Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Dark Chocolate…The Why

Dark chocolate, especially any 70% dark chocolate or higher, contains many nutrients—such as antioxidants, fiber, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, zinc, and magnesium that may help lower your risk of heart disease, reduce inflammation and insulin resistance, and improve brain function, alleviate stress, and lower your risk of diabetes.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Blackberries…The How

Shopping for Blackberries

When shopping for blackberries, remember that the blacker the color, the riper and sweeter the blackberry will be.

The perfect blackberry has a “deep”-flavored and is very juicy.

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Storing Blackberries

Blackberries are highly perishable and delicate. They can turn soft, mushy, and moldy within 24 hours after bringing them home from the store, so you will want to either use them that same day or freeze them.

Once you do bring them home, check for any soft, overripe berries…as well as any squished or moldy berries. Gently blot the berries that you’re keeping with a paper towel and place them in a covered container in your fridge.

Do not wash the berries until you’re fixing to…_(yeah, I am from the Deep South)…to either eat them or cook with them.

To freeze blackberries…which is honestly the best way to use them to make smoothies…flash freeze them by first arranging the blackberries in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Then put the cookie sheet with the berries into the freezer. Freeze them until they are solidly frozen. Then put them to an airtight container or Ziploc bag, label, and date…..yeah, I do know that you can also buy prepackaged frozen berries, but we’re trying to avoid processed foods, remember?)

 

 

 

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Recipes

Blackberries have been used to make wines and cordials as far back as 1696..so they must taste pretty darn good, right?.

And of  course you could eat the blackberries that you have bought all by themselves, but why stop there, when you could use your blackberries to make great desserts such as cobbler, jelly, and smoothies. 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

And the Beet Goes On…(Making the Perfect Beet Smoothie)

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Can’t Beat the Beet

A bunch of beets with beet greens on a wooden cutting board on a marble countertop.

 

 

 

 

 

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THE WHAT?!

One of my goals while writing this blog has been to slowly crawl up the Raw Foods Pyramid, looking at one option at a time…seeing how each ingredient can be added to the diet of my newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic.

So, since we are now on the topic of fruits and vegetables…leafy greens…smoothies…smoothie purposes…antioxidants…(progression of my outline if that makes sense to anyone else out there)…

Today we are going to talk about beets.

Beets—in the same “family” as sweet potatoes and carrots, are a root vegetable used in many cuisines around the world.

 

 

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THE WHY?!

Beets are a superfood that is packed with nutrition—including vitamins, minerals

Let’s take a look at some of its medicinal properties.

  • Calories: 44,,,Beets are low in calories
  • Protein: 1.7 grams
  • Fat: 0.2 grams…Beets are low in fat.
  • Fiber: 2 grams…Fiber has many health benefits—such as improving digestion, keeping you “regular,” and prevent digestive conditions—such as constipation, inflammatory bowel disease and diverticulitis
  • Now let’s take a look at what beets have to offer as far as vitamins and minerals,
  • Folate: 20% of the RDI
  • Iron: 4% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 6% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 16% of the RDI
  • Phosphorous: 4% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 9% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6: 3% of the RDI
  • Vitamin C: 6% of the RDI

In addition, beets also offer many nitrates and pigments that are beneficial.

Betalains, a pigment found i beets, have may anti-inflammatory properties and can refuce pain and discomfort caused by this.

Nitrates dilate blood vessels, causing blood pressure to drop.

 

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THE WHY ELSE?!

Some of the benefits that beets offer as far as health include…

1. Anti-inflammatory...As mentioned earlier, beets contain the pigment called betalains which has anti-inflammatory properties that can help prevent inclulding obesity, heart disease, liver disease, and cancer.

2. Cancer…Beets contain the antioxidants that are needed to help  reduce the division and growth of cancer cells.

3. Enhanced athletic performance…The nitrates found in beets improve the efficiency of the mitochondria found within each and every cell that are responsible for producing energy in your cells.

4. Heart...Beets contain nitrates—which have been shown to help reduce your risk of heart problems—such as heart attacks, heart failure and stroke.

