Thursday, December 19, 2013

Oatmeal Bacon Cups



Featured Ingredient: Oats














Bacon and oats may seem like an odd couple, but I’ve seen several oatmeal recipes floating around that are topped with crispy bacon and it’s a pairing that has always caught my interest. Considering they are both awesome when accompanied by maple syrup, it makes sense that they could work together in a breakfast bowl. Or even better, ready-to-go baked oatmeal cups.

These are bundles of sweet, savory and salty goodness that are worth jumping out of bed for. It’s always a good idea to start your day with oatmeal as it’s laced with ticker-friendly soluble fiber. I’m not saying that bacon should be a morning staple, however, but once and a while I have an urge for a kitchen that is redolent of sizzling strips of pork. Of course, it’s always better to purchase bacon from local producers than the mysterious shrink wrap stuff in the supermarket.

If you like (and we do!), you can serve these with a light drizzle of extra maple syrup. They are best served warm and tend to be on the moist side so store them in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

It’s time for another Muffin Tin Mania contest that is sure to bring some holiday cheer to any oat lover. The fine folks at Bob’s Red Mill would like to award one of my readers with some of their amazing oat products including Scottish oats, oat bran and rolled oats. To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “I’d love to eat oatmeal with Bob” along with some way of identifying yourself such as your initials, name or email address and I will use this online tool to randomly select a winner. I’ll announce the winner on Friday December 27th, so if you entered write the date down on your calendar and check back in then for a chance to claim your prize. 

Good news Linda B, you were randomly selected a winner of a Bob's Red Mill oat package. Just use the contact tab above to sending me your shipping details and I'll get some out to you. 














Oatmeal Bacon Cups

















1 cup steel-cut oats
1/2 pound bacon
1/2 cup oat flour
1/3 cup chopped almonds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 large apple, grated
1/2 cup milk or unsweetened non-dairy alternative  
1/4 cup maple syrup, preferably a darker grade

Place oats in a bowl cover with water and let soak for at least 2 hours.

Cook bacon in a skillet over medium low heat until crispy. Transfer to a paper towel lined cutting board and let drain. Once cool, chop bacon into 1/2-inch pieces.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Drain oats and combine with bacon, oat flour, almonds, and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs and stir in apple, milk and maple syrup.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Divide oat mixture among 10 standard sized greased or paper lined muffin cups. Cook for 25 minutes, or until set. They will still be generally moist. Let cool for a few minutes before unmolding and cool completely on wire racks.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Chai Banana Protein Muffins



Featured Ingredient: Whey Protein


As the bio picture at the top right of this blogsite proves, I’m far from a bodybuilder. But I still regularly use whey protein powder. Most often in my post-exercise smoothies as the protein quality of whey is nearly unmatched making it superb at hastening muscle recovery. The bioactive peptides in whey have also been shown to help rev up the immune system.

I’ve also been experimenting using it in my desserts such as these banana muffins. The main benefit of including extra protein in such items is that it reduces their glycemic index so you get less of a spike in blood sugar caused by items like sugars and flours. The perk of this is a dessert that is more satiating. Using whey in this application is also a great idea for those with blood sugar control problems, which includes millions of North Americans.

The whey protein that I use and trust most is BiPro whey protein isolate. It blends beautifully and is just pure protein – no sweeteners, fillers or other whatchamacallits. I’ve even blended into hot chocolate with great results.   



The food lab at Cook’s Illustrated came up with this method of nuking bananas to release their liquid and then boiling it down. I thought I would try it out as they promised it would allow for heightened banana flavor. I believe it worked as these muffins were really full of banana goodness, but I’d have to compare them to a batch where the bananas are just mashed straight from the peel. 

If you’re going to top these chai spiced muffins off with some dried banana be sure to only use the higher quality dried bananas such as those from Made in Nature that are still moist. Not those lackluster hard banana chips.

Do you want to experiment with whey protein in the kitchen? Well, I’ve got good news as it’s time for another Muffin Tin Mania giveaway. The fine folks at BiPro have agreed to award one of my readers with some of their great protein. To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “Whey protein is way cool” along with some way of identifying yourself such as your initials, name or email address and I will use this online tool to randomly select a winner. I’ll announce the winner on Thursday December 19th, so if you entered write the date down on your calendar and check back in then for a chance to claim your prize. 

