kefir and chia breakfast parfaits


Once I turned 30, I began to get a bit more health conscious. Less sugar, more fiber. Small changes. Then at 31, I really pushed the fruits and veggies. But at 32, I found I could no longer eat a slice of chocolate cake and feel decent afterwards. My metabolism slowed and it took more and more effort to maintain my ideal weight. Today I turn 33, and I sometimes feel like my body is just no longer cooperative. I’m on a range of (unavoidable) medications that make me tired, grumpy, and basically feel like a slug. To counteract all those crappy side-effects I need to pour in a really balanced diet to make me feel my best (which still, even on days when my diet is perfect, doesn’t always work). But I’m determined not to feel 33 going on 66, so I push on just trying to eat my best and exercise as much as I can.

For being a “grown up,” I don’t feel very grown up. I would still rather eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch for breakfast than eggs and avocados. But I know if I do eat that sugary cereal I will crash 1.5 hours later and feel even hungrier. The angel on my shoulder says, “Eat balanced! Protein in the morning!” while the sugar devil calls for “Cinnamon Toast Crunch! Cookie Crisp! Chocolate nom nom nom nom!”  Luckily, I can bop the sugar devil over the head with this healthy concoction that leaves me sated until lunchtime, and just not, you know, purchase the sugary cereals in the first place.

To make my daily breakfast, I start a day ahead. Prepping 3 of these at a time means there are 3 mornings where I don’t have to think about what’s for breakfast or be tempted by the kid’s leftover pancakes. I just grab a chia parfait out of the fridge, a spoon, and dig in before my stomach gets the best of me. Then on day 3, I make 3 more.


What is kefir? It’s a fermented milk drink, sort of like a liquid yogurt. But unlike sugary yogurt, it packs 10.5 grams of protein per cup without the extra fat and calories. Plus it has more of the good probiotics to aid in digestion (and maintain healthy bowels….yeah I’m talking about that) than yogurt does. If you’re here in the UK, I like Bio-tiful Dairy Kefir that you can purchase on Ocado. In the US there are a ton more choices in the kefir department, from flavors like vanilla to cherry pomegranate. Just watch the sugar on the label–you don’t want to start your morning with a blood sugar blast-off.


Pour 1 cup of kefir into a glass or resealable container (glass jars work great, too).


Add some chia seeds. These pack a wallop of protein, Omega-3’s, and a ton of vitamins and minerals. Adding them to the kefir will give you your entire day’s worth of calcium in one serving.


Next, add oats. Not quick-cook oats that will become mushy, but nice, thick old fashioned oats. Organic and gluten-free, if possible.


Next, add a little bit of fruit compote or fruit jam for flavoring. You can omit this step, but I find that just a touch of sweetness and flavor really makes this breakfast shine. Look for no-added-sugar jams (if you’re using a flavored kefir omit this step).


Stir it all together (or shake, if you’re using a lidded container)…


…until everything is well combined. The mixture will be thin; don’t worry. It will thicken overnight in the fridge as the chia seeds and oats soak up the kefir. Cover and store in the refrigerator overnight and up to 3 days.


In the morning toss on some fresh berries, or if you need to use frozen you can add them before refrigerating the night before.


See how the chia seeds have expanded? Those will help fill you up and keep you going all morning. The oats, too!


What a perfect start to the day. Play with different flavors of jam and/or kefir until you find something that suits you just right. My absolute favorite is plain kefir with strawberry rhubarb jam–it tastes like pie!

Cheers to 33 years, my friends. *Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me…I look like I’m 32 28, but I act like I’m 12.*



Kefir and Chia Breakfast Parfaits 

  • 1 cup kefir
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats (not quick-cooking)
  • 1 tsp whole chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp no-added-sugar jam for flavor (omit if you’re using a flavored kefir)

Combine all ingredients in a resealable container or small bowl. Stir well. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days. Top with fresh fruit before devouring!

creamsicle shortcakes

I’m so lucky to live in Washington. We get the best berries in the summertime. The most crisp, juicy apples in the fall. But citrus isn’t really our thing. Consequently, we import most of it and get pretty decent varieties year-round. Our local strawberries are still a few weeks shy from being ready (we had a very cold, wet winter and spring), but I was dying for shortcake. So I turned to the one thing I can always count on: oranges. From constantly sunny California.

What resulted was a dreamy shortcake with sweet tangelos and vanilla bean whipped cream. Layer the two on a sweet, flaky scone and you’ve got a dessert that tastes remarkably like those frozen creamsicle treats of your childhood.

