Archive for Breakfast

Recipe ReDux: Pre-run vanilla, pear & black tea smoothie

Each month, those of us participating in Recipe ReDux follow a theme to devise healthy, tasty recipes. The idea is to showcase good-for-you food that also does right by your tastebuds. So this month—where we’re giving a nod to the World Tea Expo with tea-inspired dishes—I’m bringing you a recipe that is deliberately high in sugar, low in fiber, and contains really only one major food group.

Wait, what?

pear tea smoothie1

See, when I think tea, I think running. In the mornings before my longer runs, I need some caffeine delivered via something less strong and gut-pummeling as coffee. So a cup of black tea is the typical accompaniment to my pre-run fuel.

The second component of that pre-run meal is one of the few times that conventional dietary guidance goes out the window, because I’m actually trying to eat high-carb, low-fiber, quick-hit-of-sugar foods. Those are generally the best way to quickly give your body the energy it needs to run without provoking your GI tract too much with fiber and fats.

So I figured, why keep the tea and carbs separate? The result is a pre-run vanilla, pear and black tea smoothie that will help put a few more miles on your Sauconys (or Hokas, or Mizunos, or those weird monkey feet Vibram things).

Runner’s vanilla, pear and black tea smoothie

(1 serving, approx. 180 calories)

1 (or more, see below) black tea bag
½ cup water
1 cup canned pears (or peeled fresh pear)
½ banana
¼ tsp vanilla extract
4-5 ice cubes
Honey, to taste

Heat the water either over the stove until boiling, or in the microwave for 2 minutes. Add the tea bag and steep for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bag, and chill in the freezer while assembling other ingredients.

Another option would be to make a larger batch of the strong-brewed tea, and leave it in the fridge for future use—that way, you’ll also have a longer time to get it nice and cold. Just use the ratio of ½ cup water to each tea bag when brewing, and measure out ½ cup of the brewed tea for use in the smoothie.

Combine all the ingredients—brewed tea, pears, banana, vanilla, ice cubes and honey—in a blender and process until smooth.

Pour, drink, and enjoy, leaving yourself ~30-60 minutes before heading out for that run.

pear tea smoothie2

If there’s no 20-miler on your training schedule today, maybe you’d like to try some of the other tea-ful recipes devised by my fellow ReDuxer? Just follow the links below:

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Recipe ReDux: Stacking patties

March is well-known for its green-themed, leprechaun-y, gold & clovers holiday, so for this month’s Recipe ReDux I’m bringing you the luck o’ the Indians!

Wait, what?


Our task this month was to play off St. Patty’s with a healthy stackable patty recipe, but while we started in Ireland, I looked around on the other side of the globe for my stackspiration (wow, that’s bad, even for me). Garam masala – a spice mix originating from Northern India – is one of my all-time favorite flavorings, so I worked up a breakfast? lunch? recipe that combines it and curry powder with stacks of quinoa, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, and eggs.

How do those nutritional powerhouses stack up? Here’s the recipe so you can see/taste for yourself:

Curried quinoa, sweet potato, egg and spinach stacks

(6 servings)

2 cups cooked quinoa
2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
½ red onion, roughly chopped
2-3 cloves garlic
1-inch piece of fresh ginger
2 tsp garam masala
1.5 tsp curry powder

Stacking layers:
4 hard-boiled eggs
½ red onion, chopped
Olive oil for sauté

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all the patty ingredients – quinoa, sweet potatoes, onion, garlic, ginger, and spices – in a food processor, and process until the large pieces are well-chopped and combined.

Lightly oil a baking sheet, or spray it with cooking spray. Dust your hands with some flour, and form the processed mixture into 12 patties, each a little smaller than your palm. Those of you playing along at home will note I just un-gluten-freed this recipe; but if you want to avoid the flour, a little oil or water on your hands will help keep them from sticking, too.

Arrange the patties on the prepared baking sheet, and put them in the oven for 15-17 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the hardboiled eggs into slices. Heat some olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat, and sauté the spinach and remaining onion until just cooked.

When the patties are ready, carefully lift them off the baking sheet (sticky little buggers), then build each stack with a patty, egg slices, another patty, sautéed veggies and a few cashews on top. Grate some fresh black pepper over top, and then demolish that tower you just built.


If you want to play more patty-cake, my fellow Recipe ReDuxers have a bunch more recipes for you:

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Nooks & Crannies Week: Chocolate chip, banana, peanut butter waffles

A brief backstory on how I arrived at waffles for a weekly theme: I’ve been eager for a way to cram protein into a baked breakfast food other than pancakes (it’s an obsessive/hungry runner thing), and Santa brought me a waffle maker this past Xmas.


