Healthy Breakfast Muffins

I would put these muffins in the category of “too healthy to be good.” But they are good! They are easy too, and made with things that are usually on hand. I make them quite often, even for company! (PS For the ultimate in convenience, you can even find pre-shredded carrots near the baby carrots in the grocery store!)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (or 3/4 cup all-purpose and 1/2 cup wheat)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins*
1/4 cup chopped dates*
1/4 cup cranberries* (or any dried fruit works!)
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large egg
1/3 cup skim milk
4 medium carrots, shredded
1 medium ripe banana, mashed

*if the raisins, dates or cranberries are tough, soak them in water for 10 minutes or so to soften.

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt until there are no lumps. Stir in oats, raisins, dates, and cranberries. Add oil, egg, milk, carrots and banana and stir until just blended.

Fill each muffin cup with one ice cream scoop of batter; it will be thick. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. To store, freeze or keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Overnight Oatmeal with Almonds and Dried Cranberries

This recipe will change your life (and probably lower your cholesterol!). You can make delicious, steel cut oatmeal once a week and have it on the table in less than 10 minutes the first day and about one minute on subsequent days. I started my quest to speed up steel cut oatmeal after I had the Best Oatmeal Ever at a hotel in Portland with my friend Jessica. It was so good that I even gave her the ingredients as a gift. But I hate giving a gift that complicates life, so I was so happy to come across this speedy trick.

Just soak your oatmeal on Sunday night, and you have a whole week’s worth that tastes as good as the first day! Take time to find muscovado brown sugar if you can; it’s a special touch. I use sliced almonds and dried cranberries from Costco, but the hotel served hazelnuts, and of course you could use raisins for the fruit. Either way, yum! I found the recipe on The Bitten Word, adapted from Food & Wine in 2008.

Overnight Oatmeal with Almonds and Dried Cranberries

Serves 6

1 1/2 cups steel-cut oats
6 cups water
1/4 cup chopped salted roasted almonds
1/4 cup dried cranberries
Brown sugar or pure maple syrup, for serving

In a large saucepan, boil the oats in the water for 1 minute. Cover and let stand overnight at room temperature.

The next day, uncover the oats and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the oatmeal is cooked and creamy but still a little bit chewy, about 10 minutes. Spoon the oatmeal into bowls. Top with the chopped almonds and dried cranberries and sweeten to taste with brown sugar or pure maple syrup.

Make Ahead: The prepared oatmeal can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. Rewarm in a microwave oven and thin with water if necessary before serving.

Make-Ahead-and-Freeze Waffles

This isn’t an “old standby” YET, but I made them this morning and LOVED putting all of them in the freezer! Hudson loves a waffle or pancake for breakfast, and now I can serve it semi-healthy and homemade! This recipe is from Alton Brown’s cookbook and appeared on the Food Network before I saw it in the Statesman.

Make-Ahead-and-Freeze Waffles

This recipe makes about a dozen 8-inch waffles.

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. kosher salt

6 Tbsp. sugar

6 eggs, beaten

8 Tbsp. butter, melted

4 cups (or 1 quart) buttermilk (make your own by adding 1/4 cup white vinegar to measuring cup, then fill with 3 3/4 cup milk; let set for 5 minutes before using)

Preheat waffle iron. In medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In another medium bowl, whisk together eggs and melted butter until emulsified. Whisk in buttermilk. Combine wet and dry ingredients, but do not overmix. Let batter rest for 5 minutes. Cook waffles according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

To freeze: Let waffles cool completely and then freeze on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, place in a zip-top plastic bag, squeezing the extra air out before sealing the bag to help prevent freezer burn.