Thursday, May 15, 2014

Fluffy Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes

Last night my husband and I bought some fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.  When I got home and cleaned them, I just had to taste a few.  Sometimes berries aren't naturally sweet enough and need a little sugar to taste good, but these were very sweet on their own.  I'm usually not a huge fan of blueberries because they aren't as sweet as other berries, but these were very sweet, so sweet in fact that I couldn't stop eating them.  I had the immediate thought, "I need to make blueberry pancakes for breakfast."

Cut to this morning.  I've been in the mood for pancakes for weeks if not months, but I try to eat a pretty healthy diet and can't validate making something with a lot of white flour just for the heck of it.  I decided to look up pancake recipes that call for whole wheat flour.  Eventually, I stumbled upon a winner.  With a couple of twists of my own to the recipe, I whipped up a batch for my husband and me to try.  As we say in our house when we like a new recipe, "this is a do again."  We have a baby on the way, and my husband was saying he can picture me making these pancakes for our son in a few years.  They're that good.  Kids would totally gobble them up.  And, it doesn't hurt that each pancake has less than 100 calories (93 if you want to be picky).

Fluffy Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes
Makes about 8 pancakes

1 c whole wheat flour
1 tbsp Splenda (you can substitute an equal amount of sugar)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 c + 2 tbsp Silk Vanilla Coconut Milk * (see note below)
1 egg
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
about 60 blueberries (or your favorite berries, more or less depending on the size of the berries)

Whisk the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl.

Whisk the milk, egg and vegetable oil in a separate bowl.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk just until combined.  A few lumps are okay.

Heat a skillet or griddle over medium high heat and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Pour about a quarter cup of batter onto the hot surface.  Drop about 7 berries on top of the pancake.

Cook until bubbles form on top of the pancake.  Then carefully flip over with a spatula.  Cook another minute or so.

Flip over again.  The pancake should be fluffy, cooked through and golden on both sides.

Put the pancakes on a serving plate or individual plates.  Repeat the process with remaining batter.  You can keep the pancakes warm in the oven on the lowest setting while you cook.

Top with butter, syrup, powdered sugar or your favorite jam.  Even a squeeze of lemon juice would be good.

For fun, I put raspberries in the last two pancakes I made this morning, one for my husband and one for myself.  Those were quite delicious as well!

Note: * You can substitute Vanilla Soymilk or Vanilla Almond Milk.  If you don't use a vanilla flavored milk (like, if you use skim milk), add 1/2 tsp vanilla extract to the wet ingredients.

Update: 7/5/14

Since originally posting this recipe, I've made it successfully with blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and even crushed pineapple, so feel free to experiment!  A mixed berry pancake with blueberries and strawberries would be perfectly patriotic for Memorial Day, Veterans Day or the 4th of July.
red, white and blueberry pancakes

Pineapple pancakes would be festive for spring or summer or any time you want to feel like you're in a tropical location!
strawberry pancakes and pineapple pancakes, before being flipped

strawberry pancakes and pineapple pancakes, after cooking

Happy eating!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Caramelized Butternut Squash & Brussels Sprouts

I grew up eating pretty boring vegetables, like green beans, corn and potatoes.  Only recently have I started branching out, and I'm sure glad I did.  Veggies are becoming my new favorite food group.  Why or why didn't my mom ever buy butternut squash or Brussels sprouts?

I looked up a couple recipes for butternut squash and Brussels sprouts (thanks, Pinterest) and ended up combining what I liked about a couple of them with some ideas all my own.  What you have is a pretty easy very tasty veggie dish that's sure to please even picky eaters.

1 butternut squash
2 tbsp butter
2 sprigs rosemary
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
10 oz Brussels sprouts
1/4 c Balsamic Vinaigrette (get my recipe)

Preheat oven to 375.  Cut butternut squash in half lengthwise.  Scoop out the seeds.  Brush with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt.  Where the seeds were removed, put 1 tbsp butter  in each half.  Put a rosemary sprig on top of each half.  Wrap tightly with aluminum foil.  Set on a baking sheet in the oven, and bake for 45 minutes or until tender.

When the squash is done, let it cool until you can handle it. 

Meanwhile, thinly slice the Brussels sprouts.

When the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and chop into cubes.

Heat a large pan over medium heat.  Add the squash, Brussels sprouts and vinaigrette.  Cook until the veggies start to brown and caramelize.

Voila.  The best veggie side dish (or entree) ever!  It's even tasty enough to serve for Thanksgiving.

Happy eating!

Elvis Waffles

I've always loved bananas and peanut butter, and I also love waffles and bananas.  Well, why not add peanut butter and turn it into a combo Elvis would love?

Elvis Waffles

Waffles (eggos work, or your favorite recipe, but I love my Multi-Grain Waffle Recipe)
peanut butter (about 1 tbsp per Belgium waffle quarter or per Eggo)
1 banana
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Make your waffles if you haven't already.  You can easily make and reheat my delicious Multi-Grain waffles.  I make a huge batch, keep them in the freezer and reheat them in the toaster.  Get the recipe here.

Slice the banana and put it in a microwave-safe bowl.  Heat for 30 seconds and stir.  Cook until the banana is cooked through and a little mushy, perhaps another 30 seconds.  It'll depend on your microwave.  Sprinkle cinnamon on top of the banana and stir.

Spread peanut butter on your waffles.  Top with the cooked bananas.  Add your favorite syrup or a sprinkle of powdered sugar and invite Elvis over for brunch!

