Category Archives: Breakfast Foods

Vanilla Bean & Granola Meal Replacement Bars Plus Why I Stomped on My Baking

Crunch, crunch, crunch…and I ate a bunch! (But over several days, obvs!)

Guess what I did last weekend? I made meal replacement bars for my husband! He likes to grab a bar to go for breakfast when he’s in a hurry, but I know there are healthier breakfasts than Slimfast bars (*shudder*), so I finally got him to agree to eat them if I made them!

I used vanilla bean whey protein powder, as well as my homemade granola (using home-dehydrated strawberries instead of dried cranberries), along with the last of the psyllium powder I bought months ago at the behest of my doctor, and added in some ground flax seed too. I used egg whites to increase the stickiness of the ingredients without adding extra sugar (which most granola bar recipes use), plus it increases the protein in the recipe. The combination of fibre and protein should keep him full from breakfast to lunch. And, no preservatives! Winning!

The protein comes from the protein powder, the oats (they have a surprising amount of protein!), the egg whites, and the seeds. Diverse sources of protein, plus some omega fatty acids in the form of flax seeds, combined with lots of plant fibre, means a healthy breakfast that packs a winning punch!

Am so pleased with myself for developing this recipe!

Vanilla Bean & Granola Meal Replacement Bars

  • 4 c. homemade granola
  • 32 g. vanilla bean protein powder (I used a whey based protein, as I don’t digest pea protein well)
  • 1/2 c. ground flax seed
  • 1/2 c. psyllium powder
  • 1/4 c. oat flour (i.e. ground oats)
  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 2 egg whites, lightly whipped
  • 1/4 c. oil

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.

Line a 9×9 baking tray with parchment paper. Pour mixture into lined tray. Place more parchment paper on top, and press an 8×8 tray on top of that. Really press on it (I admit to standing on it on one foot). This smushes the mixture into a compact form, and helps the ingredients bind together so that the bars are less likely to crumble.

Bake in a 325 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly golden on top. Let cool in pan. Once cool, remove from pan, place on a cutting board, and cut into bars. Et voila — meal replacement bars!

Rows of crispy, hearty, fruit and seed flecked bars!

I tried to figure out how to eliminate the honey, but all the granola bar recipes I researched use it as a binding agent. I did use a much smaller amount than most recipes, and relied on the flax seed powder, oat flour, and egg whites to bind the ingredients together.

Personally, I’m more of a chocolate than a vanilla person, so had I made them for me, I probably would have dunked them in chocolate, in addition to adding in chocolate chips. I left them out in this recipe, as the DH isn’t a chocolate person (who knew they existed?). If you made these with chocolate chips, let me know what you think!

Next Post: Erm…food. A post about food. Something yummy, at any rate!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday!

PB & J Smoothie: Super-Healthy Can Also Be Super-Tasty!

Peanut Butter and Jam Smoothie — yum-city!

Every now and then I go on a healthy food/nutrient kick! I mean, I love sugar (witness the number of baked goods on this site), but I also love health and being healthy. So I try to balance out my sugar intake with lots of leafy greens, omega fatty acid oils, and dairy and plant protein. However, my requirement for this is that the resultant recipe has to taste great! And I think I’ve hit it out of the park with this recipe for a PB &  J Smoothie!

Who doesn’t like peanut butter and jam? Obviously, you can substitute in different ingredients like sun butter or almond butter, but the fact remains that if you make and drink this smoothie, you’re getting a meal with a fruit, two different types of vegetables, two different types of protein (dairy and plant), as well as a nice helping of fibre and omega fatty acids. I feel healthier already, just typing that!

Enough with the talking, let’s make the smoothie!

Healthy PB & J in Smoothie Form

  • 1/2 c. yoghurt
  • 3 tbsp. strawberry jam
  • 4 ice cubes
  • 1/2 c. frozen kale
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1/4 c. pear juice
  • 1 tbsp. dehydrated powdered broccoli (or greens powder)
  • 1 tbsp. ground flax seed
  • 1 tbsp. psyllium powder
 Blend together, and enjoy! (Yup, it’s that easy!)

Looking healthy and ready to be blended!

Being vegetarian, I need to work a bit harder than my husband to get my daily requirement of protein in, and this smoothie is a big help with that. Plus, the fibre content helps with my IBS issues. (TMI? Eh.) I keep frozen bananas and kale in my freezer as a matter of course, and since I always have some homemade fruit jam in the fridge along with some homemade yoghurt and some peanut butter, this smoothie is super-easy and quick to pull together!

Not into all things strawberry? Check out my antioxidant smoothie recipe! More health in tasty, drinkable form!
Next Post: Apple Cinnamon Pancakes and the Birth of a Recipe

Purely Pear Sauce and The Joys of Eating In Bed

Pear sauce made with Bartlett pears…but pictured with Bosc pears. Because I ate all the Bartletts.

