Leek Bread Pudding + Coconut Loaf

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{Smitten Kitchen‘s Leek Bread Pudding}

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{Sprouted Kitchen‘s Coconut Loaf}

I’m not entirely sure that these two recipes go together, but they’ve both been on my “to make” list for awhile now and they’re both made in loaf pans, so I thought maybe they should share a post. They’d also both be excellent additions to your Easter brunch menu, if you’re looking for new ideas – so that’s three things they have in common. I’ve been meaning to try the leek bread pudding for literally years now, and it did not disappoint. I’ve made the coconut bread before, but I’ve been wanting to do it for the blog and I’m so glad I did because it was even better than I remembered. I’ve been trying to avoid wheat lately, but I splurged on a piece of this fresh from the oven last night and it was worth every bite.

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This bread pudding couldn’t be easier, as bread puddings go. Just cube your bread and stick it in the oven for about 20 minutes, and sauté your leeks while the bread is toasting. Deb suggests stale brioche, which I’m sure is ideal, but I used a loaf of fresh french bread and it worked just fine. The recipe calls for one cup of leeks, but I used closer to two and it was delicious – and next time I might even use more (I bought three leeks and only used two of them – I think I could have used the third and it would have been a welcome addition, although it was fine with just the two. Deb also suggests you could sauté any other veggies you like along with the leeks and add them in as well).

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Layer your toasted bread cubes and leeks with cheese, pour a custard over it, and it’s ready to go into the oven. Again, the recipe calls for small amounts of chives and thyme; next time I’ll probably use more – although it was delicious as is. Deb noted that you could add more cheese as well, so of course I stirred a little grated parmesan in with my eggs and milk. It didn’t need it but of course it didn’t hurt.

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An hour later, you have a toasty, bubbling casserole that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Breakfast: warm, perhaps with an egg or bacon on top (not me personally – gross! – but others might like it that way); lunch: cold, with a crisp green salad; dinner: alongside a roasted chicken breast or something of that nature. I think it’s adorable in the loaf pan, but you could double the recipe and it would work in a 9″ X 13″ casserole dish (that’s my plan for Easter brunch). Savory bread pudding, who knew?

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And then, if you’re in the mood for something sweet, this divine coconut loaf from one of my favorite cookbooks. I love the Sprouted Kitchen blog, of course, but her cookbook is really worth getting as every recipe I’ve tried from it has been to die for.  As I’ve mentioned here many times already, I love anything with coconut,  so of course this bread is a safe bet – coconut flakes, coconut oil, and coconut milk.  I would call this recipe “healthy-ish” – it’s still a loaf of bread, and it still has sugar in it, but there’s enough whole wheat flour, coconut oil, and lack of white sugar and butter that I feel ok about eating it. I was calling it vegan until I remembered it has eggs in it (duh!), but it is dairy free.

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Again, super easy. Toast your coconut, combine your dry ingredients and your wet ones, and stir them together – two bowls, one spoon (ok, I used a spoon and a whisk), no mixer, easy cleanup. So much fun to stir cake batter with a spoon, I felt like a pioneer woman.  Is this how our grandmothers did things all those years?

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When I’ve made this recipe before I’ve never bothered with the glaze, but I did it just for blog purposes and was prepared to tell you you could skip this step – but it turns out the glaze is delicious. It adds a little extra sweetness and moisture to the cake, which isn’t necessarily needed but I appreciated it. Sara suggests serving the cake with fresh blackberries; I used strawberries here and it was SUCH a good combination. This is also something that could be served as breakfast or dessert (or perhaps just a snack!) – which I guess means it has more in common with the bread pudding than I initially thought. (Note: if you aren’t serving the cake warm from the oven, Sara suggests you toast your slices under the broiler for a minute or two).

One year ago: Chicken Pot Pie (two ways) and Chocolate Pudding

Leek Bread Pudding, from Smitten Kitchen via Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home

Yield: 6 servings (as a side dish)

1 cup leeks (or more to taste), white and light green parts only, cleaned and rinsed, and cut into 1/2″ thick slices
Kosher (or coarse) salt
2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
Freshly ground black pepper
6 cups 1″ cubed crustless brioche or other bread (about one loaf)
2 teaspoons chives, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3 cups whole milk, heavy cream, or half-and-half (or a combination thereof – I used 2 cups whole milk and one cup half and half)
Freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup shredded Comté, Emmanthaler or Swiss cheese (I used Gruyère and a little extra Parmesan)

Place a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, drain excess water from leeks, and add to pan. Season with salt, and sauté until leeks begin to soften, about 5 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in butter. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are very soft, about 20 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While leeks are cooking, spread bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake until dry and pale gold, about 15 to 20 minutes, turning pan about halfway through. Transfer to a large bowl, leaving the oven on.

