Cocoa-Banana Breakfast Cake (or Muffins)

Breakfast.  It can be so boring ~ so unhealthy ~ and so expensive.  Are you stuck in a rut?  Are you tired of paying an arm and a leg for boxed cereal that has little staying power and often little true nutrition?  I am going to start a series on make-ahead breakfast recipes to take the ho-hum out of mornings.  You’ll find yourself looking forward to breakfast!  You might even want to take a look at some of your current recipes and rethink the possibility of using them for a morning meal.  Of course, I always add some fresh fruit to the meal to round it out nutritionally.

Cocoa-Banana Breakfast Cake (or Muffins) 001Whether you have to eat gluten-free, or not, this breakfast cake will please you!  It was so exciting to put the first forkful into my mouth and taste how delicious it was.  The texture is moist and heavy like some decadent muffin that you might buy.  Mmmm.  In fact, Continue reading

Blueberry Lemon Kale Smoothie

Some of my favorite recipes have come together because of what I did or did not have on hand.  This morning I had no more fresh spinach left due to my forgetfulness to stop at the store yesterday, but there was a slice of honeydew.  My typical morning smoothie contains kale and spinach along with fruit ~ usually frozen.  After tossing in just the kale and the honeydew, I stared at the blender trying to imagine what would go well with them.  I love blueberries and honeydew together.  And of course everyone knows that blueberry and lemon pairing is classic, but would it translate into the smoothie?  I’ve failed before with lemon juice in a smoothie….

…But not this time!!  This smoothie has a bright, summery flavor that makes you want to jump right into your favorite warm weather fun.  The flavor lasts hauntingly in the background of your taste buds teasing you long after the smoothie is a memory.  I have a new favorite now!

Blueberry Lemon Kale SmoothieBlueberry Lemon Kale Smoothie

  • 3 red curly kale leaves, stem removed (if fairly large, just use 2)
  • 1 1/2 – 2 c. honeydew melon (about 1/8 of a melon)
  • 1/2 – 1 c. frozen blueberries (honestly, I didn’t measure – just tossed)
  • 2″ piece of frozen banana
  • 2-4 T. ground chia seed **
  • juice of 1 small lemon
  • sweetener, to taste – I used a few sprinkles of pure stevia powder
  • coconut milk (not canned) – I used Silk coconut vanilla flavor, but use the brand you prefer.

Whiz all ingredients up in a blender, using just enough coconut milk to get the blender going at first.  You can always add more as you go, but the honeydew typically will release a lot of juiciness so that you won’t need very much else.

This makes enough for 1 person’s stand-alone breakfast or 2 people’s smaller servings.  Mine made about 3 cups and though I offered sips to other family members, I wasn’t sad when they turned me down and I got it all.  😉  (They are not green smoothie enthusiasts.)

**Not only is this little seed a powerhouse of omega-3’s, but it has loads of protein and fiber, too!  It will give your smoothie staying power so that you aren’t hungry for hours.  If you aren’t a fan of chia seed or haven’t used it much, only use a small amount to begin with until you get acclimated to it.  It will thicken the smoothie, especially if you don’t drink it right away.  If you plan to take it with you as you commute, you might use more liquid or less chia seed.

Coconut Milkshake

Here is a simple way to get a vegan milkshake without the expensive containers of vegan ice cream getting involved.

Coconut Milkshake (and variations)

  • 1 frozen peeled banana, broken into pieces
  • Silk vanilla coconut milk
  • a sprinkle of pure powdered stevia extract

Place the banana and stevia in a blender.  Add just enough coconut milk to allow the blender to work properly.  This will depend on the strength of your blender, honestly.  That is why there is no measurement given for the milk.  Add extra coconut milk to determine how thick or thin you prefer your shake.  Pour into a glass and serve.

Variations:

  • Use almond or soy vanilla flavored milk in place of the coconut.  Add 1-2 T. of peanut butter and a sprinkle of stevia.  You could also add a spoonful of cocoa powder and a little more sweetener ~ or just use chocolate milk!
  • Use a plain flavored milk and add a drop or two of peppermint oil or extract.  If you want it to be green, add a few baby spinach leaves.
  • Toss in some blueberries.
  • Add some frozen pineapple chunks for a pina colada shake

Sunrise Cereal

Okay ~ you know breakfast is an important meal, and you know you should be eating it consistently.  But if you have to open a boring box of cold cereal one more time you are going to scream.  Not to mention that it would be nice to eat something hot on cold mornings.  But who in this day and age has time to fix such a luxury?  It’s all you can do to get out the door on time.  And please don’t mention crock pots, because cleaning those is no picnic, either!

