Banana Mocha Hemp Smoothie

20140627-222704-80824597.jpgBefore I tell you how to make this wonderful icy drink, there is a backstory. Until a few weeks ago I never drank coffee. I tried it a couple times and didn't like the taste. I always loved the smell of coffee, just not the taste. Now, my husband LOVES coffee! And he has tried to convert me numerous times to the dark side with no avail. He thought that when we had our kids and I was lacking sleep when they were infants that I would start drinking coffee. Nope! Then he thought surely when I was in nursing school and staying up late studying and still getting up early to get the kids ready for school that I would start. Nope! Instead it was one random day I tried it again and discovered that I actually like it now. Who would've thought?! And just in time for me to start working 3rd shift as a RN too. :D One morning this week he asked if I wanted a cup before he took the rest to work. I said "Sure!" But then I decided to exercise first since the kids were still asleep and by the time I was done with my Tone It Up videos I was quite warm and not interested in a hot drink anymore. That's when I thought up this recipe. I knew that chocolate, PB and banana taste awesome together and I had already discovered in my short time of drinking coffee how amazing chocolate and coffee are together. So I decided to try mixing them all together. I added a scoop of hemp protein powder too for an added protein boost. The result is an icy and tasty beverage. Perfect for the hot summer mornings!


Banana Mocha Hemp Smoothie

1 ripe banana

4 oz. black coffee with 5 ice cubes

4 oz. unsweetened or reduced sugar almond milk

2 tbsp. PB2 with Chocolate

1 scoop of hemp protein powder


Add all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!



Gluten Free Granola Made with Coconut Oil and Honey

I want to share my granola recipe with you today. You would think that making granola would be simple enough; but actually, it has taken me some time to finally come up with a recipe that is exactly what we wanted. And this recipe is just that! It has enough crunch without being hard. It is lightly sweetened with honey, a great sugar choice. And the fat in it is a really healthy fat- coconut oil. Now that I've found exactly what we were looking for in a granola, I make this recipe all the time. Sometimes I switch up the nuts from almonds to walnuts. And sometimes I stir raisins into the warm granola after it is done baking. Other than that, we love this granola exactly as it is.

I feel like granola gets a bad rap sometimes because it always seems to be on one of those "healthy foods that aren't really healthy" kind of lists that you see around the internet from time to time. But I don't think that is true. I think granola is a great addition to your diet. And by "diet" I mean the food that you regularly eat, not a food restriction. I really dislike that this word as been robbed of it's original meaning and now whenever you hear the word, you probably think of calorie reduction. But, that's another subject for another time. :)

Anyways back to what I was saying, I think that it is the commercially made granolas that can be loaded with fat and sugar. But when you make your own, you can chose the amount and kind of sugar and fat you add to yours. And by fat, I am only referring to the oil added, not the nuts. People can get so hung up on the fat in nuts that they are afraid of eating them. But actually, nuts are load with good fats, the kind of fats that are beneficial for your brain, organs and skin. Nuts are filling too so they are a great snack. Sure, if you eat a couple cups of nuts in a day, that's too much. But this is a good example of if you eat intuitively then you will eat only what your body needs. Eating intuitively takes away the focus on the calories and serving sizes and focuses on listening to what your body needs and when it is satisfied.

Our favorite way to eat this granola is on top of greek yogurt with hemp seed hearts. Hemp seed is an excellent source of protein, omega-3's and 6's, thiamin, phosphorus, zinc, iron, magnesium and manganese. It is quite the wonder food! Have you tried hemp seed yet? It has a delicious nutty flavor. We've tried a couple and our favorite brand is Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts. So good!

Granola and hemp seed is good on fruit flavored yogurt. But my favorite way to eat it is on plain greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey and about a cup of frozen blueberries. Words cannot describe how delicious this is! I eat it all the time! It is a satisfying and well-rounded meal that is good for breakfast or lunch. I have even packed it to eat for supper when I am at the hospital for a clinical night for school. Great energy source!

Another one of my favorite ways to eat it is with a bowl of fresh fruit in the summertime. My favorite combo is fresh peaches, blueberries and strawberries topped with granola. That is summertime eating at its best!

Why not make some today? Then you will have it to eat on all week too. And if you are gluten free like I am, make sure that you are using a certified gluten free brand of oats. Oats are well known to be easily cross-contaminated with wheat. So make sure you are eating GF oats. I like Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Oats. They have old-fashioned, quick and steel-cut GF oat options. Not only are they gluten free, but they taste better too. I'm not sure how, but they definitely taste better than other brands of oats.