5. High blood pressure...Eating beets can lower your blood pressure anywhere from  4 to 10 mmHg over a period of only a few hours.

6.Mental.cognitive decline associated with aging.…The nitrates found in beets help maintain the blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain…which in turn helps you maintain the health of the brain associated with decision making and memory.

7. Weight Loss…Because beets are a low-calorie food with a high water and a high protein content, beets may help you lose weight by reducing your appetite and making you feet full longer. Beets also contain moderate amounts of protein and fiber, both important nutrients for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Attain and Maintain

We all know that eating vegetables is so very important…in fact, how many billions of times did we hear out mothers tell us to “eat your vegetables” as we were growing up.

Yet 84% of Americans do not eat the recommended four daily servings of vegetables each day…including yours truly.

But instead of taking days and days to blog about the details of all the remaining leafy greens, let’s simply take a look at why you should consider adding leafy greens, and other vegetables to your breakfast planning…assuming that you do eat breakfast in the first place.

But how many of us are actually eating breakfast, and how many of us think of veggies as the shining star of the breakfast buffet? Who want veggies when there are tastier things such as donuts and bagels within arm’s reach also?

Eating leafy greens and veggies first things in the morning allows you to run out the front door…or garage door…and down your driveway with a grin on your face….

Well, actually not that…

But eating leafy greens and other veggies for breakfast can play an important role in helping you attain and maintain a healthier lifestyle.

Eating a healthy breakfast that includes leafy greens, and other vegetables, will…

  • add vitamins and minerals to your diet
  • curb morning carb cravings
  • encourage you to use veggies in your other meals also
  • help you meet your daily fiber, protein and protein needs
  • help you stay alert and full of energy all day long.
  • keep you from feeling less hungry later and running to the nearest vending machine or fast food place

Half the battle of being able to grab and go as far as breakfast is concerned is to plan ahead.

Look here at my previous post for a list of breakfast ideas and recipes.

But what are some more ideas for breakfast…and what are some ways to add veggies to your breakfast repertoire?

Keep reading!!!

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Leaf Season All Year Round

I find the idea of eating three cups of mustard greens or collard greens still repulsive, but my Mom would be so glad that I actually do eat them now instead of feeding them to the dog while she wasn’t looking.

Why did I even consider adding these leafy greens that I once found repulsive to my diet?

Mainly because leafy greens are packed with important and powerful nutrients,

Also because most leafy greens are available fresh all year round…making adding them to your weekly menus quite an easy task.

 

 

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Nutritional Value

All leafy greens are typically low in calories and fat…high in protein per calorie…and contain such important nutrients are dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, manganese,  vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese, iron, and antioxidants.

Health benefits of adding leafy greens to your diet include…

  • Alzheimer’s disease…leafy greens can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease
  • Antioxidants...leafy greens contain the antioxidants need to fight the effects of free radicals in the body…which reduces your chances of getting such major illmesses as cancer, heart diseasem  high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.
  • Blood.,,,leafy greens have been shown to helping your blood clot normally….leafy greens also stimulates production of antibodies and white blood cells
  • Bones…leafy greens have been shown to imporove the health of your, bones by helping prevent osteoporosis and boosting bone strength
  • Diabetes…leafy greens have been shown to lower your risk of getting type 2 diabetes by 14% 
  • Eyes…leafy greens have been shown to improve your eyesight…leafy greens also help prevents eye disorders such as muscular degeneration and cataracts….they can also lower your risk of developing night blindness.
  • Immune System…leafy greens Help strengthen the immune system
  • Skin…leafy greens have been shown to maintain skin elasticity

In fact, the Department of Agriculture recommends that adults consume at least three cups of dark green vegetables each week.

 

 

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Varieties of Greens

 

Thankfully, there are several varieties of leafy greens out there…so that you don’t have to feel obligated to simply eat the “required”  bowl of bagged salad every single night, night after night…

These options include…

1.Beet Greens

  • Leaves…green…veins of the leaves correspond to the color of the beet root
  • Scales…Beets with round, scaly areas around the top surface will be tough, fibrous, and strongly flavored.

