Banana-Almond Smoothie

So this smoothie really isn’t much to look at, but its humble looks are deceiving. This is a speedy, satisfying, and healthy drink that is perfect for a weekday morning breakfast, snack, or post workout treat. Just 3 or 4 ingredients, a quick whirl in the blender, and bam, done. You could totally customize this to your liking- swap in peanut butter for the almond butter, use coconut milk (or other milk of your choosing) for the almond milk, add a handful of spinach, add a dash of cinnamon, the possibilities are endless!

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Banana-Almond Smoothie

Serves 1

Ingredients:

1 banana, broken into 3-4 chunks, frozen
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 Tbsp almond butter
1/8 tsp almond extract (optional)

Directions:

1. Place all ingredients in the blender, and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Source: Bon Appetit

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Poached Eggs over Avocado and Smoked Salmon

Happy Thursday friends! I hope that the week is treating everyone well! This week has gone by pretty quickly in my opinion, so that’s always a good thing. Another great thing about this week was seeing the first snow flakes of the season! If you’ve been reading this blog a while, or know me, you know I love snow, and I was so excited to see a pretty snow shower when I woke up for work earlier this week. It didn’t stick, so my boyfriend has nothing to complain about yet, haha.

Another thing he had no complaints about- this meal! He loved it so much that he requested it be regularly added to our meal plan. I have no problems with that as this was simple, healthy, delicious, and super quick to make. Smoked salmon is one of my favorite things, and it made for such a great addition to a salad. Usually I have smoked salmon on bagels with cream cheese, but this was a new and extremely delicious way to indulge in it! Yum!

Poached Eggs over Avocado and Smoked Salmon

Poached Eggs over Avocado and Smoked Salmon

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 Tbsp white vinegar

4 oz baby spinach

1 lemon (Meyer or regular)

8 oz smoked salmon

1 Hass avocado, thinly sliced

4-8 large eggs

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Fill up a shallow pot with about 3-inches of water. Add vinegar. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer.

2. Put about 1 oz (1 cup)  baby spinach on each plate. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice on top and season with salt and pepper. Place 2 oz of smoked salmon on top of greens, and top with 1/4 of the sliced avocado on each plate. Squeeze a bit more lemon juice on top.

3. To poach eggs: Break an egg into a small bowl. Slip gently into the simmering water, and use a spoon to try to keep the egg whites close together. Do the same with the remaining eggs. You may need to do this in 2 batches, if using 8 eggs instead of 4. When eggs are in the water, turn off heat, cover and cook 3-4 minutes. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon, letting water drain off. Add 1 or 2 poached eggs to each plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Source: slightly adapted from Absolutely Avocados via Cookin’ Canuck

Banana Bread

Banana Bread

Oh, how I love banana bread. It’s such a comfort food. It’s one of the things my mom would bake regularly for us growing up, and she was always, and still is always trying out new banana bread recipes. There are just so many out there to try… you could probably make a new one every week for a year or a few, and still not run out, and based on the amount of bananas I have in my freezer, I might just be able to do that 🙂 I love to try new recipes as well, but my favorite banana bread will always be the simple one- unadorned with chocolate chips, or candied ginger, or seeds, or nuts. This classic banana bread recipe from The Moosewood Cookbook is just my cup of tea. I did make a couple of adjustments (leaving out the sesame seed coating, opting out of the addition of nuts and orange zest, reducing the sugar slightly, and adding a bit of espresso powder), but I stayed pretty true to the classic. The addition of coffee adds a little depth, but not overwhelming coffee flavor, and also adds to the moisture level. I love that half the flour is whole wheat (I used white whole wheat for a subtler flavor), so that I can feel a little better about eating this… that said, this is definitely a treat- I mean, look at the amount of butter! This is certainly not a health food 🙂 This does make an excellent breakfast treat every once in a while though, a great mid-day snack, and even a great dessert. I’m sure this won’t be my first and last banana bread recipe on this blog, because I have inherited my mom’s desire to try out every banana bread recipe known to man, but this is a great one that I will come back to again and again.

Banana Bread

Banana Bread

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients:

3/4 cup (12 Tbsp) unsalted butter, melted and cooled a bit

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp almond extract

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp espresso powder

1 cup ripe banana, mashed (about 2 bananas)

1/2 cup strong, black coffee

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a loaf pan.

2. In a small bowl, combine the mashed banana and coffee.

3.  Add the melted butter and brown sugar to a large bowl, and whisk together. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking after each addition. Add the vanilla, and whisk together. Beat until a little lightened in color.

4. In another bowl, add the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, spices and espresso powder. Mix or sift together until well blended.