I hope you try this granola and love it as much as we do!

Gluten Free Granola Made with Coconut Oil and Honey

In a large bowl, stir together:

3 c. old-fashioned GF oats

1 c. steel-cut GF oats

1 c. sliced almonds or chopped walnuts

1/2 c. unsweetened flaked coconut

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tbsp. cinnamon


In a small bowl, stir together:

4 tbsp. coconut oil

4 tbsp. honey

1 tsp. vanilla

Pour over the dry ingredients and stir together with a spatula until all the ingredients are moistened and throughly combined. Pour the granola onto a cookie sheet. Place in a preheat 325 degree F oven and bake for 15 minute. When done, cool completely then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.



1 c. organic raisins

When finished baking, pour the granola back into the large bowl and stir in raisins. Then cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


Serve with greek yogurt and fruit or with a bowl of fresh fruit. Yum!


Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls

Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls and Hot CocoaCinnamon rolls are a food that I thought I would never be able to eat again. Honestly, I wasn't sure how a gluten-free version of cinnamon rolls would taste because this is a food that depends so much on the taste of the sweet bread. I was not sure that could be translated into a gluten-free version. Imagine my surprise and delight when I attempted to make them gluten-free and it was a success! It took a couple of tweaks to the recipe to get it right, but now I am happy with the end result and I am super excited to share this with you!

I included lots of step-by-step pictures with this recipe because making cinnamon rolls was something that seemed a bit daunting to me when I was a newer baker. So I decided to included lots of pictures in hope that you all can see how unintimidating it truly is to make these.

So without further ado, I present Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls, just in time for cold weather and winter holidays! Please share this with all your gluten-free friends. Just because we can't eat gluten, doesn't mean that we can't indulge in a warm cinnamon roll with a cup of hot cocoa every now and then. :) And as always, let me know in the comments if you need any clarification or help with the recipe. Enjoy!!

Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 1 dozen rolls

Step 1:

1 c warm water (100-110 degrees F)

1 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1 package of rapid rise yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)

Add sugar and yeast to the warm water in a small bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes in a warm, draft free place.

Step 2:

1/4 c. unsalted butter, softened

1/2 c. granulated sugar (minus 1 tbsp that is added to the yeast and water)

Cream together in a large mixing bowl.

Butter and sugar creamed for GF Cinnamon Rolls

Step 3:

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

Add to butter mixture and blend well. Then add the yeast and water mixture and blend together.

Step 4:

2 1/2 c. brown rice flour, plus another tbsp. or two for rolling out the dough

3 tbsp. corn starch

1 tsp. xanthan gum

1/2 tsp. salt

Mix dry ingredients into the wet. Mix until blended together. Don't over mix; mix just until it is all combined. Dough should be stiff and slightly sticky; use just enough of the flour so that the dough is only slightly sticky, kind of like cookie dough. It shouldn't be too sticky or too dry.

GF Cinnamon Rolls Dough

Step 5:

Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and dust with brown rice flour. Turn out dough onto wax paper. Pat together into a tight ball.

Ball of GF Cinnamon Roll Dough

Step 6:

Push out the dough into a flat disc with your hands. Then flour a rolling pin and roll the dough flat. Roll it out to a 12x20 rectangle. The dough will be about 1/4 inch thick.

Rolled out GF Cinnamon Rolls Dough

Step 7:

Make the filling.


1/4 c. butter, melted

1/2 c. brown sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

Filling for GF Cinnamon Rolls

Step 8:

Pour the butter over the middle of the dough and spread around with a spoon. Then mix together the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle all over the butter on the dough.

Filling on GF Cinnamon Rolls Dough

Step 9:

Roll up the dough at one of the short ends. If you have one side of the rectangle that is straighter, roll toward that end because a straight end will seal the roll together nicer than a jagged end. Roll the dough up tightly, slightly pressing the roll together as you roll.

Rolling up the GF Cinnamon Rolls Dough

Rolled up GF Cinnamon Rolls Dough

Step 10:

Cut the dough into 1 inch pieces. Use the length on your index finger from the end of your finger to the line at the first knuckle. This will ensure that all your pieces are the same size and will bake evenly.