As I type this, I’m eating breakfast in bed. My breakfast? Freshly made pear sauce — fragrant and smooth and delicately-flavoured and just scrumptious! I’m spooning it up straight out of the jar, because I plan on eating the entire thing! Fresh pear sauce is so yummy. It’s just like applesauce, but…pear.

And have I mentioned how easy it is to make? So. Incredibly. Easy.

Pears were on sale this week and last week, so I had the DH buy lots so that I could make lots. I like to stir it into my homemade yoghurt sometimes, to sweeten it slightly, and add some fruit and fibre.

Want to make some yourself? Let’s! Be prepared though, it’s jaw-droppingly easy.

Purely Pear Sauce

Ingredients:

  • a bag of ripe pears

Peel pears, and quarter them. Remove pits and stems. Place in a pan over medium heat. The pears will release enough liquid that they shouldn’t stick to the pan, but be sure to stir it occasionally. Once the pears are mushy and appear to be cooked through, you can either mash them with a potato masher, use a stick blender to blend them in the pot, or blend them in a kitchen blender. And…done!

I know it seems too easy to be true — I was surprised myself. Even the DH didn’t believe the sauce only contained pears; he thought for sure that I had added in sugar. Nope! It’s Purely Pear Sauce!

I like to use ripe Bartlett pears for this sauce, and personally, I leave the skins on so that I get some extra fibre (and then just make sure to blend it extra well at the end). You can use Bosc pears as well (or any pear, really) but it will be a slightly different texture (a tad more grainy) and taste. That said, eh, use what you want! Life is too short to always follow the recipe. Tee hee!

Next Post: I made a great pea soup flavoured with ham bits for the DH. Should I post that? I think so! Or maybe something sweet. Mmm…I sure do love my baked goods!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday, and Happiness is Homemade!

Short-Cut Cinnamon Buns, Because Yummy Shouldn’t Be Laborious

Too good to eat only one. And made so quickly, too!

Cinnamon Buns! I love them. I eat them. I used to hate making them, because of the long process: make the dough, let the dough rise, punch it down, let it rise again, roll it out, roll it up, cut it and let it rise, and fiiiiiiinallly bake it and eat it. And that’s not including all the steps for the filling. Ugh. Am tired just thinking about it. Generally, if I wanted cinnamon buns, I had to make them in the morning for dessert in the evening, or at the very least, make them the night before.

But no more!

I came up with a super-easy short-cut version! In my version, there’s only one rising of the cinnamon buns before baking, and frankly, you *could* skip that too (the buns would just be much more dense and not as fluffy).

The secret?

Start with my Easiest Pizza Dough in the History of Ever! Then you spread cinnamon butter all over it, roll it up, pop it in a pan to rise (only 1x!), and bake it. I can start these before dinner and have them for dessert! 

Short-Cut Cinnamon Buns

  • 1 batch pizza dough
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened to just beyond room temperature

Make the dough. Let it rest at least 10 minutes before rolling it out into a lasagna pan sized rectangle.

Mix softened butter with sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla until it is properly mixed and essentially a cinnamon spread. Spread butter on rolled out dough.

Roll up dough, length-wise. Use dental floss to cut roll into two inch slices (see technique below).

Place in a lasagna pan and let rise in a warm place until the dough has expanded and the side of the buns are sticking together.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Let sit until cool. If you like icing, mix up some icing (icing sugar, milk, vanilla extract, cream cheese is optional) and drizzle on top. Eat and enjoy the sticky, yummy, cinnamon buns!

Don’t they look yummy! (Spoiler alert: they ARE yummy!)

KITCHEN HACK

How to cut delicate doughs (or soft cheeses)? With dental floss! Yup, you read that right! You slide the thread underneath the dough/cheese and cross the end of the string overtop, and then pull. It slices easily and without compressing the dough or cheese all flat. I first did this when I made swiss rolls as a teenager, and it is such an easy technique to get perfect slices! Obviously, you don’t use flavoured floss, and the thinner the floss, the better. Try it out yourself!

KITCHEN HACK #2

Want to make fluffier cinnamon buns? Add in a tablespoon of corn starch to the dough when you’re making it, as in this recipe for Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns. The corn starch takes up space without sticking to itself as flour does, which makes the dough that much more tender. This technique is good for all sorts of baked goods!

But back to my cinnamon buns. You could make these cinnamon buns taller and more like commercial buns if you make them in a 9×9 pan as opposed to a lasagna pan, and cut them in 4 inch buns (i.e. taller). Personally, I’m happy with the small buns, because…portion control. Of course, that just means that I need to eat two servings, amirite?

Next Post: A Memories of Meals Past post, combined with a Salads I Have Known and Loved post. That’s right, we’re about to get all ancient grains up in this blog!

