Celebrate National Hot Breakfast Month by learning how to cook bacon in the oven and breakfast casserole with bacon, and help others celebrate with breakfast gift basket ideas.
Breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day, so they say. And whoever “they” are, they’re absolutely right. Eating breakfast gives you an important boost of energy and helps reduce hunger throughout the day.
The human body likes to be fed on a regular basis. Assuming you get eight hours of sleep—which is also important—your body has been fasting for at least that, and probably up to 12 hours, by the time you get up. That’s why it’s important to “break your fast”…which is where “breakfast” gets its name.
Every time you eat, your metabolism kicks in; fasting slows it down to help you conserve energy. That’s why nutrition experts say you should eat at least three meals a day, and many prefer more like five small meals: breakfast, a healthy mid-morning snack, lunch, a late afternoon snack, and dinner.
People who skip breakfast because it reduces calories can actually wind up giving into hunger and making unhealthy choices later in the day. (Anyone who’s ever shopped for groceries on an empty stomach can relate.) Plus, skipping breakfast—or any meal—slows down your metabolism when it could be busy burning some calories.
No, this doesn’t mean we should be continuously eating to feed the fire! You still want to maintain a healthy caloric intake appropriate to your body size and activity level…and if you’re trying to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you take in. Still, spreading those calories out at healthy intervals will help you in your efforts.
The French expression for “breakfast” is petit déjeuner, or “little lunch”. Actually, many people feel that’s a little backward: one old saying advises that you should eat “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper”…and a 12-week study by researchers at Tel Aviv University found evidence to support this. They randomly assigned 93 overweight women to a 1,400-calorie diet. Some got a breakfast of 700 calories, a lunch of 500 calories, and a dinner of 200 calories, while others got the same calories and same food choices but with the breakfast and dinner meals switched. While all the women lost weight, the ones with the high-calorie breakfast averaged more than double the weight loss (19 pounds vs. 8 pounds) and lost twice as many inches around their waists than the women on the high-calorie dinner. Timing, as they say, can be everything.
Since eating breakfast is so important—and since February is National Hot Breakfast Month—let’s warm up with a hearty breakfast. While we’re at it, spread the word to someone you love with a nice breakfast gift basket. We have some ideas for you…but before you go shopping on an empty stomach, let’s explore some hot breakfast ideas using one of America’s favorite foods: bacon.
How to Cook Bacon in the Oven
Yes, we know; bacon doesn’t have much going for it, healthwise. But it does contain some protein, and it really livens up a terrific lean protein source: eggs. So eat it sparingly and use it as a flavoring rather than the main attraction. And you may want to change the way you’ve been cooking it all these years.
Frying bacon can be a messy proposition. It can tend to spurt and splatter, and you risk getting the grease on you every time you approach the stove to turn it over. (That’s a really hot breakfast idea.) So why not eliminate the risk and the mess—along with some of the fat—by cooking bacon in the oven? It’s really easy…
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Separate the bacon into slices and arrange them on a rack over a baking sheet. (Many people simply lay the bacon on a baking sheet, but using a rack lifts it out of the grease and lets much of the fat drip off.) Cook 15 to 20 minutes, or to desired crispness. Done!
You can also dredge the bacon slices in brown sugar to get that irresistible sweet-salty combination, and vary the recipe by adding cinnamon or freshly ground black pepper to the brown sugar.
Breakfast Casserole with Bacon
If you’re entertaining family or friends on a weekend, a breakfast casserole is one of the most popular hot breakfast ideas. It’s easy to throw together the night before and stick it in the fridge until morning comes. Then, while coffee’s brewing, you can bake it and let everyone wake up to a tasty, filling breakfast to get a great start on the day.
There are dozens and dozens of breakfast casseroles online, many of them loaded with more than a dozen eggs, a pound of bacon, or other ingredients that will send everyone to the recliner to recuperate. But this breakfast strata recipe from our friends at the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board has reasonable amounts of cheese and bacon, and even has vegetables! (Though they’re not specified in the recipe, the photo shows some green peppers, which will make it a healthier choice. You could always add some onions, too.)
Breakfast for Dinner…and Other Tips
One growing trend these days is eating “breakfast for dinner”. Many families are choosing to treat themselves for perhaps one night a week to such breakfast favorites as French toast and bacon, breakfast burritos, pancakes, omelets (which are actually eaten for supper fairly often in France) or ham and eggs. It’s not only a way to shake up the boring routine; it’s a way to enjoy some of the breakfast classics many people don’t have time to prepare in the morning. Just remember to follow the advice given above by limiting the size of your dinner and treating yourself to a substantial breakfast in the morning: like maybe a nice bowl of oatmeal and a piece of fruit.
Also, if you feel you don’t have time to prepare a proper breakfast on weekday mornings, plan ahead. Cook up a nice big batch of steel-cut oats (the long-cooking, chewier, more satisfying variety) on Sunday and pack individual servings for the week. Meanwhile, cook up a whole pound of bacon in the oven so you can have a couple of strips to enjoy any morning. If you want a lower-fat alternative to bacon, Canadian bacon is made from the loin (hence its Canadian name, “back bacon”) and provides a leaner protein source.
Breakfast Gift Basket Ideas
Share the gift of breakfast with someone you love! A combination of specialty bacon with pancake mix, syrup, fruit spreads, sweet breads and gourmet coffees would make a fantastic gift basket. And since there are premade breakfast gift baskets to choose from, it doesn’t even take much effort: pick out a nice breakfast gift assortment to send to someone special as a reminder to eat breakfast and live life to its fullest.