Cutting the GF Cinnamon Rolls Dough

Step 11:

Spray pans with cooking spray. Place rolls in a 9x13 pan and another smaller pan.

Sliced GF Cinnamon Rolls Dough

Step 12:

Cover and place in a warm place and let the rolls rise for about 40 minutes.

GF Cinnamon Rolls Dough that have risen

Step 13:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes until slightly brown around the edges.

Baked GF Cinnamon Rolls

Step 14:

Cool for about 10 minutes then top with icing.


Directions for making the Icing:

2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

1/4 tsp. vanilla

1 c. confectioner sugar

2 tbsp. unsweetened almond milk

Stir until smooth. Spoon over the warm (not hot) rolls.
Icing for GF Cinnamon Rolls
Delicious on a cold day with a cup of hot cocoa!
Finished GF Cinnamon Rolls

Fluffy Gluten Free and Dairy Free Pancakes

20131026-092644.jpgAwhile back I posted a review for King Arthur's Flour Gluten Free Pancake mix and I said how much my family and I loved the mix. And that is still true; it is a delicious pancake mix! But I wanted to be able to make my own "from scratch" pancakes, like I used to make before having to go gluten-free. So after much experimenting and after more than a few duds, which my supportive husband and kids ate (at least most of them, there were a few that even the dog didn't want to eat). :D Finally, I came up with this version of the recipe and it has been a hit ever since. Whew! And do you know what is the best thing about this recipe? It doesn't take any longer to make these than it does to make pancakes from a mix.

At last, quick and tasty from scratch pancakes again! I hope your family enjoys these gluten-free, dairy free pancakes as much as mine does.


Fluffy Gluten Free and Dairy Free Pancakes

2 c. Bob's Red Mill brown rice flour20131026-092604.jpg

3 tbsp. granulated sugar

2 tbsp. corn starch

1 tsp. xanthan gum

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. nutmeg (Yes, nutmeg. Trust me!)

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

2 eggs

2 1/2 c. unsweetened almond milk

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. vanilla


Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl; whisk to mix. Add the wet ingredients and whisk just until combined. There will be a few lumps still. That's okay; you don't want to overmix your pancake batter or else you will end up with tough pancakes. That is true for any kind of pancakes. Let the batter rest for about 5 minutes while you heat your griddle to 350 degree F.

Once the griddle is hot, lightly spray it with cooking spray and pour on the batter. Use 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop out the batter. This will give you uniform, medium-sized pancakes. Cook the pancakes until the tops are slightly set with a few bubbles rising to the top and the edges are cooked; then flip to second side. This takes about 4 minutes. Cook on second side until the edges are completely set and the bottom is golden brown. This takes about 3 minutes. The top will spring back when lightly pressed with your finger when the pancakes are done. Try to flip your pancakes only once. Overhandling pancakes will make them tough also.


Top with warm maple syrup and enjoy!



We love to make these into blueberry or chocolate chip pancakes too. To make these variation, make the pancake batter according to the recipe. Then after you pour the batter onto the griddle, sprinkle blueberries or chocolate chips on pancakes. Then continue to cook the pancakes according to the recipe. The chocolate chip pancakes will take the same amount to time to cook, but the blueberry pancakes will take a little longer, especially if you are using cold or frozen blueberries. You are still looking for the same signs of doneness; however, it will take a bit longer. But it is SO worth it!! Blueberry pancakes are my personal favorite!

Bob's Red Mill Teff

Grains of TeffA couple of weeks ago, someone I follow on Twitter posted a recipe for teff. I had no idea what teff was so I googled it. Teff is an ancient grain from Ethiopia. It is the smallest whole grain in the world. And this tiny grain is packed with nutrients. In one serving, which is only a 1/4 cup, there are 180 calories, 1 gram of fat, 4 grams of fiber, 7 grams of protein, 10% of calcium, and 20% of iron. That's a lot of good things packed into a tiny grain! After I read about what teff was, I decided that I wanted to try it. I saw that Bob's Red Mill sold the product on Amazon. I tweeted that I was excited to try this new grain that I just learned about. Someone from Bob's Red Mill saw my tweet and contacted me, saying that they would love to provide me with a sample. I was so surprised by their kind offer and quickly accepted it. A couple of days later my package arrived. The good folks at Bob's Red Mill sent me a full sized package of teff to sample, as well as a bag of their gluten free muesli! Imagine my delight! I opened the bag of muesli right away and tasted some. It was delicious. There is a recipe for muesli cookies on the side of the bag that I'm excited about trying. I'm hoping to make some this weekend. I'll be sure to let you know how they turn out.

