Monday, May 28, 2012

Menu Monday #2

A few minor changes to our menu last week, but for the most part we did ok. We ended up eating out twice, at Beef 'O' Brady's and a local BBQ restaurant, The Firehouse Restaurant. I was kind of disappointed with my meal selection at Beef 'O' Brady's. I thought I was picking something that would be lower calorie/fat (I chose a bowl instead of a wrap and chicken instead of steak), but it turns out my choices weren't good ones. The meal was very high in both calories and fat, wrecking my diet for the day. :( It was super tasty, but I'm hoping I don't pay for it on the scale this week! The Firehouse Restaurant had decent BBQ at a nice price. Not my favorite, but a pretty good option if we are craving BBQ. So, I didn't get the chance to attempt homemade pizza yet, but I'm hoping to next weekend!

Sunday: Eat out at Five Guys
I was planning to cook, but the day got away from us and I didn't make it to the grocery store until late, so we decided to eat out instead. We had never been to this restaurant, so we decided to check it out since I was craving a burger. The burger was decent (not the best I have ever had, but good), but the cajun French Fries were the highlight for me! Unfortunately, I kind of felt like crap after the meal. I think my body is adjusting to less sodium and such and can't take it when I eat it now, as I had similar experiences after both of the other nights we ate out last week too! :(

Monday: NY strip steaks topped with poblano pesto, baked sweet potatoes and oven roasted parmesan broccoli
Normally we grill steaks, but with our grill in storage, we have adapted to other cooking techniques. I actually found a pin awhile back that suggested searing steaks on the stovetop, then finishing them in the oven, was the way to go. We tried it and it is actually pretty good! So, that is how I will prepare them tonight. My poblano pesto recipe is hands down both Josh and I's favorite condiment. We could literally eat it on almost anything and be happy, so we will enjoy some tonight! We all love sweet potatoes and these will be delicious topped with a little butter and brown sugar - a good dessert in my opinion! To finish off the meal and add some green to the plate, we'll enjoy some roasted broccoli, which is a tasty treat.

Tuesday: Foil baked salmon with poblano pesto and tomatoes over brown rice with oven roasted asparagus
Salmon is another food we normally like to prepare on the grill, seasoned with Cajun blackening seasoning, but I have been baking it while living here. This recipe is one that I first tried years ago when we lived in Kentucky, and it was just ok for me. At that time I used a store-bought basil pesto, as instructed by the original recipe. I now use some of the poblano pesto (leftover from Monday night) and it elevates this dish to a new level. It is incredibly tasty and one that we like to indulge in often. Added bonus that salmon filets are buy one, get one free at the Fresh Market this month on Tuesdays! :) We all love roasted asparagus, which I find odd for young children, though I am not complaining! Sometimes I also roast some tomatoes with a little shredded parmesan on top if I have extra. Yum.

Wednesday: Melt in Your Mouth Baked Chicken, whole wheat rotini, parmesan stir-fried green beans
This is a new meal we tried a few weeks ago for baked chicken, topped with a mixture of Greek yogurt, shredded parmesan, Adobo seasoning and pepper. Everyone gobbled it up, so it has been a keeper! On the side, rotini (topped with a little poblano pesto if there is still some left - I told you it was good on everything!) and green beans. If you haven't noticed, I either roast or "stir-fry/pan-fry" pretty much every vegetable we eat. I am NOT a fan of boiled or steamed veggies. I never ate them when I was young, and still hate them as an adult. But I LOVE roasted veggies. It is amazing what a difference it makes just in the way you prepare a food!

Thursday: Crockpot Bacon Chicken with couscous and parmesan stir-fried green beans
We tried this recipe last week and it was also a hit with everyone! It was super easy to throw together and cook all day. Lately it has been helpful to have one crockpot meal a week ready to make as we have been doing a lot of house hunting in the evenings. That cuts into my dinner prep time, so having something pretty much ready to go when we arrive back home is a must. I did end up using a packet of dry Spicy Ranch dressing last time, but this time I am going to try it without it. We also ended up eating brown rice instead of the couscous last week, but I will make the couscous this week. The recipe worked great using Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. I will try to get this one added soon! 

