Thursday 29 September 2016

Breakfast on the go: Recipes that'll save you time and money

It's back to school time, and with it, the return of the morning rush. So Katy McGuinness looks at three breakfast favourites you can prepare the night before

Published 28/08/2015 | 02:30

Peanut butter and oatmeal breakfast bars with a cup of coffee.
Peanut butter and oatmeal breakfast bars with a cup of coffee.
Chorizo, Cheese and Spinach Frittatas.
Muesli.

With the end of the summer approaching, and with it the prospect of a return to term-time routine, it's a good time to assess whether there's room for improvement in terms of breakfast habits.

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We all know that it's supposed to be the most important meal of the day, but in the panic of getting out of the door to school and to work on time, it's easy to make do with a quick bowl of sugary cereal or a couple of slices of toast from a supermarket loaf.

Neither of these options is ideally suited to sustaining you through until lunchtime, and chances are that you'll be looking for a mid-morning snack to keep you going.

Porridge is, of course, a breakfast option that appeals to many, but it can be time-consuming, and I'll confess to having had little success with it in my own house - except when served Ballymaloe-style with cream and soft brown sugar, which kind of defeats the purpose. It's definitely not something that you'd be having every day of the week, that's for sure.

An alternative to porridge, and one that may appeal more to children and teenagers, as well as adults, is Bircher muesli, where the oats are soaked overnight in apple juice to soften them.

Originally developed by a Swiss doctor and nutritionist, this is a breakfast option that you'll find increasingly on health-conscious menus. The preparation is all done the night before, so it's a matter of a couple of minutes to assemble it in the morning, and it has the twin virtues of being wholesome and tasting pretty good.

For carb-avoiders, individual frittatas are a great solution. In essence, these are mini-quiches without the pastry. You can flavour them with just about anything you like.

Make a batch in advance and they will last for a few days, delivering a protein-rich breakfast that can be grabbed on the way out of the door and eaten on the go. Similarly, the breakfast bars are designed to be prepared ahead and eaten on the run.

Peanut Butter and Banana Breakfast Bars

Makes 12

50g butter or coconut oil, plus a little extra for greasing

2 tbsp peanut butter

3 tbsp maple syrup

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1 apple, peeled and grated

250g rolled oats

185g dried fruit, a mix of apricots, raisins, dates, cranberries, goji berries or whatever you have to hand

85g mixed seeds

Heat the oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Grease and line a 20cm square tin with baking parchment. Heat the coconut oil or butter, peanut butter and maple syrup in a small pan until melted.

Add the mashed banana, apple and 50ml hot water, and combine. Put the oats, dried fruit and seeds into a large bowl. Add the banana and apple mixture and stir until everything is combined.

Tip into the cake tin and level the surface. Bake for about 55 minutes until golden. Leave to cool in the tin.

Cut into 12 pieces and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Chorizo, Cheese And Spinach Frittatas

Makes 12 individual servings

12 eggs

2 cooking chorizo, skin removed and chopped into small pieces

200g feta or other cheese, grated or crumbled

200g baby spinach

Pre-heat the oven to 200C/180 fan/gas 6. In a small frying pan, fry the chorizo over a medium heat until starting to caramelise and cooked through. There's no need to add fat as the chorizo already has plenty.

Meanwhile, blanch the spinach very briefly in boiling water, and drain. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out all the water and chop finely.

Beat the eggs together, add the cheese, the chorizo and spinach, season, and pour into twelve individual silicon cases. Cook for about 15 minutes or until set.

Bircher Muesli

Serves 1

25g oats

1 tbsp chopped dried apricots or other dried fruit

6 tbsp apple juice

1 apple, coarsely grated

Splash of milk, to loosen

Handful of almonds, roughly chopped

2 tbsp natural yoghurt

Honey to taste

Soak the oats and dried fruit in the apple juice overnight. Add the grated apple and the milk. Sprinkle with the almonds and add the yoghurt, plus a drizzle of honey. Serve immediately.

Taste test: Marmalade

A staple on many Irish breakfast tables in the past, marmalade may have lost favour in recent years but is still one of those things that most of us like to keep on standby for visitors.

Follain Extra Fruit Orange Medium Cut Marmalade, 370g/€2.89 9/10

Our favourite, and with the most pronounced orange flavour. Good value too.

The Butler's Pantry Marmalade 225g/€4.45 8/10

Made by Crossogue to The Butler's Pantry's own recipe, this has a good tangy flavour and was very popular with our testers. Expensive though.

Crossogue Preserves Luxury 4 Fruit Marmalade 225g/€3.75 7/10

Feels very luxurious, so to be consumed in moderation. Delicious.

Marks & Spencer Bitter Sweet Seville Orange Marmalade 340g/€2.09 6/10

"No fireworks but quite pleasant," said our marmalade aficionado. Good everyday stuff with a pleasant appearance.

Kilmurry Jams Orange Marmalade 340g/€3.75 6/10

Good appearance, marmalade like your grandmother made. Nice consistency and flavour.

Supervalu Thick Cut Orange Marmalade 454g/€1.09 4/10

The cheapest of the marmalades that we tried, and not unpleasant. Fine as an everyday staple but it may not cut the mustard with a connoisseur.

Wexford Home Preserves Orange Marmalade 420g/€3.09 3/10

Doesn't have the consistency of a marmalade; it's too solid. The aftertaste is over-bitter.

Kylemore Abbey Homemade Sweet Orange Marmalade 225g/€3.99 3/10

Sludgy consistency and too strong a taste of lemons. Our least favourite.

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