breakfast

Homemade Granola Bars

Homemade Granola Bars: A delicious blend of whole grains, nuts, and seeds I'm always looking for inventive ways to eat more whole grains, like rolled oats.  I just can't eat oatmeal everyday.  Plus, It's so convenient having something quick to grab as I run out the door in the morning--especially if I need fuel for an early morning workout.  These granola bars give me the fuel I need in a "grab-and-go" kind of way.  But if you're looking to mix it up a little, you can always break some off and mix it in Greek yogurt for a protein and fiber-packed breakfast or snack.

I pretty much bought all of these ingredients in bulk.  Purchasing in bulk is great because you can buy whatever quantity you need.  My neighborhood Whole Foods had everything I was looking for: rolled oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, nuts, amaranth, and dates.  This recipe is fairly straightforward.  The hardest part is mixing the date syrup into all of the grains, nuts, and seeds---just because it is so sticky.  I made quite a mess since my bowl wasn't very large.  So, use a decent-sized bowl so that everything won't go flying out as you try to mix in the syrup.  Plus, you have to use all of your might to press the granola into the baking pan.  That way, your baked bars will actually stick together!

Rolled oats for homemade granola bars

Grains, nuts, and seeds for homemade granola bars

I took these out of the pan after letting them cool for about two hours while I was at the gym.  When I returned home, my house was filled with the rustic, homey smell of roasted oats and nuts.  Nothing smells more appetizing than freshly roasted nuts.

Homemade Granola Bar Recipe (Makes 12-16)

Nonstick spray or vegetable oil for coating the pan 6 large dates, pitted and chopped 1/2 cup molasses + 1/4 cup honey (may sub with 1 cup maple syrup) 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (may sub with virgin coconut oil) 2 cups old-fashioned oats 1/2 cup raw nuts (pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, or cashews) 1 cup seeds (sunflower or pumpkin, or mixture of the two) 2 tablespoons amaranth (may sub with sesame seeds) 1/2 cup raisins or chocolate chips (optional) 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (optional) 1/2 teaspoon salt

*You can also use a muffin pan if you don't have a loaf pan.  Just line it with muffin cups and fill about halfway.  You will have to reduce the baking time.

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Lightly coat an 8" x 4" loaf pan with nonstick spray.  Line the pan with parchment paper leaving an overhang so that the baked loaf can be easily removed.  Lightly coat the parchment paper with nonstick spray.
  2.  Boil dates and molasses + honey in a small pan, stirring often until dates are very soft (8-10 minutes).  Remove mixture from heat and stir in butter.  Use a fork or an immersion blender to smash the dates until smooth.

Date Syrup for Homemade Granola Bars

  1. Toss remaining ingredients into a bowl.  Mix in date syrup until all ingredients are evenly coated.  Press the mixture into the loaf pan as firmly as possible.
  2.  Bake 45-50 minutes.  Cover with foil if the loaf starts to burn.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for at least an hour.  Lift out loaf and slice into 1/2" slices with a serrated knife.  Keep tightly wrapped at room temperature up to five days. *For Crunchy Bars:  Bake sliced bars at 350 on a cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes.

Slicing Homemade Granola Bars

Delicious Homemade Granola Bars: whole grains, nuts, and seedsSliced Homemade Granola Bars

 

Wild Rice, Whole Wheat Pancakes

 

Wild Rice Whole Wheat Pancakes: delicious and nutrient-packed

If there’s one thing I’m doing on a snow day, it’s making breakfast.  These pancakes have been on my “to-make” list for literally years.  The ingredients kind of intimidated me: wild rice flour?  Well, I smartened up and decide to make my own wild rice flour—and it couldn’t be more simple.  Since my pantry now stays stock with whole grain superfoods like wild rice, I already had all of the ingredients.

Wild Rice, Whole Wheat Pancakes: Delicious and nutritious

First, I cooked the wild rice.  Wild rice is notorious for taking a long time to cook---double or even triple the time that it takes other rice to cook.  Perhaps that's because wild rice isn't rice at all, but is a species of grass.  It's high in protein, fiber, and other nutrients.  I then made the wild rice flour.  This recipe calls for 1/2 cup of wild rice flour, so I measured 1/2 cup of wild rice and put it in my coffee grinder/spice grinder.  I pulverized it until it was powdery.  Voila!

whole wild rice kernels

Homemade wild rice flour: pulverized wild rice

I then easily made the pancake batter---the same as any other pancake batter.  I then put a heaping teaspoon of cooked wild rice in a buttered skillet, and then pancake batter on top.  When the edges of the pancakes were bubbly and the edges appeared brown and hardened, I flipped them.  I topped the pancakes with bananas and honey, because that's what I had laying around my kitchen.  These would also be great with maple syrup, fruit, whipped cream, or all three.

preparing skillet for pancakes

Flip the pancakes when bubbles form and the edges harden.

Delicious pancake with wild rice!

Wild Rice, Whole Wheat Pancakes Recipe

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour (you may use all-purpose flour) 1/2 cup wild rice flour 1 tablespoon ground flax seed (ok to sub with whole wheat or all-purpose flour) 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/3 cup sugar (natural cane sugar preferred, white granulated sugar OK) 1/2 teaspoon salt 2  1/4 cups buttermilk 2 large eggs, lightly beaten 1 cup cooked wild rice (optional)

1.  Combine the flours, ground flax seed (if using), baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.   Then add the buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter.  Stir until all of the ingredients are just combined.  Do not overmix.

2.  Heat the skillet to medium.  Add a pat of butter to the skillet, and melt.  Sprinkle a heaping teaspoon of the cooked wild rice in the pan, and pour 1/3 cup batter on top.  Cook about three minutes, then flip.  Cook another minute or so, until cooked through.  Repeat with remaining batter.  Add your favorite toppings, or just enjoy au naturel!

Wild Rice, Whole Wheat Pancakes: Nutrient-packed and Delicious

Red Velvet Pancakes

Red Velvet Pancakes: Cream Cheese Syrup These pancakes are a twist on red velvet cake, and they are just as delicious.  The bright red color makes them festive and perfect for a holiday brunch!  I recommend making them with a cream cheese syrup, but they would also be delicious with a chocolate sauce, freshly whipped cream, or plain ol' maple syrup.These pancakes are super rich, and they are great for special occasions.  They pair perfectly with a freshly-brewed cup of Community Coffee (which grew from a small country store in Baton Rouge 90+ years ago!)  Of course, mimosas or sparkling wine are also a great option for any brunch.

Tower of Red Velvet Pancakes

Red Velvet Pancakes Recipe, Adapted from The Loveless Cafe in Nashville.

Ingredients:

2 c. all purpose flour 1 c. powdered sugar 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder 1/2 tsp. baking soda 1/2 tsp. salt 1 1/2 c. buttermilk 2 large eggs 1/2 c. granulated sugar 2 tablespoons red liquid food coloring cream cheese syrup (see recipe below)

1. Sift together flour, powdered sugar, unsweetened cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. [Sifting is important to break up any lumps in the powdered sugar, cocoa, baking powder, or baking soda.]

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes).  Whisk in buttermilk until thoroughly combined.  Whisk in red dye.  [This step can be done with the whisk attachment on a stand mixer.]

3. Gradually stir buttermilk mixture into dry mixture, just until ingredients are moistened.  [The batter may be slightly lumpy.  Do no over mix on this step.  If you over mix, your pancakes will not be light and fluffy.]

4.  Pour 1/4 cup batter for each pancake onto a hot, buttered griddle or a non-stick skillet.  [If using an electric skillet, set to 350 F.]  Cook until tops are covered with bubbles and edges look dry and cooked [about 3-4 minutes].  Turn and cook 3-4 minutes, or until done.  Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and keep warm in an oven at 200 F for up to 30 minutes.

Cream Cheese Syrup Recipe

Ingredients:

1 package cream cheese, softened (8 ounces) 1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks) 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted 1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.  Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended after each addition.  Add vanilla, beating until blended.

2. (Optional)  Gently heat for a more pourable consistency.