Friday: Trip to Ohio
We'll be traveling to Ohio this weekend for my niece's birthday party. Not sure what will be planned for dinners, but I am sure it will be tasty!

Saturday: Trip to Ohio

Happy menu planning for the week and Happy Memorial Day! We're thankful to all the men and women who have served and are currently serving our country.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Menu Monday

I decided to start a new weekly post detailing our menu for the week. I think that this will help to keep me accountable to eating healthy and also work towards my goal of eating out less. We currently eat out on Friday and Saturday evenings, and occasionally on Sundays too. I would like to get back to just a max of once a week, if we can. By posting menu ideas and shopping for these days, we should be able to avoid eating out when the weekend arrives. As of right now, I don't have meals to make for this Friday or Saturday, but I want to find the perfect whole wheat pizza dough recipe so that I can make our own pizza this weekend. I haven't done that since we lived in Georgia (and I bought Publix's super awesome bakery dough), but now that I have my bread machine, I should be able to easily make my own. So, if you have a great recipe, I would love to try it!

Sunday: Whole Wheat Pizza Pancakes
I have blogged about this recipe for Pizza Pancakes in the past, but tried a new version I created using whole wheat flour instead of Bisquick. The results were awesome! Will post about it soon. :)

Monday: Crockpot Bacon Chicken with couscous and parmesan stir-fried green beans
This is a new recipe I am trying tonight after finding it on Pinterest. I am planning to cut the recipe in half and sub Greek yogurt for the sour cream. I am considering using a packet of dry ranch dressing instead of some of the flour to hopefully add more flavor as well, but haven't decided yet. Has anyone tried anything similar to this?? For the beans, I use frozen cut green beans and saute them in a little canola oil and parmesan seasoning. Delicious!

Tuesday: Cajun shrimp over brown rice with oven roasted parmesan broccoli (fish sticks for the boys)
I buy fresh shrimp and season them with Cajun seasoning while giving them a quick sear on the stove top in a little EVOO. I roast the broccoli heads in the oven, sprinkled with EVOO, seasoned with salt & pepper, and topped with a little shredded parmesan near the end.

Wednesday: Cajun stuffed peppers
This consists of red bell peppers stuffed with a mixture of brown rice, quinoa, andouille sausage, lean ground beef, diced tomatoes and kale. I blogged about this recipe here. At the bottom of the post, I added an update I made to this one too. This time I am really hoping to try making kale chips with the leftover kale, since I still haven't tried doing it yet! :(

Thursday: Chicken parmesan over whole wheat rotini with parmesan stir-fried green beans
This is an oldie, but a goodie. I combine bread crumbs and grated parmesan cheese with Italian seasoning to coat thinly sliced chicken breasts that have been dipped in egg. I bake them, topping them with a little bit of shredded mozzarella cheese. I serve them on top of the rotini with a little bit of tomato sauce.

Friday: Eat out, probably pizza (we love Mellow Mushroom!) - or attempt homemade pizza (probably a Margherita one) with whole wheat dough

Saturday: Eat out - maybe Indian?

I also want to create a new menu board like one that I found on Pinterest. I think having little cards with all of the dinners I make will help me to remember all of the possible meals that I have in my arsenal and help me to rotate them a little better than I am doing right now. Then when I am not in the mood to pick meals, I can just pick a card from the stack randomly and the decision will be made! :) Although I don't require a lot of variety, I am sure the rest of the family will appreciate it!

I also have a master Excel spreadsheet that I am working on with a list of all of the dishes I make, organized by type (i.e., breakfast or dinner, then by meat - chicken, beef, fish, pork, etc). All of the ingredients are listed across the top of the spreadsheet and if a particular ingredient is in the dish, it will list the amount of it in the correct box. So if you read across one line, it will give you all of the ingredients in the dish and the correct amounts of them. It's kind of hard to explain, but once I finish it, I will try to post it so you can see. It will be helpful for those days when I need to throw something together and can check the list to see what ingredients I have on hand and what I can make from those ingredients. :)

