Image from Pexels.

Image from Pexels.

Welcome to Liz’s Lemonade Stand, where the lemons of life are twisted into the sweetest lemonade.

I am a self-professed morning person, one of those early birds who’s up and chattering before the night owl can even string a coherent thought together. More specifically, I am a breakfast person. If there is one thing that I will never understand during my time on this planet, it is how such a large chunk of the population chooses to skip breakfast. In my mind, this level of preposterousness is on par with trying to say that 4+8x=12x.

Having grown up with a father and a sister who were not big into the whole breakfast thing, I get that food, for some strange people, is just difficult to stomach in the morning. Half the time, I wake up starving, stomach grumbling for my personal favorite combo of coffee (Guatemalan roast, taken black) and oatmeal (old-fashioned rolled oats, natural peanut butter, cinnamon, and pure maple syrup). The wonderful thing about breakfast food is that it’s good at any time of the day. Traditionally, these simple culinary crowd pleasers are more nutritionally dense than other foods you’d munch on throughout the rest of the day. From yogurt and granola to a meat lover’s skillet, a textbook well-rounded meal starts at the breakfast table.

Scientists and nutrition experts spew reports about the perils of skipping this crucial meal: you need it to kick-start your metabolism and do well on an exam. Skip breakfast and you may be increasing your chances of heart attack and weight gain, yada yada yada. But the most pressing issue here is that you’re depriving your taste buds of a whole host of incredible, satisfying flavors!

The Lemon: Dorm life complicates enjoying breakfast to its full potential. Depending on your school, cafeteria selections may be a bit dicey and even questionable at times. And what about those days where the only thing that sounds appetizing for dinner is breakfast food? Never fear, with a little cooking spray and a microwave, you can have breakfast at any hour.

The Lemonade: Today I’m going to show you how you can utilize your dorm’s most versatile appliance to facilitate breakfast munchies whenever the mood strikes.  Note that microwave cook times will vary depending on your microwave’s wattage, so keep a close eye on whatever’s cooking and use your judgment.

Liz’s Ol’ Faithful Oatmeal: filling, darn-good happiness in a bowl

What you need:

  • Half a cup of old-fashioned rolled oats (NOT instant)
  • Cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice blend
  • Natural peanut butter (crunchy always tops creamy, but to each their own)
  • Pure maple syrup or agave (or other desired sweetener)
  • Add-ins of choice: raisins, dried cranberries, chocolate chips, dried coconut, banana, apple, etc.

What to do:

Mix the dry oats with cinnamon/desired spices. If using dried fruit or coconut, mix in now as well. Add anywhere from half a cup to one cup of water. The more water you use, the thinner and more pasty your oatmeal will be. Microwave on high for two to two and a half minutes. Mix in your sweetener and a generous dollop of peanut butter. If you’re using chocolate chips, sprinkle a few in and allow them to melt. Slice banana or other fruit on top. Best enjoyed with coffee or tea.

Microwave Pancakes: for when IHOP is too far away and/or you’re broke.

What you need:

  • A microwave safe bowl or large mug
  • Pancake mix (preferably one that only requires the addition of water; my favorite is Kodiak Cakes’ Frontier Flapjack and Waffle Mix- Whole Wheat Oat and Honey)
  • Pam/non-stick cooking spray or butter

What to do:

Lightly grease the bowl/mug. For one pancake, measure out approximately three tablespoons of dry mix and add about the same amount of water. Whip with a fork. You want to achieve a standard pancake batter consistency: liquid- but not too runny, well mixed- but a few lumps are ok (you don’t want to over mix). Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Using a clean fork, gingerly flip the pancake and microwave again for an additional 30 seconds.

How I made microwave pancakes, photo tutorial. Via Liz Winters

How I made microwave pancakes, photo tutorial. Via Liz Winters

Just a heads up, your pancake is not going to have that glorious golden glow attained from a sizzling griddle. Such are the drawbacks of microwave cooking, but the end product here is still fairly tasty. Enjoy with some maple syrup, peanut butter, Nutella, jam, sliced banana, or whatever topping floats your boat (Trader Joe’s cookie butter, anyone?!). Repeat the whole process for more pancakes. If you’re feeling adventurous, throw in a few chocolate chips or berries!

Microwave Almost-A-Skillet: for when you’re craving protein and potatoes.

What you need:

  • One medium-sized potato
  • Two eggs
  • Cheese, avocado, salsa, hot sauce, butter; whatever fixings you enjoy with eggs and potatoes and have stashed in your mini fridge
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Microwave safe bowl, plate

What to do:

Wash the potato and prick the surface with a fork multiple times (if you fail to do this, the potato will explode while cooking). Microwave on high for five minutes. Flip, then microwave for five more minutes or until it is soft all the way through. Set aside to cool. Beat the eggs with a fork in a lightly greased bowl or mug. Add salt and pepper, then microwave on high for 45 seconds. Flip, add cheese if desired, then microwave for an additional 30-45 seconds. When your eggs are done, you’ll have an omelet-esque egg patty (which also happens to work extremely well in an egg sandwich). Add toppings to your heart’s content to both the potato and your eggs; enjoy!

Clearly, these microwaved substitutes are a far cry from classic cooking (although microwaved oatmeal never fails to be delicious), but when breakfast calls, you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do! If you strike success with these recipes and are really feeling empowered, try out some simple microwave cake-in-a-mug-for-one recipes; your taste buds won’t be disappointed. In all seriousness though, do your best not to skip breakfast. Your body will thank you for it!



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the author

Liz Winters is a freshman at Utah State University. She graduated from high school as a full IB Diploma Candidate. Now a member of USU's cross country and track teams, she is as busy and happy as ever. When she’s not running around her college town of Logan, Utah or up a mountain, chances are pretty good she’s either eating peanut butter or playing the flute. You’ll never catch Liz without her water bottle, though she is quite the tea and coffee aficionado (fair trade certified preferred!). Liz has a terminal case of wanderlust, fueled by plans to minor in French. A granola girl at heart, she's planning on majoring in Conservation and Restoration Ecology. Sustainability has blossomed into passion for the planet, and this translates into a love for learning and spreading the sustainable spirit. Liz still doesn't know what she wants to do when she "grows up," but that's just fine because the adventure is all in the journey!

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