Ask Chef Nicole: Easy Back to School Breakfast

Nicole Straight

As a kid I viewed back to school with both excitement and trepidation.  As a parent, I can relate to the Staples commercial where the father gleefully skips down the "back to school" aisle while the kids trudge forlornly behind.  I both welcome the structure of the school year and feel overwhelmed by its rigidity.

I have, however, come to find that the more organized I am with my kids' lives, the less stressed out my life is.  Breakfast has historically been the most difficult meal in our household, because my children are not early risers (nor am I) and I feel perpetually rushed to provide a wholesome, nutritious meal, while ensuring hair is brushed, shoes are ties and lunches are packed, all before 8 a.m.

Here are some delicious recipes we make in our house to both de-stress mom and ensure the kids start their day on the right foot.


Egg White, Turkey Bacon Roll-Up (seen above)

2 slices turkey bacon

2 egg whites

½ tsp. unsalted butter

1 flour or whole wheat tortilla

pinch of kosher salt and pepper

Cover turkey bacon with a paper towel and place on a dish. Microwave for 2 minutes.  While the bacon cooks, heat a small nonstick pan on high heat.  Add unsalted butter.  When the butter melts, add 2 egg whites (we use the container of separated egg whites available at all grocery stores) and cook for 1 minute or until egg begins to firm up on the bottom.  Add a small pinch of salt and pepper and flip.  

Turn off heat and let egg finish cooking.  Remove bacon from the microwave.   Microwave 1 flour or wheat tortilla for 20 seconds until warm.  Lay a paper towel on a plate, next add the tortilla, egg and bacon.   Roll tortilla, then roll paper towel to cover the wrap.  

My kids eat this for breakfast 3 times a week and can even be eaten on the way to the bus stop.  I like to add a few slices of tomato and a splash of Tabasco sauce.


Tropical Fruit Smoothie

1 C. vanilla yogurt

1 C. orange juice 

1 banana

1 C. frozen mixed berries, pineapple, or peaches

Optional: Fish oil and/or ground flax seed for added nutrients and fiber

Combine all ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth.  Drink, or freeze for 10 minutes, top with a handful of granola and eat with a spoon.


Banana Oatmeal Cookins (½ muffin, ½ cookie)

These are a great alternative to banana muffins, they look like tops of muffins, and are moist and freeze beautifully.

4 Tbs. unsalted butter

½ C. agave

½ C.  brown sugar

2 ripe bananas

4 egg whites

2 tsp. vanilla

2 C. flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. pumpkin or apple pie spice

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

3 cups oatmeal (old-fashioned or quick, not instant)

1 cup shredded coconut (optional)

½ cup dark chocolate chunks or chips

Preheat oven to 350F.  Combine all wet ingredients in a mixer, then add dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Dough will be slightly wet, like muffin batter.

Drop large spoonfuls on a Silpat lined baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes or until cookies are golden brown and feel like a sponge when lightly pressed.  


Pumpkin Muffins (Shortcut) with Dried Orange-Scented Cranberries and Dark Chocolate Chips

If you don't have time to bake from scratch, and lord knows we've all been there, I have done my research and found that the Pillsbury Pumpkin Quick Bread Mix is your best shortcut. It has a good pumpkin spice flavor and a nice texture. 

1 box pumpkin quick-bread mix

¼ C. dark chocolate chips

½ C. dried orange scented cranberries (available at Trader Joe’s)

Prepare muffins according to recipe, however substitute egg whites for eggs and add chocolate chips and dried cranberries.  Bake in a muffin-cup lined muffin tin.  Cool completely before storing in a Ziploc bag.  


Here's Another great tip:  On Sunday, make 8 waffles and 12 pancakes.  Cool and store in a Ziploc bag for the week.  Heat waffles in the toaster and pancakes in the microwave and serve with sliced bananas, strawberries and blueberries.  

Also, muffins freeze beautifully.  Simply pop in the microwave for 30 seconds to warm and serve with ½ an apple and a Tablespoon of peanut butter.

We found the recipe for those beauties on the right on It was featured in an article titled "Back To Work and School: 15 Great Lunchbox Snacks". These Crunchy Granola Bars are healthy and delicious. The original recipe is from a great book titled "Too Many Cooks: Kitchen Adventures with 1 Mom, 4 Kids, and 102 Recipes". These are great for snack bags, lunch boxes, or breakfast on the go. 

To see complete Crunchy Granola Bar Recipe, click here.