Berry Smoothie

Written By Michael Vyskocil, Photos by: Tara Hope Cofiell

Preparing breakfast for your children on schooldays ranks right up there with packing bookbags, signing permission slips, locating library books and gathering the sports gear. It seems to be yet another task on the clipboard of chores that defines your morning routine, but it is one of the most important.

Studies consistently show that children who eat a good breakfast not only increase their math and reading scores but also improve their memory in cognitive tests.

But do not be tempted to cruise by the drive-in windows on the way to school. Preparing a nutritious breakfast for your children can be achieved with a little planning and some recipes that will elevate breakfast beyond the grab-and-go fare from fast-food establishments into something homemade and healthy.

Scrambled Eggs on English Muffins
Layer the best breakfast ingredients on an English muffin for a simple yet satisfying school morning breakfast.

4 English muffins
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp
6 large eggs
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
? cup grated cheddar cheese
4 ounces sliced, cooked ham
2 teaspoons fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

  1. Using a fork, gently pierce the edges of the English muffins and pull the halves of the English muffins apart. Toast the muffins in a toaster, then butter the exteriors of the muffin halves with 2 tablespoons of the butter.
  2. In a nonstick skillet over medium heat, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs. Season with salt and pepper. When the butter has melted, pour the beaten eggs into the skillet and stir gently with a wooden spoon. Add the cheese, ham and parsley and cook, stirring gently, until the eggs are firm but not dry.
  3. Spoon the scrambled eggs on top of the four muffin bottoms. Cover with the tops of the muffins and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Eggs in a Hole

4 slices white or whole-wheat bread
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 large eggs
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Spread the top of each slice of bread with ? tablespoon of the butter. Using a round cookie cutter or the top of a drinking glass, cut a 2- to 3-inch hole in the center of each bread slice, reserving the cutout pieces.
  2. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  3. Place the bread and cutouts, buttered-side up, in the skillet. Crack 1 egg into each of the four holes in the bread slices. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the underside of the bread is golden, about 2-3 minutes. Flip bread slices and cook on the opposite side for another 2-3 minutes, or until desired doneness.
  4. Remove bread slices from skillet and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Yogurt and Berry Parfaits
These fun and colorful parfaits are just as appealing to kids as an ice cream sundae, plus they are packed with vitamins and protein.

3 cups plain, low-fat yogurt
2 cups granola
2 cups fresh berries, such as blueberries, raspberries and sliced strawberries
4 tablespoons pure maple syrup

  1. Add ? cup yogurt to the bottom of each of four parfait glasses. Add ? cup granola and ? cup berries. Repeat layers with another ? cup yogurt, ? cup granola and ? cup berries. Top with another ? cup yogurt.
  2. Drizzle 1 tablespoon maple syrup over the top of each parfait and serve. Makes 4 parfaits.

Berry Smoothies
These berry smoothies can be easily adapted to use whatever fruits are ripe and in season.

1 ? cups plain, low-fat yogurt
3 bananas, peeled and cut into chunks
3 ? cups fresh red or golden raspberries, well washed and dried
? cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
? cup crushed ice

  1. Gradually blend the yogurt, bananas, raspberries, milk, sugar and crushed ice in the jar of a blender until the mixture is smooth.
  2. Pour smoothie mixture into drinking glasses and serve. Makes 4 smoothies.

Baked Stuffed Apples
Sweet and crunchy granola-stuffed apples can be prepared the night before and reheated in the oven or microwave the following morning.

4 medium apples, such as Granny Smith or McIntosh
? cup granola
2 tablespoons wheat germ
2 tablespoons honey
? cup apple cider
1 cup plain, low-fat yogurt

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place an apple corer through the center of each apple and twist to remove the core.
  3. Combine the granola, wheat germ and honey in a large mixing bowl. Using a teaspoon, divide the granola mixture evenly among the apples, filling each apple cavity.
  4. Place the apples in the baking pan and pour the apple cider around the apples.
  5. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, sealing the foil tightly around the rim of the pan. Place pan in the oven and bake. After 45 minutes, pierce one of the apples with the point of a paring knife. If the knife slides in easily, remove pan from the oven and transfer to a heatproof surface. If the point of the knife meets some resistance, reseal the foil and bake apples for another 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Using a serving spoon, remove the apples from the pan and transfer to serving plates. Pour any remaining apple cider from the pan over the tops of the apples.
  7. Top each apple with 3 tablespoons of yogurt and serve warm. Makes 4 stuffed apples.