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Match food to teens’ lifestyle

Getting teens to eat breakfast on school days will always be a challenge. It comes with the territory. Always has.

Teens are more independent. They’re busy juggling schoolwork and social lives. Who has time to bother with breakfast?

Sarah Berghoff McClure, for one. The 16-year-old from Chicago’s northern suburbs makes sure she eats a good breakfast; otherwise, “by second period, you’ll be starving.”

That means she can’t do what she sees some teens do. “Some have a cup of coffee, bring it to school, drink that and call it their breakfast,” she says. “You have to eat breakfast, even if it’s just one egg and an apple on the go.”

Breakfast “depends on what we have in the house. But if we have waffles, I will cook those. Pancakes sometimes, if my mom is in a really good mood,” says Sarah, who follows a gluten-free diet. “What I do on my own is make eggs, because eggs are quick, healthy and protein. Generally that’s not enough to fill me up so I have these protein shakes I make.”

Or she’ll scour the refrigerator. “I’ll be, like, OK, I have some bread. I’ll toast the bread, I’ll make an egg, I’ll put it on the bread. If I have some bean salad, I’ll put like one spoon of the bean salad on it or guacamole or salsa. It’s kind of like making a burrito. It’s a burrito on the go. That’s my favorite breakfast.”

While Sarah often cooks her own breakfast, it’s mom who makes sure the kitchen’s stocked.

Mom is Carlyn Berghoff, mother of three teenagers (and CEO of the Berghoff Catering and Restaurant Group). Carlyn and Sarah co-authored “Cooking for Your Gluten-Free Teen: Everyday Foods the Whole Family Will Love” with Dr. Suzanne P. Nelson and Nancy Ross Ryan.

Just as with many teens, Sarah’s breakfasts aren’t always consumed at the table, especially when the soon-to-be-junior is running really, really late. “I bring it upstairs with me,” she says, “and eat while I put my makeup on.”

Making breakfast portable helps. So beyond a fried egg sandwich eaten on the run, consider molletes, open-face sandwiches popular with students in Mexico. Or a fruit bread, such as a gluten-free version, spread with a nut butter or eaten with a fruit-and-yogurt smoothie.

FEEDING THE ON-THE-GO TEEN

Registered dietitians Jill Castle and Maryann Jacobsen, authors of “Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School” (Jossey–Bass, $16.95), offer recipes and guidelines for nourishing teens.

Among them:

Breakfast for a teen should include meat (or a nonmeat protein source), fat, fruit, grain and dairy (or nondairy alternative). It could be as simple as peanut butter on whole-grain toast with a banana and skim milk.

The accelerated growth of teens means they may consume more food and bigger portions. “Rather than worry about extra hunger, be prepared for it with quality food on hand and regular meals that satisfy your teen.”

Ten power foods for teens: Seeds, nuts, instant ready-to-eat fortified cereals, 100 percent orange juice, beans, low-fat cheese, low-fat yogurt, low-fat milk, dark green leafy vegetables, orange-colored fruits and vegetables (mango, carrots, etc.).

“Rather than fight against the foods teens love, find ways to modify them so that they remain tasty and pack more nutrients,” for example, by subbing low-fat cheese for full-fat versions on pizza.

BANANA BREAD SQUARES

Prep time: 20 minutes

Bake time: 30 to 35 minutes

Makes 9 bars

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ²⁄3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1¹⁄cups smoothly mashed very ripe banana, about 3 bananas
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons dried egg whites 
  • 1¹⁄3 cups gluten-free flour with xanthan gum or 1¹⁄3 cups gluten-free flour mixed with 1½ teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon each: cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Spray a 9-by-9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment paper; spray parchment with cooking spray.

3. Beat butter and sugar together in a medium bowl until fluffy.

4. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add bananas and vanilla; beat well.

5. In another medium bowl, whisk flour with dried egg whites, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt and allspice.

6. Add dry ingredients in batches to banana mixture, beating well after each addition. Batter will be very thick; beat only enough to mix well.

7. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Smooth level with a spatula. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30-35 minutes.

8. Remove from oven; cool on a rack. When cool, cut into 3-inch squares.

Nutritional information per bar: 217 calories, 7 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 55 mg cholesterol, 38 g carbohydrates, 4 g protein, 422 mg sodium, 3 g fiber

Adapted from: “Cooking for Your Gluten-Free Teen” (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $19.99).  

MOLLETES

Makes 6 servings

  • 6 bolillos (or fairly long French rolls)
  • 1 can (16 ounces) refried beans 
  • 10 to 12 slices cooked bacon
  • 2 cups grated Chihuahua or Monterey Jack cheese

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Split bolillos lengthwise.

3. Remove a small amount of each roll’s soft interior. Place rolls cut-side down on a baking sheet. Toast lightly in the oven, about 3 minutes.

4. Spread refried beans on cut-side of toasted rolls.

5. Sprinkle with bacon, if desired.

6. Sprinkle with grated Chihuahua or Monterey Jack cheese.

7. Arrange on baking sheet. Heat in oven until cheese is bubbly and golden, about 10 minutes. (Watch carefully so cheese does not burn.)

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