Banana Berry Breakfast Smoothie

I made one of these bad boys on Saturday morning – it was the perfect addition to my usual toast and peanut butter for breakfast.  The berry and banana flavors mixed with oats made it taste like a blueberry muffin in a cup.  

I’ve been using the single serving cups that came with our Ninja – they are too easy.  You just throw your ingredients into the cup, attach the blade, stick on the blender, blend for a perfect single serving, then remove and add the drinking lid.  When done, throw it in the dishwasher!
The three of us headed over to the Des Moines Art Center on Saturday morning for a 2-4 year olds art class.  It was snowing and we needed to get out of the house.  Greta loved the different methods of painting – brushes attached to long sticks, cars rolled in paint, tempera sticks, and stamping methods.  Of course, mommy was collecting ideas for her classroom as well.  

After the art center, we made a quick stop at La Mie Bakery for pastries, bread, and coffee.  Eric let me run in and pick out pastries…can you tell?  So much for the healthy smoothie and toast I had for breakfast earlier in the day.  

Banana Berry Breakfast Smoothie – makes 1 serving 
1. In a blender combine: 1 banana, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 1/4 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup frozen blueberries, 2-3 ice cubes, and 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk.  
2.  Blend until smooth.  Serve immediately.  

Cherry Hazelnut Muffins

These muffins are so tasty and low in sugar!  I have been on this baking with Stevia kick and am really liking the results.  The combination of hazelnut and cherries comes about as a search for a spring break muffin – in other words “What do I have that I can use up and it will still taste good?”

I decided to try out the Truvia Baking product.  This is a Stevia sugar mix – if you need 1 cup of sugar, you use ½ cup of this product.  My recipe needed ⅓ cup sugar, so I ended up using 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of the Truvia.  This does not make these muffins sugar-free, but very low in sugar, and yet they still have a sweet taste.

The dried cherries I had have sugar in them – drat!  It is amazing how many food items actually contain sugar once you start reading labels carefully.

Hazelnuts always remind me of chick peas.

Chop up the cherries and hazelnuts and add to the dry mixture.

I decided to try another new baking product – If You Care Unbleached Large Baking Cups.  They are unbleached and chlorine-free.  Normally, I just skip the baking cups altogether, but they are nice to have on hand, especially if you are planning on taking your muffins or cupcakes to a party or gathering.

Fill the cups ¾ full and bake at lower temperatures for larger muffins.

Eat warm – try not to eat the entire batch in one sitting.  I noticed that 1 hour after I made these babies FIVE were already gone!

Cherry Hazelnut Muffins – makes 12 muffins, adapted from Joy of Cooking

1.  Combine in a medium bowl: 1 ¾ flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ¼ teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons Stevia, and ⅓ cup toasted wheat bran.

2. Whisk together in a small mixing bowl: 2 eggs, ¼ cup oil, ¾ cup almond milk.

3. Combine with the flour mixture: ¾ cup chopped dried cherries and ¼ cup chopped hazelnuts. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add egg mixture and combine with a few swift strokes.

4. Fill prepared muffin cups ¾ full.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.


Slow Cooked Pear Oatmeal

This is an easy breakfast that is sure to get you out the door a little more quickly in the mornings.  Just prep the night before, set on low, and you have hot filling breakfast in the morning.  The smell alone will get you out of bed!
1. Start with 2/3 steel cut oats and 1/3 cup millet, put them in a 4 to 5 quart slow cooker.  
Steel cut oats are a wonderful breakfast food – they have a great chewy texture and are heartier than the rolled oats which are just oats steamrolled flat.  Millet is a seed, and available in white, gray, yellow, and red.  This seed is a good source of manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium.  
2. Add 1-1/2 cups water and 1-1/2 cups almond milk.  Stir.  
3. Peel and dice 2 small ripe pears.  Combine in slow cooker with 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/3 cup raisins, and 1 teaspoon honey.   
4. Cook on low for 6 to 7 hours.  
Enjoy warm!  Caution, if this is cooked too long or on high, the bottom portion of your oatmeal will scald to the bottom of the pot.  If this does happen, don’t toss your oatmeal, just skim off the top sections without breaking through to the bottom.  Breaking through to the scalded section will leave you with a burning taste in your oatmeal. 
Mommy’s Medley Slow Cooked Pear Oatmeal – makes about 3 servings
1. Start with 2/3 steel cut oats and 1/3 cup millet, put them in a 4 to 5 quart slow cooker.  
2. Add 1-1/2 cups water and 1-1/2 cups almond milk.  Stir. 
3. Peel and dice 2 small ripe pears.  Combine in slow cooker with 1 teaspoon cinnamon1 teaspoon vanilla1/3 cup raisins, and 1 teaspoon honey.   
4. Cook on low for 6 to 7 hours.