Pear and Plum Breakfast Polenta with Maple Syrup

This breakfast polenta features pears and plums sauteed in cinnamon and brown butter, crunchy toasted almonds and a drizzle of maple syrup. 

Pear and Plum Breakfast Polenta with Maple Syrup is hearty, filling and delicious.

If you’re looking for the perfect dish to change up your morning meal game, this Pear and Plum Breakfast Polenta with Maple Syrup is the answer!

If I had to choose to eat just one meal for the rest of my life, it would probably be breakfast. There are just so many possibilities! You can go sweet or savory, carb- or protein-heavy, big or small…pretty much anything goes. And you could say I’ve really run the breakfast recipe gamut here on CGC – posting everything from a Savory Bacon Oatmeal to these Breakfast Banana Splits to these Maca Chia Cocoa Protein Pancakes. I hope you’re not sick of breakfast recipes, because they are just gonna keep on a-comin’.

But really, what we’re here to talk about today is my latest breakfast obsession: this Pear and Plum Breakfast Polenta with Maple Syrup! It’s got the perfect balance of cozy fall flavors while still hanging on to the last few hints of summer, and did I mention it tastes amazing? Seriously, if you haven’t enjoyed polenta loaded with your favorite roasted fruits for breakfast yet, your life is going to change completely as soon as you put a spoonful of this in your mouth.

A bowl of Pear and Plum Breakfast Polenta with Maple Syrup is the perfect start to a busy morning.

So here’s the scoop (literally): You’ll want to find some quick-cooking polenta and get a hold of the ripest, juiciest fresh pears and plums you can find. You’ll also need some almond milk, maple syrup and plenty of cinnamon (we’re talking sticks AND ground – no holding back here!)

Quick-cooking polenta is pretty magical in that you can make it in no time at all, so our Pear and Plum Breakfast Polenta with Maple Syrup is totally achievable even on weekday mornings.

While your polenta is cooking (in some glorious unsweetened vanilla almond milk to give it an extra creamy flavor), you’ll want to get your pear and plums sautéing in their delicious bath of browned butter and cinnamon. You’ll also want to be sure you have some toasted slivered almonds on hand –  these babies are the perfect finishing touch and add a nice hit of texture to the rest of the dish.

Oh! And we can’t forget the maple syrup. I know it’s a bit indulgent, but adding some to the polenta as it cooks adds the perfect hint of sweetness to the base of the dish, and I MIGHT also highly recommend drizzling some on top of the assembled dishes when you’re ready to dig in. Can one ever have too much maple syrup as we officially find ourselves celebrating fall in all its glory? I think not.

Whip up some Pear and Plum Breakfast Polenta with Maple Syrup the next time you're looking to change up your breakfast routine.

Speaking of fall and all its glory, I can’t believe it’s already October! Where in the world did September go? I’m continuing to hustle to get some yummy recipes lined up for you while I’m out in maternity leave, but if you have anything specific you’d like to see here on the blog for the holidays, please send suggestions my way!

I hope you all have a wonderful week filled with delicious breakfasts, filling breakfasts like this Pear and Plum Breakfast Polenta! Xx

Pear and Plum Breakfast Polenta with Maple Syrup
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins

This new take on polenta features pears and plums sauteed in cinnamon and brown butter, crunchy toasted almonds and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: breakfast, brunch, fall, pears, plums, polenta
Servings: 2 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups quick-cooking dry polenta
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup, plus more for drizzling
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 plums, thinly sliced
  • 2 pears, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup toasted slivered almonds
  1. Combine the water and unsweetened vanilla almond milk in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the salt, then sprinkle in the dry polenta. Cook according to polenta package directions. Once polenta is almost through cooking, stir in maple syrup. Keep warm.

  2. Place butter and cinnamon stick in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and cook until butter is melted and takes on a golden-brown hue, then add sliced plums and pears and sprinkle on ground cinnamon. Sauté until fruit is soft but not mushy, then remove from heat and take out the cinnamon stick.

  3. Spoon a hearty scoop of the polenta into a bowl, top with sautéed fruit and then sprinkle on toasted almonds. Drizzle on more maple syrup if desired.

Pear and Plum Breakfast Polenta with Maple Syrup |

Back-to-School Papaya Breakfast Boats

These Back-to-School Papaya Breakfast Boats are a healthy, kid-friendly breakfast to serve up on a school day that are full of protein and vitamins to keep your little ones energized until lunchtime! Back-to-School Papaya Breakfast Boats are loaded with filling Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, granola and honey for the ultimate kid-friendly breakfast!