5. Alternate adding the banana mixture, and the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture. I added about a third of each mixture at a time. Mix gently after each addition, until all is added, and the mixture is combined. Don’t mix too aggressively, or the bread will toughen.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, pop in the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the bread comes out clean. Remove from oven, let rest in pan for 10 minutes, the remove from pan to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Source: barely adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook

Here are some other banana bread recipes I would love to try out:

Banana Oatmeal Bread from Serious Eats

Crackly Banana Bread from Smitten Kitchen

Jacked-Up Banana Bread from Smitten Kitchen

Banana Bread with Cinnamon Crumble Topping from Orangette

Banana-Coconut Bread from Orangette

 

Fresh Corn Pancakes

These are my favorite pancakes in the whole world. Decadent, buttery and bursting with the flavor of corn, they are perfect for the summer as a breakfast, or a side dish. You can serve them with maple syrup, sour cream and salsa, topped with more butter, or just plain (which is how I like them). They are definitely a treat, and I do want to find a healthier version of corn pancakes or fritters that I can eat more often, but every once in a while, you need some decadence in your life. These do use quite a few dishes, but they are quite easy to make, and other than the corn, which you’ll want to pick up fresh, the remaining ingredients are probably already in your pantry and refrigerator.

Fresh Corn Pancakes

Fresh Corn Pancakes

Serves 4 (Makes about 12 pancakes)

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 tsp baking powder

1 Tbsp sugar

3-4 ears of corn (enough to measure 2 cups of kernels)

3/4 cup whole milk

2 large eggs

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Directions:

1. Add the flour, baking powder and sugar to a large bowl and whisk together.

2. Cut off kernels from corn, until you have 2 cups. Scrape the pulp from the corn cobs with the back of your knife, and add it to your blender. Add the milk and 1/2 cup of the corn kernels to the blender with the pulp, and blend until smooth. Strain the corn/milk mixture through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth into a separate medium bowl. Add the eggs, vegetable oil, and cooled butter to the corn/milk mixture and whisk together.

3. Add the corn/milk mixture to the bowl with the flour and add the remaining corn kernels as well. Whisk together, just until combined.

4. Heat a large heavy pan, nonstick skillet, or griddle over medium-heat until hot. Grease with oil, and cook pancakes in batches, using 1/3-cup batter per pancake. Cook about 2 minutes on first side (until bubbles appear on the surface, and the bottom is golden-brown). Flip and cook another minute on the other side. Grease between batches if needed. Serve with desired accompaniments.

Source: Gourmet Magazine, July 2009

Baked Blueberry Oatmeal

Want a delicious and easy workday breakfast that you can put together on a Sunday night, and then take to work all week without having to do more than put it in a container and heat up a portion in the morning? Then this is what you are looking for! It is seriously delicious and awesome, and while it does contain some sugar, it’s still a pretty healthy breakfast that is hearty enough to keep you satisfied until lunchtime. I loved that I could just take a portion with me to work in the morning, pop it in the microwave, and have a yummy breakfast with no effort at all. The blueberry and banana combination worked excellently (especially combined with the flavors of vanilla and cinnamon). I can see this baked oatmeal becoming more of a regular thing for me! It would be great as a weekend breakfast as well, or as a part of a breakfast or brunch gathering, as its really not much work at all, and won’t leave you slaving over a stove. I also think it would lend itself to different combinations of fruits, and nuts, and I really want to try making it vegan (substituting almond milk for the dairy, coconut oil for the butter, and flax for the egg)… I’ll let you know how it goes when I try it.

Baked Blueberry Oatmeal

Baked Blueberry Oatmeal

Serves 6

Ingredients:

2 cups rolled (old-fashioned) oats

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped (or a combination of nuts- I used walnuts and almonds), divided

1/3 cup natural cane sugar or maple syrup (I didn’t have either, so I used regular granulated sugar)

1 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Scant 1/2 tsp fine-grain sea salt

2 cups milk (I used 2%)

1 large egg

3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled, plus more for buttering baking pan

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 ripe bananas, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 1/2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen), divided

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter the inside of an 8×8 baking dish.

2. Mix together the oats, half the nuts, the sugar (if using instead of maple syrup), baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, maple syrup (if using), half the butter, and the vanilla extract.

4. Lay your banana slices in a single layer on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle two-thirds of the blueberries over the bananas. Pour your oat mixture on top, and spread evenly. Pour the milk mixture on top, and gently tap the baking dish on the counter a few times so that the milk settles into the oats. Sprinkle the rest of the berries and nuts over the top.

5. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until set, and the top has become golden. Remove from oven and let cool for a little while. Drizzle the rest of the butter over the top. Any leftovers can be refridgerated and heated up for breakfasts throughout the week.

Source: barely adapted from Super Natural Every Day

Almond Date Breakfast Bars

This is another winner of a make-ahead weekday breakfast recipe! They are the second breakfast recipe I’ve made from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, and once again Deb doesn’t disappoint. I loved the combination of oats, almonds and dates, and this is a recipe that is open to endless adaptation. You could change up the nuts, the dried fruits, the nut butter… just make sure you keep the ratios the same. They are way healthier than the prepackaged granola bar as there is relatively little sugar (just the honey and dates), and the fats are healthy olive oil and almond butter. There’s no high fructose corn syrup, no processed sugar, and no unpronounceable ingredients. I will definitely be making these regularly, and I will be trying some adaptations as well. I’m thinking dried cranberries, dried cherries, dried apricots…. walnuts, pecans… maybe a little coconut… there are just so many possibilities!

Almond Date Breakfast Bars

Almond Date Breakfast Bars

Almond Date Breakfast Bars

Makes 16 2-inch square bars

Ingredients:

1 cup (150 grams) dried pitted dates, chopped

1 1/4 cups (110 grams) quick rolled oats (or old-fashioned oats)

3 Tbsp (22 grams) barley or whole-wheat flour

1/3 cup (35 grams) wheat germ

1/2 cup (55 grams) thinly sliced almonds

1/2 tsp table salt

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 cup (65 grams) almond butter

1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil

1/4 cup (85 grams) honey

1/4 tsp freshly grated orange zest

1/4 tsp almond extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper- one sheet in one direction, and one sheet in the other direction, to form a parchment sling with which to remove the bars when they are finished.

2. In a large bowl, add the dates, oats, flour, wheat germ, almonds, salt and cinnamon, and stir to combine. In a separate small bowl, add the almond butter, olive oil, honey , orange zest and almond extract, and whisk to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir together until well combined.

3. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish, and spread out evenly. (Deb recommends using a piece of plastic wrap to cover your hand so that you can press down on the mixture firmly without making a mess.)

4. Place in oven, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until brown around the edges. When you remove the pan, the top will still be soft and might seem like it isn’t completely baked, but as it cools, it will set.

5. Remove from oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack. You can also remove the bars using the sling after about 20 minutes, and let cool on the rack and not in the pan. This will speed up the cooling process. You can also place them in the fridge to cool faster. Cut into 16 pieces with a serrated knife. They may be a bit crumbly (as mine were), but will mostly hold together! Cutting them when they are cold will help them stay together better.

Source: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Another good oat-bar recipe: These Cherry-Date Oat Bars from the Whole Living Action Plan

Banana-Apple Buckwheat Muffins

Weekend breakfasts are wonderful! I love taking my time in the kitchen cooking up some bacon and fried eggs, an omelet or the occasional batch of pancakes, but I am always on the hunt for good weekday breakfast recipes. Because I have to be at work at the bright and early hour of 7 AM, I don’t have time or energy in the morning for a long leisurely breakfast, and even cooking something quick like eggs turns me off because of the dishes it dirties cooking them. These banana-apple buckwheat muffins are a perfect solution. They can be made a couple of days in advance, they are healthier than regular muffins as they are pretty low in sugar (and the sugar comes from natural sources- honey, banana and apple), and to top it off, they are very tasty! This is my first time cooking with buckwheat flour, but it definitely won’t be my last. It’s a great source of protein and is naturally gluten-free!

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Banana-Apple Buckwheat Muffins
Makes 4 Muffins

Ingredients:
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp coarse salt
2 large eggs
1/2 mashed banana
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup sweet apple finely diced (honeycrisp or pink lady would work well)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a muffin tin, place 4 baking cups.
2. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt to a bowl and whisk together. In another bowl, mix together the eggs, banana, and honey. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix together. Add the apples and walnuts, and fold in.
3. Split the batter between the 4 baking cups. Fill the empty cups with water. (This will help the muffins to bake evenly.)
4. Bake for about 30 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Remove from the muffin tin and let cool on a rack.

Source: Whole Living, January/February 2013

Here are some other recipes using buckwheat flour that I’ve come across in my search so far that I’m itching to try:

Chocolate Buckwheat Cake (David Lebovitz)
Vegan and Gluten-Free Vanilla Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes (Oh She Glows)
Yeasted Buckwheat Pancakes (Not Without Salt)
Buckwheat Crepes (Gluten-Free Girl)