Begin with your favorite oranges. I’m digging tangelos right now, but use whatever is juicy and sweet at the moment. Grab some whipping cream, a little sugar, vanilla extract, one vanilla bean, and your favorite scone mix or recipe.

I like Fisher’s. If you grew up in Washington this probably tastes like the Puyallup Fair to you. It’s a snap to make (just add water) and I have yet to find a scratch recipe that is as good.

Begin by peeling the oranges. Take all the white stringy bits off if you have the patience. I never do.

Slice into rounds.

Place in a bowl and drizzle with vanilla extract. Stir and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Next, slice that vanilla bean down the middle. See all those little bits that look like dirt? Those are the vanilla beans that will make our whipped cream extra vanilla-ey.

Use the tip of a sharp knife to scrape the beans out of the pod…

…and scrape them straight into the whipped cream container. Shake and refrigerate along with the oranges.

Meanwhile, whip up your scones.

Bake. By now your whole house should smell like vanilla and warm scones. Heaven.

When you’re ready to serve, pour the whipped cream into the bowl of a stand mixer.

Add the sugar and whip at high speed until stiff peaks form.

Slice a scone in half and layer on the oranges and whipped cream.

Sweet, warm scone, juicy vanilla-scented oranges, and fluffy whipped cream. It’s such a nice alternative to the traditional berry shortcakes. And best of all, you can enjoy it any time of year. Long live the creamsicle!


Creamsicle Shortcakes  printable pdf

I like Fisher’s Fair Scone Mix (available in Washington), but feel free to use your favorite mix or recipe. Makes 8 shortcakes. Eat the leftover scones for breakfast with a little butter and jam!

Active Prep Time: 15 minutes     Inactive Prep Time: 1 hour     Bake Time: 12 minutes (may vary according to your scone recipe)

  • 4-5 oranges, peeled
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 pint whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 box Fischer’s Fair Scone Mix

1. Slice oranges into 1/2 inch rounds. Place in a bowl, pour in vanilla extract and stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

2. Slice the vanilla bean down the middle. Using the tip of a sharp knife, scrape the vanilla beans from the pod and place beans in whipping cream container. Shake and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

3. Prepare scones according to package directions. Shake whipping cream well and pour into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the sugar and whip on high speed until stiff peaks form.

4. Slice scones in half. Layer with orange slices and dollops of whipped cream. Serve.


(almost) better-for-you banana nut muffins

Confession time: I have an affinity for big box store muffins. You know what I’m talking about—the big warehouse store where you can buy five pounds of cottage cheese for $2.99? Their muffins slay me, especially the banana nut variety. But the trouble is, you can only buy them in a pack of twelve and each muffin is the size of a small planet. Plus, they likely contain an entire day’s worth of calories. As I swallow each buttery bite, I can literally feel the muffin slide down my esophagus, skip right past my stomach and implant itself on my ass. There is a reason they call it a muffin top, my friends.

So what is a girl to do when she craves those moist, melt-in-your mouth banana nut muffins but doesn’t want a butt the size of Neptune? Make a healthier version, of course.

Start with overripe bananas. The browner the better. Mash them up with a fork.

Add to the bananas an egg, greek yogurt (to keep things moist and add a little bit of richness—low-fat sour cream would work, too), vegetable oil, and vanilla extract.

For the dry ingredients you’ll need white and whole wheat flours, baking powder, salt, brown sugar and wheat germ (the “raw” or “untoasted” variety) for a little extra fiber.

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

Fold in some walnuts.

Pour into 12 prepared muffin cups and sprinkle some more walnuts on top if you like.

Bake for a little under 20 minutes. They puff up nice and purdy.

Pour yourself a cup of tea and sink your teeth into one of these beauties.

They’re more moist, more flavorful, and less likely to stick to your hips than those gigantor muffins. Of course they still have a decent amount of fat as all good muffins do, but you won’t feel them stick to your hips. Or implant themselves on your thighs. Or park their big banana butts on your…well, you get the picture.


(Almost) Better-for-You Banana Nut Muffins   handy dandy printable

Prep Time: 10 minutes Bake Time: 20 minutes

  • 3 large overripe bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c honey-flavored greek yogurt
  • 1/3 c vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c all purpose flour
  • 1/2 c raw (untoasted) wheat germ
  • 3/4 c brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c chopped walnuts, plus more for topping

1) Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, mash bananas until smooth. Stir in egg, yogurt, oil and vanilla.

2) In a medium bowl, combine wheat flour, all purpose flour, wheat germ, sugar, baking soda and salt. Pour into wet ingredients and whisk until smooth. Fold in walnuts.

