Oatmeal Cottage Cheese Banana Pancakes

If I had to pick between breakfast, lunch, and dinner food to eat for the rest of my life, I would absolutely and unquestionably choose breakfast. There are just so many delicious options! There’s just something about a lot of breakfast foods that feels like comfort food to me. So yes, I’m one of those people that frequently makes pancakes and eggs for dinner.

In keeping with my attempts to make meals that are actually full of good foods and not processed junk, I’ve been experimenting with several different pancake recipes lately. This one came from a recipe my sister introduced me to, but I added a few more ingredients and changed things up a bit. And the end result is a rather delicious incredibly moist pancake!

cottage cheese oatmeal banana pancakes

Honestly, these pancakes are so moist and flavorful, that I don’t even use syrup on them. I just butter them and dig in! I’m sure they’d be delicious smothered in maple syrup (or fruit syrup!), but they don’t need it. They’d also be tasty with a pile of fresh fruit on top!

Because they have cottage cheese in them, which melts when they cook, they stay pretty moist in the middle. My husband doesn’t like this – he says they’re gooey. I love it! A lot of pancakes are too dry for my taste, and you have to bathe them in syrup for them to be edible. Don’t get me wrong, syrup is delicious, but probably not the healthiest thing for you. So the fact that these are moist and sweet all on their own is a major win for me!

Oh, and they kind of taste like banana bread. Which I love.

its good for you Oats have soooo many health benefits – starting with lots of fiber! The cottage cheese and eggs give you a nice amount of protein (so important for starting your day!) And there’s no added sugar!!

These pancakes are also quick and easy to mix up. Just throw all the ingredients in the blender!

oatmeal cottage cheese banana pancakes

oat cottage cheese banana pancakes

You may need to stop and scrape down the sides to make sure everything gets blended evenly.

cottage cheese oat banana pancakes

Then cook them on the stove or a griddle.

all natural oat pancakes

Serve hot with some butter and enjoy!

Oatmeal Cottage Cheese Banana Pancakes

2 cups oats
1 cup cottage cheese
2 eggs
1 banana
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
milk (if needed to thin batter)

1. Place all ingredients (except milk) in the blender and blend until smooth, scraping down sides as needed. If the batter seems to thick, add a little milk and blend again.

2. Pour batter onto heated griddle or frying pan. I do about 1/4 cup per pancake, but you can make them as big or small as you like.

3. When the bottom is cooked and begins to brown, flip the pancakes over and continue cooking until that side is cooked and golden. The insides will stay a little moist from the cottage cheese melting.

Makes about a dozen pancakes.

banana oat cottage cheese pancakes

change it upAfter blending, mix in some fresh fruit such as blueberries, chopped strawberries, raspberries, etc.

Oven baked Cajun fries

I love french fries. It’s kind of a problem. Like, if there are french fries, I will just keep eating them until there aren’t any more. Sometimes I don’t even realize I’m still eating them. My husband makes fun of me for it. I guess the good news is we basically never eat fast food, so we rarely eat french fries.

But I do sometimes make french fries! And these are infinitely better for me than the things that may or may not actually be potatoes, soaked in grease and coated in salt. For starters, I never fry my “fries.” I always make them in the oven. I also, obviously, use real potatoes. And I don’t use much salt because I use other seasonings as well. And you know what? I like them better than the fast food fries! (Except maybe the Cajun fries from Five Guys. They’re pretty amazing.)

So here’s my take on Cajun Fries:

oven baked cajun french fries

I made my own Cajun seasoning rather than using one you can buy at the store on the spice aisle because those tend to be mostly salt. This one does have salt in it, but is also full of other spices to give the fries lots of flavor! This seasoning mix would also be really good for grilled chicken, corn on the cob, or other veggies.

homemade Cajun seasoning

Cajun Seasoning Mix

1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp crushed bay leaves
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (more if you like it hotter)

Mix all spices together, and use on french fries, chicken, vegetables, etc. or store in an airtight container until ready to use.

This spice mix makes enough for about five medium potatoes if you’re making Cajun fries. You can easily double, triple, or quadruple the recipe if you’re making more fries, chicken, etc. or just to store for another day.

Now on to making the french fries!