So, lots going on in the meal planning department right now! I was also doing some research this weekend and found a great blog about a mom who decided that her family was going to eat "real food" for 100 days. This meant no more processed foods, something that can be difficult today in our highly processed food world. I am working on getting this started for our family too. I need to find some good whole wheat flour to use in my bread machine so that I can make homemade sandwich bread for the boys and hubby. It is so easy to make and requires so few ingredients, yet when you check the ingredient list of most store bought breads, you will find around 40 ingredients in them! Yikes! She has a great recipe on her blog, but it includes honey, so I will have to hold off on that one until Noah is a year old. She also inspired me to finally try organic milk. I would love to be able to get fresh milk delivered to us like she does, but I'm not sure if that is available around here. Buying organic will at least be a start. It costs about double what the generic, non-organic, store brand milk does, but now that I am dieting, we're consuming almost half the milk that we were previously consuming, haha, so the wallet shouldn't feel the difference! :) I have been trying to buy a lot of other organic food items for awhile now, but I am being even more cognizant now of what I purchase. There also aren't too many food items in the apartment now that are processed, and I will hopefully eliminate all of them in the next month or so.

Have any of you made big changes to your diet? If so, I would love to hear about your experiences and tips!

Friday, May 18, 2012

My Fitness Pal

I have a new best friend. This friend is helping to keep me on track on my weight loss journey. This friend lets me know how many calories I have consumed all day and also how many calories I have burned when I workout. This friend lets me communicate with others aspiring to lose weight too. So far, this friend has helped me lose 3 pounds in the last two weeks. Yay!

My new best friend is unfortunately not real, but a "friend", nonetheless. :) I am talking about My Fitness Pal, a super awesome app that I downloaded for my iPad. I'm probably a bit behind on this one, but at least I have now become acquainted with it! Another awesome feature is that the app syncs with an online version that can be accessed from any computer. This app makes it so easy to track your calories that there is really no excuse not to every day. When you first set up your account you enter your weight loss (or gain - um yeah, I wish I had that problem!) goals (total amount you want to lose and how much per week), current weight, normal daily activities (if you are sedentary or active), how often (days per week) and long (duration of each workout) you plan to exercise a week, and it will give you a suggested daily calorie count to aim for each day. So, if you exercise, you get to consume more calories for that day. As a nursing mom, I also add in an extra 200 calories (a conservative amount since he is only nursing 5x/day now) to allow for those calories that I am burning every day, even though it really isn't "exercise".

Now a glance at all of the app's features. Your home screen gives you a summary of your day. It shows you how many calories you have left to consume for the day and gives you a breakdown of nutrients (% of diet coming from carbs, fat and protein) you have already consumed. This is a nice feature to help me quickly see if I am getting enough protein, or limiting my fat intake enough. By clicking on the "See All Nutrients" button, it will give you an even more detailed analysis, including showing you things like how much sugar or sodium you have consumed and lets you know if you are meeting those daily goals as well. At the bottom is your "Recent News" section. This gives updates in a Facebook-like feed. It will post when you enter a workout, or complete your food diary for the day. It also posts when you log-in for a certain number of days in a row, or when you lose weight when updating your weight loss progress. If you add friends within the app (other app users), they can comment on these updates, which is encouraging. :) You can also see their daily updates in your feed too. Finally, on the left-side is your control panel, allowing you to access all of the various screens within the app.

This "Food" screen tracks your daily calorie intake. It breaks down the day by meals and also includes snacks. You enter everything you eat and it totals the nutritional content for each item, by meal, then also by day. It does the math for you, then also lets you know how much you have remaining for each category too! It really couldn't be more comprehensive than that!

When you want to add an food, you just click on the "Add" button at the top, or the "Add" button within each category. Here comes my favorite part. You can actually scan the UPC barcode of a food item with your iPad's (or iPhone's) camera to see if it is already in their database! I would say that about 90-95% of the items I eat are already in there! Awesome. When you find the item you are looking for, it will bring up the information for that item, including serving size and number of servings (you can change this number to reflect whether you are eating more or less than one serving). It will adjust the calories, fat, carbs, etc based on the number of servings you enter. Then you add the food and it shows up under the category you chose (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks). Sometimes an item may not be found by searching via UPC code, but if you type in a description (i.e., 1% milk), it will bring up a big list of items matching that description and you can oftentimes find what you need there.

