Breakfast Dishes and Breads

Blueberry-Banana Smoothie. With a Secret Superfood!

IMG_1006 Some folks are really into cooked greens. I’m not one of those people. Sure, greens are a superfood so I try to include them in our meals regularly, but I just don’t like them cooked. But according to this article, raw kale is actually better nutritionally than cooked kale. I can do raw kale!

David and Jonathan aren’t fans of kale, but David doesn’t mind it if he doesn’t taste it. I mix it into our salads where it isn’t noticed much, and now I learned another way to subtly add more of this superfood to our diets: Smoothies! If you look closely at this picture you might see little specs of green from the kale, but if you don’t know it’s there it goes unnoticed. David didn’t even know it was there, and NOTHING gets by him!

If you’re really worried about adding the kale, start with just a few little pieces. Over several weeks you can slowly add more and more kale until you’re using a whole, big leaf. Be sure to blend really well so you don’t have chunks of kale giving away your secret superfood ingredient!

Blueberry-Banana Smoothie

-Ingredients-

1 C. frozen blueberries 1 whole, frozen banana* 1 big leaf of kale (remove the tough stem) 3 C. kefir (or half yogurt and half milk) 2 T. honey

1. Place all ingredients in blender. Pulse a few times to break up the big chunks of banana, then blend on high for several minutes until completely smooth.

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*I peel and cut bananas into pieces and freeze them on a cookie sheet. Once frozen I transfer the banana chunks to a bag to store in the freezer until I need them. This is a great way to preserve those bananas that are about to go bad!

Notes: I’ve noticed that when I’m making a smoothie with kefir it expands quite a bit when blended (I think because of the fizziness), so be sure to leave some extra space in your blender!

Yield: About 6 C. of smoothie

Inspired to use greens in smoothies by Tammy’s Recipes

Perfect Pancakes

IMG_0754 I don’t ever get sick of eating pancakes. I love making flavored pancakes (banana pancakes, apple-cinnamon pancakes, oatmeal pancakes . . .) when I’m in the mood but I don’t ever need a reason to cook up a batch of basic pancakes. Waking up in the morning makes me want them. Always with lots of butter, sometimes with maple syrup, sometimes with a fruit topping, plain old pancakes are worth getting up for!

I don’t like mushy, gooey pancakes. You know, the kind made with white flour that are basically tasteless and have no texture besides . . . gumminess? Ew. I like some actual flavor in my pancakes, and I want them hearty enough to keep me full until noon. Whole wheat and kefir take care of both!

This batch makes enough pancakes for three hungry people with 6-8 pancakes left over. I usually save those and make nut butter and honey sandwiches with them.

Perfect Pancakes

2 1/2 C. whole wheat flour 4 t. baking powder 1/2 t. salt 2 T. honey 2 T. olive oil or melted butter 2 eggs 3 C. kefir

1. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt, then beat in wet ingredients. Let rest 5 minutes (the whole wheat flour will absorb more moisture and thicken the batter as it sits).

2. Preheat a griddle or frying pan over medium heat-I turn my electric griddle to 300 degrees. Pour 1/3 C. of batter onto hot griddle or pan and cook until the edges start to look a little dry. Flip pancakes and cook for another minute or two until golden brown on the bottom. Remove from griddle or pan to a warm oven while you cook the rest of the batter.

3. Serve hot with lots of butter and real maple syrup or fruit topping.

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Inspired by Tammy's kefir pancakes

Everyday Wheat Bread

IMG_0449 We’re big fans of carbs around here. Since we can eat through a loaf of bread so quickly in our house I do my best to make it as healthy as possible. We’re used to the taste and texture of 100% whole grain bread so that’s what we eat for our everyday bread. I’ve had some pretty dense and strong-tasting wheat bread before, but this bread is one that we all love.

 

This recipe is close to the halfway healthy sandwich bread and, like that recipe, the secret to a light and fluffy wheat bread is the inclusion of eggs. Did you know that eggs are naturally high in lecithin? Lecithin is a component in dough conditioners that helps bread hold together and give a higher rise, as well as helping the bread to stay fresh longer. Tammy over at Tammy's Recipes has a great post on dough conditioners. I haven’t felt the need to experiment with the other ingredients in her dough conditioner recipe since just adding a few eggs –with their helpful lecithin- has worked out so well!

 

I use molasses as the sweetener in this bread, but if you’re not a fan of the molasses flavor (or if you have picky family members!) honey is a fine substitute. The molasses makes the bread a dark color, but it’s still light and delicious.

I use my bread machine to mix the dough, but you can make this by hand using the instructions for my halfway healthy sandwich bread.

I like to rub a stick of butter over the tops of the loaves when they first come out of the oven. This helps the crust stay soft and moist for longer, plus butter makes everything better.

 

Everyday Wheat Bread

-Ingredients-

1 1/4 C. water 2 eggs 1/4 C. olive oil 1/4 C. molasses 6 C. whole wheat flour 2 teaspoons sea salt 2 teaspoons yeast

1. Place all the wet ingredients into the bread machine pan, then sprinkle flour over top. Add the salt in one corner and put the yeast in the middle.

2. Set the bread machine to run the dough cycle (I usually pray at this point that the obnoxious end-of-cycle beeping won’t wake my sleeping six month old up from his nap).

3. When the cycle has finished, and you’ve yanked the cord out of the wall to stop the beeping so the baby will hopefully keep sleeping, divide in two and shape into loaves. Place in two greased bread pans, cover and let rise until doubled.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake the loaves for 25-30 minutes until golden on top. Turn out to cool on a wire rack, and rub the tops with butter if desired.