I made a serving of teff for breakfast. I had no idea what it was going to taste like. It had distinct aroma while it was simmering on top of the stove. Based on that, I thought that the teff would have a strong flavor, but it doesn't. Teff is actually very mild flavored. After tasting a few bites plain, I followed the directions on the bag and sweetened my bowl with a little honey. I also stirred in raisins and sliced almonds for the dried fruit and nuts that it suggested. It was delicious! While I was eating, it kept reminding me of something that I couldn't place. Finally I realized what it was, it reminded me of cream of wheat. The mild flavor and the texture are very similar to cream of wheat, which of course I can't eat anymore because it contains gluten. Now I have a gluten free replacement for cream of wheat- a warm bowl of teff!

Bob's Red Mill Teff

Whether you can eat gluten or not, I encourage you to try this mild flavored whole grain. It is quick and easy to prepare, just bring it to a boil on top of the stove then simmer until the water is absorb. It is a warm and nutritious breakfast option for cold winter mornings. I would love to hear what you think about it. Let me know in the comments section if you have ever heard of this whole grain and if you have ever tried it or want to try it.

Bowl of Bob's Red Mill Teff with honey, raisins, and sliced almonds


Rating: ♥♥♥♥ (out of 5 hearts)

Breakfast Quinoa with Fruit and Nuts

Have you tried quinoa yet? If not, you really should. Quinoa is such a nutritious and versatile food. It is a whole grain and can be used in many recipes to replace rice, pasta or couscous. The nutritional profile is quite impressive. It is a considered a complete protein, which means that it contains all nine essential amino acids in the correct proportional amounts to support the biological functions of our bodies. That makes it an excellent choice for a meatless meal. It is also a good source of fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and four B vitamins: B1, B2, B6, B9. And it has a little of Vitamin B3 and Vitamin E as well. We had quinoa and vegetables for dinner last night and there was a little quinoa leftover so I decided to try it for breakfast this morning. I have always eaten quinoa as a dinner food so I was excited to see what it would be like for breakfast. The result was delicious! I will definitely be having quinoa for breakfast again. It was so quick and easy to prepare too. A quick, filling and delicious breakfast food. What more could you ask for?



Breakfast Quinoa

cooked quinoa*


dried fruit




Dip out a bowl of quinoa, sprinkle with as much cinnamon as you like, reheat in the microwave for 30 seconds. Add a handful each of dried fruit and nuts. I used raisins and chopped walnuts this time; although dried cranberries, cherries, apricots or some fresh fruit and sliced almonds or chopped pecans would be delicious too. Experiment every time you eat this with different fruit and nut combinations. Drizzle a little honey over top. Stir it all together and enjoy! You just made yourself a super quick, nutritionally dense and filling breakfast. Most definitely a good start to your day!


*(If you do not have any leftover quinoa in your refrigerator, you can prepare some and then add the rest of the ingredients to it. Quinoa does not take too long to cook, only about 15 minutes. But for the morning I personally like using the leftover quinoa so that all I have to do is reheat the quinoa, add the remain ingredients and breakfast is done!)

Banana Walnut Chocolate Chip Muffins

I've made a lot of banana bread since I started baking and you probably have too. It is the go to thing to make with overripe bananas. I took some of my favorite elements from a couple of recipes that I used to make and added some of my own ingredients to make them more nutritious. I also started making the recipe into muffins instead of a loaf. My recipe makes 24 muffins, so usually half of them go into the freezer to pull out later. For my recipe, I replaced half of the flour with whole wheat flour. I did not want the bread to be too heavy or the flavor to be overshadowed by the wheat so I used half and half of wheat and white flour. I recently discovered King Arthur's Unbleached White Whole Wheat flour. It made from 100% hard white whole wheat flour. It is lighter tasting and lighter in color than regular whole wheat flour. Because of that, I have been able to add it to any of my favorite baking recipes. I add it to regular chocolate chip cookies and no one has any idea that there is any wheat flour in the cookies. I don't know why I have not seen it in the store and tried it before, but I am glad that I found it now. It is a constant staple in my pantry now! Another nutritious element is the amount of walnuts that I add. Some recipes call for walnuts, some for pecans and some for no nuts. Walnuts are a wonderful nut that are filled with good fats and Omega 3 fatty acids. Since my children are not fond of chunks of nuts in their food, I grind up my walnuts in my mini-chopper until they are very small. That way my children are still getting all the healthy goodness from the nuts in the muffins without noticing and picking out the pieces of nut. And just because banana and chocolate taste so delicious together, I add some finely chopped dark chocolate to the muffins. I like to use dark chocolate because the flavor is more intense and dark chocolate has the antioxidant power of flavonoids.