3) Grease or line 12 muffin cups. Spoon in batter nearly to the top of each cup. Sprinkle with additional walnuts if desired. Bake for 17-20 minutes until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool slightly before serving.

lemon jam coffee cake

Little publicized fact about pregnancy: the sleep deprivation does not only occur after the baby is born. Nope, the sad truth is that once that little bun has taken up more than its fair share of space in your belly, the rest of your body is just its minion. The result? Lots of tossing and turning, getting up to pee, never being able to find a comfortable position, getting kicked in the ribs, and finally surrendering to the fact that it’s time to get up and make coffee cake.

Start off with the basics, plus a few special ingredients: greek yogurt (to keep it moist), lemon curd (to keep it tart) and jam (I used raspberry but any flavor that goes well with lemon would do).

Cream the butter in the bowl of your stand mixer.

Add the sugar…

…the eggs, the yogurt and the vanilla (the batter will seem very wet at this point, but don’t fret).

Butter a 9″ springform pan (a 9×9″ baking dish would work fine—I just like the ease of serving with a springform).

Toss in a little flour, and bang it around until a thin layer is sticking to the butter.

Mix the dry ingredients into the batter until smooth.

Spread half of the batter into the bottom of the prepared pan…

…and stir together the lemon curd with your jam of choice.

Spread that sweetness over the batter, baby.

Cover evenly with the remaining batter.

A coffee cake is not a coffee cake without a crumbly topping. Toss a little flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter into a small bowl.

Mix with a fork (or your fingers) until it’s mealy and coarse.

Spread the topping evenly over the cake.

Bake for a little under an hour. Dance around naked in your kitchen because it smells like heaven.

That thin layer of lemon and jam provide just the right amount of tart to balance out the sweetness of the cake.

Plus the stripe in the center looks kind of purdy.

If this won’t get you out of bed, nothing will. Except maybe your bladder, ten times a night.

Is it nap time yet?



Lemon Jam Coffee Cake adapted from Epicurious

Any flavor of jam will do—raspberry, strawberry and blackberry being my favorites. Be careful not to over-bake and risk drying out the cake. Makes one 9″ cake.

Prep Time: 20 minutes Bake Time: 50 minutes Special Equipment: 9″ springform pan (optional). A hand mixer and large bowl may be substituted for stand mixer.

For the cake:

  • 2 c flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 1 c packed brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c lemon curd
  • 1/4 c jam

For the topping:

  • 1/4 c packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tbsp butter, room temperature

1. To make the batter: Preheat oven to 350F (325F if using a glass pan). In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

2. Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Mix in the yogurt and vanilla extract. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until batter is smooth.

3. Grease a 9″ springform pan with butter. Lightly dust with flour, tapping the sides of the pan until a thin layer of flour coats the butter. Spread half of the batter into the bottom of the pan.

4. In a small bowl, mix together the jam and lemon curd. Spread the mixture evenly over the batter. Spread the remaining batter on top.

5. To make the topping: In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the dry ingredients. Mash together with a fork or your fingers  the until mealy and coarse. Spread the topping evenly over the cake. Bake for 45-50 minutes*, until edges are golden and begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let cake cool in pan 20 minutes before transferring to a plate or wire rack.

*If using a glass pan, keep a close eye on the baking time. It may not need a full 45 minutes.


bacon cinnamon rolls

On a lazy saturday morning when you have nothing in particular to do, when you have a fresh pot of coffee, the newspaper and the living room all to yourself, you need to treat yourself to these. Yes, they’re slightly evil. Yes, they will go straight to your hips. But on that rare morning when the house is quiet and there’s not a thing to do, there is nothing better.

To make this ultimate sweet/savory combo you need only two ingredients: one can of cinnamon rolls and bacon. Of course make the cinnamon rolls from scratch if you’re feeling ambitious. But if not, a tube of store-bought “Grands” work just fine (beware the smaller sized versions, which often don’t “roll” at all—they’re just little discs of dough).

Fry the bacon until it just begins to crisp but is still flexible. Drain on paper towels.

Unroll the dough, place two strips of bacon into each, and roll back up.

Place in a greased pan. Doesn’t the bacon look like it just belongs there? It does. Believe me, it does.

Bake according to package directions…


…and enjoy. And if you go back for seconds, I won’t tell. The combination of the salty bacon and the sticky-sweet cinnamon roll is just too hard to resist.


Bacon Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 5 rolls

  • 1 package “Grands” cinnamon rolls
  • 10 strips bacon

Fry bacon for a few minutes on each side, until slightly crisp but still flexible. Drain on paper towels.

Unroll cinnamon rolls, place two strips of bacon into each, and roll back up. Place in a greased pan and bake according to package directions.