butter content is essential for good shortbread, while using whole grain flour would overwhelm the delicate lavender flavor. Let’s call this a sometimes food, shall we? 🙂
Mini Lemon Lavender Shortbread Cookies
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 10-15 minutes
Keywords: bake dessert lavender cookie
Ingredients (25 mini cookies)
- 1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
- 2 teaspoons fresh lavender, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Pinch salt
- Sparkling sugar (optional)
In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, white sugar, and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the lavender and lemon zest. Mix in cornstarch and salt until well blended, then stir in flour. Beat for one minute, or until dough is very stiff.
Make dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Flatten to about an inch thick. Refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. On a floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Place on cookie sheets. Sprinkle with sparkling sugar (optional).
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, just until cookies begin to brown at the edges. Do not over bake. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Q: What’s your favorite grab-and-go breakfast?