Cherry Bran Muffins

Cherry Bran Muffins

These delicious muffins are packed with fiber and flavor while being low in sugar. They make a great breakfast or a quick snack. Make an extra batch and freeze them for busy mornings.

Ingredients:

1 cup wheat bran (you can buy this in bulk at Natural Grocers for really cheap)
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 large egg
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract (or more vanilla, but the almond brings out the cherry flavor)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour (or more wheat flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup fresh cherries, pitted and chopped into quarters (can use frozen, but thaw and drain first)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a muffin tin with baking cups.
  2. Stir the wheat bran into the buttermilk and let soak while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Add egg, honey and extract to the buttermilk/bran mixture. Pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  5.  Fold in fresh cherries.
  6. Divide batter into the muffin cups. I like to use an ice cream scoop for this.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Yield: 1 dozen

 

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Eggplant Meat-less balls

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Wait! Before you skip to the next post. Hear me out. Truth be told, I am not in love with eggplant, but I stumbled upon a recipe in the Food Network Magazine last year and thought I would give it a whirl since eggplants were on sale.

I’ve made these yummy balls of goodness several times now, tweaking the recipe each time. They are absolutely delicious. I like to freeze them and reheat a few for lunch. I’ve eaten them with pasta or zoodles. Both are awesome. I even cut them up and put them on top of salad.

This is a great recipe if you are trying to eat less meat, and it is kid friendly. My toddler loves them! So even if you think you don’t like eggplant, give these a try!

Eggplant Meatballs

Ingredients:

1 eggplant
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup canned cannellini beans
1/3 cup Feta cheese (or Parmesan cheese)
1 tsp. minced garlic or 1/4 tsp. Penzeys Roasted Garlic
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup Panko bread crumbs

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice eggplant in half lengthwise. Place on a foil-lined cookie sheet skin side up, and roast until the skin is wrinkled and the flesh is softened and easily pierced with a fork (about 20-30 minutes). Remove the eggplant from the oven, but leave the oven on. When cool enough to handle, scrape the inside flesh away from the skin with a spoon into a bowl.
  2. Mash the beans with a fork and add them to the eggplant. Stir in the egg, feta, garlic, basil, salt, and pepper. Add in the breadcrumbs.
  3. Line a cookie sheet with foil or a silicone baking mat. Shape the eggplant mixture into balls. I use a cookie scoop to do this. Drop onto the cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes until they have browned.
  4. Serve with your favorite marinara sauce over pasta or zucchini noodles.

Yield: 16 eggplant balls

 

Banana Cookies

Banana Cookie 2

This week Sprouts has oats on sale in their bulk section for $0.50/pound! That includes steel cut, rolled, and quick varieties. Do you know how much an 18 oz. container of plain Old Fashioned Quaker Oats costs at Walmart? $2.68! Same stuff, but more than 4 times more expensive than if you buy it at Sprouts.

Banana Cookie 1

One of my family’s favorite snacks is made with rolled oats. The glorious “Banana Cookie” is made of ripe bananas and rolled oats. That’s it! Ok, so if you want to get fancy, you can add raisins or other dried fruit. My kids like mini chocolate chips, but you could use dark chocolate or semi-sweet to reduce the sugar.  As a special treat, this time we added M&Ms.
Banana Cookie 3

This recipe is easy enough a preschooler can assist you. My son likes to make them “all by myself!”

Banana Cookie 4

Spread some natural peanut butter on them, and you have a tri-fecta of goodness: banana, chocolate, and peanut butter (not to mention some added protein). These are perfect for breakfast too!

Ingredients:

2 ripe bananas

1 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup chocolate chips or dried fruit (optional)

Directions:

In a bowl, mash bananas. Add oats and stir together. You may need to add a little more oats if your bananas are large. The mix should be thick enough to drop by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Making Something Out of Nothing

Today I found myself staring into a near empty refrigerator trying to figure out what to make for lunch. I have been planning on going to the grocery store, but I was putting it off because I dread going to the store with all 3 kids in tow. So I had to get creative. I had a leftover pork chop, about 2 TBSP of leftover pineapple chili glaze from dinner the other night, the leafy tops of a few celery sticks, 1/2 a cucumber, and 1/2 of a red pepper.

My thought was…I can make something Asian. I have Ramen Noodles in my food storage. I am not a fan of them. Have you ever read the list of ingredients on the package? Not something I want to be eating, but my husband and kids love them. I removed the MSG filled seasoning packet and cooked the noodles in some boiling water. I chopped the celery tops and threw them in the water along with a handful of dehydrated carrots from my food storage.When the noodles were cooked I drained them and added the pineapple chili glaze, a few dashes of liquid aminos, and the pork chop which I had cut into tiny pieces. I topped it all with some cucumber slices and red pepper chunks. It was AMAZING! The kids slurped it right up, and Jay told me several times how good it was.