Add leeks, chives, and thyme to the bowl of bread and toss well. In another large bowl, lightly whisk the egg and egg yolks, then whisk in milk or cream, a generous pinch of salt, pepper to taste, and a pinch of nutmeg.

Sprinkle two tablespoons shredded cheese in the bottom of a buttered 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Spread 1/2 of bread mixture in pan, and sprinkle with another two tablespoons cheese. Spread remaining bread mixture in pan, and sprinkle with another 1/4 cup cheese. Pour in enough milk mixture to cover bread, and gently press on bread so milk soaks in. Let rest 15 minutes.

Add remaining milk mixture, letting some bread cubes protrude. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until pudding is set and top is brown and bubbling, about 55 to 65 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

Coconut Loaf, from The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook

Yield: 6-8 slices

1/4 cup extra-virgin coconut oil, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut (I used flaked)
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk (I used light)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup organic powdered sugar, or more as needed
Berries, for garnish

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8 1/2″ loaf pan with a thin coat of coconut oil.

Spread the shredded coconut on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until just golden brown, about four minutes.  Watch it carefully, as it can burn quickly. Set aside 1/2 cup for topping the loaf.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of the toasted coconut and the turbinado sugar.  Sift the flours, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and stir to combine.  In another bowl, whisk the eggs together, then whisk in one cup of the coconut milk, the coconut oil, and the vanilla.   Gently stir the wet mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined.  Pour the mixture into the loaf pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, 45-50 minutes (mine took 55). Remove loaf from the oven and let cool to room temperature.

While the loaf is cooling, combine 1/4 cup of the remaining coconut milk and the powdered sugar in a bowl and whisk until there are no clumps. Add more sugar or more coconut milk to taste, depending on the consistency you prefer (you won’t use the entire can of coconut milk). Pour the glaze over the cooled cake and sprinkle the remaining toasted coconut on top.  Cut into slices (wait for the loaf to fully cool or your slices will crumble).  Toast each slice, if you like.  Serve with a handful of fresh berries.  YUM!!

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Miraval’s Raspberry, Lemon, and White Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I attended a cooking demo while at Miraval a couple weeks ago, and these cookies were on the menu.  We were able to sample them during class, and as soon as I had my first bite I knew they’d be the first thing I made when I got home.  The woman who taught the class, Kim Macy, is the pastry chef at Miraval, so she was full of tips on how to make baked goods a little healthier – raw evaporated cane sugar, egg whites, adding fruit, etc.  What’s amazing about these cookies, though, is that you would never know they’re meant to be healthy – or as I call them, spa cookies.

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I’ve always had a sweet tooth, and anything fruity is my weakness.  I love the raspberry and lemon combo here, but I think these cookies would be delish with any other berry – blueberries or diced strawberries would work  just as well – use whatever sounds good to you or whatever you have on hand.  The egg whites make the cookies extra light and airy and almost scone-like. The recipe only calls for one third of a cup of chocolate chips, so it’s just enough to make the cookie feel indulgent without adding a ton of extra calories. I googled the recipe when I got home, and discovered they had even been on Oprah!  One of my favorite tips from the class – if you can’t find evaporated raw cane sugar (I never can), just pulse turbinado or demerara sugar (sugar in the raw) in your food processor until it’s a little more finely ground.

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The recipe says you can use fresh or frozen berries, but in the class we used fresh and Kim made folding the berries in look easy. When I tried it at home, it didn’t go quite so well – there were a lot of squished berries and my batter turned pink pretty quickly. When I make them again I’ll use frozen berries to avoid that problem – should you do the same,  just make sure they’re straight from the freezer when you add them to the dough or they’ll bleed even more than fresh berries.

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As you can see from the photos, Kim is also a lot better at icing the cookies using her whisk than I am – I considered piping the icing on, but then thought the whisk idea had just looked so fun….oops! Practice makes perfect, though, so that just means I have an excuse to make these again (soon).

