Quick, simple, healthy breakfast ideas

I used to always purchase commercial brand cereals for breakfast. It was simple, quick and convenient. However, the more I cook, the more conscious I am about the ingredients in my food. Now, I never buy boxed cereal and try to diversify my morning plate with some delicious and healthy breakfast alternatives. It’s great to know the ingredients that go into my morning breakfast are generally all natural and good for me. The below breakfast alternatives are rich in protein and fiber, packed with vitamins and very fresh. These ideas take anywhere from 3 – 15 minutes.

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What are some of your favorite breakfast options?

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Sunday Berry Compote Pancakes

How I love Sundays. Even if it signals the end of the weekend, it truly is my favorite day. I usually wake up slowly, catch up on the news, read and enjoy lounging around in my pajamas until noon. Sometimes I dare to even take a stroll to the bakery to buy a moist loaf of tresse/challah bread. You’ll rarely find the Swiss strolling around or running errands in their PJs, especially on Sunday. I’ve realized over the years this is something very American. The Swiss on the other hand dress to the nines on Sunday. I just don’t see the point of changing into clothes, if my mission is to buy bread and go back to my lazy Sunday program.

This week, I decided to make pancakes and lounge around the house all morning. I wanted rich, fluffy pancakes reminiscent of the buttermilk pancakes my grandmother used to make me on her cast iron griddle when I was a child. I remember the way the syrup would literally disappear into the feathery stack of pancakes. *drools*

Since I didn’t have any buttermilk and am not too impressed with the milk and vinegar alternative, I used plain yogurt. I topped my pancakes with a mixed berry compote, butter and maple syrup (no need to hold back). The result was rich, fluffy, slightly tart, delicious pancakes.

Makes 8 – 9, 4 – 6 inch pancakes

What you need.

For pancakes:

  • 1 c flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 8 oz  of plain yogurt
  • 1 TBSP of oil (e.g. canola, sunflower, flax)
  • possibly, a small amount of milk (or water) to make the mixture slightly thinner

For compote:

  • 1.5 – 2 c of frozen mixed berries
  • 1/4 c water
  • juice from a fresh lemon
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1/4 c raisins

How you make it.

Pancakes:

  1. Preheat your oven to about 100 F/ 50 C and place a pan/casserole dish with a cover inside your oven.
  2. Mix all your dry ingredients. Make a well in the middle.
  3. Mix all your wet ingredients, stir them into your dry until combined.
  4. If the mixture if really thick you can add a little milk or water to thin it out slightly. I added about 4 TBSP of milk.
  5. Heat a pan with oil, once hot spoon out your pancake mixture into the pan. Flip the pancakes when many bubbles form on top.
  6. Place cooked pancakes in casserole dish, to keep warm before serving.

Compote:

  1. Place all of your ingredients in a sauce pan, simmer on low for about 15 minutes.
  2. Serve warm over pancakes.

Enjoy!

Crunchy Roasted Granola

Buying cereal in Switzerland is nothing like back in the States. At home, cereal can be found on its own aisle! You could probably fit 10 Swiss aisles into one US cereal aisle!

My husband once told me that when he moved to the US, he kind of panicked whenever he made his way to the cereal aisle. He’d observe what locals were buying and quickly grab something and continue with his shopping. Considering many shoppers were parents buying their kids ultra, frosted, sugar-glazed cereal — he quickly opted for another method. As an American, I guess I’d never thought about the amount of choices being overwhelming.

Actually, when I moved to Switzerland, I practically couldn’t find the cereal aisle. Well, it wasn’t really an aisle, rather a small section of an aisle with probably no more than 10 – 15 choices of cereal. Crazy as it sounds, I suddenly spent more time, trying to figure out, which cereal to select. With only a few choices, I felt the need to read the ingredient list and nutritional information on every box, to do a price comparison to figure out the most economical choice. Well, this is Switzerland and I shortly realized, economical is not part of the vocabulary here. Things are pricey! I just couldn’t justify paying 7 dollars for a tiny bag of organic granola. In the end, I walked away from my few choices, deciding not buy anything at all.

