Category Archives: Breakfast

Mocha Granola (for snacking!)

Unff granola. My addiction to the stuff is oh so real. I shared my favorite granola recipe last year, but my mom and I (both granola lovers) started branching out since then. I have a bomb gingerbread granola recipe to share with y’all when the holidays get closer (put that on ice cream with caramel sauce…perfection!), and I’m hoping to try a tropical version with some dried pineapple and apricots soon. But for today, we’re eating mocha granola.


This recipe isn’t too sweet, and I prefer it as a snack rather than in milk just because of that. And, as usual, the recipe is not only nut free, but also gluten free. Double win! I am no genius, though. I was inspired by Amy’s Healthy Baking on this one, though I switched it up to fit my family’s allergies.

Let’s get baking!

Mocha Granola
Peanut, tree nut, egg, milk, soy, sesame and gluten free

1 1/2 cup gluten free oats
1 1/2 cup corn Chex cereal
6 tbsp. strong coffee (made from 1 1/2 tsp. instant coffee disolved in 6 tbsp water)
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 tbsp. canola oil
2 tbsp. maple syrup (add extra if need more sweetness)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 inch pan.
2. In a large bowl stir together the oats and Chex. In a separate bowl stir together coffee, cocoa powder, canola oil and maple syrup. Pour over the dry mixture.
3. Spread on a pan and cook for 40-45 minutes, stirring every ten minutes. Enjoy!

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Savory Romano-Crusted French Toast with Compote Butter

Lately I’ve been cooking a lot of egg-centric, compote butter-filled recipes. I made vegetarian migas, then I made some avocado compote butter. This recipe combines the two – a savory French toast (encrusted with romano cheese) topped with a sun dried tomato basil compote butter. Woah. I was inspired by How Sweet It Is on this recipe, though of course, I adapted it to have gluten free possibilities!

All food

This recipe is a little rich and maybe a little fancy. When I told my boyfriend about it, he said it sounded fancy or gourmet. The think about it is, while your ingredients may be a little fancy or gourmet in this recipe, the actual preparation takes less than an hour, and it’s fairly easy.

Compote Butter

I used my multigrain bread to make the French toast for my mom and myself, but for my sister, we used gluten free bread in a separate egg mixture. She loved it just as much as we did, so I figure that’s a success!

French Toast1

Let’s make savory French toast!

Savory French Toast
Peanut, tree nut, soy and sesame free

4 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2/3 cup Romano cheese
Pinch of salt and pepper
2 slices per person of gluten free or multigrain bread
3 tbsp. butter

Compote butter:
5 tbsp. butter
Handful of basil, chopped
1/4 cup rehydrated sundried tomatoes (NOT IN OIL), chopped

1. Start with the compote butter. Soften the 5 tbsp. butter, mix in the basil and sundried tomatoes. You can shape into a log on wax paper, or just serve it in a bowl.
2. Now to the egg mixture: whisk eggs, milk, cheese, salt and pepper in a bowl. Separate the mixture if you are serving gluten free and regular eaters.
3. Heat a non-stick pan over the stove on medium-high heat. Add the 3 tbsp. butter to grease the pan.
4. Dip the bread in egg mixture. Make sure it’s covered! Now cook in the pan on each side until they are brown. This may take longer than you expect, especially at first.
5. Top the French toast with compote butter and a little extra cheese. Enjoy!

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Cran-Blueberry Smoothie

Smoothies are, hands down, the best way to get in some extra fruits and (sometimes) veggies in the morning. We’ve totally been over this before, and I don’t want to get preachy about it. But I DO want to share with you this awesome smoothie recipe that not only has tons of antioxidants, but is really great for your kidney health and, ahem, UTIs. Yeah, cranberry juice is kind of gross on it’s own, especially when you buy the pure juice, which is important when you’re in it for the health benefits. However, this smoothie combines tart cranberry juice with the antioxidant power of blueberries and just a bit of agave nectar, and it comes out tasting sweet and fulfilling, without being overpowering.

Cran-Blueberry Smoothie

I always think it’s important for a breakfast to go down easy. Most people have trouble even getting in solid foods – this is a way to break out of your just-black-coffee-nothing-more-for-breakfast attitude and to move into incorporating more fruits and veggies in your day. This recipe really fills me up, too, which is really nice because I typically start thinking about lunch at 10 a.m. Yikes!

