Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Golden Cinnamon Raisin Bread

This recipe for Golden Cinnamon Raisin Bread is perfect for a sweet breakfast and makes delicious toast. Add frosting for the best breakfast dessert that tastes like a cinnamon roll.

My mom is an expert at baking bread. I have a very large extended family and the request for holiday potluck meals is often "please bring your dinner rolls!" Baby C and I were in Iowa recently for a visit and I asked her to teach me how to make raisin bread from scratch.

Who doesn't love raisin bread? Especially when it includes a heavy cinnamon swirl. In college, back when my meals were super simple and often included a Lean Cuisine, I made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on store-bought raisin bread to take to class with me. I think this homemade version of raisin bread is so much better!

We modified the original recipe by substituting white whole wheat flour, using golden raisins, and adding chopped walnuts. After the dough rises, split it in half and flatten the dough into two rectangular shapes. This step is similar to making a huge cinnamon roll loaf. We added melted butter, ground cinnamon, chopped walnuts, and brown sugar.

Each loaf is rolled up and baked in a generously oiled bread pan. Before baking, make sure to tuck in the end of each loaf so there is no cinnamon sugar mixture exposed to the bread pan.

My Golden Cinnamon Raisin Bread could easily become dessert with a drizzle {or pour} of frosting. This recipe makes plenty of bread for leftovers - we sliced the extra loaf and froze it for future breakfast meals.

Golden Cinnamon Raisin Bread
Yields: 2 loaves

3 cups bread flour
2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 Tablespoons soy flour
1/4 cup wheat bran
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons canola oil
2 1/2 cups warm water
1 cup golden raisins

Cinnamon Swirl:
2 Tablespoons melted butter
2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped raw walnuts
2/3 cup brown sugar

*Add 2 cups of bread flour, 2 cups of white whole wheat flour, yeast, soy flour, wheat bran and salt to a stand mixer with the bread hook attachment. Mix until combined.
*Add canola oil and warm water to the flour mixture. Add golden raisins. Mix until combined.
*Slowly add one additional cup of bread flour, as the dough is mixing. If the dough feels stiff, add more water a Tablespoon at a time. If the dough is too soft, add additional flour.
*Mix the dough for approximately 10 minutes. The dough is ready to rise when it feels spongy to the touch.
*Let the bread rise for 2-3 hours, in a covered bowl. If you don't have a slightly warm place for the dough to rise, fill a container with lukewarm water and place your covered mixing bowl inside. I let my dough rise for 2 1/2 hours, until the dough reached the top of the bowl.
*Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
*Remove the dough from the bowl and cut it in half. Roll out each half on a floured surface until the dough is an inch thick and in a rectangular shape.
*Spread melted butter, cinnamon, chopped walnuts, and brown sugar to each rectangular piece of dough. If you want a sweeter bread, add extra sugar.
*Roll up each loaf and bake in a heavily buttered or oiled bread pan. Make sure to tuck the ends of each loaf under so that there is no cinnamon-sugar exposed to the pan.
*Bake for 30 minutes.

{Adapted from the Raisin Bread recipe in the Baba a Louis Bakery Bread Book: The Secret Book of the Bread by John McClure}

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Chicago Birthday Week Eats

I celebrated my birthday last week with family and enjoyed eats at an old favorite and two new {to me} Chicago restaurants.

On my birthday, my mom and I visited Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits for a late breakfast with baby C. The Ravenswood location {4947 N. Damen Avenue} opened last spring and I have been wanting to try their breakfast for months. Bang Bang is famous for their biscuits and pie. This breakfast did not disappoint! I had an Avocado Biscuit which was topped with fresno chiles, queso fresco, mole spice, and cilantro. I loved that the biscuit was served in a unique rectangular shape. We shared Key Lime Pie for breakfast dessert. Their Key Lime Pie is one of the best I've tried. Check out the menu here.

Later that night we went out for a birthday dinner at Spacca Napoli Pizzeria with K and my in-laws. Spacca Napoli is my favorite Neapolitan-style pizza with an amazing, wood-fired thin crust and authentic Italian toppings. We shared a burrata cheese appetizer to start - the cheese is flown in from Italy weekly. My favorite Spacca Napoli pizza is the Diavola, with blended San Marzano tomatoes, fior di latte {cheese}, calabrese soppressata {spicy salami} and basil. Spacca Napoli is located at 1769 W. Sunnyside Avenue. Check out their menu here.