First you’ll want to scrub the potatoes and cut off any bad parts. Then you can chop them into long thin strips, or use my time saver tip:

time saverCut the end off the potato so it’s flat and can stand up. Then use an apple slicer/corer to chop the potato.

trick tip fast homemade french fries

You’ll want to cut the center “core” piece smaller – I usually cut in in fourths.

homemade french fries tip

Ta-da! Lots of french fries cut in a matter of moments!

Now just toss them in a bowl with some olive oil, then add the Cajun seasoning and mix to coat.

homemade oven french fries

Cover a cookie sheet with foil – this makes clean up so much easier, and also helps the fries not to stick. Then lay out the fries in a single layer on the cookie sheet. Pop them in the oven and bake until as soft or crisp as you like! (I usually do about 15 minutes. 20 minutes should make them pretty crispy. Or just move them to the top rack.)

homemade oven baked cajun french fries

You’ll probably want to turn them over/mix them around about half way through just so they don’t stick or get too crispy on just one side. The easiest way to do this – since the foil cools almost instantly, pull them out of the oven, lift the edges of the foil, and just shake them around. Then use a fork to spread them back out, and stick them back in the oven.

Enjoy! (They’re extra delicious with a little bleu cheese dressing)

Oven-baked Cajun Fries

5 medium potatoes
1 Tbsp olive oil
Cajun seasoning (see recipe above)

1. Preheat oven to 450. Wash and trim the potatoes, removing any bad parts. Cut into long thin strips (see tip above).

2. In a large bowl, toss potatoes with olive oil until evenly coated. Sprinkle in the Cajun seasoning and mix well.

3. Spread the fries in a single layer on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, turning fries over about half way through. For crispier fries, cook on top rack or for a longer time.

Easter Cupcakes

Easter is so early this year, I feel like I’m not at all ready for it! Although I did buy some Easter candy the other day (which my son tore open and started eating at the grocery store…). But since I haven’t really done much for Easter yet this year, I decided to share something from last year.
Easter cupcakes 1

We made these cute and super-easy Easter cupcakes! Sorry if I got anyone’s hopes up, but this isn’t an awesome recipe for delicious cupcakes, just some ideas for decorating them for Easter or Spring. Just use your favorite cupcake/cake recipe (or *gasp* a packaged mix) and let them cool enough to frost and decorate them.

What you’ll need:

Cupcakes
Frosting
Shredded Coconut
Green food coloring
Easter candy (Robin’s Eggs, M&M’s, chocolate eggs, peeps, jelly beans, etc.)
Flower sprinkles

For the frosting, you could just buy some, or make your favorite frosting, or use this simple buttercream frosting recipe:

Buttercream Frosting

3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
2-3 Tbsp milk

In a large bowl, blend the powdered sugar and butter until well combined. Add the vanilla and 2 Tbsp milk, and mix. Add more milk if needed to reach desired consistency. (If it gets too runny, just add a little more sugar.)

Note: If you want a different flavor, you can just omit the vanilla and add about the same amount of a different extract (e.g. almond, mint, cherry, etc.), although you’d probably want to go a little less on stronger flavors like mint.

For these cupcakes, I added a few drops of green food coloring to turn the frosting a nice pastel green.

Then I put some shredded coconut in a sandwich bag, added a few drops of green food coloring, and squished it around until the coconut was all nice and green. (Some pieces will be lighter or darker – you probably won’t get a uniform shade of green.)

Now you’re ready to frost the cupcakes! You don’t want to frost them until you have everything ready so that the frosting doesn’t dry out before you put the coconut on.

Once they’re all frosted (or you can assembly line it, especially if you have kids big enough to help out!) sprinkle the coconut on top, and gently press down to get it to stick in the frosting.

Easter cupcakes 3

If you’re using sprinkles, go ahead and sprinkle them on now. You’ll probably want to press them down a little like you did the coconut “grass” to help them stick.

For the bigger candies, you may need to dab a little frosting on the bottom of each to help them stick.

Easter cupcakes 2

 

Just get creative! These would be super cute with bunny Peeps on top (we didn’t use any because no one in my family really likes them) or even dye some coconut brown to look like a nest and do Peeps chicks.

