In the western world, I think it’s fair to say we have not one but two shots at starting off a new year on the right foot. The first falls on January the 1st, when many of us, with mascara down to our chins, are found chomping down a Big Mac. The other is in September. Those first days of school – forget the school children (unless you have them) – are prime time to grab your life goals and aim them into the bullseye of success. And the best way to feel energised for this wave of positive productivity? Starting the day with some healthy school breakfast ideas.
School breakfasts need a makeover – not just for children, but for adults too. School children have to launch themselves back into the routine. September is a confusing muddle of excitement of a new school term, seeing friends with their post-summer tans, but also that incessant buzz of their alarms in the morning, the school uniforms, the long days, the homework. Breakfast is the opportunity to face that upheaval with at least one thing to look forward to.
The adults though, they need this need this breakfast revamp all the more. Unlike those good old school summer holidays, grown ups spent their summer on the commute and in an office. Grown ups need something quick and delicious to eat to break up the monotony, and to energise us to set off from a new starting block.
So, these are back to school breakfasts… with adults at the heart. Some of these healthy breakfast ideas are for experienced palettes only – you might get a child to take a break from Coco Pops, but possibly not for the Kimcheese Omelette.
All of these breakfasts include at least one of the best kickstarting ingredients:
all of which are nutritious, and most importantly, filling. Breakfast has to see us through the morning, and we will all thank it for reducing any belly conversations during a quiet meeting (I speak from my own experience).
So, here they are – inspiration to make some back to school breakfasts, no matter how long ago school was.
4 Quick, Filling and Delicious Healthy School Breakfast Ideas
PB&J Overnight Oats
I’ve sung Bircher muesli‘s praises and now it’s overnight oats’ turn – I swear they are different, guys! They both may look like a bowl of oaty mush, and… well yes, that is basically what they both are. But in this case, add some peanut butter and jam, and you have yourself a kid’s tea party treat in your cereal bowl.
Do we ever grow out of peanut butter and jam? I know, it’s technically peanut butter and jelly, but I’m a Brit, jelly is what children eat at birthday parties. The other day, we had no food in the flat besides processed white bread, cherry jam and the last scrapings of peanut butter. That final sandwich was packed full and dripped jam as I ate over my computer keyboard – the definition of why these back to school breakfasts are so important.
So, why not incorporate pb&j, this delectable combination, in your overnight oats? These are healthy school breakfast ideas though, so we need to rack up the vitamins and nutrients somehow. Swapping the jam for actual berries is a good place to start, and my garden’s overgrown blackberry bush has been generously offering me full juicy blackberries since the end of July. Adding yoghurt helps as does making sure that peanut butter is the good sort, the stuff that’s made from pure peanuts and nothing else.
Combine your creamy overnight oats with that good artery-polishing peanut butter until loosely marbled, then layer it with Greek yoghurt and berries. Top it with more yoghurt, more peanut butter, more blackberries, and maybe some seeds for those fatty acids. It’s a dessert for a school breakfast. A healthy one.
Peanut Butter and Jam Overnight Oats
- 45 g (½ cup) rolled oats
- 120 ml (½ cup) water
- A pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- 1 tsp maple syrup (optional)
- 3 tbsp Greek yoghurt
- A heaped handful of blackberries or raspberries, blueberries or strawberries
- Extra peanut butter, berries, and some mixed pumpkin, sunflower and flaxseeds to serve
- In a jam jar, combine the oats, water and salt. Screw the lid on tightly, shake it to combine, then put it in the fridge for at least 1 hour, until the oats are think, soft and creamy.
- When you're ready to eat, add the tablespoon of peanut butter to the oats and stir it through until it is softly marbled. Add the tsp maple syrup too if you wish.
- Layer two tablespoons of the yoghurt at the bottom of a glass or bowl. Top with a tablespoon of overnight oats, then some blackberries. Repeat with the layers of oats and blackberries until you finish the oats. Garnish with the remaining tablespoon of yoghurt, some extra peanut butter, some more berries, and some seeds.
Turkish Eggs – Cilbir
Gaylord and I eat Turkish eggs like they’re on sale, we just act like human vacuum cleaners when softly poached eggs and garlic yoghurt are piled up on our plates.
Cilbir looks like undulating creamy white waves and it has the texture of them too – all you need is a spoon to act as a shovel and a hunk of bread to mop up the residual yolk. The traditional dish was simply poached eggs during the age of Ottoman sultans, and imperial cooks tried to innovate the recipe with various touches of flavour. By the 20th century, it had become this iteration, possibly because they were so favoured by the sultan of the time – poached eggs with garlicky yoghurt and sprinkled with pul biber chilli flakes.
Somewhere along the road to today, cilbir adopted a beurre noisette drizzle, often spiked with a pinch of paprika.
When I make it, there are always 50 million things to do all at once – butter is sizzling, eggs are at a rolling boil and really need to be fished out with a slotted spoon, and oh yes, time to mix that garlic yoghurt. But the mania lasts all of five minutes, which is how long this dish takes to cook. Then it’s on the table and we’re drizzling that nutty spicy browned butter over our eggs, and I push my spoon down on one and that yolk bursts like a water balloon all over the yoghurt.
If garlic is a bit too much to handle at 7am, I feel you. Feel free to leave it out of the yoghurt.