Put those things together with a 7-year-old who would take chocolate chips intravenously, if he could, and we get crispy-soft banana pancakes with hits of rich chocolate and peanut butter.

Waffle iron

The backstory is pretty simple, just like waffles. They’re basically crispier, fluffier pancakes with ready-made receptacles for all kinds of sweet or savory toppings. And while the topping options (toptions?) seem limitless, there’s something even more interesting about tweaking the waffle itself to include some novel ingredients.

Miles eating waffles

So while Miles is perfectly happy with the additions of chocolate, peanut butter and banana, I went a little farther out to find recipes using fun stuff like bacon, sweet potato, cardamom, and even crabmeat. This week’s recipe list also includes a way to get almost-waffles from scratch without a waffle iron, in case Santa was too busy getting you FaceBlast IV: Facepocalypse for the PS4 to bring you new kitchen gadgets.

  • Chocolate chip banana peanut butter waffles from Eating The Week (recipe follows below)
  • Sour-cream cardamom waffles from Epicurious (here)
  • Crab & veggies waffles from Runners World (here)
  • Sweet potato protein waffles from Food & Fitness (here)
  • Crispy cornmeal bacon waffles from Epicurious (here)
  • Apple, cheddar & prosciutto waffles from 10th Kitchen (here)
  • Grill pan waffles from Always Order Dessert (here)

Chocolate chip banana peanut butter waffles

(4 servings)

1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ cup chocolate chips
1 ¼ cup milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup peanut butter
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs honey
1 ripe banana, mashed

Combine all the dry ingredients (flour through chocolate chips) in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients (milk through banana). Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients, and stir to combine.

I usually transfer the batter to a 2- or 4-cup measuring cup, to make pouring easier.

For each waffle, pour approximately ¼ of the batter onto a warmed up waffle iron & cook according to your equipment’s instructions. Top with buttery spread and maple syrup, and enjoy!

An alternative method is to keep the chocolate chips separate, and then sprinkle some on the finished waffles.

Recipe ReDux: The merriment of mixes – chocolate chip banana scone gift mix

Blink and you might miss the end-of-year holiday season. Before you know it, the pumpkin pie pan will host nothing but crumbs, smoke will waft away from the blown-out menorah candles, and you’ll be considering launching a search & rescue team to find Little Timmy in the avalanche of ripped-open wrapping paper.

But thanks to the Recipe ReDux, you can feel good about gifts that will endure right into the new year – for this month’s theme, we’re doing shelf-stable food mixes that you can share with hostesses, friends and family alike.

Scone mix2

Now would be the time to get your name on my gift list, because I think you’ll like what I’m giving out: a mix to make warm, moist but crunchy, banana chocolate-y scones.


These are the same tasty little guys with which I kicked off this blog; with a pedigree like that, you know they’re good. But I don’t want to be that jerk who gives the gift of a grocery-shopping trip, so I changed up the ingredients (dry vanilla powder in the mix instead of liquid extract) and the method (chocolate chips added before butter, not after) to try to minimize the effort needed to bring the dry mix to scone-y life.


Do you know someone who likes a little something special for breakfast? Then package up this mix and check some gifts off your to-do list.

Chocolate chip banana scone mix

(8 servings, approx. 310 calories each)

Dry mix:
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp dry vanilla powder
½ cup chocolate chips

Combine all the dry mix ingredients and package in a sealable, present-y container.

Scone mix1

Write or print out the following instructions to accompany your scone mix gift:

Ingredients to add to the dry mix:
½ cup (1 stick) of butter, softened slightly
2/3 cup buttermilk (or 2/3 cup 1% milk with 2 tsp vinegar; let sit 5-10 minutes)
½ banana, cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Put the scone mix in a large bowl. Use your fingers to squish the butter into small pieces & drop them into the dry mix. Using your fingertips, blend the butter into the dry mix until it resembles wet sand and the butter is evenly distributed

Add the buttermilk to the butter/dry mix and blend with your hands until they just come together. Add the banana pieces and mix until evenly distributed.

Divide the dough into eight balls and transfer them to the baking sheet. Press gently on the tops to flatten them a little, then pop them in the oven for 20-25 minutes (the magic number is 22 in my oven). When done, let them cool for a few minutes on a rack before eating

Have a big gift list this year? Never fear – my fellow ReDuxers have got you covered with a bunch more shelf-stable gift mix recipes:

Low-Wheat Week

Have you heard the word on the street… about wheat? It seems like every food producer is falling over themselves to slap gluten-free stickers on packages.