Cran-Blueberry Smoothie

So how do we make the Cran-Blueberry Smoothie?

Cran-Blueberry Smoothie
Peanut, tree nut, dairy, egg soy, sesame, fish and shellfish free (gluten free if omitting wheat germ)

1/2 frozen ripe banana
1/3 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup pure cranberry juice
2-3 ice cubes
1 tbsp. wheat germ (omit if gluten free/wheat allergic)
1 tsp. agave nectar (or honey)

1. Place all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth. If your batch is a little tart, feel free to add agave to taste!

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No-bake nut free & gluten free granola bars

Finally! A recipe for granola bars that actually feel like those Quaker Chewy Bars! Granola bars are one of the things I feel like my allergies force me to miss the most. If they’re nut free, they tend to include sunflower butter, flax seeds or pumpkin seeds, all of which I’m still allergic to. It’s always disappointing to see a recipe for granola bars that are nut free, but then to run into other allergens. So I made my own. With the help of a base recipe from My Kitchen Escapades, I made mine gluten free so my sister and dad could enjoy them as well. And you know what? It wasn’t difficult in the least.

Better yet, these granola bars are damn addictive. We’ve nearly finished a batch after a day and a half – I call that baking success!

Granola Bars

Another perk of these delicious beauties? They are filling. The oats, coconut and Chex cereal make for the perfect snack in between meals because the grains are whole, and the coconut is fully of healthy fat. The bars are sweetened mainly by honey, which is just another added bonus. However, if you have seasonal allergies with honey (I’ve had these in the past) subbing agave nectar 1:1 is totally acceptable.

I will warn you though, it’s important to keep these in the fridge. If you don’t, and if it’s a little bit humid and warm in your house, they’ll fall apart and become granola chunks. It happened. We gobbled them anyway. They’re just not as easy to pack in your lunch.

Shall we bake?

No Bake Granola Bars
Gluten free, peanut free, tree nut free, soy free, egg free, fish and shellfish free

2 cups of gluten free oats (I use Trader Joe’s brand)
1 cup corn Chex cereal
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup roasted coconut chips (Trader Joe’s is a great place to find these!)

1. Mix the oats, corn Chex and shredded coconut in a bowl. Set aside.
2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Once melted, add the butter, honey and brown sugar. Cook until it comes to a boil. Let it boil for 2 minutes before removing from heat. Add in the vanilla and salt.
3. Once removed from heat, stir the mixture into the oats, Chex and coconut.
4. Add the chocolate and coconut chips and stir.
5. Press into a 9×13 inch pan. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.
PRO TIP: Take the granola bars out of the refrigerator about an hour before serving. They need time to reach room temperature before you can easily cut them.

What are your favorite energizing snack recipes? Let me know in the comments below!

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Dairy Free Strawberry Blueberry Banana Smoothie

So this week, I just started an internship at the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. So exciting, right? I’m totally not ready to get up early and get to work…half of me still really wants to luxuriate in summer mornings. Nonetheless, the moment I get to work, I’m happy to be there…it’s just getting there that’s the struggle. The other morning I made a smoothie to perk myself up before work, and hey! It totally got my booty moving. I think there’ s something to spending time on your breakfast that makes you want to eat and enjoy it way more than plain jane cereal.


This smoothie is full of fruit, which makes getting your seven servings a day way easier. That’s right, I said seven, not five. Apparently scientists have found that seven fruits and vegetables daily is even better than five – like superhero-style better. Like I’ve always said – the more the merrier when it comes to produce!

Instead of using yogurt or milk for protein and fat, I used wheat germ, the vitamin and mineral rich part of the wheat grain. I’m a major fan of adding wheat germ to basically anything I make that isn’t gluten free. It add protein as well as nutrients without really altering the taste. Bob’s Red Mill is my favorite brand to use because it isn’t difficult to find in local grocery stores.

So let’s make this yummy smoothie!

Dairy Free Strawberry Blueberry Banana Smoothie
Peanut, tree nut, sesame, dairy, fish, shellfish, soy and egg free

3/4 cup mixed blueberries and sliced strawberries
1/2 frozen banana
1/4 cup orange juice
2 Tablespoons wheat germ
3-4 ice cubes

1. Blend ingredients together until smooth.
2. Enjoy quickly or refrigerate overnight for a tasty breakfast treat!

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Green Tea Coconut Donuts

I finally did it. It’s been a year in the making, but I finally went out, got myself a donut pan and decided to conquer baked donuts. The end result was glorious. Tropical, cake-y, and definitely not greasy. Not to mention, no actual nuts were involved in the baking of these delicious donuts. Are you excited yet? No? This picture will probably convince you otherwise.

