Guilt-free Whole Wheat Banana Farro Bread

Lately I’ve been a little obsessed with farro. It’s a whole grain with a nutty flavor similar to brown rice, but larger and has a more substantial bite. It is rich in fiber, magnesium and vitamins A, B, C, and E. I’ll post some farro-centric recipes in the near future, but I thought I’d start with a banana bread that is free of oils and uses primarily fruits to sweeten the batter. The addition of oats with the farro gives this bread a great, satisfying texture.

banana-breadRECIPE: Guilt-free Whole Wheat Banana Farro Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup oats (2 TBSP reserved)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup of overripe banana, mashed
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup cooked farrow
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk (almond, goat, skim or coconut)

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350. Coat a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. In large mixing bowl combine banana, applesauce, syrup, egg, milk and vanilla until well mixed. In a separate bowl, add flour, oats, farro, walnuts, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until combined, being careful to not overmix. Pour batter into pan, sprinkle the top with oats and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake. Wrap leftover bread tightly to keep from drying out. Enjoy!

Oatmeal Buttermilk Pancakes with Homemade Peach Syrup

I came up with this recipe one day because I was really tired of the same bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. So instead of pouring the oats into a measuring cup while I was waiting for the water to boil, I threw them into the blender with a couple other things and made a batter. Traditional pancakes have no nutritional value whatsoever – a slurry of cooked white flour slathered in butter and pancake syrup. But this recipe has no flour whatsoever; instead it uses oats for fiber, nuts for protein, hearth-healthy flax seeds topped with homemade peach syrup and a dollup of nonfat greek yogurt for even more protein. Super healthy and really satisfying if you’re craving pancakes but feel guilty veering away from your oatmeal regimen.

blenderRECIPE: Oatmeal Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes with Homemade Peach Syrup

  • 1 cup regular oats
  • ½ cup raw almonds
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ½ unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • 1 TBSP flax seeds
  • ¾ cup blueberries (optional)

Put everything in a blender and blend until fairly smooth, like the consistency of pancake batter. Let sit for 15-20 minutes and add another splash or two of almond milk to adjust the consistency. (Because you’re working with raw oats, they will absorb the liquid the first time around and the batter will get thick after sitting for 15 minutes; that’s why you have to adjust the consistency again.) Cook in greased skillet as you would a regular pancake. If you wish, sprinkle with blueberries before flipping. Makes 3 hearty 6-inch pancakes.

The peach syrup pays homage to my Aunt Ginny and her mother, Alice Hendrick. When she was a little girl, her mother gathered all the peach peelings and seeds which were left over from another peach project (such as pies or canning sliced peaches) and put them into a saucepan with a 2-to-1 ratio of sugar to water – just enough to barely cover the peach trimmings.  After simmering for about 2 hours, watching and testing throughout, the syrup is finished when most beautiful color appears, and the taste and consistency follow.

NOTES: Like most homemade syrups, it will be thinner than actual maple. But if you want, you can continue to cook until it gets closer to a candy stage. Instead of white sugar, I recommend using organic raw sugar or maple sugar. I also added a small pinch of salt and a tiny squeeze of lemon juice as I do to any jam or chutney I make.

The peach syrup pairs perfectly with these pancakes, but pure maple syrup and a dab of butter do just fine if that’s what you have. Either way, enjoy!


Mini Zucchini Parmesan Tarts

I’ve been thinking about a new series on the blog dedicated to reviewing some of those funny, flash-in-the-pan, social media recipe crazes that show up repeatedly in Facebook news feeds everywhere. When I see something at least five times from unrelated people, I consider it a fad worth trying. I’ve given many of them a whirl – some are secret little gems; others are complete and total flops.

Just a little note about this category of recipes: they are jam-packed with modifications and might have a slightly different name. Long story short, all of these have been inspired by Facebook in one way or another. Here’s the first in the series.


Zucchini is extremely versatile and can be use a thousand different ways – because it really doesn’t taste like anything. It relies heavily on cooking technique, marinades, dips, and accompaniments to demonstrate its value. But it has a ton when you figure out what to do with it. I saw this idea blast the internet a few weeks ago and decided to give it a try. Plus, I really love cheese – especially parmesan because it has tons of flavor so you can eat less and feel just as satisfied. More bang for the buck, if you will. This recipe is great for a snack, a side dish or even for breakfast when you need a punch of veggies and some protein. Here goes…

RECIPE: Mini Zucchini Parmesan Tarts

  • grated_zucchini2 small or 1 large zucchini (grated; I use the food processor with the grating attachment), but you can do it with a box grater)
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (no green can!)
  • 1/4 freshly chopped chives (or scallions, parsley, dill, tarragon, basil – whatever fresh herb you have, but I prefer the mild onion flavor from chives)
  • good pinch of salt and cracked black pepper
  • 1 or 2 eggs, beaten (see note below)
  • 1/2 cup nonfat greek yogurt (to serve on the side)

filled_zucchini cupsDIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add all ingredients to mixing bowl and toss to combine with (clean) hands. Generously spray a mini-muffin tin with non-stick spray and fill each well with zucchini mixture, pressing it down with your fingers. Bake for approximately 35 minutes until edges and bottom are a deep crispy brown and ingredients are set. Serve warm or room temperature with a dollop of nonfat greek yogurt for extra protein – and because it’s delicious.

NOTE: if making these for breakfast, use 2 eggs. I think they set better with two, although I like the taste better with one because it’s more cheesy. But that’s just me. Experiment and decide for yourself.plated_zucchini Enjoy!

Perfect Protein Parfait

For those of you who know a little french, please forgive me for the redundancy of the title. I couldn’t think of a better way to describe assembling your own yogurt treat rather than buying those pre-sweetened, fruit-on-the-bottom, boring single-serve cups. I know they are convenient and I certainly grab them on occasion, but if you have the time – and definitely on a leisurely weekend morning – give this a try. It’s also a perfect afternoon snack if you need a little boost of energy from the protein (over 30 grams to be exact!)

proteinparfait1The base of this recipe is plain greek yogurt  – make sure it’s the thick, greek variety, otherwise you’re missing out on the maximum amount of protein. I suppose you could use vanilla, but I’m a purist when it comes to this parfait. It’s also a super versatile dish, so make it yours or give everyone in your family the option to build their own by changing up the fruit. It’s kind of like picking out their flavor of yogurt off the shelf – only better.

  proteinparfait2RECIPE: Protein Parfait

  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 cup fruit (or fruits) of choice; in bite-size pieces
  • pure maple syrup (or raw honey)
  • granola (homemade, all natural, or gluten-free)
  • sliced almonds

Layer half of the yogurt, a drizzle of maple syrup, half the fruit, a liberal sprinkle of granola and almonds. Repeat. Or you can throw it all in a bowl together if you’re eating it at your desk, which is how mine is most often consumed. Today, I had an extremely ripe peach and some local blueberries, so it was extra delicious. Enjoy!