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Cookies and quesadillas for breakfast-why not?

Cookies and quesadillas for breakfast-why not?

September 12th, 2017 by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in Features

Cheese and Apple Quesadillas

Photo by Tribune News Service

It's the start of another school year and for some parents, getting the kids out the door on time with their teeth brushed and lunches packed is only one of many school-related headaches.

It also can be a challenge to get your little one or teen to eat some breakfast.

Maybe he or she is feeling rushed. Often your child is just too sleepy to feel all that hungry. If your student is a teenager who's started to worry about appearances, perhaps she thinks (incorrectly) that she will maintain or lose weight by forgoing that plate of eggs.

For whatever reason, studies show more than 10 percent of school children regularly skip breakfast. And it gets worse as they grow older; according to the American Dietetic Association, more than two-thirds of teenaged girls and half of teenaged boys head to class on an empty stomach.

Why is this a concern? Kids who eat breakfast do better in school. Not only do they work faster and do better on math problems, they also perform better on vocabulary tests than those who ate only a partial breakfast. They also have better concentration and are more alert.

Your body goes a long time between bedtime and rise time without food, and those who skip breakfast have trouble stabilizing their blood sugar for the day. Not only does missing this most important meal make for a cranky child, but it also makes them tired and restless.

It's probably unrealistic to get them to sit down for a full breakfast. But if there's something sitting on the counter they can grab as they run out the door, you might just win the breakfast battle.

Below, we offer three portable breakfast dishes that also will make a nutritious after-school snack for kids who go from the classroom to the sports field or other activities. An added plus: all are easy enough that little hands can lend a hand in making them—making it more likely they'll want to eat them.


You know the saying about apples—one a day, and you'll keep the doctor away. Pair it with cheese in a crispy quesadilla, and you've got a great breakfast. It's even better if you add a couple thin slices of ham.

If you're short on time, you also can make in the microwave (nuke composed quesadilla for 30 seconds or until the cheese melts). I just won't be as crunchy.

2 burrito-size flour tortillas (regular or whole-wheat)

1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar

1/2 Granny Smith and 1/2 Red Delicious apple, sliced super thin

2 thin slices ham (optional)


Preheat a large nonstick skillet.

Sprinkle an even layer of cheese over one tortilla. Scatter the apple slices and ham (if using) on top of the cheese and top with the remaining tortilla. Place quesadilla in skillet and crisp for 1 to 2 minutes on both sides, until the cheese is melted. Cut into 6 to 8 wedges. Serve warm.

—Gretchen McKay

Blueberry Pie French Toast Muffins

Blueberry Pie French Toast Muffins

Photo by Tribune News Service


Nature's blue dynamos are packed with vitamin C and antioxidants, a good source of dietary fiber and full of magnesium, which plays an important role in bone development. Blueberries also are thought to improve brain health.

These muffins are especially good warm, so if you have time, reheat them in the toaster oven before heading out the door.

8 eggs

3/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon salt

8 thick slices whole grain bread, cut into cubes

1/2 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8- or 12-cup muffin tin.


In large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, lemon zest and juice, allspice and salt. Add bread cubes and stir, making sure all the cubes are covered in eggy mixture. Let soak for 5 minutes.

Fold in blueberies. Spoon bread mixture into muffin cups.

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until the egg is cooked and the muffins are golden brown. Turn out onto rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Makes 12 muffins.

—"The School Year Survival Cookbook" by Laura Keogh and Ceri Marsh (Random House, July 2017, $29.95)


Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookies

Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookies

Photo by Tribune News Service


What kid doesn't like cookies, especially for breakfast?

But the joke's on them—they'll never know these hard-working morning treats are good for them. Carrots are one of the best sources for beta-carotene, which the body turns into vitamin A and plays an important role in maintaining healthy vision.

These cookies are not very sweet, so you may want to add raisins. My husband thought there were the ultimate bedtime snacks.

1 cup oats

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons butter, melted

3/4 cup finely grated carrots (2 medium)

1/2 cup raisins (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In medium bowl, stir together oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together egg, vanilla, maple syrup, brown sugar and melted butter. Add dry ingredients to the wet ones and stir to combine. Add carrots and raisins, if using, and stir until just combined. Chill dough for 1/2 hour.

Drop tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto the baking sheets, leaving and inch or 2 between each. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, until cookies are brown at the edges and just set on top. Let cool for a few minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Will keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days or freeze for up to a month.

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

—Adapted from "The School Year Survival Cookbook" by Laura Keogh and Ceri Marsh (Random House, July 2017, $29.95)

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