Healthier Hummingbird Muffins

There’s this divine, mouth-watering cupcake place not too far from my office that first turned me onto “hummingbird” baked goods. Their scrumptious hummingbird cupcakes are filled with fresh banana, pineapple chunks, and vanilla – three of my favorite flavors. For the sake of my skinny jeans, I only allow myself to pass through this cupcake place very rarely and let myself have a hummingbird cupcake as a treat. So when I saw a recipe for hummingbird muffins in one of my running magazines, I jumped at the opportunity of making a more figure-friendly version of one of my favorite indulgences (in fact, I went to the grocery store at 7:00 a.m. the next morning to get a couple ingredients I didn’t have just so I could make them that day).

These hummingbird muffins absolutely fill the craving for a sweet, delicious treat without any of the guilt. I swap sugar for Splenda in this recipe, and I top them with oats and nuts instead of frosting like their cupcake counterparts. Healthier honey and fruits ratchet the sweetness factor up many notches, so it’s an easy swap for a tempting donut or danish. Plus, baking these in cupcake tins makes this the perfect breakfast to go. Enjoy with a hot cup of coffee and get your morning off to a delicious, healthy start!

Delicious, sweet, and much better for you than any donut!

Delicious, sweet, and much better for you than any donut!

What you’ll need:

For the muffins:

  • 1 cup Splenda
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup crushed, drained pineapple
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

For the crumble:

  • 1/2 cup steel-cut oats (not instant)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon margarine, melted
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoons all-purpose flour

What you’ll need to do:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Combine sugar and honey in a large bowl, microwave at 50% power for about 45 seconds and then stir.

This is what your honey-sugar mixture should look like after it's heated and combined.

This is what your honey-sugar mixture should look like after it’s heated and combined.

Whisk in eggs one at a time until smooth. Add oil and applesauce and whisk. Add fruits and vanilla and whisk again. The mixture should be mostly smooth with only small chunks of banana and pineapple. Set this mixture aside.

In another mixing bowl, combing flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and pecans.

Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture a little at a time, stirring constantly.

In a separate bowl, combine all the crumble ingredients and set aside.

This is what your crumble should look like.

This is what your crumble should look like.

Prep two cupcake trays with nonstick spray or liners (I used liners). Lesson learned when I made these – they’re really sticky so if you decide to go the spray route, make sure you spray the pan really well! Fill each cup about 3/4 full. Sprinkle the crumble mixture on top.

I like cooking these in cupcake tins so that I can have 1, or even 2 if I'm extra hungry, without feeling guilty.

I like cooking these in cupcake tins so that I can have 1, or even 2 if I’m extra hungry, without feeling guilty.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy!

**Need to do something else with those steel-cut oats? Try out my Perfect Oatmeal or my Overnight Oatmeal with Bananas and Coconut Milk.

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The Perfect Oatmeal

Imagine this: You’ve woken up extra early to go for a run on a beautiful Thursday morning. It’s summer, after all, so you want to take advantage of being outdoors as much as possible. You run along the lake as the sun rises over the water, with your favorite music clearing your mind and waking your senses. After this short but successful run, you return to a quiet house with everyone still asleep; it’s peaceful. After a refreshing shower, you brew a cup of coffee and begin to prepare your breakfast, flipping on the news for a little background entertainment. For breakfast, you need something hearty to restore your energy after your run and prepare you for the day, but you also need it to be simple and hassle-free, not to mention delicious. Enter: The Perfect Oatmeal.

Not only tasty, this surprisingly filling dish will stave off hunger pains ’til lunch.

It’s steel-cut oats cooked in a cup of milk, topped with raspberries and sliced almonds. The oats have the post-workout carbs your body needs, while loaded with good-for-you fiber. The creaminess of the milk adds decadence to an otherwise bland grain, and gives your muscles the protein they need to rebuild. The raspberries add tartness, sweetness, and juiciness, and the almonds add flavor and texture. And there you have it: The Perfect Oatmeal for the perfect breakfast on the perfect weekday morning.