Now I have a banana muffin recipe that my whole family loves. My husband loves how easy they are to eat as he is running out the door to rush to work. :) These muffins are a staple in my house. I like to make a batch on the weekend then we have a quick and healthy breakfast or snack ready to go for the busy week. Grab one of these muffins, a piece of fruit and some greek yogurt and you will have a quick, nutritious and tasty start to your day!

Banana Walnut Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

4-5 large ripe bananas

1 c. granulated sugar

1/2 c. canola oil

2 eggs

1 c. walnuts, finely chopped

1/2 c. dark chocolate, finely chopped


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two muffin tin pans with paper liners.

In a small bowl, stir together the flours, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add the bananas, broken into large chunks, and the sugar.

Using the whisk attachment, mash the bananas on low speed for 30 seconds then increase the speed to medium-high and whip the bananas and sugar for about 3 minutes until the mixture is light, creamy and a little frothy. Add the oil and eggs.

Beat on medium speed with the paddle attachment until well blended. Add the flour mixture and mix just until combined.

Next, stir in the nuts and chocolate.

Scoop out the batter into the lined muffin tins.

Bake the muffins for 20-23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, or mostly clean with only a few crumbs on it. Transfer the muffins to cooling racks to cool completely. Store the muffins in a refrigerator or freezer.

Makes 24 standard size muffins.



Pumpkin Bread

With the busyness of the holidays and the coldness of winter creeping in, this is the perfect time of year to bake some spicy pumpkin bread for a quick breakfast or snack. I created this recipe for my sister and brother in law. They loved the recipe that they were using but felt like it was too high in fat and calories, especially since they loved to make it so frequently throughout the fall and winter months. The recipe that I made for them has all the spices that they love without all the calories and fat. In fact, this recipe has about 14% less calories, 50% less fat, 100% less cholesterol and 46% more fiber than the original one. Save yourself some time this holiday season and bake a batch of this bread. It makes two loaves so you will have one less thing to worry about on busy days. And since you are saving yourself some calories and fat too, that leaves a little more room in your diet for those yummy holiday treats!

Pumpkin Bread

2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. whole wheat flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1 1/2 c. brown sugar

1 1/2 c. granulated sugar

1/4 c. olive oil, not extra virgin

1/4 c. unsweetened, natural applesauce

2 egg whites

2 tbsp. whole flaxseed (or 3 tbsp. milled flaxseed) + 1/2 c. water (click here for directions)

2/3 c. water

1 15oz. can of pumpkin (or about 1 3/4 pumpkin pulp)


Combine the flours, baking soda, salt and spices in a small bowl and set aside.


In a large mixing bowl, add the sugars, oil, applesauce, egg whites and flax seed mixture; mix well.

 Add the flour mixture and water, alternating, adding one then the other in three batches. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to mix in all the flour. Stir in the pumpkin until it is incorporated.

Pour the mixture in two greased 9x5x3 loaf pans. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 60 minutes. Let the bread rest in the pans for 10 minutes then turn them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Makes 2 loaves (32 slices).

 Nutritional information per slice:

