Category Archives: Breakfast

Breakfast Breakdown: Caramel Apple Baked Oatmeal


You know how pancakes are really just an excuse to have cake for breakfast? Or how a muffin is really just a slightly disheveled cupcake that forgot its hat? I often can’t tell if folks are actually fooled, or just casually ignore these excuses. But one thing I think we can all agree on is that you never eat pancakes for breakfast and then feel good about that decision a couple of hours later. Well, make excuses no more! Today I am here to tell you that you can have caramel apples for breakfast. Say whhaatttttt?


Of course, I am going to insist that the caramel apple goodness is mixed with oatmeal and then baked first, but I promise you this is something you will thank me for. This breakfast is great for a Sunday brunch or could even be swung on a weekday I could imagine (stumble to the kitchen, throw it all in the baking dish, and then allow it to bake while you get ready and presto: you exit the shower to a warm cinnamon caramel apple towel wrapping you with delight). You get all the taste sensations of a caramel apple, but all of the healthy goodness of hearty oatmeal. The fiber rich oatmeal gets your digestive system off on the right foot and helps slowly release the natural sugars into your bloodstream to fuel you for the day.


Oh, and speaking of sugar: there is no added sugar! Ummmm, doesn’t she know that caramel IS sugar? Not when it is made out of dates! I had bought dates to sweeten some oatmeal muffins last weekend, and in a stroke of brilliance, decided to whip up some “date caramel” to turn my apple oatmeal into caramel apple oatmeal. I can’t even handle how brilliant I am sometimes. I highly suggest putting this date caramel on… on… well, really anything! I also added some ginger and dried lemon peel to cut through the luscious caramel apple and give the dish some brightness. Top it off with warm and freshly frothed almond milk and your body will be thanking you all day long!


Caramel Apple Baked Oatmeal

Serves 2 a Hearty Breakfast


For the Oatmeal

  • 1 cup rolled oats (I use a nice mix of oats, barley, kamut, rye)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon dried lemon peel
  • 4 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1 cup almond milk (divided into 2)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup date caramel (recipe below)

For the Date Caramel

  • 6 medjool dates, pitted
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


To Make the Date Caramel

  1. Place dates in food processor and process until they start to form a ball
  2. Stream in water and vanilla.
    1. You will have to stop and use a spatula to move the caramel from the sides.
    2. Process until smooth.

To Make the Oatmeal

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease small baking dish.
  2. Mix together oats, spices, flaxseed, and sunflower seeds in a medium bowl.
  3. In another bowl, mix together ½ cup almond milk, applesauce, ¼ cup caramel, and apple.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until combined.
  5. Pour into baking dish and bake for 30 minutes.
  6. Spoon into individual bowls and top with remaining caramel sauce and almond milk.
  7. Enjoy!


Lazy Saturday

Saturday mornings are always met with excitement and a twang of bewilderment. The excitement comes in because I have the time to leisurely make myself a nice brunch, but at the same time, I spend most of my weak cramming down bites of oatmeal between hairbrush strokes so I can get out the door on time, so it takes a little bit of effort to break that habit.

As a nod to this week’s lecture on carbohydrates with an emphasis on whole grains and fiber, I decided to fill my belly with those things on this morning. I originally headed into the kitchen to make a breakfast quinoa bowl, to find my quinoa stash had been depleted. However, staring up at me from my pantry was a hearty bag of barley. One great reason to have a fiber heavy breakfast is that is keeps you full and helps prevent your blood glucose from spiking. The soluble fiber absorbs water and turns your stomach contents into a gel, and forces your body to slow down and digest everything appropriately. Since your stomach contents are emptying slower, and are buffered by fiber, glucose will be released much slower, making you feel better and aiding in insulin sensitivity. While the soluble fiber is doing its thang, the insoluble fiber acts as natures pipe cleaner to keep your GI tract clean and your colon happy.

I bet your digestive tract is smiling just reading that above paragraph!

Anyways, back to the stuff that happened between me finding the barley, and satisfied, pushing away an empty bowl, a little sticky from peach syrup.

I par cooked the barley in a pretty standard way. While barley cooked away, I stewed up a diced peach in coconut oil and maple syrup with some raisins. When the barley was almost there, I transferred it to the stewed peach mixture, added almond milk, and then let it simmer for a bit longer. Garnished with slivered almonds, coconut flakes, and some fresh almost milk.

