Weekday Banana Pancakes

IMG_0885Happy New year, y’all! Excuse the Southern twang, I’ve been escaping the New York chill with a Nashville marathon. Have you seen it? I recently spent some time in Music City, before I’d seen the show. Even if you don’t love country music, there’s all kinds of great music (on the show and, I can vouch, in the real-life city).

Now that the holidays are over, it’s nice to revive some healthy habits. Breakfast is an important meal to me, mostly because it’s an acceptable meal to enjoy with coffee. Sometimes, it’s my only meal of the day sitting down, quiet.  Lunch at work is erratic – kale and quinoa one day and bits of leftover croissant the next. If I’m not working during dinnertime, I’m headed to the gym, rushing back home to make something quick. Chefs…they’re just like us!

These banana pancakes are a riff on a ‘protein pancake’ recipe floating around the Internet. They fill you up with good energy for the morning. The addition of flax, chia and protein powder is a bit utilitarian, but your toppings loosen things up. I love spreading on some almond butter, sliced banana and a sprinkle of cacao nibs. Now, bring on the coffee.

Weekday Banana Pancakes

Makes 1 large pancake (serves one)

  • 1/2 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 whole egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 T. milk (any type)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 T. ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp. chia seeds
  • 3 T. vanilla protein powder (I use a raw brown rice protein from Sun Warrior)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Pinch fresh ground nutmeg
  • Pinch Kosher salt
  • Coconut oil or butter, for cooking
  • Optional toppings: Sliced banana, blueberries, toasted walnuts, real maple syrup, plain Greek yogurt, cacao nibs, chia seeds, ground flax, almond butter (my fave)

Directions

In a bowl, whisk mashed banana, egg, milk, vanilla, flax and chia.  In another bowl, combine protein powder, spices and salt. Add banana mixture to dry ingredients and stir well to come.

Heat a medium – to – large nonstick skillet on medium-low heat. Add a few teaspoons of coconut oil or butter to coat the bottom of the pan. Add all the pancake batter, making one large pancake. Cook for about 3 minutes or until lots of bubbles start to form and the edges look dry. Flip (careful!) and  cook for another 3 minutes. Eat with any toppings you like!

Quinoa with Red Plums, Thyme and Crispy Cauliflower

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I make some variation on this dish just about once a week. A grain-based, lettuce-less salad is perfect for long-day, late night dinners or work lunches. The idea of using your pantry and supplementing with fresh ingredients works for me. Believe it or not, I don’t reinvent the wheel each night for dinner. Nope. Not even close. I do, however, keep a laundry list of staples on hand as building blocks for meals. Grains, beans, dried fruit, toasty nuts and herbs, herbs, herbs keep things fresh. For this salad, I combined quinoa with tart red plums (a recent discovery from Sahadi’s), scallions, a handful of herbs and (leftover) roasted cauliflower. It was part fridge clean-out, part Balaboosta-wannabe, all together delicious.

Quinoa with Red Plums, Thyme and Crispy Cauliflower

Makes about 4 cups

  • 1/2 medium head cauliflower, tough stems removed and cut into small florets
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup white quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 16 ounces water or chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Handful dried red plums, chopped (can substitute dried cranberries)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Handful chopped fresh parsley
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Fresh black pepper

Heat oven to 425F.

Place cauliflower on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and toss with about 3 tablespoons of olive oil (3 swirls of the pan). Season with a good 3-fingered pinch of salt. Roast cauliflower in heated oven, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crispy-edged, about 20-30 minutes. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine quinoa, water or stock and a good pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to steam, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff with fork.

In a large bowl, combine the scallions and dried plums. Add quinoa and allow it’s warmth to soften up the dried fruit. Fold in scallions and cauliflower. Add enough lemon juice, salt, pepper and olive oil until it tastes good. Delicious eaten warm, room temperature or cold.

Shirazi Salad

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I have a high devotion to Dinosaur BBQ. They originated in Central New York, where I grew up, and no early summer gathering was complete without it. Pulled pork, honey hush cornbread, tangy/sweet baked beans…yeah, you get the picture. One of the unsung heroes at Dino was their Tomato-Cucumber Salad. You see, with all that pork fat, butter and brown sugar, you need something fresh and acidic to balance it out. A BBQ palate cleanser, if you will.

This Persian-inspired salad in the same vein, but brightened up with fresh herbs, lime juice and sumac. Never worked with sumac? It’s a wonderful ruby red herb popular in Middle Eastern cooking. It adds a unique fruity tartness to meat, veggies and grains (try it sprinkled over hummus). It’s just the thing to add like to early season tomatoes and cucumbers. I have big plans on making this salad all summer with grilled lamb and chicken kebabs. And maybe some of that honey hush cornbread.

Shirazi Salad

Inspired by The New Persian Kitchen  by Louisa Shafia

Serves 4

  • 5 Persian cucumbers, diced
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 teaspoons dried spearmint
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives or scallions
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground sumac (optional)

In a large bowl, combine the cucumbers, tomato, dried and fresh mint and chives. Add lime juice, olive oil and salt to taste. Sprinkle with sumac before serving.