We shared a few bites of tiramisu for dessert and went home for cake. Specifically From Scratch Carrot Cake by I am Homesteader. With cream cheese frosting, obviously.

After a decadent birthday day of eats, I wanted something lighter. My mom and I stopped by Lyfe Kitchen the next day for a lunch out while running errands. We visited Lyfe Kitchen in Lincoln Park {1538 N. Clybourn Avenue} but there are a number of locations in the Chicago area.

I was very impressed with the food! Lyfe Kitchen is an American-style fast casual restaurant with healthy menu offerings. I had the black bean burger which came with a side salad topped with the best lemon vinaigrette. My mom had fish tacos and we also shared baked sweet potato fries. The weather was warm enough to be summer that day so we tried "Lyfe Waters" with lunch. We both had the Cucumber Mint, which includes cucumber juice, mint, lime and agave.

I'll definitely head back to Lyfe Kitchen again for a quick and healthy lunch. Check out the menu here.

I can't resist sharing one photo of our littlest lunch date. He's not eating "real" food yet but he certainly enjoys being out and about!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Cinnamon Crunch Protein Waffles

This breakfast recipe for Cinnamon Crunch Protein Waffles is healthy and full of flavor. The extra kick of protein comes from protein powder to keep you full all morning.

I have been creating a lot of new breakfast recipes this year, so I'm especially excited to share my first experience cooking with protein powder.

I used a Quest Cinnamon Crunch Protein Powder Packet in this waffle recipe to increase the protein content and create a healthier breakfast. Quest Cinnamon Crunch Protein Powder Packets are available for purchase at GNC.

I stopped by my local GNC and the packets were available right at the counter. Full sized Quest Protein Powders are also available for purchase. One scoop of this protein powder contains 20 grams of protein, less than 1gram of sugar, and only 100 calories. Quest Protein Powder is also gluten and soy free.

I love anything cinnamon-flavored, especially for breakfast, so the Quest Cinnamon Crunch flavor could not be more perfect for this recipe. I used a waffle iron, but you can easily adapt this recipe for pancakes too.

The best part is this waffle recipe contains less sugar than a typical cinnamon-flavored cereal, with extra protein and delicious flavor. I topped my protein waffles with pure maple syrup and extra ground cinnamon.

Cinnamon Crunch Protein Waffles
Yields: 10 waffles

1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 packet Quest Cinnamon Crunch Protein Powder
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
2 Tablespoons honey
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

*Pre-heat a waffle iron.
*Whisk wet ingredients in a bowl: eggs, honey, coconut oil, vanilla extract, and milk {I used unsweetened almond milk}.
*Add dry ingredients: white whole wheat flour, protein powder, cinnamon, and baking powder. Whisk until the ingredients are mixed well, with minimal lumps in the batter.
*Spray a heated waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray or oil. For a four-waffle iron, add approximately 1 1/4 cups of waffle batter.
*Cook until golden brown: 3 minutes for softer waffles and 4-5 minutes for crisper waffles.
*Top with maple syrup and extra cinnamon.

{Adapted from allrecipes recipe for Waffles.}

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes + South Naples Citrus Grove

This dessert recipe for Chocolate Orange Cupcakes is made healthier by using whole grain flour and old fashioned oats. The cupcakes are naturally sweetened with honey and include an Orange Glaze made with the zest from Honeybell oranges.

K and I traveled to southwestern Florida in February for a long weekend to visit his family. This was baby C's first flight and he could not have been a better traveler. It is so true that 3 months old is a great age to travel. He's very portable right now and like our pediatrician told me, don't worry about the flight because the baby is too young to lick the airplane seats. :)

We visited the South Naples Citrus Grove on our trip, located outside Naples, and ordered a box of baby honeybell oranges to be shipped home. The citrus smell at the grove was unreal - like a whiff of fresh squeezed orange juice, times ten.

Honeybell oranges {also called Tangelos} are very sweet and juicy and the most popular fruit at the South Naples grove. We ordered the "baby" version which are slightly smaller in size than regular Honeybells.

Our box arrived a few weeks ago and it's almost gone. I sacrificed one of the last oranges to create a new dessert recipe: Chocolate Orange Cupcakes. These cupcakes are made healthier by using whole grain flour {white whole wheat flour} and old fashioned oats. The cupcakes are sweetened with honey and contain applesauce and coconut oil in place of vegetable oil.

