Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross
Food & Nutrition
The Christmas holidays are all about good food and the food begins with special breakfast. There is added work and stress in food preparation as you are preparing recipes that you only make once a year, or a new recipe, and it often takes longer to prepare than the time we planned.
This is a special time to have family and friends over for the holidays. No one wants to spend all their time in the kitchen while everyone else is visiting or, worse yet, preparing food while everyone else is having fun. You also have the challenge of guests or family members getting up at different times with some who like to eat right away and others who don’t. Some people like a big breakfast and others only want fruit or juice, milk or coffee.
I have written before about breakfast being the most important meal of the day and, too often, when people are extra busy during the holidays, they skip it. Needless to say, you are asking your body to run on an empty fuel tank and that is not healthy for many reasons. Since there is already enough added stress with the holidays, you might consider some of the following:
When you have overnight guests in your home, set up a breakfast buffet area with an assortment of plates, silverware, glasses and cups. This is one of those items you can ask your guests to help you with the night before. You can also ask the early riser to make the coffee or hot water for the cocoa and tea drinkers. Here you have some options: your coffee maker might already have a timer built into it, or you could plug the appliance into a timer. Whatever way the beverage gets made, the early risers will probably appreciate being able to enjoy a cup as soon as they arise.
If you want to provide several hot beverage choices, you can keep water hot in a crock pot or other glass container like a teapot. Try not to use a coffeepot, as even the water heated in it will have a coffee taste and so will the beverages that are prepared with this hot water. For the heated water, you can set out an assortment of beverages such as hot chocolate, tea (both regular and herbal) and coffee. Don’t forget the flavored creamers.
You can also have a variety of breads and bagels by your toaster. Keep these items wrapped so they don’t dry out. By the toaster, have a knife and cutting board on a towel to collect the crumbs for easier clean-up. If you don’t want bread or toast, how about muffins? You can make a variety of them ahead to store in the refrigerator or freezer. Don’t forget to set the jams, jellies and peanut butter nearby. Why not have a plate of sliced cheese and fresh fruit cups? Like the other items, this can all be prepared ahead.
When you want to have hot foods, overnight breakfast casseroles are great. There are so many to choose from; all of our wonderful cookbooks are filled with them. There are overnight French toast casseroles, the sausage breakfast ones and, of course, the egg and ham ones. Overnight coffeecakes are delicious too. Probably one of the favorites would be overnight cinnamon rolls or anything that is yeast bread. There is just nothing like the aroma of warm yeast breads.
If you want to really go simple, set out several boxes of different cereals so people can help themselves to their favorite. Make sure to have the raisins, dried cranberries, sugar and some fresh fruits such as bananas and oranges nearby. Remember all this can be set out the night before.
By planning ahead and asking others to help, you can be a hostess who enjoys the company vs. a short-order cook. Enjoying company and the conversation over good food is what having family and friends to your home is all about.
Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross is county extension director and an extension educator in health and human sciences at Purdue Extension Elkhart County. Reach her at 574-533-0554 or firstname.lastname@example.org.