2.  Boy Choy

  • Leaves…smooth, dark green leaf blades that form a cluster similar to mustard greens or celery—resembling Romaine lettuce on top and a large celery on the bottom.
  • Flavor…light and sweet
  • Texture..crispy, crunchy

3. Butterhead Lettuce

  • Also called…butter lettuce, Boston, bibb (limestone)
  • Leaves…soft and smooth like buttee

4. Cos Lettuce

  • Leaves…dark green, long, narrow
  • Taste…..sweet and tangy
  • Texture…crispy and crunchy texture

5. Cress

  • Leaves…tough, fibrous stem and small green leaves
  • Taste…peppery taste
  • Varieties…watercress, upland cress, curly cress, and land cress

5. Dandelion Greens

  • Leaves…the green leaves from the so-thought-of “weeds” in your yard…stiff leaves with pointy, fine “teeth.”
  • Taste…sharp bitter flavor
  • Uses…a classic French bistro salad, salads with roasted beets

6. Endive

  • Color…off-white center with loose, lacy, dark green outer leaves which curl at the tips
  • Leaves..loose, lacy, dark green oval-shaped outer leaves which curl at the tips
  • Taste…slightly bitter
  • Texture…soft and satiny
  • Uses…salads and soups
  • Uses…scoop-like shape makes for serving small appetizers

7. Escarole

  • Color…various shades of green
  • Head…loose, elongated heads
  • Leaves…broad, wavy leaves with smooth edges
  • Other Names…Batavian endive, scarole, broad-leaved endive
  • Taste…darker green leaves are lightly bitter and spicy; but the paler interior leaves are milder
  • Uses…soups and beans…popular in Italian cuisine.

8. Frisee

  • Color…pale green
  • Leaves…feathery leaves tinged with yellow and green
  • Other Names…curly endive, chicory, chicory endive, curly chicory
  • Taste…bitter

9. Iceberg

  • Leaves…tightly packed leaves on dense, heavy heads
  • Water Content…contains more water than most other leafy greens

19, Kale

  • Nutritional Value…high in fiber
  • Taste…earthy, slightly grassy taste
  • Uses…salads, soups, pasta, and smoothies
  • Varieties…include curly, baby, and lacinato

11. Lacinato Kale (a.k.a. Dino Kale)

  • Other Names…Tuscan kale or black kale
  • Leaves…very dark blue-green or black-green leaves
  • Taste…earthy and  nutty flavor

12. Leaf Lettuce 

  • Color…can be either green or red
  • Leaves…large, frilly-edged
  • Taste…mildly sweet and delicate taste
  • Uses…sandwiches, burgers, popular lining for hors d’oeuvres platters

13. Mâche

  • Other Names…Field salad, lamb’s lettuce, corn salad, field lettuce, fetticus
  • Taste…mild and slightly sweet flavor
  • Leaves…very small
  • Notes…expensive, very delicate, will bruise easily

14. Mizuna

  • Leaves…petite elongated leaves with spiky edges similar to miniature oak leaves
  • Origin…Japan
  • Other Names…Japanese greens, spider mustard, xue cai, kyona, potherb mustard, and California Peppergrass
  • Taste…peppery

15, Oak Leaf Lettuce

  • Color…reddish-purple
  • Leaves…very similar to leaf lettuce, but with more of an oak leaf shape
  • Taste…super-mellow, sweet

16. Radicchio

  • Color…burgundy-red leaves with white ribs
  • Other Names…Chioggia, red chicory, red leaf chicory, red Italian chicory
  • Taste…mildly bitter with a subtle spicy undertone
  • Texture…quite firm but still tender
  • Uses…in salads, as a cooked vegetable, and grilled or roasted and mixed with other grilled vegetables

17. Romaine

  • Nutritional Value…particularly rich in folic acid and vitamin K
  • Taste..light, almost grassy taste
  • Texture…a satisfying crunch
  • Uses..Caesar salads, wraps

18. Spinach

  • Color…dark green leaves
  • Leaves…smooth, sturdy, deep green
  • Taste…mild, lightly herbal
  • Uses…salads, wraps, and smoothies

19, Sweet Potato Greens

  • Taste…lovely, almost sweet flavor with no discernible bitterness
  • Uses…soups or stews

20 Tatsoi

  • Leaves…small and rounded much like little spoons, hence its other name, spoon cabbage
  • Other Names…Tat soi, spoon cabbage, rosette bok choy
  • Taste…mildly peppery and sweet, with only the faintest hint of cabbage flavor.