 

Notes: I usually slice both loaves once they’re cool, place each in a plastic bag and pop one in the freezer. This has stayed good in the cabinet for up to five days, but as you can see from the picture below, it doesn’t usually last long!

Yield: Two loaves

 

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Banana-Walnut Scones with Maple Butter

  Banana-walnut scones

I didn’t used to like scones. Probably because I had only ever had store bought scones which always taste like exceptionally dry cardboard to me. It’s hard to believe, but as much as I love baking I had never tried to bake scones until last fall. I made pumpkin scones from the Brown Eyed Baker and that was it-I was in love! Scones are easier to make, quicker to bake, less messy to eat (important with a toddler!) freeze better and stay fresh longer than muffins. Don’t get me wrong, I like muffins, but scones are my go-to breakfast these days.

 

I’m a big fan of banana-walnut muffins, so a banana-walnut scone was a natural choice when I started playing around with scone recipes. Add to that some delicious grade B organic maple syrup I recently bought and I knew the direction I was headed with these. There is enough banana and maple in these that you know it’s for sure banana and maple, but not so much that it assaults your mouth with banana and sugar first thing in the morning. Slightly sweet maple and banana with a little crunch from the walnuts. A perfect start to the day.

 

Banana-walnut Scones with Maple Butter

-Ingredients-

For scones:

1 1/2 C. whole wheat flour 1/2 C. all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 6 tablespoons cold butter 1/4 C. chopped walnuts 1 egg 1/2 C. mashed banana 1/4 C. maple syrup (the real stuff)

For maple butter:

4 T. softened butter 2 T. room temperature maple syrup

 

1. Stir together dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender (or two knives, or a food processor) until the butter is in pea-sized pieces. Stir in walnuts.

 

2. In a separate bowl whisk together the egg, banana and maple syrup. Add to dry ingredients and stir just until the dough starts to come together. Don’t over mix or the scones will be tough.

 

3. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead three or four times until the dough just holds together. Pat into a 1-inch thick circle and cut into eight wedges. Place scones on a baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

 

4. While the scones are baking stir together the softened butter and room temperature maple syrup (if the maple syrup is cold it won’t mix into the butter and will look streaky and weird. I speak from experience.).

 

5. Serve the scones warm slathered with the maple butter. A cup of coffee with fresh cream really takes this breakfast or snack over the top!

Yield: 8-10 scones

 

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Easy Halfway Healthy Sandwich Bread

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Sandwiches are a staple in most homes, and since they are quick, easy and eaten frequently, it makes sense to make them as healthy as possible. Homemade bread is a simple way to improve your family's nutrition, and a relatively easy first step in making healthier sandwiches.

If you're used to eating store-bought white bread it might be too much to make the jump to 100% whole wheat homemade bread overnight. Try this homemade half white half wheat bread recipe before jumping in to an all whole grain bread. While most homemade breads dry out and taste stale within a day or two, this stays moist and fresh for longer because of the eggs and higher fat content. It is light and fluffy and holds together in thin slices, making it perfect for sandwiches.

I usually mix the dough in my bread machine, but not everyone has a bread machine, and making bread completely by hand can be very relaxing (and kneading bread dough is a great way to relieve frustration!). Making bread is easy, and once you know the basics you can change the recipe however you'd like-substitute different flours, use a different fat, add more sweetener and some fruit or seeds, etc.

Easy Halfway Healthy Sandwich Bread

-Ingredients- 1 C. warm water 2 1/4 tsp. yeast 6 T. honey 6 T. olive oil 3 eggs 3 C. unbleached all-purpose flour 2-3 C. whole wheat flour 2 tsp. sea salt

1. Dissolve yeast in water in a large mixing bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes (It should start to foam and bubble). Add honey, olive oil and eggs and mix together. Stir in the all-purpose flour and salt.

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2. Stir in enough whole wheat flour so that the dough comes together into a ball.

3. Sprinkle more wheat flour on the counter or a table (I knead at my kitchen table because it's easier to press down into the dough on a lower surface) and dump the ball of dough in the center.

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Press down into the dough with the heel of your hands, pull the top edge (furthest away from you) of the dough back toward you to fold it in half, then press down firmly again in the middle. Fold back again, press, then spin the dough a quarter turn. Repeat the press, fold, press, fold, spin a quarter turn for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle more flour under the dough as needed to keep it from sticking. The dough has been kneaded long enough when it is springy and elastic-if you poke a hole in it with your finger it should fill in fairly quickly.

4. Scrape all the loose flour and bits of dough out of the bowl you used to stir together the dough. Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of the bowl, then plop the kneaded dough on top of the oil. Spin the ball of dough, then flip and spin again to coat the bowl and dough with oil. Cover loosely and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (in the winter I place the bowl next to our wood stove, in the summer I just leave it on the counter, and in the spring or fall I place it in the oven with the light on). This will take about an hour, depending on how warm it is.

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5. Once doubled in size, oil your hands and press dough down to deflate. It will be easier to shape into loaves if you don’t overwork it at this point. Divide in two and shape into loaves. Place loaves into two greased 9x5 inch loaf pans, cover, then let rise again until doubled in size-this usually takes less time than the first rise.

6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake loaves for 25-30 minutes until the tops are golden brown. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. After removing from the pans I like to rub a stick of butter over the tops of the loaves. It looks pretty, tastes good, and helps keep the top crust moist. Let cool completely before slicing (I’m only saying that because you’re supposed to. I always cut a few slices while the bread is warm and smear with lots of butter. This is the real reason I bake homemade bread).

Yield: Two loaves

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