As much as I enjoy cooking, there are enough times where I simply do not feel like spending any amount of time or effort in the kitchen. So when my husband suggested we go out for dinner tonight, I was very tempted to agree. However, then I thought about how much effort is involved in getting three hungry children out of the house, and the bill that would be handed to us at the end of the meal, and decided against it. Besides, there was a gigantic basket of freshly picked blueberries (thanks, Mama!) on my kitchen counter, waiting to be eaten. Then I remembered the bag of Bob’s Red Mill Organic Scottish Oatmeal in my pantry with a recipe for Scottish Oatmeal Pancakes or Waffles on the back that I’ve been wanting to give a try. Who says you can’t have pancakes for dinner?!

Although my children can devour fresh blueberries by they bowl fulls, for some reason they do not like them in any baked goods, including pancakes. So for them I made a plain batch, which they LOVED. Every bite they took was accompanied with a heartfelt, “Mami, make these again!” My husband and I savoured the warm, juicy bursts of antioxidant goodness in every bite of our batch. I will be making these again very soon – maybe as soon as tomorrow’s breakfast!

(I’ll also be using some of these berries in my Flax & Bran Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins, replacing the 1/2 cup of chocolate chips with at least 1 cup blueberries.)

Blueberry Scottish Oatmeal Pancakes or Waffles

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (I used regular whole wheat flour)

3/4 scottish oatmeal* – UPDATE: IF YOU LIVE IN CANADA, THIS CAN BE PURCHASED AT SOBEYS!

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted (I used 1/3 cup grape seed oil, but canola oil would also be good)

fresh blueberries

Directions:

Mix flour, oatmeal, baking powder, salt and soda. Stir in buttermilk, eggs and butter until smooth. While this batter is best on the thicker side, stir in a little more buttermilk if the batter is too thick. (For waffles, just add 1 more egg and 1 tbsp of oil.) Gently fold in however many blueberries you would like!

* As per the packaging: “Oatmeal originated in Scotland centuries ago and was different from our modern rolled oats. A coarse meal was produced by slowly grinding the kernel between two large millstones. Bob’s Red Mill Organic Scottish Oatmeal is produced in the same old-fashioned way and contains all the health-giving nutrients of the best quality oats from which it was ground – the germ, the oil and the fiber.”

Do you go blueberry picking? What’s your favourite recipe using blueberries?

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Whole Grain Pancakes

May 3, 2012

For a time, my kids were slightly addicted to Cheerios for breakfast. And when there isn’t much time available in the mornings before having to rush out the door to catch the school bus, I certainly rely on this cereal for a quickly prepared breakfast the kids will eat without complaining. But now that I make my own pancake mix and store it in my pantry, we have pancakes for breakfast more frequently – even on weekdays! These pancakes are packed with flavour (especially if you follow my modifications) and texture and you’ll never want to buy another box of prepared pancake mix again (not that I have ever even considered doing so)!

I found this recipe in “Whole Grains for Busy People” by Lorna Sass. (I include my modifications in brackets.)

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour (I used 1 cup spelt flour, 1 cup kamut flour, 1/2 cup quinoa flour, 1/4 cup ground flaxseed

Editor’s Note: 1 cup oatmeal (large flakes) was originally (accidentally) omitted from this post – be sure you add them!

1/4 sugar (you can omit this if you’re trying to cut back on your sugar consumption, as I am)

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt (I usually omit salt from all my baking)

Directions:

In a large zipper-top bag or storage container, combine all ingredients. Seal and shake gently until thoroughly mixed. Label and date. Refrigerate for up to 3 months. Shake gently to aerate the mix before each use. (I doubled the recipe and am storing it in my pantry.)

To make the pancakes, you will need:

1 large egg

1 cup well-shaken buttermilk, plus more if needed (I have also used kefir instead, with equally tasty results)

2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted (I use 1 Tbsp canola oil instead)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups Whole Grain Pancake Mix (see above; stir before measuring)

1 to 2 tsp grated zest of a lemon or orange (optional)

Directions:

In a large bowl, lightly beat the egg. blend in the buttermilk (or kefir), butter (or oil), vanilla, and lemon or orange rind (if using). Fold in the pancake mix just until the flour is absorbed. Avoid overmixing.

Heat a large griddle or skillet over medium heat. Lightly coat the surface with oil (my griddle doesn’t require any greasing). When a drop of water thrown on the griddle immediately sizzles, pour on 2 Tbsp batter per pancake, allowing space for the batter to spread. When the pancakes are dry around the edges and the bottoms are nicely browned, 2 to 3 minutes, flip them. Cook until browned on the second side, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Lower the heat if the pancakes are browning too quickly, leaving the centre uncooked. Serve each batch as soon as it’s done, arranging the pancakes slightly overlapped. Do not stack the pancakes – this causes them to steam and become soggy. If you prefer to bake and serve all of the pancakes at once, set them in a single layer on a baking pan and place in a warm oven.

