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10 Grain Banana Muffins

May 27, 2014

10 Grain Banana Muffins (3) | Espresso and Cream

Yesterday afternoon Joe and I returned from Kansas City where we spent the weekend with Joe’s brother, Jason and his wife, Ali. Since it’s a seven hour car ride for us to get there, we don’t see them nearly as often as we would like, so it felt like a treat to have a long weekend to spend with them. The guys got to golf and go to the driving range while Ali and I ate at a great vegan/vegetarian restaurant and did a little shopping. And I finally got that start-of-summer pedicure I’ve been talking about for the last month.

Before we left on our little road trip, I made a bunch of healthy snacks for the car ride. It’s a habit I’ve gotten into in order to save money on the road and prevent myself from getting hangry while we are traveling. Trust me, snack are always a good idea. And it’s even better when those snacks are healthy.

10 Grain Banana Muffins (2) | Espresso and Cream

These muffins are much lower in sugar than a traditional muffin, and I could easily see them being served alongside soup or roasted veggies when spread with a little butter and sprinkle with salt. However, my preference for these muffins is to serve them with sweeter toppings, such as almond butter or a drizzle of honey. In addition to being packed with bananas, they’re also made with 10-grain hot cereal, rolled oats and almond milk. They would make a great breakfast or a snack in lunches throughout the week!

10 Grain Banana Muffins
Recipe type: Breakfast, Snack
Serves: 15
These 10-grain muffins are just slightly sweet and so good for you, too! I like to make a batch at the beginning of the week for snacks and quick breakfasts, especially slathered with peanut butter or almond butter for a boost of protein!
  • 2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 large egg
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup oil (I used canola but for a more savory flavor, you could use light olive oil)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1½ cups uncooked 10-grain hot cereal (I tested with Bob's Red Mill brand)
  • 1¼ cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 15 standard-sized muffin cups with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the mashed bananas, egg, sugar, oil and vanilla until well combined.
  3. Stir in the 10 grain cereal, followed by the almond milk.
  4. In a second bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to 10 grain cereal mixture. Stir until just combined.
  5. Spoon about ¼ to ⅓ cup batter into the 15 prepared muffin cups. Bake 14 to 16 minutes or until muffins are golden brown and just baked through in the center. Cool 5 minutes in pan. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Serve with almond butter, peanut butter, butter or jam, if desired.




Small Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies (4 Cookies)

May 6, 2014

Small Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies 1 | Espresso and Cream

I mentioned on Instagram this past weekend that I had a great small-batch chocolate chip recipe for you. Since a lot of you mentioned you were excited about the recipe, I figured it’s best not to keep you waiting any longer than necessary. Over the years there have been many times when I want just a little something sweet. I don’t want to bake two dozen chocolate chip cookies because of the time and hassle and amount of ingredients required, so this weekend I took one of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes and scaled it down to make only 4 cookies instead of a dozen or two.

The recipe is an almond flour based cookie that doesn’t contain any “specialty” ingredients, like starches or specialty flours, just a little almond meal and some basic cookie ingredients like butter, sugar and chocolate chips. Since the cookies are made with almond meal they have a slightly different texture than a cookie made with all-purpose flour, but I can assure you they are still very soft, chewy and totally delicious.

Next time you’re looking for an easy little recipe that makes just a few cookies to satisfy a craving, I would highly suggest these little gems. And in case you’re interested, I’ve also included nutritional information in the recipe heatnote. These aren’t exactly “diet” cookies, but the clean ingredient list can make you feel good about eating a cookie, or two. I promise I won’t tell anyone.

Small Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies 2 | Espresso and Cream

Small Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies (4 Cookies)
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 4
This recipe only makes 4 cookies so it is perfectly portion controlled! Each cookie has approximately 240 calories, 5 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber.
  • ¾ cup almond meal
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • ½ tablespoon almond milk or other milk of choice
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate chips, non-dairy chocolate chips or cacao nibs
  1. Heat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat (such as a silpat) and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the almond meal, sugar, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a second small bowl, combine the egg yolk and butter until smooth and well combined. Add in the almond milk and vanilla extract.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until evenly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  5. Scoop dough by heaping tablespoons onto baking sheet. Bake 9 to 12 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.



