Breads · Breakfast

Health(ier) Pancakes

I love pancakes, but hey are not the healthiest meal choice. All that flour, fried and covered in a sugary sauce… really, I don’t see a problem with this at all! Alas, my waistline, doctor, nutritionist and work-out guru all tell me that as far as breakfast choices go, pancakes suck.

But every few months, I get such a craving for them that I can think of nothing else, so they must be made!! And consumed . With great gusto!! Sunday was that day!

I had recently seen my nutritionist, causing me to have a twinge of guilt as I considered pancakes for breakfast. So, I decided to compromise. Isn’t that what life is all about, anyway? I had a recipe for normal pancakes, and started adding and subtracting ingredients until I came up with what I feel is a healthier option than plain old white flour pancakes.

I think these are flavourful, filling and hey, I’m no nutritionist, but I believe in my heart that they are the healthier pancake I was looking for. I would never turn down a regular pancake, but if given a choice, I would choose these.

Health(ier) Pancakes with Brown Sugar Syrup and Oranges

Pancake day only happens about once every 6 months, so naturally, a store bought version of Pancake Syrup is missing from our pantry. Not to worry. I grew up on a farm and my Mom used to make, a brown sugar syrup whenever we ran out of Rogers Golden Syrup. Its very good, and really, the same ingredients as any name brand syrup, minus any chemicals or preservatives.

These take a bit longer to cook than regular white flour ones so if you find them burning before they are ready to flip, reduce the heat and put a lid on the pan. Cook as you normally would, flipping after the top becomes less shiny and bubbles start to push their way to the surface. This will keep them fluffy and prevent burning.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup quick cooking oats (see cooks notes)
1 Tablespoon ground flax
3 Tablespoons (packed) brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons plain greek yogurt
3/4 cup sour milk (or just regular milk)
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 Tablespoons orange juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 Tablespoons Sunflower, canola or safflower oil
Additional oil for frying
Diced orange sections for serving
Butter for serving

Whisk flour, oats, flax, brown sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in centre.

In a smaller bowl, whisk the egg, yogurt, milk, orange zest, cinnamon and oil until well blended. Pour into the flour mixture and stir gently until just combined. There will be some lumps, that is okay. Let mixture stand for 10 minutes, while you assemble the syrup. See below.

Heat pan over medium high heat, lightly brush with oil. For 4″ pancakes pour 1/3 cup batter into pan for each pancake (you should be able to fit 2 per batch into your pan) and cook until bubbles form on top & bottom is lightly browned (reduce heat and see paragraph 4 above if they are burning on the bottom). {For larger pancakes, use 1/2 – 2/3c of batter and make only 1 at a time} Flip and continue cooking until pancake springs back when lightly touched. About 1 minute. Transfer to plate in oven to keep warm. Continue with remaining batter. You should end up with 7 or 8 of the 4″ pancakes and about 4 of the larger ones. Serve with Brown Sugar Syrup and butter.

BROWN SUGAR SYRUP

Brown Sugar Syrup

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 orange slice
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer or boil slowly while you cook the pancakes. Remove from heat, take out the orange slice with tongs, transfer to serving container and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.

COOKS NOTES: to make quick cooking oats from whole old-fashioned, pulse a couple of times in the food processor.

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Breakfast

Overnight Oats with Chia and Strawberry ‘Compote’

Overnight Oats with Chia and Strawberry 'Compote'
Overnight Oats with Chia and Strawberry ‘Compote’

This is great for those weekday mornings when you want something substantial but don’t have time to stand over a stove. You can make these up to 2 days ahead. Keep an eye on your microwave. Time will vary depending on strength of your microwave.

1 cup old fashioned oats
2 cups milk (whole, skim, almond, whatever kind you like)
1 cup frozen strawberries, roughly chopped
1 Tablespoon brown sugar (plus more for serving)
2 Tablespoons chia seeds
1 banana, sliced

Combine oats and milk in non-reactive container, stir well and place in fridge overnight.

Put strawberries and sugar in microwave safe bowl and microwave at medium for 1 – 2 minutes, stopping and stirring halfway thru.

Stir chia seeds into soaked oats and divide between 2 bowls. Spoon compote over oats, top with sliced banana and serve.

Beverages · Breakfast

De-Constructed Smoothie

I am going to take an unpopular stance today.  I am well aware that everyone, from my friends and family, celebrity chefs to food magazines have embraced the smoothie craze.   Invented by sellers of blenders and diet lifestyles, the world has embraced smoothies as part of an apparently healthy and nutritious diet.

