I was really hoping this week's blog post would be a birth announcement of sorts. Ummm, no. I have said about ten thousand times during this pregnancy and my last "I would hate to go overdue". Well here I am, five days over. Do I hate it? Yes I do. I am not patient, I feel like I have served my time. The one up side is that it will for sure end, at the latest, in five days. I would just like this munchkin to come on his own. I am really hoping to avoid being induced again. The only thing I can do is keep myself busy, rest and try to remain positive. I am starting to think my body is against actually going into labour. Enough complaining though, I still feel OK and baby is healthy (and maybe a little too happy). BUT I still have earned the right to vent.
I will admit the keeping busy part has been quite rewarding. I have spent a lot of time with my son at various activities, parks and play dates. I have seen many girlfriends that have provided me with much needed humor, trash magazines, books and in some cases their own stories of the torture of being overdue. I may have also consumed an unmentionable number of Shamrock Shakes from McDonalds (yes, I do set foot in that restaurant). My husband seems to have the patience of a saint, or is trying really hard to keep it together for my sake. Of course I have been cooking, a lot.
I have used peanut butter as a topping for pancakes, but had never made or seen a recipe for peanut butter pancakes. When I came across this one on Pinterest and saw the simple ingredient list I had to try them. I made them Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes.
2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
In small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the milk and peanut butter until smooth. Add to the dry ingredients and beat just until a batter is formed. Do not over-beat.
Pre-heat a nonstick saute pan or griddle over medium heat. Spoon the batter by 1/4 cupfuls in to the pan. Lay banana slices onto batter. Cook until golden brown on both sides. Serve immediately. Adapted from here.
I loved them, they felt like a huge treat. They are so fast to put together (no eggs, or oil needed), and have an extra hit of protein. The batter is fairly thick so watch your pan temperature. If it is too hot you are going to get an undercooked middle. I am sure this would work with processed peanut butter, in which case I would omit the sugar. I changed the recipe by using whole wheat flour, omitting the salt and adding banana. I made a double batch to ensure we had extras for another breakfast, that was a good call. I served them with a plate of mixed fruit and maple syrup. They are 100% toddler approved.
So the next time you hear from me the wait will finally be over.
I really like scones, not the oversized, floury, run of the mill coffee house ones. Good, aromatic, homemade ones. I don't ever make them though. I am always turned off by the large amount of butter required. A friend sent me a recipe for grapefruit oatmeal scones, so I changed my mind in a big hurry. Grapefruit obsession + almost 40 weeks pregnant + overwhelming urge to bake = match made in heaven. I must say I am a huge believer in the 80/20 principal: making healthy choices 80% of the time and less healthy choices the rest of the 20%. Healthy eating to me isn't about constructing the perfect diet (whatever that is). Sounds like torture and a sure fire way to end up fantasizing about the foods you can't have all day long leading to over eating them when you finally get your desperate hands on them. All that said I still tweaked the recipe a little (I can't help myself).
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 whole wheat flour
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 tablespoons granulated sugar + more to sprinkle on top
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 Ruby Red grapefruit, zested and segmented (how to do this here)
1 tablespoon orange zest
3/4 cup cold salted butter, sliced into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup plain non- fat Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons honey
Preheat the oven to 400°F and place a rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, oats, sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Toss the grapefruit zest and orange zest with the dry ingredients.
Add the cubed butter to the dry ingredients. Using your fingers, rub or cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles small, coarse peas. Work quickly so the butter doesn't warm too much. Add the yogurt and honey, and toss everything together with a fork until all of the dry ingredients are moistened.
Add the grapefruit pieces last. Quickly and gently envelope them into the scone mixture. You don't want the grapefruit chunks to become smashed or release much juice as that will alter the texture of your scones.
Turn the scone dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Form into an 8-inch circle, about 1-inch thick. Cut the dough into ten triangles using a knife. Place the triangles on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle the tops with sugar.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown on top and firm but soft in the center. Cool for 15 minutes before serving. Adapted from here.
