For the past couple of months, my children’s choice for breakfast has been breakfast bars. You know, those foil-packaged rectangles of oats and mystery fruit. The box lauds them as nutritious, and comparing them to Fruit Loops or Cocoa Krispies they’re probably superior if served with a multi-vitamin. I originally bought them as car snacks for road trips. But they traveled into the kitchen cupboard.
My children had been eating cold cereal or instant oatmeal for breakfast, but have since tired of these. Recently my daughter (9) is choosing to spend more time styling her hair than eating breakfast. In her last mad dash to pack her backpack, she simultaneously munches a breakfast bar. If I get her to swallow some milk too, I congratulate myself. My 6-year-old is the opposite. An early-riser, he’s ready for breakfast before I’m ready to serve it. So he helps himself. Ever his sister’s copycat, he chooses breakfast bars. I arrive in the kitchen in time to give him some milk too.
I’ve been thinking that I should be able to make a breakfast that meets our morning’s new criteria:
- tasty enough that the children will choose it
- fast to eat
- can be self-served by a 6-year-old
- nutritious enough that mom is not guilty
I found a recipe that meets these criteria in the cookbook Apples Everything by Jean Hill and Jody Littler. Click on “Continue reading…” for the recipe and rest of the story.
The recipe’s title drew me to it. “Breakfast Cookies”. I needed a breakfast recipe, and that word “Cookies” was guaranteed to entice my children to at least try them. The whole oats, wheat germ, apples, nuts, and raisins met my nutritious criterion. The sugar I was sure would meet my kids’ taste criterion. The recipe makes 50-60 which means we’d have a week’s supply of an easy “grab it fast and go breakfast”.
I didn’t have wheat germ, but I had an unopened package of wheat bran. Unaccustomed to cooking with either, I figured I could substitute the bran for germ. Of course, they’re completely different parts of the wheat plant, but at the time this fact didn’t seem to matter. And in the end it didn’t matter either because the kids and I really like the “cookies”. We all ate multiple cookies for breakfast. My daughter even sat at the table to eat hers. She exclaimed, “This is the first time I’ve had a sit-down breakfast all week!” Marvel of marvels.
Yesterday afternoon, neighborhood children came to play. My daughter brought out the “breakfast cookies” to share. The kids gobbled them up as an afternoon snack; good thing the recipe makes so many. I know I’ll be making more in the upcoming weeks. And you can too. Here’s the recipe for breakfast cookies from Apples Everything cookbook.
- 3/4 cup butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup grated apples
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/4 cups chopped nutmeats (I ground walnuts in the food processor, my kids won’t eat a walnut if they can recognize it)
- 2 cups raisins or currants, boiled in 1/3 cup extra water
- 1 cup wheat germ
- 3 cups quick oats, uncooked
- (I added 1 teaspoon cinnamon because we love apples with cinnamon)
Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs, and beat. Add other ingredients. Drop on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees about 10 minutes.
A note about the raisins, I wasn’t sure what these instructions regarding boiled raisins meant. I figured the idea was to get the raisins plumped up with water so they’d be soft and chewy. I put the 2 cups of raisins in a medium saucepan with 2 1/3 cups water. I brought them to a boil, let them simmer for a few minutes, then turned off the heat and let them sit in the water while I mixed up the other ingredients. Then I drained them, chopped them up in the food processor and added them to the cookie mixture. It worked out fine. As I said, we all liked the cookies.
I confess to a scare, though. My daughter was the first to bite into a cookie and her happily-expectant expression clouded. She held the cookie close to her eyes and examined it, scrutinizing every raisin and oat. I held my breath. Had she caught me trying to slip her something healthy by passing it off as a cookie? Her brows furrowed and she said, “They taste like under-cooked pancakes.” Ah! That oven again! I just can’t trust it’s temperature gauge.
Quick to recover and prevent her from writing off all 59 remaining cookies, I said, “Well, if they taste like pancakes, let’s put some maple syrup on them.” Yes, my parental experience has taught me how to sweeten our dining-table deals. When in doubt, add sugar. But in this case, I thought that Wisconsin pure maple syrup would best complement the flavor of the breakfast cookies. I put some cookies in a bowl and drizzled maple syrup over them. Sure enough, Lauren liked them now. I cooked the next batch a few minutes longer. Then both kids enjoyed them, sans syrup.
So, I guess if you’re game for experiment, you could mix up these cookies and try frying them like pancakes. I’d cut down on the butter in the recipe then. I’m also considering using this basic recipe and substituting cranberries for the raisins and pecans for the walnuts. I could add flakes of sweetened coconut; we’re big fans of coconut, and coconut and cranberry flavors are a great combination. I could make the breakfast cookies with peaches instead of apples, if so I’d likely omit the water. Yes, I think this breakfast cookie recipe is a winner with so many possible variations that it will be a long time before we tire of it. Try it out yourself and see what variations you enjoy. Then you can move those packaged breakfast bars back into the car where they belong.