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Posts tagged with Breakfast

A minty fresh treat for the late December days

It’s funny to me how each one of us associates this time of year with a certain “holidays-only” flavor.

For some, it might be eggnog. Or fruitcake. Or chestnuts.

And then there are the secondary flavors — ones that we might enjoy more this time of year than we would in any other month, even though they aren’t a December exclusive.

As we rush upon the winter solstice, I don’t tend to crave a “holidays-only” flavor, but one lumped into the secondary category. The kind that can be enjoyed in the heat of summer, but somehow represents the holidays to me and probably many others: mint.

This is probably related to the fact that when I was young, my mother made pinwheel cookies as part of her massive yearly holiday bake-a-thon. If I shut my eyes, I can easily taste the sweet, minty flavor imbued within those pink and white swirls.

Yep, those cookies are Christmas to me. And they aren’t even my favorite Christmas cookie. (That would be my mom’s chocolate-pecan squares. YUM.)

And I wanted those pinwheels this week. But because making a huge batch of cookies just to enjoy a tiny taste of one seems to be a fool’s errand (you know I’ll eat the whole dang flotilla of cookies), I decided to try to slay my craving with something a little lighter. You know, a treat that can rotate in with all that heavy holiday party fare.

The result is this pretty green smoothie. Packed with good fats, vitamin A and taste, it’s got that wintery fresh flavor that is just as welcome this time of year as the dense foods we also associate with December. But don’t drink it with a slice of fruitcake. That can only end badly — dried fruit plus mint? Yuck.

Thick and cool, this smoothie rotates in nicely with the heavier foods we see this time of year.

Thick and cool, this smoothie rotates in nicely with the heavier foods we see this time of year. by Sarah Henning

Mistletoe Mint Smoothie

1 1/2 cups hemp, almond or regular milk

1 avocado, halved

2 handfuls spinach

1 or 2 tablespoons honey (to taste)

6 to 8 mint leaves

Dash mint extract

Dash vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in the blender. Makes one large serving or two small ones.

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Chocolate zucchini muffins for the lunchbox

These kid-friendly zucchini muffins are made with gluten-free oat flour.

These kid-friendly zucchini muffins are made with gluten-free oat flour. by Sarah Henning

I’ve started making the kiddo’s lunches for kindergarten, and, as any parent (or just anyone who has ever packed a sack lunch) knows, it’s sometimes difficult to make sure you’re including the right amount of food. Too much and it’s a waste, too little and lunch ends with your kid having a not-so-full tummy.

So, I’ve been trying to vary what I put in the kiddo’s lunch, just to see what comes home and what doesn’t.

Last week, his little treat was a super healthy cookie. This week, it was my version of zucchini bread.

Just like most of you, we’ve got an end-of-summer surplus of zucchini, and rather than grating and freezing it all (which I’ve done in the past), I’ve been trying to use as much of it in “real time” as possible. Thus, it’s pretty convenient that the kiddo loves these chocolate-zucchini muffins (heavily adapted from the Chocolate Spice Zucchini Cake recipe in Nancy O’Connor’s “Rolling Prairie Cookbook”) that use a cup and a half of the shredded stuff at a time.

They’re good for both a lunch treat and for breakfast, but if you can’t get through all 15 of these muffins in short order, don’t worry, as they freeze really well.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

1/2 cup honey or maple syrup

1/2 cup coconut sugar

2 eggs, beaten or 2 flax eggs (per egg: 1 tablespoon ground flax seed and 3 tablespoons of water)

1/2 cup non-dairy milk with 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar stirred in to curdle

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups oat flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons grated orange peel (I used dried)

1 1/2 cups grated zucchini (I grated it in the food processor)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place liners in a 12-well muffin tin (this recipe makes about 15 muffins, so if you have a second tin, line it with three liners as well).

In a large bowl, combine coconut oil, honey/maple syrup and coconut sugar. Mix in eggs/flax eggs, curdled non-dairy milk and vanilla. Sift in the oat flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and salt. Stir well to combine. Stir in the orange peel and zucchini.

Spoon the mixture into the lined muffin tins, filling about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 30 minutes.

Yields 15 muffins.

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Healthy doughnuts, part 2

Delicious, healthy doughnuts.

Delicious, healthy doughnuts. by Sarah Henning

When I last wrote about doughnuts, I told you I was really, really trying not to make doughnut making a “thing” for me. I’d had a doughnut pan literally for years and had avoided using it because I was sort of afraid of over-using it, if you know what I mean.

But here I am with another doughnut recipe.

I don’t know if only having two types of doughnuts in my repertoire counts as having a “thing,” but if we get to three, maybe I should slow down. But at least I can take solace in the fact that, again, these are healthy doughnuts. No refined sugar, full of omega-3 fatty acids from the chia seeds, and they’re insanely delicious.