Every new school year deserves a fun and healthy breakfast…Am I right? Well, you’re in luck, because these Back-to-School Papaya Breakfast Boats will make any reluctant schoolchild excited to get up in the morning and ready to take on the day with lots of filling protein and other healthy nutrients from alllll the festive fruits.

We all know that breakfast bowls are taking over the mainstream, and I’m sure no stranger to the idea here in the CaliGirl Cooking kitchen. It was over a year ago now that I completely changed my breakfast game with this Slow Cooker Superfood Oatmeal, and just a few weeks ago I showed you how to sneak some extra servings of the good stuff into your kids with these Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls. Oh, and if we’re talking about more fun kid-friendly breakfasts, we can’t forget these Breakfast Banana Splits! (Which will also surely get your kid out of bed for school in the morning, just saying.)

So, what’s up with these Back-to-School Papaya Breakfast Boats? To be honest, not much, but you wouldn’t guess it from all they’ve got going on! There’s actually no cooking involved, it’s more compiling a bunch of fresh, delicious and healthy ingredients together and serving them in a fun and festive way. They take almost no time to throw together, which means they’re just that much more perfect for a busy weekday morning when you’re trying to get homework organized, teeth brushed and kids out the door.

Let’s get into it!

A Back-to-School Papaya Breakfast Boat will keep your kids full and energized well into lunchtime.

We start out with some fresh papaya halves, then give them a good squeeze of lime juice. If you’ve never taken lime juice to your papaya before, you’ve really been missing out. Don’t skip this step. It’s a game changer!

Next step is to load up the boats with some plain Greek yogurt – because we all need that protein – and then top it with any fresh fruit we can imagine. I used strawberries, kiwis and blueberries, but feel free to improvise and use what sounds best to you. Just about anything would be delicious!

The final touches to our Back-to-School Papaya Breakfast Boats are a sprinkle of our favorite granola and a drizzle of sweet honey. That’s it! See, I told you it wasn’t hard.

A Back-to-School Papaya Breakfast Boat ready to be devoured by any hungry adult or kiddo!

So now that I’ve made such a big deal about this tasty back-to-school brekkie, tell me, do you have kids who are starting up their school year this week? Are you so relieved or secretly bummed you don’t get to hang out with them all day anymore? I obviously don’t have any kids in school yet, but in my current state I can tell you I’m incredibly grateful for healthy, easy recipes that can be whipped up in a matter of minutes, just like these Back-to-School Papaya Breakfast Boats!

Do you have any fun back-to-school recipes you always turn to at this time of year? If so, I’d love to hear about them!

Back-to-School Papaya Breakfast Boats are the perfect healthy, kid-friendly, weekday breakfast for kids and adults alike!

Back-to-School Papaya Breakfast Boats
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins

A healthy, kid-friendly breakfast to serve up on a school day that's full of protein and vitamins to keep your little ones energized until lunchtime!

Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: back-to-school, breakfast, fruit, healthy, kid-friendly, papaya, yogurt
Servings: 2 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
  • 1 papaya, halved lengthwise and seeds scooped out
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime, divided
  • 1 1/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 6 strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • Sprinkle of your favorite granola
  • Drizzle of honey
  1. Squeeze lime over both halves of papaya. 

  2. Divide yogurt evenly among papaya halves, then divide all fruit evenly on top of yogurt.

  3. Sprinkle granola over fruit, then drizzle on honey. Serve to your hungry kiddos!

Back-to-School Papaya Breakfast Boats |

Protein-Packed Healthy Chicken Waldorf Salad

A typically mayonnaise-laden dish gets a healthy makeover with the substitution of Greek yogurt and delicious cinnamon and nutmeg. This Protein-Packed Healthy Chicken Waldorf Salad is the perfect no-cook meal!

A big dish of Protein-Packed Healthy Chicken Waldorf Salad is the perfect no-cook dish to serve in the summer heat.

I’m letting my pregnancy cravings guide the way…I hope you don’t mind. Out of the many things this pregnancy has been good for, cravings for old, almost forgotten recipes has been one of my favorites. This Protein-Packed Healthy Chicken Waldorf Salad is one such out-of-rotation recipe that I’m so glad I remembered I had in my back pocket.

Being the balanced foodie that I am, when I first found out I was pregnant, I wanted to be sure to keep my diet as in-check as possible (keeping the pregnancy weight gain in between a healthy 25-35 pounds) while still allowing myself to succumb to the nearly inevitable cravings whenever they hit. One of the best tips I received from my doctor was to be sure to get some sort of protein in with every little meal or snack I ate.