What you’ll need:
1/2 cup steel-cut oats
1 cup skim milk
1 giant handful of raspberries
1 palmful of sliced almonds

What you’ll need to do:

Pour the oats and milk in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 2 1/2 minutes.

Once it’s done, add the raspberries and almonds then stir. Let it sit for just a minute to cool, and enjoy!

It’s important to use the regular, non-instant steel-cut oats. Until recently, I didn’t know how much of a difference they made. I find that the instant kind is mushy and bland. These babies have the texture and flavor that the instant oats are missing. Add the few other ingredients I’ve listed, and you have a 5 minute, heavenly delicious, super healthy breakfast. It’s my latest easy go-to during the week when I don’t have time to make my favorite omlette or pancakes, and it’s great alternative to my overnight oatmeal. Starbucks has nothin’ on this one.

Egg White Omlette Loaded with Turkey Bacon and Veggies

Happy weekend! As you saw in my pancake post, weekends are my favorite for making killer breakfasts. So if you’re in the mood for something more savory but still super healthy, this egg white omlette is for you. In under 20 minutes, you’ll have a hearty, protein-packed, garlicky, smokey, delicious breakfast. And most of the ingredients are already in your fridge.

With all the flavor packed in this dish, you won’t miss the less healthy breakfasts at all. You’ll still get the creaminess with the bits of Parmesan, you’ll still get the texture of the eggs, and you’ll still get the smokiness and saltiness with the turkey bacon. Eat up and enjoy this guilt-free breakfast.

What you’ll need (makes 2 servings):

  • 1 cup egg whites
  • 4 slices turkey bacon
  • 1 package frozen spinach
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 4 pinches of shredded Parmesan cheese (about 4 tablespoons)
  • As many veggies as you can pack in, such as:
    • Tomato
    • Bell pepper
    • Mushrooms
    • Broccoli
    • Zucchini

**Tip: Use the steamable veggies you already have in your freezer, or toss in any veggies you need to use up in your fridge. The more you pack in, the more full and satiated you’ll feel after eating tons of “free” foods. Spinach is necessary, but all others are optional.

What you’ll need to do:

Pop your frozen spinach in the microwave to defrost because it takes about 5 minutes to cook. Drain out any excess water after it’s done.

Put a large pan over medium-high heat, and spray with cooking spray. Once it’s hot, put in your turkey bacon. You’ll want to brown it on both sides, so cook for a few minutes on one side and then flip and cook a few minutes on the other. After it’s done, remove from the pan and slice into thin strips.

This is what your turkey bacon will look like. Just make sure it’s browned on both sides.

While your turkey bacon cooks, prep your veggies. Chop any fresh veggies you have, or continue defrosting any frozen veggies after your spinach is done. It’s important that all veggies are ready to throw in before you even put eggs in the pan because they cook so quickly.

After your turkey bacon is done and all your veggies are prepped, turn down the heat in your pan to medium heat – you’ll be using the same pan for the omlette that you cooked your turkey bacon in. Put half of your eggs in the pan (about 1/2 cup) so that it covers the entire bottom of the pan.

Throw half of the spinach right on top of the eggs, spreading over the entire surface area. Then, sprinkle half the garlic and Parmesan over the entire pan. Add the rest of your veggies and turkey bacon (half, of course).

YUM, right?!

Because the egg whites cook so quickly, there’s no crazy omlette flipping necessary (a skill I haven’t quite mastered). Use a spatula to fold half the omelette. Don’t worry if it’s messy, you can just call it a scramble instead 🙂 Either way, it’ll still taste just as good.

Rinse and repeat for omlette #2. And enjoy!

**Note: You’ll notice I don’t add any salt. The turkey bacon and Parmesan have enough that you shouldn’t add any more. But you can add a little pepper if you’d like.

The Perfect Pancake (with Strawberries and Whipped Cream)

My earliest cooking memories are sitting on the kitchen counter and cracking eggs while “helping” my dad make one of his Bisquick specialties – I couldn’t have been more than 2 or 3 years old. Cooking with Dad was a weekend tradition in my family, and every Saturday and Sunday we made something off the back of the Bisquick box, whether it be pancakes, waffles, or coffee cake.

