Posts tagged ‘breakfast’

Slow Mornings

One of the benefits of this little extended vacation before residency starts is the slow mornings. While our days seem to be filled with endless piles of paperwork (marriage license hiccups, name changes, residency paperwork, apartment applications… it never ends!), we have been starting each day slowly with really good coffee. I got Dan a Beehouse pour-over coffee dripper and burr coffee grinder for Christmas, and we have been enjoying getting good use out of it these past few months. We first got hooked on this coffee-brewing method at The Thinking Cup near the Boston Commons. Dan was intrigued by the science behind it – they used kitchen scales, electric kettles with thermometers and long spouts, and timers to brew the perfect cup of coffee. While we don’t get quite that fancy at home, we have found that pour-over coffee is worth the extra few minutes, when you have them.

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From some reading I have been doing for this blog post, I have learned that this coffee brewing method is originally from Japan and has taken off in the US because of the low cost of the associated equipment. While espresso is a much more well known international coffee style, there is a high cost of equipment for DIYers. Pour-over kits can be assembled gradually, and the parts are relatively inexpensive. A good coffee dripper will run around $15-30, and you can be as fancy or as simple with the grinders and kettles as you want.

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The magic of pour-over coffee comes from the small brew method and slow pour. As a coffee-enthusiast, you can control every step – from the bean (we prefer a light roast with more earthy flavors), the coarseness of the grind (we find that a medium grind works well), the temperature and amount of water, all the way up to the length of brew time. Each cup that you brew is unique, and somewhat maker-dependent, which can be both a good and bad thing depending on who you ask. The most important thing we have learned making this style of coffee is the slow pour, as this is what sets it apart from regular drip coffee. American coffee machines, while noteworthy for their convenience, work by pouring a single batch of boiling water over the coffee grounds and then dripping through the filter. This initial boiling water bath can create bitterness that many dislike about American drip coffee. It also does not fully utilize the flavors from the coffee beans as it creates a thick cake that prevents all of the grounds from soaking. Making pour-over coffee allows you to hand pour the hot (not quite boiling) water over the beans in a pulsatile method. (source) The resulting cup of coffee is free of the bitterness that many people dislike about American-style coffee, and is rich and flavorful with a smooth finish. Even my Dad, a dedicated milk-and-sugar kind-of guy, will happily drink pour-over coffee black.

There are plenty of great informative articles out there, from the history of pour-over coffees to comparisons of different drippers to the basic how-to instructions for how to make the perfect cup of coffee. If you enjoy a good cup of coffee or are looking for alternative ways to brew yourself a single cup of coffee, I would highly recommend making the small equipment investment! We have started with a basic dripper and coffee grinder, and currently use an electric kettle to boil the water and a spouted Pyrex measuring glass for the pour. Eventually, we may expand our gadgets but are more than happy to enjoy our simplified, homemade version for now!

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If you are not a coffee fan but are still looking for a slow morning treat, then try out these muffins! I adapted the recipe from my mom’s Better Homes and Gardens magazine to use some dying bananas, and have been greatly enjoying the subtle chocolate flavor and how it compliments my coffee! Do not be intimidated by the name – these muffins are not overly sweet or heavy, and the cocoa comes across more in color than taste. If you are looking for a more decadent treat, try adding chocolate chips or walnuts for a more dessert-like breakfast muffin!

Question: What is the best cup of coffee you have ever had?

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Dark Chocolate Banana Muffins

adapted from Better Homes and Gardens (April 2014)

makes 12 large muffins

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

2/3 cup milk

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

2 eggs

3 tbsp melted butter

2 overripe bananas, mashed

handful walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease a 12-muffin tray; set aside. In a stand mixer, combine all dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine milk, yogurt, eggs and melted butter. Add to dry ingredients in the stand mixer; stir until just moistened. Add the mashed bananas and mix until combined. Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling 3/4 full. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes, then use butter knife to loosen. Store in air-tight container.

April 23, 2014 at 7:48 am Leave a comment

Spring Cleaning Granola

Please excuse my splotchy spoon...