I am also aware that by now, smoothie lovers far and wide have stopped reading this post and moved on to something more supportive of their dietary choices.   To those very few of you who are still reading, thank you!!

Who doesn’t remember their first Nutri-bullet and that smug, oh-so-healthy feeling we all got from sipping that drink in our cars as we battled rush hour traffic in our morning commute?  Honestly, until Nutri-bullet came along, I had no idea that I was supposed to feel so stressed in the mornings that I needed to eat in my car.  I had been in the habit of taking 10 minutes of calm for myself at my own kitchen table to enjoy a light breakfast before the days craziness began.  But, clearly, that was incorrect, so I changed my routine  to fit society expectations.

So, like (seemingly) everyone else,  I started making smoothies, often packing an entire days worth of fruits and or veggies into a single serving.  Wow!!   I thought, thinking how health-smart I was.  After a certain length of time, I began to wonder…’I just drank a serving of yogurt, half cup of apple juice, 1 banana and 1/2 cup of mixed berries.  More  than I would have eaten at a regular breakfast, yet  I was  starving by 9:30 or 10am.   And, why haven’t I lost any weight?

I started doing some research .  Turns out, smoothies are NOT the health elixir that we have been led to believe.   In fact, they can be harmful to your health.

To quote from Colin Campbell from the Centre for Nutrition Studies   “you will consume more calories later because the liquefied energy doesn’t satisfy your appetite as well as the solid food[1]. In addition, you may be changing the rate and effect of nutrient digestion in important ways.”

Of course, the occasional smoothie in your life isn’t going to harm you, but before you embark on a smoothie based weight loss plan, Fitness Magazine.com offers 8 reasons NOT to do this,  including potential digestive issues and the increased risk of developing gallstones because of your liquid diet.

If you add juice to your smoothie for “extra nutrition”,  you should know that some juices on the market contain up to 72 grams of carbohydrates and 60 grams per serving. That’s comparable to about five slices of white bread—or a 20-ounce sugar-filled soda. Meanwhile, yogurt- or sherbet-heavy smoothies are little more than 600-plus-calorie messes with more carbs and sugar than you will find in not one but two candy bars.

As I continued to research this, I found that most smoothie pushers were selling something:  blenders, juicers, protein powders to give your smoothie more staying power, diet plans with tall, fit blonde models as their spokesperson and horror of horrors, even Gordon Ramsay, who was the first I heard to speak out against smoothies is now publishing recipes for them.    Sigh…whatever brings in the bucks, right?

In reality, smoothies are pre-digested food.  Once you have put all those fruits and veggies thru your blender, you have destroyed the fibre content, altered the nutrients and basically given your stomach nothing to do but forward all that sugar directly into your system.  No wonder we all feel so energized after downing one.

I could rail on for days against the smoothie, but I think you get my point:  FOOD YOU ACTUALLY HAVE TO CHEW IS HEALTHIER.   If you are trying to loose weight, chewing your food is an excellent place to start.   For your own sake, please,  ditch your blender at least some times, and layer those ingredients into an 8 oz glass instead.

 

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De-Constructed Smoothie

1/4 cup homemade or pro-biotic yogurt (unsweetened)

3 Tablespoons coconut granola

1 Teaspoon chia seeds

1 teaspoon ground flax

1/2 banana, sliced

4 frozen strawberries, diced

1 teaspoon liquid honey (unfiltered if available)

Layer first 7 ingredients attractively into a glass.  Top with honey.  Sit down at your table and take 5 minutes to really taste your food.  I think you will enjoy it.

Serves 1

Breakfast · eggs

Tortilla Española with Chorizo and Caramelized Onions

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Cut into small cubes and served at room temperature, this is a Spanish Tapa.   It is also makes a pretty good breakfast .

The time it takes to caramelize the onions is time well spent.  Caramelizing brings out the sweet side of the onion and takes the flavour to a whole new level.

Makes 36 appetizers or 4 breakfast servings.

 

Tortilla Española

with Chorizo and Caramelized Onions

 

3 yellow onions, peeled, cut in half and thinly sliced crosswise

2 Tablespoons cooking oil

2 chorizo sausages, cut into 1/2″ dice

6 eggs

salt and pepper

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

In frying pan over medium-low heat, heat the oil and add the onions.  Cover and cook 10 minutes, until onion is translucent.  Reduce heat to very low, replace the cover and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is golden in colour and very soft, about 20 minutes more.   Transfer onions to bowl, set aside to cool.

Pre-heat oven to 350F.

