Marge Perry, Newsday's weekly 3 Simple columnist, also writes, broadcasts, teaches and speaks about cooking, food and nutrition.
TIP Cut a tiny wedge in the top of a strawberry slice to form a pretty red heart, which can be used to decorate any of these dishes.
These recipes are all designed for kids to make (with supervision, depending on their age and abilities).
Top the pancakes with a spoonful of plain or vanilla yogurt and some sliced strawberries and drizzle with honey.
1 large egg
3/4 cup nonfat milk
1 cup oatmeal pancake mix
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1. Place egg in large bowl and beat lightly with fork. Add milk and pancake mix and stir with fork just until there are no powdery lumps. (Batter will still be lumpy, but you won't see dry powder). Do not overwork batter. Let it stand 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, peel banana and cut it lengthwise into quarters, then across into pea-size pieces. Stir it and cinnamon into batter.
3. Put half of butter in large nonstick skillet and melt it over medium heat. Use 1/4-cup measure to scoop batter up (don't quite fill scoop) and pour it onto pan to form pancakes. When small air bubbles form on tops of pancakes and they are golden underneath, flip them over and cook until they are again golden underneath. (They'll puff up a little as they cook).
4. Once you cook the first 4 pancakes, melt remaining butter in skillet and use the batter to make 4 more. Makes 4 servings (8 pancakes).
Nutritional analysis for each serving: 199 calories, 7 g protein, 33 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 6 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 313 mg sodium
TOAD IN THE HOLE
Cut the hole with a heart-shaped cookie cutter to make it extra- special looking.
1 slice whole wheat bread
2 teaspoons butter
1 teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese
1. Use an inverted glass with 2- to 3-inch mouth to cut a hole in the center of the bread.
2. Melt 1 teaspoon of butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add bread slice and circle (circle should be next to, not in slice) and cook until lightly golden and toasted on undersides.
3. Take bread out of pan and add remaining butter. When it melts, add bread back to skillet, but with toasted side facing up. Slide egg into center hole and cover pan. Cook until the white is set, about 5 minutes.
4. Carefully transfer to plate with wide spatula and sprinkle egg with Parmesan cheese. Lean cutout circle (toasted side facing up) against slice of bread and serve right away. Makes 1 serving.
Nutritional analysis for each serving: 216 calories, 11 g protein, 12 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 14 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 229 mg sodium
Make these in big wine goblets, tall glasses, or champagne flutes to show off the pretty layers. They can be made the day or night before.
4 ounces low-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel)
6 ounces vanilla yogurt
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 graham crackers (2 large rectangles or four small squares), crumbled
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup blueberries
1. Combine cream cheese and yogurt in bowl and beat with electric mixer. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth.
2. Put spoonful of cheese-yogurt mixture in bottom of each of 4 glasses, trying to keep sides of glasses clean. Add a layer of graham cracker crumbles, then some strawberries and blueberries. Continue layering glasses until you have used up all ingredients.
3. Place parfaits in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before serving. Makes 4 servings.
Nutritional analysis for each serving: 177 calories, 5 g protein, 21 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 7 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 142 mg sodium