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

The Great Pumpkin…and What’s So Great About It?

So are pumpkins merely for setting by your door every Halloween…and perhaps using a can of pumpkin to make pumpkin pie every Thanksgiving?

Actually no…they have far too much nutritional value to keep on the back burner…or out of your oven…

Pumpkins are actually packed with vitamins and minerals such as…

 

 

 

1.Antioxidants.…Pumpkins contain antioxidants—specially the carotenoids alpha-carotene and beta-carotene—as evident by their bright orange color.

Beta-carotene is especially important because it is easily converted into vitamin A…which in turn triggers the creation of white blood cells that fight infection.

As far as health, antioxidants may reduce your risk of developing certain illnesses, such as…

  • age-related macular degeneration
  • asthma.
  • certain types of cancer, including prostate and colon cancer
  • degenerative damage to the eyes
  • diabetes
  • heart disease

As far as beauty, antioxidants help reverse UV damage and improve skin texture.

 

 

2. Calories...One cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt contains 49 calories.

 

3. Carbohydrates...One cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt contains 12.01 grams of carbohydrates.

 

4.Cholesterol…One cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt contains no cholesterol.

 

5.Fat…One cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt contains 0.17 g of fat..

 

6. Fiber…One cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt contains 2.7 g of fiber, while canned pumpkin provides over 7 grams of fiber….helping you reach the recommended daily allowant for fiber intake of between 25 and 30 grams.

Fiber is important for slowing the rate of sugar absorption into the blood…promoting regular bowel movements…and supporting the digestive system in general.

 

7. Protein…One cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt contains 1.76 grams of protein.

 

 

 

8. Vitamins

Vitamin AOne cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt contains more than 200% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin A….whicv is very important if you don’t want to grow bald before you’re fifty.

Vitamin B…Pumpkin is a good source of most of the B vitamins—such as niacin, riboflavin, B6 and folate. This makes pumpkin great for treating acne, improving circulation, and increasing cell turn over and renewal.

Vitamin C…Vitamin C helps prevent wrinkles and skin cancer, promotes collagen production, and improves skin tone and elasticity….also strengthens hair follicles….

Vitamin C...One cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt contains 19% of the RDA of vitamin C. Vitamin C is important for the immune system, especially important on days like today when the temperature is lunging from 85 degrees today to about 50 degrees tomorrow….

Vitamin E…Vitamin E stimulates blood circulation in the scalp, which then promotes hair growth also.

 

 

 

9. Minerals…Pumpkin contains extensive amounts of two vital minerals—potassium.. and zinc.

Potassium helps promote healthy hair and regrowth….while zinc prevents and treats flaking, irritation, and itching scalp.

Other Nutrients…One cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt contains 10% or more riboflavin…and 5% of thiamine, folate, and pantothenic acid,

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Waffles

Now that we’ve learned how to make the perfect pancakes, let’s move on to making the pancake’s kissing cousin…the waffle…

You might think to yourself, we just learned how to make the perfect pancake batter…can’t I simply use the same recipe to now make waffles…

 

 

Actually…

No!!!

 

Waffle batter and pancake batter may seem very similar….you really can’t use your pancake recipe and expect great waffles.

 

 

 

Why? 

Pancake recipes are created to make flat things without a crispy exterior…

 

 

 

But before we learn HOW to make the perfect waffles, let’s talk about what the perfect waffles would be like.

The perfect waffles are buttery, sweet, and thick…with a perfectly crisp extterior……with a light and fluffy interior…and  topped with the perfect amount of butter, syrup, and whatever else you wanna put on them.

