Better Breakfasts for Busy Mornings

Since my kids were tiny, I’ve begun many mornings with a little ritual that involves poking my head into their bedrooms and whispering, “Rise and shine . . . ,” just loud enough to wake them from their sleep. It’s exactly how my own mom roused my siblings and me when we were growing up, a practice that starts the day off on a note hopeful enough to coax children from the comfort of warm beds.

But this gentle waking is often (usually?) followed by chaos. So much needs to happen between sleep and the start of the school day. There are showers to take, beds to make, outfits to choose, shoes to tie, backpacks to fill, lunches to pack, and teeth to brush. And this is just the practical side of the story. It doesn’t even take into account the child who won’t get up, the one who must be prodded along every step of the routine, the one having a bad hair day or a “wrong side of the bed” day.

And then there is all that needs to happen for parents, some of whom have been up half the night with a baby or working into the wee hours for a boss who doesn’t care that they have a family to get out the door. As a result, what should be the priority of the morning—breakfast—becomes an after-thought. The meal we all hear is the most important of the day, especially for kids, becomes a “flying by the seat of our pants” postscript. It’s reduced to shoveling in a few bites of Cheerios while pulling on winter coats, scarfing down a cereal bar en route to the bus, sometimes, or eating nothing at all.

This book is the answer to every parent who has struggled to get breakfast on the table—and to get their child to actually eat it. It comes from my personal experience. Try one of these recipes with your family.

Blackberry Orange Puffy Pancake

Makes 4 to 6 servings

This is the sort of weekend breakfast that draws children into the kitchen to peek through the oven glass and watch the magic of baking at work. The batter rises into a golden puff crowned with an abundance of blackberries. It’s just plain pretty, particularly with that little bit of sugar sprinkled over the top, which also adds a toothsome crust. No need to wait for berry season to make this, because frozen blackberries work like a dream. If you do use frozen blackberries, save the juices that drain off the berries as they thaw and stir them into your maple syrup.

  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • Zest and juice from ½ of an orange
  • 1 cup blackberries, fresh or frozen and defrosted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Maple syrup, to serve (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
  2. Choose a 10-inch cast iron skillet or stainless steel skillet with an ovenproof handle. Lightly coat the pan with oil or nonstick cooking spray. Cut out a circle of parchment paper about 10 inches in diameter. Press the parchment into the pan so it adheres completely to the oiled bottom and sides. This will prevent sticking. Put the butter on top of the parchment and place the pan into the hot oven to melt the butter.
  3. While the butter is melting, crack the eggs into the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat the eggs on high until pale yellow and a little foamy, about 1 minute. Add the whole wheat pastry flour, milk, maple syrup, orange zest, and 2 tablespoons of juice from the orange. Beat for 30 seconds, scraping down the sides as needed.
  4. Remove the pan from the oven and swirl to coat the parchment paper with butter. Pour the batter into the pan. If using thawed frozen blackberries, drain off the juices and reserve. Gently scatter the blackberries evenly over the top of the batter. Sprinkle with the sugar and put into the oven.
  5. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the pancake puffs, is golden brown, and is just firm to the touch in the center. Remove from the oven. The pancake will quickly deflate (don’t worry, it will still be delicious).
  6. Cut into wedges and serve immediately, either plain or with a light drizzle of maple syrup. If you have reserved blackberry juice, stir this into the maple syrup before serving.

Boost It: For a pretty finish, add a light dusting of confectioners’ sugar just before serving.

Quinoa Bowl with Fall Fruits

makes 3 or 4 servings

Break out of your oatmeal rut and consider something new in that hot-cereal bowl: quinoa. Breakfast is actually my favorite meal for this teensy, protein-packed grain (which, technically, is not a grain at all but the seed of a plant in the amaranth family). Quinoa has a well-balanced amino acid profile and is especially rich in magnesium and iron. Make a fresh pot in the morning, or do it up as a side dish for dinner, relying on the leftovers to get you through breakfast. I like quinoa best doused with cold almond milk, roasted hazelnuts, and fall fruits. The reds and greens of apples, pears, and grapes make for a very pretty bowl.

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Almond milk or other milk of your choice
  • 1 cup diced pear, diced apple, and/or halved grapes
  • ¼ cup chopped roasted hazelnuts or slivered almonds
  • Honey or pure maple syrup (optional)
  1. Check to see whether the quinoa has been prewashed. If so, there’s no need to rinse it yourself. If not, put the quinoa into a fine-mesh sieve and rinse thoroughly over the sink to eliminate any bitterness. Allow to drain completely.
  2. Transfer the quinoa to a medium saucepan and add the water and salt. Set the pan on the stove over high heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover with a lid, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer the cooked quinoa to a fine-mesh sieve and give it a shake to drain off any remaining water.
  3. To serve, spoon warm quinoa into bowls, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk, the diced fruit, and hazelnuts. Finish with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup, if desired.

Make Ahead: You can cook the quinoa up to 3 days in advance and store it in the refrigerator. Reheat in the microwave, or add a couple teaspoons of water and warm on the stove over medium heat.