Monday Munchies – Whole Wheat Pancakes That Actually Taste Good

I love pancakes.  Fluffy and warm and dripping with deliciously sweet syrup.  Even better if they have fresh fruit on top, or chocolate chips on the inside.  Pumpkin pancakes, banana pecan pancakes, blueberry pancakes, peanut butter and jelly pancakes–the options are endless but they are all fantastic!

And this healthy twist on pancakes is just as versatile for you to add any of your favorite mix-ins or toppings.  A lot of other whole wheat pancakes I’ve tried have always turned out too dense and heavy and thick.  This one (I’m quite happy to report) is light and fluffy, and although they are a little flatter than big buttermilk pancakes, I’m pretty sure you’ll still love them.  Health bonus: not only does this recipe use whole wheat flour, but there’s no oil or butter!

Want to make it even healthier?  Substitute the egg for a mixture of 1 Tbsp ground flax meal with 3 Tbsps water.  Flax meal gives you more protein and fiber for a nutrition boost, and it’s lower in fat and calories than a whole egg.  While you’re at it, go ahead and use unsweetened almond or soy milk milk (usually only 30-60 calories a cup depending on the brand you use).

Tasty Whole Wheat Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or 3/4 cup whole wheat flour and 1/4 cup white all-purpose flour)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (this will make them nice and fluffy)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • pinch or two of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons oil or non stick spray, optional (to grease the pan, but I found I didn’t need to use it)

Directions

  1. If using griddle preheat to manufactures instructions.
  2. Combine flour, salt, sugar and baking powder into a bowl or wide-mouthed pitcher. Add egg, milk and vanilla, mixing until combined.
  3. If using skillet, heat on medium heat and add oil if using oil. Place batter on griddle/skillet, cook until bubbles form on edges or top and flip. About 3 minutes per side, more or less.
  4. Serve with syrup, fresh fruit or any dessert sauce of choice.

If you choose to use the flax+water egg substitute, it is always best to prepare that first so it has time to set, usually about 10 min . Make your flax egg by combining flax meal & water in a small bowl and set aside.

You can add your mix-ins (like blueberries or chocolate chips) right before adding the batter to the pan.

*A Note on Maple Syrup*

Like syrup on your pancakes like I do? Be sure to spring for the good stuff–100% pure maple syrup–not the fake sugary table or breakfast syrups that contain a crazy amount of processed preservatives and high-fructose corn syrup.

All natural maple syrup actually has some surprising health benefits, like containing compounds that have been shown to reduce inflammation.  It also contains antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals (like zinc and manganese).

Of course, maple syrup is still a sugar, so use in moderation, but savor every drop!

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Monday Munchies – Quinoa Porridge

This unique recipe originated on one of my new-found favorite blogs, A Cozy Kitchen.  The recipes there are very intriguing to me, using ingredients I’ve never heard of or considered before (like roasted bone marrow).  It’ll be fun to explore more of this recipes in the future, but the first one I tried was this quinoa porridge.

You wouldn’t usually think about quinoa as a breakfast food, but the spiced milk makes it sweet and delicious.  I didn’t have any pears or fig jam around (as the recipe calls for), but I did toast some almonds and add dried cranberries and a little warm strawberry jam.  Yum!

Quinoa Porridge

Ingredients

1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 cup dried quinoa
1 cup water
1 cup whole milk, plus 4 tablespoons, divided
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 pear, sliced
2 teaspoons fig jam, warmed

Directions

1. In a medium pot, add the slivered almonds and toast for 1 minute, until lightly golden brown. Remove and set aside.

2. Using a sieve, rinse quinoa until the water runs clear. To the medium pot (use the same one as you did for the almonds), add the quinoa, water, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and allow to cook until all of the liquid has absorbed, about 12-15 minutes. Turn the heat off and fluff the quinoa with a fork.

3. To two bowls, add a few hefty spoonfuls of the porridge. Mix in two additional tablespoons of milk. Top with a small handful of the toasted almonds, sliced pears and drizzle of jam.

Monday Munchies – Cinnamon Apple Smoothie

Yes, I know the hot days of summer are over when smoothies are usually popular, but when I whipped up this tasty treat over the weekend I couldn’t help but think “I must take a picture and blog about this!”  I really was that excited about it.  I think the secret is the sweetened condensed milk.  It really adds depth, creaminess, and a subtle caramel flavor to the drink.  You could even make a caramel sauce and create your own Caramel Apple Smoothie, or try applesauce (or frozen applesauce) instead of a fresh apple.  Let your imagination run wild!

Cinnamon Apple Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sized apple, peeled, cored, and quartered
  • 5 ice cubes
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar

Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.  Serve in a fancy glass with a straw (totally optional). Enjoy!

Monday Munchies – 14 Fantastic Oatmeal Add-Ins

Nothing warms you from the inside out quite like a warm bowl of oats.  It’s definitely my preferred breakfast when the weather gets cold and nasty as is has been the past few days.  I even like half portions as snacks in the afternoon or as a warming snack before bed, it’s just that good.

Whether you make your oatmeal from scratch with old-fashioned rolled oats or whip it up super fast with instant oatmeal packets, there are plenty of great mix-ins you can add to give your breakfast a tasty (and sometimes nutritional) boost.

***A quick word on instant oatmeal:  avoid it if you can.  Sure it’s super fast and portable, but it’s usually packed with sugar and the oats are so broken down they don’t have a lot of nutrition left in them.  Certainly not enough for them to really “stick to your ribs.”  Many of the delicious variations below can be prepped ahead of time and taken with you to the office or where ever it is you usually take your instant oatmeal, and it only takes a minute or two to heat up. ***

Ways to Boost Your Bowl of Oats

For all of these I start with 1/2 cup of old-fashioned rolled oats or quick oats, which are both unsweetened, but if you are starting with instant oatmeal omit any added sugars or sweeteners.