Happy Easter!

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cream Pie

I love making pies. Which is kind of ironic because my husband absolutely loves cake, and I don’t really like making cakes. At least he agrees that my pies are always delicious, even if he would prefer a cake.

I started making pies for Thanksgiving when I was about twelve. I have a little dream to one day open up a little pie shop. (I kind of want it to be just like the Pie Hole in Pushing Daisies…) So I often invent pie recipes in my head. I wish they were as creatively titled as the ones Kerri Russell invents in her head in Waitress. But they are most definitely delicious! (And no, I don’t base all of my cooking on TV shows and movies… just apparently my pie making.)

I rarely actually make the pies I invent… but I’m working on ways to make that happen more often – without consuming mass quantities of pie, that is.

This pie was actually a Valentine’s Day invention. You can’t get much more Valentinesy than chocolate covered strawberries, right?

chocolate covered strawberry cream pie 2

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cream Pie: Chocolate cookie crust, a layer of dark chocolate custard, a layer of strawberry cream, topped with dark chocolate shavings and a chocolate covered strawberry.

I know, this isn’t exactly a healthy treat… but at least I used fresh strawberries! And dark chocolate! That’s got to count for something. Let me make a little confession here: I have a serious sweet tooth. I try to find healthy alternatives so I don’t just eat chocolate and candy all the time. But sometimes, you’ve just got to have the real thing. So many (most) of my dessert recipes will probably be less healthy than my other recipes. But at least they’ll be delicious!

For this pie I actually broke one of my cardinal rules of pie making – I used a store-bought crust! But I knew I didn’t have time to experiment with making my own chocolate crust, and I needed a disposable pie tin (I took one of the pies to a neighbor) so I caved. It wasn’t terrible… but I definitely want to come up with my own crust for this pie next time.

 chocolate covered strawberry cream pie 1

This recipe makes two pies – perfect for sharing the love! Or if you want, you could do just the chocolate layer or just the strawberry layer for one pie.

You’ll want to make the chocolate custard first so it has time to set up a little before pouring the strawberry layer on top. Be patient with this! It takes a long time for the custard to thicken. Just keep the heat on medium and keep stirring. If it starts boiling, then it’s done (but it doesn’t have to boil! It’s just that if it reaches boiling, it won’t get any thicker.) Once the custard is nice and thick, you’ll take it off the stove, add the vanilla, butter, and chocolate chips. Stir until the chocolate is completely mixed in, then pour half into each pie shell.

chocolate strawberry pie recipe 1

Put the pies in the fridge so the chocolate can begin to set up while you make the strawberry cream.

In a large bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Puree the strawberries in a blender or food processor. With a rubber spatula, slowly fold in the pureed strawberries and sweetened condensed milk.

strawberry cream pie recipe 1

You can add a little more of the sweetened condensed milk if the strawberries are really tart – but don’t add too much or it will overpower the strawberry flavor and make the cream runnier.

The strawberry cream will be about the consistency of yogurt (and feel free to eat it by the spoonful like yogurt! It’s pretty tasty!)

 strawberry cream pie filling

Pour half of the strawberry cream into each of the pie shells on top of the chocolate layer.

chocolate strawberry pie recipe 2

Refrigerate for about 4 hours, or until set. The strawberry cream layer will stay fairly soft, but should set up enough to top it with a chocolate-covered strawberry (the strawberry will sink in a little, but not very far) and some dark chocolate shavings.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cream Pie Recipe

2 chocolate cookie pie crusts (like Oreo or Keebler)

Chocolate custard:
5 Tbsp cornstarch
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups milk (I used 2%)
3/4 cup half-and-half
3 egg yolks
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (milk or semi-sweet would work too)

Strawberry cream:
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
3/4 cup strawberry puree
1/2 can sweetened condensed milk

1. Mix cornstarch, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Add milk and half-and-half. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until smooth and thick. (This takes a long time – be patient!)

2. With the egg yolks in a small bowl, slowly stir in at least 1/2 cup of the cream mixture (this keeps the eggs from scrambling in the hot custard). Slowly pour the egg mixture into the saucepan with the rest of the cream, stirring well. Cook 2-3 minutes more, stirring.

