Category Archives: Breakfast

Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Muffins

I’ve never been a huge fan of raisins in food. I like them OK right out of the little boxes. I’m pretty sure I was scarred when I bit into what I thought was a chocolate chip cookie only to find out there were raisins in it instead. Oh the shock and disappointment! That incident sealed my prejudice over raisins for at least a decade or two. I’m about ready to get over myself, though. I’m ready to forgive raisins for their innocent charade only because I may have developed a teeny addiction to breakfast muffins. Said addiction started with the pumpkin quinoa muffins but gained traction with these oatmeal raisin muffins.

I love dense, chewy food and these muffins totally fit the bill. This recipe also helps me stay true to my kitchen/food goals. Since I baked these using whole wheat flour (which I recently purchased for the first time *ever*), these muffins are less processed, low-fat and healthy, too. Plus, they’re portable and can be eaten anywhere…even in the car on the way to work.

I can’t say I’m ready to declare my love for raisins but it’s not their fault they resemble chocolate chips, now is it?


  • 1-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1-1/2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup raisins


  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. In mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients; mix well.
  3. Crack the egg into a two-cup measuring cup and beat the egg with a fork. Add the milk and beat again. Add the water and oil.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients in the dry ones and stir until loosely mixed. Add the raisins and stir to combine.
  5. Spoon the batter equally into prepared muffin cups.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  7. Immediately remove from tin. Cool completely and store in a gallon size plastic bag.
Yields 12 muffins
Nutritional value:

Calories 170.9  Total Fat 5.8 g  Cholesterol 17.7 mg  Sodium 271.4 mg  Total Carbohydrate 26.9 g  Protein 4.2 g


Posted by on January 12, 2012 in Breakfast, Grains, Low fat, Scratch cooking


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Vickie’s Pomegranate Jelly

Up until recently I gave little thought to the actual fruit itself but pomegranates grow well here in Arizona. Perhaps it is because of my new-found focus on seasonal produce that real in-the-flesh pomegranates have been showing up before me this year.

De-seeding the rosy red fruit is a cumbersome, multi-step process that is fraught with some peril since the juice stains. I was introduced to this process (and the warning) at a party in October when our hosts willingly shared the bounty from the tree in their back yard. Eating pomegranates reminds me of eating sunflower seeds or pistachios. There’s a whole lot of work involved for a little measly result; still plucking the seeds out of the white flesh is actually kind of addicting.

This is just one more reason why I tip my hat to my friend Vickie for her pomegranate jelly. Vickie is an Arizona native and remembers the days before population growth and urban sprawl took over when “rural” Phoenix was full of dairy farms and orchards. She’s been picking and eating pomegranates since she was a kid (read this as she has had years of practice). Regardless, the process of de-seeding the fruit is still time-consuming and somewhat tedious. Then, once you have the seeds, you still have to juice them. Sheesh!

As the recipient of one of the cute little jars pictured above (and since I’ve never canned anything in my life), I asked Vickie if she had any pearls of wisdom or words of warning to share with my readers. Vickie acknowledged that next time she would skip the de-seeding process/juicing process and start with 100% pomegranate juice that you can buy from stores like Trader Joe’s. This is encouraging if you don’t have access to pomegranate trees in your local area. If you do go the fully natural route her warning is to plan ahead; the juice has to sit for a few days before its ready to be used.

So, I’m thankful to have been on the recipient list for Vickie’s pomegranate jelly. I can’t wait to try the jelly in the streusel short bread recipe that I’ve got lined up to cook in the next day or so.

Pomegranate Jelly Recipe from Simply Recipes

The process of canning jelly is specific to what fruit you are canning, the type of pectin you are using – whether natural, liquid, powder – and the ratio of juice to sugar to pectin. If you plan to store your jelly on a shelf, and not in the refrigerator, you need special canning equipment to ensure against spoilage.


