2017-03-15 / Entertainment

Breakfast bar none!

By ANGELA SHELF MEDEARIS


BANANA OAT BREAKFAST BARS BANANA OAT BREAKFAST BARS I must admit, I love breakfast foods. Typically, I make breakfast for myself and my husband every morning. He’s always in a rush, and sometimes he says he doesn’t have time to sit down and eat. In that case, I create a “fast food” breakfast using fresh, healthy ingredients that he can eat at his desk.

Eating breakfast daily may lead to a healthier weight. A healthy, high-fiber breakfast is more conducive to weight control than one loaded with fat, sugar and calories.

“People think skipping breakfast helps lose weight; however, it actually works just the opposite,” says Lynda Johnson, a nutrition specialist. “Breakfast skippers often end up starved, then snack on high-calorie foods or overeat at lunch.”

In recent years, nutritional studies show that starting your day with breakfast benefits people of all ages, especially children. Kids who regularly eat breakfast are more likely to be successful in school. Well-nourished children are ready to learn, have a greater ability to focus on tasks, have better classroom behavior and have improved test scores. Breakfast eaters also tend to have better school attendance, less tardiness and fewer hunger-induced stomach aches. Teachers say it’s obvious when students skip breakfast.

Why are we so likely to skip breakfast? Johnson suggests solutions to these typical excuses that may be keeping you or your children from eating a healthy breakfast.

—”I’m not hungry in the morning.” In actuality, you may have conditioned your body not to be hungry. To build up your morning appetite, start by drinking a glass of milk or juice, then a week later, add a piece of toast or fruit, then a small bowl of cereal. After fasting for 12 hours or more while sleeping, your body needs nourishment to function at its best. Over time, you will recondition your body to expect breakfast.

—”I don’t have time to fix breakfast.” There are lots of portable options that you can easily pack and eat on the way to school or work that can be prepared the night before. Breakfast tacos can be made ahead of time and reheated; yogurt and fresh fruit, granola and leftover pizza also make an easy breakfast on the go. By taking time to plan the night before, you can prepare a nutritious breakfast and skip the expense of a fastfood meal.

—”My kids eat SO slow. I’d be late for work every day, so we skip breakfast!” Most public schools serve breakfast, which works well for many families. Cost is minimal or free for eligible families, and the convenience is great. Check with your school district and sign up your kid for the school breakfast program. Even if you don’t eat breakfast at home, you can still be a healthy role model by packing a breakfast for yourself to take to work.

On Saturdays, teach your children to become selfreliant and responsible by helping them to prepare their own breakfast using at least three food groups (grain, dairy and fruit). For example:

* Chopped hard-boiled egg, grated cheese and salsa wrapped in tortilla

* Ham slice and cheese melted in a toasted English muffin

* Peanut butter, banana and jelly sandwich with a glass of milk

I’ve mastered the art of creating breakfast dishes that can be prepared in advance. Try my recipe below for Banana Oat Breakfast Bars. These nutritious bars are a delicious way to start your day!

BANANA OAT
BREAKFAST BARS
2 large, very ripe bananas
1 tablespoon agave syrup
or sugar substitute
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg or cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup pitted, chopped
dried dates, raisins or craisins 1/4 cup chopped nuts —
such as walnuts, almonds or
pecans, plus 2 tablespoons
for sprinkling

1. Heat oven to 350 F, and lightly grease a 9- by 9-inchsquare baking dish with butter or butter-flavored cooking spray.

2. Peel bananas and blend in a blender or food processor until liquid and no large chunks remain. You will have between 1 cup and 1 1/4 cup. Pour mixture into a medium-sized bowl.

3. Mix in the agave syrup or sugar substitute, vanilla, nutmeg or cinnamon, and salt. Add the oats and stir until well-combined. Stir in dates, raisins or craisins, and 1/4 cup of the nuts.

4. Pat the thick mixture evenly into prepared baking pan. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons nuts. Bake for 30 minutes or until the edges just begin to crisp up and turn a golden brown.

5. Place baking pan on a rack to cool. When the pan is mostly cool, cut into 9 squares.

6. Cover and store leftover bars at room temperature. They will keep for about 5 days.

. Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.”

©2017 Angela Shelf Medearis and King Features Synd., Inc.

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