Back-to-School Breakfasts

by in Family, Food Network Chef, August 29th, 2013

Back-to-School Breakfasts with Melissa d'ArabianFall is right around the corner and it’s perhaps my favorite season. As a child, I always loved how the air cooled just the tiniest bit when I would open the front door and head out to my first day of school, almost as if nature recognized the rhythms spelled out in my school district’s calendar. (Looking back, I wonder if it was simply chillier at 7am than at 10am?) I knew the tiniest wisp of cooler air meant the holiday season would soon follow, and I have always been someone who enjoys the anticipation of an event as much as the event itself. (I love sleep so much that I actually enjoy being tired, and I have been known to stay up an extra hour just to relish the thought of sleep to come.) I loved entering a new grade, finding out who my new teacher would be and scoping out the classroom on the first day for familiar faces. I welcomed routine and structure — beyond just goofing around with my sister at the local Woolworth’s, playing on the carts and enjoying free pong, much to the chagrin of Jan, the store manager in a mustard-colored smock.

My daughters started school this week: third grade, second grade and two girls in first grade. All four girls are at the same school now, which means we can ride our bikes together. School supplies and fresh fall outfits are bought and tucked away in their closets. I’ve stocked up on lunch-packing supplies (LunchBots for four girls can set you back a bit!). Back to School Night is in two days, and there will be signups, forms to fill out and probably a few more checks to write. But it’s all just part of the routine — the seasonal cycles of growing up.

With school now in session, the kids wake up earlier, and we step back into our morning pre-school dance of getting dressed, brushing hair, loading lunchboxes, putting on shoes and getting out the door. And within this carefully orchestrated rhythm, we fit in breakfast. A few of you have asked about my school morning breakfast menu, so here it is.

Vanilla Dutch BabyMy favorite mornings are those when we happen to wake up a bit early and I can whip up the kids’ favorite Dutch Baby (for a fiber boost, I often swap in whole-wheat pastry flour for half the all-purpose flour). It’s no secret that I love my Green Smoothie as a way to fill my family with vitamins at the start of the day, but I sometimes switch it up with my Berry Smoothie or Chocolate and Banana Smoothie. If I want to turn the smoothie into a protein-filled breakfast on the go, I add 1/2 cup low-fat Greek yogurt or 1/4 cup cooked beans (white beans for the berry smoothie, black beans for the chocolate-banana smoothie), or even a heaping spoonful of almond butter.

Another breakfast go-to: I stock my freezer with several flavors of easy-to-thaw mini muffins (try my Magic Fruit and Veggie Cupcakes) that I can couple with a glass of milk for a breakfast that’s faster than cold cereal. And speaking of cold cereal, I always have several whole-grain versions on hand because my girls are tremendous cereal fans — a trait they get from their mom. And for that breakfast, you don’t even need my recipe.

Happy school year to parents, kids and teachers everywhere!

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