Thinking Outside the [Breakfast] Box

Sometimes we get in a hurry in the morning and settle for boxed cereal, granola bars, or instant breakfast drinks. But there are other options besides grabbing a piece of fruit and dashing to the car.
Here are three morning meals that will break you out of the breakfast box:

1. Oatmeal

Sure, those little packets of flavored oatmeal are cute and easy to portion out. But you can make oatmeal that tastes so much better and doesn’t include all those unpronounceable ingredients. For a quick meal on weekday mornings, I plan ahead and make up a few overnight oatmeal jars. Here is a starter recipe:

Overnight Oatmeal Jar:

½ cup of rolled oats

½ cup liquid (milk, nut milk or other plant-based beverage)

1 teaspoon flax meal (or chia seeds)

1 teaspoon vanilla

sweetener of choice

Add all the ingredients to a wide-mouthed canning jar and stir well.

Refrigerate overnight.

If you only have quick-cooking oats, go ahead and use them – they will create a creamier finished product, so experiment with the amount of liquid. Add fruit, nuts, or other toppings. Get creative with the basic recipe! Overnight oats last for a few days in the refrigerator, but will thicken. Simply add more liquid and stir.

2. Granola Bars or Granola 

I must admit I don’t use a recipe when I make granola bars. I use what I have available, and hope that it firms up into a bar. If it doesn’t, I call it granola and eat it from a bowl. It’s delicious either way! I toss together a few cups of oats, chopped nuts and seeds with melted butter, coconut oil and salt, and roast them in a 350F-degree oven until golden brown. In a separate saucepan, I heat fruit juice, flax meal, rice, maple or agave syrup, honey, and vanilla until thick and slightly sticky throughout. Pour the mixture over the roasted oatmeal mixture and press into a cake pan. There are dozens of great recipes for healthy-ingredient granola bars.

Find one that works for you and your family, or tweak a favorite to fit your needs. Make a double batch and store for a quick and nutritious meal replacement.

3. Sourdough Pancakes

Instead of buying a box of all-purpose baking mix and following the recipe on the side, why not make your own pancakes? I make pancakes with my sourdough starter discard and freeze the extras for future breakfasts.

Sourdough Pancakes Recipe:

2 cups of sourdough starter

1 egg

2 tablespoons of your choice of sweetener

2 tablespoons oil (coconut or olive)

1 teaspoon baking soda

Liquid, enough to make the batter thin enough to pour (milk, milk substitutes, juice or water).

Mix all the ingredients well, and pour onto a hot, oiled skillet. Cook until bubbles form throughout the pancake, then flip. Cook until golden brown, and serve with yogurt, maple syrup, or butter.

It takes very little time to make these three healthy breakfasts – not much longer than it takes to drive to the grocery store and buy the box. The only thing you miss out on are the preservatives and the packaging. The reward is so much greater.