Cilbir (Turkish Eggs)
- White vinegar
- 30 g butter
- A pinch of ground paprika
- 120 g pot of Greek yoghurt
- ¼ clove of garlic crushed
- 2 eggs
- Salt and black pepper
- Chopped herbs and pul biber chilli flakes to serve
- Fill a deep saucepan with water until there is 2 inches (5 cm) of space from the top. Pour in the white vinegar (this can be any old white vinegar, we keep ours with the cleaning products). You need at least 2 big glugs of vinegar in there, don't be too cautious. Set the saucepan over high heat to come to the boil.
- Melt the butter in small saucepan or frying pan. Let it sizzle then start to brown and smell nutty, around 4 minutes. Remove it from the heat and pour into a small jug or bowl. Add the pinch of paprika and stir to combine.
- Meanwhile, add the garlic, if using, to your pot of yoghurt along with a pinch of salt, and stir to combine.
- Prepare a plate with a couple of sheets of kitchen paper on top. Once the poaching water is at a rolling bowl, gently crack 2 eggs into the centre of the pan. They should fall like tear drops and the vinegar will set the white immediately. Make the sure the water remains at an even boil to prevent the eggs from flattening, so monitor the temperature.
- After 2 minutes, they will be cooked yet soft in the centre so fish them out with a slotted spoon and place them on the paper-lined plate. Sprinkle with a little salt.
- Scoop the yoghurt out onto a wide bowl, top with the eggs then drizzle all over with the paprika butter. Sprinkle with herbs and pul biber chilli as garnish.
Caramelised Plum Porridge
Porridge and I started going steady around 6 years ago. We’d met a few times over the years, liked each other well enough, but routinely got bored after a time, so moved onto other people, other breakfasts. Then I started working as a breakfast chef at a little cafe in London. I had free reign over the menu, and come winter, we needed a quick warming breakfast to tempt our coffee-drinking customers into spending more money.
Keep in mind, porridge was in. 26 Grains had just opened having started as a porridge pop up and everyone wanted to live the Scandinavian breakfast life come winter. Porridge was fashionable, so I put three varieties on the menu. Of course, it was a success, but I actually blame porridge for my weight gain that year – I ate it all the time.
Right now, we’re at a crossroads in the seasons – we’re drifting away from fridge-cold overnight oats and back to the warm waiting arms of its cosy cousin. Once those nights grow longer and we’ll be eating breakfast in the dark again, I’ll be reaching for this caramelised plum porridge for my back to school breakfast, pooling with buttery plum juices over creamy soft oats.
Caramelised Plum Porridge
- 1-2 plums depending on size
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp honey
- ⅛ tsp cinnamon
- 35 g (⅓ cup) porridge oats
- 240 ml (3½ cups) water
- A pinch of salt
- Cut the plums into wedges (depending on size). Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Once it's sizzling add the honey and plum slices and toss them around to coat evenly. Leave to bubble for a few seconds, then fry, moving the plum slices around and to amalgamate the butter and honey. Cook the plums for 2 minutes then remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cinnamon.
- Combine the oats, water and salt in a saucepan and set it over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and the oats will start thickening. Stir as it bubbles and thickens for around 2-3 minutes until the oats are cooked through.
- Pour the porridge into a bowl and top with the caramelised plums.
A slightly more unusual start to the day, and less a back to school breakfast because when there is a choice between sugary cereal and an omelette full of gooey melted cheese and kimchi, I think we all know the option a child will take. Adults on the other hand, come on over, the kimcheese is warm.
Kimcheese is not new. As a school breakfast, yes maybe, but it was on my radar as an oozing cheese toastie back in my chef days when I was working that breakfast line. (Is this why I write so many breakfast posts? Because I spent 3 years as a breakfast and brunch chef? Why have I never pieced that together before now?). We would make it for customers as a takeaway, filling the sandwich with housemade kimchi and slices of taleggio, before frying it in a puddle of melted butter.
In the politest terms, taleggio is a fragrant cheese. And kimchi, well it’s not flavourless! Kimchi needs robust flavours to hold up next to its layers of chilli, garlic, and the tang of fermentation.
However, for a morning omelette, even though some morning stomachs are stronger than others, I was wary of bringing taleggio back into the kimcheeese fold. So, although tempted by Cheddar with its familiar creamy flavour, I ultimately went with Camembert.
Omelettes are already French, so this cheese choice seems to double down on a clash of cuisines, but I wanted to see how they all get on. Honestly, they’re all living it up in there. The kimchi is bright and sour and offers a wonderful fresh crunch which is necessary when the eggs are so buttery soft and the Camembert is just running out in long cheesy tendrils. Plus it’s certainly strong enough to give kimchi a run for its money.
Start the day as you mean to go on and live a little! Start with a kimcheese omelette.
- 3 eggs
- 60 g kimchi
- 30 g Camembert sliced
- A pinch of salt
- Butter for frying
- Preheat the grill to 160°C/320°F. Whisk the eggs in a bowl and add the pinch of salt. Set a skillet or frying pan (that can go under the grill) over medium-low heat and add the butter to melt. Once it's all melted and starting to sizzle, add the beaten eggs. Lower the heat slightly.
- Agitate the eggs by spreading the liquid out to the edges of the pan, then once it starts to gently set, using a spatula, pull in the edges slightly at 12 o'clock, 3 o'clock, 6 o'clock, and 9 o'clock. Allow the raw egg to flow into that space between the omelette and the pan edge.
- Spread the kimchi down one half of the omelette. Top with the slices of Camembert. Slide the pan under the grill and let the heat melt the cheese slightly, around 2-3 minutes.
- Take the pan from under the grill and then gently flip the empty half of the omelette over the filling – like you're closing a book. Slide it onto a plate and serve.