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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Zucchini-Oat Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I will make almost any excuse to whip up a batch of cookies. I love to make “cheer-you-up” cookies, “thank you” cookies, and the ever-popular “I should be studying” cookies. So it really was not a surprise that I thought of the wonderful idea of making a big batch of cookies to bring a presentation I was giving this week. There was just one snafu regarding my masterful plan…

I was lecturing on the obesity epidemic.

Yes, I was planning on serving cookies to my audience and then speaking to them about the causes, issues, and potential interventions for obesity in the United States and worldwide. Not exactly the most appetite-inducing speech, and one more akin to a small bag of mixed nuts or an apple than cookies. But with my passion for cookie-making overriding my rational brain, I told myself that I would find a healthier cookie recipe. And thanks to the creatively over at Nestlé, I found my cookie inspiration.

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Zucchini-oat dark chocolate chip cookies. It’s a mouthful to say and the cookies themselves turned out to be a nutritious mouthful of yum . The texture is soft inside because of the zucchini, but crisp on the outside and oh-so chocolatey. I cut out some of the flour by making flour from rolled oats, and the sugar and butter are greatly reduced compared to the typical chocolate chip cookie recipe. Add a healthy dose of nutrients from the almonds and antioxidants from the dark chocolate chips, and I must say these cookies actually pack quite a nutritional punch in a small and delicious package.

Turns out the cookie was a crowd-pleaser, and the perfect accompaniment to my presentation. No excuses needed for whipping up a batch of zucchini-oat dark chocolate chip cookies!

Zucchini-Oat Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from the Nestlé recipe)

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup oat flour (made from rolled oats in blender)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (I used almonds)
  • 1 2/3 cups (10 oz. package) of dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. For oat flour: place about 1 cup of rolled oats into a blender. Blend until oats resemble flour.
  3. Combine both flours, cinnamon, and baking soda into a bowl.
  4. In separate bowl, beat together butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Add zucchini, and then slowly add dry mixture. Stir in oats, nuts, and dark chocolate chips.
  5. Place teaspoon-sized cookie dough onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Leave 2 inches between each cookie.
  6. Bake for 9-11 minutes (I baked the cookies for 11-12 minutes)
  7. Remove from oven and cool cookies on baking sheets for a few minutes. Place cookies on a plate or wire rack to cool completely.
  8. Store in container at room temperature.
  9. Enjoy!

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!

Acai Bowl (makes 1)IMG_4117

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!

Levain Bakery-esque Peanut Butter Cookies

Apologies for the holiday hiatus! I know you all must have missed me (maybe? anybody? Bueller?). Anyways, now that I am back in the swing of things I am looking back on the past couple weeks and thinking about just how much I benefitted from the break.

Being home for Christmas was definitely the nicest way I could have spent my holiday season. There is nothing like family laughter, home-cooked dinners, and some California sunshine to celebrate a great 2013.

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My sister Corinne and I had a great time catching up over break. With her living big in LA I feel like I never get to see her!

 

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My parents took us to their old date spot…aren’t they just the cutest?

This recipe is inspired by my favorite cookie on Earth: the chocolate chip cookie from Levain Bakery in New York City. Part cookie, part scone, and completely delicious, this baked good ranks #1 on my list of decadent and calorie-laden splurge items. And my family is a fan of this cookie too.

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I added chocolate chips to this batch…one of many that I made while I was home!

So of course when I was home for the holidays I knew I had to treat my family to something special, and this cookie recipe fit the bill. Inspired by the original mimic recipe by the Brown Eyed Baker, per my family’s request I made some changes. Peanut butter became an obvious addition. And it turned out so well! I made this recipe 3 times in the 1 week I was home. Now I know where I got my sweet tooth from!

Levain Bakery-esque Peanut Butter Cookies (makes 12 Levain-sized cookies)

Ingredients:IMG_3899

  • 2 sticks butter, chilled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 ¼ cups flour
  • 1 ½ cups chocolate chips, optional

Directions:

  1. Blend flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, blend butter with an electric mixer until it clumps together. Add peanut butter and sugar and blend together for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Next, add vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time, while blending the mixture for another 1-2 minutes.
  4. Slowly add flour mixture, blending until the cookie dough just comes together. Mix in chocolate chips, if desired. Wrap cookie dough in saran wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven the 375 degrees Fahrenheit. On a baking sheet covered in parchment paper, form 12 cookies (the cookies do not have to have a perfectly round shape).
  6. Bake cookies in oven for 18-24 minutes (18 minutes if you want your cookies a little on the undercooked side). Remove cookies from the oven and allow them to cool before enjoying!

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.