Mar 102013
 

A glorious discovery was made in my kitchen this morning.  Potentially earth shattering, ground breaking, and other dramatic things like that.  Drum roll please…Quinoa for breakfast.  OK maybe some of you don’t find that quite as exciting as I do, but I was SO excited to see how great quinoa was as part of this baked oatmeal.  You can’t go wrong with the  combination of blueberries, bananas, walnuts, and cinnamon and added to super foods like quinoa, oats, and chia seeds, this is an amazingly healthy and delicious breakfast, brunch, or even healthy dessert.  


The other benefit of this dish (beyond the nutritional and flavor aspects) is that it makes about 6-8 servings making it perfect for a family or group, or for filling tupperware for a weeks worth of breakfasts (if you are me- party of 1).  It’s also super easy to put together.  You just layer sliced bananas and blueberries on the bottom of the pan, top with the dry ingredients, pour over the wet ingredients, and then top with a few extra banana slices, blueberries, and walnuts for a lil extra flair.  


Nutritional Highlights:  This is a crazy healthy meal.  Here are a few of the highlights: 

  • Quinoa: Apparently the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has officially declared that the year 2013 be recognized as “The International Year of the Quinoa.”  Who in the world knows what that means, but it’s packed with protein and fiber.  
  • Blueberries and Bananas:  antioxidants, potassium, deliciousness.
  • Walnuts: omega-6 fatty acids
  • Chia seeds:  No relation to our grass covered pets of the 90’s…They’re so hot right now so I decided to throw in a few tablespoons.   They have omega 3’s, protein, and fiber, and they soak up a ton of liquid so they keep you full for a while
And I didn’t even mention the fiber filled oats or the skim or soy milk to get a little calcium in there.  There is really nothing bad I can say about this recipe, and I can’t wait to eat it at work every single day this week.  
 


Quinoa-Oatmeal Bake with Blueberries, Bananas, and Walnuts
adapted from Milk and Honey Living

 
Ingredients:
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
3/4 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
2 T chia seeds
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 1/4 cups milk (skim or soy/almond if you want non-dairy)
1 large egg
1 T butter
2 tsp vanilla
3 bananas, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups blueberries plus a few extra for the top
Preheat oven to 375 and grease 9×13 pan
  1. Mix together oats, quinoa, most of the walnuts (save a few for the top), baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl lightly beat egg and add in milk, vanilla, melted butter (let cool slightly).
  3. Cut bananas into slices covering the bottom of pan (reserve a few slices for the top).  Top with the berries (again, saving a few for the top) and cover with oat mixture.
  4. Pour wet ingredients to cover dry ingredients and top with remaining berries, banana slices, and walnuts.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes.
  6. Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup if you like it a little bit sweet like I do!  Enjoy!

Note:  If you like your oatmeal a little sweeter, feel free to add some maple syrup or honey into the bake (my version only has fruit to give sweetness).  Also, if you’re going to save the leftovers and reheat, I recommend adding a little milk or water for reheating as it dries out a bit.

 

Sep 242012
 

Breakfast can get a little mundane some times.  I can only make so many egg white veggie omelettes and yogurt parfaits.  Healthy breakfasts don’t have to be boring.  This was probably the healthiest AND most exciting I’ve had in a while.  A simple and flavorful hash of butternut squash and kale topped with a fried egg and shaved parmesan.  My new favorite breakfast and/or lunch and/or dinner for fall.

The beauty of this meal is that it can be made entirely in one pan (that is if you have a cast iron skillet, which  I do not).  All you do is saute butternut squash, onions, and garlic until they’re browned and soft, add the kale for a few minutes, and finish with a fried egg, salt, pepper, and grated parmesan.  I don’t know what it was–maybe the runny yolk, maybe the sweet butternut squash, maybe the savory kale–but something magical happened when they all came together on my plate.  

Nutritional Highlights:  Butternut squash has tons of beta-carotene (veggie’s version of vitamin A), vitamin C, and even some calcium and iron.  Plus, it has less calories and carbohydrates than sweet potatoes and is comparably delicious.  Then there’s kale–what I would dare to say is the trendiest veggie of 2012. For good reason–it has absurd amounts of vitamin K, A, and C and has tons of fiber.  The egg on top, yolk and all (yeah, I did it), is the perfect protein to round out this meal.  Your body and your taste buds want you to make this now.   


Kale and Butternut Squash Hash with Fried Eggs and Parmesan
(for about 3 servings)

Ingredients:  

  • 2 cups butternut squash, chopped into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cups kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • optional: 1/4 tspn red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 eggs 
  • shaved parmesan cheese
Directions:

In a cast iron skillet (or large frying pan if you’re like me and don’t have a cast iron skillet), heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic, onion, and butternut squash (and red pepper flakes if using) and sautee, stirring occasionally, for about 15-20 minutes or until the squash has softened and the onion is browned.  Add the chopped kale and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes until the kale has softened slightly.  Season the mixture with salt and pepper.

For the eggs there are two options.  If you’re working in a cast iron skillet, you can turn on your broiler, crack the 3 eggs right on top of the hash and put it under the broiler until the eggs are cooked to your liking.  If you’re working in a frying pan, you can fry your eggs in another pan and place one on top of each serving of hash.  

Top the hash and eggs with shaved parmesan cheese, freshly ground pepper, and salt.  Enjoy!
Apr 262012
 

Yep, you read the title right.  Cookies for breakfast.  If that doesn’t make you excited then I don’t know what will.  I know what you’re thinking…cookies are pretty un-cook-tush-like as it is, especially at 9 in the morning.  But these “cookies” are incredibly healthy, filling, and delicious, and even though I’m calling them breakfast cookies, they can be an any time of the day healthy snack.  Special bonus, they’re gluten free AND vegan!  