In fact, they’re so delicious, we’ve made them three times in a week. The kiddo was a little suspicious at first because the chia seeds make them look a bit gray. But he was won over on the first bite and even stole part of mine after devouring his own quickly.

A few notes: If you don’t have a doughnut pan, a muffin tin works. And I happened to use Penzeys strong Vietnamese cinnamon. It’s so strong you’re supposed to cut the amount in a recipe by a third. I didn’t do that. Thus, if you make these and decide they need a little more cinnamon, add a touch more of the regular kind to the recipe the next time.

Out-the-Door Chia Power Doughnuts

3/4 cup gluten-free oat flour

1/2 cup chia seeds

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup pure maple syrup or other liquid sweetener

1/3 cup non-dairy milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Lightly grease a 6-cavity doughnut pan with oil (I used coconut). Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the oat flour, chia seeds, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

Add the maple syrup, milk and vanilla and stir until combined. The batter will be runny but this is normal.

Bake the doughnuts for 22 to 26 minutes, until firm to the touch. A toothpick inserted into a doughnut should come out clean.

Cool the doughnuts in the pan for about 10 minutes, and then carefully invert the pan onto a cooling rack. The doughnuts should pop right out — if they don’t, let them cool a bit more and gently pull a knife along the edges of the wells to loosen them. Cool the doughnuts completely on the rack.

— Recipe from The Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon

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Healthy doughnuts (seriously)

Cake doughnuts without the refined sugar. Delicious.

Cake doughnuts without the refined sugar. Delicious. by Sarah Henning

I love to bake. LOVE it. Thus, I probably have every type of baker’s tool lying around somewhere in my kitchen cabinets — Silpat, candy molds, springform pan, French spatula, etc. And I’ve used everything I own at one time or another save for a single item that I’ve had for years: a doughnut pan.

I’ve had this doughnut pan ever since the giant going-out-of-business sale of the Pink Box bakery in early 2011. I bought it for $3 with good intentions. And then it just … sat there. Mostly because I was scared to use it.

OK, not scared. Terrified.

Because I knew if I did, I’d start something. Something I might not be able to stop.

You see, I LOVE doughnuts.

But I barely ever have them because, well, we all know they aren’t exactly healthy. And because of my love of them, it’s better that I don’t indulge. If I do, that will almost immediately turn into me finding another excuse to have them. And another. And pretty soon I’m having doughnuts every Saturday morning. (This exact thing happened in the weeks after my son was born and went on for MONTHS.)

So, I’d never used my doughnut pan.

And I don’t know what got into me, but sometime when the weather was acting up and about 30 degrees colder than we all know it should be, I decided I’d pull out the doughnut pan and see if I could make something healthy with it. I mean, because I’m all for being stuck inside when it’s snowy and cold with baked goods, but I just don’t want them to be a sugar bomb I regret even days later.

My first attempt? To make pumpkin doughnuts by adapting my Sneaky Pumpkin Pie Bars.

And you know what? They totally worked. I even made them twice to make sure. But they turned out perfect, and one recipe filled the pan exactly. And they taste GOOD.

Sure, I may have opened a can of worms (Thinking of trying coconut donuts next!) but at least I know I can make something without refined sugar or junk with my terrifying doughnut pan. That warms my little baker’s heart.

Healthy Pumpkin Cake Doughnuts

½ cup pumpkin

½ cup raw, unsalted almond butter

⅓ cup maple syrup

2 eggs or 2 flax eggs (1 tablespoon ground flaxseed and 3 tablespoons water for each egg)

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt (less if you happen to be using roasted almond butter)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a six-doughnut pan well with with coconut oil. Set aside.

Put all ingredients except for the chocolate chips in a bowl. Stir well.

Pour batter into your oiled doughnut molds, using an ice cream scoop or spoon to make spills less likely.

Bake 25 minutes or until the the edges are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center doughnuts comes out clean. Let cool completely before using a knife to pry the doughnuts out of their molds.

These store well in the fridge, as the cold helps them set up a bit more, though I stored them in the freezer and let them defrost a bit before using. Serves 6.

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Cooking away the CSA, week 3: How to build a green smoothie

Greens, banana, water, vanilla protein powder, tumeric, vanilla.

Greens, banana, water, vanilla protein powder, tumeric, vanilla. by Sarah Henning

I've written a lot of smoothies over the years to this space. A LOT. And the majority of them have had some green element to them. They might not have actually been green, like the smoothie I wrote about last week, but they are green on the inside, even if another ingredient like blueberries or cocoa powder is covering up the evidence.