I’ve tried really hard to achieve this but, especially working from home, it’s pretty easy to run out of “healthy” protein-packed snacks over the course of a day. With cold cuts out of the question (in less I feel like microwaving them to make them “safe” and subsequently being forced to eat warm lunch meat if I need a snack ASAP), I found myself turning to cheese and peanut butter as my main sources of protein during the day.

After even getting sick of these things at times (which is quite the feat for a peanut butter and cheese lover like me!) I started racking my brain for other quick-and-easy protein-filled snacks that I could just grab out of the refrigerator at a moment’s notice. It was then that I remembered this Protein-Packed Healthy Chicken Waldorf Salad that I made ALL the time when I first moved back from Hawaii, and I knew it was just the thing I was looking for.

Protein-Packed Healthy Chicken Waldorf Salad is the perfect quick-and-healthy lunch for any day of the week.

If you’ve been following along with the blog for a while (or if you’ve just happened to view my most popular post on Pinterest for Spicy Poke Bowls), then you’ll know that I used to live in Hawaii. What you may not know is that, while I lived there, I actually worked as a Line Cook/Pastry Assistant in a cute little French bistro for a period of a few months. While working there, one of my primary jobs was to come up with snacks/dishes/baked goods that did not require any cooking that they could serve out of their deli case in the “grab-and-go” section.

You can probably guess where this is going. One of my go-to recipes for this deli case was a Chicken Waldorf Salad (which was a huge hit, I might add) and I made it more times than you can count on both hands in the few months I worked there. So much that the recipe became pretty second nature to me!

When I returned home, and was back to cooking for just myself and my loved ones, I did what I love to do with typically Mayonnaise-laden dishes like the Chicken Waldorf Salad, and made a “healthified” version that I could enjoy whenever I wanted, without the guilt.

Protein-Packed Healthy Chicken Waldorf Salad can be slathered on bread for a nutritious, filling lunch!

Just like my favorite Crunchy Pea Salad with Prosciutto, the secret to lightening this Protein-Packed Healthy Chicken Waldorf Salad up is subbing out the mayo for Greek yogurt. Sometimes (as with the Pea Salad) I like to keep in just a little bit of mayo for the creamy, savory flavor, but since most Chicken Waldorf Salad recipes call for lemon juice anyhow, I felt like the mayonnaise really wasn’t needed at all. And I was right! Adding the Greek yogurt also means that this salad is even MORE loaded with healthy protein, which is just what this hungry preggo mama needs.

Plus, the requisite chicken, walnuts, celery, apples and grapes are all full of healthy nutrients that are great for anyone, not just those of us who are expecting.

A bowl of Protein-Packed Healthy Chicken Waldorf Salad, ready to be devoured at a moment's notice.

Aside from the dressing substitute, the only other little touch that really makes this Protein-Packed Healthy Chicken Waldorf Salad stand out from the rest is a pinch of ground cinnamon and nutmeg. Don’t skip this! The spices round out the dish so nicely, it’s really a wonder why more people haven’t discovered it already.

Finally (says she sitting in her kitchen with her air conditioner blasting), as long as you have some cooked chicken breasts on hand (a must for any meal-prep situation) this is another no-cook recipe that will keep you away from the stove and enjoying the outdoors as much as possible in this sweltering summer heat.

A big dish of Protein-Packed Healthy Chicken Waldorf Salad is the perfect no-cook addition to any barbecue or picnic!

Let’s take this week by the horns with some Protein-Packed Healthy Chicken Waldorf Salad in hand!

3 from 1 vote
A big dish of Protein-Packed Healthy Chicken Waldorf Salad is the perfect no-cook dish to serve in the summer heat.
Protein-Packed Healthy Chicken Waldorf Salad
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins

A typically mayonnaise-laden dish gets a healthy makeover with the substitution of Greek yogurt and delicious cinnamon and nutmeg. The perfect no-cook meal!

Course: Main Course, Salad, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken, lunch, make-ahead, meal prep, salad
Servings: 5 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
  • 15 ounces cooked chicken breast, diced (about 2-3 breasts)
  • 3/4 cup halved red grapes
  • 2/3 cup walnut pieces, toasted
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  1. Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. 

  2. Serve alone, with crackers, chips or spread onto sliced bread as a sandwich!

Protein-Packed Healthy Chicken Waldorf Salad |

Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter

Tropical fruits are paired with a delicious selection of cheeses, honey and macadamia nuts – perfect for your next warm weather get-together!

Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter |

I’m calling it right now: Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platters may just become summer’s “it” entertaining item. Because, I mean, when it’s sunny and 75 degrees out, who doesn’t want a plate piled high with pineapple, papaya, kiwis and allllllll the cheese?