137 Calories

2 g. fat

0 g. saturated fat

0 mg. cholesterol

153 mg. sodium

30 g. carbohydrates

1 g. fiber

19 g. sugar

2 g. protein

Whole Wheat Banana Muffins

It never fails. I see the bananas sitting in the produce section of the store and my kids and I say, "Yum, bananas! Let's get bananas." So I buy a bunch and take them home. Then my kids pester me for the first day or two about wanting to eat the bananas. But of course, it is almost impossible to buy perfectly ripe bananas, so ours are green and we have to wait until we can enjoy them. Then after a couple of more days, no one seems to want to eat a banana anymore. So sitting on the counter are two lonely, very ripe bananas wait for someone to want them. Today I decided to give my two lonely bananas a purpose and decided to make them into banana bread. Unfortunately, it seems like most banana bread recipes would require you to actually buy bananas and wait for them to become very ripe before you could make the bread, because most recipes call for about four or five bananas. To me, that defeats the whole convenience of a banana bread recipe. The beauty of making banana bread is that it is a way to use up overripe bananas without having to waste them. As for myself, I never have four or five bananas leftover, usually just two. So today when I was looking at the overripe bananas on my counter, I decided that I needed a recipe that called for only two bananas. And while I was at it, I wanted my recipe to have whole wheat flour too. I decided to make my banana bread into muffins because they are easier to grab for a snack or quick breakfast that way. I'm really happy with how the recipe turned out. And my kids love them! But the best part is that now I no longer have two bananas sitting on my counter going to waste!

Whole Wheat Banana Muffins

1 c. whole wheat flour

1 c. all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

2 medium ripe bananas (about 3/4 c.)

1/4 c. oil

1/2 c. natural, unsweetened applesauce

1 c. sugar


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with paper baking cups.

In a large bowl, stir together with a fork the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl, mash the bananas using a fork. Mash until you achieve the texture that you like, can be more lumpy or less lumpy. Add the oil, applesauce and sugar; stir until well combined.

Pour the wet ingredients into the larger bowl of dry ingredients. Using a spoon, stir the wet and dry ingredients together just until they are combined. Then scoop out the batter into the prepared muffin tin.

Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into one of the muffins comes out clean or with just a few crumbs on it.

Makes 12 muffins.


Nutritional information per muffin:

187.5 Calories

5 g. fat

trace amount of saturated fat

0 mg. cholesterol

168.5 mg. sodium

36 g. carbohydrates

1.33 g. fiber

20 g. sugar

2.5 g. protein

Whole Wheat Bread

I love to bake my own bread. Nothing beats the aroma of bread baking in the oven!I have several friends that are getting into baking their own bread so I thought that I would share the recipe that I use. I've tried several recipes over the last couple of years and the one that I'm currently using is my favorite. It uses about 3 cups of all-purpose flour and 2 cups of whole wheat flour. I like this recipe the best because of it's flavor and texture. The whole wheat enhances the flavor of the bread without being too overwhelming. The recipe makes two loaves of bread, which lasts my family of four about five to six days. On the day that I make the bread, I put the extra loaf in a bag and wrap it completely with tin foil and put it in the freezer. Then on the morning that I need another loaf, I can pull it out of the freezer and we once again have fresh bread for lunch. In the few days that it takes for us to eat the whole loaf, the bread stays nice and fresh. This recipe is from my Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 14th edition. I just have to say that if I could only have one cookbook, I would choose this one. It is a wonderful cookbook that covers everything. It has a nice section in the beginning called "Cooking Basics" that covers different kinds of pots, pans and gadgets, as well as a glossary of cooking terms and ingredients. It is filled from beginning to end with lots of great information for both beginner and experienced cooks. I highly recommend this cookbook.

When my son was allergic to dairy as a baby, I started making my own bread using my bread machine. With that recipe, I substituted oil for the butter that was called for. I have discovered that for this recipe, olive oil makes a great substitution for the butter in the recipe. Olive oil is good to use instead of butter because it is healthier for your heart since it has a lot less saturated fat and no cholesterol. Also, 10 of the 14 grams of fat per tablespoon are monounsaturated. According to the American Heart Association, "Monounsaturated fats can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. They also provide nutrients to help develop and maintain your body’s cells.  Monounsaturated fats are also typically high in vitamin E, an antioxidant vitamin most Americans need more of." Plus, if you have a family member that is allergic to dairy, this is a wonderful bread that you can make that they can enjoy too.

