Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Rise and Shine

I've been a night owl for as long as I can remember. As a little girl I would sneak up way past bedtime with a flashlight or a lamp covered with a thin blanket just so I could finish that last chapter of a Ramona Quimby book. Middle school... high school... Heaven help me in college. I thought perhaps having children would change this quality.


Once the house is quiet, my mind sets to work with all that I can do or read or think or make... it's in my DNA, I suppose, because it certainly isn't the lack of being tired that keeps me going.

Really it's not so bad because I can end up quite productive.

That is... until morning.

I dream a little of being a morning person like the two bright eyed girls who are ready to rock and roll from the time I hear, "Mama, I'm up!"

To help myself out and to keep from feeding them who-knows-what in my sleepy stupor, I've tried to start taking one morning a week or so to prepare some items in advance. Whether you're a night owl or just have busy mornings in general, here are a couple of favorites that help do the trick.

First, if you have kiddos at home, set them up with some sort of distraction. For us that is usually play doh, which means I'll have a big mess by the end of it all. I tend to be messy in the kitchen when I'm creating, though, so the whole thing will need a wipe down anyhow.

Then make some go-tos.

Waffles. When we got a waffle iron for our wedding, I wasn't sure if it would just take up space. Boy, nothing could be further from the truth! Pick your favorite waffle recipe and double it. My secret ingredient is substituting any oil or butter with either applesauce, squash puree, or sweet potato puree. You can also doctor up these babies with flax seed and all kinds of other goodies. A little maple syrup, and you'll hardly ever tell (except that sometimes this substitution can make the waffles softer... just cook for longer if you like a crispy texture). This makes 24 waffles for me, so I take out enough for the week and freeze the rest in breakfast sized portions.

Simple Granola. Line two baking pans with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix 1.5 cups of brown sugar with 1/2 cup water. Heat in microwave for about five minutes until sugar dissolves. Add 4 teaspoons vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon salt. In a big bowl combine 8 cups old fashioned oats, 2 cups of almonds or other nuts (there are lots of alternative mix-ins), and brown sugar mixture. Bake for about 45 minutes until crunchy. Flake with a wooden spoon as soon as it comes out of the oven. Then let it cool completely and store in an airtight container. Top plain/flavored yogurt...layer granola, yogurt, and fruit for a quick parfait... or serve it up with a bowl of milk for cereal.
Muffins. The sweet potato muffins are yum (we substituted flaxseed meal for the nuts). Double your recipe to have some for now and to freeze some for later!
Final directions: Stumble out of bed and feel good that you didn't serve your children dishwater and moon pies.

That off the top of my head combination alone probably tells you how much sleep I've been getting. :)

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