Please excuse my splotchy spoon…

Man oh man is this stuff tasty. I have had a craving for some good, healthy granola ever since returning from Florida. I have had some early mornings lately and my breakfasts have been, well… sad. An afterthought. Something to hold me over until lunch. After a day off, I decided that I couldn’t continue to neglect my favorite meal for much longer! Since oatmeal takes too much time in the morning and hot breakfasts on increasingly warmer mornings are sounding less appealing, the thoughts of granola came to my mind.

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Now I may have mentioned this in other posts before, but homemade granola simply cannot be beaten… once you get it right. It is harder than you’d think to get the wet to dry ratio to give you just enough crumbles and clusters! Too far one way and the granola is dry and lifeless, and too far the other and the result is tacky and hard to store! Once that problem is solved, the combinations of granola goodness become endless. Even better, you can control the amount of sugar you add so you can avoid the cloying sweetness that plaques many store-bought varieties. This batch of granola essentially served as a spring cleaning for my pantry, using up bits of bulk good items bought for other purposes and since forgotten. I will post how I made it below, and then write out what I think is a pretty good bare-bones builder for a make-your own granola!

Question: What are your favorite fruit & nut combos for granola?

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Spring Cleaning Granola

based on a friend’s favorite granola recipe

(note: makes a very large batch, recipe can easily be halved)

dry ingredients:

6 cups oats

1/2 cup lightly salted sunflower seeds (if using unsalted, add a pinch of salt to the wet ingredients)

1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds

3 cups chopped peanuts

wet ingredients:

3/4 cup maple syrup, 1/2 cup mixed in and 1/4 cup reserved

1/2 cup canola oil

1 tbsp cinnamon

3/4 tsp nutmeg

3/4 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup brown sugar

mix-ins:

1 cup dried fruit (I used a combo of dried blueberries and chocolate-covered pomegranate seeds)

Mix together all wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls. Next, mix the wet into the dry ingredients until small clumps form. Spread evenly on a lightly-greased rimmed baking sheet. Place in a 325F oven and bake for 15 minutes. Stir the granola, and bake for 15 more minutes. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of maple syrup over the granola, stir, and bake for 5 final minutes. Remove and allow to cool on the tray. Once room temperature, stir in desired dried fruit.

Bare-Bones Granola Builder

dry ingredients: 

3 cups oats

1/2 cup seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, chia)

1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (peanuts, almonds, pecans, macadamia, walnut)

wet ingredients:

1/4 cup oil (canola, vegetable, olive, grapeseed, coconut)

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp liquid sweetener (maple syrup, honey, agave nectar)

2 tbsp brown sugar

Spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cloves)

Pinch of salt (if nuts not salted)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or almond or anise, if you want to try something fancy!)

mix-ins:

1/2-1 cup dried fruit (cranberries, blueberries, raisins, cherries)

Mix together all wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls. Next, mix the wet into the dry ingredients until small clumps form. Spread evenly on a lightly-greased rimmed baking sheet. Place in a 325F oven and bake for 15 minutes. Stir the granola, and bake for 15 more minutes. Add the remaining maple syrup over the granola, stir, and bake for 5 final minutes. Remove and allow to cool on the tray. Once room temperature, stir in desired dried fruit.

April 10, 2013 at 10:42 am Leave a comment

It’s Fall Y’all: Oats

To me, oats scream fall. There is nothing better on a chilly, fall morning than a big bowl of hot oatmeal. Oats are also essential to great apple crisps and crumbles, or fresh oatmeal cookies. I love oats so much that I have earned the reputation amongst my friends as “Oatmeal Queen.” I will gladly wear that title. If oatmeal isn’t your thing, than maybe granola is. My goal has been to perfect the granola making process, and I think I am finally getting there! I like making granola better than buying it because you have so much more control over the amount of sugar that goes into your cereal. These two recipes really fit the bill!

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Almond Butter Granola is a great option for a fast, no-fuss weekday granola. It takes seconds to prep, minutes to bake, and is so delicious! It is not overly sweet and is a great addition to trail mix or over yogurt!