If this sounds disgusting to you, I'm sorry. If it doesn't, there's a chance you've already joined the green smoothie movement, which has been going on for years (I think I've been making them for at least five years). And if you haven't ever made one? I have news for you: now is the perfect time to start.

Here's the deal: Even if you don't have access to your CSA yet, or haven't joined one, you have an abundance of local greens available to you right now. The farmers markets and many of Lawrence's grocery stores are overflowing with local greens. From spinach, to kale to arugula to chard — you have a ton of greens to choose from. They're inexpensive, they're local and they're plentiful because they're in season.

So, if you haven't joined the green smoothie train, or did awhile back and eased off, I urge you to give it a go. It's a fabulous way to get your greens without being a total salad freak (like me) and if you are part of a CSA, it'll help you get through the giant bag of spinach you may acquire.

Now, you don't need a specific recipe to create a tasty green smoothie. Mine are probably different every morning, which is a good thing. To get as many nutrients as possible, it's great to alter your smoothies slightly, based on what you have on hand. This week, I had pea greens and spinach, and I used both in smoothies. I'm guessing there aren't that many smoothie recipes with pea greens out there, and that's exactly where you adapt.

The basic recipe I use is very simple. Take what you will from it, add in the extras if you like, and give it a try. Believe me, if I can get my kid to drink these (and he started at about 15 months), you can get anyone to drink them.

Basic Green Smoothie

2 large handfuls greens — spinach (great for beginners), tatsoi, de-stemmed kale, etc.

2 bananas or 1 mango

1 cup berries — strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc. (optional)

1-2 scoops protein powder (I use vanilla or chocolate by Sun Warrior)

1.5 to 2 cups water

Additions: 1-3 tablespoons of hemp, chia or flaxseed; local bee pollen; maca; 1-2 tablespoons cocoa powder; pinch tumeric; pinch apple pie or pumpkin pie spice; splash of vanilla or almond extracts; one frozen packet acai juice

All you do is blend it up. That amount usually makes two servings (one large one for me, one smaller one for the kiddo), and is a great start to the day.

Now, what'd we get this week in our CSA? Whole-wheat flour, pea greens, spinach, salad greens, chives and green onions.

Whole-wheat flour, pea greens, spinach, salad greens, chives and green onions.

Whole-wheat flour, pea greens, spinach, salad greens, chives and green onions. by Sarah Henning

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A post-holiday present to yourself: A pomegranate

Pomegranate breakfast bowl.

Pomegranate breakfast bowl. by Sarah Henning

If you're like me, you've got to restock to your fridge and pantry after the food explosion that is the holidays. My fridge has run the gamut over the past few days, going from empty-ish to stuffed to its frozen little gills to deflated and devoid of anything but leftovers.

If this sounds familiar, or if you're just planning your trip to the grocery store for the week, I highly recommend adding a pomegranate to your cart. This time of year, I can't get enough of these unusual superfruits. They're a great treat, and fantastic in nearly any application.

Back in November, I posted a Thanksgiving recipe for squash that featured pomegranate seeds. The seeds add a nice juiciness and crunch to that recipe, and they can do that to pretty much any other recipe you can dream up. Just this week, we had the seeds three different ways other than just eating them out of hand. Above is a breakfast bowl of 1 cup pomegranate seeds, 2 tablespoons pecans, 1 tablespoon hemp seeds and 1 teaspoon cacao nibs. While I was enjoying that, the hubby had pumpkin pancakes topped with the seeds.

Trader Joe's pumpkin pancakes topped with pomegranate seeds.

Trader Joe's pumpkin pancakes topped with pomegranate seeds. by Sarah Henning

But my favorite way this week is pairing the pomegranate seeds with squash yet again. This time, it's with kabocha squash we roasted in a spicy sauce and then used to top a simple salad. The result is as pretty as it is tasty.

Pomegranate and kabocha squash salad.

Pomegranate and kabocha squash salad. by Sarah Henning

But before we get to that recipe, a few details on the pomegranate, one of the world's oldest recorded fruits. One 4-inch pomegranate has 234 calories, 3 grams of fat, 11 grams of fiber (45 percent of your daily value), 5 grams of protein, 48 percent of your daily vitamin C and 5 percent of your daily iron.

Now to the really important information: How to open and seed the dang thing. The best way to seed a pomegranate is to plunge it underwater. Fill a mixing bowl with enough water that you can submerge your hands and the whole pomegranate. Next, cut the top off the fruit and score the outside into a few sections. Plunge the fruit into the water and then pull it apart along your score lines. Free the seeds with your thumbs and rub off the white pith. The pith will float and your seeds will sink. When all your seeds are free, rinse them in a colander to remove extra pith. Throw out any pale/strange-looking seeds along with the skin and the pith.

