One of the New Year's resolutions I made this year is to eat breakfast every day.  It is one simple way to set aside a little time to take care of yourself in the morning, because how many of us actually allow for fifteen extra minutes to just sit, eat, sip a hot cup of something, and enjoy the morning?  For me, that was a luxury I felt I could only afford on the weekends!  I have to say, though, after two weeks of sticking with it and never skipping the all-important morning meal, I feel great!  OK, I'll admit, there have been a few mornings where I've literally thrown some greek yoghurt and granola in a tupperware and eaten it in the car on the way to work... but I never let myself go hungry in the morning!  There is really something to be said for how much easier it is to stay energetic and focused when your tummy isn't rumbling.

Speaking of New Year's resolutions, I read this article over a week ago and I'm still thinking about it!  For those of you who need some extra motivation to stick to your goals this year, I would highly recommend reading it!  New York Times: New Years Resolutions Stick When Willpower is Reinforced

This recipe is a great thing to make on a leisurely Sunday morning, since it takes more time to cook.  You can easily double the recipe and have leftovers that make for a lightning-quick, filling and nutritous breakfast throughout the week.  It is also a great way to use up brown bananas!  Whenever I buy a bunch of bananas, and inevitably there's one or two that get too brown to eat, I freeze them and later use them in recipes like this (bananas can keep for about a month or two in the freezer but they do continue to brown when frozen so make sure to use them before they get overripe).  You can reduce your waste by preserving what you might normally throw away, and they act as a natural sweetener in recipes so you don't have to add sugar. 

Cooking the barley in water results in a lighter, wholesome-tasting porridge.  If you want your porridge to be a little more rich and creamy, use milk, or a combination of milk and water that's to your liking.  You might want to double the recipe in order to have leftovers that make for a lightning-quick, filling and nutritous breakfast throughout the week. 

Brown Butter Banana-Barley Porridge
serves 4

1 T olive oil
1 T butter
1 1/2 cups banana puree, lightly mashed
3 cups water (or lowfat milk, or milk substitute)*
1 cup pearled barley
sea salt, to taste
1/2 cup walnuts halves
maple syrup (optional)

In a large pot over medium-high heat, add olive oil and butter.  Cook until the oils sizzle and butter begins to brown and become toasty and fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Lower heat to medium and add banana puree.  Allow bananas to saute in oil until lightly caramelized, about 5 minutes.

Add water and barley and bring mixture to a boil, mixing often.  Reduce to a simmer and cook, occasionally stirring, until barley is cooked and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes.  *Note:  If you use fresh bananas instead of frozen, amount of cooking liquid should be reduced by 1/4 cup or so.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Arrange walnut pieces on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast until fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Serve the porridge hot, with the walnuts sprinkled on top and a light drizzle of maple syrup, if desired.