One Year Ago: Split Pea Soup, Blueberry Muffins (original and my healthy version)

Cookies, previously: sugar, my favorite chocolate chip, pumpkin chocolate chip, lactation

Miraval, previously: magic bars

Ingredients:

3/4 cup butter (or combination butter and coconut oil – the recipe calls for all butter but I used half butter and half coconut oil)
1 cup evaporated raw cane sugar (or granulated sugar)
1 large egg
3 large egg whites
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/3 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen

For glaze, optional:

Powdered sugar, lemon juice – measurements aren’t exact, but I used about one cup of powdered sugar and a little less than the juice of one medium lemon.  Just add the lemon juice slowly until you reach the right consistency, and add more sugar if it gets too thin.  You want it thin enough that you can drizzle it over the cookies easily, but not so thin that it won’t dry/make the cookies soggy.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray cookie sheet(s) with non-stick cooking spray or line with parchment.  Cream together butter (and/or coconut oil) and sugar. Add egg and egg whites one at a time, then lemon juice and zest.   Combine flour and baking soda and mix into batter.  Stir in the chocolate chips, then gently fold in the raspberries. Bake 7-10 minutes.  To make glaze: Whisk lemon juice into powdered sugar until your desired consistency is reached.  Drizzle over cookies, let dry.

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Nutrition Information: (based on this recipe making 60 cookies – which would mean they’re teaspoon sized.  I made mine with a small cookie scoop – probably a rounded-tablespoon-size – and my batch yielded 36 cookies).

Calories: 56
Total Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: 1.5 g
Cholesterol: 10 mg
Sodium: 55 mg
Carbohydrate: 8 g
Fiber: 0 g
Protein: 1g

Friday Faves

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Adorable “around the world” calendar from Rifle Paper Co. – compliments of my Pop Sugar box

For my birthday back in November, my sister gave me a subscription to Pop Sugar, a monthly delivery of fun beauty products, home goods, accessories, treats, etc.  It can be hard to get through the gray, rainy winter months  in Seattle, so it’s been so much fun to receive a box full of surprises each month – the gift that keeps on giving!  And the “around the world” calendar is inspiring me to renew my passport and plan a trip!  Wishing you all a wonderful weekend – I’m off to Arizona and I cannot wait!  It’s not exactly international travel, but the forecast for Tucson is in the 80s, so this permanently cold Seattleite will take it.

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I’m obsessed with my new detox cleanser  (also from Pop Sugar) – I can literally feel it working

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Nothing better than curry when recovering from a cold (which I have been for the past week, wah wah)

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In love with this necklace – I’ve been meaning to make something similar since I first saw this blog post over a year ago, but these look just like them and they’re already made for me!

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Whole wheat chocolate chip “lactation” cookies

This recipe comes from a friend of a friend (who doesn’t know I’m posting it, but thank you Ellen all the same!).  I whipped up a double batch for a cousin and a girlfriend who both had babies last week, and after posting a photo on Instagram enough people asked me for the recipe that I thought I’d share it.  Note that these are worth making even if you aren’t a new mom (they’re safe for men and non-lactating women too!) – they’re essentially just extra healthy cookies with brewer’s yeast, which can aid in milk production but is also full of protein and B vitamins that we all need.  Since I could only find it in a large tub, I had lots of leftover yeast and thought I’d be extra healthy and put some in my smoothie in the morning…..let’s just say, it’s better in the cookies.

As you’ll see, this recipe is pretty flexible.  Makes 18-20 small cookies.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter (you could also use coconut oil)
1/2 cup brown sugar (a generous half cup)
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal, such as Bob’s Red Mill
1 heaping tablespoon brewer’s yeast
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 cup oats (a generous half cup)
1/2 – 1 cup chocolate chips, or to taste
Raisins, dried cranberries, and/or nuts, optional and to taste

Melt the butter (or coconut oil) and let cool for a bit.  Mix the flaxseed meal in a small bowl with 3 tablespoons water and let sit for a few minutes until it gels. Mix melted butter and sugar together in a large bowl with a spoon or rubber spatula (these cookies work best when mixed by hand rather than with an electric mixer). Add flax/water mixture, brewer’s yeast, vanilla, baking soda, and salt; mix well.  Add in flour, almond meal, oats, chocolate chips, and other add-ins if using.  Mix until just combined.  Chill if you feel like it.  Bake tablespoon-sized cookies for 8-10 minutes at 390 degrees F (not a typo).

