A Sweet Start to Your Day

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The below post is from Lauren at Healthy Food for Living.  You may remember that I used her recipe to make delicious Chocolate Almond Butter Cookies last week.  She was so nice to put together a fantastic breakfast-themed post for the blog.  These recipes would be a perfect sweet start to the day and I can’t wait to try some of them!!  Lauren – thank you for putting together such a wonderful post!

Hello Keep It Sweet Readers!

Another Lauren here – you may know me from my blog Healthy Food For Living (www.healthyfoodforliving.com). If that is the case, then you are well aware of my near insatiable sweet tooth. In my world, a meal isn’t complete without a sweet component to it. Whether that means fresh fruit served with an egg sandwich for brunch, Greek yogurt with a sandwich for lunch, or a baked sweet potato alongside roasted chicken for dinner, my sweet tooth must be fed.

Then there’s breakfast. Ah, breakfast. My favorite meal of the day, mostly because sweets are not only accepted at this point in the day, they are revered. I thought it would be appropriate to compose a guest post featuring dessert-for-breakfast inspired recipes in order to “keep it sweet”! The following recipes are healthy enough to enjoy first thing in the morning, but are sweet enough to satisfy a dessert craving.

In keeping with the recent return of frigid temperatures and snowy weather to New England, (that brief thaw was such a tease!), I thought I’d start with a warm and comforting rice pudding recipe. Traditionally served as dessert, rice pudding can easily fuel you through the morning hours if you use hearty brown rice and a small amount of unrefined sweetener.

Apple Cinnamon Brown Rice Pudding

IMG_4481-500x375

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup short-grain brown rice
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 cups milk of choice (skim, 1%, almond, soy, etc.)
  • 1 Tbsp brown rice syrup
  • 3 Tbsp Grade B pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • generous 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 large apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped

Directions:

    1. Combine water, rice, and salt in a large, heavy-bottomed pot (such as a dutch oven). Bring to a boil, stir once, and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 40 minutes, or until most of the water is absorbed.
    2. Remove rice from heat, place in a bowl, and set aside.
    3. Add 4 cups of milk, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, vanilla, and cinnamon to the pot. Bring to a very low boil over medium heat, stirring often so the milk doesn’t burn. Lower heat to medium/medium-low.
    4. Add in the cooked rice, raisins, and chopped apple. Cook over medium/medium-low heat, stirring frequently. If a “skin” forms, just stir it back into the pudding. Simmer until the milk cooks down and the rice is creamy, about 30 minutes. NOTE: It is especially important to tend to the pudding towards the end of the cooking time. Do not walk away from the stove, or your pudding will burn.
    5. Transfer rice pudding to a large bowl, and let cool.
    6. Serve warm or cold.

There is something about this brown rice pudding that instantly elicits from me a contented sigh and satisfied smile; some special quality that other dishes simply cannot rival.  Perhaps it is the serendipitous synthesis of chewy brown rice, creamy milk, and subtly sweet fruit – of both the fresh and dried varieties – that makes this pudding so delightful; perhaps it is the knowledge that I’m feeding my body food that is as healthy as it is delicious. You can make a full batch of this rice pudding on the weekend, and reheat the leftovers with an additional splash of milk throughout the workweek for a quick breakfast.

Another classic winter dessert that I deem breakfast-worthy is bread pudding (clearly, I love carbs!). I have not one, but TWO breakfast bread pudding recipes to share with you – each featuring a vegetable that I adore: pumpkin and sweet potato. Both recipes call for hearty whole wheat bread that is soaked in an orange-hued “custard” before being baked to soufflé-like perfection.

Sweet Potato Pie Bread Pudding

IMG_7642

yields 9 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup 2% milk
  • 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar or Sucanat (or 1/4 cup for a sweeter bread pudding)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups sweet potato puree (bake about 2 lbs of sweet potatoes at 400°F for 1 hour or until very soft, peel, puree, and measure out 2 cups)
  • 10 slices whole wheat sandwich bread, cut into 1 inch cubes (about 4 1/2 cups)

Directions:

    1. Combine the milk through sweet potato puree in a large bowl, whisking until well combined. Add bread cubes and stir gently to coat.
    2. Spoon mixture into an 8×8 inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray (alternately, you can prepare 6 individual ramekins). Cover and chill for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours.
    3. Preheat oven to 350°F.
    4. Place square dish (or ramekins) in a 13×9 inch baking dish; add hot water to larger dish to a depth of 1 inch. Cover with foil, and bake at 350°F for 25 minutes (more like 15 for individual ramekins). Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes (or 5 for ramekins).
    5. Let cool for a few minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Pumpkin Raisin Bread Pudding

IMG_4080-500x375

very loosely adapted from Cooking Light‘s Pumpkin Bread Pudding

yields 9 servings

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices whole wheat cinnamon raisin bread, cut into 1 inch cubes (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 4 slices whole wheat bread, cut into 1 inch cubes (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 1/4 cup 2% milk
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup raisins

Directions:

    1. Combine the milk through pumpkin puree in a large bowl, whisking until well combined. Add bread cubes and raisins, stir gently to coat.
    2. Spoon mixture into an 8×8 inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours.
    3. Preheat oven to 350°F.
    4. Place square dish in a 13×9 inch baking dish; add hot water to larger dish to a depth of 1 inch. Cover with foil, and bake at 350°F for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes.
    5. Let cool for a few minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Either one of these breakfast bread puddings are sure to warm you up on a cold morning. Warm spices, delicate sweetness, and a light texture render these bread puddings a true delight!

