Portable breakfasts match teens' busy lifestyle

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Getting teens to eat breakfast on school days will always be a challenge. It comes with the territory. Always has.

Teens are more independent. They're busy juggling schoolwork and social lives. Who has time to bother with breakfast?

Sarah Berghoff McClure, for one. The 16-year-old from Chicago's northern suburbs makes sure she eats a good breakfast; otherwise, "by second period, you'll be starving."

That means she can't do what she sees some teens do. "Some have a cup of coffee, bring it to school, drink that and call it their breakfast," she says. "You have to eat breakfast even if it's just one egg and an apple on the go."

Breakfast "depends on what we have in the house. But if we have waffles, I will cook those. Pancakes sometimes, if my mom is in a really good mood," says Sarah, who follows a gluten-free diet. "What I do on my own is make eggs because eggs are quick, healthy and protein. Generally that's not enough to fill me up so I have these protein shakes I make."

While Sarah often cooks her own breakfast, it's mom who makes sure the kitchen's stocked.

Mom is Carlyn Berghoff, mother of three teenagers and CEO of the Berghoff Catering and Restaurant Group. Carlyn and Sarah co-authored "Cooking for Your Gluten-Free Teen: Everyday Foods the Whole Family Will Love" with Dr. Suzanne P. Nelson and Nancy Ross Ryan.

Making breakfast portable helps. So beyond a fried egg sandwich eaten on the run, consider molletes, open-face sandwiches popular with students in Mexico. Or a fruit bread, such as a gluten-free version, spread with a nut butter or eaten with a fruit-and-yogurt smoothie.

Banana Bread Squares

Prep: 20 minutes. Bake: 30-35 minutes. Makes: 9 bars.

Adapted from “Cooking for Your Gluten-Free Teen” (Andrews McMeel Publishing). If you can’t find gluten-free flour with xanthan gum, the authors suggest adding 1 teaspoon xanthan gum to each cup of gluten-free flour. Xanthan gum adds volume and moisture to gluten-free baked goods. It can be found at large supermarkets.

¼ cup unsalted butter

⅔ cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

1⅓ cups smoothly mashed very ripe banana, about 3 bananas

1 teaspoon vanilla

1⅓ cups gluten-free flour with xanthan gum or 1⅓ cups gluten-free flour mixed with 1½ teaspoons xanthan gum

2 teaspoons dried egg whites

1 teaspoon each: cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda

¾ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

Heat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9-by-9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment paper; spray parchment with cooking spray. Beat butter and sugar together in a medium bowl until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add bananas and vanilla; beat well.

In another medium bowl, whisk flour with dried egg whites, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt and allspice. Add dry ingredients in batches to banana mixture, beating well after each addition. Batter will be very thick; beat only enough to mix well. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Smooth level with a spatula. Bake until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven; cool on a rack. When cool, cut into 3-inch squares.

Nutrition information per serving: 217 calories, 7 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 55 mg cholesterol, 38 g carbohydrates, 4 g protein, 422 mg sodium, 3 g fiber