Birch Benders Pancakes & Waffles

I have wonderful memories of my dad making pancakes on Sunday mornings. I wouldBirch Benders Pancakes .jpg wake up to the smell of butter melting in the pan. He made perfect pancakes. True, they weren’t from scratch but he did add butter, eggs and milk. I loved the flavor of those pancakes and, even though I’ve bought that particular mix as an adult, the taste is not the same. But recently, ironically on my dad’s birthday, I made a batch of pancakes from a mix by Denver’s own Birch Benders. Guess what? I was taken right back to those Sunday mornings with pancakes full of great flavor, a hint of vanilla, crispy edges and a fluffy center. It made me happy.

Using all-natural ingredients, Birch Benders’ mixes take only water. That means that even birch-benders-pancake-packageson a school day, I can make them for my family and still have everyone get out of the house on time. You can make waffles with the mix too. Besides the ease and the flavor, what really drew me to want to try Birch Benders was that they account for modern dietary needs and culinary wishes. Varieties include Paleo, Gluten Free, and Protein, and the brand offers an all-natural twist on traditional favorites such as Classic, Chocolate Chip, Six Grain Cinnamon, and more. For the holiday season, Birch Benders created Sweet Potato, Pumpkin Spice, Gingerbread Spice, and Double Chocolate Peppermint flavors that make every morning feel festive.

What’s behind the name, Birch Benders? It’s an American tradition of climbing slender, supple birch trees that bend down and return you to the ground when you climb them. The founder, Matt, grew up in Maine and recalls happy times birch bending.

You can buy Birch Benders at Sprout’s, Natural Grocers, and People’s Market. Check out their recipes on their charming website too – they even have savory things to make like Paleo Pizza! 


Deconstructed Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup

A grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup in which to dip that sandwich is a classic combination. I love this combo but, one day, while trying to make something different for Sunday breakfast, I came up with this dish, a deconstructed recipe that combines tomatoes, toasted bread and melted cheese with the addition of an over-easy egg! It was delicious. The yolk combines with the tomatoes, cheese and bread into something creamy and full of flavor.


A hearty, healthy breakfast I call a Deconstructed Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup (with Egg).

Per person –
1/2 tomato, chopped or cherry tomatoes cut in half
1 slice bread of choice (I used a sprouted grain bread)
1 slice cheese of choice (I used sharp cheddar)
1 egg

1. In a toaster oven or regular toaster, lightly toast bread of choice.
2. In a skillet, melt butter and then place lightly-toasted bread in the pan and top with cheese. You will not be turning this over in the skillet, obviously, because of the cheese. Place a cover over the skillet to help the cheese melt. When done, put it on a plate to make room for the tomato and egg. Don’t cover the toast to keep it warm because it will steam and the toast will soften. The heat from the tomato and egg will create the overall heat for the meal.
3.  Drizzle a little olive oil in a skillet and heat over medium-high heat.
4. Saute the tomatoes on one side of the pan, turning frequently. On the other side, crack an egg. Cover and let the egg cook for sunnyside up, or turn over for over-easy. Just make sure the yolk remains runny.
5. To serve, place the egg on top of the toast and then the tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste.


You could make this cheese toast in a skillet with butter for a more traditional flavor, or you can do it in a toaster oven without butter.


Saute tomato in the same skillet as the egg you are frying.

Double Sunny

A Double Sunny Breakfast

My kids love eggs for breakfast. To keep breakfast from being the same old, same old, I try to come up with different ways to serve up eggs (scrambled, in breakfast burritos, in an omelette with cherry tomatoes, etc.) But at 6am, when I’m blurry-eyed with bed head and an apron over my fuzzy robe (so pretty!), it can be hard to be inspired. The other day, I combined two of their favorite things – a grilled cheese sandwich with a sunny side up egg. Looking at that golden yolk atop the golden cheese, it occurred to me that it was doubly-sunny and a name for this dish was born.

Double Sunny

Packed with protein, this “Double Sunny” breakfast combines the best of a grilled cheese with an egg.