Whole Grain Pear Hazelnut Muffins

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This cookbook has been all over my favorite food blogs of late, so I ordered it despite the fact that my breakfast typically consists of a green smoothie (or a Starbucks bagel on the too-common occasion that I’m out of a green smoothie ingredient). So far I’ve made the whole grain pancake mix, the blueberry breakfast bars, and these muffins. I’ve given the pancake mix as birthday and hostess gifts, and it’s been a hit. I made the blueberry bars when I spent the night with my friend Kyle and her picky toddler year old last week – Ellie gobbled them up, but Kyle and I decided that, while delicious, they seemed more like dessert than breakfast.  Next on my list of recipes to try: Bacon and Kale Polenta Squares (hold the bacon), Strawberry Oat Breakfast Crisp (although I suspect it, like the blueberry bars, might also be better suited as dessert), and Zucchini Farro Cakes – YUM.  And of course variations of this granola.  These muffins, though, are a definite win – you can do them ahead of time, and they really do feel healthy – the perfect breakfast treat.

My grandfather passed away a few weeks ago, at the age of 94. He spent the last few days of his life in the hospital, which was not the way he would have wanted to go, but he received such wonderful care from the doctors and nurses that we were all glad he was there. I wanted to do something nice for the nursing staff as a thank you and had planned to bake these cookies, but my cousin Christina (a nurse herself) suggested bringing in something healthier, as nurses get a lot of cookies.  I had seen these muffins on a couple blogs, and this seemed like the perfect excuse to try them.

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I love the idea of cooking with whole grains – especially oats – and the pears make the muffins incredibly moist and dense without being too heavy. Sara from Sprouted Kitchen suggests a way to make them gluten free; Deb from Smitten Kitchen suggests you add chocolate, which they definitely don’t need, but I would imagine would be delicious.   Point being, you can swap out ingredients or doctor them up any way you like. I loved the pears but you could definitely use apples too.

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It looks like a lot of bowls (and it is), but it’s really only the dry ingredients and the wet, combined with my tendency to make a mess in the kitchen and dirty more bowls than necessary. Deb includes suggestions to “streamline the recipe” (use fewer bowls) for anyone that doesn’t have the luxury of a dishwasher.

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You could chop the nuts in a food processor, but I was worried they would get ground up too finely so I used a ziplock bag and my go-to crushing utensil, a bottle of wine. I also ate a lot of hazelnuts in the process, yum.

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Pear-Hazelnut Oat Muffins, from Whole Grain Mornings by Megan Gordon (she’s a Seattle gal so I’m extra happy to support her!)

Makes 12 standard muffins (and maybe a few more)

3/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2-3 firm medium pears, such as Bartlett (you want them firm so they don’t get too mushy when you grate them)
2/3 cup natural cane sugar, such as turbinado
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan (I’m going to try coconut oil next time)
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, cooled, and coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Butter a standard 12-cup muffin tin, or line with papers.

In a bowl, combine the oats, flours, baking soda, baking powder, cardamom, nutmeg, and salt. Mix well and set aside.

Peel and core the pears, then grate them into a bowl using the large holes of a box grater (or the grater attachment of your food processor). You should end up with about 1 cup of shredded pear [Note: I doubled the recipe so grated four pears, and ended up with about four cups of grated pear, unpacked – I dumped them all into my batter and the muffins turned out fine. Just in case you were worried about ending up with too much grated pear].

Put the sugar in a large bowl. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the butter to the sugar and stir until well combined. Whisk in the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and pear until you have what resembles a loose batter. Add the flour mixture and fold it in gently. Reserve 1/2 cup of the hazelnuts to sprinkle on top of the muffins; stir the other 1/2 cup into the batter. Be careful not to overmix.

Fill the muffin cups almost to the top with batter, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup hazelnuts. Put the muffins in the oven and immediately decrease the heat to 375 F. Bake until the tops are golden brown and feel firm to the touch, even in the center, 25-27 minutes (they might look done before they really are – the tops will brown before the fruit-filled centers are cooked through).

Let the muffins cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pan. Muffins will keep in an airtight container for up to two days; they also freeze well.

All wrapped up for Grandpa's nurses, along with boxes of See's chocolates, his favorite

All wrapped up for Grandpa’s nurses, along with boxes of See’s chocolates – his favorite

Friday Faves

I spent an amazing three days in Hood River, Oregon last weekend celebrating the wedding of one of my oldest and dearest friends.  After a late night on Friday and a very late night on Saturday, however, it’s pretty much taken me the entire week to recover.  At “29 again” (and again) I just don’t bounce back quite like I used to – gone are the days of back to back late nights on the weekend, followed by functioning like a normal/productive human being Monday through Friday.  Does this mean I’m officially old?   Totally worth every exhausted minute, though.  A few highlights from my loooooooooong week:

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“Spa water” – cucumber + lime + mint. I love keeping a pitcher in the fridge so that I’m more motivated to hydrate.

