Back to the Kitchen: Wake Up to a Quick and Healthy Breakfast

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Hello 2013!  2012 certainly had its moments of greatness. My daughter is thriving at her new school, my first book was published, I spent a lot of time creating recipes, cooking for old friends and family and made some awesome new friends along the way. We got a new puppy, my catering business exploded, and we started developing an online virtual pie store.

It was also a year of great sadness as several close friends and family members made their transitions. I did not get to be the next star of the Food Network, and a few of my other culinary adventures got pushed aside and left me somewhat disappointed!

But, since I’m a caterer you can only imagine what kind of food we created this last holiday season. The last two months have been a steady diet of turkey, stuffing, sweet and mashed potatoes. Prime rib, filet mignon, lamb crown and chops, pork crown, and a few rib eyes thrown in for cooking ease. We had left over party food like chicken and waffles (that would be fried chicken and waffles), deep-fried mac and cheese, baked brie with cranberry, cherries, caramelized onions and garlic and a endless supply of coconut shrimp.

There were veggies of course, most of them loaded with triple cream, sour cream or heavy cream!  And we cannot forget the butter! That is not even counting the massive amounts of gourmet cheese and all of the baked food gifts I received (I mean it would be really rude not to try them all!) — not to mention the hundreds of cookies, pies and scones that I baked (a girl has to sample them, after all, it is my job).

When my daughter looked at me and said “MOM! Not filet mignon AGAIN!” I knew that the New Year had arrived!

We enter the New Year with a more mindful approach to eating. We don’t use the “D” (diet) word in my house!  Let’s start with breakfast. I blend smoothies almost daily. It is the best grab and go food. I also love steel cut oats and muffins, homemade granola and protein bars. I can’t say enough about quinoa and starting your day with this protein packed grain is awesome!

Take a moment to enjoy these recipes with your family. Find the good things from last year and  bring more of them into 2013! Happy New Year!

Smoothies, shakes, muffins, quinoa, granola and more for breakfast!

Breakfast Fruit Smoothie

1 cup orange juice


10 strawberries

10 slices, peaches

2 cups blueberries

10 ice cubes

Mint sprigs


Place all ingredients except ice cubes in blender. Puree until smooth. Add ice, and puree again. Pour into a glass, sprinkle nutmeg on top
 and garnish with mint. Makes 2.

Banana Shake

3 bananas

1-teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups almond milk

1-cup ice

Place ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Makes 2 drinks.

Green Pineapple Smoothie

3 cups chopped pineapple

3 cups kale

1-tablespoon ginger

2 cups water

1-cup ice

Place ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Makes 2 drinks.

Vitamin C Citrus Smoothie

3 cups orange peeled, seeded and chopped

1 cup grapefruit, peeled, seeded and sliced

½ cup almond meal

2 tablespoons vanilla

1 cup almond milk

1-cup ice

Place ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Makes 2 drinks.

Make Ahead Steel Cut Oats

2 cups water

2 cups almond milk

1 cup uncooked steel-cut oats

2 large bananas, mashed (1 cup mashed)

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoons golden flaxseeds

1-tablespoon vanilla extract

In a medium-sized pot, bring the water and almond milk to a boil. Add in steel-cut oats and a pinch of salt and reduce heat to low. Stir in the mashed banana and flax seeds. Simmer on low, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. When the oats are creamy and tender, remove from heat and stir in cinnamon to taste and pure vanilla extract. Serve immediately or allow to cool before transferring into airtight containers in the fridge. In the morning, add a splash of almond milk and reheat on the stovetop. (Or if you must the microwave oven) Makes 6 cups.

Breakfast Quinoa

2 cups quinoa

3 cups vegetable stock

1-cup onions, chopped

1cup red bell pepper, chopped

1 cup candied ginger, chopped

2 cups dried fruit, chopped (I use an assortment of apricots, cranberries, cherries and blueberries. What ever you have on hand!)

1 cup sliced almonds

Mint for garnish

Mix together and then toss with maple syrup balsamic dressing and garnish with mint. Makes 6 cups

Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2-tablespoon Dijon Mustard

1-tablespoon maple syrup

6-tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1-cup olive oil

Fresh ground pepper

Whisk all ingredients together and let stand for one hour. Makes 1-½ cups.

Homemade Granola

6 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

3 cups almonds, coarsely chopped

1 cup sunflower seeds

1-cup pecans

3/4-cup sesame seeds

1/2-cup light brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1-teaspoon sea salt

1-teaspoon dried ground ginger

3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

2/3-cup agave nectar

1/4-cup honey

2 tablespoons grape seed oil

Preheat the oven to 300

In a very large bowl, mix together the oats, nuts and seeds, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. In a small saucepan, warm the applesauce with the agave, honey, and oil. Mix the fruit mixture into the dry ingredients until thoroughly dispersed, then divide and spread the mixture evenly on two jellyroll pans. Bake the granola for about 45 minutes, stirring every ten minutes, until the granola is deep golden brown. Remove from oven, and then cool completely. Store the granola in a large, airtight container. It will keep for up to one month. Makes about 10 cups.

PB&J Energy Bars

These high protein bars are great in a lunch box or as an after school snack. We love to make them together and the kids just gobble them up. We also have had some real fun designing the packaging!

2 cups uncooked oats

1-cup crunchy peanut butter

1/2 cup 100 % fruit jelly

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together thoroughly. Spread in a sprayed 8-inch square pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before cutting. Cut into 8 bars and wrap individually.

Blueberry Muffins

4 cups flour

1/4-cup sugar

2-tablespoon baking powder

1/2-teaspoon salt

2 eggs

2 cups milk

1 stick melted butter

1 1/2 cups blueberries

Preheat oven to 400. In a large bowl mix together dry ingredients. In a medium bow beat eggs with milk and melted butter. Add egg mixture to flour mixture stirring until the dry ingredients are just moistened.  Add blueberries. Remember don’t over mix.  Fill well-greased muffin tins 2/3s full. Bake 20 minutes until golden brown. (This is for 2 1/2 inch muffin tins. Mini muffins take about 12 minutes. )

Carrot Muffins

Follow above recipe omitting blueberries. To flour mixture add 1 teaspoon cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice) Add 1/2-cup raisins and 1/2-cup walnuts and 1 cup chopped carrots. Add egg mixture and follow as above.

Cranberry Ginger Muffins

Follow above recipe omitting blueberries. To flour mixture add 1 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries. Add 2 teaspoons ground ginger and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Add egg mixture and follow as above.

Apple Cheddar Muffins

Follow above recipe omitting blueberries and sugar. After egg and flour mixtures are mixed add 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese and one apple peeled and coarsely chopped. Follow as above.

Banana Nut Muffins

Follow above recipe omitting blueberries. To flour mixture add 1-cup nuts. To egg mixture add 2 very ripe smashed bananas. Mix ell. Add to flour mixture and follow as above.

Gwen Kenneally is the owner of Back to the Kitchen, Full Service Catering and Party Planning. She is the co-founder and master baker at Magpie Gourmet Mini Pies.  Check out her websites and  Her Sweet and Savory Cookbook is available through AMAZON .

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.