I’m trying to fight the urge to review this trend in depth; but there’s a lot there with which I (and, frankly, science) disagree, so here’s my $0.02 anyway. Outside of the context of actual celiac disease, gluten-free seems to be this decade’s fat-free – an way to malign one food component for all our health woes & sell a few more packages, without bringing us any closer to the real, holistic shifts in our eating (more produce, less processed) that will make big differences.

So why, then, am I still writing about recipes that help cut down on the wheat we eat?

Take a seat, wheat, it’s chia time.

Well, it’s partly about variety. The more varied your diet, the better your odds of getting the full spectrum of nutrients you need while enjoying novel, delicious foods every day. But in the Standard American Diet (put that acronym together) wheat-flour-based foods account for roughly 20% of our caloric intake (from Google preview of Michael Pollan’s latest, Cooked). And it’s also partly about processing. We get a lot of our wheat in the form of highly processed flour, which goes into highly processed food of questionable nutritional value.

What does “less wheat” means? When I started following CSPI’s hybrid of the two diets in the OmniHeart Study that were found to reduce heart disease risk, it meant sticking to 2-3 servings of grain daily (equal to 1 slice of bread or ½ cup cereal per serving). For me, that means I switch things up with open-faced sandwiches, veggies pretending to be pastas, and easy but cereal-free breakfasts like warm chia banana peanut butter pudding (pictured above; hat tip to Samantha for the idea). This week’s less-wheat list includes recipes along those lines, which you can try at home:

  • Chia breakfast pudding from Eating the Week (below)
  • Paleo date walnut bread from Elana’s Pantry (here)
  • Paleo pancakes from The Athlete’s Plate (here)
  • Open-faced chicken sandwiches from Cooking Light (here)
  • Thai cashew quinoa salad from Ambitious Kitchen (here)
  • Portobello breakfast cups from Tortillas & Honey (here)
  • Zucchini ribbon salad with mint and olives from Gourmande in the Kitchen (here)

Chia breakfast pudding

(1 serving, approx. 430 calories)

3 Tbs chia seeds
¾ cup almond milk (or whatever milk you like)
1 banana
1 Tbs almond butter (or, again, whichever nut butter you like)
Ground cinnamon, to taste

Mix the chia seeds and milk in a microwavable bowl, and stir several times over 8-10 minutes (giving it time to set into a gel consistency).

Add the banana in small pieces, and microwave on high for 1 minute.

Add the almond butter and cinnamon, and mash everything around so the banana pieces get softened and mixed in. Enjoy!

Lights, Camera, Pancakes! Recipe ReDux honors the Oscars

In just a few days, it will be time to honor Hollywood’s best at the annual Oscars awards. So our script for February’s Recipe ReDux was this: “In honor of the Oscars, create a healthy recipe inspired by your favorite food scene or featured dish from any movie.”

I used the way-back machine to find my inspiration – Pretty Woman, the Cinderella tale of a hooker (Julia Roberts) turned love interest for a wealthy guy (Richard Gere). There’s a morning-after scene in that movie where Julia Roberts’ character is lounging around, eating pancakes with her fingers, that inspired me to make Pretty Woman Pancakes.

For whatever reason, my middle-school-aged friends and I glommed onto recreating that scene, and spent the better part of a month making pancakes-eaten-with-your-hands our go-to after-school snack (is there an Oscar category for best use of hyphens in a sentence? I’m a shoo-in). There was something both cavalier and kid-like in that scene that seemed to resonate with a bunch of 13-year-olds.

But this being the Recipe ReDux, I couldn’t just put plain old pancakes on the red carpet (what would Joan Rivers say?!). So I added a few ingredients – dried apricots and dark chocolate – that boast complexion-friendly nutrients like polyphenols and vitamin A.

Mix up a batch of these Pretty Woman Pancakes and you can tell Mr. DeMille that you’re ready for your close-up.

Pretty Woman pancakes

(12-14 pancakes, approx. 85 calories each)

1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cups buttermilk (or 1 cup milk plus 1 Tbs vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes)
1 egg
1 Tbs butter, melted
1 Tbs honey
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup dark chocolate, broken into small bits

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg, then add the honey and butter. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in the large bowl and mix together.

Finally, add the apricots and chocolate to the pancake batter. The pieces will tend to sink to the bottom after you’ve stirred them, so be prepared to re-stir things again just before you ladle it out onto the griddle.

