Mason Jar Blueberry Yogurt Parfait

Did anyone make the New Years resolution to eat better? Well if you did, then I am sure you have heard a lot about how important it is to get a healthy breakfast. I am one of those people who love breakfast food (breakfast lovers: you know who you are) so I typically have no problem making myself a nice breakfast in the morning to fuel my day.

Despite all of my love for the first meal of the day, I had a lot of difficulty last week trying to get myself breakfast! I have had to get out the door super early (5:15am), and I was struggling to throw together something to eat that could satiate my hunger and give me energy to make it through the morning. That is, until I thought up this little yogurt parfait here.

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“Today I will be happier than a bird with a french fry”…because I have this delicious yogurt parfait!

 

Part parfait, part overnight oatmeal, this breakfast-to-go has it all: whole grains, fruits, and protein. I know I am super late jumping on the mason jar train, but I am so glad I did. This is just the cutest little breakfast I have ever seen! And this mason jar packs a filling and nutritious punch. If trying to get a healthy breakfast to-go is your challenge, then look no further than this adorable and customizable start to the day.

Mason Jar Blueberry Yogurt Parfait (serves 1)

IngredientsIMG_5640

  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt (or any yogurt flavor of your choice!)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup blueberries (or any fruit of your choice!)
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Mason jar

Directions

  1. The night before: layer the yogurt, berries, and oats into the mason jar in whatever order you would like. Sprinkle cinnamon over the top, if desired. Cover mason jar with lid and store in the refrigerator.
  2. The next morning: grab your mason jar out of the fridge, grab yourself a spoon, and have breakfast whenever you’d like!

Nutritional Information:

  • Calories: 250
  • Protein: 21g
  • Carbohydrates: 39g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Sugars: 25g
  • Calcium: 348 mg
  • Potassium: 499 mg
  • Sodium: 134 mg

 

 

 

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Salmon and Avocado Tower

Something I really like about studying nutrition is that when asked to pick a paper topic, I get to write about something I am obsessed with. (My name is Nicole and I have an infatuation with food). This proves to be a double-edged sword. On the positive side, I get to write about something that truly interests me, and I can call eating a form of “research”. On the “not-too-positive” side, I tend to get a little carried away with the literature searching, which leads to too much reading and not enough writing. This is not a bad thing for the paper itself, but it does make me work down to the wire tweaking edits, which can lead to stress…and stress baking and stress eating.

My avocado paper is a great example of this conflict. I was so excited to write about the heart-health benefits of avocado, that I spent an absurd number of hours researching avocado studies and exploring the California Avocados website. I also made and consumed enough guacamole for 3 people…which is only mildly ridiculous (according to dietary surveys, average consumption is one half of an avocado[1]).

Anyways, after submitting my paper I obviously wanted to eat avocado to celebrate, so I whipped up this little tower of tastiness:

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This could be breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack. The eggs are a health source of protein, the avocado and salmon give you a dose of healthy fats, and the cream cheese just tastes good.

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This is essentially and Eggs Benedict adaptation-without the fattening (albeit delicious) hollandaise sauce. Truthfully, between the creamy avocado and cream cheese, and the poached egg on top, it is so rich I did not even miss the hollandaise. You should also definitely make this dish for its aesthetic appeal. Fancy brunch, anyone?

My next paper topic is explores the effects of caffeine. Watch out Starbucks, I’m coming for you.

Salmon & Avocado Tower (makes one)

Ingredients:IMG_4188

  • 1 slice of toast
  • 1 Tbsp cream cheese
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 3 Tbsp canned salmon
  • 1 egg

Directions:

  1. Poach an egg or prepare an over-easy egg on a skillet.
  2. Spread cream cheese on the slice of toast. Spread avocado on toast and top with canned salmon.
  3. Top the tower off with your prepared egg.

References:

1. Fulgoni VL, Dreher M, Davenport AJ. Avocado consumption is associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake, and lower metabolic syndrome risk in US adults: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2008. Nutr J. 2013 Jan 2; 12:1.

Acai Bowl

I usually don’t have time to sit down and have a relaxing breakfast in the morning, but in the name of Spring, I decided today I would make myself an acai bowl.