The orange flavor comes through by adding orange juice, lots of orange zest, and orange extract to the cupcake batter.

Any orange will work in this recipe, but find a Honeybell if you can!

I added an Orange Glaze and sugar sprinkles, but these cupcakes are healthy enough for breakfast if you leave them plain. I might even call them "muffins" without the frosting.

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes
Yields: 12 cupcakes

1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup old fashioned oats, ground into flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 egg
1/3 cup orange juice
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon orange extract
2 Tablespoons orange zest

Optional: 1 teaspoon espresso powder

Orange Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon orange zest
3 Tablespoons milk

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*Make oat flour by processing 1 cup of old fashioned oats in a food processor. 
*Mix wet ingredients in a bowl: egg, orange juice, applesauce, coconut oil, and honey.
*Add dry ingredients: cocoa powder, white whole wheat flour, oat flour, and baking soda.
*Stir in vanilla extract, orange extract, orange zest, and espresso powder.
*Add batter to a muffin tin. Bake the cupcakes for 20-22 minutes.
*When the cupcakes have cooled, whisk together powdered sugar, vanilla extract, milk and orange zest to make the Orange Glaze.

{Cupcake recipe adapted from allrecipes recipe for Moist Chocolate Muffins. Glaze recipe adapted from the epicurious recipe for a Basic Sugar Glaze.}

Looking for more Chocolate Orange recipes? Try my:

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Yogurt Protein Bowl

This Yogurt Protein Bowl is a healthy, grain-free breakfast recipe that will keep you full until lunch.

Two summers ago I tried a special diet recommended by an acupuncturist. The diet was similar to Whole30, in that I gave up all grains and legumes for one month. I also stopped eating most dairy products. However, I kept eating yogurt and ended up creating a daily breakfast bowl that I still enjoy on a regular basis. This is more of a "method" than a recipe, but I love this breakfast so much I decided it was time to finally share it.

This Yogurt Protein Bowl keeps me full much longer than cereal due to the protein in almonds, almond butter, and yogurt. My favorite yogurt to use is siggi's vanilla. I love both the skim and full fat versions. The bowl starts with a layer of yogurt and a healthy sprinkle of cinnamon.

Next I add raw almonds.

Plus a sliced banana.

The last components include unsweetened coconut flakes and almond butter.

The crunch from coconut flakes is my favorite part. This bowl is also delicious with fresh fruit when it's in season, like blueberries or strawberries.

Yogurt Protein Bowl
Yields: 1 serving

1 individual container of yogurt, or 1/2 cup
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Handful of raw almonds
1 banana, sliced
1/8 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 Tablespoon almond butter, or any nut butter

*Add all ingredients to a bowl: yogurt, cinnamon, almonds, banana, coconut flakes, and almond butter.
*Make this bowl in advance if desired; refrigerate in a covered container overnight.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Skinny Thin Mint Smoothie

My Skinny Thin Mint Smoothie is a healthy version of your favorite Girl Scout cookie. The best part is you can drink this smoothie for breakfast without a sugar hangover.

It's the most dangerous time of the year... Girl Scout cookie time :-D

{Image via Bustle}

I was shopping in a local store last weekend and there was a huge table covered in stacks of Girl Scout cookies for sale. K and I gave up refined sugar for Lent, so no cookies came home with me.

Giving up refined sugar doesn't mean giving up chocolate entirely. Last March I shared a Vegan Samoa Cookie Smoothie recipe. My goal was to recreate the Samoa Cookie flavor in a healthy way. Samoas are my favorite Girl Scout cookie, but Thin Mints come in at a close second. Why not create a healthier smoothie that tastes like a mint cookie too?

This Skinny Thin Mint Smoothie contains no refined or added sugar and is full of healthy ingredients - almond milk, unsweetened cocoa powder, collard greens, banana, dates, and REAL mint leaves. I used peppermint, but regular mint will work just as well.

Skinny Thin Mint Smoothie
Yields: 1 smoothie

1 frozen banana, sliced
2+ cups greens {I recommend using spinach, kale, or collard greens}
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
3 California dates {pitted}
10-12 peppermint leaves
1/4 teaspoon vanilla powder or extract

Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth.

For more skinny chocolate ideas, check out this post: 15 Skinny Chocolate Recipes.