ErieMoms

I opened the refrigerator and stared. I opened the cupboards and stared. I write about food for a living. What in heaven's name was I staring at?

Breakfast. Or rather the lack of it.

I know breakfast is important for kids and grownups. But especially for kids going back to school. They can't graze the refrigerator and cupboards any more. At work and at home, grownup have their stashes, well, stashed, in desk drawers, purses, etc., for when the hungries hit. In the worst case, there's the drive-through.

But we expect our kids to get on the bus, go to school, and perform up until the lunch bell rings. This year, it's at noon for my daughter, a full five hours after she had breakfast. If she had breakfast.

So I'm in search of the perfect breakfast. She flat-out refuses to eat oatmeal. So did I at her age. That takes care of half the Web sites that promote oatmeal as the perfect breakfast. Pancakes, waffles, etc. have too many carbohydrates. I crash and burn after those breakfasts.

As for that Nutella lady ... I'm all for chocolate for breakfast. But not on a school day. And definitely not as a "healthy" alternative to peanut butter. Peanut butter still rocks for protein (just don't buy the sugared up variety), but peanut butter and jelly for breakfast, or lunch, or dinner, is out at our house. But it is a good alternative to most cereals, especially when served on whole-grain bread. Skip the juice and drink water.

Neither my daughter nor I tolerate cheese. Or most milk. But lactose-free milk with Carnation Instant Breakfast (sugar free) with some vanilla fat free Greek yogurt makes a super smoothie. Sugar-free frozen yogurt tastes even better, just look for the active cultures, but doensn't have as much protein.

This morning I settled on Greek yogurt with fresh strawberries, with some organic honey drizzled on top, with a side of homemade blueberry (and yellow squash -- shhh) bread.

Next week I'll try breakfast burritos (no cheese) and breakfast parfaits and breakfast sandwiches on mini bagels.

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Tags: back-to-school, breakfast, butter, peanut, school, yogurt

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ZABAWA POLISH FESTIVAL: Friday, Aug. 22, 5-10 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 23, 1-10:30 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 24, noon-6 p.m.; Holy Trinity Catholic Church, 2220 Reed St.; Polish food, polka music, dancing, raffles. Cost: Free. Info: 456-0671,www.holytrinityrc.org.

NORTH EAST NATIONAL RIB FEST: Friday, Aug. 22, 4:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m.; Saturday, Aug. 23, noon-12:30 a.m.; Sunday, Aug. 24, noon-6 p.m.; Gravel Pit Park, North East; rib-eating contests, Ladies Auxiliary car show, Jim Archer Memorial motorcycle show, music, more. Cost: Free admission.

 Purple Martin Roost Kayak Tour: Friday, Aug. 22, 7:30 p.m.; Vista 3, Presque Isle State Park; see one of the largest purple martin roosts in the state; experienced adult paddlers only; register by Aug. 21; bring your own kayak, lifejacket and light. Cost: Free. Info: 833-7424.

Creek stomp at Elk Creek: Saturday, Aug. 23, 9 a.m.-noon; Erie Bluffs State Park, Route 5, Lake City; bring a pair of water shoes or waders to collect fish and macroinvertebrates; meet at Elk Creek boat launch parking lot. Cost: Free. Info: 833-7424.

 Erie Land Lighthouse Tours: Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 23-24, noon-4 p.m.; Erie Land Lighthouse, foot of Lighthouse Street, James N. Thompson land Lighthouse Park; presented by the Erie Playhouse. Cost: $5. Info:www.erieplayhouse.org.

Back to School Bash: Saturday, Aug. 23, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; Experience Children's Museum, 420 French St.; games, crafts, giveaways and more. Cost: Included with museum admission. Info: 453-3743.

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