This meal would go great with a Skinny Pregnant Girl Mimosa and/or a Flavored Cafe au Lait.

Happy eating!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Skinny Pregnant Girl Mimosa

Obviously when you're pregnant you're not supposed to drink alcohol, and I haven't.  However, there are days when I'd just really like a cocktail or a glass of wine.  I look forward to having my Ono Mai Tais occasionally after the baby arrives.  In the meantime, what's a girl to do?

Well, I looked up non-alcoholic wine, and there's a brand called Fre that makes wine and then removes the alcohol from it.  Kinda cool and kinda perfect for me.  I tried their Moscato a couple months ago and wasn't impressed.  My husband actually ended up finishing the bottle thinking of it as grape juice.  Basically, that's what it is without alcohol, right?  Aged grape juice in a pretty glass bottle.

Last week, my husband and I were walking around Total Wine.  I thought it'd be torture.  It was on the weekend, and they do 10 cent wine tastings every weekend.  He did a wine tasting, but I obviously didn't.  We bought a few bottles (including one he tasted) to save for after the baby's here, but I also ventured over to the non-alcoholic section and looked at the Fre wine again.  I decided to pick up a bottle of Fre Brut sparkling wine and try making Mimosas with it.

Oh happy day.  Yes, the Fre Brut sparkling wine mixed with orange juice (or, my favorite Trop50) tastes exactly like a real Mimosa.  I hear angels singing.  Finally, a mocktail I actually like!  I mean, I've had Shirley Temples a couple times, but this is something I'd drink anyway (a real Mimosa, that is).

The best part is that this is a super low-cal mocktail too, only 30 calories per 4-ounce glass (champagne flute).  It's time for some guilt-free indulgence!

Skinny Pregnant Girl Mimosas
(makes 1 serving)

2 ounces Trop50 No Pulp Calcium + Vitamin D
2 ounces Fre Brut

Pour the Trop50 in a champagne flute and top with Fre Brut.  Cheers!

If you like this mocktail, you should also try my Skinny Pregnant (or Breastfeeding) Girl Pina Colada recipe.

Happy drinking!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Blu Jam Cafe

On Sunday, my husband and I met some friends for lunch at Blu Jam Cafe.  We all live in the valley, so the new Sherman Oaks location was the perfect meeting spot.  One of our friends mentioned that she had been wanting to eat at the Blu Jam on Melrose but never got around to it due to the location.  Before I suggested eating here for brunch, she didn't know the one in Sherman Oaks existed and was pleasantly surprised to find out that it did!  None of us had ever eaten at Blu Jam Cafe, but it got good reviews on Yelp, so we decided to check it out. 

Our friends arrived early and put our names on the list.  There was a 30-45 minute wait around 12:15pm.  A crowd usually means the place is good, right?  That's what we were banking on.  We arrived a little before 1pm, and our table was ready.

The website said there was a lot of parking available, but it was a really small lot.  At least they had a parking lot, but don't expect to find a spot.  We circled the block a couple times and eventually found an open metered spot on the street.  The meters are free on Sunday, so that was a nice bonus.

I forgot to take pictures of the restaurant, but it had a nice relaxed vibe.  There was both indoor and outdoor seating.  We sat at a booth towards the back of the restaurant.  We were brought water right away, and our friends ordered coffee.  They were given the option of drip or french press, and they chose french press.  The waitress brought over a french press full of coffee for them to share.  How nice!

We took our time looking over the menu.  They serve both breakfast and lunch all day, so the first decision was "do we want breakfast or lunch?"  We all wanted breakfast.  I saw on the menu that the Crunchy French Toast is their signature dish, but I felt like eating something healthier than that.

The Power House caught my eye.  It's described on the menu as "six egg whites scrambled with organic spinach, basil, and zucchini topped with two Mary's Farm chicken breasts and San Marzano tomato sauce."  I ended up ordering that and so did one of our friends.  The server put fresh ground pepper on top of it at the table.  I added some hot sauce that was on the table.  It was packed full of veggies and protein.  According to the menu, it only has 411 calories and a whopping 77 grams of protein!  I loved the tomato sauce on it.  The chicken was juicy.  Really, no complaints.  I'd definitely order it again, but the menu's so big that I might have to try something new next time.

My husband wasn't quite as healthy as I was.  To be fair, I pointed out the entree that he ended up ordering because I thought it sounded like something he'd love.  What was it?  It's called Kamil's Breakfast, and it's described on the menu as "pan-roasted macaroni scrambled with eggs, smoked bacon, ham, garlic, chives and cheddar cheese."  It was basically like a big bowl of breakfast mac and cheese.  I took a bite, and it was a little too rich for me, but my husband loved it.  I knew he would.  He's definitely a fan of mac and cheese.  The bacon was nice and crispy, just how he likes it, and the meal had a nice smoky flavor.

Our other friend ordered the Italian Breakfast Risotto, which is described on the menu as "arborio rice with fresh mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, baby spinach, fresh basil, fresh tarragon, and parmesan reggiano, topped with two poached eggs and drizzled with herb pistou."  I was really impressed with the presentation.  I didn't taste it, but our friend raved about it.

The consensus was that we all enjoyed our food and would definitely come back for more.  They have a nice assortment of gluten free and vegan options, so any diner would be sure to find something they would enjoy.

Thanks, Blu Jam, for a great Sunday brunch!

Happy eating!