This just goes to show that all you need is a little creativity and resourcefulness to put together a yummy meal. The key is knowing what ingredients pair well together.

For example, with a few basic ingredients, you can make most any Asian dish…soy sauce (or liquid aminos), sesame oil, fish sauce, garlic and ginger (fresh is best, but the bottled stuff or even powdered of both of these ingredients will work), rice wine vinegar, and citrus juice (lime, lemon, orange, or pineapple). If you have these ingredients in your pantry, you can combine any protein, starch, or vegetable to make a yummy Asian dish. The same principle works for Mexican dishes (onions, garlic, bell peppers, salsa) and Italian (tomatoes, garlic, onions, basil, oregano).

Give it a try. I would love to hear about the dishes you come up with! Who knows, it may become a new family favorite.

Grocery Sales, July 20-July 26

Albertsons has some amazing deals this week. I got a coupon in the mail for $10 off $50 purchase in the mail that will make for an awesome shopping trip!

Albertsons

Sanderson Farms Whole Chicken $0.39/lb (limit 2)

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts or Thighs $1.47/lb

Boneless Pork Loin Roast, whole in the bag $1.49/lb

80% Lean Ground Beef $2.99/lb

Fresh Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon Fillets $7.99/lb

Extra Large Raw Shrimp $4.99/lb (sold in a 2 pound bag, limit 1)

Whole Seedless Watermelon $2.99/each (limit 1)

Large cantaloupe $0.99/each (limit 2)

Blueberries, 18-oz pkg 2/$3 (limit 4)

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Vegetables 101

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Do you find yourself committing to eat more healthily and exuberantly filling your grocery cart with vegetables only to find those same vegetables have turned to mush in the crisper drawer a week later? Does the thought of prepping vegetables overwhelm you? I have a few solutions.

Each Wednesday I make a run to Sprouts. It is my favorite store for produce. Each week they have rock bottom sales on a variety of fruits and vegetables. Wednesday is double ad day, so the sales for the week that is ending and the week that is beginning are all valid.

King Soopers usually has the next best sales on produce, but there are not as many deals each week. Costco has a few good buys on produce, but for the most part produce is still expensive, and you have to buy a large quantity. Unless you know you are going to eat it all, I suggest buying smaller quantities at another store, even if you are not getting as great of a deal.

Here is what to buy at Costco:
Sugar Snap Peas
Baby Carrots (5lb. organic)
Spinach
Spring Mix

I find that Walmart’s produce is mostly more expensive than the produce that is on sale at other stores. Occasionally they will have a deal in store on seasonal vegetables things like avocados or corn. The good thing about Walmart is that you can price match produce, but they don’t always have comparable items, and sometimes Walmart prices produce like apples and oranges individually instead of by the pound. Good luck getting a cashier to take the time to figure that out!

If you can build a basic stock of vegetables, you will have the base for almost any meal. Depending on the season and the sales, I usually have the following produce on hand:

Lettuce
Tomatoes
Carrots
Celery
Cucumbers
Sweet Bell Peppers
Onions
Potatoes

Any other produce I have follows the seasonal sales. This week I have celery, an assortment of bell peppers, cucumber, broccoli, and lettuce in my refrigerator.
What to do with produce?

Prep it

I like to cut up fresh veggies and store in the refrigerator for easy snacking. I find that if I bring a container of carrots and celery for my kids to snack on while we are running errands instead of packaged crackers or granola bars, they eat a lot more veggies than they would if I only served the vegetables at meal time. While I am cutting veggies for snacking I will prep the vegetables for lunch and dinner.

Plan your Menu

Plan your menu around the fresh produce you buy. Not sure what to do with leftover veggies? You can put anything in a stir fry or a soup. Think outside of the box. Vegetables are not just for lunch and dinner. You can make yummy breakfasts with a variety of veggies. Just about any vegetable can go with eggs.

Freeze it

The freezer is your best friend when it comes to saving produce! If you are like me, I sometimes go a little crazy when there is an amazing sale on fruits and vegetables. If I know that I am not going to use all of the produce before it will spoil, I will chop it and freeze it. I cut corn kernels off of the cob and freeze in freezer bags. Instead of throwing celery leaves away I chop them up and freeze them until I want to make a soup. I slice bell peppers to have ready for fajitas. In the fall I roast pumpkins, puree them, and freeze the puree in 2 cup batches (the same size as a can of pumpkin).

Freezing will alter the texture of your veggies, making them a little softer. It is better to use the vegetables that you freeze in a cooked dish so that the texture difference is not noticeable.

Using the above techniques I hardly ever throw away a vegetable because I let it spoil. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Freeze a vegetable you wouldn’t normally think to freeze. Substitute a vegetable you have on hand for one you don’t in a recipe. Reach for a vegetable to munch on instead of a granola bar when those hunger pangs hit in the afternoon.

What are your favorite vegetables and your favorite way to use them?