Are you kidding me? These were perfect. Waiting the recommended 15 minutes of cooling was torture. What did I change? I reduced the amount of sugar, butter and salt. I also used non-fat Greek yogurt. The original recipe called for oat flour, but I switched it for whole wheat just because I didn't have any. I also cut them into ten pieces instead of six to take down the portion size a little. I was thinking the zest of the entire grapefruit would be a little over powering, but it wasn't at all (be sure to zest your grapefruit before you segment it).
So now two days away from my due date I have a special treat to enjoy, something that seems so fitting to this grapefruit frenzied pregnancy.
All of a sudden I am 38 weeks pregnant. In other words 2 weeks and away from my due date. Of course it isn't all of a sudden, but it still has a way of sneaking up on you. The last week has been spent finishing room details for both boys, organizing newborn baby clothes (which includes gushing over how small newborn diapers are), making appointments for the dentist, a massage and a pedicure (don't want to look at ugly toes when I am in labour). My parents were also kind enough to have our house cleaned top to bottom. There are meals in the freezer, the infant car seat is clean and ready to be used to safely bring home another amazing little boy, the house/car are clean and I have almost packed my hospital bag. I dare say I feel ready.
Then I think about the whole delivery idea. I have done this before, but I don't know if that makes me feel any more ready for it. I also feel like a newbie in someways. When I had Hudson my water broke with no labour so I was induced. I am hoping to go into labour myself this time which would allow me to spend a little longer at home. The one thing I did learn is that you can hope for a lot of things but you don't have a lot of control over the process. Sometimes your water breaks with no labour, sometimes you need to get induced, sometimes baby is posterior, sometimes baby has a short umbilical cord that leads to fetal distress, sometimes forceps are used, and sometimes you tear. But most of the time there is a healthy baby at the end bringing on the biggest wave of emotion you have ever felt. I am ready for that. In the mean time every Braxton Hicks contraction or twinge I feel I wonder...is this it?
When a friend announced on Facebook that she had made Raspberry Cream Cheese Quinoa Muffins, I had to get the recipe. And get it I did....worth sharing.
1/2 c quinoa
1 1/4 c whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking soda
4 oz cold light cream cheese, diced small
1 c frozen raspberries
1/2 c white or cane sugar
1/4 c vegetable oil
1 large egg
1/2 c light sour cream or Greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla
Bring quinoa and water to a boil. Cover, reduce to simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave covered pot on burner for 15 mins, fluff with fork and allow to cool.
Preheat oven to 400, line muffin pan with paper liners. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and baking soda in medium bowl, blend well. Add 1 1/4c of cooked quinoa and mix until its evenly coated with flour mixture. Stir in the cream cheese, breaking up any large pieces. The cream cheese should remain chunky in these muffins. Add the frozen raspberries and coat in flour mixture, set aside
In large bowl whisk sugar and oil together, followed by the egg. Whisk in the sour cream and vanilla. Fold the flour mixture into the sugar mixture until just combined. Spoon the dough evenly into muffin pan. Bake on the center rack for 25-27 mins until muffins are light brown around edges and toothpick comes out clean. Store in a sealed container in fridge up to 1 week or freeze. Makes 12. Adapted from Quinoa 365.
I reduced the amount of sugar and eliminated the salt. When I made them I doubled the batch, I like to have muffins in my freezer at all times. This is a great recipe if you have leftover quinoa around. These were really, really good. They have a really nice texture. And can you really beat the raspberry cream cheese combo?
Maybe I will see you here next week, maybe I won't. I have a feeling I will.
When I first saw this recipe for healthy double chocolate muffins I was intrigued. On the up side there was a lot of interesting ingredients, plus the promise of double chocolate. On the down side, could it taste good? Sometimes the healthy version of things are so far off, it is embarrassing to even pretend they are the same thing. I did note this is a muffin, not a cupcake. Let's keep expectations under control here.