This worked out well for me, because I discovered, making my own granola was just as good, if not better than store-bought granola. Best of all, it costs a fraction of the price. Here’s my recipe for crunchy granola. You can adapt it to your liking.

What you need (feel free to double the recipe if you’re cooking for more than 2 people).

  • 3 cups of oats (not the instant kind)
  • 1 cup of chopped nuts and/or seeds of your choice (I used pecan and sunflower)
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of molasses, maple syrup or honey (I used molasses)
  • 1 cup of raisins or dried fruits/berries of choice. Add in some chocolate chips to if you’d like.

How you make it.

  1. Preheat oven to 300 F (150 C)
  2. Place oats in a large skillet and cook on low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Throw in your seeds/nuts and cook on low heat with oats for about 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Pour into a baking dish (9×13), sprinkle with cinnamon, throw in salt, mix well
  5. Add your sweetener (i.e. honey, molasses or syrup) and mix well.
  6. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, remove and allow to cook on a wire rack.
  7. Once  your mixture cools, stir in dried fruit/berries and refrigerate in an air tight container for as long as you’d like.

Play around with the recipe and make it with the things you love. This tastes great with milk, plain yogurt or by itself. I like to make a frozen yogurt parfait: blueberries, topped with plain yogurt, topped with granola – pop it in the freezer for a few hours and enjoy!

Moroccan Country Bread

I really missed blogging about food. I’m happy to post again after a long hiatus. Rest assured, I’ve been eating well, I just haven’t had the time to snap pretty pictures and blog about it.

Speaking of pretty pictures, last year, I traveled to Morocco with my husband. This was truly one of my favorite vacations. The beautiful hues of blue painted on the doors of houses, the trance-like rhythm of Gnawa music, the aroma of spices and all the beautiful artwork of artisans. It really was a total sensory experience. One couldn’t help but feel inspired by the beauty of Morocco.

Moroccan food is also delightful and lovely. In the morning, we were spoiled with platters of crepes or pancakes, served with freshly squeezed orange juice and mint tea. Dinner typically involved tender stewed lamb tajines, vegetable soups,  desserts with hints of fig and dates. I especially enjoyed the variety of breads that accompanied our meals.

Not long ago, a good friend gave me a Moroccan cookbook, with lots of beautiful pictures and descriptions. Reminiscing on my amazing vacation, I decided to make Kesra or Moroccan Country Bread. This bread is SO GOOD, I could eat it all day! It has a crispy outside and moist, buttery  inside. I paired it with a curried pea soup (recipe to come in later post) and was very pleased with the results.

What you need.

2 loaves of country bread (kesra)

  • 1/2 tsp dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 1/2 c. all purpose flour
  • 2/3 c. cornmeal
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 TBSP melted butter (or ghee, if you’re lucky enough to have it)
  • 2 1/4 c. lukewarm water
  • 2 oiled baking sheets or flat pizza pans
  • sesame seeds, for sprinkling (optional) – I used flax seeds b/c I didn’t have sesame

How you make it.

  1. Put yeast, sugar + 1/4 c water in a small bowl
  2. Place flour, cornmeal and salt in a large bowl and stir well with a fork (about 1 min)
  3. Melt 2 TBSP of butter over low heat
  4. Make a well in the center of flour mixture and pour in yeast mixture and melted butter
  5. Gradually add the lukewarm water and use your hands or a wooden spoon to form the dough
  6. Place dough on a lightly floured and need until elastic and smooth
  7. Divide dough into 2 pieces and roll each piece into a ball then flatten to about 8 inches in diameter
  8. Place the flattened dough on the prepared baking sheets and cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place  for about 1 hour or until they’ve doubled in size
  9. Preheat the oven to 425 F
  10. Prick the dough with a fork about 4 -5 times and sprinkle with seeds
  11. Bake 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and back another 15 minutes
  12. Dough is done when it’s crisp, golden and sounds hollow when tapped

Bon Appétit!

(Recipe adapted from Ghillie Basan’s Flavors of Morocco)