When my two adult sons were young boys, we had a rule in our house - sugar-coated cereal only on Saturdays. As I tried to instill healthful eating habits into their lives, it was one small way I could protect them from a sugar-laden world of food. Yes, they did eat cereal other mornings during the week. But I'd also have them stir fresh fruit into homemade yogurt, stir eggs with a fork to get them ready for scrambling or dip bread into milk and eggs to make French toast.
I've always been a believer of starting the day with a good breakfast. Although I have skipped plenty of morning meals in my life, I made it my mission to be sure there was a healthful breakfast for my family to begin their day.
There are so many good reasons to begin each day with foods that provide the nutrients we need to function at our best. Research continues to suggest that children who start the day with a nutritionally balanced breakfast that helps their proper growth and well being are more alert, more creative and more energetic. With childhood obesity at an all-time high, it's important to note that children who get into the breakfast habit are also less likely to be overweight.
The newest addition to my cookbook collection, "Junior Leagues in the Kitchen with Kids: Everyday Recipes and Activities for Healthy Living," takes all of this to heart. Healthful and kid-friendly recipes from Association of Junior League International chapters have been compiled into a book complete with colorful photos of prepared dishes, step-by-step instructions for young cooks to follow and pictures of children preparing the recipes.
Give children the opportunity to participate in food preparation and they're more likely to eat it. Breakfast Pizza may be a good place to start. After all, who wouldn't love a slice of pizza to start the day?
Children can pat refrigerated dough onto a pan, add some toppings, mix some eggs and milk to pour over the crust and into the oven it goes.
The recipe suggests adding onions and peppers, but why not chop leftover vegetables from dinner and sprinkle them over the pizza? Even those green beans or broccoli the kids ignored may be more appealing in small bits on top of a cheesy breakfast pizza.
It's easy to create a deep-dish pizza by preparing it in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet. Any oven-safe skillet will work. Leftovers can be refrigerated and heated up for another meal.
Maybe I could have completely eliminated sugar-coated cereal from my family's vocabulary if I had thought to have Kids in the Kitchen Saturdays, all of us working together to prepare breakfast that's fun to eat.
It's never too late. They're still my kids, right? What do you say guys? Can you give up your bowl of sugar-coated cereal for family breakfast-making this Saturday at my house?
1 tube reduced-fat refrigerator crescent rolls
1 cup crumbled cooked breakfast sausage
1 cup frozen hash browns, thawed
1 cup (4-ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
Chopped onions and/or bell peppers (optional)
Hot sauce (optional)
1/4 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Open the tube of crescent roll dough and arrange it on a work surface. Separate the dough into triangles along the perforated lines. Arrange the triangles on a round pizza pan with the points toward the center. Press the edges together lightly to form the pizza crust.
Sprinkle the sausage, hash browns and cheese evenly over the crust. Top with onions, bell peppers and hot sauce.
Place the eggs and milk in a mixing bowl and beat with a whisk until smooth. Pour the mixture evenly over the pizza. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Use an oven mitt to place the pizza in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until the eggs are set and crust is golden brown. Check the pizza occasionally to be sure it doesn't get too brown.
Remove the pizza from the oven with an oven mitt and cut it into wedges with a pizza cutter. Serves 8.
Recipe from "Junior Leagues in the Kitchen with Kids: Everyday Recipes and Activities for Healthy Living." 2009.
Tip from the cook
--Brown a whole pound of bulk breakfast sausage the night before preparing the pizza. Drain the sausage on a double thickness of paper towels. Once cool, refrigerate 1 cup of the sausage that will be needed for the pizza. Store remaining meat in 1-cup portions in the freezer. You'll be all set for the next Breakfast Pizza.