If we think of January as the morning of the year, then breakfast is a perfect topic to consider now. I can see the words "New Year's resolutions" blinking bright red in your mind, but that's not where I meant to go: I am thinking more in terms of "New Year's suggestions." Step into my kitchen and you'll see what I mean.
My breakfast at home includes fresh fruit, a serving of yogurt, a small amount of nuts and a piece of good extra-dark chocolate. Yogurt entered my life when I was about 18 and has never left. I sometimes make it at home. If you have ever wondered about the complexity of doing so, it's amazingly simple.
But if DIY does not appeal to you even in the early heady days of the new year, you can still buy all types of yogurt, including non-dairy. Plain yogurt may look a bit stark, so here is a suggestion on how to dress it up to get a combination of flavors and textures that will wake up your taste buds:
Spoon a layer of plain yogurt in a bowl. If it needs a bit of sweetener, you can mix a small amount of honey or agave nectar into it, small being the watchword here; one of the pleasures of yogurt is its delightful tartness, so you don't want to erase that. Add some diced baked pear (recipe follows) or a sliced peeled kiwi and sprinkle some chopped toasted pistachios or pecans on top.
Whole-grain hot cereals are another great breakfast option. I often prepare rye flakes for my husband. We flake rye berries at home thanks to a hand-crank grain flaker, a neat tool you may want to add to your wish list. Rolled oats are another good choice.
Try this: Layer cooked rye flakes or rolled oats, spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of yogurt on top, then add fruit and nuts as above. For the fruit layer, you could also use a diced avocado half or, when the fruit basket is in red alert (aka, empty), use 2-3 tablespoons of roasted applesauce (see "Baking Beauties," Oct. 23, 2014).
Mornings can be difficult. We get up and our to-do list is already scrolling in front of our mind's eye or on our devilish portable devices, so it is important that we bring some enjoyment to it. Taking the time to prepare and consume a flavorful and nourishing breakfast is a way of showing ourselves and our family some love. Then, come what may, we are ready to face it with a smile.
Ingredients and method:
1 ripe but firm pear (Bosc or Asian work nicely)
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Wash the pear and cut it lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick slices. Take the slices that have some core, halve them crosswise and carve out the core. Distribute the slices on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and bake them for 10-15 minutes (depending on the pear variety). Let the fruit cool and dice it. If you have more than you can use right away, hold off dicing and store leftover slices in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Baked pear is lovely added to a salad or as stuffing for an acorn squash.
Simona Carini also writes about her adventures in the kitchen on her blog: www.pulcetta.com.