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What’s an acai bowl, you ask? Think of it as a the most delicious smoothie ever covered in toppings and eaten with a spoon. The acai bowl consists of blended frozen acai berries (and fruit) covered in a variety of toppings (like granola, hemp seeds, fresh fruit). It’s tasty beyond description and the contrast of the soft-serve like fruit to the crunchy toppings in addicting. I am always disappointed when the whole bowl is gone.

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Acai is a berry that most will tell you is a “superfood”. Though technically research is still ongoing regarding the health benefits of acai, science has  shown that it does have a high level of antioxidants. It’s a berry that packs a nutritional punch!

And it turns out the brand Sambazon is selling frozen organic acai berries at the grocery store, which is great for someone like me who does not want to spend $10 on breakfast (acai bowls can be pretty pricey). Buying your own frozen acai has another benefit; besides being financially savvy, it will also allow you to add whatever you want and really get creative! I had a lot of fun opening up my cabinets and seeing what I could possibly sprinkle on top. The recipe below is simply an example of the things you can put into your acai bowl. So give yourself some extra time to make this delicious frozen treat for breakfast in the morning, it’s worth it!

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Ingredients

For the Bowl

  • 1 packet of Sambazon unsweetened pure acai berry
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 4 tablespoons vanilla soymilk

For the Toppings

  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • 1/4 cup granola

Directions

  1. Per the directions on the back of the frozen acai, run the package under water for 5 seconds. Place acai in the blender along with other fruits and milk (can use water or juice if preferred, and can also add sweetener).
  2. Blend on the highest setting. The mixture will be very thick, like frozen yogurt.
  3. Pour frozen mixture into a bowl and cover with toppings of choice.
  4. Relax and enjoy!

Damper-A Delicious Australian Creation

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When I was introduced to the damper recipe I was instantly intrigued:

  • Me: The ingredients make it seem like a biscuit or a scone
  • Recipe Sharer: Yeah it essentially is. And it goes with everything. I’ll send you the recipe directions.
  • Me: Does a mental fist pump. Thank you, that would be great!

According to Wikipedia,  Damper is actually an Australian soda bread and an iconic Australian dish. But to me the recipe sounded like a plain scone. And the truth of the matter is that scones are delectable. And Australia is a wonderful place. So I could only assume that this recipe was going to be wonderfully delectable. I immediately shared the recipe with my friend Shannon and we committed to making damper the next day. We have already made it twice in the last 5 days.

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The great thing about a knockout biscuit/scone recipe is that they are a very versatile pastry item. We kept ours original and simply slathered butter and jam onto them. But I can already imagine the possibilities: mixing fruit/chocolate/nuts into the dough, making bomb breakfast sandwiches using damper as the bread, serving them alongside dinner…believe me I could go on.

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Another plus about making damper as opposed to other scone or biscuit recipes it that it is relatively low in butter and sugar. It’s not completely exempt of those two items, but we have to take our victories, however small they may be. So without further ado, I give you Damper-the best biscuits with the weirdest name.

Australian Damper (Makes 1 large loaf, or 6 large biscuits)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1-1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons chilled butter
  • 1 cup milk or half and half

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl add flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Blend dry ingredients together with a fork.
  3. Slice chilled butter and add to the dry ingredients, blending butter in until the mix resembles coarse crumbs. (I used my hands for this part and “massaged” the butter in)
  4. Pour measured milk or half and half into the bowl and mix together until dough just comes together.
  5. To place damper on a baking sheet: (1) Form 1 large loaf with the dough or (2) Use a spoon to “drop” dough onto the baking pan. Do not flatten the dough.
  6. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
  7. Serve with butter, jam, honey, etc. The possibilities are endless!

Enjoy!

My new neighbor and I make Banana & Twix scones

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So what do you do when one of your closest friends suddenly becomes your neighbor? You hang out all of the time, of course!

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My college friend Shannon just moved down the street from me, which means I have a new running partner/baking buddy. Essentially, life just got infinitely more awesome.

Shannon and I have a lot in common, and one of the most important things is our mutual love for scones. Scones are perfection in the baking world: slightly sweet and the perfect companion for your hot tea or coffee. We already knew we liked banana scones, but adding the Twix pieces just took scones to another decadent level. It’s the perfect way to use up that leftover Halloween candy!