Linking up at Meal Plan Monday, Nifty Thrifty SundayClever Chicks Blog Hop, The Art of Homemaking, and Happiness is Homemade!

Easy Slow-Cooker Yoghurt & Good Gut Health

A protein-filled snack: Greek-style yoghurt, with walnuts and honey.

Back in the 70’s, when I was but a twinkle in my dad’s eye, my parents lived on the beautiful east coast of Canada, in the province of Newfoundland. Despite working as an engineer, my dad dreamt of being an entrepreneur. My mother made delicious homemade yoghurt, so *lightbulb*, my dad thought this could be the start of a yoghurt business empire. He called up a local hospital and asked them if they would be interested in buying yoghurt for their patients, yoghurt being a health food and all.

“Yoghurt?” asked the dietician, “Isn’t that made from bacteria? Doesn’t that stuff make you sick?”

Alas, apparently the granola-eating, Birkenstock-wearing hippies that the 70’s are known for, had yet to infiltrate Newfoundland. My dad’s future yoghurt empire was shot down by a bacteria-wary dietician, intent on protecting his patients from live cultures.

But you all know better, right? Yoghurt is the stuff of gut dreams! Those live cultures are populating your gut with healthy bacteria, helping you fight off gastrointestinal nastiness.

And if that doesn’t convince you to make your own yoghurt, well, what about if I tell you that it’s delicious? Easy, inexpensive, healthy, AND delicious! What more could a foodie ask for?

EASY-PEASY SLOW-COOKER YOGHURT

  • 4 l. milk
  • 1/2 c. yoghurt with live cultures (the “live cultures” bit is crucial. Make sure the container has that labeling.)
  • 2 tbsp. vanilla extract

Heat milk until close to 180 degrees. (I measured it using a candy thermometer.) Be careful though, when it gets close to 180 degrees, it’s easy to forget about it and let it start boiling — which means a scorched pot. Personally, as long as the temperature is between 150 and 180 degrees, I think it’s all good. Basically, heating the milk means that you’re changing the structure of the proteins, which is necessary for the milk to be cultured into yoghurt.

Let milk cool until it reaches 120 degrees, and pour into a slow cooker. Let the mixture cool in the slow cooker until it reaches 110 degrees, and whisk in 1/2 c. of yoghurt and the vanilla extract. The heat of the cooling milk will heat up the ceramic insert in the slow cooker; this helps keep the cultures in the mixture at the ideal temperature for growing and turning that milk into yoghurt. By the way, I’ve forgotten to add the vanilla extract at times, and it doesn’t make much of a difference if you’re going to be stirring in jam anyway, but if you plan to eat it plain, definitely add the extract!

Wrap the entire slow-cooker in several towels, and leave for at least 12 hours (overnight works for me).  So, you’re not actually using the slow-cooker to cook anything; you’re using it as a heat-retaining receptable. Some people make yoghurt by wrapping a pot of milk in a heating pad, some people make hot boxes for their yoghurt. Me? An unplugged slow-cooker, a few towels, and a good nights sleep mean that I wake up to freshly cultured yoghurt!

When you open up your slow-cooker after 12 hours, you should be able to see that there is a clear, yellowish liquid around the edges of the yoghurt. That’s the whey, and can be drained off to be used in baking or for adding protein to smoothies, or just mix it back into the yoghurt! This yoghurt will be somewhat thin, depending on whether or not you drain off the whey. But this is what real yoghurt looks like, when there’s no gelatin added in like commercial yoghurt has!

That curdle, tho!

That curdle, tho!

GREEK-STYLE YOGHURT

To make thick, luscious Greek-style yoghurt, just drain the whey from the yoghurt until the desired thickness is reached. To do so, place a sieve over a bowl, and place some cheesecloth or a clean cotton dishtowel over the sieve. Pour the yoghurt into the sieve and let sit in the fridge for a few hours. Bam! Greek yoghurt, baby!

LACTOSE-INTOLERANT? HAVE NO FEAR!

I think I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I’m lactose-intolerant. I can eat food with lactose, but I try to reduce it as much as possible, to reduce my stomach discomfort as much as possible (Except for pizza. For pizza, I will periodically suffer!). The good news is that with this homemade yoghurt, you can make it almost lactose-free! How? Just let the yoghurt incubate for 24 hours as opposed to 12. It will be more sour (because the sugar — i.e. lactose — will have been eaten up by the good bacteria), but hey, less lactose!

A protein-filled snack: Greek-style yoghurt, with walnuts and honey.

A protein-filled snack: Greek-style yoghurt, with walnuts and honey.

I love eating this yoghurt mixed up with my clean-eating cranberry granola, or with some homemade jam to sweeten it up. Or sprinkled with walnuts and honey! I do love yoghurt…and so does my gut!

Next Post: Lentil sprouts! Also easy, also delicious. Plus, it’s fun to watch them grow!

Linking up at Meal-Plan Monday! And again!