Heat a pan over medium-high heat (think 7 out of 10); coat thinly with nonstick spray. Scoop the batter onto the hot surface, 1/8 cup at a time (math geniuses will figure out here that you can use a ¼-cup measurer and dole out half its contents to for each mini pancake). Heat until bubbles form on top through the batter and the edges are firm. Flip and heat on the other side for another few minutes, until cooked through.

Serve with maple syrup, honey, a little cocoa powder, or some crushed almonds. Or, just eat them unadorned, with your hands, with a gaggle of your middle school friends.

My fellow ReDuxers  have even more ways for your menu to take a star turn – check out all their recipes:

Multi-Layered Week: Pepper Jack and veggie strata

I recently submitted a short piece to be included in an upcoming cookbook, waxing poetic about our new-ish tradition of hosting New Year’s Day brunch that centers around soft, sometimes savory, often sweet stratas.

Sure, the brunch menu always include scones and fruit salad, coffee and juice, but everyone’s really there for the strata (our friend Annie, for example, has moved over the years from “Soooo, what are you making?” to “Seriously, make the strata.”). I’m all too happy to oblige, because they are a cinch to serve at brunch – I pop it into the oven before my traditional New Year’s Day run, and a few miles and a shower later, my family and our friends are gathered around the good stuff.

When the folks at Cabot sent me their reduced fat cheeses to show off their recent package re-design, it was a no-brainer to use the pepper Jack in a vegetable strata I knew would bring people running (in my case, literally). The cheese gives it just enough kick to keep things interesting alongside the sweet bell peppers, tomatoes and savory mushrooms.

Photo courtesy of Cabot Coop

The recipe for my pepper Jack and veggie strata follows below, and if you want to round out the week with stratas every morning, here are six more recipes I found around Teh Internets. Where some of these (the Martha Stewart and Oprah recipes, for example) use whole milk and a bazillion whole eggs, you can save a few calories by using lower fat dairy and using roughly 1.5 egg whites instead of each whole egg:

  • Pear gruyere cinnamon swirl strata from Cooking Light (here)
  • Savory bread pudding with kale and mushrooms from New York Times (here)
  • Tomato spinach dinner strata from Eating Well (here)
  • Portabello asparagus goat cheese strata from Whole Foods Recipes (here)
  • Sausage and swiss chard strata from Martha Stewart (here)
  • Raspberry goat cheese strata from Oprah (here)

Pepper Jack and veggie strata

I don’t actually measure how much bread goes into this, but it’s probably about 5 cups of bread cubes.

(8 servings, approx. 270 calories each)

½ Tbs olive oil
1 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bell peppers, chopped
4-5 oz sliced mushrooms (~1/2 a box from the grocery store)
1 ½ cups shredded reduced-fat Pepper Jack cheese like Cabot Pepper Jack Light
1 baguette, roughly cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 ½ cups 1% milk
5 egg whites and 4 whole eggs
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp chili powder
½ tsp dried oregano
¼-1/2  tsp ground black pepper
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
Salsa to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Once it gets shimmery, add the onion and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the bell pepper and mushrooms, and cook for another 4-5 minutes or until the mushrooms have released most of their water. Remove the pan from heat.

Spray the inside of an 8×11-ish casserole dish with cooking spray. Inside the dish, layer ½ of the bread cubes, ½ of the vegetable mixture, and ½ of the shredded cheese. Follow that with a layer of the remaining bread cubes and then the remaining vegetable mixture. Arrange the tomato slices to cover the top, and then layer on the remaining cheese.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the milk, egg whites, whole eggs, cumin, chili powder, oregano and black pepper. Whisk together and pour over the contents of the baking dish. Press down gently on the top with a spatula, to compress the layers and allow the liquid to soak into all the ingredients.

Cover with foil and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes but ideally overnight in the fridge.

When ready to bake, heat the oven to 350. Bake the strata at 350 with the foil on for 25 minutes; then remove the foil and continue baking for another 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Slice into 8 pieces and serve with salsa of your choice!

Recipe ReDux: Fermented foods – pickled jalapenos on egg-stuffed sweet potatoes

Everyone knows a meal is more enjoyable with some company, but would you invite microbes over for breakfast?

That’s exactly what I did in this month’s Recipe ReDux, where our theme is getting your gut back in gear with natural fermentation. The basic idea is to harness “the transformative action of microorganisms” – as quoted in this Saveur article on fermented foods – to turn simple ingredients into tasty foods teeming with little critters.

Those bacterial and fungal colonists create rich flavors in the fermented food, and also join the existing flora in our guts to help keep things chugging along. The poster-child foods in this group include kimchi and sauerkraut (both are fermented cabbage), yogurt, soy sauce, cheeses and sourdough. Head past the jump to read about the one I tried.