3. While this finishes cooking, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave, about 30 seconds. (They don’t have to be completely melted)

4. Remove pan from heat and add butter, vanilla, and melted chocolate chips. Stir well to make sure chocolate is completely melted and mixed. Pour half of the custard into each pie shell and put them in the refrigerator.

5. While the chocolate custard is setting, make the strawberry cream. Puree the strawberries in a blender or food processor until smooth. (It takes about 1 1/2 cups of berries to make 3/4 cup puree).

6. Whip the whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Slowly fold in the strawberry puree and sweetened condensed milk. Pour (or spoon) half of the strawberry cream on top of the chocolate layer in each pie. Put them back in the refrigerator to set up for at least 4 hours, or even overnight. The strawberry layer may be a bit runny – the longer it stays in the fridge the better!

7. Top with a chocolate covered strawberry and chocolate shavings if you want, and serve!

Note: The chocolate custard layer was adapted from the Lion House Basic Cream Pie recipe.

Reinventing the Grilled Cheese Sandwich

There really aren’t too many things more delicious than warm, melty, gooey cheese. Especially good cheese. I mean, think about all the foods we eat smothered in melted cheese – pizza, nachos, lasagna, cheeseburgers, enchiladas, chili cheese fries, and, of course, grilled cheese sandwiches.

So if all those other foods get lots of other sauces and flavors, then why not grilled cheese sandwiches? Probably because it’s really easy to just slap a slice of cheese between two pieces of bread and toss it in a pan for a few minutes. But it really doesn’t take much longer to throw on a couple of extra ingredients to take your sandwich from tasty to amazing.

I’ve been experimenting a bit lately with this, so this will be the first of a few posts to give you some ideas on how to impress your friends, children, coworkers, and/or tastebuds with your grilled cheese awesomeness!

pear muenster sunflower seed grilled cheese sandwich 2

A lot of what makes these more “gourmet” grilled cheese sandwiches work is knowing what flavors will complement the flavor of different types of cheeses.

save moneyNow I know, cheese can get expensive, so you’re probably not going to be buying lots of fancy expensive cheese just to make sandwiches. But if you look at the grocery store where they sell all the deli cheeses, there’s usually a little bin of “remnants” – small chunks leftover from the bigger blocks – that you can get pretty cheap. Plus, if you decide you don’t like that particular cheese, you only bought a little bit!

So here’s the first “Reinvented” Grilled Cheese for you:

pear muenster sunflower seed grilled cheese sandwich 4

I used Muenster cheese for this sandwich – it has a nice mild taste, so the sweetness of the pears and the nutty flavor of the roasted sunflower seeds complement it nicely.

pear muenster sunflower seed grilled cheese sandwich 3

Just butter the outside of the bread, layer the cheese, sunflower seeds, and pear slices, and put it on the stove in a small frying pan.

DSCN4043

Tip: To get your cheese nice and melty without burning your bread, cover the pan with a lid or foil to keep the heat in. And don’t get too impatient and turn up the heat – it’ll just burn your bread before the sandwich is heated through. It only takes a few minutes!

pear muenster sunflower seed grilled cheese sandwich 1

Muenster Pear and Sunflower Seed Grilled Cheese

2 slices of whole wheat bread (or any bread you like)
1-2 thin slices of pear
a few slices of Muenster cheese (enough to cover the size of the bread)
1 Tbsp sunflower seeds
butter

1. Butter one side of each slice of bread.

2. Layer the cheese, sunflower seeds, and pear slices on one slice of bread (not on the buttered side). Put the other slice, buttered side out, on top.

3. Place in a small frying pan over medium heat. Tip: Cover with a lid or foil to help the cheese melt faster without burning the bread. After a few minutes, flip the sandwich over. When bread is nicely toasted and cheese is melted, remove from pan and enjoy!

Why buying baby food is a waste of money

If you’re a mom of little ones, you know that when baby starts on solids it can eat up or increase your food budget rather dramatically. The good news? It doesn’t have to! Making baby food is super easy and so much cheaper than buying those little jars of mush.

My second baby started on solids a couple months ago, and I was starting to get lazy and think “Maybe I should just buy some baby food.” But then I decided to take it as a challenge and figure out if it really was financially worth it to keep making all his baby food like I had done with our first baby.