1 cup (250 mL) buttermilk ( or 1 cup skim milk + 1 tbsp vinegar let sit for 5 min)
1 cup (250 mL) pure pumpkin puree – not pumpkin pie filling
1 cup (250 mL) dark brown sugar, packed
½ cup (125 mL) bran
1 cup (250 mL) whole wheat flour
¾ cup (175 mL) ground flaxseed
½ cup (125 mL) cocoa powder
2 tbsp (30 mL) wheat germ (I didn't have any so I left it out)
2 tbsp (30 mL) cinnamon
1 ½ tsp (7 mL) baking powder
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
1/2 cup (60 mL) chocolate chips at least 60% cocoa mass or 70% cocoa mass chocolate chunks
Adapted from here.
These are not muffins you want to eat hot out of the oven, they taste better once cooled. I really liked them. If you are looking for a hard core chocolate fix, this is not your winner. But they are not too sweet to have for breakfast.
The whole wheat flour, bran and flax add fiber (who doesn't want to take great poops?). The pumpkin is acting as a fat replacer with the added bonus of adding a lot of moisture and beta carotene (with the left over pumpkin make these). The dark chocolate contains fabulous antioxidants, plus it is chocolate. The flax brings omega three fatty acids, almost all of us could use more of those. I bought the flax whole and ground it myself in the Magic Bullet to the consistency of corn meal. You can buy ground flax, but be sure to keep it in the freezer. Once the outer shell is cracked they can go rancid quickly. At the same time the shell needs to be cracked for our bodies to be able to digest the omega three fatty acids, otherwise out the same way as they came in. A lot of poo talk today, not that I mind. I have never grown out of poo and fart jokes, I can't help myself.
This did seem to make a real mess in my kitchen. You might envision Susie Homemaker over here, umm not so much (if you know me well you probably don't). I can be a disaster while in preparation mode. Maybe that's part of the fun?
It was such a sunny weekend that a visit to the pumpkin patch at Shamrock Farms in Comox was a top priority (amongst having friends over for dinner, painting our den and finishing some fall yard maintenance).
We were happy to have my parents, grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousin along for the ride. If you live in the area and have not yet been to Shamrock Farms you have to go. There are chickens to feed, goats to pet, a fun Halloween display and of course pumpkins to pick. My son took a particular shine to a certain black chicken and a dirt pile so that he could hardly be convinced to go to the patch to choose a pumpkin. In the end we left with four perfect pumpkins (one for each family member plus little miss or mister still to arrive).
Before we even got to the patch we started out with pumpkin pancakes for breakfast. Why not? My Mom found the recipe in the Save-On-Foods flyer and knew I would love it. I am a huge fan of pumpkin pie (the filling really as I don’t love pastry). This was a no-brainer to try.
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tbsp sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp of cinnamon or pumpkin spice (a blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice)
1.5 cups of low fat milk
1 cup canned pumpkin (just plain pumpkin not pie filling)
¼ cup vegetable oil
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices.
In a small bowl, whisk together milk, pumpkin, eggs, and oil. Stir into dry ingredients until just blended.
Pour about 1/4 to 1⁄3 cup batter onto hot griddle or frying pan. Cook until tops are bubbly, turn and cook other side until browned.
Makes 10-12 Pancakes
These were very moist and tender. I found I had to add a little more milk to thin the batter a bit. The pumpkin wasn’t very strong so kids and non-pumpkin lovers would likely not be offended. I made a double batch and froze some for easy toasting on weekday mornings. Pumpkin is loaded with beta-carotene and this recipe is a great way to get some extra in. I think a few chopped pecans could be a really nice addition.
I made a few changes: I used all whole wheat flour instead of a blend of white and whole wheat, I also just added the eggs whole. The original recipe called for separating them then whipping the whites, which wasn’t necessary for a nice end product…why add extra time and dishes?! I will also say that the canned pumpkin smell and appearance can be a bit of a turn off, power through.
Get your fall on people!
On this the last day of August (sniff, sniff) I feel the need to share an in season, summer recipe. When I came across the recipe for a tomato polenta tart I was sold. First of all it was a tart with no egg filling, perfect for my egg hating self. Second it didn't have a pastry crust, not a huge fan of pastry. Third I had some beautiful, ripe, local tomatoes that were calling out for something special. This recipe does take a little time, but is well worth it. Celiac readers: it's gluten free.
