Category Archives: Brunch

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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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!