  • 4 cups pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 package powdered pectin
  • 5 cups white cane sugar
  • You’ll also need:
  • 6-7 Eight ounce canning jars


  1. Make or buy the juice. If making the juice, see the two tips below on the best ways to accomplish these.
  2. Prepare canning jars. Seep the clean, empty canning jars in boiling water for several minutes. Boil a few cups of water in a separate kettle and pour over the lids in a small bowl to sterilize.
  3. Measure pomegranate juice and lemon juice in a 6-quart pan. Add pectin, stir and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Reach a full rolling boil, that cannot be stirred down, and add sugar. Boil hard for exactly 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand for a minute and skim off foam.
  4. Fill jars to 1/2″ of the top. Wipe rims clean. Screw on 2-piece lids.
  5. Finish canning. This step you need to take if you plan to keep the jelly unrefrigerated. Place the jelly jars, not touching, on a rack in a tall pot of boiling water. The water should cover the top of the jars by at least an inch. Boil for 5 minutes and then remove from the water. Let the jars cool. Check seals, the lids should be sucked down (you’ll hear a popping noise as the jelly cools). Once the jars reach room temperature, put them in the refrigerator for a few hours to complete the jellying. Lasts about 3 weeks once opened.

Yield – 6-7 cups.

Making the juice:

There are two basic ways to make pomegranate juice from fresh pomegranates. The first is to cut open a pomegranate and submerge it in a large bowl filled with water. Remove the seeds underwater; they will sink to the bottom while the white membrane holding them together will float. Discard the peel and membranes. Strain the seeds and put them in a blender. Pulse the blender only a few times so that the seeds are broken up. Place a mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the seed mixture through the strainer. Use a rubber spatula to help press the pulp against the strainer as to extract as much juice as possible.

The second way to juice a pomegranate is to use a juice press. I have an old fashioned press that I use. I wash the pomegranate and cut it into quarters or halves, depending on how big the pomegranate is. I then crush the sections with a press and strain the juice through a mesh strainer. I have found that this method takes half the time or less of the first method, but the flavor can be a little more bitter because you are squeezing the peel as well.


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Posted by on December 14, 2011 in Breakfast, Desserts, Holiday


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Banana Bread Bonanza – One Recipe = 3 Loaves

Picture of 3 large loaves fresh out of the oven

In my mind, the Monday after Thanksgiving officially marks the start of the Christmas holidays. Unlike most Americans, I don’t do Black Friday. Blessedly because of my family’s Secret Santa tradition, I only have one present to buy…but that is for another post. On Black Friday, I’m still usually working on Thanksgiving leftovers. This year, my kitchen was still recuperating for hosting dinner. It takes me a while, anyway, to switch gears. So, Monday it is. Start of the week and start of a new season.

I also equate the transition from November to December as autumn into winter (ahem, even if it is still sunny and 75 in Phoenix much of the time). This means all things pumpkin, or otherwise fall-related, are over. No more pumpkin bread for me. I’ve mentally moved on to banana bread (the making of which was a holiday tradition in our family when I was younger.)

All of this meandering brings me around to my “go big or go home” philosophy. Seriously, if you’re going to turn on the oven, break out all the ingredients and lug the big huge mixer from the pantry, why make one loaf when you can make three?? Last year I invested in three 9 x 5 non-stick loaf pans from WalMart. I think they were $5.00 each. OMG, I have truly gotten my money’s worth on that purchase.

If you’re looking for an easy gift this holiday season, look no further than baked goods. If you’re looking for hostess gifts for parties, again look no further. A bonus is that the loaves freeze well. In the unlikely event you have leftovers (or you like to plan ahead), you can wrap the loaves in foil and stow them away. I tweaked the measurements from a recipe from the Joy of Baking. Again, I’m pleased with the results and I hope you will enjoy them too.


  • 3 sticks butter, softened
  • 2.5 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 9 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1.5 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional


  1. Spray three 9 x 5 loaf pans with non-stick spray. Pre-heat oven to 350°.
  2. Cream butter, sugar, eggs, bananas and vanilla together in a large bowl. I use my KitchenAid stand up mixer until step 4.
  3. Add the baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; mix well.
  4. Add the flour and loosely blend in to the wet ingredients.
  5. Optional: fold nuts into mixture reserving some to sprinkle on top.
  6. Pour the mixture evenly between the 3 loaf pans.
  7. Place side by side on a center rack in the oven and bake for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 3 large loaves or 36 slices.

Kat’s tip: Per the Joy of Baking, “Don’t over mix the batter. You do not want it smooth. Over mixing the batter will yield tough, rubbery bread.” Um, yeah. What they said.

Nutritional Information:

Calories 223.6  Total Fat 8.8 g  Cholesterol 51.2 mg  Sodium 236.5 mg  Potassium 150.3 mg  Total Carbohydrate 34.2 g  Protein 3.2 g


Posted by on November 27, 2011 in Breakfast, Desserts, Holiday, NaBloPoMo, Scratch cooking


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Hot Pumpkin Breakfast Quinoa from The Wanna Be Chef

A pumpkin soufflé of sorts

Readers who know me personally will know that I have a slight streak of OCD in me (actually I’m pretty sure it runs in throughout my whole family). Once I get an idea in my head, it stays there until I thoroughly investigate it, experiment with it and pontificate on it. And then, with the snap of a finger, I’m done with said topic and its gone.