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Run for your breakfast week: pancakes

Some people run for the fame and glory, for the break from everyday stresses, for fitness, or just for fun. But many runners are just in it for the pancakes.

Remy said to share it, so I’m sharing. Click image for link to original.

Apparently, pancakes are A Thing with runners. I first clued into this when I saw the Runner’s World image above on Facebook. Then I really got the message with they followed that up with the motherlode – the October RW issue features page after page of their Ultimate Pancake guide.

This topic isn’t exactly on front of mind (or end of fork) for me, as I’m not a frequent flapjack flyer. Your average pancake – flour with some sugar on top – isn’t exactly health food. But then I came back salty, tired and hungry from a recent long run and saw Ryan Hall’s molten chocolate pancake recipe, and figured it was time for my first pancake workout here in the midst of week 7 of training for the Runner’s World half marathon.

I don’t think I quite nailed that recipe, because the middle didn’t ooze chocolatey awesomeness the way it was pictured in the magazine. But that just made it easier to stuff into my face with both hands.

Now maybe you’re not bringing a 900+ calorie deficit along to breakfast, and would like some, say, healthier options. Or maybe you are looking for re-fueling after the long run but still want some nutritious POW from your pancake. Either way, definitely check out RW’s pancake guide: tall and short stacks, homemade and restaurant served, with everything from chocolate to chilies to corn, nuts and berries, or the classic butter and syrup, they’re all there for after you’ve stripped off the Sauconys.

And if you still need more, here’s a week’s worth of miles on a plate:

  • Blueberry ricotta pancakes from Eating Well (here)
  • Carrot cake pancakes from Cooking Light (here)
  • Hearty pancakes with applesauce and raisins from Cooking Light (here)
  • Spelt pistachio pancakes with mango from Em-I-Lis (here)
  • Banana peanut butter oat pancakes from Healthy Happy Life (here)
  • Pumpkin chai pancakes from Family Cookbook Project (here)
  • Sweet potato pecan flapjacks from Cooking Light (here)

I hope this gave the non-runners a little reprieve during another pavement-pounding update. Next time, though, it will probably be all running, all the time, as I get around to discussing this awesome item:

Shortcut Week: Do as I say, not as I cook

Do you know people who just can’t seem to take the shortcut? They’re never going to use a gift bag, insisting on hand-stamping some wrapping paper they made from pulp. Four hours to hand-wash and detail their car is totally reasonable. Hanging out for half a day making chicken soup from scratch? Of course.

Well, it turns out I may be among the afflicted. I had every intention of slapping this post together in 7.4 minutes, predicated on shortcut recipes and minimal time in the kitchen. I almost made it, too – there’s only one recipe this week that I actually bothered to cook.

Shortcut empanada, from Real Simple’s recipe

But instead of picking up some ready-made pizza dough at the store, like the empanada recipe directed, I just had to make it from scratch, thereby obliterating the one-hour advantage of the shortcut. Why did I do this? Like everyone else, I’m long on to-dos and short on time pretty much chronically. But does that mean I’d trust anyone else to undertake the highly technical feat of mixing yeast and flour? NOT ON YOUR LIFE.

So even if I won’t take my own advice, I bet many of you have more sense in your heads. I’ve found several less-time versions of tasty recipes for this week’s list, so please do not go and make your own crepes, pesto or pizza dough. Just veer onto the shortcut and don’t look back; I’ll still be here, staring at rising dough for another 55 minutes:

  • Cranberry scones from Sweet T Makes Three (here)If the whole cutting-in-butter thing is going to trip you up, I’d suggest just getting in there with your fingers instead. That’s the technique I use, and it’s much quicker.
  • Chicken corn crepes from (here)There are frozen pre-made crepes? How did I not know about these?
  • Empanadas from Real Simple (here)
  • Green pesto pasta spirals from Lunchbox Bunch (here)Pesto isn’t really time-consuming to make; it’s just that keeping fresh basil around can be a real pain. Pre-made does the job in this recipe.
  • Inside out lasagna from Eating Well (here)Lasagna always falls over, all sloppy on your plate, no matter how meticulously you layer it in the pan. So why bother?
  • Mediterranean barley with chickpeas and arugula from Cooking Light (here)Barley, in my opinion, isn’t really a shortcut grain – it needs a good 40+ minutes to cook. But if you’ve got it pre-cooked, this would be quick to throw together.
  • Tacos al pastor from Serious Eats (here)I’ve never long-versioned or short-cutted these, but apparently they’re drool-on-your-TV awesome.