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Category Archives: Breakfast

Totally Tropical Smoothie Bowl with a Capitol Tea

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While I frequently enjoy smoothies, sometimes I want something more than just sucking back my fruit and veg through a straw… Enter the Smoothie Bowl!
Dish your favourite smoothie blend into a bowl (or in this case, an oversize teacup) then add fresh and/or dried fruit, nuts, seeds, bee pollen, granola or whatever grabs your fancy to add some taste and texture. Bonus points are awarded for creating an eye pleasing arrangement!  Lately, I’ve been brewing up extra tea in the morning, cooling it in the fridge, and then using it for smoothies. It’s a great liquid because you get a touch of caffeine and antioxidants, plus it doesn’t add any sugar! One of my favourites is Citron Sencha Green Tea from Epicure, which is based just outside Victoria, the Capitol of our fair province.

Recipe for Totally Tropical Smoothie Bowl with a Capitol Tea

Makes 1 healthy serving

Smoothie Ingredients

1 Tablespoon Chia seeds

1 cup cold Citron Sencha Green Tea (add more as needed for blending)

1 banana, in pieces

1 cup frozen baby spinach

1 cup frozen tropical fruit (pineapple, mango, kiwi, etc)

Topping Ingredients

Dried Tropical Fruit (pineapple, mango, papaya, etc)

Dried Coconut

Sesame Seeds

Bee Pollen

Method

  1. Soak chia seeds in tea for 15 minutes, mixing or swirling occasionally
  2. add remaining Smoothie Ingredients
  3. Blend (either in a blender or in a 1 litre Mason Jar with an immersion blender)
  4. Pour in a bowl or other suitable vessel
  5. Decorate with toppings

What’s your favourite smoothie bowl topping? I always add Bee Pollen for the floral flavour AND B Vitamins!

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Gorgeous Gluten Free Gingerbread Granola

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I love ginger. Fresh, pickled, crystallized, preserved and every way in between. But I love it best in gingerbread form: cookies, houses, lattes and now granola!

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Gingerbread Granola

I have been playing around with making granola in my slow cooker, rather than in the oven, and it makes it so much easier and gives a more consistently crunchy and evenly toasted cereal.

The best part about making your own granola is that you know exactly what is in it. The other bonus is that you can get all creative and come up with customized flavours. Inspired by my Epicure Gingerbread Spices, and the recent dessert for breakfast trend, I decided to make a healthy and delectable granola.

Gingerbread Granola Detail

Gingerbread Granola Detail

Granola is pretty easy to make and the measurements don’t need to be precise and by using a slow cooker, you don’t have to watch it to make sure it doesn’t burn. The pain of dumping most or all of a burnt batch of granola in the garbage is not something I wish on anyone.

Gingerbread Granola Overhead

Gingerbread Granola Overhead

Recipe for Gingerbread Granola

Makes approximately 6 cups of granola

Ingredients

One of the joys of granola is that is ridiculously adaptable, feel free to increase, reduce or switch up anything!

1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil

1 Tablespoon Molasses

1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup

1 Tablespoon Epicure Gingerbread Spices (or a teaspoon each of cinnamon, cloves and ginger)

1 teaspoon of Kosher Salt

1 cup Buckwheat

2 cups Quick Cook Steel Cut Oats (or Rolled Oats)

1/4 cup Flax Seeds

1/4 cup Sesame Seeds

1 cup Pecans, roughly chopped

1 cup Crystallized Ginger, roughly chopped

Method

1. Turn slow cooker on to Low setting and melt coconut oil with molasses, maple syrup, spices and salt

2. Add remaining ingredients, except Crystallized Ginger

3. Stir until thoroughly mixed

4. Cover with lid, but leave a slight gap for moisture to escape

5. Stir every 30 minutes until crunchy (about 2 hours)

6. Turn off slow cooker. Add in Crystallized Ginger and spread on baking sheet to cool

7. Once cool, store in a mason jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks

Try it on cottage cheese, Greek yogurt or fruit salad!

I’ve also made Aloha Granola (pineapple, papaya & coconut) and Maple Walnut Granola in my slow cooker. What’s your favourite Granola flavour?

See my list of available samples of Epicure product by clicking here.

Ravishing Roasted Carrot Soup

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Roasted Carrot Soup

Roasted Carrot Soup

I buy big bags of carrots. Many of these carrots get juiced, grated, peeled, baked, salad-ed and snacked upon, but sometimes we don’t quite make it through the bag before they start to get bendy. I had just such a dwindling bag of carrots taking up valuable real estate in my fridge the day before New Year’s Eve, and so my brain began to whir…

Knowing that I was having family over for a simple dinner to ring in the New Year, I started thinking of what else I had and what I could do with these extra carrots. I knew I had lots of onions and lemons, a bit of feta cheese and some Kalamata olives, this had me thinking Greek. Recalling that I had Epicure’s Souvlaki seasoning and El Greco Secret Sauce, a plan came together.

While this was a simple dish to throw together, I actually prepped it the night before so I could have more time to relax and reminisce about the year that was ending, the soup was greeted with rave reviews and encores of second and third helpings!