Ya, so that just happened. Everything worked in perfect harmony and has left my body charged for the day ahead.

Coconut Peach Barley Breakfast Bowl
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 peach, diced
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk of choice
  • slivered almonds, for garnish
  • flaked coconut, for garnish
  1. Combine the barley and water in a small pot, bring to a boil, and simmer for 25-30 minutes.
  2. While the barley is cooking, melt the coconut oil and maple syrup in another pot over medium heat.
  3. Add the peaches and raisins and cook until the peaches are soft and the raisins have plumped up, maybe 5 minutes.
  4. Once most of the water has been absorbed by the barley, transfer it to the pot with the peaches.
  5. Add 1/2 cup of the non-dairy milk and simmer for an additional 15 minutes.
  6. Spoon into bowl, and top with almonds, coconut, and additional milk.
  7. Enjoy!

Banana Bread

I usually love to fancy stuff up, cram as much health into my meals as possible, and put together new flavors. Not today though. Today we are doing straight up banana bread. None of this rum or chocolate business. I’m not sneaking vegetables into it (why must you put vegetables on EVERYTHING?!). Just super moist, delicious, bananaey banana bread.

By the looks of those bananas, we may have another loaf of banana bread in a few days.

While I am modern in many ways (I mean, I did move across the country to peruse a PhD in science),  I really am a traditionalist at heart. I believe in soul mates and happily ever after. I believe in family coming first. I believe in gender roles, like being in the kitchen while the boy tends the fire in the wood stove. I believe in having my nails done and wearing pearls while cleaning. And I believe in this banana bread. This is another one of my mom’s recipes. It is simple and never fails. This banana bread is everything banana bread should be, uber moist and just chock full of banana goodness. I don’t recommend tampering with this recipe at all, for it is perfect as is.

I should also note that this loaf of banana bread lasted maybe a couple of hours in my house. I don’t think anyone was capable of just having one slice. In fact, I think macho M had about 7 slices. He is a beast like that. I should also note that this recipe has been rat approved. Gus Gus and Bianca went crazy licking out the bowl when I was done (gross. yuck).

Banana Bread
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mashed bananas
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax + 3 tablespoons water)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease loaf pan.
  2. Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In another bowl, mix together the bananas, sugar, oil, and egg.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just until moist.
  5. Gently fold in the walnuts.
  6. Pour into load pan.
  7. Bake for about 50 minutes to 1 hour (depending on your oven), or until a tooth pick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Grandma’s pancakes

It doesn’t get much better than Sunday brunch. It is the one meal of the week that never has to be rushed. You can push aside your brunch plates and play Words with Friends/Enemies across the table from each other, or leave the clean up for later after you play some video games. You can sit in a comfortable silence with your loved one over your emptied plates while reading a book, pausing only to discuss interesting points you have just learned. Put all that stuff on a balcony overlooking SF?  It is one of my favorite things in the world.

When I was little, my dad would always sit in bed on Sunday mornings and play cards (solitaire). With real cards (the feel of which i’m sure many of you have long forgotten). My task was to bring him his coffee in bed. The walk from the kitchen, up the stairs, to my parent’s bedroom seemed like the longest walk ever. It would take me 5 minutes to walk up the stairs alone, to ensure no spillage. When I got a little older, I graduated to Grandma’s pancakes. This recipe that I share with you today is probably the first thing I ever learned to make. My mom would often make Grandma’s pancakes (which are basically crepes) on Sunday mornings, which her mom used to make for her when she was little, and I was eager to learn this traditional recipe. Over time, my mom taught me the feel of the batter and the turn of the pan, so that I could then take over the roll of Sunday morning Grandpa’s pancake maker. A roll I took great pride in filling.