Spray a 9″ baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside.

Add chorizo to same pan, increase heat to medium high and cook about 5 minutes, stirring often until caramelized and cooked through.  Transfer to bowl with onions to cool until cool enough to add to eggs without cooking them.

Beat the eggs until fluffy, season with salt and pepper.  Add the onions, chorizo and the chopped cilantro and mix well.

Pour into prepared baking dish and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until cooked in the centre.

Let sit 15 minutes before cutting.

If serving as a tapa or appetizer, cut into squares or triangles and serve at room temperature.

If serving as a breakfast item, cut into 4 pieces and serve warm.

COOKS NOTE:   For a tapas party, this can be made a day in advance and refrigerated overnight.  Let stand about 30 minutes to bring to room temperature before serving.

Original Source: Tapas Faciles – Tortilla de Chorizo y Cebolla Caramelizada.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast · eggs

Poblano – Cheese Breakfast Casserole

I seriously debated about posting this recipe.  Not because it doesn’t taste good – it does – but because of the extra steps needed to roast and peel the poblano.   (Poblanos can be roasted an peeled the day before, so you can have everything ready when you are ready to assemble the dish, )

Some of you want to get the cooking out of the way as quickly as possible.  Others of you don’t mind a few extra steps as long as it results in a superior dish.

So, here is the compromise:  those of you who don’t have the time to be roasting and peeling the peppers, just dice them. The dish will still be good,  but with a very forward chili flavour.   Those who do have the extra time, will be rewarded with a deeper, milder poblano flavour and a silky textured casserole that is a company-worthy brunch dish.

Serves 4, easily doubled

Poblano – Cheese Breakfast Casserole

 

5 medium Poblano Chilis roasted, peeled, stems and seeds removed

3/4  cup whole milk

1 Tablespoon flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

freshly ground pepper

5 eggs

1 cup grated Manchego or Monterey Jack cheese

non stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350F.

Whisk together milk, eggs, flour, salt and pepper until well blended and foamy.

Tear poblanos into 2″ wide strips.

Spray a 9 x 9″ baking pan with cooking spray and place half the poblano strips on the bottom of the pan.

Sprinkle half the cheese over top.  Top with remaining poblanos, then sprinkle remaining cheese over the poblanos.

Gently pour egg mixture in.

Place the dish in 350F oven and bake about 45 minutes, until eggs are beginning to set.  Increase temperature to 400F for about 10 minutes, until eggs are fully cooked and top is beginning to brown.

Remove from oven, let rest 15 minutes before slicing.  Serves 4.

 

COOKS NOTES:

-If doubling, use a 9×13″ pan.

-Poblanos can be roasted an peeled the day before,

 

Breakfast

Scrambled Eggs with Goat Cheese, Tomato, Red Onion and Mint

I made this for brunch this past Sunday.  The mint intrigued me, and I’m glad this caught my eye.

Probably not what you want for a 7am breakfast, but when the day has started to unfold a bit, after you have had your second cup of coffee and you are looking forward to a relaxing afternoon, this fits the bill.

The mint and just the barest spritz of fresh lemon juice keeps the goat cheese from overpowering this dish.

Serves 2

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Scrambled Eggs with Goat Cheese,

Tomato, Red Onion and Mint

 

1 Tablespoon butter

4 large eggs

1 roma tomato, seeded and chopped into small pieces

2 Tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled

3 Tablespoons red onion, finely chopped

3 Tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped (divided)

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 lemon wedge

1 cucumber, thinly sliced

2 radishes, thinly sliced

Whisk eggs, tomato, goat cheese, red onion, and 2 Tablespoons of the mint, salt and pepper together in large bowl until well blended.

Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat.  Once the butter has stopped foaming, pour the egg mixture into the pan.

Cook eggs without stirring for 2 minutes, then with a rubber spatula, gently stir and turn eggs over to complete cooking.  About 1 minute, for a softly cooked scramble.

Divide between 2 plates, spritz lightly with lemon wedge and sprinkle remaining mint over top.  Garnish the plates with the radishes and cucumber and serve.

The recipe that inspired this was originally published in Bon Appetite December 2000 and can be found here.

 

 

 

 

Breakfast

Avocado Toast

It might actually be my favourite breakfast!    Whole grain bread, avocado, a little labneh or plain yogurt, a drizzle of olive or Chile oil, depending on how spicy you like to start your day, salt, pepper, tomatoes & radishes alongside.  Maybe some fruit.  I tell you, life just feels so darn perfect when I am eating avocado toast.

 

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