Whole Wheat Bread

adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, Whole Wheat Bread p. 144

3 c. all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

2 1/4 tsp. Fleischmann's Bread Machine yeast

1 3/4 c. water

1/3 c. packed brown sugar

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 1/4 tsp. salt

2 c. whole wheat flour

In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of all-purpose flour with the yeast. In a medium saucepan, heat and stir together the water, brown sugar, olive oil and salt just until warm (120°F to 130°F). It's important to take the time to measure the temperature of the water. Yeast needs the right temperature to react as it should and in turn, cause the bread to rise properly. Add the water mixture to the flour mixture. Beat with mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping down the side of the bowl half way through. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Add the whole wheat flour and 1 more cup of all-purpose flour. Stir it together with a large spoon as best as you can.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured clean surface. Knead the flour slowly to until all the loose flour is kneaded in and it forms a dough ball, about 2 minutes. Continue kneading the dough for another 4 minutes to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. Shape the dough into a ball. Place it in a large bowl that has been greased with cooking spray. Lightly spray the top of the dough ball in the bowl. Also spray a little on one side of a piece of plastic wrap. Place the plastic wrap, greased side down, over the bowl. Let the dough rise in a draft-free warm place until double in size. In the winter, it takes about 1 1/2 to 2 hours for the dough to double; but in the summer, it only takes about an hour.

Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured clean surface. Cut the dough in half and form into two balls. Lightly grease two 9x5x2 loaf pans and set aside. Shape each dough half into a loaf by rolling each ball out one at a time into a 12x8 rectangular shape. Tightly roll up the rectangle, starting from the short end. When you are done rolling it, pinch the end to the roll to seal the seam. Repeat with the other dough ball. Place each loaf in a prepared pan. Cover one pan with the greased plastic wrap used to cover the dough when it was rising. For the other pan, tear off a second piece of plastic wrap, lightly spray it with cooking spray and cover. Let the loaves rise in a warm, draft-free place until they are nearly double in size. It take approximately 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours depending on how warm your house is.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake for 35 minutes. You can test for doneness by lightly tapping the top of the bread. If the bread is done, then it will sound hollow. During the last 10 minutes of baking, loosely cover the bread with a piece of tin foil to prevent overbrowning. When the bread is done, immediately remove the bread from the pans and cool on wire racks. Try to wait until the bread is cooled before cutting into it because it is difficult to cut warm bread without squashing the loaf. But if you just can't resist the aroma of fresh baked bread, then let it sit about 10-15 minutes before you slice of piece. :)

Makes 2 loaves (24 slices).

Nutrition information per slice:

108 Calories

2 g. fat

less than 0.5 g. saturated fat

0 mg. cholesterol

123 mg. sodium

21 g. carbohydrates

2 g. fiber

3 g. sugar

3 g. protein

Apple Spice Muffins

I woke up hungry for muffins yesterday morning and I wanted to try to make something other than my old standby, blueberry muffins. Now, I absolutely love blueberry muffins but I really wanted to try something different. So I decided on trying my hand at making apple muffins. I had Braeburn apples already on hand so I decided you use them. Braeburn apples have a firm texture and are sweet with just a little bit of tartness. They are perfect for baking since their firmness enables them to stand up well to being baked. They are also delicious to eat just as is. But on this morning, they were destined to go into my muffins. I decided that I wanted my muffins to be really spicey too, because I thought that would play off nicely against the apples. I settled on adding nutmeg, ginger, ground cloves and of course, cinnamon. I also decided that I would add raisins and pecans to the muffins. I love raisins and apples together in my oatmeal so I knew that I had to have raisins in my apple muffins too. I chose to use part whole wheat flour and part all purpose flour. It's not enough whole wheat flour to overwhelm your taste buds but enough to add some more substance to the muffins. I wanted to cut down on the fat and cut out the cholesterol so I used some applesauce as a fat replacer and flaxseed and egg whites in place of whole eggs. I'm really happy with how the muffins turned out! The recipe makes a lot of muffins, 30 to be exact, so just store the extra ones in the freezer and you'll have plenty of Apple Spice Muffins for breakfast or snacks without having to make more! I like my muffins warm so I just split them open and reheat them in my toaster oven. Grab a muffin or two and a cup of yogurt and you've got a quick and delicious breakfast! Apple Spice Muffins

2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. whole wheat flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

3 tbsp. whole flaxseed, grind up right before using plus 1/2 c. water

1 1/2 c. white sugar

1 1/2 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. canola oil

1/4 c. natural applesauce

2 egg whites

1 c. water

4 Braeburn apples, peeled and chopped (tossed with 4 tbsp. of the flour and spice mix)

1/2 c. pecans, chopped

1 c. raisins

Preheat the oven to 350°F and add muffin liners to a muffin pan.

In a small bowl, combine the flour with all the spices and stir together with a fork to blend the spices together with the flour.

