Vanilla Coffee Creamer

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I love coffee in the morning. In our home, my husband is the one who gets up first and goes straight into the kitchen to grind fresh coffee beans, boil some water, and brew coffee in our French press. I love the smell that slowly makes its way into our bedroom, coaxing me to get up and embrace the day. I love sitting in a comfy chair by the floor to ceiling window in our living room and taking some time to sip my coffee and set my heart on Heaven as the day begins.

I want to be a black coffee drinker, but I’m just not. Even after working at a high end coffee shop for almost a year, I could never give up the creaminess of coffee. I’m long past the days of hydrogenated soy bean oil creamer (yuck!) but I do still enjoy the “natural” versions that have lots of sugar. That’s why I’m excited about this homemade kind, and will never go back!

Sweetened with maple syrup and honey, this creamer is delicious, cheap and easy to make. I’m never going back!

Vanilla Coffee Creamer

Notes:
*if this isn’t quite sweet enough for you, add more maple syrup
*if you’re looking for a dairy free version, this recipe was adapted from Against All Grain-her’s is dairy free!

Ingredients:
2 cups half and half
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons vanilla extract

To make:
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a low boil then turn heat to low immediately. Allow to simmer for ten minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Store in a jar in the refrigerator. Shake well before using each time.

Enjoy!
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Shockingly Delicious Banana Nut Pancakes (sugar, wheat & dairy free)

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Part of mine & Matthew’s love story (is that grammatically correct? Took me a couple tries) were weekly breakfast dates to a little cafe in Waco where we’d order hot mugs of coffee with flavored creamer, massive pancakes and the best migas around. We’d sit over breakfast enjoying our food and each other every single week for a good while. In an effort to get to know each other better while dating, I made a list of questions that’d we’d take turns asking, about our childhood and movies we like and places we’d been. It was such a sweet time to find out new things and laugh and share our hearts all over pancakes and coffee. Now that we’re married, I’m amazed to find that we can still ask each other lots of questions and find out plenty of new things. We love to take time to enjoy a meal and just talk. One of my favorite resources for good question asking is this blog.

My favorite pancake to order (they were massive, so you could only eat one) was a banana and mixed nut pancake. I’ve wanted to make my own, but who knew they’d be in this form! Y’all, I just have to confess that I’m usually hugely skeptical of bread like things made without wheat or sugar. They other day, I tried to make wheat and sugar free pumpkin pancakes which turned out just…bleh. Because of that setback, I’ve been determined to find a delicious wheat, dairy, and sugar free pancake recipe. Whelp, victory is mine, because here it is! I wondered if I only like these because I haven’t had sugar or wheat in a week due to my 21 day sugar detox, but Matthew approved these as well, especially topped with bourbon infused maple syrup (omg).

I hope you try them, by yourself or shared with a friend and lots of question asking.

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Banana Nut Pancakes
Serves 2 (about 8 tiny pancakes)

Ingredients:
2 bananas, well mashed
One egg, beaten
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup pecan halves
1 Tablespoon coconut oil or butter

To Make:
Mash bananas in a bowl, add beaten egg and whisk to combine. Add cinnamon and vanilla. Chop pecans finely and combine all ingredients.

Heat 1/2 Tablespoon of coconut oil or butter in a non stick pan over medium heat. When the oil glistens, use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop the batter (only fill halfway) and pour into small pancake shapes in the pan. When the batter bubbles, flip cakes and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Keep a good eye on them as they can burn quickly. After you’ve cooked half the batter, add another 1/2 Tablespoon of coconut oil or butter to cook the rest.

These are delicious eaten plain, but for true decadence, top with maple syrup, fruit or bananas. It’s best to make them small so they are easy to flip. I recommend serving them with bacon or scrambled eggs for a filling breakfast.

Update: you can absolutely make these without the nuts, they will just a little thinner and you’ll have to be extra careful flipping them. I’m also going to try several other varieties like adding lemon zest and poppyseeds (excluding nuts, cinnamon & vanilla) or chocolate chips.

Enjoy!

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Chewy, Crumbly Oat & Pecan Granola Bars

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The New Year feels like a breath of fresh air and a choke hold at the same time.  A fresh opportunity to start over, to make goals and plans but also a big lug of pressure to do do do and accomplish EVERYTHING. There are moments of brightness and there are moments when I just want to make the noise my puppy Boone makes when he can’t reach his tennis ball under the couch, a pathetic groan/moan/whimper. Sometimes I wish the New Year started in March when the weather warms up just a little bit, the sun is shiny enough for an afternoon walk, people start wearing jean cut off shorts and flowers peek through the dirt. In January I just want to snuggle in my bed. I don’t want to get up when it’s still dark outside to go to the gym. (I’m super thankful to live in the South where it might be 70 degrees in a couple of days).

But I AM so thankful that I get to take it day by day. I don’t know if tomorrow will even be here. It’s no guarantee. But I do know that right now I can play with my dog, I can try a new recipe, I can listen to a friend, I can drink a huge cup of water and take my vitamins. I can go on a 30 minute 10 minute jog and read a couple pages of a book, I can take food to a homeless person. Well maybe not all in one moment, but I can at least do two of those things today.

That’s what I’m thankful for. I’m thankful for today. I’m thankful that as I choose to embrace this moment, then the next and then the one after that, all the moments will add up. They’ll add up to a day then a week, after that a month, and finally a year. And after a year, they’ll all be packaged up tidily or messily, but they’ll be packaged up nonetheless, to be reflected on, mourned over, laughed at, and proud of. In the meantime I may have a day where I don’t do much more than what I was supposed to do, but that’s OK. Because I can start again the day after that.

So today, in this simple recipe, I’m embracing a goal for the New Year. Maybe it’s yours to. By making a healthy (sugar free! wheat free! dairy free!) granola bar, I’m contributing to my goal of eating breakfast, which is contributing to my desire to be healthier, which is contributing to wanting to loose a couple pounds, which is contributing to having more energy and feeling better. Here’s to today!

Chewy, Crumbly Oat & Pecan Granola Bars

Makes 12-16 bars

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ingredients:
2.5 cups oats
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cups chopped pecans
2 Tablespoons or so Sunflower seeds
4oz Medjool dates (pitted)
2 ripe bananas, peeled
1/3 cup + 1/4 cup olive oil (used separately)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup honey

to make:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine oats, chopped pecans, coconut flakes & sunflower seeds in a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle maple syrup and 1/3 cup olive oil over top and stir with a spatula to coat everything well.
Bake in oven for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes. Remove from oven.

Combine honey, vanilla and remaining olive oil and pour into a large bowl. In a food processor, chop bananas and dates until smooth-ish. Scoop into the large bowl of liquid, add oat mixture to the bowl. Stir all the combine.

Pour/scrape mixture into an 8×8 baking pan. Line with parchment paper if you have it (I never do!) or just spray a little cooking spray. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes.

Store in the refrigerator! Enjoy them for breakfast on the go or crumble them into almond milk or Greek yogurt. Also delicious as an afternoon snack with a cup of tea!

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