crustless spinach and tomato quiche

Crustless Spinach and Tomato Quiche

Jump to Crustless Spinach and Tomato Quiche Recipe

Okay, so quiche isn’t very Valentine-y or Mardi Gras-y or whatever else you might be celebrating this week but it’s what I’ve got. At least it’s very brunch-y and Valentine’s Day is on a Sunday this year. Also, Mardi Gras is actually over and, for some, it’s the first day of lent which means there are only 46 days to plan Easter brunch. On second thought, this should be quite a timely post. Good for me.

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Banana Bread

banana bread
My girls are 8 years old, just entered third grade. In many ways, they are becoming much more independent. They can read chapter books on their own, do their own laundry (major victory for mom over the summer!), they are becoming quite capable in the kitchen using the stove and oven (with supervision, don’t worry) to scramble eggs and bake cookies and cupcakes… they could practically move out of the house any minute now. Continue reading “Banana Bread”

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

 

I had company coming a couple weeks ago and was all set to make my pumpkin bread  when I realized I was seriously low on wheat flour, nowhere near the three cups I needed. So, emboldened by some luck I had with cupcakes this summer, I decided to use the gluten free flour I had on hand and see how it worked. I was very pleased as were my houseguests. Even Ella thought it was great which, if you’re one of the handful of people who actually follow this blog, you know is really saying something. I daresay this recipe would even be quite good without the chocolate chips, perhaps adding some delicious pecans or walnuts instead. Of course we’d lose Ella at that point.
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How to Make Granola

granola
I’m going to be honest with you, it’s kind of brutal looking at this granola today. You see, I’m about 36 hours into 48 hours of absolutely zero sugar calories (that means no carbs of any sort) and it’s actually not getting easier as the day goes on. Weird. Don’t worry, I’m adding them back in tomorrow. I just find it necessary to reset the system when I find a dozen or so empty red and green Rolo wrappers in the pocket of my robe with little memory of how they arrived there. I’m also starting to feel a little spacier than normal, go figure, so we aren’t going to chat for long. I just really need to stop procrastinating and get a recipe posted already!

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Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins

 School is fast approaching for us and it’s already started for some so I thought I’d share a fun (occasional) breakfast option. I made them a few Saturdays ago and the girls thought I’d lost my mind making such a sinful treat for breakfast! They were positively giddy, hugging each other and giggling like they do. I think it’s funny that people automatically assume that because something is chocolate, it’s somehow “worse” for you. It’s been proven, and well publicized, that cocoa powder and dark chocolate are not bad for you, quite the opposite in fact when eaten in moderation, yet the perception remains. The truth is, the amount of sugar, starch (think white flour) and fat are the more determining factors when it comes to nutritional value. Let’s face it, any sort of muffins, scones or other baked goods are not the best choice for breakfast but, depending on the other ingredients, the chocolate ones are certainly no worse than the cinnamon. So, go ahead and enjoy some chocolate in the morning for a special treat! I’ve been doing it for years and I feel so good about it I’m passing the tradition on to my girls.

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Ginger Mint Smoothie

I like for the heat to top out at about 75 degrees, 80 tops. Anything hotter than that and I get super lazy, and maybe a little cranky. I even lose my sanity and do crazy things like take my swimsuit cover-up off and get in to the pool next to my super fit, marathon running, yoga practicing friends who’s skin actually tans instead of freckling and burning. I love them, they’re actually really nice people but, seriously, Bend is a tough town for a normal size, fair skinned girl when bathing suit season comes around. Thank goodness it only lasts for about three months.

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Pumpkin Bread… on the healthier side

I have a little problem with canned pumpkin. And no, I’m not going to say that I prefer fresh because I don’t, far too much trouble as far as I’m concerned. No, my problem is that, every year, I end up with a ridiculously large amount of it because
A. I can never remember if I have it or not so I always buy just a few cans more.
and
B. I don’t ever actually make that pumpkin pie I think I have to have it for. Ever. Frankly, I (and most everyone I know) prefer Costco’s pumpkin pie so I stick to making my berry and cream pies and leave well enough alone.

Therefore, I found myself staring at about 120 ounces of pumpkin puree in my pantry and decided something must be done. Pumpkin bread was the obvious choice as it’s my favorite pumpkin treat but, as much as I love it at Starbucks, I wanted to try a little healthier take on it.