Chia-Chai Vega Protein Pudding {Giveaway!}

April 30, 2014

Chia Vega Protein Pudding | Espresso and Cream

Now that the weather is getting a little warmer and summer is right around the corner, I’ve been thinking more about warm-weather meals and snacks. Okay, it’s still rainy and chilly in Minnesota, but I’m anticipating summer weather soon! For me, that means drinking lots of smoothies and eating lots of chilled snacks, like chia pudding.

A few weeks ago I picked up a new-to-me vegan protein powder and was really turned off by the flavor of the powder. Usually, I’m a total Vega devotee when it comes to protein powders and nutritional shakes, and I seriously regretted my decision to spend some major cash on a competitor’s product that I didn’t care for at all. The good news? After sharing my misfortune with the Vega team, they offered to send me a jar of my favorite Vega One Vanilla-Chai Nutritional Shake and host a giveaway for you on Espresso and Cream! (see more about that giveaway below)

When my Vega arrived I was excited to put it to good use. A few nutritional highlights about the Vega One Nutritional Shake:
-15 g protein
-6 g fiber
-1.5 g Omega 3
-Dairy, gluten and soy-free
-No artificial sugars or added sugar

Instead of making a smoothie (like I said, still too chilly) I made a chia pudding. I’ve been on a huge chia pudding kick lately, and adding a boost of protein with the Vega seemed like a natural addition. To smooth out the mixture, I blended the pudding in a food processor to break up some of the chia seeds and give the pudding a more pudding-like texture. Oh, and I added in a little almond butter as well because almond butter makes everything better, right?!

Chia Vega Protein Pudding 2 | Espresso and Cream

Now let’s get to the giveaway, shall we? The Vega team sent along a little starter package to give to one lucky E&C reader. It includes:
-5 day supply of Vega One in their most popular flavors (vanilla, chocolate and berry)
-Recipe book
-$5 coupon for your next purchase of a Vega product
-Water/smoothie bottle
-Reusable Vega tote bag
-1 box Vega One Nutrition Bars (in your flavor of choice)

You have three ways to enter! The giveaway is open from now until Monday, May 5th at 5 am. I’ll announce a winner later next week. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Chia-Chai Vega Protein Pudding
Recipe type: snack, breakfast
Serves: 4
  • ½ cup chia seeds
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 scoop Vega Vanilla Chai protein powder or other Vega flavor of choice
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Stevia to taste (I used 3 packets)
  • 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt (optional, omit if you want a vegan treat)
  1. In sealable plastic container, combine chia seeds, almond milk and protein powder. Stir until very well combined. Cover with lid and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
  2. After refrigeration, add chia mixture to blender or food processor along with the almond butter, vanilla extract and stevia to taste. Blend 2 to 3 minutes or until some of the chia seeds are broken up and almond butter is well combined. Mixture will only be semi-smooth and still have some whole chia seeds.
  3. Divide mixture into four bowls. Top each with ¼ cup Greek yogurt, if desired. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat.



Bran Snack Cake

April 3, 2014

Bran Snack Cake 1 | Espresso and Cream
I know, I know. The whole “bran cake” probably doesn’t have you dashing to the kitchen to make this recipe, does it? Hang with me for a moment and let me explain. I’ve undoubtedly mentioned before how much I love hearty, healthier, one-bowl cake that doesn’t require a lot of fuss. This cake is all that and more.

Growing up I remember buying the most amazing bran muffins at the local grocery store. They were made by the local Dutch bakery (we grew up in a very Dutch town) and were pretty much the best things on the planet. They were huge muffins, not in paper liners, and the bottoms of the muffins were gooey and covered in some sort of caramel glaze that soaked into the muffins and kept them moist. At the time, I thought I was eating something healthy. I mean, they’re bran muffins for crying out loud. Now I realize they were more than likely loaded with sugar and butter and calories only being disguised by the bran as a better-for-you treat.

Bran Snack Cake 2 | Espresso and Cream
So last week when the urge to bake hit me hard I decided to try and recreate those muffins with a healthier twist. This bran cake is made in an 8- or 9-inch square cake pan, though you could certainly use a round cake pan if that’s what you happen to own. Instead of being loaded with sugar and butter and all those bad-for-you ingredients, I made a light glaze to go on the cake and drizzled the cake with a couple tablespoons of honey right after it came out of the oven.