My aunt Molly and I share a love of granola (remember this?) – when I stopped by her house on my way out of Portland last weekend she sent me home with a yummy bottle of pinot gris and this bag of deliciousness – it’s made with coconut oil and coconut sugar and has been my after-dinner treat every night this week.  Healthy granola and pinot gris, best goody bag I could ever ask for.

Wine in a can, and with a bendy straw – what could be cuter?

Delicious Sunday night dinner at Cuoco – handmade parmigiano cappelletti with morel mushrooms, arugula, and peas; vanilla panna cotta with strawberries and Dahlia Bakery cookies + cappuccino.  It’s totally healthy as long as you’re sharing, right?

A few of my favorite details from Molly and Patrick’s wedding: hand-chalked welcome sign, gorgeous floral centerpieces, blueberry mojitos with striped straws being passed around during cocktail hour, and of course the spectacular Mt. Hood backdrop. It was such a fun weekend celebrating with old friends and new, and the perfect kick off to Wedding Season 2013. Congrats Molls and Pat!

 

Friday Faves

TGIF! I really mean that this morning – what a long and dreary week. I swear I didn’t intend for this blog to be a forum for me to complain about the weather, but all of this rain – combined with my nasty cold and a deadline at work – has made me really grumpy all week. I’m counting on some sunshine this weekend – and the WCC tournament! – to get me out of my funk. In the meantime, a few highlights:

I found these cute little ceramic markers while I was out shopping this weekend and they motivated me to start thinking about replanting my herb “garden” (pots). I was really good about planting the basics last year (basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, Italian parsley), and it was so great to be able to just pop out onto the deck whenever I needed something for cooking (or cocktails). It might still be a little to cold to plant anything yet, but that doesn’t mean I can’t shop for garden accessories. These vintage silverware ones (I’ve seen them at Nordstrom, Anthropologie, Etsy – all over, really) are pretty cute too. And don’t even get me started on the planters/pots that are on display everywhere – luckily I have limited space, or I could really do some damage.

Tonight my friend Krista and I are throwing a mini-dinner party for some friends, mainly as an excuse to make Corned Beef and Cabbage (recipes coming Monday – get excited:)) for an early St. Patrick’s Day celebration. I saw these on Pinterest, and thought they would be a fun dessert for the kids that are coming to dinner. Super easy – my friend Jenn once gave me the invaluable tip that you can always use a cake mix for cupcakes, so long as you make homemade frosting (I love this recipe) – and who doesn’t love Lucky Charms?

I bought this coconut macaroon candle on a whim the other day, and it makes me so happy to light it as soon as I get home each night. The coconut scent reminds me of Easter and Hawaii and cookies and all sorts of yummy things – and it’s about half the price of most of the candles at Anthro, so should you find yourself in need of a great hostess gift, this would be it!

I’ve been making a big effort lately to make myself a healthy smoothie for breakfast -starting out the day with protein, vitamins and minerals, fruits and veggies, etc. I usually just do almond milk, frozen berries, and my favorite protein powder (which includes powdered kale, woop!), but with all the buzz about green smoothies these days, this week I’ve been trying to do that instead. I used this recipe (she gives you two, I kind of do a combination of both), and it really is true that you can’t taste the spinach (or kale). While you will never hear me telling anyone to give up coffee, there really is something to be said for starting your morning with a big glass of greens. And it’s that much easier to ignore the pastry case at Starbucks when you go get your coffee afterwards.

Remember the muffins I talked about on Monday? I made them again – a healthier version this time – and they were SO good. Better than the original, IMHO. I just substituted 7 Tbsp coconut oil for the butter, and in lieu of 1.5 cups white flour I used 1/2 cup white flour, 1/3 cup whole wheat flour, 1/3 cup oat flour, and 1/3 cup almond meal. You could use whatever blend of flours you like, and while the heavier flours/meals make the muffin a little more dense, they give the muffin an oatmeal/nutty flavor that made them even more delicious than the white flour version. I also used brown sugar in place of 1/2 cup of the white sugar (using 1/2 cup brown and 1/4 cup white rather than all 3/4 cup white – and they were still pretty sweet, so I think you could leave out the white sugar altogether if you wanted). I omitted the crumble topping, threw in a little coconut with the blueberries, and the result was something that, while no green smoothie, is far more passable as breakfast than the sweeter version I made earlier. Healthy and delicious!

Have a great weekend, everyone! I hope it’s filled with sunshine and college basketball!