Saturday, May 28, 2011

Waffles, and pancakes, and toast...OH MY!

It's no!  I try not to eat too many refined carbs/grains, and most of the time I make an attempt to keep gluten out of my diet.  But, there's just something about a good, hearty plateful of some of my favorite "breakfast" indulgences (I use the term breakfast lightly, as I enjoy some of these foods at any time of day).  Crispy waffles are my favorite.  Fluffy pancakes run a close second.  Also making the list:  "buttery" biscuits, crispy toast, and a variety of fill-your-tummy muffins.  Alright,  now my mouth is watering.

Food porn.  Of course, you know I took this off the web...
While it's rare that I indulge in such a treat as a giant stack of flapjacks or waffles, I try to make the whole experience as joyful and interesting as possible, while still keeping the "health factor" somewhat in check.  Now, I like some Earth Balance just as much as the next person.  Maple syrup?  LOVE IT!  I wanna drench my waffles in it, and let it sink into each and every little square bowl (made just for this purpose, I'm convinced) on the surface.  But let's face it, the treat here is the waffle (or pancake).  And as good as it tastes going down, I'm probably going to wish I'd cut back just a little once it all settles.  I figured I can save the extra oil and sugar for something else tasty and get creative with some delicious and healthy breakfast treat toppings.

Damn, I wish this was my pic.
When I got these wonderful Van's goodies to try out, I knew I wanted something light but delicious to top them with.  I came up with some pretty yummy concoctions, which are likely to become my go-to breakfast toppings.  Guilt-free brunch munching.  I can definitely get on board with that!

I am a "why girl".  If I'm going to change something, I want to know why it's a better choice.  So, before I get into the recipes (soon, I promise), I want to explain how these toppings are "guilt-free" in my book.

*Free of traditional refined sugars (aka:  white sugar, corn syrup, etc.) and cane sugar
*Low-glycemic sweeteners/sugar alternatives:  Both agave nectar and coconut nectar are low on the glycemic index scale, meaning they won't spike your blood sugar and are generally safer for those with diabetes and other sugar-related diet restrictions.  Click here to learn a bit about GI.  Here's a rough comparison:
   *Raw Agave nectar: 15-30 (low)
   *Coconut nectar:  35 (low)
   *Maple syrup:  54 (medium)
   *Raw honey: 30 (low) Note:  Honey is not a truly vegan choice.
   *Processed honey:  75 (high)
   *Refined cane sugar:  80 (high)
*The amount of sweetener used is minimal, and only used to sweeten and thicken the toppings.
*Whole fruits are perfect toppings for waffles and pancakes.  They will sweeten your meal naturally, and enough that you won't need a bunch of syrup.  They will also, bulk up your meal, helping you feel fuller without having to go for seconds.
*Vanilla adds flavor without adding sugar.
*Nut butters are whole foods, which have higher nutritional value and benefit than other fats (such as oils/butters).  They also add great and unique flavor.

Okay...are you convinced enough to at least try something different?  Good!  Then, on to the recipes!

Note:  All these recipes make enough to top about one waffle/pancake/biscuit or 2 pieces of toast.  Duplicate to suit your serving needs.

Warm Berry Compote

Obviously, this one's mine.  Not nearly as beautiful...but yummmmmy!

*1/2 c. fresh or frozen berries (any variety or mix)
*1/2 - 1 Tbsp. coconut nectar or agave syrup (depending on desired sweetness)
*1 tsp. vanilla extract

Warm sweetener in a small saucepan.  Add berries and cook until juices have extracted and begin to simmer.  Add vanilla and remove from heat as soon as sauce has thickened slightly.  Serve.

Candied Bananas and Coconut Sauce

"Candied Coconut Bananas" without the sauce.  The sauce is awesome, though.
*1 Tbsp. coconut nectar
*1/4 c. coconut milk
*1/2 banana, sliced
*1 tsp. vanilla extract

Heat coconut nectar and coconut milk in medium saucepan/skillet.  Add sliced bananas in single layer.  Allow to simmer, flipping bananas once.  Sauce will begin to thicken.  Add vanilla and remove from heat.   

Bananas simmering in coconut smell gooooood!
Note:  You can also allow this mixture to continue cooking until thickened completely (will look slightly caramelized).  Also delicious, just less "saucy".

Raw Vanilla Nut Butter

See that round ball of almondy goodness?  That's the stuff!
This has so many great uses.  Of course, you can spread it on waffles, pancakes, biscuits, toast, etc.  It also makes a great filling in pitted dates for a great candy treat.  Or put it on top of a banana for added protein in your snack.  Get creative.  :-)

*1 Tbsp. raw, unsalted almond butter or other nut butter of choice
*dash Pink Himalayan Salt (omit if using salted nut butter)
*dash vanilla, to taste
*drizzle raw agave nectar or coconut nectar, to taste
*Opt:  pinch of cinnamon

Stir all ingredients together.  Adjust vanilla and sweetener to taste.

Note:  I have used raw almond butter and peanut butter for this recipe.  Other nut butters would be awesome as well.  I would love to try cashew butter and hazelnut butter.

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