If the item you are eating is not already in their database after searching both of these ways, then you can choose to add the item manually yourself. You type in the name (i.e., fresh cut green beans), a description (i.e., Fresh Market), the serving size (i.e., 2/3 cup), the number of servings per pkg (i.e., 12), and then the nutritional content listed on the package. After saving it, this item will then show up in "My Foods" and you can add it anytime. If you want to add an entire recipe, you can do this too! You will be asked to give your recipe a name, then enter how many people it serves. After that, you add each ingredient that is included in the recipe. To add the ingredient, it works the same as a food item. You can either scan it, search for it, or add it manually. Once you add all the ingredients, you can save the recipe and it will show up in "My Recipes." Then you simply add it to your day by selecting it from that category when you log a food. I have saved lots of recipes already in my account. It makes it a breeze to add later on when you eat a particular meal again. :)

Next up is the "Exercise" screen. Here you can add your workouts for the day, both cardiovascular and strength. It doesn't give you any credit as far as calories burned for a strength workout, but it does let you keep track of how many reps and sets you are doing and the weight you are using. It conveniently saves previous workouts for you, so when you are adding a workout in, you can often select it from your recent workouts and adjust settings as needed. For a cardiovascular workout, you search for your exercise in their database that most closely represents what you did (i.e., walking at 3.0 mph), and enter it with the time you spent doing the activity. It then calculates the amount of calories you burned doing said activity based on your current weight. If you can't find your activity in the database, you can also add one manually. This is where I added in the nursing. I just broke it down by session and based on 5 sessions a day, I give each one 40 calories to get the total of 200 calories/day. When you add your exercise, it updates your home screen and adjusts the amount of calories you can consume that day.

The "Progress" screen shows you in a happy little graph how your weight loss has progressed (ideally!). It gives you a total change figure, then also a % change figure too, a la The Biggest Loser. At the bottom it tracks each weigh-in in a list format. Aside from weight, you can also track measurements of your neck, waist and hips. This is helpful if you are seeing weight gains, which can happen as you build muscle. You can view your graph over various periods of time.

As I mentioned earlier, you can also add friends. This is a fun way of helping each other out by offering encouragement and advice with each others respective weight loss journeys. You can either add people you actually know in real life, you can search for people locally that are also using the app, or you can friend random people that may have similar weight loss goals or other similarities. Fun!

Best of all, this app is absolutely free! Woo hoo! I must admit that I am normally not cheap with most things, but I am when it comes to apps. I have lots of them on my iPad, but every single one of them is free. Oh yeah. This app is so awesome though, that I might actually be willing to pay for it if I had to do so. Yep, it's that good. And no, they aren't paying me to write this glowing review. I just love this app so much that I had to share in case there is anyone out there who hasn't heard of it yet! :) As you can now see on the right sidebar of my blog, I am displaying a badge tracking how much weight I lose. Feel free to cheer me on as I attempt to kick my sister's booty in our weight loss challenge! ;)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

It's All Greek to Me

I have never been a fan of yogurt. I've tried many brands and flavors, and while I'll eat it sometimes because it is a nice low-calorie option for lunch, I don't enjoy it. So, I had never really got on board the whole Greek yogurt trend that has appeared recently. But, things have changed now that I am trying to eat healthier and lose weight. A friend (thanks, Sara!) clued me in to the great benefits that Greek yogurt has to offer and suggested some ways I could enjoy it. I was definitely skeptical that I would enjoy anything about Greek yogurt, but decided to give it a go because I am much more open to trying new foods in my older more knowledgeable years. ;)

So...I now buy Oikos Organic Greek yogurt...with caramel, to eat for my breakfast. Yeah, I couldn't take the plunge to plain, but thought I might enjoy it with one of my favorite toppings. I must admit that it isn't too bad. I do stir in a bit of cinnamon and also top it with a healthy portion of French Almond Vanilla granola (courtesy of the Fresh Market, of course!), but with those additions, the flavor of the yogurt is tolerable for me. It definitely saves me calories in the morning versus my usual bowl of cereal and it offers much more protein, to help keep me feeling more full until lunch! Yay! I may not be a complete convert yet, but I'm working on it.

