Buttermilk Pancakes & Guest Post by “Today’s Nest”

I am so excited to announce that my post today is by Sam Henderson of Today’s Nest, one of my favorite sites. Please be sure to check out his site and his incredible talent! I am honored to have him share his incredible work with you for National Hot Breakfast Month. Take it away, Sam….

Pancakes are an American staple and go by many names–flapjacks, hot sales, griddle cakes, etc. The breakfast standard has a long history and is even surrounded by a bit of folklore. Perhaps you have read the story of Paul Bunyan and his love for flapjacks. Some say it took nearly 20 men to make enough pancakes to satisfy him.  I sometimes feel as though I could use a little help getting enough for my crew. They seem to disappear from the plate faster than I can flip them. We used a box mix for a long time until we discovered we could make better cakes on our own.

There is no magic in box pancake mix.  The ingredients  are, for the most part, already in your pantry. The only exception here is that many pancake mixes require just water to be ready to go. If you desire the taste of true buttermilk pancakes, you will be required to keep some buttermilk on hand.  The good news is you can make some Homemade Butter or purchase some and keep it for other purposes.

Sam’s 10 Pancake Tips:

1. A word about syrup… I believe in saving money where it is sensible and doesn’t compromise good taste (in every sense of the word). REAL Maple syrup is not a meaningless purchase. Buy REAL Maple Syrup.

2. As a nice gift, double the dry ingredients and place them in an airtight jar.  Tie a card around the top with the recipe written inside.

3. When you pour in the wet ingredients, mix quickly and just until moistened.  That’s all.  There may be some lumps, but it won’t be evident when your light and fluffy pancakes are served.

4. If you have the time, allow the batter to rest before using.  Even after an hour the results are better.

5. Pancakes should be flipped only once.  Pull up the side to see if the bottom is the color you want and then flip it gently.  The second side should only take half to three quarters the time it took for the first side.

6. If you are using a non-stick pan or griddle you should not need any additional butter or oil.

7. I find a griddle much easier to manage for pancake making.  I don’t have to struggle with the side of the pan and I can cook many more at a time.

8. I use an ice cream scoop to measure out my pancakes.  Ours holds exactly 1/4 cup of batter, and I am able to maintain consistent results.

9. Freezing pancakes is simple.  Place cooled cakes on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Top with another sheet of parchment and another layer of pancakes.  Continue until all are single layered between parchment sheets.  Place in freezer until frozen.  Remove frozen pancakes from parchment and store in a sealable freezer bag.

10. Reheat frozen pancakes covered with a damp paper towel in a microwave for 1-2 minutes.

My 10 Top Healthy Cooking Tips

I saw a friend at the ball park over the weekend, and she asked, “Alison, can you give me some tips for cooking healthier?” I said, sure. I’ll write a few down for you. So here goes… Some of these may come easy for some of you, but hopefully, I can lend some new ideas as well.

1. Use salt sparingly-You can always add more, but you can’t take it away. Most Americans consume more salt than they need. Salt can lead to higher blood pressure and bloating. Consuming foods high in salt becomes even much more noticeable as you get older. I can’t stand the feeling of waking up feeling puffy.

2. Grill more-Grilling is a great way to prepare healthy fish, chicken and meat as well as vegetables. What I really love about it is that my kids love to eat most anything grilled, and they are even more willing to try foods cooked on the grill.

3. Buy seasonal, buy local-Purchasing seasonal fruits, vegetables and fresh herbs and purchasing locally grown ingredients, will help you stay on track.

4. Simpler is always better-Starting with cooking with less ingredients, but fresh ones.

5. Choose Leaner and lower-fat ingredients-Choose leaner cuts of meats, lower fat milk, low-fat cheese, low-fat yogurt and reduced-fat mayonnaise. Start with smaller steps to gain great strides. Also, don’t forget to trim fat from meats.

6. Broil, steam, roast and grill foods instead of frying– If you choose to fry foods, try oven frying instead.

7. Substitute 2 egg whites for 1 whole egg when called for in recipes-This helps to to reduce fat content.

8. Read food labels-Be sure to choose foods with lower sodium, fat, sugar, carbohydrates and saturated fat.

9. Choose fresh-Use fresh juice from lemons, limes and oranges combined with fresh herbs and spice to season foods.

10. Cook with healthy oils such as Canola and olive oil-Also, try to cook with nonstick cookware more often to reduce the amount of oil needed.

Rice Krispy Easter Eggs

Okay, so this post is attributed to my daughter, Leigh, and her friend, Ellen. She spent the night with Ellen a few weeks ago and made these awesome Rice Krispy Easter Eggs. They were googling a fun Easter project, and they found this great idea from Family Fun magazine. She called me and said, “Mom, you must come take a picture of this to post on your blog.” At first, I was like, “Huh?”  When I arrived at Ellen’s house, I realized how right Leigh was. These are adorable, fun and a great Easter treat idea for kids. As you notice from my picture, Ellen didn’t have any Easter colored M & M’s, but any colors will do. Happy Easter!

Best Foods for Runners

I have been an avid runner since I was 16. I love it, and it’s definitely one of my passions. For years, friends have asked me to come up with recipes for runners. Instead, I thought I would research what are the best foods and write about it. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Wild Salmon-Wild salmon is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids which boost heart health and nerve system functioning. Some doctors even say omega-3’s can help with post-run achy joints.

2. Almonds-High in antioxidants, protein and vitamin E, almonds are a wise choice for a runner’s snack helping to prevent achy muscles.

3. Quinoa-This complex carbohydrate (pronounced Keen-wah) is a great energy source filled with fiber, B vitamin, zinc and magnesium which are so helpful to runners. One-fourth cup of dry of quinoa has 172 calories, 6 grams of protein, 31 grams of carbohydrate and 3 grams of fiber, and it’s also gluten-free.

4. Kale-This member of the cabbage family has high levels of vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin K, vitamin C and fiber. It is one of the most antioxidant filled vegetables.

5. Bananas-This great pre-workout or post-workout food is a great source of carbohydrates and potassium. That is why you will always find bananas offered at the end of races.

6. Eggs-Eating one egg offers a great source of vitamin K and protein which aid in promoting healthy bones and muscles. I like to purchase the organic omega-3 enhanced eggs.

7. Blueberries-Filled with vitamin C and potassium, these can help the body repair itself after long, hard runs.

8. Edamame-This great snack is filled with protein, fiber, iron, potassium, magnesium, vitamin K and vitamin C. It’s a great snack option loaded with health benefits.

9. Yogurt-Low-fat yogurt has a good source of carbohydrates and protein, and Greek yogurt has less carbs and even more protein. Both are great sources of calcium which is important for runners to help prevent stress fractures and osteoporosis.

10. Oranges-High in vitamin C, oranges are great for healing and helping absorb iron in the body which can help prevent fatigue and increase energy levels.