Polenta is made from corn meal and is popular in Italy and other European countries. It seems to be popping up over here quite a bit too. I have had it a few times in the last few months and was ready to try making it myself at home.
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 cup cornmeal
4 tbsp butter
2 medium sized cobs of fresh corn (or about a cup of canned or frozen corn)
2 tbsp fresh basil, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 1/2 cups light ricotta cheese
1 large egg
2 large Heirloom tomatoes sliced
sea or kosher salt to taste
fresh cracked pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan, bring stock to a boil. In an even stream, pour in the cornmeal, whisking well as you do so. Lower to a simmer, stirring with a wooden spoon often (the more you stir the creamier the texture). Continue to stir and check on the polenta for the next 30-40 minutes. It will be very thick which is good. In another large saucepan, fill about half way with water. Bring to a boil, add in the corn and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove corn and run under cold water to make it easier to handle. Use a knife to remove the kernels. In a frying pan melt 2 tbsp of butter and add in the corn, basil and garlic. Sauté on medium high until the corn turns golden and the garlic is cooked, about 6-7 minutes. When the polenta is finished, stir in 2 tbsp of butter, some pepper and the parmesan cheese. Mix in the corn and basil mixture and set aside. Add an egg to the ricotta and mix until completely incorporated. Grease a 9″ round baking dish (preferably glass). I used a spring form pan which worked well. Line the baking dish with polenta, pushing it up the sides like a pie crust. Pour in the ricotta and smooth with a spoon. Top tart with tomato slices. Season with salt and pepper and bake for 60 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing. Serves 8. Adapted from here.
I was able to use local tomatoes and corn as well as basil from my garden. The results...perfection. I loved everything about it: the crispy edge of polenta, the creamy ricotta, real tomato taste all with an amazing blend of flavours. It was the prefect dinner. I served it with a green salad that included lettuce from my garden. Let's just say I was feeling the local food vibe and appreciating everything summer has to offer.
When I was younger my Mom would make jam. It seemed very laborious: sterilizing, special equipment, possibility of jars blowing up, wax seals, sweating, etc. I used to see jam in the store and think why not just buy it? Well we all know the answer to that, it just doesn't taste as good. That all said I still wasn't prepared for the full on jam making undertaking.
Welcome to my life freezer jam. So much easier, and in my opinion tastier. Because you are not cooking the fruit the jam can't be stored at room temperature, instead you store it in the freezer (hence the name). When you take a jar out to be used it can be stored in the fridge for up 6 weeks. I guarantee it won't be around that long anyways. It is still a good idea to use smallish containers, the 1 liter jar may be a little much jam for 6 weeks.
This all started when we went out to my uncles house to check on things while he was away, AKA pilfer his raspberry bushes. Hudson had a great time insisting on holding the bucket while eating like crazy. There was still more than enough berries to make jam with.
You need to add something to help gel the jam, I bought a package at the grocery store specific for freezer jam. There are a few kinds out there. I chose this one because I liked that the fruit to sugar ratio was a little higher. It is no secret that there is a lot of sugar in jam. It helps to preserve the jam along with making it taste sweet. Freezer jam has less sugar than regular jam, gotta' like that. I also find that freezer jam tastes more like the actual fruit because it isn't cooked. You do have to use great tasting, ripe fruit though because there is less sugar and cooking to hide behind.
glass or plastic containers with tight fitting lids (you don't need anything fancy)
4 cups of fruit
1 1/4 cups of sugar
I used raspberries so to prep them I just mashed them in a large bowl with a potato masher. I left some bigger chunks though. If you are using other fruit like strawberries or blueberries just chop finely (don't puree). Stir in sugar and let stand for 15 minutes. Slowly sprinkle in gelling powder while stirring for 3 minutes. Allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir again for 1 minute. Add jam to jars, leave enough room for expansion. It's ready to eat! Can be stored in the freezer for up to a year.