That said, I can either blame my current infatuation on all things pumpkin (especially when paired with quinoa) on my little OCD problem – or – the fact that pumpkins are in season and they’re everywhere. I’m going with the latter so literally it can’t really be my fault that I’m fixated.

Last week I whipped up pumpkin quinoa muffins. Today, its hot breakfast in a cup. My pictures aren’t as pretty as The Wanna Be Chef’s but it cooked up quick and it was hot, delicious and healthy. Its also perfect for a pre or post workout meal because its loaded with protein.

Note: The original recipe calls for a 1/4 teaspoon of salt and the option of maple syrup. I very may well have mis-measured but I found the salt overpowering. Adding the maple syrup tempered this a bit. If you’re foregoing the maple syrup try this without the salt (or just measure more carefully than I did).


  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup cooked quinoa*
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice*
  • 1 tablespoon nut butter (I use unsalted almond butter from Sprouts)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped nuts
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)


  1. Crack two eggs into a small bowl and whisk with a fork
  2. Add quinoa, pumpkin, salt and spices
  3. Pour into a small ramekin or microwave safe bowl
  4. Cook on high for 3 minutes
  5. Allow to cool slightly and top with nut butter and nuts

If you’re fresh out of pumpkin and not weirded about by quinoa, you can substitute a mashed banana with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and nutmeg in place of the pumpkin pie spice. Again I left out the salt and the results were amazing (although I think there’s a bit of egg mist on the ceiling of my microwave). I added a bit of maple syrup and nearly swooned.

Kat’s Tip: Make your own pumpkin pie spice by combining 1 teaspoon cinnamon with 1/2 teaspoon ginger and 1/4 teaspoon *each* allspice and nutmeg.

Kat’s Second Tip: I buy quinoa in bulk at Sprouts. It cooks up just like rice; one part quinoa to two parts water. I use my rice cooker but you could do it on the stove top as well. Quinoa has a bitter coating which washes away with water so make sure you rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer before cooking.

Serves one

Nutritional information (including nut butter and nuts):

Calories 404.0  Total Fat 26.4 g  Cholesterol 370.0 mg  Sodium 152.4 mg  Potassium 458.3 mg  Total Carbohydrate 26.4 g  Protein 19.4 g



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Pumpkin Quinoa Fitness Muffins

Perfect for pre-workout or breakfast on the go

I can already hear the groans. “Fitness muffins, yuck…and what the heck is quinoa anyway??”

Quinoa is a grain-like seed that cooks up much like rice. Originating from Peru, where it was revered by the ancient Incas as the “mother of all grains,” quinoa contains the essential amino acids necessary to make it a complete protein.

So, there you have it. Quinoa is a complete protein which makes it the perfect ingredient for a pre-workout muffin. Said muffins BTW have the same calorie count as my homemade energy bars but are moist and satiate my need for fall flavors. These muffins will not disappoint. As a matter of fact, aside from a slight crunchiness imparted from the quinoa, you won’t even know its there. But, your body will!


  • 1 1/4 cup flour, preferably whole wheat
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice*
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup fat-free milk
  • 3/4 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup quinoa, cooked and drained**
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup raisins or dried fruit (I used dried cranberries)


  1. Pre-heat oven to 400°
  2. Prepare a 12-cup muffin tin with either non-stick spray or paper liners
  3. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl
  4. Add the quinoa, pumpkin, milk, eggs, butter and vanilla
  5. Mix well
  6. Add dried fruit and mix until incorporated
  7. Measure evenly into muffin cups
  8. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean

Kat’s Tip: Make your own pumpkin pie spice by combining 1 teaspoon cinnamon with 1/2 teaspoon ginger and 1/4 teaspoon *each* allspice and nutmeg.

Kat’s Second Tip: I buy quinoa in bulk at Sprouts. It cooks up just like rice; one part quinoa to two parts water. I use my rice cooker but you could do it on the stove top as well. Quinoa has a bitter outer layer which washes away with water so make sure you rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer before cooking.