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The Ingredients

  • 1Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2gsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2C buttermilk
  • 1/4C butter
  • 1tsp vanilla or 1Tbsp amaretto
  • 1/3C vegetable oil
  • 1/2C cornstarch
  • 1-1/2C flour
  • 3/4C sugar

 

 

 

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The Waffle Iron

If yuu’re gonna make good waffles, you really should have a good waffle iron, such as this KitchenAid Waffle Baker 

So go ahead and buy one that cooks waffles evenly if your waffle iron has become crabby and temperamental.

If you are shopping for a waffle iron, things to consider include…

  • cool-touch handles...waffle irons with plastic handle heat up less than models with chrome or stainless-steel handles
  • fllip style…using a waffle iton that you can flip pver after pouring in the batter will allow the batter to spread out evenly and also make sure that the waffle cooks evenly on both sides.
  • size…think about how much space you have to store the waffle maker when you aren’t using it.
  • temperature control...adjustable thermostats allow you to control the cooking temperature so that you can make both soft, light-colored waffles…as well as crispy, dark-colored waffles.

Now that you have bought…or found…your waffle iron it is important to read…or have read…the instruction manual because different waffle makers will cook differently.

 

 

 

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Preheat Your Waffle Iron

Preheating your waffle iron before adding any batter to the waffle iron is very important for two reasons….prevents soggy waffles…and makes the batter turn crispy as soon as it hits the surface.

 

 

 

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The “Dry” Ingredients

Place flour, sugar, cornstarch, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl, Whisk to combine. Set aside.

(Yes…I do realize that sugar is a dry ingredient, but add it later…you will soon see why.

 

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The $ggs

First separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. This will give them a crispier exterior….as well as make the interior of the waffle more fluffy. and light, instead of heavy and dense.

Now add your sugar,

Whip your egg whites to the soft-peak stage., meaning until stiff peaks form….you should be able to lift the beaters straight out of the egg whites and invert the beaters, and find that the egg white stand up on their own.

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The “Wet” Ingredients

Whisk together your egg yolks, milk, melted butter, and vanilla In a medium-sized mixing bowl.

 

The Buttermilk…If you do not have buttermilk in your fridge…and are too lazy to go to Walmart of somewhere and go get some, combine a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar with  to a cup of milk.

Some people recommend that you use a combination of buttermilk and regular milk because this makes your batter even thinner…personally I like the extra buttermilk flavor.

 

 

 

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Batter Up

At this point, you should have three bowls of “stuff”===your dry ingredients, your wet ingredients, and your beaten egg whites.

So now let’s combine all three of these mixtures so that we can get on with out waffle making.

 

 

When stirring together your ingredients, it important that you never overmix your batter.

You want your batter to be smooth enough that it flows freely through the dimples of the waffle plate..yet not over-mixed to the point where the flour turns into gluten… making your pancakes chewier, instead of fluffy.

So at this stage, a gentle hand and patience and very important..

 

 

Anyway…how do we do this?

  1. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, using a rubber spatula and a gentle motion.
  2. Mix together until smooth.
  3. Now scoop the beaten egg whites into the batter, just until combined. It is important that you do this very gently..
  4. Fold the egg whites gently into the batter….being careful not to deflate them..
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Cooking the Pancakes

Scoop 1/2C batter into the center of your waffle iron,

Close the lid.

Let cook until the indicator light or beeping mechanism does its thing. Do not lift the lid too soon.  Lifting the lid too soon could mean that half of your waffle ends up on the top of the waffle iron…while the other stays on the bottom..

Remove hot waffles from the waffle iron.  

The that waffle that you make is probably not going to turn out perfectly. If so, you may need to adjust the amount of batter or color control settings until you get the results you

Respray the waffle pan after each waffle.

Continue cooking waffles until all batter is used,.

 

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Keeping Your Waffles Warm

Preheat oven to 200°F.

Place the cooked waffles directly on the oven rack while finishing cooking the rest of the waffles.

Not only will this keep the waffles warm as you are cooking, but doing this will also make your waffles crispier by allowing the steam to escape and will allow everyone to eat at the same time instead of staggeredly, as each individual waffle finishes cooking.

Just make sure the waffles do not burn…five minutes is about the maximum amount of time they can sray in your oven without burning.