 1. Cranberry Almond : 2 tablespoons dried cranberries, 1 tablespoon chopped almonds (raw or dry roasted), 1 tablespoon brown sugar, a drizzle of honey

2. Peaches and Cream: 2 tablespoons peach jam, 1/3 cup vanilla soy milk instead of water, a dash of nutmeg and allspice

3. Apple Cinnamon: 1 whole cubed apple (with or without skin, it’s your preference), 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 tablespoon brown sugar

     ~This one does take longer to cook due to the whole apple.  Smaller apple chunks will let it cook faster, and apples without skin will be softer instead of having a crisp crunch to them.

4. Peanut Butter and Jelly: 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter, 1 tablespoon strawberry jam

5. Banana Nut Bread: 1/2 large banana cubed, 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

6. Cinnamon Raisin: 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 1/2 tablespoons raisins

7. Savory Breakfast: 1 slice of crumbled bacon, 1 slice of cheese (preferably sharp cheddar) or 1/4 cup shredded cheese, chopped herbs such as chives or thyme

8. Chocolate Decadence (more for a snack than for breakfast): 1 tablespoon chocolate chips

9. Tropical Paradise: 1 tablespoon each diced dried apricots, dried pineapple, dried mango, and shredded coconut

10. Just like Fruit Crisp: 1 cup fresh fruit (apple, pear, peach, or any berry combination), 1/4 cup granola added after cooking –> try the Best Granola Ever

11. Pumpkin Pie: 1/3 cup canned pumpkin, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, 1/4 teaspoon allspice

12. Coffee Cake: Add 1/4 teaspoon instant coffee to 1/3 cup milk before mixing it in your oatmeal.  Add granola or a crumble topping of 1 tablespoon cold butter, 3 tablespoons white flour, and 2 tablespoons brown sugar after cooking

13. Berries Galore:  1/4 cup fresh blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries, 2 tablespoons honey

14. Caramel Apple: 1 whole cubed apple, 2 tablespoons caramel topping

Adjust any of the measurements to your taste, as these are just guidelines to get you started.  Experiment with what you have in the cupboards, and never get bored with plain old oatmeal again!

BONUS

Want to take your oatmeal experience even farther?  Try this amazing steel-cut oats recipe from one of my favorite chefs, Alton Brown.  Be sure to toast the oats and don’t skip the buttermilk, it makes all the difference in the world.  It’s a recipe I make on lazy Sunday mornings when I have the time, and it stores and reheats beautifully!

Monday Munchies – Creamy Butternut Squash and Apple Breakfast

My grandmother, bless her heart, it always growing such wonderful veggies in her garden.  My newest acquisition from her is a couple of hefty butternut squash.  Never had butternut squash?  I highly recommend it.   Full of all sorts of nutrients and surprisingly sweet (as far as vegetables go), it’s super versatile and much lower in calories than the equally orange and delicious sweet potato.  Since October and November is the peak season for butternut squash, I thought it was time to share one of my favorites!
This recipe is an adaptation from a cookbook my mom and I cooked out of all summer a few years back.  It’s warm and comforting, and really fills you up in the morning.  My adaptations aren’t nearly as low-calorie as the original, but I usually work with what I have on hand.

Word of warning though if you never worked with butternut squash, it’s super difficult to cut, but well worth the effort.  Just a heads up!

Creamy Butternut Squash and Apple Breakfast 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup chopped apples
  • 1 oz light vanilla soymilk (or lowfat milk with a drop of vanilla)
  • 1/2 tablespoon molasses (or a whole tablespoon of maple syrup or other natural sweetener such as honey)
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white granulated sugar

Directions

  1. Spray a small pot with nonstick spray and bring to medium-low heat.
  2. Add squash and cook for 12-14 minutes, until squash is tender.
  3. With a potato masher, mash squash in the pot.  Add salt, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and apple pieces.  Mix well.
  4. Turn heat to high and add 1 cup of water.  Bring to a boil.  After 30 seconds of boiling, reduce heat to low.
  5. Let mixture simmer for about 3 minutes, until squash is tender and most of the water has evaporated, but apple still has some crunch to it.
  6. Add molasses, brown sugar, white sugar, and soy milk.  Mix thoroughly.
  7. Continue to cook and stir until mixture reaches desired consistency.

Monday Munchies – Oatmeal Breakfast Cookie

Monday Munchies is all about food.  I love to eat, cook, bake, and try new ways to make interesting dishes, desserts, and snacks.  So here I post quick tips, fun treats, new recipes I’ve tried (and maybe adapted), or the occasional unstructured cooking adventure (i.e. I didn’t follow a recipe at all).

Oatmeal Breakfast Cookie

As we all head back to school and back to work after the long holiday weekend, we need quick and healthy breakfast options to fit our busy schedules.  That’s where these delicious breakfast cookies come in!  I make these quite often, and wrap them up in plastic wrap so they are handy to pack as a lunch snack or grab for breakfast on the way out the door.  These cookies are BIG so they fill you up, and are packed with whole grain oats for fiber. With only three steps to make them, they couldn’t be easier to whip up ahead of time. Try some this week!

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups dry milk
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1. Mix all ingredients together in large bowl.
2. Spoon 4 large cookies onto greased
baking sheet.
3. Bake 15-20 minutes at 350°F