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Like I said last week, this Coconut Ginger Granola is possibly my new favorite treat! I used Smart Balance butter instead of coconut oil, omitted the Brazil nuts, and added a bit of ginger syrup, otherwise following the recipe pretty closely! This recipe makes me never want to buy granola from a store again.

In case those aren’t enough ideas, here are some links to my favorite oatmeal recipes…

Oatmeal

30 Days of Oatmeal

Caramelized Banana Baked Oatmeal

Oatmeal Greek Yogurt Pancakes

Cinnamon Oat Lace Cookies

…and some more that I have yet to try!

No-Sugar Oat Drops

Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

Question: Are you an oatmeal fan?

October 28, 2012 at 7:00 am 6 comments

Going, Going, Gone Bananas

Time is flying faster than I can keep track of! I feel like I just started my third year clerkships, yet I am already 1 week away from finishing my first rotation. The weeks have been busy, so I am backlogged on a few things that have been coming out of my kitchen lately. Like these to-go oatmeal muffins – they have been sitting on my camera almost as long as the bananas were sitting on my counter top. I have a short window of ripeness during which I enjoy bananas, and so I often end up making banana bread if my bunch ripens too fast. I wanted something more substantial for breakfast than my typical quick bread, however, so I tried making mini baked oatmeal muffins. (They aren’t exactly muffins since they are rather dense, but I am at a loss for what else to call them…) They turned out well first shot, so I have been enjoying them over the past week for breakfast! They are whole grain and filled with protein, and low in calories at about 150 calories per muffin. I have been taking two each morning, eating one before rounds and one during mid-morning to keep me going. (Anyone else have insatiable morning hunger problems? No? Just me?) They could also be a great afternoon snack, and are good cold or hot. Suits my oatmeal, peanut butter, and wholesome food craving all in one bite!

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Peanut Butter and Banana Oatmeal, To Go!

makes 10-12 muffins

2 cups rolled oats

2 medium bananas, overripe and mashed

2 cups milk of your choice

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

2 tbsp ground flax seed

2 tbsp agave nectar

2 tbsp vanilla extract

2 tsp baking powder

11 tsp peanut butter

Preheat oven to 375F. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the peanut butter. Coat a muffin tray with cooking spray. Fill 10 muffin tins halfway with oatmeal mixture. Spoon in 1 tsp peanut butter to each muffin. Fill the tins the rest of the way with oatmeal. If there is leftovers, fill 1-2 more muffins in the same fashion. Bake for 25 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Immediately upon removing from oven, take a knife to loosen the edges of the muffins. Allow to cool for several minutes and then remove to rack to cool completely. Enjoy one for a snack or two for an on the run breakfast.

July 23, 2012 at 5:56 pm 3 comments

WIAW On the Wards

It has been a while since I have posted, and even longer since I have joined a WIAW party! Forgive me, friends, but sometimes life is just really busy! My day-to-day routine is dramatically different from what it was just a short few months ago, so I thought it would be fun to give you a peek into my new life as a 3rd year medical student. (It is official now since I found out today that I PASSED MY BOARDS!) My days are long and busy, and there is not always as much time for cooking, running, and relaxing as I would like, but I would not trade this experience for anything. Enough with the chatter, let’s get to the food! (Forgive the phone pictures – I forgot my camera!)

5:30am

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2-year-old picture from my white coat ceremony, so add a few inches of hair, some pens, note cards, a bunch of paper and random items into those pockets, and maybe a stain or two. I still feel like a kid playing dress up, but am feeling more comfortable in the coat and with my role each day.

I am a morning person by nature, but let’s be real. This is an awful hour of the morning to wake up! I am awake, showered, and out the door by 6am, 6 days a week. Thank God for coffee!

I am on an “away rotation” right now, so I have a 45 minute commute out of the city every morning. The good thing is that I drive opposite of the traffic patterns, leave before rush hour starts and come home at the tail end of it, and carpool with 2 classmates so that I have good car conversation.

6:50am

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Yesterday’s breakfast: Peanut butter and banana burrito.