I made green tea donuts with a simple sugar glaze and topped them with toasted coconut. Why? Well for one, green tea is my favorite drink, and coconut is my favorite snack. Seemed like a good combination to me. The green tea powder, or matcha, I used was Trader Joe’s Tropical Sweetened Matcha Mix. It is a fruitier, sweeter version of it’s sophisticated older sister, actual matcha, and the scent made me automatically think of coconut.



Donuts are always a special treat in my house. My dad used to make Dunkin’ Donut runs on Saturday mornings and bring my sister and me back those strawberry sprinkle donuts, but as of late, things like that don’t happen anymore. My dad and sister get their fix from a local store called The Gluten Free Zone (which, if you’re ever in the area, you HAVE to check out), but I can’t eat there (yet!) because some of the stuff is cross contaminated. Donuts are a rare treat for me now, as Dunkin’ Donuts are now cross contaminated, but I think this pan is going to change that, big time.

So let’s get cooking! The donuts are inspired by this recipe from Just One Cookbook, but they have a much more tropical flair.

Green Tea Coconut Donuts
Peanut free, tree nut free, soy free, shellfish free, sesame free
Makes 8 donuts

3/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 Tsp. baking powder
1/2 Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. Trader Joe’s Tropical Sweetened Matcha Powder
1 egg
2 Tbsp. honey
1/3 cup milk
2 Tbsp. melted butter

1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp. milk
2/3 cup coconut

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and grease your baking pan. Begin by combining all of the dry ingredients in a small bowl. This includes flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and the matcha.

2. In a separate bowl, beat the egg.

3. Add in the egg, honey, milk and melted butter.

4. Beat in the dry ingredients. Spoon the mixture into your greased donut pan.

5. Cook the donuts for 8 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, spread your coconut on a baking sheet and pop it into the oven. Toasting should take 3-5 minutes, but make sure to stir every once in a while!

Your coconut should come out looking like this:


5. While everything’s getting brown and baked in the oven, whisk the milk and powdered sugar for your glaze in a shallow bowl. It should look a little bit foamy once whisked.

6. After the donuts and coconut come out of the oven and are cool enough to hold, dip them into the glaze and then dip into the coconut. If the coconut doesn’t stick well, sprinkle on top. Enjoy!

Long Donuts

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Brown Sugar Cherry Oatmeal

My addiction to oatmeal is unwavering. So is my addiction to summer fruit. In this simple breakfast recipe, I combined the two for a delicious (and nutritious) breakfast. The brown sugar complements the cherries well, making them taste more succulent and sweet than usual. And the cherries themselves break up the otherwise creamy dish, giving it new dimension.

The great thing about oatmeal, as I mention in this post, is that it can be made gluten and dairy free, depending on your needs, which makes this recipe free of all allergens! To make it gluten free, use gluten free oatmeal, which is available at most grocery stores.

Berry-filled oats

Berry-filled oats

Brown Sugar Cherry Oatmeal


1 package of plain instant oatmeal (or one serving of instant oats, made per box instructions)

6 large cherries

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 cup rice milk

Dash of cinnamon

1. Combine the instant oatmeal and rice milk in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for one minute (or follow the box instructions).

2. While the oatmeal is heating, pit and chop the cherries into bite-sized pieces.

3. Once the oatmeal is finished, combine all ingredients, stir and enjoy!

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Healthy Banana Blueberry Muffins

I’m a sucker for breakfast food. Experts say it’s the most important meal of the day, and I have to agree (not just because it’s healthy! 😉 ) Breakfast also can be the most delicious meal of the day, so long as you have a few recipes on hand to make it right. On days that I have time to bake, I love coffee cake, eggs or french toast.

Those breakfasts, though, are difficult to whip up on a moment’s notice. Busy mornings make for skipped breakfasts far too often because of this. And around here, there will be no shortage of that in the coming weeks, as I start my second job (which involves spending three days in D.C., and the rest in Pittsburgh). Instead of just planning to skip my most beloved meal, I whipped up some muffins that are perfect to take on the go. They aren’t crummy or flaky, which means no spillage in the car. And the fruit inside gives you an extra serving for your busy day.