These pancakes can be rolled up with a fruit filling…
Or enjoyed with jam inside…
Or just drizzled with syrup (the fake stuff, of course)…
This is a tradition that I have been sharing with loved ones ever since. It is one of those things that I just know how to make. I have no idea what the recipe is, I just pour the proper ingredients into a mixing bowl until is has the right feel. But this morning I measured everything as I threw it in, so that I can share this recipe with you. So that you can then make this for your kids, who will then make it for their kids.
Grandma’s Pancakes
From grandma, to my mom, to me
(One small confession before I share with you is that I veganized it, because the original recipe isn’t vegan. BUT, I am happy to share that it really doesn’t change them.) 
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed (1 egg replacement)
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 scant cup flour
  1. Mix the ground flax seed with the water and set aside for a few minutes until it gels up a bit.
  2. Whisk together the milk with the flax “egg.”
  3. Add the oil, vanilla, and salt and whisk to combine.
  4. Slowly whisk in the flour, a little bit at a time, until it takes on a slightly thickened batter consistency.
  5. Heat up a small lightly greased skillet over medium heat.
  6. Pour in a bit of batter, and while pouring, pick up and swirl the pan until you have just coated the whole bottom of the pan.
  7. Cook over medium heat for 1 minute.
  8. Carefully flip (with a spatula) and cook on the other side for about 20 seconds.
  9. Transfer pancake to aluminum foil while you cook the rest.
  10. Roll up with jam, fruit, syrup… whatever strikes your fancy, really.
  11. Enjoy!

Tofu remix

Remixes, mash ups, duets… all things that I am known to enjoy. Nicki Minaj and Eminem doing a duet? I may or may not know all of the words. Girl Talk on repeat in my car for years on end? You bet! A cowboy and a stripper falling in love? It’s the most perfect love there is!

Tofu scramble? Don’t mind if I do!

Now just like scrambled eggs, tofu scrambles are delicious with a Mexican flair. Like, getting drunk at a complimentary happy hour at Le Méridian Cancun delicious. Freshly tanned babe next to you on a Mexican beach delicious.

While nothing in the world compares to those aforementioned Mexican luxuries, this Mexican scramble comes pretty close. In fact, I promise that it you will enjoy it more than an actual breakfast in Mexico.

This is the perfect powerhouse breakfast, and I will take it over scrambled eggs any day. It is way healthier than eggs: none of the fat from eggs upsetting your gut micro biome and all of the soy isoflavones protecting your body. It’s a win-win situation! All of the components of this dish work so harmoniously together, just like a cooking team where one suggests making a tofu scramble, and then the  other makes it, and then the initial thinker does some counting while watching the other cook it. It just works :-).

This scramble gets it’s Mexican flair from Penzey’s Taco Seasoning. I swear, if I could live with only 1 spice mix the rest of my life, it would be this one. Since most of you probably don’t have this, these are the ingredients: paprika, salt, onions, lactose, dextrose, corn flour, (corn, lime) tomato powder, cumin, garlic, oregano, black pepper, cocoa powder,  and allspice. My recommendation would be to give your tofu scramble a dash (a teaspoon, perhaps) of as many of those spices as you have. The key ones to make sure make their way in are the paprika, salt, cumin, oregano, and salt and pepper. For the heat, may I recommend some smoked chili salt or southern style hot sauce?

Now, there are many great things to be woken up by/to. This scramble is one of them. So I hope this is my way of giving you something pleasant to wake up to for now (ya, because if there is one thing I love more than waking up… it is waking up to go cook for myself, with what, my hands?!). 

Mexican Tofu Scramble
To you, from me, with the most love. 
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 small potatoes, diced
  • 3 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • 8 ounces extra firm tofu (extra firm is really the best)
  • Salsa verde (or perhaps a fancy pants salsa)
  • 1/2 avocado, finely diced
  1. Prepare the tofu: wrap block in paper towels and sandwich between 2 plates, to drain some of the water out. Let it chill like this for about 15 minutes.
  2. Heat up the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until it is nice and hot.
    • Resist the urge to walk away and play video games/clip your toenails/etc
  3. Add the taco seasoning to the oil and let it infuse for 30 seconds or so.
  4. Add the pepper, onion, potato, and ginger.
  5. Saute until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.
  6. Crumble the tofu into the pan and stir until it has been coated with the spice mix.
  7. Let it sit in the pan without stirring for 5-7 minutes, letting it get a little crispy and giving some of the moisture a chance to evaporate.
  8. Give the tofu and veggies a little fliparoo, a dash of hot sauce, and continue to cook for 2-5 minutes.
  9. While the tofu is cooking, mix the diced avocado into the salsa verde.
  10. Transfer the scramble either to a plate with toast, or perhaps a tortilla, and then top with the salsa.
  11. Enjoy!