Don’t feel like cooking in the morning, but still crave a sweet & satisfying breakfast? Perhaps I can tempt you with a Carrot Cake Sandwich.

Carrot Cake Sandwich

 IMG_5575  

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup finely shredded or grated carrots, preferably organic
  • 2 tsp pure maple syrup, divided
  • 2 Tbsp light whipped cream cheese, (or neufchatel), at room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 slices whole wheat cinnamon raisin bread
  • 2 Tbsp chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 2 Tbsp raisins

Directions:

    1. Stir together the cream cheese and 1 tsp maple syrup in a small bowl until well combined. Set aside.
    2. In a separate bowl, combine the shredded carrots, remaining 1 tsp maple syrup, and spices.
    3. Spread one slice of bread with the maple cream cheese. Top with the toasted walnuts and raisins. Spoon on the carrots and top with the remaining bread slice.

Inspired by one of my all-time favorite desserts, this sandwich truly does taste like a slice of healthy carrot cake. Toss on some pineapple rings and/or shredded coconut if you like – either way I think you’ll love this “cakewich”!

To conclude this lengthy post, I wanted to suggest some sweet variations on my ultimate go-to breakfast: oatmeal. On most winter mornings I whip up a serving of hot stovetop oats using the following basic recipe (which can be tweaked according to your preferences):

Basic Stovetop Oatmeal

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup milk of choice (I love unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 ripe banana, sliced thin

Directions:

    1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Stir, bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, for 1-2 minutes, or until you have achieved the desired consistency.
    2. Spoon into a bowl and serve hot.

I almost always top my oats with a spoonful of peanut or almond butter, but I have some other ideas for additions that are sure to make your oatmeal dessert-worthy:

  • Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal: add in 1/3 cup pure pumpkin puree in step 1. Top cooked oatmeal with a sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice and a drizzle of pure maple syrup.
  • Apple Crisp Oatmeal: replace the banana with apple slices that have been sautéed in a bit of butter, maple syrup, and cinnamon until tender. Top cooked oatmeal with a sprinkling of apple pie spice and chopped toasted walnuts.
  • Double Chocolate Oatmeal: add in 1-2 Tbsp of unsweetened cocoa powder in step 1. Top cooked oatmeal with a small handful of grain-sweetened (or semi-sweet) chocolate chips.

Thanks for letting me share some of my favorite healthy ways to enjoy sweets first thing in the morning! I hope you try some of them – and please feel free to stop by Healthy Food For Living for some more recipes.

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14 Responses to “A Sweet Start to Your Day”

  1. Happy When Not Hungry February 22, 2011 at 9:27 pm #

    These look like some tasty dishes! YUM!

  2. Veronica February 23, 2011 at 2:35 am #

    Oh, I LOVE Lauren’s blog and have had that carrot cake sandwich bookmarked for ages. I so need to make it already! How cool that you got her to do a guest post for you–a great start to your new blog!

  3. alyssa - fashion fitness foodie February 23, 2011 at 7:04 am #

    Every thing looks like dessert and I LOVE to have dessert for breakfast..

  4. Jennifer@A Busy Nest February 23, 2011 at 7:15 am #

    That carrot cake sandwich is a clever idea!

  5. Pam February 23, 2011 at 10:58 am #

    So many tasty treats!

  6. Jen @ keepitsimplefoods February 23, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    Love the new look! I’m also drooling over the bread and rice puddings. Love it!

  7. Alyssa February 23, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

    Your first two recipes are GF! I Love brown rice pudding :-)

    • KeepItSweet February 25, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

      Good catch, I always forget that rice is gluten free!

  8. Karen February 24, 2011 at 11:45 am #

    Wow, so many delicious choices! My favorite is the rice pudding, although the carrot cake sandwich is hard to beat. Yum. :-)

  9. Christina @ Sweet Pea's Kitchen February 24, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

    Mmmm…I am loving this delicious lineup of breakfast meals! That sweet potato pie pudding looks incredible, I must make this soon! :)

  10. Peggy February 25, 2011 at 9:55 am #

    So many delicious looking treats! How am I supposed to pick just one to have for breakfast? Decisions, decisions!

    • KeepItSweet February 25, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

      I know, she outdid herself!

  11. Tia @ ButtercreamBarbie February 28, 2011 at 1:43 am #

    wow that carrot cake sandwich is ingenious!

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    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Lauren C Lilling, Lauren C Lilling. Lauren C Lilling said: New blog, new post! Delicious and healthy breakfast recipes from Lauren at Healthy Food for Living:-) http://fb.me/EXXl8sm3 [...]