In an effort to incorporate more Greek yogurt into our diet, I decided to try it in some dinner recipes too! I have a couple recipes to share today. One sneaks it in, as I used it as a substitute for another less nutritious ingredient and the other is more obvious, but a tasty recipe my sister (thanks, Katie!) shared with me. I have been making this recipe for Salsa Chicken for a couple months now (and actually blogged about it here already) and it is fabulous! Here is the pin and the original recipe comes from "chef in training". Her recipe calls for sour cream, but I decided to try the Greek yogurt to see if you could notice a difference. Good news, you really can't! The yogurt adds the creaminess you need without sacrificing any flavor. Love it! I now make it this way and also with a recipe for homemade taco seasoning (courtesy of Plain Chicken), instead of using a packet. Again, I'm trying to use better, less processed ingredients, so I decided to try making my own taco seasoning instead of relying on Taco Bell for it. ;) So, here is my updated version of...

Healthier Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

  • 2 large, boneless chicken breasts (total weight 1 to 1 1/4 pounds)
  • Homemade taco seasoning
    • 1 Tbsp chili powder
    • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/4 tsp onion powder
    • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (the kids prefer if I leave this out, though)
    • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
    • 1/2 tsp paprika
    • 1 tsp ground cumin
    • 1 tsp kosher salt
    • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 16-ounce jar salsa (Fresh Market's medium variety is great)
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup (I use the 98% fat free version)
  • 1 5-ounce container plain Greek yogurt (I like Oikos' organic variety)

Prepare the taco seasoning by mixing all of ingredients in a small bowl.

Add the chicken to the slow cooker. Sprinkle the taco seasoning on top of the chicken. 

Mix the salsa and cream of chicken soup in a separate bowl and pour over the chicken. 

Cook on high for 1 hour, then switch to low and cook for 4 additional hours, or until chicken is done. Turn the heat to warm or off and stir in the Greek yogurt.

Shred the chicken and serve in a whole wheat tortilla or over brown rice. Both are delicious options. Yum. Hubby likes a bit of shredded cheddar cheese on top of his too. :)

This recipe is a wonderful "diet" food. One serving of the salsa chicken, by itself (no tortilla or rice), yields the following nutritional info: 173 calories, 2.6 g fat, 12.6 g carbs, 27.4 g protein,  4.5 mg cholesterol, 698 mg sodium, 307 mg potassium, and 0.5 g fiber. I split the entire crockpot into just 5 servings, so those are very generous portions! Hubby and I both eat one serving with 2 tortillas for dinner, the boys split a serving, then we each have a serving leftover for lunch the next day too. I like to serve this dish with some steamed, frozen Silverqueen corn that has been very lightly buttered and seasoned with our favorite Cajun seasoning from the Fresh Market. A delicious, healthy meal!

Update: When I fixed this dish most recently, I decided to add one more ingredient when I served it. A drizzle of honey over each portion added the perfect balance of sweet to the spicy that this chicken offers. It was delicious!

The next recipe I tried is pinned here and originates from "Feeding my Temple." I made a few slight changes to her original, so my recipe is listed below.

Melt in Your Mouth Baked Chicken

  • 2 large, boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced thinly in half (total weight of ~1 pound)
  • 1 5-ounce container plain Greek yogurt (I like Oikos' organic variety)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp Adobo seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Combine the yogurt, Parmesan cheese and seasonings in a small bowl.

Place the chicken breasts in the dish and spread the mixture over the chicken.

Bake for 30 minutes, then broil for an additional 5 minutes, to brown the topping. Serve immediately.