The answer was a resounding YES.

homemade vs store bought baby food costs

So that’s a fairly significant savings. Make it yourself and spend about $0.12 per serving, or buy it at the store and pay $0.66 per serving. That’s more than 5 times the cost!

Note: this is based on the price I typically pay for carrots at my local grocery stores, and the price I found on Amazon for Gerber 1st foods (which came out to $1.32 per 2-pack). If you want to buy organic or all natural baby food, it’s even more expensive.

And just so you don’t think carrots are the only baby food worth making yourself, let’s look at a few others that I’ve run the numbers for.

I can buy a big bunch of bananas at Costco for $1.59  (or for about $0.60/lb at the grocery store). The bunches from Costco usually have about 8 bananas, and I use 1/2 banana to make about the equivalent of one serving of store-bought baby food, about 16 servings per bunch. That means that each serving costs about $0.10, as opposed to the store-bought servings costing $0.66 each – more than 6 times as much! And all you need to do to make baby bananas is mash them up with a fork!

Sweet potatoes regularly go on sale at one of our local grocery stores for $0.88/lb. (0r I can pay full price at about $1.25/lb.).  I get about 12 oz. of baby food per pound, so about 5 servings of store-bought baby food. So if I got them at the sale price, that would be about $0.18 per serving, or at full price $0.25 per serving, compared to $0.66 for the store-bought stuff. Not quite as significant as the bananas (store-bought is about 3 times as expensive here), but still a huge savings!

save moneyAnd don’t get fooled by all the baby food maker contraptions out there. Sure, some of them might be convenient, but really all you need is a blender or food processor (or even just a fork for some foods!).

For carrots (and just about any vegetables or fruits – sweet potatoes, apples, squash, etc) I just peel, trim, and roughly chop them, throw them in a pot with enough water to cover them, and boil on the stove until they’re super soft. Then I just dump them in the blender with some of the cooking water (which has some of the nutrients that leech out when cooking), blend until smooth, and it’s done!

make your own baby food carrots

time saverMake a big batch, and freeze it! You can freeze most baby food you would make (though things like bananas and avocados don’t freeze well). The easiest way to freeze it is in ice trays. Each ice cube should be 1 oz, so then it’s already measured out for you! Once the food is frozen solid, dump the cubes out of the trays and into a freezer bag, and thaw as needed.

make your own baby food carrots 2

 

And just for some added helpful info: I bought this book when I was getting ready to start my first baby on solids, and I love it.

best homemade baby food on the planet

It breaks down what foods to introduce at what age, has lots of nutrition information, tips for dealing with different phases, and lots of great recipes (some that even I find delicious! But those are more of the toddler recipes, like for muffins and pancakes…). Some of the recipes are so simplistic that I find them almost funny (really, I think I could figure out to mix their mushed up bananas with their cereal…) but overall, it’s a great resource.

Honey Nut Oatmeal

This is another recipe that came from our dairy-free trial with our two-year-old. Oh man was it hard! Just coming up with things for him to eat (without just feeding him the same thing every meal) was difficult, but trying to actually keep a balanced diet was even harder!

We bought some almond milk to try out. We got plain almond milk so as to minimize sugar intake (he’s already got enough energy!), which, in my opinion, doesn’t taste too great. I guess maybe some people like it, but I’m not a huge fan. But turns out if you use it to cook oatmeal, it gives it a nice nutty flavor and creamier consistency than just cooking it in water.

Instead of just adding sugar, we added some peanut butter, which made it creamier, nuttier, and added protein. And then we drizzled a little honey on top for extra deliciousness.

honey nut oatmeal 1

its good for youOats are full of whole-grainy goodness, and when combined with almond milk and peanut butter you get a nice balance of protein and carbohydrates. And honey is kind of a super food – full of vitamins, minerals, and anti-bacterial properties. Great way to start your day!

To make this, you basically make it the same way you would “regular” oatmeal – just substitute the water or milk for almond milk, bring it to a boil, and stir in the oats. Cook for about 5 minutes, then stir in the peanut butter.

honey nut oatmeal 2

Dish into bowls and drizzle a little honey on top. Enjoy!