Please let me know what you think of these pancakes if/when you try these!

Carrot cake is one of those cakes that sound healthy, but usually isn’t because of the obscene amount of oil it contains (typically between 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups) to ensure its moistness. Well, here is a super moist carrot cake that contains only 1/4 cup of oil! How is that even possible, you ask?! Well, it’s because of two additional healthy ingredients that replace all that excess oil: buttermilk (don’t let its name fool you – at 1%, it’s low in fat!) and pumpkin puree (which besides being low in fat, is high in fibre). Now, I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin, but it’s growing on me. And it makes this carrot cake taste absolutely gorgeous, as one of my British friends would say!

I have made this cake at least half a dozen times since discovering it just three weeks ago, and the one I just made was supposed to be for friends we are visiting tomorrow for dinner and “games night” (we’re going to play “Settlers of Catan” – for details of this uber-fun game, check out http://www.catan.com/), but it looks like I’ll be baking another one tomorrow morning!

I found this recipe on an amazing blog you absolutely must visit at http://www.aprettylifeinthesuburbs.com/, though it originally comes from “The Looneyspoons Collection” by Janet & Greta Podleski, who have a website at the following address: http://janetandgreta.com/, which you also MUST view! I think I’m going to be asking for a copy of this cookbook for my birthday (this is my not-so-subtle hint to my wonderful husband!!).

And finally, the recipe:

Icing Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 packages of cream cheese, room temperature (I used just one 250 g package)

1/4 cup butter (I used 2 Tbsp)

1 and 1/2 cups icing sugar (I used just 1 cup)

1 Tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate (I used 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice, including the pulp)

1 tsp grated orange zest

Icing Directions:

Beat together the cream cheese and butter until it is smooth. Slowly add the icing sugar and mix until smooth. Add the orange juice and zest, mix well. Refrigerate until you are ready to use it.

Cake Ingredients:

1 and 3/4 cups flour (I use whole wheat)

1/4 cup ground flaxseed

1 tbsp cinnamon

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup canned pure pumpkin (not pie filling)

1 cup brown sugar (not packed)

3/4 cup buttermilk (I didn’t have any, so I used kefir instead)

1/4 cup oil (I use canola)

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups finely grated carrots (I recommend 2 and 1/2 cups)

1/2 cups walnuts (plus I threw in a handful or two of raisins!)

1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut

Cake Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 2 round 9-inch baking pans.  You can grease & flour them or line the bottoms with wax paper (wax paper is my preference).

In a bowl combine the flour, ground flaxseed, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, ginger and salt.  Set aside.

Using a mixer, combine the pumpkin, sugar, buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla.  Mix well.

Add the dry ingredients slowly to the wet mixture, and combine (on low-speed or by hand with a wooden spoon) until the dry ingredients are moistened.

Then gently add the carrots, nuts, raisins (if using) and coconut.  Hand mix.

Divide the cake batter evenly between the 2 pans, and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cakes come out clean.

When done baking, cool the cakes in their pans for 10 minutes, run a knife around the circumference of the cake to loosen it from the cake pan, and then turn them out onto a cooling rack. You can ice the cakes when they have cooled completely. I prefer to serve my carrot cake the following day, as it gives all the flavours a chance to really soak through. I promise you, this cake will not disappoint!

This recipe is by far my favourite banana muffin recipe, maybe even my favourite muffin recipe period. It was given to me by a former work colleague, who found it in a newspaper article almost a decade ago. I have yet to find a better tasting banana or bran muffin (healthy or otherwise!). I hope you’ll love them as much as I do – and as much as the wee ones did at this mornings visit to the Early Years Centre at my son’s school – seven children (ages 18 months – 5 years) devoured half a dozen of these healthy treats in under two minutes!

So what makes these muffins so healthy? Well, first of all they contain no butter or oil! AND, they contain wheat bran and ground flaxseed – both very beneficial to your diet. Stay tuned for a post about bran and flaxseed!

Ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat flour (to make them extra healthy, I sometimes use spelt flour)

3/4 cup wheat bran

3/4 cup ground flaxseed

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (regular sized ones will work, too AND I sometimes toss in a few extra, though I do also make them without any chocolate chips and the kids still love them)

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt (I generally omit salt from my baking)

1 and 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (I let the beater do the mashing!)

3/4 cup dark brown sugar (I often use less)

3/4 cup buttermilk (this morning I used 3/4 cup kefir instead and they were SENSATIONAL!)

1 egg

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients using a spoon.

In a medium-sized bowl, beat the bananas until mashed.

Add the wet ingredients and beat until blended.

Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.

Spoon into prepared muffin cups. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes. Let cool completely before removing paper liner, or the liner will not come off cleanly.

 

What’s your favourite healthy banana muffin or bran muffin recipe?