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Breaking the Fast

Your mom was right – breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It’s important to literally break the fast you go through overnight with a little something to get your metabolism going again in the morning, and provide enough fuel to get you through until lunchtime.

It's particularly important that kids get a jump start with a good breakfast before the day's activities - studies have shown that both kids and grown-ups function better throughout the morning when they've had something to eat soon after waking.

The ideal breakst is a combination of protein, complex carhobydrates and healthy fats; the fat and protein will slow the digestion process, keeping you balanced and satisfied throughout the morning. No one wants to start the day with a crash from a sugary breakfast. But because precious morning minutes are most often spent preparing for the day, here are a few quick ways to start off on the right foot. 

GranolaQuick Skillet Granola

Contrary to popular belief, granola doesn’t need to be made in large batches, or cook for a long time. Making a batch in a skillet – cast iron works particularly well - takes as much time as making oatmeal, and is wonderful eaten warm out of hand or sprinkled over yogurt (Adapted from the June 2001 issue of Gourmet.)

1 cup old-fashioned (large flake) oats
1/4 cup sesame seeds, and/or hemp seeds, and/or flax seeds
1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. honey or golden syrup (such as Roger’s or Lyle’s)
A shake of cinnamon
A pinch of salt (optional)
A handful of raisins or dried fruit (optional)

Put everything into a large, heavy skillet (cast iron is perfect), set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, for about five minutes, or until the granola is well coated and golden. Set aside to cool and stir in raisins or dried fruit.

2PB & J Whole Wheat Pop Tarts

These aren’t necessarily fast and easy to make on a busy weekday morning, but if you make a batch on the weekend, leftovers can make an easy breakfast to go (add a glass of milk) that’s better than the packaged version.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup cold butter, cut into bits
1/4 cup canola or mild olive oil
1/3 cup ice cold water
1 egg, lightly beaten
Peanut butter and jam or other filling

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. In a bowl or the bowl of a food processor, combine the flours, sugar and salt. Add the butter and oil and pulse a few times, until the mixture resembles coarse meal, or blend with a pastry cutter, wire whisk or fork until crumbly, with bits of butter no bigger than a pea. If you used a food processor, transfer the mixture to a bowl.

Add the water and stir just until the dough comes together. Gather into a ball and let rest for 10 minutes or so. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out about 1/8” thick. Cut into 2” x 3” to 4” x 5” rectangles and place on a baking sheet. Brush the edges with beaten egg.
Spoon some peanut butter and jam (or whatever filling you want to use) along the middle of the rectangle, and top with another pastry rectangle. Press down around the edges with the tines of a fork, brush the tops with beaten egg and poke each pop tart on top once or twice with a fork to allow steam to escape. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden.

Makes eight to 12 pop tarts.

Julie is a best-selling cookbook author, food writer, cooking instructor and the food and nutrition columnist on the Calgary Eyeopener on CBC Radio. She lives in Calgary with her husband and son, Wilem. Watch for her cooking show, It’s Just Food, with co-host Ned Bell on Access TV and CLT stations across Canada. For more information, visit


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