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Banana & Twix Scones (makes 6-8 big scones, or 12 smaller scones)

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cups cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup chopped up Twix candy bars

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, salt and cinnamon until combined.
  3. Add butter and using your fingers, a fork or a pastry blender mix it together and combine until the butter forms  little crumbs.
  4. Make a crater in the center and add in buttermilk, vanilla extract and bananas. Mix with a large spoon until a dough forms and comes together – it will be sticky! Add in your Twix. Cover your counter and hands with flour or you will have a big sticky mess on your hand (literally).
  5. Divide the dough in half and pat it into 6-inch circles on the floured surface. Cut into 6 or 8 wedges, then place on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Pumpkin, Spice, and Everything Nice

Fall is upon us, bring on the pumpkin! That is pretty much the theme I have noticed ever since Starbucks welcomed back the highly coveted Pumpkin Spice Latte. I am personally more of a “Black-coffee-plus-2-pumps-pumpkin-spice-syrup” kinda gal, but I do see the appeal.

Anyways, I figured it was about time I jump on the pumpkin bandwagon and share a delicious recipe! I perused the usual Internet suspects like Foodgawker and Pinterest for ideas on recipes, but I actually struggled to find a recipe that didn’t (a) feed 2 dozen people or (b) involve ingredients I don’t have on hand, like cloves. I have to be realistic here: I will eat all of whatever I make and I will not use a whole container of cloves.

Therefore, last night I found myself trying to create a basic, hearty, and healthy pumpkin bread with my college-buddy-turned-new-NYC-neighbor Shannon. And let me tell you this bread is delicious!

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This pumpkin bread is everything I wanted it to be: a subtly flavored pumpkin bread that’s mildly sweet and incredibly soft, with a delicious layer of cream cheese streaking through the middle. Oh, and did I mention this recipe doesn’t involve butter or oil? I think it’s time to get your pumpkin fix.

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Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Swirl (makes 4 mini loaves)

Ingredients

For pumpkin bread:

  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut sugar (or regular sugar)
  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

For cream cheese swirl:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. For bread: combine pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, sugar, water and yogurt in a bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Add these ingredients to the wet ingredients in the other bowl and fold ingredients together until just combined.
  3. For the cream cheese swirl, beat cream cheese, sugar and salt until smooth in consistency. Beat the egg into the mixture.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mist loaf pans with cooking spray. Pour batter into loaf pans until about halfway up the side of the pan. Dollop in cream cheese mixture on top of pumpkin batter. Add more pumpkin bread batter on top.
  5. Next, take a knife and stick it into the batter, swirling it around once or twice (don’t over-mix or the cream cheese swirl with disperse into the batter). Remove knife and place bread loaves in the oven. Small bread loaves will cook in 40-45 minutes. Large bread loaves will cook in 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  6. Once bread has cooked remove from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Goat Cheese Omelette

You know those mornings where you wake up starving and need food more than anything else in the world? Well, I just had one of those mornings.

Ideally, breakfast is supposed to be eaten within an hour of waking. I know there are people who just aren’t hungry at that time of the day, or don’t have the time (I tend to fit into the latter category) and breakfast is a nonexistent meal. But, it is important to try to get something into your system. A healthy, wholesome breakfast jump-starts the body’s metabolism, gives energy, and helps (note: helps, not guarantees) one avoid over-indulging later in the day.

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Breakfast is a great meal because it can be made quickly too. Take this omelet for example: from start to finish I was making breakfast for 5 minutes. And what I got was a nutritious and filling meal containing lean protein, calcium, and some healthy fats. Served with a side of fruit, I am gonna go ahead and call it a winning way to start the day. Especially when you’re so hungry you could eat your alarm clock.

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Goat Cheese Omelette (serves 1)

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp soft goat cheese
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • red pepper flakes (optional), to taste

 

Directions

First, warm a skillet on medium heat. Add onions and olive oil to the skillet and sauté for a few minutes until slightly browned. Whisk eggs in a small bowl and pour over onions. Let the eggs cook until slightly firmed, then flip over to cook other side. Add goat cheese and fold eggs over the cheese. Remove omelet from heat and top with avocado slices, salt, pepper, and/or red pepper flakes. Serve with sliced fruit.