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It’s getting warm, but on a cool morning you can still serve oatmeal for breakfast.  More affordable, healthier, and versatile than most cold cereals, oatmeal is a great breakfast option.  Not only is it a whole grain, but a bowl of oatmeal is a fantastic opportunity to get in well-rounded nutrition in a subtle way.

To start, use old-fashioned oats (rather than instant), and low-fat or fat-free milk as your base, instead of water.  You can check calcium off the list, without chanting, “please drink your milk,” as I have to in our house.  Next, fruit.  Slightly over-ripe fruit, such as apples, bananas, pears, peaches, or berries is perfect; as is diced frozen fruit.  Next, season and sweeten away.  Cinnamon (we call it “fairy dust” here) has lots of health benefits, and rather than plain sugar, opt for a small amount of more nutritious options, such as honey, blue agave, or fruit juice. 

Fruit salad oatmeal

This breakfast came together quickly the other morning.  I had some fruit salad (peaches, strawberries, and mango) leftover from the previous evening, so I mixed it into the pot of oatmeal simmering away, along with fat-free milk and a little organic blue agave (a great sweetener with a lower glycemic index than many other options).  My kids loved it, and it kept us full for the morning.  Score!

To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy cooking!

The weather forecast calls for 80+ degrees for the next week or so, and make-your-own ice pops seems like a perfect topic for parents everywhere.  This recipe comes from a magazine published by BJ’s Wholesale Club. They’re fun to make with your kids, and as they are little more than pureed fruit, you can feel good about letting them enjoy an ice pop at any time.

Blend 3 cups cut-up fresh fruit, 1 tbsp. of sugar, and 1 tsp. of lemon juice

until smooth.

Pour into 4 or 5 oz. dixie cups, insert popsicle sticks into center,

and freeze on a flat surface for three hours, or until firm.

These can really be made with any variation of fruits, and are a great way expose your kids to some new flavors they wouldn’t normal try.  To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy cooking!

It can be tricky to use produce before it becomes past its prime, and heaven knows most children (and plenty of adults) won’t eat a bruised piece of fruit, or less-than-crisp vegetable.  What’s a girl to do?

Less than desirable produce has a few options in our kitchen.  Vegetables get pureed or shredded, and blended into another dish, such as meatballs, pasta sauce, or meatloaf; or tossed into soup.  Fruit can go in the blender with some yogurt and become a smoothie, get diced and stirred into oatmeal, or become the star of the show.  If I’m ready to bake, I’ll take those slightly aged apples, blueberries, bananas, strawberries, peaches, pears, or really any fruit, and chop it up.  It spices up pancakes, waffles, muffins, or a quick bread.  If I’m not ready to bake, it’ll go into the freezer.  When I’m ready to use it, I’ll thaw it on the counter, or in the microwave.

A recent fruit revival

The banana bread is the oldest trick in the book when it comes to browned bananas, but there’s no reason to stop there.  On this day, I had a carton of strawberries getting mushy, so I used those as well.  It gave the bread even more moisture, and I had enough fruit to make two loaves, so one went into the freezer.

In a large bowl, combine ½ cup of applesauce and ¾ cup of sugar.  Beat in 2 eggs, one at a time, until smooth.  Blend in 1 cup (about 3 medium) mashed bananas and 1 tsp. vanilla.  Add in any other fruit you’d like, such as blueberries or strawberries; even a handful of chocolate chips.  In a second bowl, combine 2 cups of flour (use at least half whole-wheat pastry flour, no one will ever know!), 1 tsp. baking soda, and ½ tsp each baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Add dry ingredients into the banana mixture, mix only until moistened, and pour into a greased loaf pan.  Bake 50-60 mins at 350, until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

Fresh fruit really jazzes up pancakes or waffles, so try mixing it into the batter the next time you’re making a weekend breakfast.  To find out what we’re doing with mature fruit at our house, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy cooking!

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