Category Archives: Breakfast

Green Monster Muffins

I am a spinach monster. Over the past week, I have singlehandedly consumed an entire 1-pound container of baby spinach from Costco. Although my family does eat a lot of vegetables, none of our dinners last week required spinach, so the huge container remained untouched. I absolutely hate seeing good food go to waste, so I took it upon myself to eat it all for my lunches and snacks.

Usually I try to incorporate spinach into my meals more creatively, but since I had SO much, I ended up cramming most of it into my daily green monster smoothies. I’m sure my nutrient intake was phenomenal, but I was pretty tired of my spinach overload by the end of the week.

Yesterday, I had just a few handfuls of spinach leftover, but I felt like I would turn absolutely green if I had another smoothie. I’d been wanting to try baking with spinach, so this was the perfect opportunity. I thought about baking a savory spinach bread, but I decided a sweet one would be more interesting. After a quick search, I found a recipe for Green Monster Muffins – just like my smoothies, but in muffin form!

These are probably the healthiest muffins that I’ve ever had in my entire life. They’re made with whole wheat flour, very little oil, and lots of spinach! And they’re actually really tasty!! The muffins are slightly sweet and citrusy, and the spinach flavor is undetectable. My family didn’t love these muffins as much as I did, but at least I got them to eat their leafy greens! 🙂

Green Monster Muffins

Source: slightly adapted from The Chic Life

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup PACKED baby spinach, washed and chopped finely in a food processor
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (I used lime zest)
  • chopped walnuts for topping

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray a 12 cup muffin tin (or 24 cup mini muffin tin) with cooking spray.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda.

3. In a separate bowl, beat together egg and sugar until light. Then whisk in applesauce, chopped spinach, oil, vanilla, and lemon zest. Add in flour mixture and stir until just combined. Do not overmix.

4. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Bake in preheated oven for 14-17 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.

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Zucchini Bread

I’m one of those people who actually loves the taste of raw vegetables. This is probably going to make me sound really crazy, but I really enjoy their fresh, crispy bitterness, and I don’t like salad dressings because they just cover up the taste of the veggies! Some people gag at the thought of eating kale, beets, celery, or brussel sprouts, but I love them all! In fact, I can’t think of a single vegetable that Idislike.

Lately, I’ve been trying to incorporate even more fresh produce into my diet (as if I didn’t get enough already) because I just feel so much more energetic and healthy and clean when I eat this way. I’ve been doing this by having a green smoothie as part of my lunch every day. Smoothies are great because you don’t have to chew so much. 🙂 Usually I include a few handfuls of kale and/or spinach, a big hunk of cucumber, plain Greek yogurt or soy milk, and a half a frozen banana or apple for a little sweetness. My siblings say my smoothies taste like grass, but I think they’re delicious!

I even like vegetables in my dessert! Pumpkin, sweet potato, and carrots are some of my favorites, but I’m on a mission to incorporate a less common vegetable into a baked good. Leafy greens, perhaps? Kale cheesecake, anyone? Okay, I’m TOTALLY kidding about that one. It actually sounds really gross.

Anyways, I thought I’d start with something a little more familiar (and appetizing) – zucchini bread! This is my healthified version of a recipe I found on allrecipes. With a little less sugar, applesauce for half of the oil, and extra zucchini, it was great! I just wish that I could actually taste the squash! I love seeing all the little green flecks in the bread, so next time I think I’ll try to pack in even MORE zucchini. 🙂 

I’m off to a tea party with a mini loaf of the zucchini bread. Have a lovely weekend! 🙂

Zucchini Bread

Source: adapted from allrecipes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 1/2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8×4 inch loaf pans.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.

3. In a separate bowl, beat eggs until light and frothy. Whisk in oil, applesauce, and sugar until smooth. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in zucchini, walnuts, and raisins.

4. Divide batter between prepared loaf pans and bake in preheated oven for 60-70 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of bread comes out clean.

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Coconut Graham Cracker Bread

I’m graduated!! Although Ahra and Deborah have both moved out, and the apartment is practically empty, it hasn’t really hit me that my college years are over. Maybe I’ll start to feel it when things finally calm down. I haven’t had a free moment between spending time with my family, saying bye to friends, and cleaning out the apartment.

I’m moving out of my apartment (and leaving Cleveland) tomorrow afternoon! I packed up the majority of my stuff to put in storage in Charlottesville or take home with me for the summer to Portland, but there were still some baking ingredients left in the cupboards that needed to be used up.

I found half a bag of shredded coconut lying around, and decided that I wanted to incorporate it into a quick bread to give to my bosses on my last day at work. I actually didn’t start liking coconut until recently. Desserts like German chocolate cake or macaroons didn’t use to sound appealing to me at all, but now I LOVE them!

I also had a box of graham crackers lying around, so I decided to use those in my quick breads too. I wasn’t sure how well it would go with the coconut, but along with some cinnamon and honey, it turned out to be a yummy combo of flavors! I love it when throwing a bunch of random ingredients together turns into something delish!

This is one of the only recipes that I have ever de-healthified and de-veganized. Normally, I try to make recipes healthier by reducing fat and sugar, and using whole grains, but I had to make do with the ingredients that I had. Plus, I wasn’t sure how much my bosses would appreciate getting “health food” as a gift! 🙂

Coconut Graham Cracker Bread

Source: adapted from Sweet and Natural

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8×4 inch loaf pan.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together applesauce and graham cracker crumbs until well combined. Add egg and honey, then mix thoroughly. Alternatively stir in dry ingredients and milk until just combined, beginning and ending with flour. Fold in the shredded coconut.

4. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for about 50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes before removing.

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Homemade Granola

For the past two days, I’ve been covered from head to toe in dust! But I am finally finished organizing, packing, and cleaning, and ready to head down to Charlottesville, VA in just a few minutes! My dad and I are visiting Charlottesville for a couple of days to look at apartments and put all of my stuff in storage. So excited!

I wanted to bring along some granola to munch on during the eight-hour drive, so I tried THREE different recipes. Maple Nut Granola and Coconut Almond Granola both tasted fantastic, but I wanted a granola with more clusters. I actually don’t mind loose granola for sprinkling on yogurt or smoothies, but it’s not ideal ideal for snacking on in the car.

I’ve made granola countless times in the past, but I’ve yet to make a super crunchy, super clumpy batch. I’ve experimented with different types and amounts of sweeteners, oils, fruit purees, grains, and nuts, but I never ended up with exactly what I was looking for.

But after a granola-making marathon yesterday, I discovered the secret to clumpy granola – egg whites! The egg whites act as a binder and help the granola stick together beautifully. This granola had LOTS of clusters and awesome crunch! It’s SO addicting! I ate handful after handful after handful. Good thing I made a double batch or there wouldn’t be any left for the car ride! 🙂

Homemade Granola

Source: adapted from Wicked Good Dinner

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used almonds)
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, and dried fruit. In a separate bowl, whisk together brown sugar, maple syrup, oil, egg whites, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir, making sure all dry ingredients are well coated.

3. Pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet. Spread evenly and press down firmly into a thin, single layer with a spatula.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes until granola is golden brown and crisp around the edges. Allow to cool for 15 minutes on baking sheet before breaking into clusters. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

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Nutty Apple Spice Muffies

The world seems like SUCH a better place now that I am eating sugar again! Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I love being able to eat whatever I want and not have to restrict myself from my favorite food group! 🙂

I got a little too excited about eating sugar again though, and had way too much gelato, cheesecake, and doughnuts at a school event earlier this week. It was blissful. 🙂 The sugar high actually made me feel kind of sick afterwards, but it was worth it!

I think I will take it easy with sugar from now on, though. As much as I love sugar, I don’t want to revert back to my old habits of eating multiple servings of dessert a day or substituting dessert foods for meals altogether.

Even though Lent is over (thank goodness!), I’m still going to bake with no added sugar from time to time. I made a batch of sugar-free nutty apple spice muffies yesterday, and they were sooo yummy! I call these “muffies” because they look like cookies, but they are more like muffins in taste and texture.

I think my tastebuds have become accustomed to the taste of naturally sweetened desserts because the muffies tasted so much better to me than all the sugary treats I indulged in this week. They are addictively good. I singlehandedly devoured half the batch in less than 24 hours. Oh well, at least they’re healthy, right? 🙂

Nutty Apple Spice Muffies

Source: adapted from Kat’s Health Corner

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease two baking sheets.

2. Place walnuts, almonds, oats, and raisins in a food processor and process until a coarse meal forms. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and combine with baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.

4. Add applesauce and vanilla to dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.

5. Drop heaping tablespoons of batter onto prepared baking sheets, spacing about 1 1/2 inches apart, and flatten slightly into a cookie shape.

6. Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly browned. Cool muffies on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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Peanut Butter Banana Filled Oat Muffins

Ever since giving up sugar for Lent, I’ve been baking a lot less. I can no longer whip up a batch of my favorite chocolate chip cookies whenever I get a craving or immediately try out a new recipe I see on a blog. Well, I guess I could, but I wouldn’t be able to sample whatever I bake, and there’s no fun it that! 🙂

I’ve been searching high and low for recipes with no added sugars, and it’s been rather difficult. Many recipes don’t have any refined sugar, but still include honey, maple syrup, or molasses (all added sugars). Also, a lot of recipes call for artificial sweeteners – yuck!

Another issue with sugar-free recipes is that many of them are pretty similar. They use a lot of same ingredients such as oats, dates, raisins, and bananas, which can get a little boring. I have nothing against plain and simple desserts, but I also like a little variation in my life!

I’ve had a few baking experiments over the past couple of weeks that have produced less than stellar results, so I’ve learned not to get my hopes up when baking without added sugar. I know you don’t NEED sugar to make tasty treats, but it really does help improve the taste and texture of baked goods.

So when I saw this recipe for peanut butter filled banana muffins, I really, really hoped that they would be good. And they were! Faith claimed that they were the best muffins ever, and I have to agree that they were pretty darn spectacular.

What makes these muffins so irresistible is the amazing peanut butter and banana filling. I’m surprised that there was any left to fill the muffins – I couldn’t stop sampling it! I’ll be making these muffins again for sure, but I’ll also be whipping up batches of just the filling to snack on. I can’t get enough! 🙂

Peanut Butter Banana Filled Oat Muffins

Source: adapted from Gracefulfitness

Ingredients

For the muffins:

  • 1/2  cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup oat flour
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons whole flax seeds (I didn’t have any, so I used sunflower seeds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 medium ripe bananas
  • 1/2 plain yogurt
  • 1 large egg

For the filling:

  • 1 medium ripe banana
  • 1/4 cup salted peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 6 muffin cups.

2. In a large bowl, combine flours, oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a food processor, process bananas, yogurt, and egg until smooth. Pour mixture into dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not overmix.

4. To make the filling, blend banana, peanut butter, and vanilla in a food processor until smooth.

5. Scoop just under 1/4 cup of batter into each muffin cup. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling on center of each cup of batter. Top each muffin cup with another scant 1/4 cup batter.

6. Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes. Do not overbake. Leave muffins in pan for 5-10 minutes before removing and cooling completely on a wire rack.

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Sweet Potato Carrot Bread

One of my favorite activities is grocery shopping. It might sound crazy, but I actually think it’s quite relaxing and stress relieving! It’s just so much to fun wander up and down the aisles, inspecting every single item on the shelves. I could probably spend hours browsing the baking aisle! 🙂

Luckily, Deborah and Ahra both share my love of grocery shopping. Our Friday night actually included trips to two different grocery stores! People are always amazed that we find so much joy in grocery shopping. 🙂

In addition to the two grocery stores, Deborah and I spent the afternoon at the Westside Market with some friends. While the others went to grab some food, Deborah and I immediately headed toward the produce stands. We literally squealed in excitement upon seeing all the fresh fruits and vegetables!

We came home loaded with spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, carrots, beets, tomatoes, mushrooms, apples, oranges, bananas, and more! I also got an awesome deal on sweet potatoes – four large ones for a dollar!

I roasted two of them on Saturday morning for a carrot bread baking experiment. The orginial recipe called for bananas, but I felt that the banana flavor would be overpowering, so I used pureed sweet potatoes instead. The sweet potatoes, along with some pureed dates, added a subtle sweetness to the carrot bread, which turned out to be super yummy.

The bread was slightly underbaked (oops!), but I actually didn’t mind the slightly gooey center. The boyfriend was not a fan though, so I toasted slices of the bread on a pan over low heat for a few minutes. This was the best decision EVER. The toasted carrot bread slices were out of this world!!

I definitely ate way more than I should have, but at least this bread is healthy! Made with whole wheat flour, no added sugar, and two veggies (both great sources of vitamin A)! Just don’t mind the stick of butter in the ingredients list. 🙂

Sweet Potato Carrot Bread

Source: adapted from 101 Cookbooks

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates, finely chopped into a paste (I used my food processor)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 1/4 cup sweet potato puree
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan and line it with parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

3. Stir dates into melted butter, breaking up the dates pieces.

4. In a large bowl, combine grated carrots and sweet potato puree. Stir in date/butter mixture, breaking up any date clumps. Whisk in yogurt and eggs. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined.

5. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.

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