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Whoever first thought to freeze leftover ripe bananas was a genius.  Just wait until bananas have lots of dark brown speckles, remove from the skins, put in a plastic bag and freeze.  Once frozen, they will elevate any blended drink.  Brilliant.

I love to begin the day with a smoothie – my way to kick off the day in a healthy way –  and using a frozen banana adds a creamy thickness that an ice cube won’t give.

Based on the Banana Nut Shake I have occasionally at One Lucky Duck Takeaway, the take-out offshoot of Pure Food and Wine, a popular raw food restaurant in New York City, I sometimes make this first thing in the morning.  It’s like starting the day with a banana milkshake.

In a blender add about 1 cup of almond milk (soy or regular milk can be used if you prefer), 1-2 frozen bananas, a dash of cinnamon and a splash of vanilla extract. Blend until smooth.  Enjoy!

For more information on One Lucky Duck Takeaway, visit http://www.oneluckyduck.com/takeaway/.

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Whenever I’m in Chicago, which sadly isn’t very often, I always visit The Original Pancake House for breakfast.  It’s a chain of restaurants throughout the US – in 26 states – that I’d never heard of until a friend suggested I go there when I was in the Windy City on business.

My favorite thing to order is the house specialty, the oven-baked Apple Pancake.  It is monstrous in size.  And yummy in taste.

Wanting to enjoy an apple pancake at home, I set out to find a recipe that would satisfy a craving even when a Chicago-bound trip wasn’t around the bend. I scoured the internet, combined a couple recipes, added a few tweaks and came up with a final product that makes me happy. It’s a bit more eggy and a little less sweet than the Original Pancake House’s is, but I like it that way.  Sometimes called a “Dutch Baby Pancake” or a “German Apple Pancake”, I just call it delicious.

Baked Apple Pancake (Adapted from allrecipes.com)

Batter

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 cup milk (soy or almond milk can be substituted)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (I sometimes use Earth Balance vegan spread)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Apple Mixture of Goodness

  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, or more if needed (Earth Balance works here too)
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 4 apples – peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, blend eggs, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Gradually mix in milk, stirring constantly. Add vanilla, melted butter and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg. Let batter stand for 30 minutes to overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Saute apples in a teaspoon of butter (or more, if the pan is looking a little dry) until just tender, with a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar to taste, if desired. (You can also saute the apples up to a day ahead, refrigerating them and the batter separately, and complete the rest of the steps just before baking.)
  4. Grease a baking dish or oven proof skillet (about 10 inches or so) with the tablespoon of butter, evenly covering all the way up the sides of the pan. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg. Sprinkle mixture in the dish over the butter. (You may not need to use all of the mixture; if that’s the case, just set aside for another time.)
  5. Line the pan with apple slices. Sprinkle remaining sugar over apples.  Gently pour the batter mixture over the apples.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 25-30 minutes (time may vary with each oven), or until golden brown.  Let cool for 5-10 minutes.  Cut pancake into wedges and enjoy!

For more information on The Original Pancake House, visit http://www.originalpancakehouse.com/.

Sometimes the most powerful things in life catch you by surprise, like being awakened at 5am simply because the approaching dawn wants to get your attention.

Sunrise over Lake MichiganSunrise over Lake Michigan

I’m very blessed to have a fantastic mother who would go to the ends of the earth for me.  If she knew you were in need of something, she’d probably help you too.

She’s also slightly psychic – growing up, she’d often tell my brother and I why certain people in our lives would prove to be absolutely no good.  She was usually right.  We finally told her that we just didn’t want to know.

She’s a great cook, a fashionista and always in possession of the latest gadget.  And she’s incredibly courageous on top of all of that.

Today I celebrate her and all the reasons why I’m proud to be her daughter.

Now, you may not have had the ideal mothering experience growing up.  You may have chosen an alternate mother figure: a sister, an aunt, a grandmother. Or perhaps even someone outside of the family to fill that void.  Whoever that person is, celebrate them today.

Maybe you’ve had to pick up the slack and have had to mother yourself.  Bravo to you for your courage in developing a skill that most of us would benefit from.  For an insightful perspective on why it’s necessary to mother yourself, check out this article by noted yoga teacher Tara Stiles. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tara-stiles/mothers-day-the-importanc_b_567512.htm

And maybe you are a new mother yourself and are just finding your way.  May grace light your path as you embark on the most sacred work on the planet. For the stay at home moms who need a voice to say the things in your head, read my friend Alyssa’s new blog at http://www.prettygirltosahm.blogspot.com/.

No matter where you are in mother worship, here’s to a happy Mother’s Day to everyone.  May it be filled remembrance and celebration for the mothers in your lives – and with goodness and grace.

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