Honey Nut Oatmeal

2 1/2 cups almond milk
1 1/2 cups oats
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 Tbsp + honey

1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring almond milk to a bowl. Pour in oats and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes.

2. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter.

3. Dish into 4 bowls and drizzle a little honey on top of each.

Makes about 4 servings.

Avocado Egg Salad Wrap

I love avocados. Maybe it’s from growing up in Southern California, or maybe it’s just because they’re amazing. Because seriously, they are. I add avocados to anything I can – including egg salad!

avocado egg salad spinach lime wrap

I’ve made this delicious wrap a few times now, and it’s definitely going into the lunch rotation, especially for those hot summer days coming (hopefully!) soon!

its good for you I made this on a whole wheat tortilla, so you get your fiber from the whole grains. And then you have the healthy fats from the avocado, all the amazing goodness of spinach, and the protein from the eggs!

The first thing you’ll need to do is hard boil the eggs. You’ll want to do this ahead of time – warm eggs aren’t great for egg salad. You can even do this several days ahead of time, and just keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to use them. Just put the eggs in a pot with enough water to cover them, put the pot on the stove over medium-high heat, and once it reaches a boil, boil them for 15 minutes. Then dump the hot water, rinse them in cool water, and stick them in the fridge.

When you’re ready to make your egg salad, cut up your avocado.

time saverTo make the avocado slicing go a little faster, cut all the way around the avocado and twist open. Pull out the pit. Then just quickly cut into the avocado flesh, making squares.

how to cut an avocado 1

Then just hold the avocado half in your hand, using your fingers to gently push the avocado meat up and out.

how to cut an avocado 2

Most of the avocado chunks should just fall right out. Turn the skin inside out and use your fingers to loosen any remaining pieces from the peel.

how to cut an avocado 3

To make the egg salad, put the peeled hard boiled eggs and the avocado chunks into a medium bowl. With a fork, roughly mash them together until it reaches the desired consistency – depending on how chunky or smooth you like your egg salad.

avocado egg salad 2

Then squeeze in the lime juice, tear in some cilantro, and toss in a few pinches of salt and pepper, and mix it all up.

avocado egg salad 3

On a whole wheat tortilla (or other wrap of your choice), lay out a bed of spinach. Scoop 1/4 of the egg mixture on top of the spinach.

avocado egg salad wrap 4

Wrap it up like a burrito, and enjoy!

Avocado Egg Salad Wraps

4 hard boiled eggs
1 avocado
1 lime
1 tbsp roughly chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup + spinach
4 whole wheat tortillas (or other wraps)

1. Peel the hardboiled eggs and place them in a medium bowl. Cut up the avocado and add it to the bowl. Roughly mash with a fork until it reaches the desired consistency.

2. Squeeze in the juice from the lime. Add the cilantro, salt, and pepper, and mix well.

3. On each tortilla, make a bed of spinach leaves (as much or little as you want). Scoop 1/4 of the egg mixture on top of the spinach on each tortilla. Fold up the bottom, wrap it up, and enjoy!

Makes 4 wraps

change it upAdd some crumbled feta or fresh salsa for a different taste!

Honey Orange Bran Muffins

A bran muffin that doesn’t taste like cardboard? Yes, it’s possible. And delicious. And healthy.

honey orange blackberry bran muffins 1

A few things I love about these muffins:

1. They’re delicious! Seriously, I want to eat them all the time.

2. My little boy loves to help me make them. He stirs up all the dry ingredients, and usually doesn’t even spill much because we use a giant bowl!

3. its good for youThey’re actually pretty good for you! They have a fair amount of protein from the Greek yogurt and the eggs, plus the whole grains which have some protein. And they’re made with whole grains! Lots of fiber and other goodness! There’s very little processed sugar because the honey and orange zest give them flavor and sweetness. Oh, and honey is also super good for you!

4. They’re pretty quick to make, and then you have breakfast/snacks for several days. They also freeze pretty well, so you could make a big batch and freeze them, and then just pop them a few in the toaster oven as needed.

orange honey blackberry whole wheat bran muffins

Okay, done with my rant about why these muffins are great. On to how to make them:

The first thing you’ll want to do is zest an orange. You can use a box grater, a citrus zester, or this awesome grater I got from Ikea. (sorry for the random product shout out, but seriously, it’s grate. I mean great.)

honey orange bran muffins recipe 2

A little tip for zesting: Try not to push too hard. You don’t want to get too much of the lighter pulpy part under the peel because it tends to be more bitter.

Next you’ll mix all the dry ingredients – oat bran, whole wheat flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt – in a large bowl. Mix the wet ingredients – yogurt, eggs, vanilla, oil, honey, and orange zest – in a smaller bowl.

honey orange bran muffins recipe 1

Pour the wet ingredients into the larger bowl with the dry ingredients, and mix together with a wooden spoon. Just mix until all the dry ingredients are wet – don’t over mix or mix too vigorously. (I don’t let my two-year-old do this part.)

honey orange bran muffins recipe 3

(Not quite mixed enough yet)

If you’re adding any fruit, gently fold it in. Then spoon the batter into a muffin pan lined with paper liners. Fill each one about 2/3 full.

honey orange bran muffins recipe 4

Bake in the oven at 375 for 12-15 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes in the muffin pan, then move to a cooling rack.

honey orange bran muffins 1

Honey Orange Bran Muffins

Ingredients:

1 cup oat bran
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/4 cup honey
zest of 1 orange (1-2 Tbsp)

1. Preheat oven to 375. Mix bran, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.

2. Mix yogurt, oil, vanilla, eggs, honey, and orange zest in a smaller bowl.

3. Gently fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Mix with a wooden spoon until just combined, and all dry ingredients are wet. (If you’re adding any fruit, add it now.)

4. Spoon batter into a muffin pan with paper liners, filling each about 2/3 full. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Remove from oven, and let cool a few minutes before moving to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Yield: About 1 dozen muffins.

honey orange blackberry bran muffins

change it upMix in 1 cup of blackberries or blueberries, 1/2 cup craisins, or 1 tsp cloves for variety! (If you add 1 cup of fruit, you will get about 18 muffins instead of 12.)

Green Hummus

Have any of you seen the Brian Regan bit about how cranberries are getting into everything? Well, first of all, it’s pretty funny, and second, I’m kinda feeling that way about spinach. But you know, I’m ok with spinach getting into everything. It’s so good for you, and it’s one of the few vegetables I can sneak into my two-year-old’s diet.

green spinach hummus

This recipe came from the week we took our son off dairy to see if that was the cause of some tummy troubles. And let me tell you, taking a kid off diary whose favorite food is cheese is quite a task! I had to get pretty creative, especially getting protein and calcium into him. Hence the green hummus.

  •     its good for you Chickpeas have lots of protein (and almost no saturated fat), and spinach has lots of calcium (and about           every other vitamin you can think of)!

And it was also really tasty, really healthy, really easy to make, and my little guy gobbled up his “green sauce” and asked for more!

One other thing that’s nice about this recipe – in addition to being very healthy and fresh, it’s also dairy-free, gluten-free, and soy-free, which I know is a big issue for a lot of people.

Oh, and did I mention that it’s super fast and easy to make? Well, it is! All you have to do is dump all the ingredients in a blender or food processor! I didn’t even measure the spinach – I just put the other ingredients in first, and then filled it with as much spinach as I could.

green spinach hummus recipe 1

green spinach hummus recipe

Just blend it all up, scraping down the sides occasionally. If it’s too thick/dry, add a tablespoon or two of water.

Green Hummus

Ingredients:
1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) (I used low-sodium)
2 Tbsp lime juice (about 1 lime)
2 Tbsp tahini or sesame seeds
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1-2 cups spinach leaves
salt and pepper to taste
water (if needed)

1. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender. (I didn’t measure the spinach, I basically just filled the rest of the food processor with as much as would fit.)

2. Blend all ingredients until smooth, stopping and scraping down the sides as needed. If it seems too thick, add a little water for a smoother consistency.

3. Serve with pita chips, veggie chips, crackers, vegetables, etc.

green spinach hummus 2

change it upYou could also add roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, a clove of garlic, or fresh cilantro for a little variety.