This is another great, healthy recipe for dinner. This dish will serve 4 people (1 piece per person). One serving yields the following nutritional info: 262 calories, 8 g fat, 2 g carbs, 43 g protein, 110 mg cholesterol, and 41 g potassium. Sodium will vary depending on spices used. I served each breast with one serving of whole wheat rotini (topped with a little poblano pesto) and a serving of sauteed frozen cut green beans, seasoned with a little EVOO and parmesan seasoning. Delicious! Everyone gobbled this chicken up, so it was immediately put on our "make again" list! :)

Update: Last time I made this I sprinkled a small amount of panko bread crumbs on top before slipping the dish into the oven. They toasted up perfectly and added a wonderful crunch to this meal! I like incorporating multiple textures to food items and "crunchy" was just what this one needed. :)

So, I guess Greek yogurt isn't so bad after all. I would definitely like to try some additional recipes that incorporate it. If you have any tasty ones, please share!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Noah is 10 Months Old!

Noah turned ten months old yesterday. First up, his stats. He weighed in this month at 19 lbs, 2 oz (still in the 10th to 25th percentile), up 10 ounces from last month! He is measuring up at 28 inches (still in the 25th to 50th percentile), staying steady this month. His head remains large, with a measured circumference of 47 cm (still in the 75th to 90th percentile). So, I think we'll be fine at his weight check in a couple of weeks! haha!

Below is the pic of Noah at ten months, wearing the 12-month onesie. He was being quite the funny man this month and did not want to sit still for this pic! Surprise, surprise. This boy is constantly on the move! Even in his sleep he is all over the crib all night long.

We enjoyed another wonderful month of Noah sleeping through the night. Wahoo! It has been such a relief to have him sleeping again and it has allowed me to begin waking up at a decent hour in the mornings now too. Yep, I admit I totally slept in until 8 or 9 if he did every morning! So, I am currently waking up with hubby in the mornings and taking Daisy for a morning jog. Yep, no need to get your eyes checked, you read that correctly! haha! I finally had a realization that this extra weight (not really baby weight so much as weight that has been hanging around for nearly 10 years now. Yikes!) is not going to just magically disappear, so I am going to have to get off my booty and do something about it! I am still working on the whole "loving running" thing, but for now we have a tolerable relationship. I think I hate the idea of waking up early more than the running part itself. I seriously have no idea how I used to get up at 5:30 for work every day. I will always prefer to be a night owl, but I am hoping to get used to this new schedule soon. It has been nice to have more time to accomplish things again in the morning as well, though Noah waking around 7:30 or 8 am doesn't allow much lately. We're making it work though. He has also continued with the same two-nap (1-2 hours each) routine this past month.

New foods tried this month:
  • Meat! He's had pork, chicken, fish, hamburger, hot dog and steak now!
  • Nothing else exciting that I can think of right now, as he eats pretty much everything we eat that is safe for babies! :)
Noah had his first taste of meat a few weeks ago and it's apparent the boy is a carnivore. He loves it and gobbles it up as quickly as we can get it cut up for him! I think he prefers it to anything else on his tray at this point. Fortunately for him, we went ahead and started him on the real stuff instead of the meat in a jar that poor Ethan had to endure. Yes, you really need to check out that video link if you haven't seen it yet. Call us bad parents, but it is just hilarious and we never get tired of watching it! ;) Maybe we ruined Ethan on meat after that incident because he is still not real big on eating it now, over 2 years later. Noah, on the other hand, can currently out eat his big brother. He also continues to nurse every 3-4 hours throughout the day.

New accomplishments this month:
  • First trip to the beach
  • His first steps!!
  • Trying to say "mama"
I posted a couple weeks ago about our recent trip to the beach. This was Noah's first experience with both the sand and the ocean and he appears to love it as much as the rest of us! Yay! He experienced a swimming pool for the first time at Ethan's birthday party back in March, but he took to the pool even better this time. It probably helped that the pool was heated so it was like a nice, big bath tub for him! ;)

Over the past week, he has been taking a step or two here and there. A few days ago, he took three in a row and on Mother's Day he took EIGHT steps at once! Unfortunately, we didn't get that one on video, but we did get a short video of him taking a few steps to me. Today he had several spurts of 6 to 7 small steps. It won't be long now before he is zooming all over the place by foot!