I found this recipe on another blog, and my expectations were absolutely blown away.  These we soft and chewy in the center and crunchy on the bottom.  They had a great nutty flavor from the pecans, coconut, and oats, and just a hint of sweetness from the agave, mashed banana, and dried blueberries.  I was expecting these to fall apart like other granola bar type recipes I’ve tried before, but I was shocked at how sturdy these were.  They’re absolutely perfect for an on the go breakfast, snack or dessert.





Nutritional highlights:  These cookies have tons of fiber from the oats, protein and healthy fat from the coconut and pecans, and these things are what will keep you full all morning.  If you have trouble getting your kids to eat a balanced breakfast, I’m pretty sure they’re not going to say no when you offer them a cookie in the morning.  They’re basically like little bundles of baked oatmeal perfection, and I’m going to come back to this recipe again and again.  





Blueberry-Coconut-Pecan Breakfast Cookies
adapted from Kumquat

1 1/2       cups gluten-free rolled oats
1             cup unsweetened coconut flakes 
1             tablespoon golden flaxmeal
1/2          teaspoon salt
3/4          cups coarsely chopped pecans
1/2          cup dried blueberries
3             very ripe bananas, mashed
1/4          cup coconut oil, warm enough to be liquid (I used regular vegetable/canola oil because coconut oil was pricey and I know that it’s very high in saturated fat)
1             tablespoon agave nectar (can substitute honey if you don’t have agave and don’t care about this being vegan)
1             teaspoon vanilla extract
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine oats, coconut, flaxmeal, salt, pecans, and blueberries. Stir in bananas, oil, agave nectar and vanilla until well combined.

Press 2 tablespoons of mixture into a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter onto a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Continue with remaining mixture.

Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until fragrant and golden. Cool on pan.
Yield: about 15 cookies.
Mar 262010
 

There are two important things this post is going to accomplish. 1) share my recipe for a healthier homemade granola, and 2) serve as the birthday card I forgot to send my mom. So happy birthday mom, from you responsible, thoughtful daughter. But this really is a perfect post to dedicate to my beautiful mother on her 39th birthday (see, I’m winning points back already). Like me, my mom starts the day with yogurt, fruit, and granola…breakfast of champions.

addendum: for those of you who didn’t pick up on my web-sarcasm, my mother is not, in fact, 39 years old (which would have made her eligible for MTV’s 16 and pregnant). We have been celebrating her 39th birthday for quite some time now…


So why go to the trouble to make your own granola? Let’s say you’re at the grocery store thinking it’s time to get healthy. What better place to start than with breakfast. You pass right by the sugary cereal even though Captain Crunch and that jolly leprechaun are calling your name. Good work. You see some granola and you think…now that must be healthy…and throw it in the cart. Although granola can be packed with nutrients, the store bought varieties can also be loaded with sugar and fat (yeah, even granola is made with partially hydrogenated oil). That’s why I decided to take matters into my own hands.

So I went to the store and picked up some dried fruit (I went with dried apples and blueberries), some nuts (pecans, sliced almonds, and sunflower seeds were my go to), and wheat germ. I already had the other ingredients in the pantry: flax seed meal, oats of course, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, canola oil, and apple juice. There are a lot of ingredients that go into this recipe, but once you buy them once you’ll see how easy and quick it is to throw this recipe together.

Step 1: mix the dry ingredients: Oats, nuts, flax seed, wheat germ, and cinnamon.

Step 2: mix the “wet” ingredients separately…that’s your honey, vanilla extract, apple juice, canola oil, and brown sugar (even though that’s not really wet). Pour this into the dry mixture and stir. Stir again.

Oh wait…step -1: preheat your oven to 300.

Step 3: Pour mixture onto a baking sheet. Don’t make the same mistake as I did and use a pan with no edges. Some of the oats will dive off the side of the pan and burn at the bottom of your oven. Doesn’t smell so hot.

Step 4-6: Cook for 10 minutes, stir…Cook for 10 minutes, stir…and finally, cook for 10 minutes and take it out of the oven.

Step 7. While the granola is cooling, get the dried fruits you’re using ready. I used dried blueberries and chopped dried apples which was scrumptious. Next time I will try cranberries and apricots. What ever makes you happy. Or if you’re a traditionalist like my mom, you could go fruitless.

Step 8: Once the granola is cool, mix in the dried fruit.

Step 9: Put the granola on your kitchen windowsill and watch the beautiful sunset over the east river. Or is that just me?

Nutritional highlights: This homemade granola is very low in fat and sugar which is the fatal flaw of most store bought varieties. The rolled oats are a great source of fiber, almonds can help lower cholesterol and give you protein, and the dried blueberries have tons of antioxidants. Another key thing with granola is portion control (not one of my strengths). Although this recipe is incredibly nutrient rich, it still has a decent amount of calories so try to eat 1/3 cup servings. I also sometimes mix 1/4 cup granola with 1/4 cup fiber cereal to “thin it out” if you will.


Happy birthday mom!!!!


Granola:


3 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup flax seed meal
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon (depending on your preference)
1/2 cup apple juice
1-2 tablespoons honey (depending on how sweet you want it)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dried fruit


Directions:


Preheat oven to 300
1. Mix first 7 ingredients (dry ingredients)
2. Separately mix wet ingredients (everything else except the dried fruit)
3. Stir wet mixture into dry. Spread onto a baking sheet.
4. Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes and checking often.
5. Let granola cool and then mix in the dried fruit. Enjoy!!