Everyone has heard by now that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We never skip breakfast at my house… mostly because I pretty much wake up feeling starving so I can’t even imagine not eating shortly after hopping out of bed. I think my kids must have inherited that gene from me because they ask about breakfast almost immediately as well. What can I say – I guess we’re a hungry bunch!
I’ve shared about some of our favorite breakfast options before. Today I want to share a new way I’ve been doing the toppings for our pancakes and waffles.
First of all, let me start by saying that I’m a firm believer in REAL maple syrup. There is nothing more irritating to me than going out to a restaurant, thinking that I’m going to enjoy taking a break from cooking and having someone else make me some kind of wonderful, warm, breakfast-y creation to eat … only to find when I go to pour the syrup that it’s all thick and gooey – a sure sign that it’s some kind of fake Mrs. Butterworth’s-type of product that isn’t actually maple syrup at all. I feel so jipped when that happens! I always think, “Hey! We are paying for this meal and they can’t even give us REAL syrup!” It’s so annoying!
So obviously at home I like to have the real thing. I always buy REAL maple syrup where the ONLY ingredient on the back is “maple syrup”. I try to buy organic when I can, but depending on what grocery store I’m at that particular day, sometimes I can find it and sometimes not. But my main focus is that it just be the real deal. Notice the list of ingredients in the photo below of the back of the bottle:
The big problem with real maple syrup (why I suspect restaurants sometimes offer the imitation) is that is is crazy expensive! I’m talking like $8 or $9 dollars for this little bottle:
Yikes! I mean, when you use the real stuff you quickly realize that is SO naturally sweet that you really only need a tablespoon or so to put on top of your breakfast, but still… that all adds up if you multiply it by a family of four and multiple uses per week! Those little bottles of syrup can disappear pretty quickly around here. (Plus, I cook a lot with maple syrup, too, so it really goes fast!)
So I started experimenting with other toppings for our pancakes and waffles. I tried just using berries, and while it tastes just fine, I found that it just doesn’t taste or feel the same to me to have a warm breakfast without that maple flavor. Must be a weird connection from my childhood or something. So after some trial and error in the kitchen (okay, okay, LOTS of error – as always with me!) I have a great breakfast topping recipe I’d like to share with you. It’s healthy, simple, and tastes like heaven!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1/3 cup water
- 3ish cups of frozen berries (sometimes I use a mixed bag, sometimes just strawberries – it really doesn’t much matter)
- 3 tbsp of real maple syrup
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
Here’s what do do – it’s easy!
Heat up your water in a little pot.
Toss in the frozen berries. (You certainly could use fresh, but frozen are cheaper and easier because you don’t have to worry about them going bad in a day or two.)
Add the syrup.
Let it heat up and almost boil. Smash it up and smooth it out with that great Mix ‘n Chop tool I told you about a while back.
When it gets smoothed out (Note: it will never be completely smooth. If you’d prefer it that way just blend it up!) toss in the chia seeds and mix them around a bit. Turn off the burner and let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes.
Here’s the thing about chia seeds. They will not taste like seeds. You just have to trust me on this one! They LOOK like poppy seeds. But when chia seeds are introduced to liquid, they expand and kind of get a gel-like consistency to them. There is no crunch. I repeat – there is no crunch! So don’t worry, your breakfast topping is going to taste all wonderful and warm and sweet and smooth just the way you want it. It’ll just have the added nutritional benefits of the chia. Win-win!
I like to add the chia seeds because they are an easy, tasteless way of adding fiber into our meals, and fiber is very important to me. Plus, they almost turn what would have been kind of a watery textured breakfast topping into one that is a mix of syrup and jelly. It’s great!
Here’s what it looks like as it cooks down:
And here’s what it looked like one morning last week when I used it to top some pumpkin-banana pancakes I made:
And here’s what one of the kids looks like while being civilized and eating it using table manners. (This photo was taken about 1 minute before they scarfed down their first pancake, and loved it so much they began licking the remnants of the breakfast topping off their plates as they waited for pancake number two. I swear I do TRY to teach them to be civilized! Sigh…)
The breakfast topping stores really well in the fridge. In fact I actually prefer its texture the next day over when it’s fresh out of the pot. The chia seeds get even more gel-like overnight and the topping is even more like a jam.
I can’t say how long it’ll last in your fridge because we eat it so fast I’ve never stored it for longer than 48 hours. I’m guessing after your family eats it you’ll find the same to be the case in your house.
Four simple ingredients, super easy prep, and it is WAY CHEAPER than pouring pure maple syrup on every waffle you make! Bonus points that the kids love it, it’s pretty and colorful to look at, and it adds a little extra fruit and fiber into the meal.
I’m so happy I experimented with this. We are saving money, eating something that is healthy, and savoring every bite!
Give it a try! I’m confident you’ll be glad you did! And let me know what you and your family thought of it!
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