And do not stack the waffles…otherwise, they will turn moist and limp.

 

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Storing

Place any leftover pancakes in a freezer bag once they cool down. Place wax paper between multiple waffles. Squeeze as much air from the bag as possible.

 

 

 

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Reheating

Set out however many waffles you need on the counter for ten minutes…while you preheat the oven to 300 degrees .

 

Clean your waffle iron shortly after each use. This will make cleaning the waffle iron so much easier than if you wait and clean it much later after 

Use a plastic or rubber utensil to remove waffles from the waffle iron. Using a metal fork or knife could eventually damage the sufaces of your waffle iron.

 

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Pancakes

 

 

 

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The Ingredients

  • n2C flour
  • ¼C sugar
  • 4tsp baking powder
  • ½tsp salt
  • 2tsp vanilla
  • 1½C milk
  • 1 egg
  • ¼C melted butter
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Dry Ingredients

Mix together these dry ingredients.

You can do this with either a whisk or a Mason jar.

You want to go ahead and mix your dry ingredients enough to get rid of any lumps at this stage in order to avoid big lumps….and because later you will need to avoid over-mixing the batter once you add the wet to the dry,

 

 

The Baking Powder…Be sure to check the expiration date on the baking powder canister. If your baking powder is old or expired, your pancakes will not right…and will end up flat, instead of light and fluffy.

If you would like even fluffier pancakes, feel free to double the amount of baking powder.

You might also want to try using only 2tsp of baking powder and then adding 1/2tsp baking soda.

 

The Flour…Spoon your flour into a measuring cup instead of scooping the flour out of the flour canister with a measuring cup, like most of us do…including me.

Scooping the flour causes your measuring cup to be filled with too much flour, often resulting in tough pancakes.

Don’t restrict yourself to only using all-purpose flour…be adventuresome by swapping out half of the flour with another type of flour—such as whole wheat, buckwheat, brown rice, corn, oat, or gluten-free.

 

 

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Mason Jar Method

You can also use a Mason jar to shake your ingredients together.

To do this, layer your wet ingredients first—milk, egg, and oil…and then your dry ingredients—flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a wide-mouth quart-sized jar. Seal the jar tightly . Shake the jar vigorously for at least two minutes…until the ingredients are combined. Once the ingredients are combined, you can either cook pancakes immediately or stick the jar in the fridge for later.

To make your pancakes, simply pour the batter straight from the jar onto your griddle or pan…and cook them…(more on that later)…

 

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Liquid Ingredients

Combine your liquid ingredients.

 

The Butter…Using unsalted butter allows youu to control the taste of your pancakes better..

 

The Buttermilk...Butttermilk is what makes your pancakes tenderest. If you do not want to use milk or buttermilk, use water, coffee, or juice as your liquid base instead…reducing the amount of liquid called for in the original recipe by.one-fourth of the amount.

 

 

 

The Eggs…Bringing your eggs to room temp before mixing into your batter will give you the best results.

To make your pancakes even fluffier, take the time to separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. …beat your egg whites  with a hand mixer until stiff peaks form…and finally fold the beaten egg whites into your batter gently with a rubber spatula until just combined.

 

 

 


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Mixing Ingredients Together

You should have already whisked your dry ingredients together before you added in the wet ingredients…so you should be able to combine your wet ingredients and dry ingredients together very easily.

Now gently fold your dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just combined.

Stir until the flour is moist, but there are still a few small clumps of flour.

.Do not over-mix the batter. It’s okay to leave some lumps in the batter.

If you overmix the batter, you will end up with tough and dense pancakes, not fluffy.

At this point, you should add any ingredients that you would like to add to your batter…such as…

  • Banana…one mashed ripe banana
  • Blueberries…1C
  • Cream cheese…3oz finely chopped cream cheese
  • Lemon…1tsp grated lemon peel
  • Orange…1tsp grated orange peel
  • Pecans…1/2C…toast and chop finely
  • Strawberries…1C
  • Walnuts…1/2C…toast and chop finely

 

 

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Resting Your Batter

Now that all of your ingredients have become friends, it’s time to rest your batter. What does it mean to “rest” your batter?