Banana Blueberry Muffins

Banana Blueberry Muffins

Bananas are one of the best muffin bases – they anchor the flavor of berries better than just a plain muffin. And I love the combonation of blueberries and bananas – it just tastes plain good.

This recipe is not entirely allergen free, as it contains both wheat and eggs. However, it is free of milk, soy, peanuts and treenuts, and is full of whole ingredients. I made a massive batch of muffins with this recipe (about 32 muffins), but I shared them with my boyfriend’s family as well as my aunt’s. If you don’t have someone to share these muffins with, I recommend freezing them and defrosting as you need.

Banana muffin batter

Banana muffin batter

Healthy Banana Blueberry Muffins


2 cups whole wheat flour

1 and 1/2 cups white flour

1/2 cup wheat germ

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 cup canola oil

2/3 cup white sugar

2/3 cup brown sugar

4 eggs

4 ripe bananas, mashed

2/3 cup rice milk

2 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups fresh blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine flours, wheat germ, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

2. In a separate bowl, beat oil, brown sugar and white sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating in between.

3. Add smashed bananas and beat. Then add the milk and vanilla, beating those as well.

4. Gradually add the flour mixture. Be sure to beat the mixture just until combined.

5. Stir in the blueberries gently with a wooden spoon.

6. Spoon mixture into paper muffin cups. You can top the raw muffins with turbinado sugar for a nice touch.

7. Bake for 25-27 minutes, until golden brown on the tops. Enjoy!

The final product

The final product

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Ultimate Granola (Father’s Day Edition)

Yesterday was father’s day. In my house, that means delicious food and a lot of it. You see, my dad loves to eat. We always marvel at how well he fits in with my mother’s Italian side of the family despite his Irish roots. He loves good quality food, and for any event, he’ll make a ton of it. It’s the Italian way. When my dad was diagnosed with Celiac disease about five years ago, though, his world was totally changed.


My dad and me, pre-celiac years. He’s blissfully unaware.

By now, though, we have been able to figure some recipes out that suit all of my family’s needs. Our big brunch for father’s day included a variety of our favorite dishes, including mimosas, deviled eggs, vanilla bean scones, some treats from a local gluten free bakery and yogurt and granola parfaits.

The full brunch spread!

The full brunch spread!

My favorite dish from this meal was by far the parfait. Nut-free granola is extremely difficult to find, as many of you know, because even those without nuts are often cross-contaminated. While there are more gluten free brands, the price is oftentimes ridiculous.

These factors are what lead me and my mom to create our own granola recipe a few years ago. This recipe is easily adapted, and allows a lot of wiggle room. You can make it crunchy or soft, include dried fruit if you like and even make it lower in fat.


This ultimate granola can be adapted to be completely allergen free, or you can include an egg or some wheat germ, depending on your needs. The recipe contains no peanuts, tree-nuts, eggs, milk, fish, shellfish or soy, and unless you want a protein boost, no wheat. It also does not include other allergens like seeds, flax and sesame that many other store-bought granolas do.

The best part? This granola keeps for a long time, so you won’t feel pressured to eat it all in a week. Though with a taste this good, you may want to. 😉

Ultimate Granola

6 cups oats (gluten free if need be)

1 cup coconut

1 cup wheat germ (omit if going gluten free)

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/3 cup honey

1/2 cup oil (use 1/3 for low fat, slightly more for crunchier granola)

1 cup dried fruit (I use cranberries, you can pick your favorite!)

1. Heat oven to 300 degrees F.

2. Mix oats, coconut, wheat germ, cinnamon and brown sugar in a medium bowl.

3. Heat honey in a microwave on high for 30 seconds.

4. Mix oil, honey and vanilla in a separate medium-sized bowl.

5. Combine wet and dry ingredients.

6. Place the mixture on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet and cook for 30 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes for best results.

7. Add dried fruit and enjoy!

Note: If you are allergic to ALL of what is classified as a tree nut (including coconut) please omit and add seeds or nuts as desired.

Everybody loves parfait!

Everybody loves parfait!

For Parfaits


Greek yogurt (your favorite flavor)

Berries (any sort!)

1. Combine all ingredients (in whatever amount suits you) in a cute dish and enjoy!