Nutritional information:

Calories 177.6  Total Fat 5.3 g  Cholesterol 42.0 mg  Sodium 53.6 mg  Potassium 173.7 mg  Carbohydrate 32.6 g  Protein 4.0 g

Inspiration: Bob’s Red Mill – I cut the sugar down to reduce the calorie count a bit.


Posted by on November 2, 2011 in Breakfast, Low fat, NaBloPoMo, Quinoa, Weight Loss Wars


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Weight Loss Wars – Fueling the morning workouts

The work out corner

I’m at the two week mark of my revised lifestyle plan and things are going well. True to my goals, I’ve stuck to eating clean, unprocessed food; been drinking LOTS of water and exercised 5 times each week.

I have filled my diet with fruit, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains (brown rice, barley, quinoa and wheatberries). I limited my intake of fats, reduced sugary snacks and eliminated my daily wine ritual!*

My goal is to stick to around 1500 calories a day. The interesting thing is that when you’re eating “clean” foods getting up to 1500 calories is sometimes not that easy. I guess that’s why most major diet plans encourage you to eat this way. Fruits, veggies and whole grains fill you up for little to no calories.

So, I’m not suffering at all and I haven’t been hungry in the least (unless you count the times when I didn’t take the time to eat). I even had bacon with my breakfast one day.

The good news is I’ve lost 5 pounds and I can already see a difference. *Giving up wine should have been good for at least another 5 pounds. Pfft! The results are still worth it. I feel better. I’ve been sleeping better. And, best of all last night I fit into an outfit I wasn’t able to wear just a month ago. That is progress!

The key to having enough energy to work out in the morning and not pass out from sheer exhaustion whilst at the keyboard is the right nourishment. I simply can’t work out on an empty stomach so I need a little something before I exercise. May favorite thing for after working out is a smoothie. I’m also madly in love with quiche so I’ve included that as an option. The combination of eggs and cooked rice give the quiche a well balanced nutritional profile that is really perfect for a post-workout meal.

Meal planning is important to a successful diet. Or, in my case a lifestyle overhaul. If I have healthy food in the fridge I’ll eat it. If not, bad things happen.

Stay tuned for more of what’s cooking in Kathryn’s Kitchen.

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Posted by on October 23, 2011 in Breakfast, Weight Loss Wars


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Pumpkin Bread – Go Big or Go Home!

That's a whole lotta pumpkin bread!

That’s my motto above, “go big or go home.” Fortunately for me, this recipe totally fits the bill. Full of fall flavors and reminiscent of pumpkin pie with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, this recipe makes a moist bread consistently has people raving. Because it makes 3 large loaves per batch, prepare yourself with a large mixing bowl. I use my KitchenAid mixer which, aside from small amounts of flour that end up airborne, makes mixing this recipe is a snap. I bought a 3-pack of 9 x 5 non-stick loaf pans from Wal-Mart for roughly $5.00. Since I’ve made this recipe numerous times over the last year or so, the small investment has totally paid off.Creative types can customize the recipe by adding raisins or chocolate chips. I sometimes top my loaves with chopped pecans or walnuts. I haven’t tried it yet but I’m thinking about adding a cream cheese swirl to my next batch. Try it slathered with a little butter or whipped cream cheese.

By adjusting the baking time you could make smaller loaves or mini loaves to use as gifts. Just wrap the loaves in a little cellophane tied with some raffia or colored ribbon and wait for the squeals of delight!

In the unlikely event you have leftovers, this bread freezes well wrapped in tin foil.


  • 1 large can pumpkin puree (29 oz)
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 4 cups white sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 9×5 inch loaf pans.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, oil, sugar, and eggs.
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves; stir into the pumpkin mixture until well blended.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
  5. Optional: sprinkle with 1/8 to 1/4 cup chopped nuts per loaf, if using.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. The top of the loaf should spring back when lightly pressed.

Kat’s Tip:

Make sure you buy pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie mix which already has spices mixed into it.

Kat’s Second Tip:

It can be difficult to measure the mixture equally between the three loaves. This means that they may not all be done at the same time. I use a wooden barbeque skewer as sort of bit toothpick. I makes a nearly invisible hole but allows you to make sure the loaves are cooked through.

Makes 36 slices

Nutritional information – values are approximate per serving:

Calories 247Total Fat 10.3 g Cholesterol 35 mg Sodium 570 mg Total Carbohydrate 36.8 g Protein 3 g

Recipe source:


Posted by on October 21, 2011 in Breakfast, Desserts, Holiday, Uncategorized


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