Fast & Furious Back to School Bites


This week’s post is by Leah Kelley.


Every year about a week before school starts I start baking like a mad woman. I bake at least 8 dozen muffins, 4 dozen pancakes, and 2 dozen waffles. I also whip up a couple batches of granola bars and energy bites. Why do I bake like this you ask? I’ve learned over the past 5 years of having kids in school that mornings don’t always go as planned. You spend 20 minutes looking for a shoe that the cat was laying on then you spend another 15 minutes explaining why cowboy boots and a princess dress up costume is not appropriate for school. Before you know it, it’s almost time for them to catch the bus.



This is where my mad woman baking comes in handy. I can just pop a frozen muffin in the microwave for 45 seconds and voila! a healthy breakfast. I’m going to share my favorite muffin recipe with you. These freeze well and are delicious! To freeze them just put them in a Ziploc freezer bag and lay flat in your freezer.



These Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins from Designed Decor are Divine!

It’s also nice to have a few freezer snacks available for after school snacks. The kids can do their homework or chores while their snack thaws out. I’m going to share my all time favorite energy bite recipe. These don’t give the kids “I’m going to scale the walls then run a marathon energy”  they’re just a healthy snack bite.

No Bake Energy Bites from Cooking Classy are my Favorites!

What are your  fast and furious snacks and breakfasts for busy school days?





Banana Silver Dollars Pancakes

This week’s post is by Christine Luken.

I’m a sucker for pancakes!  There’s nothing better than cutting into a warm stack of hotcakes drizzled in maple syrup – yum!  Unfortunately, many pancake recipes are full of white sugar, white flour, and unhealthy fat.  That’s why I was delighted when I came across this gluten-free, dairy-free, recipe for Banana Silver Dollar pancakes in a recent issue of First for Women magazine.

Honestly, when I first looked at the ingredient list, I wondered how these pancakes were going to turn out, with only a few tablespoons of coconut flour.  Amazingly, they were as light and fluffy as a slice of chocolate cake – and there’s no bowl required to make them!

In fact, you just dump all of the ingredients in the blender!  Blend for less than a minute, and then pour the batter into a muffin top pan.


I actually purchased this muffin top pan specifically to make this recipe, so I was invested in its success.  And I’m so glad that I did.

The only downside to this recipe is that it only serves two people, and you know I like to freeze my leftovers!  Maybe I’ll get a second pan for making double batches…


Banana Silver Dollars

(Modified from Recipe in First for Women Magazine)


  • 2 medium ripe bananas
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 Tbs. coconut flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. cacao powder (or regular cocoa powder)
  • ¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp. baking soda
  • Pinch of sea salt


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 6-well muffin top pan.  Combine all ingredients in blender. Puree 30 seconds or until well blended.  Divide batter evenly among wells of the pan.  Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until middles are set.


Serves 2.  Calories – 318; Protein – 12 grams; Carbs – 34 grams; Fiber – 7 grams; Sugar – 15 grams; Sodium – 672 mg; Total Fat – 10 grams




Meal Planning Monday ~ The Best of Christine 2012

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!  Happy New Year’s Eve!  I hope you have some fun plans to hang out with friends and family to ring in the New Year.  Today is my birthday, so I’m taking a break from blogging.  I thought I would highlight my favorite posts of the year, so be sure to check out any you might have missed.

            Next week, we’ll be back with new Meal Planning Monday posts.  I’m also working on some great guest bloggers you’re sure to love!  Here’s to a happy and healthy 2013!




Meal Planning Monday ~ Pumpkins Galore

           October is National Pumpkin Month, and I am definitely celebrating!  I love cooking with pumpkin, especially when it’s combined with cinnamon, nutmeg, and all-spice.  Canned pumpkin is on sale just about everywhere right now, so I am stocking my pantry with it so I’ll have plenty to last me through the winter.  I am finding all kinds of creative ways to use pumpkin, and I thought I’d share them with you this week.

