Outdoor activities with a healthy dose of curiosity, brought to you by Laure Latham
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The picture below shows a French mom’s dream breakfast for kids: fresh fruit, whole grains and a touch of indulgence. You got your vitamins, proteins, fibers, and lipids too. Since we go camping a lot, breakfast is always a meal I like to get right. After all, isn’t breakfast the most important meal of the day? It’s my favorite anyway.
After years of camping, I’ve decided to share our biggest successes and our most glaring mistakes with these camping breakfast ideas for kids. May they inspire you to get over the breakfast block on your next camping trip!
|Camping Breakfast in the Yosemite Valley|
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Pancakes are an easy breakfast item for camping trips. With honey, fresh fruit or maple syrup, they’re delicious. Fire up the stove, heat up the griddle, whip out a spatula and pancake mix and you’re good to go. We’ve tried pancakes a few ways and here are my thoughts.
Hands down our favorite store-bought pancake mix, the Stonewall Kitchen Farmhouse Pancake and Waffle Mix has a lot going for it. The pancakes turn out crisp, puffy, not overly sweet, and they don’t stick to the pan. My husband, who never eats for breakfast, actually asked seconds of pancakes made with this mix. It’s that good! My girls eat it with good ol’ maple syrup or drizzled with honey. Definitely worth the extra $$, I’d get some more in a heartbeat.
If you want to make your own pancake mix at home, it’s super easy and I’ve created a DIY pancake mix recipe that’s great for camping trips or to use at home. It features coarse cornmeal for crunch and almond meal for natural goodness.
In the gimmicky category, we tried the Batter Blaster for a July 4th weekend, the ultimate junk food item. Our friend Matt kept calling it cancake, the pancake that comes out of a can – which it pretty much is. You spray pancake batter out of a pressurized can. That is says “Organic” on the can did not alleviate my health concerns a bit. However, I got a complimentary can for an article I was writing on camping with kids so I took a chance.
Because they came out squeezed out of a tiny hole, the pancakes had no body at all and looked frumpy. They were hard to flip and I couldn’t get the perfect round shape. They came out thin too – not puffy and crisp. Taste wise, kids liked them – I didn’t. However … all kids got a giant kick out of the experiment and kept asking for more.
When I started squeezing on the can and batter shot out like whipping cream on the hot griddle, all eight kids let out a yelp of excitement and gathered around me as if I were pulling a rabbit out of a hat. It was breakfast magic – or so they thought. My conclusion is: Batter Blaster is fun for the kids, OK if you’re in a bind, but don’t expect much more.
Nutritious and straight-forward, oatmeal (or porridge) is the perfect way to cheer up a child when you’re out camping, particularly if the morning is crisp and you don’t have a campfire.
Once they’re out of the tent, kids can get cold and a steaming bowl of oatmeal goes a long way into warming up their bodies. Personally, I go for steel cut oats, the kind that’s grainier in texture and slightly nutty. It’s my favorite type of oatmeal and since it takes 15-20 minutes to cook, I soak it overnight to cut on cooking time in the morning. When I’m up and running, it doesn’t take more than 5 to 10 minutes on the stove. My girls like it straight up with sugar and milk, I like mine with orange flavored cranberries and raw pecans. It’s delish.
By far our least favorite now that we’ve gotten used to steel cut oats, is instant oatmeal. To my girls, it tastes no better than cardboard and I’m with them. Two years ago I bought a selection of instant Quaker Oats oatmeal packets, thinking they’d come in handy on a camping trip. Sure, it was easy to prepare but once the moment of truth came, I had to whip up a Plan B breakfast pronto because they were not going to eat this.
We’re a French family and crêpes are a staple of family breakfasts in France. So I decided to make crêpes while camping. The problem was, we didn’t really know of a good crêpes mix so I opted for the crêpes from scratch strategy. Boy has it paid off.
It all came out of a great kids cookbook, The Usborne First Cookbook illustrated by Stephen Cartwright. I got it for my girls when they were toddlers and it’s become part of our camping kitchen box. Its crêpes recipe is devilishly simple, illustrated in 9 simple steps, and I’ll give you the gist here.
Before the trip, I prepare the flour in a resealable container and at the campsite, I add everything else, mix and cook. If I have a cooler, I can premix the day before in a plastic bottle and refrigerate overnight in the cooler so we can use without waiting. It’ll be thick enough to coat a spoon and thick enough to test your flipping skills at the campsite. Have fun!
We’ve gotten used to it. To French tastebuds, anything savory in the morning is unusual. After a few years of San Francisco and London, nothing seems more welcome than eggs in the morning. Bacon and sausages do need to be refrigerated overnight, unless you are camping in cold temperatures. As for beans, my 11-year old loves the single serve containers of beans in tomato sauce. She doesn’t even need them to be heated, she eats them straight out of the bowl. There’s quite a bit of variety on the market and it’s a very nutritious breakfast if you are going to be active during the day.
Oh, how I love granola. My girls are kinda lukewarm but sometimes, they’ll join me and thanks to the food section of the New York Times, I’ve found the best granola recipe for camping. It’s always a winner and so easy to make, not to mention budget-friendly.
Last but not least, breakfast in style. We camped in the Yosemite National Park for Mother’s Day this year and I finally found the answer to my kids’ breakfast conundrum: the melamine food tray! Durable, versatile – great for carrots, peas and sausages too – portionable – obviously – the preformed melamine food tray is the answer to your breakfast prayers!
A few camping trips later, I can safely say it’s a success! I think it’s the little holes that get my girls excited. I loved my first food tray as a kid too. It made any type of food so much more fun.
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That’s my 2 cents on breakfast. Now what’s yours?