On several different occasions now, while holding him, he has tried to say "mama" to me. Awww. I thought maybe it was a fluke, but as he continues to do it, I think it may be for real. :)

Here is the pic of both Ethan and Noah at 10 months. By this point it is nearly impossible to get these boys to stay still for more than two seconds, as you can see in these pics. Noah was more interested in eating his toes this month and I have no idea what Ethan was looking at, but it wasn't me! It is crazy how closely their development has mirrored each other over their respective first years. At this point, Ethan was just 1/2" taller than Noah and Noah weighed 1/2 pound more than Ethan.

Delicious and Semi-Nutritious!

I tried another new recipe this weekend for brunch. These pancakes (original recipe courtesy of how Sweet it is) looked amazing when I pinned them awhile back and given the new diet I we are embracing, I decided it was definitely time to give them a go. I wanted to try something aside from the normal Bisquick pancakes that I make on Saturday mornings. Hubby was skeptical, but I think if you ask him now, he'll admit that he would definitely eat these again. ;) I love that this recipe doesn't require any egg either, in case it is a concern for your little ones. We have been kind of lenient with allowing Noah to eat items containing entire eggs, but didn't need to worry with this one! I made a few changes to the original, so my recipe is below. If you would like to try the original instead, please visit the link. Beware, her pictures are even more appetizing than mine. ;)

Whole Wheat Banana Bread Pancakes

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3 small, ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted (optional)


In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and cinnamon.

Measure out the milk and add the vanilla extract to it, stirring to combine.

Mix together the dry ingredients and add in the milk and vanilla, stirring to combine. The mixture will be very dry. Add in the mashed bananas and mix well.

Add in the melted butter and stir until the batter is somewhat smooth as smooth as you can get it. :) To save calories, I don't add in the butter anymore. I don't miss it at all!

Heat a large skillet to medium-low to medium heat. Use a small amount of butter or butter spray to grease your skillet. Spoon the batter into the pan, using the back of your spoon to spread the batter.

Cook until bubbles form on top, about 4 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Repeat with the remaining batter. Serve hot with vanilla maple glaze (see recipe below).

Vanilla Maple Glaze

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Dash of salt

Start by putting the powdered sugar in a small bowl and add in the maple syrup, stirring until smooth. Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix until combined well. Pour over pancakes. I usually don't measure these ingredients now, but just go by consistency and taste instead.

This recipe made 9 large, thick pancakes for me and enough glaze for 3-4 servings (other times I have been able to get 12 pancakes out of it). Obviously you can make the pancakes smaller if you would prefer. Three pancakes with glaze was incredibly filling and served as brunch for hubby and I. So, while there were a lot of calories in three pancakes, I didn't need anything else to eat until dinnertime. You could also save quite a few calories (and grams of sugar!) by skipping the glaze. The pancakes were delicious served plain as well. :)

Here is the nutritional info for 1 serving (3 pancakes): 498 calories, 106 g carbs, 4 g fat, 11 g protein, 39 g sugar, 9 g fiber, 459 g sodium, 443 mg potassium.

Here is the nutritional info for 1 serving of glaze (using it as 3 total servings): 139 calories, 32 g carbs, 2 g fat, 0 g protein, 31 g sugar, 0 g fiber, 61 g sodium, 4 mg potassium.

Everyone gobbled up these pancakes. The kids were happy to eat them plain (no need to deal with a sugar high that early in the morning! haha!), while hubby and I indulged in the glaze. ;) I used the original ingredient amounts for the glaze from the blog's recipe and found this to be a huge amount, so I suggest cutting the recipe in half, as I listed above. I was fortunate to have some 100% pure maple syrup from my home state to use, but I am sure any will suffice. I added the cinnamon and salt to the glaze to help cut some of the sweetness, as even with my sweet tooth, it was a bit sweet for me.

My two happy campers, bellies full of yummy goodness! :)

If you try these out, let me know what you think!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Wonderful Ways to Start the Day!