Congrats Bridge, you were randomly selected the winner of some whey protein. Just let me now your shipping address using the contact button above and I'll have BiPro send you some.

Chai Banana Protein Muffins














4 very ripe bananas
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1/3 cup melted coconut oil or unsalted butter
1/2 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup unflavored whey protein powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup finely chopped dried banana (optional)

Peel bananas and place them in a microwave safe bowl. Cover with paper towel and microwave 5 minutes, or until they have released their liquid. Place bananas and liquid in a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl and allow to drain, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

Transfer strained banana liquid to a saucepan and simmer over medium-high heat until reduced to about 1/4 cup. Stir together reduced banana liquid with bananas and mash until mostly smooth. Whisk in eggs, sour cream or yogurt, coconut oil or butter, sugar and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, stir together flour, protein powder, baking powder, baking soda and spices. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir together gently. Fold in walnuts. Divide mixture among 12 standard sized greased or paper lined muffin cups. If using dried bananas, sprinkle them over top of batter and sprinkle some sugar over top.

Bake for 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out mostly clean. Let cool several minutes before unmolding. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Coffee Cheesecake



Featured Ingredient: Coffee

It’s hard not to love cheesecake, but more often than not they provide an avalanche of calories. A bad news desert if you are trying to watch your waistline. So I’m happy to report that I may have created an ideal cheesecake that provides a perfect mix of great taste, nutritional benefits and portion control. Best of all, its no-bake!

These individual cheesecakes benefit from a nutrient dense base made up of oats, nuts, raisins (which act as a binder) and antioxidant packed cocao powder. Thick and velvety Greek yogurt is a wonderful alternative to some of the more calorie-laden cheese and/or cream. Plus, it is packed with protein to help make these individual cakes more satiating.

And not to be overlooked is the main flavoring: coffee. It gives these cheesecakes some sophisticated flavor and grown-up appeal. For this recipe, I used one of the new blend options from Doi Chaang. In past posts, I’ve praised this coffee company for their superior beans from Thailand and ethical practices. Their newest offerings include Hardwired, Social Medium and others blends which are a mélange of beans from Thailand and other coffee growing juggernauts such as Ethiopia, Nicaragua and Sumatra. As with their traditional offerings, all Doi Chaang Blends are fair trade and certified organic. 














Are you a java lover? Well, I’ve got good news as it’s time for another Muffin Tin Mania giveaway. The fine folks at Doi Chaang have agreed to award one of my readers with some of their new product. The bags may even make for a tasty Christmas gift. To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “I’m buzzing for Doi Chaang” along with some way of identifying yourself such as your initials, name or email address and I will use this online tool to randomly select a winner. I’ll announce the winner on Wednesday December 11th, so if you entered write the date down on your calendar and check back in then for a chance to claim your prize.

Good news Susan, you won this contest. Just let me know your shipping address and I'll have some coffee sent your way.

Coffee Yogurt Cheesecakes



If possible, use silicon muffin cups for these as it makes it much easier to remove the cheesecakes once set. You can garnish with toasted coconut flakes, candied orange peel or shaved dark chocolate.

2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup unsalted almonds
1 cup raisins
1/4 cup natural or raw cacao powder
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
3 tablespoons honey
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon (1 pkg.) unflavored gelatin
1 cup strongly brewed coffee
1/3 cup coconut sugar or other sugar of choice
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
8 ounces cream cheese, reduced fat if desired

Place oats and almonds in a food processor container and process until pulverized. Add raisins, cacao powder, coconut oil, honey and lemon zest; process until the mixture sticks together when squeezed with your fingers.

Divide mixture among 12 standard sized muffin cups and press down firmly so each crust is well compacted and flat.  Place muffin tins in refrigerator while you prepare the topping.

Stir together gelatin and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl; let sit 5 minutes. Bring coffee, sugar, cardamom and vanilla to a gently simmer in a medium sized saucepan. Add gelatin and stir until gelatin has dissolved.

Puree together yogurt and cream cheese in a food processor. Add hot coffee mixture and blend until combined. Pour coffee-cheese mixture into muffin cups over crusts. Refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours.