The fresh fragrance of fall has greeted my nose as my golden retriever, Gracie, and I have been out for our brisk morning walks together. It's that exhilarating smell that signals the transition of summer to autumn. It prompts me to say good-bye to the comfort I've settled into during one season and get ready to embrace new experiences of the days ahead. I remember feeling the same way when I was a child anticipating the start of a new school year. And when my own two sons were in school that same familiar flutter settled into my chest - even parents feel excitement as their children move into a world of new adventures.
No matter our age, there is one thing we can all do that I'm certain will prepare everyone for new discoveries and any challenges that come our way. Eat breakfast. For years, studies have consistently shown that children who eat breakfast perform better academically than those who don't. Adults who have breakfast have better focus and overall work performance throughout the day. Studies show that breakfast eaters are less likely to be overweight than those who don't break the night fast with good food. In our country right now, when obesity is at epidemic proportions and even children are being diagnosed with high blood pressure and high cholesterol, a good breakfast prepared with healthful food and a bit of love from the cook can go a long way in preparing families for days full of exploring, learning, new challenges and accomplishments.
Banana Lollie Babies, named by my creative-minded granddaughter who just started third grade, are a good choice for breakfast or snack. Naturally sweet bananas, with their firm and creamy flesh, can be enjoyed by everyone, from infants to the elderly. They deliver high energy by supplying potassium and vitamins C and B6.
To turn bananas into Lollie Babies, simply peel away their yellow jackets. Add protein with a dab of honey and peanut butter, and up the fiber by rolling them in a crumbly mixture made of ground granola. You might recognize this granola mixture as the crust for the Layered Ice Cream Crunch Cake that ran in this column a couple of weeks ago.
Cut the prepared bananas in half or in thirds and poke the end of each one with a popsicle stick to create Banana Lollie Babies. Or slice the prepared bananas into bite-sized rounds and serve as finger food.
Children will enjoy helping to prepare Lollie Babies. They can be made in the evening, then stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight. That way, they're ready for breakfast. No muss, no fuss during the morning hustle-bustle.
Seasons change. I'm convinced some things should never change, no matter the season. Eat your breakfast. Relax and have fun in the kitchen preparing food with those you love. For best health and vitality, include plenty of plant-based whole foods - fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes -- in your meals and snacks. Serve good food, real food. With love.
Banana Lollie Babies
1 1/2 cups granola
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon milk
2 tablespoons honey, divided
1/3 cup peanut butter
Splash of vanilla extract
3 or 4 bananas, chilled for several hours or overnight in refrigerator
Grind granola in bowl of food processor to fine crumbs. This can also be done by putting granola in a large zip-top plastic bag. Roll over the bag with a rolling pin or a can from your pantry until the granola becomes crumbs.
Place granola crumbs in a large bowl. Add cocoa powder, milk and 1 tablespoon honey to create a creamy, spreadable consistency. Mix with a wooden spoon or your clean hands until all ingredients are thoroughly blended. Set aside.
Mix together the peanut butter, the remaining 1 tablespoon honey and vanilla.
Put some of the granola mixture into a shallow dish.
Peel each chilled banana and cut in half, if desired, for easier preparation. Dab each piece with a thin layer of peanut butter mixture. Roll each coated banana in the granola mixture to cover. Serve as is or cut into smaller pieces and poke a popsicle stick or lollipop stick into one end of each Banana Lollie Baby for children.
Tips from the cook
--Extra granola mixture can be stored in a jar, tightly sealed, in the refrigerator for a few days. Or store it in the freezer for future use.
--For a chilly after-school treat, freeze Banana Lollie Babies before serving.
EDITOR's NOTE This is Sue Doeden's final column. She has written food columns for the West Central Tribune since 2007.