Needless to say, I’ve come a long way since adding egg shells to pancake batter, but cooking off the back of the Bisquick box remains a weekend tradition (I’m partial to Bisquick because you have to add milk, all those “just add water” pancake mixes aren’t nearly as good). Here’s my step-by-step on how to make the perfect pancake so you can start your own weekend family tradition.

Nothing beats pancakes with fresh berries on a lazy Sunday morning.

What you’ll need (makes 2 servings):
1 cup Bisquick
2/3 cup milk
1 egg
Splash of vanilla

What you’ll need to do:

Preheat your pan one tick over medium on your stove so it’s just slightly medium-high. Spray your pan with cooking spray (you’ll only do this for the first batch of pancakes, don’t keep spraying every time you add batter to the pan).

I always stir my pancake batter in a larger measuring cup. This helps save dishes, and I love how my measuring cup has a spout for easy pouring.

I pour my ingredients right up to the measurement lines. 1 cup of Bisquick goes in first, then I fill the milk up to the 1 2/3 mark, and then just add the egg and vanilla. Easy as that.

Simply combine all your ingredients. Your batter will be slightly runny. The runnier the batter is, the thinner your pancake will be.

When the batter drizzles off your spoon, it’s perfect. It should be about the same consistency as cake batter (hence, pan-cakes).

Pour just a few tablespoons worth of batter into your pan so that it takes up about 1/3 of your pan (you’ll want to fit 3 or 4 pancakes in there). I’m careful to not make my pancakes too big, because the bigger they are the harder they are to successfully flip. Watch your pancakes, and after a few minutes you’ll see bubbles start to come up around the edges and throughout the pancake.

All those beautiful bubbles let me know these babies are ready to flip.

Use a large spatula to flip your pancakes, making sure to get completely under the pancake before you flip it so that it doesn’t fold on you (don’t worry if it does, it’ll still taste good!).

Post flip – beautiful!

After your pancakes are flipped, let them sit for just a couple minutes to cook the other side.

Serve with sliced strawberries and whipped cream, syrup, or (Clinton’s favorite) Nutella. In less than 20 minutes with all kitchen staples, you have a beautiful, fun Sunday breakfast. Enjoy!

Mom’s Sticky Buns with Butterscotch and Pecans

Every year for Easter, my mom makes these sticky buns that my brothers and I look forward to more than any Easter basket or egg hunt. They’re ooey and gooey, dripping with butterscotch and pecans. The rolls themselves are soft and chewy, making every forkful utterly indulgent.

And they’re very easy to make! Aside from being a delicious treat, my mom likes to make this for the holidays because a bulk of the work is done the night before. This way, all she has do to is pop them in the oven in the morning so she can enjoy us kids opening our Easter baskets without laboring in the kitchen.

This is my favorite family recipe of all time, and I look forward to these every year.

What you’ll need:
1 15 ounce pack uncooked frozen dinner rolls (or about 15 rolls), make sure they’re not the already cooked “bake in 6 minutes” kind
1 box butterscotch pudding, not instant (if you can’t find butterscotch, vanilla is also tasty)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 cups chopped pecans

What you’ll need to do:

Grease a 10-12 cup bundt pan. Arrange balls of dough in pan, evenly spreading them around the pan. Then, sprinkle the pudding mix and then the brown sugar. Pour melted butter over the top of the mixture and then sprinkle with nuts.

It seems like the pan is not filled nearly enough, but these rolls rise and incredible amount by morning.

Lastly, cover it with a towel and let it rise overnight. I generally allow for about 10 hours.

When you wake up in the morning, the dough will be nice and risen.

This is what you'll wake up to in the morning before it's baked. It's amazing how much the dough rises!

Bake at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Flip onto a serving dish and enjoy! My family always eats this as our Easter treat, but it would be great on any other holiday morning.