Ravishing Roasted Carrot Soup Ingredients

Ravishing Roasted Carrot Soup Ingredients

I knew I had to share this recipe when my Instagram post was shared by Epicure on their Facebook page as part of their weekly round-up of images shared on Social Networks featuring their products.

Recipe for Roasted Carrot Soup

makes 8 servings

Soup Ingredients:

8 medium carrots, peeled and cut into finger size pieces

2 medium purple onions, sliced in finger width sections

1 head garlic, peeled and hard bottom bits cut off

2 TBS Epicure Souvlaki Seasoning

2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 cups dried red lentils

6 cups water

juice of 1 lemon

Salt and Pepper to taste

Garnish Ingredients:

1 TBS Epicure El Greco Secret Sauce

2 TBS water

1 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Feta Cheese

Kalamata Olives

Method:

1. Pre-Heat oven to 400

2. Spread carrots, onions and garlic on baking sheet, sprinkle Souvlaki seasoning and Olive Oil and toss to coat

3. Roast vegetables in oven until golden brown on the edges (approximately 30 minutes)

4. For garnish: Mix El Greco Secret Sauce and water, let stand for 5 minutes and then add Olive Oil, cube feta and slice olives

5. Remove vegetables from oven and allow to cool while placing a soup pot with the red lentils and 6 cups of water on high

6. Once water is boiling, add vegetables turn heat down to medium and cook until lentils are soft (approximately 10 minutes)

7. Add the lemon juice and puree with an immersion blender

8. Add water, salt and pepper to achieve desired consistency and flavour

9. Serve soup in bowls and garnish with tiny cubes of feta, sliced Kalamata Olives and a smattering of prepared El Greco Secret Sauce from Epicure

I also served a simple salad of thinly sliced bell peppers and cucumber (using my Epicure Ceramic Slicer) dressed with Epicure’s Greek Dressing seasoning mixed with red wine vinegar and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

If you would like to purchase Epicure seasonings or cookware, please visit my online store: www.juliaustine.myepicure.com or contact me for samples.

What is your favourite way to use up a carrot surplus?

Old Fashioned Gluten Free Cornbread from Gluten Free on a Shoestring

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Gluten Free Cornbread baked by Kitchenette Finds

Gluten Free Cornbread baked by Kitchenette Finds

I just had to share this recipe that I found on Gluten Free on a Shoestring, a really wonderful blog by Gluten Free cookbook author Nicole Hunn. The cornbread disappeared in under 24 hours, which is a new record in our house!

The only change I made was to use Greek Yogurt instead of plain yogurt. It was super simple and easy to throw together and went very well with Black Bean Chili we had for dinner, and with a smear of honey for dessert and topped with butter next to scrambled eggs for breakfast the next morning.

Prep time: 5 minutes       Cook time: 30 minutes       Yield: 1 cornbread

Ingredients

2 cups (264 g) coarsely ground yellow cornmeal

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 egg (60 g, out of shell) at room temperature, beaten

4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 1/2 cups (340 g) plain yogurt, at room temperature (can substitute an equal amount of sour cream or buttermilk)

4 tablespoons (84 g) honey

For the complete recipe please click through to Old Fashioned Gluten Free Cornbread on Gluten Free on a Shoestring.

What is your favourite thing to put on or eat with cornbread? Chili? Honey? Cheese? Butter?

Photo of Old Fashioned Gluten Free Cornbread from Gluten Free on a Shoestring

Shamrock Smoothie

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Shamrock Smoothie - Kitchenette Finds

There is a certain fast food chain that celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with a suspicious green sludge dubbed the “Shamrock Shake”, while I admit to having consumed one or two in my reckless youth, I’m no longer foolish enough to put the 54 ingredients that add up to 820 calories of no-goodness into my body. Especially not when I’ve created a delicous and very healthy drink I’m calling the Shamrock Smoothie.

Shamrock Smoothie - Kitchenette Finds

I came up with this smoothie when my 10 year old, Young Fresh Chef, was getting bored with all my fruity smoothie combinations. I was looking through my baking cupboard trying to come up with something fresh when I spied raw cacao powder and mint extract. I am a big fan of mint and chocolate together so I knew I could make something wonderful.

Shamrock Smoothie - Kitchenette FindsI’ve been adding frozen baby spinach (the kind you buy fresh in the plastic tub) for over a year with my son’s knowledge and approval and when I recently tried frozen kale it got a thumbs up as well. I used frozen bananas as the only source of sweetness and almond milk to help it blend better, but the chocolate and mint are the real stars!

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When I tested this on the Young Fresh Chef he finished it down to the last drop and declared it his favourite smoothie ever. So it’s definitely a winner. He couldn’t taste the kale at all, when it’s frozen it pretty much disintegrates when blended. By using bananas that were left to ripen until they were super sweet and then broken into chunks and frozen it could satisfy any sugary craving. I use raw cacao powder to get all the antioxidants and minerals that are usually lost when cocoa beans are roasted. Cocoa powder would still work in a pinch for the flavour.