Now, I know what you may be thinking: “Ick, how does tropical fruit and CHEESE pair well together?” Well that, my friends, is all in the cheese. You see, I take my job as a food blogger very seriously and would never want to lead you astray, so I was sure to taste multiple cheese and tropical fruit combinations before I settled on the ones you see here. True, there are some pairings that just don’t work, but hey, there are a lot of pairings that do and I’ve taken all of the hassle of figuring that out off of your shoulders and come up with some fantastic pairings that will make your next Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day or Memorial Day get-together to the next level.

Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter |

I actually came up with the idea for this Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter last October, when my dad and I took a “business” trip to Oahu, which essentially entailed us eating our way through the island for a week. If you’re in tune with the Oahu restaurant scene at all, then you’ll be no stranger to local celebrity chef Ed Kenney’s restaurants that have been making waves (haha, pun intended) all through Honolulu over the past 10 years or so. We ate at three of his four restaurants while we were there (and only skipped the fourth one because we had eaten there multiple times when I lived there) and were duly impressed by each one. Be sure to check out my Travel Diaries: Honolulu post for more deets on all of those, but right now I want to tell you all about the basket cheese we had at one of these said restaurants, Mud Hen Water.

We were able to talk my aunt and uncle into joining us for this dinner, which was all the better since everything is served family style and this way we could order double the amount of dishes to share. I was immediately intrigued by their menu offering of “Homemade Basket Cheese” so we decided to give it a shot. What was delivered to our table just moments later was a soft, ricotta-like cheese served with a multitude of fresh tropical fruits and, let me tell you, my mind was blown.

Up until that point, I had only thought that grapes, apples, apricots and the like were acceptable to be served with cheese, but boy was I proven wrong. The creamy, mellowness of the basket cheese paired perfectly with the mango and papaya that were served alongside it, and it immediately got the food blogger wheels churning in my head about what other types of cheeses might pair well with what are some of my favorite genre of fruits.

Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter |

Of course, Hawaii has the luxury of a tropical climate (and plenty of local fruit) year round, but I decided to wait until the weather started warming up a bit again here on the mainland before giving my Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter a shot for this here blog. With temperatures in the high 70’s/low 80’s expected for us in Santa Barbara this weekend, and so many fun holidays right around the corner, I figured what better time to finalize this idea on paper! (Er, I mean on screen.)

So here’s what I ended up discovering in my in-depth research of the perfect tropical fruit and cheese pairings: Any of the mild, soft ricotta-like cheeses are a DREAM pairing for allll the tropical fruits. Especially if you add a little honey! I took some creamy mascarpone I had sitting in the refrigerator and sweetened it up a little, and let me just say you’re lucky I saved some to photograph because I could have very easily sat there and eaten the whole bowl with my pineapple and papaya spears.

Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter |

Sticking with the creamy theme, I also found that a good, simple goat cheese is a great pairing for most tropical fruits. It adds a simple tang (much like unsweetened or Greek yogurt would) without overwhelming the fruit with too much funk or contrasting flavors.

The only hard cheese that made the cut in my taste test was a basque cheese I picked up from Trader Joe’s. It has just a touch of funk, but not so much that it fights with the other flavors on the platter. It’s fairly mild compared to some other hard cheeses, and the slight saltiness is a great contrast to the sweetness of the fruit.

Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter |

Some other small touches that I found make a big difference that you may not think of:

Papaya is an interesting fruit, and can be fairly one-dimensional and almost a bit musty tasting at times. I find that a squeeze of fresh lime juice over top really transforms the flavor palate so be sure to serve some lime wedges on your platter for people to add as needed.

Of course another typical component you see on most traditional fruit and cheese platters is some sort of nut. This adds a crunchy and often salty element to the mix to contrast all of the sweet- and savory-ness. In sticking with the tropical theme, I added some macadamia nuts to the platter which added the perfect finishing touch.

And that’s it, folks! Really, the only “cooking” involved in this super easy party dish is stirring some honey into the mascarpone and plopping it into a bowl. Easy as that! Now, as I mentioned, we’ve got Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and a whole summer of entertaining ahead of us, so start scoping out the best tropical fruit you can find and get to making this to-die-for Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter!

Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter |

Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins

Tropical fruits are paired with a delicious selection of cheeses, honey and macadamia nuts - perfect for your next warm weather get-together!

Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Hawaiian
Keyword: appetizers, cheese, entertaining, fruit, Hawaiian, summer
Servings: 8 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Assorted tropical fruits, such as:
  • Pineapple spears
  • Papaya spears
  • Sliced kiwis
  • Mango slices
  • Lime wedges
Honeyed Mascarpone:
  • 8 ounces mascarpone
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
Other ingredients:
  • Creamy goat cheese
  • Basque cheese
  • Macadamia nuts
  1. Make the honeyed mascarpone by combining the two ingredients in a small serving bowl.

  2. Arrange all ingredients on a large platter and serve!

Tropical Fruit and Cheese Platter |

Kid-Approved Breakfast Banana Split

The classic soda fountain treat is given a healthy spin and turned into a delicious, kid-friendly breakfast in this Breakfast Banana Split. Who doesn’t want dessert for breakfast?Breakfast Banana Split |

It’s time to have some fun with our food! Let’s start with this festive, tasty, KID-FRIENDLY Breakfast Banana Split. It’s got all of the fun of a classic banana split, yet it’s healthy enough to be acceptable for breakfast. That’s my kind of meal!

The idea for this recipe (if you can call it that) came to me while I was working out at the gym, as many of my great ideas do. I’m not sure what spurred it, sometimes things just pop into my head as I’m zoning out on the elliptical. But once I thought of it, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. I needed to make a Breakfast Banana Split ASAP!

Breakfast Banana Split |

Let me tell you a little story to set the scene for this idea.

When I first moved to Santa Barbara almost four years ago, I hunkered down in my brother and sister-in-law’s casita for a few months until my job went from temporary to permanent. I had a pretty sweet little set-up there, a futon bed, a full bathroom to myself, and a little nook with a mini-refrigerator. I did not have a kitchen, but luckily my fam didn’t mind me popping into the house and whipping something up, especially if it involved me making something that there three young kids, my niece and nephews, would eat.

While I lived there, I took a little bit of a challenge upon myself. Like most kids, my niece and nephews were not huge fans of foods that held any sort of nutritional value, so my challenge was to find ways to make food that they would love to eat while secretly sneaking in some healthy fruits and veggies. My greatest success with them was when I made “breakfast popsicles,” which were basically a big batch of smoothie loaded with greens (and sometimes other veggies,) poured into popsicle molds and frozen overnight. I mean, what kid doesn’t want to eat popsicles for breakfast?

As soon as the idea came to me for these Breakfast Banana Splits, I knew they’d be one of these dishes that kids will just jump at the chance to eat in the morning. I don’t have any children of my own (yet) but I look forward to exercising my nutrient-hiding creativity once again, and I know a Breakfast Banana Split will be making a frequent appearance on our household menu.

Breakfast Banana Split |

So here’s how it goes down: Banana sliced lengthwise, just like the classic setup. Heaps of plain nonfat Greek yogurt in place of the ice cream, because we’re making this acceptable for breakfast. Loads and loads of toppings (mostly healthy, some a little more indulgent.) Finally, we can’t forget the cherries on top!

The great thing about this Breakfast Banana Split is that it’s incredibly versatile. I decided to use toppings like flaked coconut, chopped pineapple, date caramel, strawberry jam, toasted nuts and cacao nibs, but you can really use whatever you like (or whatever you have in your pantry!) Some other ideas you could include are freeze-dried fruit, melted almond or peanut butter or hemp seeds. The possibilities really are endless.

Whether this is a true “recipe” or not, you have to admit it’s a pretty genius breakfast option, especially when you have finicky little ones.

Breakfast Banana Split |

What are some ways you sneak nutrient-rich foods into your picky eaters’ diets?

Breakfast Banana Split
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins

The classic soda fountain treat is given a healthy spin and turned into a delicious, kid-friendly breakfast. Who doesn't want dessert for breakfast?

Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: breakfast, fruit, kid-friendly, weekday, yogurt
Servings: 1 serving
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
  • 1 banana, peeled and split lengthwise
  • 3/4 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon strawberry jam, melted
  • 1 tablespoon date caramel (see Recipe Notes)
  • 1/4 cup chopped pineapple
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons toasted coconut flakes
  • 2 tablespoons cacao nibs
  • 2 maraschino cherries
  1. Place banana halves on either side of a sundae dish or larger, shallow bowl. Scoop Greek yogurt in between banana halves and add toppings. Don’t forget the cherries on top!

Recipe Notes

To make the Date Caramel (will make extra): Soak 20 pitted dates in warm water for 10 minutes. Drain and place in a food processor with 4 tablespoons water and 4 tablespoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Pulse until a smooth puree forms into a thick caramel consistency. Store any extra in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Breakfast Banana Split |


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