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Today’s breakfast: Peanut butter and banana overnight oats

I eat my breakfast as I am grabbing my white coat and stethoscope before rounds. I try to eat as close to rounds as possible, since they can often mean hours on your feet with little break. Breakfast lately has either been peanut butter and jelly roll-ups or peanut butter and banana overnight oatmeal. The protein from the peanut butter helps keep me going through a busy morning! I always have a granola bar in my white coat pocket just in case, since it would be pretty embarrassing to pass out in a patient’s room on rounds… Not like that almost happened to me on my first day or anything… My oatmeal kept me full until lunch today, so I squirreled the granola bar away for later.

12:30pm

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Each day, we have our lectures over lunch break, or noon conference. (Ironically, noon conference starts at 12:30, but I just show up as told ;)) Lunch is provided on occasion, but most days I bring my own food. Hummus wraps and leftover dinners are my standard items, and I have started eating my bigger meal during the lunch hour so I have enough energy for a busy afternoon. Today, I had some leftover whole wheat pasta with homemade tomato-basil sauce and zucchini. It was filling and delicious, even though the carbs left me pretty sleepy. (Whoever decided a lunch conference is a good idea promptly forgot their days as an overly tired student/resident…)

2pm

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I am trying to stick to one cup of coffee a day, so have switched to black tea when I need an afternoon boost. Today was just one of those days. I picked at some cherries while I did some research and wrote my progress notes.

5:30pm

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The workday ends around 5pm, unless you are admitting patients or haven’t finished your notes for the day. After letting the overnight resident know about my patients, I am on the road. Most days, I am too hungry to survive the commute back home, so I keep fruit or a granola bar on hand. Today was a  granola bar day since I knew I wanted to run when I got home.

7pm

It has been harder for me to find time to exercise with 12 hour days and commuting, but I have been trying to run 2-3 days a week. My runs are short, between 2 or 3 miles, and are unfortunately less of a priority than they used to be. On days that I don’t exercise, I get some studying done or catch up with friends or chores. I appreciate any time I have to clear my head and my lungs, though, so even today’s short 1.5 miles was satisfying. I followed that up with some ballet barre exercises and light weights at home.

8pm

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I am starving most nights, and so gourmet dinners are currently infrequent on my menu. Most nights, I have a salad or pasta. Breakfast for dinner is always a good option, too. Tonight, I made Chelsey’s Over Easy Savory Oats With Kale, topped with some red chili flakes and extra nutritional yeast. I had a handful of unpictured almonds and raisins to cap off the night.

After a little more reading, packing my breakfast and lunch for the following day, and catching up with friends, I try to maintain a reasonable bed time of 10:30. No matter what time I fall asleep the night before, though, the next morning alarm still comes too early! Life is busy, but life is good. Happy Wednesday!

July 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm 3 comments

Greek Yogurt and Oatmeal Pancakes

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, and arguably one of the most important. Starting your day with wholesome grains and fruits sets the tone for your day’s meals, and wakes up your metabolism. I am never one to skip a meal, but it looks like hot breakfasts might be a luxury for me over the upcoming months! I am starting a new chapter in my medical school career: clinical rotations. This means I get to don my white coat and stethoscope, follow around the interns, residents and attending, and learn how to take care of patients. This also means that I have to be at the hospital at ungodly hours for rounds, at least for my first few rotations. Even this oatmeal loving girl might have to find some on-the-go options for the next few months!

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Forgive the blurry picture, but I wanted to show off my fancy flower spatula!

In the meantime, I hope you all at least get to enjoy this pancake recipe! I made it for brunch last weekend, and despite a few cooking time and temperature problems, I think it turned out well! I adapted the recipe from How Sweet Eats to incorporate oats, since they are my breakfast staple. The pancakes are dense, but are hearty and filling and go great with fresh fruit toppings. If you are looking for a healthy pancake alternative, give this a shot!

Question: What is your favorite grab-and-go breakfast?

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No need for syrup!