Joe, who is not one for healthy desserts and cakes, was a huge fan of this cake! Although I had to warn him about portion control. One slice of cake a day is really all you should think about eating, if you know what I mean. We’re talking about bran, after all.

Bran Snack Cake 3 | Espresso and Cream

Bran Snack Cake
Recipe type: Breakfast, Brunch, Snack
Serves: 9 to 12
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups 100% bran cereal (such as All Bran)
  • 1¼ cups milk (I used 2% but you can use whatever you prefer)
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 8-inch square (or 8-inch round) cake pan with cooking spray. In small bowl, melt butter. Add brown sugar to butter and stir until well combined. Pour mixture into bottom of pan.
  2. In large bowl, combine all-purpose and whole wheat flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt until well combined. In second bowl, combine bran cereal, milk, egg, oil and sugar until well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Pour mixture into prepared baking pan.
  3. Bake 22 to 26 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Run a knife around the edge of the cake. Invert cake immediately onto serving platter. Drizzle with the honey. Cut into squares to serve. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie (aka The Healthy Girl’s Milkshake)

January 7, 2014


Now that our first full week of January is underway, I’m finding myself with a serious case of winter blahs. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not seasonal depression or anything of the sort, but I find it incredibly difficult to jump from the warmth, glow and excitement of the Christmas season to the bone-chilling routine of January. Maybe if 2013 was a little less wonderful I wouldn’t be so sad to let it go and would have anticipated the arrival of 2014 a little more.

Of course, some of this probably has to do with the fact that we’re experiencing record-breaking cold temperatures in our neck of the woods, with wind chill temps that hover in the -50°F mark with a high of -20°F. No, that’s not a typo, that’s just Minnesota winter for you. It’s this time of year that I really start to long for long nights filled with tennis matches with Joe, walks with the dogs, our weekly CSA delivery and cooking everything on the grill. Summer’s pretty sexy, and it’s hard not to long for it in the depths of winter.

I tend to get really wrapped up in the big moments, the next fun event or the next mini trip or vacation that’s on our calendar. I look at our schedule and think about how many days until our trip to Idaho or our long weekend away just the two of us. There’s nothing wrong with anticipating fun events, but I’m beginning to realize that real life is more about the everyday living and ordinary events than it is about the next big thing.

Last week on Monday Joe and I made plans to have a beginning of the week date night. Since we’re working on being disciplined with our finances (and because we have a puppy who needs our time an attention after work) we kept it simple by picking up two brownies from our favorite restaurant and ordering drinks at Starbucks, where we had lots of Christmas gift cards to burn. We sat for about an hour at Starbucks, eating and sipping and talking about life things that we don’t normally talk about at home, when there are things to do and dogs to play with and TV shows to watch. We got away from our phones and all other distractions, and looking back, that Monday date night in all its simplicity was the highlight of my week.

I think, more than anything, the reason I love summer is because I savor every moment. A Tuesday night feels special when it includes a tennis match and a trip with Joe to get froyo. But when I’m hibernating all winter, a Tuesday night just feels like a Tuesday night. So this year, I’m setting a goal for myself to make weeknights, even those in the winter months, feel a little more special. We’re already off to a good start since we had friends over last night to watch the BCS Championship and we have dinner plans with Joe’s parents tonight.

My lack of creativity means I really have no nice transition from one subject to the next. I guess this smoothie recipe, which is on regular rotation at our house, isn’t really related in the least bit to savoring the weekdays through the winter. But perhaps if you think about it as a milkshake (it really tastes like one!) then perhaps a regular smoothie at home can become something a little more special. Milkshake and movie night, anyone?



Peanut Butter-Banana Smoothie (aka The Healthy Girl’s Milkshake) 
Makes 1 smoothie
1 cup unsweetened almond milk or milk of choice
1 medium banana, peeled, cut into chunks and frozen
1 packet Stevia (optional)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (make sure it’s high quality vanilla)
1 tablespoon peanut butter
2 to 3 cubes of ice

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth, adding more milk if necessary to reach desired consistency.

Happy Cooking!

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