To rest your batter means to simply leave it alone for anywhere from ten to thirty minutes. The longer you rest your batter, the better your pancakes will turn out…

Why should you “rest” your batter?

Resting your batter will…

  • dissolve any small lumps
  • give the baking powder enough time to activate
  • give the flour a chance to absorb liquid in the batter

 

 

 

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The Pan

As far as what kind of pan to use when making pancakes, the best option is an electric griddle…

An electric non-stick griddle makes flipping your pancakes much easier.

But if you’d rather cook your pancakes on top of the stove or don’t have an electric griddle, use a large, about 12,” non-stick skillet with sloping slides….preferably cast iron.

Cast iron will give you even heat distribution allow you to brown your pancakes without having to use tons of butter.

 

 

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Heating the Pan

 

Heat your pan or skillet over medium heat until drop of water sizzles..

Heat a little bit of vegetable oil…(for other types of oils to cook with, check this previous post out)…

Avoid using regular butter because the butter will be more likely to burn and make your pancakes turn out funky tasting.

Reduce heat to medium-low.

 

 

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Cooking

Use a 1/4C measuring cup…or pour the batter from the Mason jar depending on which method you used earlier…to shape the batter into medium-sized circles….about 3-1/2″ wide. 

Cook your pancakes for a couple of minutes…until little bubbles appear and the edges start to get firm.

Be sure to avoid squishing the pancakes with your spatula.

Flip. Once you flip the pancake over, don’t press down on it with your spatula. Let the pancake cook naturally so you do not end up with flat, boring pancakes.

Cook your pancakes for a couple of minutes on the other side…until both sides are lightly golden.

Keep pancakes warm while you’finish cooking the rest by covering the pancakes with aluminum foil and then sticking them in an oven that has been preheated to about 200.°

If you find that your pancakes are browning too quickly, turn down the heat down and let the pan cool down for a minute or so before starting the next batch.

If you find that your pancakes are sticking to the pan, add more butter or oil.

Wipe out the pan between batches…especially if you are using butter instead of oil.

Finish cooking any remaining batter.

 

 

 

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Storing

Obviously most of us know what to do with the pancakes once you finish cooking them, but did you know that you can also make them ahead of time…instead of resorting to buying already frozen pancakes from the grocery store…

I was kinda shocked to find pancakes stored by the frozen biscuits and frozen breakfast burritos and frozen waffles…wonder how many preservatives are in all of these products, right?

 

To refrigerate…put the pancakes in an airtight container…will stay fresh for up to 5 days

To freeze…flash freeze them and store in large ziplocs…will stay fresh up to 2 months

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect “Energy Muffins”

Muffins can be another healthy breakfast food…

…but store-bought tend to be fairly calorie-dense, usually contain preservatives and other hard-to-pronounce ingredients, and tend to be very high in sugar…oversized nutritional disasters packed with tons of calories and fat and little protein.

 

 

Instead make your own muffins…they are so easy to bake and freeze in bulk…not to mention cheaper.

 

 

The following base recipe allows you to be creative by adding different fruits or nuts…and is totally sugar, oil, and gluten free.

 

Fruits and nuts may add calories, but are worth it. Dried or fresh fruits…such as raisins, cherries, blueberries, apples…are packed with antioxidants. Nuts…such as walnuts, pecans, almonds… provide heart-healthy fats.

 

The carbs in the whole-grain flour will help fuel your muscles, and the high fiber will keep you feeling full.The substitution of applesauce for oil reduces the fat content of the muffins.

 

 

 

Energy Muffins

2C whole-grain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4C ground flaxseeds
2tsp cinnamon
2tsp baking powder
2 eggs
3 ripe bananas
1/2C unsweetened apple sauce
1C unsweetened almond milk
1tsp vanilla
1/2C dried, fresh, or frozen fruit (optional)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Fill a muffin tin with 12 paper muffin cups.Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Slightly beat the eggs. Mix in the milk and applesauce. Add wet ingredients to the dry mix. Stir until just combined, sprinkling in the nuts or fruit. Spoon into muffin cups. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until muffin tops are golden brown.