  • Christine’s Power Pumpkin Muffins ~ I posted this recipe a few months ago on my blog.  These delicious, hearty muffins make a great breakfast or snack.  I make double batches and freeze them.  Thaw them out on the counter for an hour or two, or defrost them in the microwave.  I like to warm mine up in the microwave for about 30 seconds, and then slather them with a little butter and honey.
  • Pumpkin Spice Pancakes ~ I start with my favorite pancake recipe that I got from my Uncle John.  I add a cup of pumpkin, a scoop or two of vanilla protein powder, a teaspoon of cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice), and ¼ cup of chopped walnuts.  These also freeze and reheat well, too.
  • Pumpkin Spice Latte ~ Nothing heralds the beginning of Fall like the annual comeback of Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte!  Unfortunately, my wallet can’t handle buying too many of them, and neither can my hips.  Thankfully, I found this copy-cat recipe that is light on calories and inexpensive to make.  Score!
  • Roasted Pumpkin Bowls ~ Here’s a cool way to add some flair to a Fall dinner party!  Serve pumpkin soup, beef stew, or chili in a roasted pumpkin bowl.  You can even eat the pumpkin when you’re finished with your soup.  Click here to see how.
  • Toasted Pumpkin Seeds ~ Don’t throw away those pumpkin seeds after helping your kids carve jack-o-lanterns this year.  Those little seeds are full of vitamins and minerals, and can be toasted and flavored a variety of ways.  How about some Caramelized Spicy Pumpkin Seeds?  Or Cajun Spiced Pumpkin Seeds?  Maybe some Drunken Pumpkin Seeds soaked in whiskey?  Yes, please!
  • Pumpkin Spice Cake ~ Pumpkin Spice Cake with cream cheese frosting is by far my favorite way to enjoy pumpkin!  I use the recipe from the “Cake Mix Doctor Cookbook,” by Anne Bryn, below.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!


Pumpkin Spice Cake

From The Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Bryn

  • 1 Package Spice Cake Mix (18.25 oz.)
  • 1 Package Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix (3.4 oz.)
  • 1 Cup of Pumpkin, canned or fresh (mashed)
  • ½ Cup of Oil
  • ½ Cup of Water
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ Teaspoon of Ground Ginger
  • 1 Tub of Cream Cheese Frosting
  • ½ Cup of Chopped Pecans


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 13 x 9 inch pan with cooking spray.
  2. Place all ingredients, except frosting and pecans, in a large mixing bowl.  Blend with an electric mixer on low for 1 minute.  Scrape down sides of bowl and blend on medium for 2 minutes.  Pour batter into prepared pan and place in the oven on the middle rack.
  3. Bake the cake until it springs back when lightly pressed, 32 to 35 minutes.  Allow cake to cool.
  4. Frost cake with the cream cheese frosting.  Sprinkle with chopped pecans.  Slice cake into squares and serve.

Meal Planning ~ Breakfast for the Kiddos


           This week’s post is by Leah Kelley.

            My daughter starts school next week!  Recently we talked about fun lunch ideas to pack for your kids.  However, breakfast for the kids on a school day can be a real challenge!  It seems that school mornings are always a rush, so I try to either make things ahead of time or have a few fast recipes.  It’s nice to have some other options besides cereal and milk.  One thing I like to do is make a few batches of pancakes and freeze them.  That way in the morning they’re already made and all I have to do is pop them in the toaster to heat them up for the kids.  This week, I thought I would share a few of my favorite freezer breakfast ideas.

  • Mini Blueberry Muffins ~ My kids love these and they are way healthier than the prepackaged muffins you buy at the store.
  • Zucchini Bread ~ Everyone’s gardens are bursting with zucchini this time of year!  I freeze two slices of the bread per bag.  If I take a bag out of the freezer before I go to bed, they are thawed out by morning.  They can always be defrosted in the microwave, too.
  • Strawberry Muffins ~ These are delicious!  See recipe below.
  • Pancakes and Waffles ~ I love my waffle maker!  One way to spice up waffles is to place a few drops of food coloring into the batter.  You could make a few red waffles, a few blue ones, and a few purple ones.  My kids love this.
  • Sausage Omelet Cups ~ You could use bacon or ham in place of the sausage.  Also, you can throw in green peppers, onions, or other veggies of your choice.


