I (not so) fondly recall the sound of the morning alarm from my high school days.
My sleepy-eyed self hits the snooze button just to doze back to sleep and revisit the Sandman. By the time the alarm sounds again, I’m only minutes away from catching the school bus. I get dressed, brush my teeth, and bolt out the door. Missing from the routine? Breakfast. But, not to worry. On the morning bus ride to school, I would reach into my schoolbag to find my handy-dandy package of Pop-Tarts (thanks for packing it the night before, mom). This portable, thin pastry surrounds a sweetened jelly, wrapped in space age foil to preserve freshness. No need to refrigerate. Ready to eat or quickly heated in a toaster. A marvel of food ingenuity.
Okay, I promise I’m not completely nutritional-challenged. I know that the popular toaster pastry isn’t exactly packed with vitamins and nutrients. But remember, I was a high school kid. I was poor, young, and naive. And I most definitely preferred to grab a few more minutes of sleep than to get up and prepare a bowl of healthy rolled oats before heading off to catch the bus. On top of that, I just assumed when something said “Made with real fruit!”, it was actually nutritious for you. The Pop-Tart boxes even had nice pictures of fresh strawberries or blueberries, and it just looked so darn wholesome. And come on. Sometimes, eating a less than ideal breakfast is better than no breakfast, right?
But little did I know that a person is actually better off skipping breakfast altogether than downing a sugar-loaded Pop-Tart as you dash out the door. Apparently, the only thing worse than skipping breakfast is eating the wrong breakfast.
Now, I can summarize my advice to anyone who eats Pop-Tarts, whether as a snack or to replace a meal: Read the label. Pop-Tarts: Sugar. Fats. Preservatives. Artificial fillings. Loaded with them too. One pastry contains 210 calories, 5g fat, (hydrogenated cottonseed oil), 2g protein, less than 1g fiber, 20g sugar, along with high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and flavors and they are void of antioxidants. In addition, they have very little nutritional value, and will raise hunger mid-morning. All sounds like bad news to me.
But, what if we can healthify this childhood treat? Homemade toaster pastries aren’t exactly fast or convenient or even cheap, but they are absolutely delicious (and nutritious when you use the right ingredients). So put down the boxed stuff and preheat your oven, because here’s a homemade Pop-Tart recipe that’ll start your morning off right. An organic pie crust? An all-natural jam filling? Bite-sized? Let me explain.
I came across a mini Pop-Tart cereal recipe at The Spoon University. It was pretty ingenious to see them transform this into a bite-sized snack, let alone a breakfast cereal. Yet, this was still far from nutritious and in my opinion, not so much different than buying the original kind at the grocery store in regards to nutritional value. So I decided to healthify this recipe with an organic pie crust and an all-natural jam filling!
To make this process as simple as possible for you guys (let’s be real – making a pastry from scratch is too much for our busy mornings), I used a premade rolled pie crust from Wholly Wholesome, which is made with certified organic wheat flour, org. palm oil, org. cane syrup, org. cane sugar, and org. rice flour (perfect for our vegan friends). They also offer a gluten-free pie shell, which can easily be scraped and pressed into rolled dough for using. I haven’t tried that yet, but let me know if you try and how it turns out! The filling is a homemade blueberry and chia jam, which uses blueberries, chia seeds, and all-natural maple syrup as the sweetener. If you’re not a fan of blueberries (aw shame on you), then you are free to use any kind of berry! The chia seeds thicken the jam so perfectly and the blueberries add a tasty burst of nutrition in every bite. I love how the sweetness from the maple syrup doesn’t overpower the jam (the white sugar from most brand-name jams are way overwhelming to the taste buds). The best part is, you can enjoy this magical spread on top of toast, pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, yogurt, you-name-it. Today, Pop-Tarts sound good.
Now if the bane of your breakfast routine is choosing whether to eat cereal or Pop-Tarts in the morning, I’ve got a sweet solution for you. Let’s just say it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship between humanity and breakfast pastries: mini Pop-Tart CEREAL. I used almond milk to drown the mini pastries, but any kind of milk will do. Just be sure to watch the colors from the sprinkles bleed into your healthy mess.
So, cerealously. Tell me again what you’re having for breakfast tomorrow?
- 2 cups fresh blueberries (or your favorite kind of berry)
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- Wholly Wholesome's Traditional Rolled Pie Crust (or any rolled pie crust)*
- 2 tsp almond milk for dabbing
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 4-5 tsp almond milk for the glaze
- almond milk (or your favorite kind of milk)
- In a medium-sized pan, bring the blueberries and maple syrup to a low boil (just until simmering). Reduce heat to low and let it simmer for 4-5 minutes.
- Stir in the chia seeds and cook down the mixture until it thickens to your desired consistency. Stir frequently!
- Once cooled, spoon the jam into a small ziploc bar or pastry bag.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Thaw the package according to directions. Unroll the pie crust.
- Cut the dough into little rectangles (I used a ruler to measure out 1.5" x 2").
- Create a spine across the middle of each rectangle.
- Dab milk across the edges and middle of each rectangle.
- Squeeze a little jam onto one side of each rectangle.
- Fold each piece of dough over and seal the edges lightly.
- Crimp each edge with a fork and place each pastry onto a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Bake for 13-15 minutes.
- Sift the powdered sugar. Slowly add ½ tsp of milk at a time to the sugar. You want it to be thick, but spreadable.
- Once the pop-tarts have completely cooled, spread the icing onto each and sprinkle with nonpareils. Let it dry for 15-20 minutes or until hard.
- Enjoy the Pop-Tarts in milk!