I used coconut sugar and maple syrup to sweeten it, eliminating a bit of the sugar shock and adding more complex flavor (if you can’t find coconut sugar, sub with brown sugar). The Greek yogurt and pumpkin make it really moist without adding extra fat so I didn’t need a lot of butter. And, using whole wheat flour and adding flax meal makes it more nutritious by adding extra fiber and protein. I ended up with a very moist, not too sweet bread with a wonderful maple/spice flavor that I felt a lot better about eating.

I’ve made a dent in my pumpkin supply by making a few batches in the last few weeks and have gotten rave reviews and recipe requests. So, here it is, hope you enjoy!



Pumpkin Bread 
makes 2 loaves

1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup canola oil or butter, melted
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 eggs
1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp maple extract
2 cups whole wheat flour (I recommend Bob’s Red Mill for a milder flavor)
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice, ground
1/4 tsp ginger, ground
1/4 tsp nutmeg, grated or ground (eyeball it if you’re grating as it’s a pain to measure)
1/2 cup flax meal

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 2 loaf pans by coating with cooking spray to prevent sticking.
Gather ingredients and 2 large mixing bowls. Melt butter and allow if to cool a bit.

Place coconut sugar in first mixing bowl and work out large lumps with your fingers, don’t worry if some remain, they will dissolve in the batter.

 
 
Whisk in melted butter until fully combined. 

Whisk in maple syrup until fully combined

Whisk in eggs, one at a time, mix well after each.

 Stir in Greek yogurt and pumpkin puree until fully combined.

Add vanilla and maple extracts, stir well and set aside.

In second mixing bowl, combine flours, salt, b. soda, spices and flax meal with a wire whisk.




Add pumpkin mixture to dry ingredients and stir until fully combined.

Batter will be thick. I switch to a rubber spatula when the whisk becomes too difficult.

Divide equally into the 2 prepared pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35- 45 minutes.

Bread will be done when a sharp knife inserted in the center comes out clean and the bread bounces back when pressed with your finger.

Remove hot bread from pans and allow to cool on wire rack.

Slice just before serving. I find keeping it in loaf form for a day or two actually improves the texture but, of course, it’s also great while still a little warm from the oven!



This has nothing to do with pumpkin bread, or Thanksgiving for that matter. I’ve been seeing the ads for the movie and am interested to see if they can possibly do this book justice.  Great message here…

“I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unnerving ease. It begins in your mind, always … so you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.” 

Yann Martel
Life of Pi

BabyCakes NYC Banana Chocolate Chip Bread (Gluten-Free & Vegan)


This is my favorite recipe (so far) from Erin McKenna’s BabyCakes cookbook. In case you’re not familiar, BabyCakes NYC is a famous New York City bakery known for it’s gluten-free and vegan offerings. I figured if I was going to take the plunge in to the unfamiliar territory of gluten-free baking, this was the book to start with. It provided some great info on all the different ingredients they use and  demystified things a bit for me. I recommend it if you’re so inclined to check it out. Here’s a link to their website…
http://www.babycakesnyc.com/

Being that I’m neither vegan nor gluten intolerant, my standards are fairly high for taste and texture. I can simply have the alternative if I want. I actually baked these alongside my family recipe and found myself reaching for this version over the wheat/dairy one, which I happen to love. They are super moist and flavorful and don’t need that little pat of butter the other kind demands. The chocolate chips are a happy addition although you can certainly skip them if you like.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t feel better with less wheat and dairy in their diet so it’s fun to find alternatives that  make you feel like you’re still indulging!

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread
from BabyCakes NYC

2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Baking Flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp Xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted (but not hot)
2/3 cup agave nectar
2/3 cup rice milk (I used coconut milk)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly oil a loaf pan with coconut oil.

Put your banana mashers to work if you have them…

 

 In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, b. powder, b. soda, xanthan gum, salt and cinnamon.

Add melted oil, agave nectar, rice milk and vanilla to the dry ingredients.

Stir until smooth, the batter will be quite thick.

Gently fold in mashed bananas.

Add chocolate chips and fill prepared pan halfway with batter.

 
Bake on the middle rack of preheated oven for @ 35 – 45 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes clean. I actually under-baked mine at first attempt so make sure that toothpick is clean and the bread bounces back a bit when pressed! Allow to cool in pan for 20 minutes before inverting onto a cutting board.

I had to share this picture of my three silly girls (especially the one on the left!). You can see the one on the right can’t keep her hands out of the bread…

So very true…“The USDA is not our ally here. We have to take matters into our own hands, not only by advocating for a better diet for everyone – and that’s the hard part – but by improving our own. And that happens to be quite easy. Less meat, less junk, more plants.”
Mark Bittman