Double Sunny Breakfast

Ingredients per serving:

1 Egg
1 Slice cheese of your choice
1 Slice whole wheat bread
Butter or olive oil


1. Lightly butter one slice of bread on both sides and place it in a skillet heated on medium. When the bread just barely starts to toast on the bottom, turn it over and add the slice of cheese so that it starts melting while the underside of the bread toasts.
2. Meanwhile, in the same skillet (if large enough) or in a separate smaller pan, fry the egg in a little butter or olive oil with a lid on to speed the cooking.
3. The cheese toast may be done first so just put it on a plate to the side. Don’t cover it or it will start to steam and you’ll lose that nice crispiness reminiscent of a grilled cheese sandwich. It’s better to have the toast wait than the egg which could lose it’s runniness and get cold.
4. As soon as the egg is cooked, place it over the cheese toast and salt and pepper to taste.

Variation: You could cook the egg any way you want including scrambled. But there’s something especially delicious about having the yolk mix with the cheese and toast. Yum!

For another egg breakfast idea (featuring another misshapen egg!), visit Easy Sunday Morning Breakfast. 

Overnight French Toast

Easy Overnight French Toast

Something as time-consuming as French Toast lends itself to weekends only when you can take your time dipping and cooking each slice. I love French Toast and don’t want to have to wait until weekends to make it. Thank goodness for the concept of Overnight French Toast, in which you just pour a batter over a baking dish full of slices of bread, ready to toss in the oven in the morning. It means you CAN have the treat of French Toast any day of the week! Yay!

Overnight French Toast

French Toast yumminess even on a busy weekday!

Easy Overnight French Toast
Serves 6-8 people

1 loaf of old (and starting to harden) bread * sliced approximately 1/2 inch thick
12 ounces whole milk
4 whole eggs or 3 whole eggs plus one egg white (egg substitute can also be used)
1 TBS flax meal or wheat germ
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup brown sugar, divided
Diced pecans and/or walnuts (optional)

Coat an oblong baking dish or two square baking dishes with butter or spray with non-stick spray (make sure to spray over the sink to avoid messy over-spray).

Lay the bread slices into the pan, turning them however you have to to make them fill the pan as completely as you can. You may have to cut some slices in half but that’s totally okay.

Mix all the liquid ingredients (and flax or wheat germ), starting with the milk. A handy tip is to measure the milk into a 4-cup measuring cup, adding each of the other ingredients. Then use a fork or whisk right there in the measuring cup to mix it up. It makes it easier and tidier to pour directly from a measuring cup and saves a mixing bowl or two.

Before pouring the liquid over the bread slices, mix in 1/4 of the brown sugar, retaining half. Pour the liquid as evenly as possible over all the bread. Don’t worry about how liquidy it all looks. The liquid will be absorbed as it sits.

Sprinkle the remaining brown sugar over the top, as evenly as possible. Don’t worry that it doesn’t cover every inch. After all, you’ll be pouring sweet syrup over it. Sprinkle pecans or walnuts over the top too. Because I have a child who doesn’t like nuts, I didn’t chop mine up so that he could easily remove them (and give them to me because I LOVE them!).

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and place in the refrigerator where it can sit evenly and isn’t likely to get nudged overnight.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. With the foil still on, bake the dish for 15 minutes. Then remove the foil and brown it another 10 minutes for a total of 25 minutes. I preheat the oven and get the pan in as soon as I get up in the morning so that the French Toast is warm and ready by the time we’re all ready for breakfast.

Using a spatula, scoop out servings and enjoy with syrup.

Note: Italian or French bread work great but this dish is a great reason to check out the day-old bread rack at your grocery store and try different breads including ones with seeds and nuts or even cranberries inside. Experiment!

Back-to-School Food – Ideas from Readers By Edan Goode

We asked and you answered! We had a big response to our Back-to-School-Food Ideas blog which inspired us to ask our readers what they are serving the kids now that school is Lunchboxback in session. Here are some suggestions for school breakfasts, lunches and snacks from our readers. Thank you, everyone!


For breakfast, I make a fried egg, cooked in olive oil, and put it between two slices of whole wheat bread for a sandwich. It’s protein-rich and the kids can take it with them in the car if we have to rush.


Tacos. In her thermos, I mix ground beef and refried beans. In a separate container, I give her lettuce, taco shells and whatever else she wants that day for tacos. At lunch, she mixes the thermos and the taco shells together and makes herself a taco salad. Anything left over, she has for a snack at school.