Your package might be a little different, but that is the jist of it. My package called for 1 1/2 cups of sugar, but I reduced it (of course) and it still turned out fine and was plenty sweet. You don't want to play around too much as the gel to sugar ratio is important. It was so easy from start to finish maybe 30 minutes, are you kidding? I didn't have time to make my jam right after picking so I froze the berries. It had no adverse effects on the final product just thaw your fruit before using. Blackberries are in season now, so get picking and jamming.
I can imagine opening a jar on a dark winter morning and being reminded of that perfect summer night picking berries and my son's chubby, berry stained fingers and cheeks. It doesn't get much better than that.
I think it might be the best thing ever when something really simple turns out really delicious.
As I mentioned in an earlier post I am not a big fan of eggs, but I do like lightly "egged" French toast. I also like breakfast for dinner. It just seems fun, bucking convention. Breakfast at the dinner hour provides an excuse to have something sweet. If you are like our house we only have a breakfast that includes things like French toast, pancakes and waffles once a week....not enough! It also reminds me of how excited I would get when my mom would declare it was breakfast for dinner night when I was a kid, it was usually accompanied by a rush to get PJs on for authenticity.
On my drive home from work the other day I was thinking something like this: "yes breakfast for dinner tonight, I have a big bag of coconut that hasn't seen the light of day in a while, hmmm coconut French toast....yes please". So I invented a recipe. Ha....pretty much made my usual French toast but added a coconut dredging step, in my mind invention all the same.
8 slices 100% whole grain bread
1/4 cup skim milk
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
Wisk together eggs and milk. Dip both sides of bread in egg mixture then dredge both sides in coconut. Cook in frying pan on medium heat until coconut is browned and egg is cooked.
Turned out devine. Is there many things that are better in life than toasted coconut flavour? You don't need a lot of syrup for these as the coconut brings some sweetness. I think another great topper would be pineapple and vanilla yogurt, taking the tropical approach a bit further. I served it up with a side of turkey bacon and a fruit salad. The leftovers were great popped in the toaster the next morning.
Simple but perfect, like so many things in life.
I have never liked eggs, I actually can't stand them. I make an effort to try them every once in a while just to make sure, it usually ends in gagging and watering eyes. I think it is pretty safe to say that after almost 32 years of trying, eggs and me are not going to be friends. This leaves me in a little of a breakfast predicament. Take out eggs and take out a lot of variety. I am always looking for something to spice up the first meal of the day.
Hot cereal has always been a favorite, with steel cut oats leading the pack. They are made by cutting the whole grain into a few pieces instead of being rolled. The result is oatmeal with more texture, less mushy. The downfall is longer cooking time. I tackle this by making a bigger batch on a less busy morning and then portioning into containers for following mornings. Steel cut oats can be found at most grocery stores.
My favorite way to prepare steel cut oats is:
1 tablespoon margarine or butter
1 cup steel-cut oats
3 cups boiling water
½ cup dried fruit and nuts
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup skim milk
Melt margarine in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add oats to marg and stir for 2 minutes, until lightly toasted.
Carefully add 3 cups boiling water to oats in saucepan. Stir and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer gently for 25 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add dried fruit, nuts and cinnamon.
Stir 1 cup milk into oatmeal. Continue to cook for another 8 to 10 minutes, or until most of the milk has been absorbed. Stir once or twice during this time to make sure oatmeal is not sticking to the bottom of the pot. Remove oatmeal from heat. Cover and let stand for 2 minutes. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to three days. To reheat, stir in a little milk and heat on high in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring midway through. (Adapted from e-how)
Toasting the oats gives the oatmeal an amazing nutty flavour and makes your kitchen smell like popcorn (and you know how much I love that). You can add any dried fruit you like, this morning I added unsweetened cranberries, blueberries, apricots and raisins. I put in a few pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts and cashews, but almonds and pecans are excellent too. Sprinkle with a little brown sugar and you are in business.
What about the nutrition you ask? Well oatmeal is an excellent source of soluble fiber, 4 grams per 1 cup serving (bonus fiber in the dried fruit and nuts too). What’s so great about soluble fiber? It can help lower total cholesterol and bad LDL cholesterol in addition to stabilizing blood sugar levels. Perfect.
I have so much more to say about fiber so stay tuned…
Tiffany McFadden, RD