Breakfast. They say it is the most important meal.
It can also be the most stressful. Especially when you have kids and you want to be sure they’re starting the day right.
Yes, school is almost over now so you may not have the same morning rush with the usual arguments about what they’re going to eat while trying to get them out the door on time, properly filled.
But there may be camp. Or gymnastics or art class. Or a doctor appointment. Or a train to catch. Life goes on, whether or not school’s in session.
And school will start again in a few months anyway (the summer always seems to fly by doesn’t it?).
So, how to have a healthy, peaceful, tasty breakfast?
There are all sorts of ways to handle it. When I was a kid my Dad would make cooked cereal and add sugar, cinnamon, chocolate chips, butter and cream.
It did the trick of course. But I can’t recommend that in good conscience.
Here’s what I am recommending: a new app called LaLa Breakfast.
First, to confess, LaLa Breakfast is the creation of my daughter Gillian.
Her first app, LaLa Lunchbox — a best-seller — which helps parents and kids choose healthy lunches, got rave reviews and requests for her to do the same thing for breakfast.
So she came up with LaLa Breakfast, which takes the stress out of the breakfast routine.
Like all parents, Gillian doesn’t want to spend needless time cooking breakfast nor does she want to meet unreasonable demands. She controls the items that are available for the meal. And she and her children make the breakfast decisions in advance.
You can do the same with LaLa Breakfast. Your children choose what they want to eat before the morning. That way they don’t get cranky about what you picked — a waffle, say — when what they really wanted was oatmeal.
Gillian recommends that, whatever the choices, prepare as much as you can in advance. Like pouring cereal into a bowl and setting it out on the table (covered). Or washing and cutting up fruit. It’s easy to get that stuff out of the way when you know in advance what the meal is going to be.
In addition to having breakfast “ordered” and partially prepped, with LaLa Breakfast your children learn not only to pick healthy breakfast but also to understand what it means to make decisions and stick by them.
The app is really cute, with attractive looking “monsters” to help guide children in their choices. There are four categories they can select from: Eggs, Produce, Grains and Protein. After you make your choices, the app creates a shopping list of items you need. And for those who have both LaLa Breakfast and LaLa Lunchbox, the two grocery lists can be seamlessly synced into one and accessible via multiple devices.
One of the things I learned as a parent making breakfast was that sometimes children like the same item over and over, even in the same week. So I recommend making some items in bulk and keeping them for a few days. For example, if you make oatmeal, make more than one portion and use the leftovers to make oatmeal pancakes (the batter will last for about 3 days, refrigerated).
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup leftover oatmeal
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
butter to cook the pancakes
Melt the butter and set it aside to cool. Place the oatmeal in a bowl. Add the eggs, milk, maple syrup, vanilla extract and melted butter and mix the ingredients to blend them thoroughly. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix them in to make a relatively smooth batter. Melt a small amount of butter in a saute pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, drop about 1/4 cup of the batter onto the pan for each pancake. Leave space between each pancake. Cook the pancake for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom. Turn the pancakes over and cook on the second side for 1-2 minutes or until browned. Serve plain or with syrup.
Makes about 18-20 pancakes.