For breakfasts, I make smoothies with protein powder and yogurt. For lunches, I make mini quiches and mini meatloafs ( using muffin tins ) and pack them in their lunchboxes. You can freeze a bunch and defrost them in the microwave or in the fridge at night.  I also do waffles with peanut butter. For after school snacks or sides in lunches I mix nuts and Cheerios or send apples and cheese.  ….or cuties ( kids seem to love ).


I make chicken noodle soup with tons of noodles. Then for lunches, I heat it up really hot and put it on thermoses meant for hot foods (as opposed to drinks). By the time lunch rolls around, the temperature is just right and my daughter has her favorite meal.


I spread a thin layer of cream cheese (sometimes flavored) on a whole wheat tortilla and add deli meat, cheese and shredded lettuce. I roll it all up and cut it into bite-size “sushi” pieces, facing up so that my son can see all of the colors.


No matter what kind of sandwich I make, I cut them out with cookie-cutters. My daughter’s favorite is a butterfly shape. She’ll eat any sandwich I send as long as it’s in a shape. It’s all about presentation!

Come! E.A.T. with us! 

Twitter: @CoParentEATblog


Wear Your Jammies for a Good Cause By Edan Goode

Did you know that the average Coloradoan eats 5 eggs per week? Or that Colorado egg farms provide jobs for more than 250 families and supply nearly $100 million annually to the state’s economy?

Yep, Colorado families love their eggs. And why not? Eggs are loaded with health benefits including vitamins and minerals including Vitamin D, choline, folate, calcium, iron and selenium. And they are a strong source of protein.

October 11 is World Egg Day and to celebrate, Colorado Egg Producers organized PJs and Eggs, a special dining event that combines eating a great breakfast at an area restaurant with a charitable contribution.

Here’s how it works: 

On October 11, from 7am-8pm, head to one of the participating restaurants. Donate $20 and in return diners will receive a meal, non-alcoholic beverage and one dozen eggs to take home (to make future breakfasts where you can also wear you PJs). Restaurants with offer either a set menu for the meal or offer patrons their choice of entree (varies by location).

Then feel good knowing that proceeds from PJs and Eggs go to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Denver, serving families whose children are receiving medical care in Denver area hospitals. Funds will also help victims of the recent floods in Colorado.

In addition to the monetary donation, the event will also collect unused children’s pajamas to donate to the charities. Look for the collection box inside each restaurant to donate pajamas leading up to the event.

Visit or call 303-320-7790 for a complete list of participating restaurants and the hours each will be serving breakfast. RSVP’s are recommended. Tickets are $20 in advance and day-of.

Here are a few more eggscellent bites of trivia to share with the kids at breakfast from Colorado Egg Producers:

  • There are approximately 3.8 million hens in Colorado that produce more than 1 billion eggs.
  • The average hen lays 5 eggs per week.
  • Egg preferences break down this way: 2% prefer Cage Free; 4% prefer Cage Free Organic; 12% prefer Nutrient Enhanced Caged and 82% prefer White or Brown Caged.

Come! E.A.T. with us! 

Twitter: @CoParentEATblog


Read our “big sister” blog of news and reviews
of restaurants, theater, movies and travel:


Share Your School Lunch Ideas By Edan Goode

LunchboxThe kids are back in school. Phew! We can relax now, right? No way!

Besides the constant flood of papers to read and sign, events to volunteer at, homework to oversee, there are breakfasts and lunches to be made that will energize the kids and keep their mind’s sharp while being so appealing they won’t want to give them away. And then there are after-school snacks for those frantically hungry kiddos that need to get them through homework time while rewarding them for a day of hard work.

I know I need ideas for what to feed the kids and I know you all do too. So let’s share our ideas and recipes, shall we? Let’s help each other out!

Simply leave your ideas and recipes in the comment section below and we’ll gather them up and share them with the group.

And while we’re at it, if you have come up with a way to simplify the process of making school lunches, tell us that too. For instance, I have a friend who keeps plastic baskets in her pantry, each filled with items such as granola bars in one, juice boxes in another fruit in another. She makes their sandwiches but then the kids go down the line, taking an item from each basket to complete their lunch. Personally, I’m trying to stay away from too many pre-packaged items but they do come in handy. What are your tricks?

Leave your ideas by September 5. Thanks!

Come! E.A.T. with us! 

Twitter: @CoParentEATblog


Read our “big sister” blog of news and reviews
of restaurants, theater, movies and travel: