Steel-Cut Muesli, California-Style

While I’m proud of my Floridian heritage (haha), there’s no doubt that my heart belongs on the west coast. I’m completely in LOVE with the food culture in my new California home. The most gorgeous produce is both cheap and plentiful. The bulk bins overfloweth with every healthy ingredient. It’s really locavorism at its finest.

Since we’ve already been talking about planning ahead for our meals, let’s convert all those good vibrations into a make-ahead breakfast fit for a California king!

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Polenta-Crusted Asparagus and Feta Quiche (Gluten-Free!)

Most of the time when I make a baked egg dish, it’s a frittata. Crustless and effortless! I love them, and they’re such an easy way to pack in protein and veggies… but sometimes I have to break it up with something just a little bit more special. Pinkies up, folks: it’s quiche time!

This recipe was posted and revisited recently on a blog that inspires me CONSTANTLY, Take A Megabite. I couldn’t pull out my grocery list fast enough – I mean, cheesy veggie-filled quiche in a polenta crust? You don’t have to tell me twice. After baking it, the thing was just so gorgeous and unique that I couldn’t help but whip out the camera and wax poetic about it over here. Just too good not to share!

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Morning Glory Muffins

So, I started working at a new job last week. A really dreamy job. The kind of job that makes all the years of college and grad school feel worthwhile, like life is finally coming together, and it just feels so good to be there! Over the weekend I channeled my excitement and set out to charm my new co-workers the best way I know: with baked goods. The thing is, most of my co-workers are dietitians… so I really had to bring my “A” game!

I wasn’t really familiar with Morning Glory muffins until recently, but I like the idea of a really busy treat loaded with a variety of healthy ingredients to keep things interesting. There are a million variations for add-ins; you could really use whatever nuts and dried fruit you have in the pantry, but I thought the traditional carrot shreds would be complimented nicely by dates, pecans and coconut. Some recipes include grated apple, which sounds good too, but I decided to replace it with crushed pineapple to further play on the carrot-cake flavors.

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Banana Jam & Hazelnut Sticky Buns

For those of you who aren’t already convinced to try a batch of my banana jam, today I’m bringing out the big guns. This recipe brings together all the best parts of cinnamon rolls and nutty banana bread, all in one sticky breakfast bun package. These are equally at home as a component of an epic brunch party spread, or simply on their own with a pot of hot coffee or tea, on a leisurely Saturday morning just because you love whoever you live with. Even if you live by yourself – you still gotta show yourself some love!

And really, this is a recipe for showing yourself some love on both ends of the spectrum. The kind of love that recognizes when it’s time to treat yo self, and the kind that takes care to supply your body with real nourishing ingredients. You get to enjoy a delicate texture while still feeling good about getting your whole grains, courtesy of my favorite whole-wheat pastry flour. Toasted hazelnuts take it to the next level of Special Brunchiness, although you can easily substitute almonds, walnuts, pecans, or whatever else you like; either way, you get an abundance of healthy fats.

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Banana Jam

You’re looking at a luxurious breakfast, fragrant with flavors of the tropics. If you want to close your eyes and feel transported to a sunny veranda, I recommend this recipe as a starting point. You can almost feel the ocean breeze, and while it’s distinctly tropical, I can’t tell you if you’re in the Caribbean, southeast Asia, or on a Pacific island… that’s up to your imagination, and the flavors you choose to pair with it.

In addition to offering a vacation in a jar, this is also a recipe for those times when your bananas are browning faster than you can handle. I didn’t know that banana jam was even a thing until a friend from my RD program enlightened me, and I am so glad she did. If I end up with overripe bananas, I don’t often muster up the enthusiasm to bake banana bread. I usually just toss the neglected fruits in a freezer bag for smoothies, but I love having this easy option for a little something special.

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Steel-Cut Oat Pancakes

I have a thing for steel-cut oats. These are the coarsely chopped oat groats that cook up with a nutty flavor and chewy/creamy texture. While I’m a long-time oat devotee, I had mostly only cooked with “old fashioned” rolled oats. I was stuck on the idea that they were the only way I could be guaranteed a bowl of hot oats in three minutes flat, and was convinced that the esteemed steel-cuts were only attainable for those willing to postpone breakfast in favor of 30 minutes of tending the stove. What I know now, is that steel-cut oats are perfect for reheating – seriously, good as new! We can cook up a mega-batch, refrigerate, and supply our healthy breakfast habits for a whole week.

Of course, no man can breakfast on porridge alone… sometimes the occasion* calls for pancakes. Back when I used to buy rolled oats on the regular, I hardly ever made a batch of pancakes without throwing a couple handfuls of oats into the batter. But now that my pantry is stocked with steel-cut (which I feared could break my teeth if given the same treatment), the oat pancake fix called for some creativity.

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