Overnight Oatmeal with Bananas and Coconut Milk

Recently, I have become obsessed with coconut milk. Not only is it super healthy because it’s high in Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, and Magnesium (and surprisingly low-calorie, too!),but it’s also a great dairy-alternative. Coconut milk is creamy with a hint of sweetness, so it tastes like an indulgent treat. I can’t help but gulp down glass after glass of this stuff. I drink it plain, put it in my coffee, and even bake with it. So when I came across a slow cooker oatmeal recipe that uses coconut milk, I knew I had to try it.

The best part about this recipe (aside from the use of coconut milk): It takes about 5 minutes to prep before you to go to sleep, and then you have a hot, tasty breakfast waiting for you when you wake up in the morning. This oatmeal is perfect for an easy weekend breakfast if you have a busy day ahead of you, it’s great for a lazy day off of work, or it’s easy to take to work for a yummy breakfast on the run. Another perk? It’s another way to use up extra bananas that I always seem to have in my kitchen.  So eat up and enjoy this guilt-free indulgent treat.

Surprisingly, this is very filling, too! A little bit goes a long way, and it helps curb my typical mid-morning cravings.

What you’ll need:
2 ripe bananas, sliced
3 1/2 cups coconut milk (my favorite is So Delicious Coconut Milk, Original)
1/2 cup water
1 cup oats, not instant (Old Fashioned Quaker Oats, for example)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon margarine
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

What you’ll need to do:

Spray your slow cooker with cooking spray so the oatmeal doesn’t stick. Add all your ingredients and stir. Set your slow cooker on low and go enjoy a long, restful night of sleep – the oatmeal takes at least 7-8 hours.

I was a little worried about it being too runny at first, but my fears were assuaged when I woke up to creamy oatmeal.

When you wake up in the morning, your oatmeal will be ready to go.

Look at those caramelized bananas. Such a sweet morning treat!

Scoop into a bowl, add any toppings that suit your fancy (but don’t add sugar or syrup, this is already really sweet), and enjoy! All for about 250 calories.

I added walnuts to the top of my oatmeal for a little texture (and because I had extras in my cupboard!). Pecans or raisins would also be a delicious addition.

Easy, Yummy Banana Bread

I always buy a big bunch of bananas with the best intentions of eating all of them. But I always forget that I like bananas best when they’re bright yellow with a slight twinge of green. And by day 7, whatever bananas I have left are slightly brown and spotted. While these are not my ideal bananas to eat individually, these bananas are prime for banana bread.

So, after years of buying big bunches of bananas with the best intentions, I always inevitably end up with at least 2 bananas left to make a loaf banana bread.

Banana bread is such a delicious, easy way to use up ripe bananas before they go bad. Plus, you've just made an extra-special breakfast for the week!

What you’ll need (for 1 loaf):
2 very ripe bananas – the browner and more spotted, the better
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar or Splenda (I actually use Splenda for a healthier twist)
1  teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

See those spotty bananas? Those are perfect banana bread bananas.

What you’ll need to do:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine your flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, cream together your eggs and sugar (meaning, beat those eggs and sugar on high for a couple minutes with an electric beater; or if you don’t have an electric beater then use a whisk to whip them together until thoroughly combined). Stir in mashed bananas (or, you could add them in and mash them as you go), vanilla, vegetable oil, and cinnamon. I like to leave my bananas a little chunky in the wet mixture because it gives you a little pop of pure, yummy banana flavor when you bite into the bread.

Those chunks of bananas are what make your banana bread extra special!

Slowly stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture, adding 1/3 of the dry mixture at a time. Combine the two mixtures until just combined – don’t over-mix, you want to leave some chunks of banana! Lastly, stir in your chopped walnuts.

Pour into a loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes. Then, use the toothpick trick to check if your bread is done (if the toothpick comes out smoothly, it’s done; if it comes out wet, stick your loaf back in the oven for a few minutes and then re-test).

The dough is ready to go in the pan. You can see little chunks of banana, chopped walnuts, and speckled with cinnamon. It's definitely a long 45 minute wait!

After the bread is finished, I cut it up in slices, cover the pieces with plastic wrap, and then enjoy all week for an easy breakfast on the go!