Relax.  I have the solution for you.  It’s quick ~ the clean-up is easy ~ what more could you ask for?

Sunrise Cereal originally came to me from hubby’s Aunt Ann.  It was designed to be baked for an hour in the morning!  Yikes!  I was never ahead of the game to pull that one off.  Hungry children demanded food much faster.  Then someone told me about baking cooked cereals overnight in the oven.  What a marvelous plan!  You wake up to breakfast finished and waiting for you.  And it’s very forgiving – baking for 8-12 hours with little change in the finished product.  (The full 12 hours will give you a slightly crispy outer layer and a harder-to-clean casserole dish, though.)  I needed to adjust the amount of water from the original recipe and add some vanilla and, perhaps, sweetener – that was all.  Perfect.

My hungriest teen son is very happy when he sees I’ve made this.  My food-fussy youngest son isn’t impressed by it.  Each person is so very different in their tastes!  If you like cooked grains, you’ll enjoy this cereal.  And don’t be afraid to play with your food.  🙂  Try making it more than just “cooked cereal.”  When you add your non-dairy milk, use dark chocolate almond milk instead!  Or coconut (my favorite thus far is Silk’s brand)…or BOTH for a Mounds bar flavor.  Make some sweetened raspberry sauce, or use jam, with coconut milk for a taste treat.  When Silk’s eggnog or Pumpkin Spice are in season, use those in place of the other milk – but you might not need sweetener with those.  Or drizzle some natural peanut butter over it all…and maybe a sprinkling of chocolate chips and chopped bananas?  Maybe plain berries and/or nuts.  I’m sure you can think of other interesting combinations.  Who says breakfast can’t be fun?  🙂

This recipe calls for specific grains, but I’ve found you can mix and match if you don’t happen to have certain ones on hand.  Each dish then becomes individualized – complete with different textures dependent on the grains you choose.  You can also vary the amount of water if you like a different consistency for your cooked grains – creamier or chewier.  The last picture shows the creamy texture I got with the full amount of water and substituting steel-cut oats for the bulger wheat.  (Please note – you may used pearled barley instead of the hulled barley, but it’s the refined version – like white rice instead of brown.)

Sunrise Cereal

  • 1/4 c. each – brown rice, oatmeal/rolled oats, millet, hulled barley, and bulger wheat (or other grain)   ***Please note
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 1/2 c. water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. stevia or 1/2 c. other sweetener (optional)

Rinse and drain in a fine mesh strainer the barley and millet.  Combine all ingredients in a 2-qt. casserole dish the night before.  Cover with foil, or use the lid of the casserole if it has one.  Bake at 200° overnight.  Fluffy and nice as soon as you wake up! 

You may add raisins – if so, add a bit more water.  Serve with non-dairy milk, sweetener as desired, and any add-ins you like.

Optional – mix everything the night before, decreasing water to 3 1/2 c.  Pop into a 350° oven in the morning for 1 hour.

Any leftovers can be refrigerated and microwaved the next day with good results.  Mash in your bowl and serve with non-dairy milk and any sweetener you wish.  If you prefer not using a microwave, put the amount desired in a pan with some non-dairy milk (and optional sweetener) and use a potato masher to thoroughly mix things and reheat on the stove.  I regularly prepare a double batch of this for J and I to eat for several days.

***Note:  My family doesn’t care for bulger, so we substitute steel-cut oats for texture and extra creaminess.  You could just add extra rolled oats if you don’t want the chewier texture.  If you aren’t looking for a creamier version, use the bulger, or just increase one of the other grains, or all of them to make up the extra 1/4 c. – or throw in a different grain completely.  This recipe is very flexible.

For a gluten-free version ~ Omit bulger and barley.  Substitute 1/4 c. steel-cut oats for the bulger and an extra 1/4 c. millet for the barley.