Pomegranate and Roasted Kabocha Squash Salad

1 large pomegranate or 2 small pomegranates, seeded

1 small kabocha squash, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch thick "C" shapes (no need to peel)

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons tamari

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne

Hummus

Pecans

Baby spinach

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the squash pieces in a large bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, tamari, cumin, sea salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cayenne. Pour the sauce mixture over the squash and stir to coat.

Put the coated slices on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn them over and bake for 15 more minutes.

When the squash is finished, put together salad bowls that include baby spinach, 2 to 3 tablespoons pomegranate seeds, 2 to 3 tablespoons hummus and 1 tablespoon pecans. Top with warm squash. Serves 4.

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Spanish omelets and biceps — you’re welcome

Hey, remember the other day when I shared this video and mentioned that Kilian Jornet was my second-favorite Spanish athlete? Well, I think I also said that Rafael Nadal was very favorite Spanish athlete (and probably favorite current athlete in general).

Well, Rafa's ears must have been burning because yesterday I got this in the mail:

It's a brochure for the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Fla. I went twice when I was working on the sports desk at The Palm Beach Post. It's a fabulous event with really great food (Crepes! Sushi! Focaccia sandwiches!), but besides the good eats, it's a bunch of fun. The world's best players all attend (the reason it's referred to as the "fifth major") and if you sit in the cheap seats of the main stadium, you can look out on the crisp blue waters of Biscayne Bay while watching world-class tennis and eating said crepes (with Nutella, natch).

I know this isn't a sports blog, more of a space dedicated to food and the arts, but I hope you'll agree there's a lot of artistry and food related to sports. There is most definitely a creative streak in nearly any top athlete and what they do is art, no matter the sport. And the food — who doesn't love to eat while watching a good game, match or tournament? Some of the most impressive spreads of the year come during the Super Bowl or March Madness. Plus, athletes and food often make an appearance in many an artwork (Have you seen some of our great photos on KUSports.com? It's ART, I tell you.). You see — really, it's all interconnected.

The Sony Ericsson Open doesn't start until March 19, but my Rafa-bedecked brochure is a good reminder that The Australian Open is right around the corner, beginning Monday, Jan. 16. Despite the funky timezone conversion, it's easy to check it out — just watch a match or two with your breakfast (Spanish omelet, perhaps?). You'll be happy you did.

P.S.: What's my deal with Spanish athletes? Well, I studied abroad in Spain in college and have a soft spot for pretty much any Spaniard. So, yeah.

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Recipe: Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie

Sometimes, I just have to ask myself, "WHY must you love foods that STAIN so?"

Blueberry season is one of those times. My kiddo likes the little berries about as much as I do, and between the two of us, we're constantly spotted black-and-blue all summer long.

Same goes, in truth, for pomegranate season. Though, I have learned the best way for seeding a pomegranate to avoid a kitchen that looks like a murder scene (seeding it underwater is the trick — the seeds won't detonate on your backsplash and the pith floats to the top while the seeds sink), I still seem to stain my clothes, counter or kid with pomegranate juice.

That said, it's TOTALLY worth it. Both these fruits are super high in antioxidants because of their dark color, and are foods you should devour whenever you get the chance. Their antioxidants fight damage-causing free radicals and may even protect you from the possibility of cancer. Reason enough to sacrifice a few stained pieces of clothing, right?

Right. And thanks to the miracle of frozen fruit, I've been enjoying these two powerhouses together this winter. Fresh pomegranate seeds (or arils) mixed with frozen blueberries and other goodies have been the basis of more than a few smoothies recently. I seeded about seven pomegranates this weekend (I like to do several at once), and I've been alternating eating them out of hand as well as blended.

If you like pomegranate juice, but hate the price (it IS very expensive, no?), I totally recommend trying your hand at a pomegranate-tinged smoothie. Because they're in season right now, whole pomegranates cost about $1.50 a pop, and you'll get maybe a cup's worth of seeds with each one. That's a lot of cancer-fighting power, right there.

So, here's a truly tasty, healthy, power-packed recipe for your new year. The pic above shows about two-thirds of the recipe — my son drinks the rest in his own cup (and then begs for more). Bonus: He's less likely to make a mess with a smoothie than eating fresh berries and arils out of hand.

Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie

1 cup blueberries (frozen or thawed)

1 handful (or more!) pomegranate seeds

1 banana

1 scoop protein powder (optional)

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 tablespoon hemp seed (optional, but good for Omega-3s)

2 teaspoons chia seed (optional, to sprinkle on top, good for Omega-3s)

1.5 to 2 cups water

Blend everything but chia seeds in a blender until smooth. To serve, sprinkle chia seed on top. Serves 1-2.

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