Shamrock Smoothie

After sucking back this smoothie I always have a smile on my face and a spring in my step. It’s a much better feeling than what you would get after a visit to your local heart attack shack and your body will thank you for years to come.

Recipe for Shamrock Smoothie

makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

1 frozen banana (very ripe)

1/2 cup almond milk (or milk of your preference)

2 handfuls of frozen kale (or frozen baby spinach or a combo)

2 drops of pure peppermint extract (or to taste, it’s powerful stuff!)

2 TBS chia gel (optional, I use 1 part chia to 6 parts water and keep the extra in the fridge for up to a week)

Method:

1. Blend all ingredients in a glass or mason jar with an immersion blender (or in a blender)

2. Enjoy!

Shamrock Smoothie  - Kitchenette FindsWhat are some other sweet ways you get your greens?

Hilltop Diner Cafe

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Family Lunch Order at Hilltop Diner Cafe in Langley, BC

Family Lunch Order at Hilltop Diner Cafe in Langley, BC

Sometimes you just want the classics: a clubhouse sandwich with roasted turkey, a juicy burger or a straight up breakfast. On a lazy Sunday, when this mood strikes us, we pile into the car as a family and take a leisurely drive to the Hilltop Diner Cafe in the middle of nowhere part of Langley. Picture perfect enough to be a constant shooting location for TV shows and movies, they even have a scrap-book that they love to pull out and show off, the food is just as authentic. But it’s the service that makes it the real deal, it’s casual but caring. They are a busy bunch being open 7 days a week from 8:00 to 2:30 since 1946. Their full breakfast menu is served until 11am and then they still have a small list of morning staples available, as well as their crazy mega burgers (with names like Everest burger and Anarchist burger they are ridonkulous) until they close.

Eggs, Farmer's Sausage & Toast at the Hilltop Diner Cafe

Eggs, Sausage & Toast at Hilltop Diner Cafe

Since it is a bit of a drive for us, and it’s hard to hurry on Sundays, we haven’t made it for the full breakfast menu yet. I think I’m stuck on the clubhouse because of the in-house oven-roasted turkey that is so thinly sliced and nestled in the lightly toasted bread with the perfect amount of lettuce and tomatoes and beautifully crisped bacon. I switch between the excellent french fries  and the impressively fresh side salad.   All the sandwiches and burgers that we’ve tried have been exactly as we would want them to be. Their milkshakes and floats are fantastic and big enough to share and share and share. My other regret about the menu is that we STILL haven’t tried any of their amazing looking pies as we are always too full after our sandwich and burger feast. I guess we’ll have to keep going and keep trying things, it’s a tough life!

Hot Turkey Sandwich with Gravy and Cranberry Relish at the Hilltop Diner Cafe

Hilltop Diner Cafe

23904 Fraser Highway

Langley, BC

(604) 514-9424

Open Daily from 8:00 to 2:30

Full Breakfast Menu served until 11am

Closed on Holiday Mondays

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What’s your favourite classic diner?

Quinoa Quandary

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The only difficult thing about having quinoa for breakfast, at least in our house, is deciding what to mix in with it. My son, Young Fresh Chef, would have straight up quinoa for breakfast everyday, but I am not a creature of flavour habit and I need to switch it up. I’ll usually make a big batch of neutral flavoured quinoa at the start of the week so I can get creative with the additions. While it cooks up in only 15 minutes, it’s even faster to just reheat it, which gives me more time to play around with the add ins.

Quinoa works well in savoury side dishes, but takes on sweet flavours just as well. This South American seed gives you the goods to get your day off to a promising start, packing a complete protein punch. It also delivers as a good source of dietary fiberand phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. So I always feel I’ve done well to send YFC off to school with a bowl or two in his poke-able belly.

The only caution that comes with quinoa is, “Beware the saponins!” This bitter coating protects the growing plants from hungry birds which makes means less pesticides are needed, so it’s easier to grow it organically. I would recommend buying quinoa has already been pre-rinsed for your laziness.

It’s pretty easy to find quinoa at the corner grocery store, as long as you bring your specs! My favourite source for white quinoa is Costco  where they carry Truroots  organic pre-rinsed quinoa. I like the white quinoa for breakfast, while I find the red and black varieties hold up a bit better in cold salads.

So, what do I like to use to jazz up my morning bowl of quinoa? First, I feel the need to gild the nutritional lily:

chia (either ground or in gel form)

flax (ground)

wheat germ

Then I pick a flavour combo:

-raspberry and unsweetened coconut

-apple or pear or whatever is in season with spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, etc)

-blueberry and walnut

-dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, what have you) and almonds

And just a touch of sweetness:

Agave Nectar

Molasses (iron!)

Maple Syrup (manganese and zinc!)

Xylitol

-Brown Sugar (special occasions!)

As you can see, the variations are limited only by your imagination and your provisions! My top pick right now is raspberry and coconut with xylitol and just a splash of coconut milk. I use frozen berries, but I dream of when they will be back in season…

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