Oatmeal Greek Yogurt Pancakes

adapted from this recipe, serves 4-6

1 cup oats, processed roughly into flour in food processor

1 cup whole wheat flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1 can light coconut milk

1/2 cup soy milk

3/4 cup Greek yogurt

1 tbsp vanilla

1 1/2 tbsp honey

Mix together dry ingredients in one bowl and wet ingredients in another. Pour wet into dry ingredients and stir until well combined. On a very hot griddle coated in cooking spray, drop 1/4-1/3 cup batter per pancake. Once bubbles form, flip. (Note: these pancakes take slightly longer to cook per side than traditional pancakes.) Serve warm with jam and fresh fruit.

June 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm 3 comments

Lessons Learned

This past month has taught me a lot. Sure, I put in a lot of hours learning microbiology, physiology, pharmacology, pathology… but beyond the medical science, I also learned a lot about myself.

I learned that it is okay to realize you have worn nothing but leggings and yoga pants for 6 days straight when you sort your laundry.

I tested my attention span and sedentary capacity to their limits, and then broke up study blocks with jumping jacks and sit ups to stay awake and sane.

I realized how important it is to get out of the house each day, even if it is just for a quick one mile jog.

I learned how much I love to run.

I remembered how much I love to walk on days when I just can’t muster the energy to run.

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I appreciated just how much I learned in the past two years, and how much there is that I still don’t know.

The human body is an amazing machine.

I learned that it is okay to cry on a friend’s shoulder when you are overwhelmed and feel inadequate for the task at hand.

I was and am constantly reminded that God is faithful. Starting the day with a Psalm helped refocus my priorities on some really tough days.

I am amazed at the supportive and loving community that has surrounded me and carried me through to where I am now.

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I learned that colored pens make everything more fun.

I released my post-exam anxiety and jitters by recycling two years of notes and scrap paper.

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I learned how important home cooked meals are to me. I only ordered take out twice. And both times were worth it.

I survived by being okay with having breakfast for dinner. And lunch. And breakfast. Because what would life be without home fries and eggs?

I made more variations of home fries and eggs than I knew possible before this past month. Breakfast for dinner meals were great because they still gave me the break I desperately desired in the kitchen without any intensive prep or clean up. I never measured, so these are loose instructions for some of my favorite and unexpected combos rather than strict recipes.

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The first is a Turnip Hash that was inspired by the plethora of turnips I received in my Boston Organics box. I cut up a large turnip (peeled) and a large potato (unpeeled) into bite sized pieces and steamed them until they were fork tender. I then sautéed them in a large skillet with a pad of Smart Balance Light butter, a pinch of salt and rosemary. On a whim, I threw in a small handful of raisins and a dash of cinnamon, because it makes everything better. And it did. I was surprised how much I liked this! The classic rosemary with potatoes kept it homey, while the turnips added an interesting flavor and stronger texture. The raisins were a nice sweet addition, though I did make it without and liked it both ways. A whole turnip and potato made at least 3 if not more meals for me served alongside a fried egg and piece of toast. Breakfast for dinner success number 1!

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The second is a Curried Egg Omelette. I can’t take credit for this idea – my Grandma is the true brains behind this creation. While in Florida, she made eggs one morning and on a whim (I am seeing where my cooking style comes from now…) threw in a dash of curry powder and cinnamon. I was skeptical, as I am sure you are as well, but, like I said, cinnamon makes everything better. And it did. The cinnamon flavor didn’t shine through, but instead enhanced the light curry flavor that took over the scrambled eggs. It was unexpected and addicting. I knew I had to make it again. So I did. I mixed two eggs with a teaspoon of Greek yogurt (you could use milk or sour cream as well) and a few shakes (about 1/4 tsp) curry powder and a shake (less than 1/8 tsp) cinnamon. You can turn this into scrambled eggs, or pour it into a really hot pan for a nice omelette with a crunchy outside. The curry flavor is mild but unique, and leaves me wanting more! I ate these eggs alongside some sweet potato  home fries, skins left on and sautéed in olive oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

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Lesson learned in writing this post: I should buy stock in cinnamon.

And I am so excited to cook and share with you all again!

May 21, 2012 at 11:00 am 7 comments

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