I have been holding on to these awesome breakfast recipes for way too long now. I thought it would be fitting to share them before Mother's Day in case you want to make one of them for a special mom in your life. :) Breakfast in bed and Mother's Day seem to go hand in hand and I know that I would love to wake up to either of these options on Sunday morning! Hint, hint if you're reading this, darling hubby. ;)

The first recipe is one that I found when a friend posted a link to it on Facebook last fall. I had pinned it, and tried it at that time, but hadn't made it again until a couple months ago. I remembered to snap a few pics that time, so it's time to share now. Warning: This dish is not a diet-friendly dish. I don't even want to know how many calories are in it, but I do know that it is incredibly delicious!! The original recipe came from the Recipe Girl. I used my own pancake recipe, but her recipes for the filling and glaze.

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

  • Cinnamon Filling
    • 4 Tbsp butter, softened
    • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
    • 1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • Cream Cheese Glaze
    • 4 Tbsp butter
    • 2 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pancakes
    • 2 cups Bisquick (Heart Smart mix)
    • 1 1/4 cup skim milk
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 Tbsp sugar

Make the cinnamon filling: In a medium bowl, stir together the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Scoop the filling into a quart-sized heavy zip baggie and set it aside.

Make the glaze: In a small pan, heat the butter over low heat until melted. Turn off the heat and whisk in the cream cheese until it is almost smooth. Sift the powdered sugar into the pan, stir and add in vanilla extract. Set the pan aside while you make the pancakes. Instead, I melted the butter in a bowl in the microwave, then added the cream cheese. I didn't whisk very well apparently, because mine was still a bit lumpy.

Prepare the pancake batter: In a medium bowl, mix together the Bisquick, milk and egg. Once it is just moistened, mix in the vanilla extract and the sugar. The batter will be lumpy.

Cook the pancakes: Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium-heat and spray with nonstick spray. Add the batter to the pan. Spread the batter into a circle (about 4-inches in diameter). Reduce the heat to medium low. Snip the corner of your baggie of cinnamon filling and squeeze the filling into the open corner. When your pancake begins to form bubbles, add the filling. Starting at the center of the pancake, squeeze the filling on top of the pancake batter in a swirl. I know mine doesn't look nearly as nice as hers, but I figure practice will make perfect. :)

Cook the pancake 2 to 3 minutes, or until the bubbles begin popping on top of the pancake and it's golden brown on the bottom. Slide a thin, wide spatula underneath the pancake and gently, but quickly, flip it over. Cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until the other side is golden as well. When you flip the pancake onto a plate, you will see that the cinnamon filling has created a crater-swirl of cinnamon.

Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, and repeat with the remaining pancake batter and cinnamon filing. Re-warm the glaze briefly, if needed. Serve pancakes topped with a drizzle of glaze. Yuuuuuummmmm.

My next recipe is much more nutritious, if that is more what you are looking for instead. I found this recipe for a Frittata on Annie's Eats' blog. I wasn't crazy about the idea of ham, cheddar and asparagus, so I substituted my own fillings instead. I can't believe in my 30 years that I had never made a frittata until this point! I don't know why really. I guess I thought it would be difficult. In reality, it was so super easy that anyone could handle it, even those Dads wanting to surprise their wives for Mother's Day with a delicious breakfast in bed. ;)

Sausage, Onion, Mushroom Frittata

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 10 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 pkg Portabella mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups sausage, cooked and crumbled (I had leftover sausage I had already cooked earlier in the week, so it made this part easy!)

In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Whisk until well blended. Whisk in the mozzarella and cheddar cheeses.

Melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet set over medium-low heat. Swirl the butter around in the pan a bit so that is completely coats the bottom and sides of the pan. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, just until fragrant and golden around the edges. 

Add the mushrooms and cook until warmed through. 

Add the sausage and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and give the mixture a quick stir to ensure even distribution of the ingredients.

Increase the heat to medium and allow to cook without stirring. Cook until set around the edges and the center and top are still liquid, about 7 to 8 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. Transfer the skillet to the broiler and continue to cook until the top and center are fully cooked, about 3 to 4 more minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool until set, about 5 minutes. Slice and serve. Delicious!

I hope that you and your family love these recipes as much as we do if you try them!

And just one more wonderful way that I start my day....

...gazing at these darling little faces! :)