Strawberry Muffins

1 large egg
1 cup nonfat milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup frozen strawberries
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup course sugar
            Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F; line 12 muffin cups with paper liners; set aside while you prepare the batter.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg until it’s light and frothy, about 2 to 3 minutes; add the nonfat milk and butter to the stand mixer; beat on medium speed until well combined.  In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  With the stand mixer running on low, add the flour mixture a little at a time, until it’s all just combined and moistened; add the strawberries and run the mixer on high for 20 seconds.  Now it’s time to fill the muffin cups.  Using a scoop (such an ice cream scoop or even a ladle), divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups.  Slide the muffins into the preheated oven; bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean; the tops of the muffins should be a golden brown.  Allow the muffins to cool slightly before proceeding.  Once the muffins are cool enough to touch, put the melted butter for the topping in one bowl and the coarse sugar in a second bowl; dip each muffin first in the butter and then in the sugar; let the muffins cool completely on a wire drying rack before serving.





Meal Planning Monday ~ The Power of Breakfast

          We’ve all heard it.  “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”  Why is that?  A good breakfast revs up your metabolism, gives your brain and body fuel for the day, and prevents you from overeating at later meals.  “But I don’t have time for a healthy breakfast,” you’re thinking to yourself.  Yes, you do!  Here are some fast and nutritious breakfast ideas that will help you power through your busy days. 

~ Pancakes or Muffins.  With a little planning, it is possible to have a piping hot stack of pancakes or a warm muffin in the morning!  On the weekends, I will make double batches of pancakes or muffins and freeze the extras in individual serving sizes.  During the week, all that’s needed is a minute or two in the microwave or toaster, and you’ve got a hearty breakfast.  Try my Power Pumpkin Muffins, recipe below.

~ Eggs.  Sometimes, when I am waiting for my dinner to cook, I will whip up a batch of hard boiled eggs for the next day.  In the morning, I will eat a couple of the eggs with whole wheat toast and peanut butter.

~ Cereal.  When I am really pressed for time, I’ll just have a bowl of cereal.  My favorite is Kashi Go Lean Berry Crisp.  It’s high in protein and fiber, plus it tastes great and keeps me full for hours.

~ Smoothies.  Smoothies are great because they only take a few minutes to whip up and you can drink them in the car on your way to work.  Our favorite smoothie in the Luken household is called “Vanilla Blue.”  I first tried it when I was on Robert Ferguson’s 6-Day Detox Drop.  It’s so good, that Nick and I have this one several times a week.  Recipe below.

~ Protein Bars.  I always keep a protein bar in my purse just in case I have to eat breakfast on the run.  There are a lot of great tasting ones on the market now.  My personal favorites are the Luna and Clif Bars.


Vanilla Blue Smoothie  (From

½ cup of crushed ice

1 scoop of vanilla protein powder

1 cup of blueberries (fresh or frozen)

1 small banana, sliced (fresh or frozen)

6 ounces of water


Put all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.  Personally, I use frozen fruit for a milkshake-like consistency.  You can also add a few teaspoons of ground flaxseed for extra health benefits.


Christine’s Power Pumpkin Muffins

¼ Cup Ground Flax Seed

1 ½ Cups of Whole Wheat Flour

½ Cup Evaporated Cane Juice

1 Scoop of Vanilla Protein Powder

½ tsp. of Salt

½ tsp. of Baking Soda

2 tsp. of Baking Powder

1 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice

1 Egg, Beaten

1 Cup of Canned Pumpkin (about ½ a can)

3 Tbs. Coconut Oil

½ Cup of Skim Milk

1/3 Cup of Chopped Walnuts


Directions:  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line muffin tin with cupcake papers, or spray with butter flavored cooking spray.  In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.  In a separate bowl, lightly beat the egg, and then add the pumpkin, oil, and milk.  Blend the wet ingredients, and then add to the dry ingredients, folding in the walnuts.  Batter will be thick.  Fill muffin tins 2/3 of the way.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Makes 12 muffins, 175 calories each.

Notes:  You can freeze leftover canned pumpkin if you’re not making a double batch.  It will keep frozen for several months.  I typically make these in large batches and freeze them.  You can also sub in pureed bananas for the pumpkin, and cinnamon for the pumpkin pie spice.