Wash, peel and chop 4 apples. Chop the apples to the size that you like or if you don't like chunks, try grating the apples instead. Then toss the apples with 4 tablespoons of the flour and spice mixture until the apples are coated with flour. Tossing fruit in a bit of flour helps prevent the fruit from sinking to the bottom of the muffins, cake or whatever else you are baking.

Grind the flaxseed using a coffee grinder. Then add the milled flaxseed to 1/2 cup of water in a large mixing bowl. Mix on high speed for 1 minute until the flaxseed and water is mixed together until it looks like the consistency of egg whites. Next, to the mixture add the sugar, oil, applesauce and egg whites. Mix together until it is completely blended and the mixture is almost frothy.

Next, add 1/2 of the flour and spice mixture and mix just until combined. Then add 1/2 cup of water and mix until the liquid is mixed in. Then add the rest of the flour mixture, mixing just until combined, followed by the other 1/2 cup of water and mix until the liquid is mixed in.

Lastly, add the apples, pecans and raisins and stir with a spoon until the fruits and nuts are mixed evenly throughout the dough.

Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, scoop out the muffin dough and place in the muffin tin, filling the cups until they are almost full.

Place in a preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Makes 30 standard sized muffins.

Nutritional information per muffin:

188 Calories

4 g. fat

0 g. saturated fat

0 mg. cholesterol

169 mg. sodium

38 g. carbohydrates

2 g. fiber

26 g. sugar

2 g. protein

Flaxseed Waffles

These waffles were created when my infant son was diagnosed with food allergies. He was allergic to dairy, eggs, soy, corn, nuts, beef, chicken and seafood. Since he was allergic to so many things, I had to get creative and create some recipes that he could handle . Three years later, his allergies are gone but these flaxseed waffles have continued to be a weekly staple in our house. My family likes to eat them with spreadable fruit or pure maple syrup. Pure maple syrup cost more than regular pancake/waffle syrup but you do not need to use as much because it is sweeter tasting. And the best reason to use maple syrup is that it does not contain any artificial ingredients. This waffle recipe is healthier and lighter than a traditional waffle recipe since it does not have the saturated fat from the butter or the cholesterol from the eggs. And these waffles have more flavor too! The nutty flaxseed, the sweet vanilla and the spicy cinnamon add to the depth of flavor of these waffles. It also has the added benefits of flaxseed. Flaxseed is a wonderful little seed that has been linked to preventing diabetes, heart disease and cancer. It has three components that make it so healthy: Omega-3 essential fatty acids, lignans and fiber. Having flaxseed waffles for breakfast is a delicious way to start your day off!

Flaxseed Waffles

2 tbsp. whole flaxseed, milled up right before using (or you could use 3 tbsp. premilled flaxseed, I prefer to buy whole flaxseed and grind them myself right before I use it, that way none of the nutritional value of the flaxseed is lost. I use a coffee grinder to mill up my flaxseed.)

2 1/4 c. water, divided (3/4 c. and 1 1/2 c.)

1/2 canola oil

1 tsp. vanilla

2 c. unbleached all purpose flour

2 tbsp. granulated sugar

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

Combine the flaxseed with 3/4 cup of water in a food processor. Blend together until the mixture resembles the consistency of egg whites, approximately 1-2 minutes. Add the oil, the vanilla and the remaining 1 1/2 cups of water. Blend for 1 minute so that the water and oil combine with the flaxseed mixture. Add the remaining dry ingredients and pulse just to combine the ingredients. Scrape down the sides of the food processor and pulse a couple of seconds longer. You don’t want to overwork the batter once the flour has been added or else the waffles will be tough. Mix just long enough to combine all the ingredients together.

Let the batter rest for about 5 minutes while the waffle iron heats up. Once the waffle iron is heated, spray it with cooking spray and pour on some of the batter. Bake until the steaming slows, or approximately 6 to 7 minutes. Serve the waffles warm. You can keep the waffles warm while you make the whole batch by placing them in a oven set to the warm setting or about 180 degrees. Leftover waffles can easily be reheated in a toaster or toaster oven for breakfast another day. It depends on the size of your waffle maker but mine makes 10 4 inch by 5 inch rectangular waffles.

UPDATE: added the nutritional information for this recipe on 2/21/2011.

Per waffle:

200 Calories

12.5 g fat

1 g saturated fat

0 mg cholesterol

275 mg sodium

18 g carbohydrates

1 g fiber

2 g sugar

3 g protein