Tag Archives: blackberries

Superfood and Super News

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First off, I have to tell you some exciting news that occurred over the weekend. Mi mama’s younger brother, Tio Tony, and his lady love became engaged and plan to get married sometime soon– Woohoo! Which means I’m going to have a brand new tia who can spoil me and love on me and scratch my belly and sneak me carrots and Greenies, as well as a totally new lap to sit on. Oh happy day! I still haven’t met her yet as she and Tio Tony have been out of the country for the past month and a half but I plan to mark my territory welcome her with open paws in May when they get back into town. Felicitaciones to the happy couple!

In other exciting news, mi mama came home with a huge carton of fresh blackberries from Costco on Saturday! Okay so maybe it’s not as exciting as an engagement but it sure did make me happy. I love fresh berries and blackberries are one of my favorites to use in healthy recipes for mi familia. Considered a superfood by nutritionists and dietitians, blackberries are among the top ten antioxidant-containing foods. They are high in fiber as well as Vitamins A, C, E and K, all of which help prevent cancers and heart disease. All this wrapped up into a plump little purple berry that looks adorable and tastes muy delicioso. Oh and did I mention blackberries grow as wild and crazy here in the great state of Oregon during the summer months as the back hair grows on mi papa’s best friend’s Italian great-uncle Vincenzo. Pretty fantastico, if you ask me.

I began thinking of all the wonderful ways in which I could use these little nutrient-packed powerhouses, and after throwing around ideas such as, in smoothies or cobblers, I finally settled on coffee cake. But not just any kind of coffee cake. A blackberry-almond coffee cake. Yowza! Talk about tasty. And with the addition of almonds (also a superfood) this ended up being one healthy and antioxidant-rich little breakfast treat.

Blackberry-Almond Coffee Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

2 tbsp butter or Earth Balance, softened to room temperature

2 tbsp canola or safflower oil

2 large eggs or 1/2 cup egg substitute

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup plain low or nonfat yogurt

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon ( I recommend Vietnamese)

2/3 cup chopped almonds

1 cup fresh blackberries

Directions:

1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8″ square cake pan with cooking spray.

2) Whisk together the flours, baking soda and salt in a medium size bowl.

3) In a large bowl, beat the brown sugar, butter and oil until well combined. Beat in the eggs and then the vanilla and yogurt until fully combined.

4) Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and stir until just combined.

5) In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar, cinnamon and almonds.

6) Spread half the batter into the bottom of the prepared pan. Sprinkle half the almond mixture on top of the batter and top with the blackberries. Spoon the rest of the batter over the berries, smoothing the top. Sprinkle the remaining nut mixture over the cake.

7) Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Let cool slightly and then unmold to allow to cool completely on a cooling rack (or just leave it in the pan, if you wish).

So there you have it. Two exciting items I just shared with you today. An engagement and a coffee cake. Talk about a great start to the week, if I do say so myself… and I do.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a meeting with a couple of the local ducks down the street about the upcoming neighborhood picnic. They’re requesting I bring loaves of bread… shocking.

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Can I get a second opinion?

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Hola, mi amigos! I’m going to share a little story with you today. It dates back to the summer of 2006 when I was still just a wee little pup, before mis padreas were married and mi mama and I were living by ourselves in Texas. While she was spending her days attending the university and working as a retail specialist at a local beauty store, I was spending my days watching Telenuvelas and cooking shows and perfecting my culinary skills in our tiny apartment kitchen. One sunny day after a long walk around our neighborhood, we returned home to settle in and figure out what our plans would be for the evening. While mi mama was busy doing some sort of painting and drawing on her face and winding her hair around some sort of hot circular stick, I decided to lay down and take a little snooze. All of a sudden out of nowhere, I began sneezing… and sneezing… and sneezing… and sneezing. I could not stop sneezing. And these weren’t just any old ordinary “ah-choo” kind of a sneeze. No no. These were a “holy frijoles I’m going into an epileptic seizure, my brain is about to explode, and my nose is going to blow off my snout” type of sneeze. In other words, not normal and very very scary. Mi mama, of course, was running around like a crazy woman, asking me what was wrong, and calling various people and doctors on her phone. After about 15 minutes of this and feeling like my nose was on fire and going to burst, she wrapped me up in a blanket, threw me in her car and off we zoomed to the dreaded veterinary clinic. Now I didn’t always fear going to the vet. Quite the opposite really. Back in the day I found it a real treat. I would be greeted with big smiles by all the kind ladies behind the counter, and receive not only big hugs and kisses, but also tasty little cookies shaped like bones. I would often times see some of my other puppy friends and we’d catch up on life and spend our time waiting in the reception area licking the floor and sniffing each other’s butts. Yeah, it was always a joy going to the vet. Unfortunately, all that changed the day I got jumped and attacked by mi abuelo’s evil cat, Monty, and had to spend the day in the emergency room, screaming in pain while the vet technician stapled up the gaping wound Monty managed to slice down the middle of my back with his claws. Definitely not pretty and not something I’ve ever been able to forget. Devil Kitty…

But anyway, back to that summer day back in Austin when mi mama and I were frantically racing down the highway to the veterinary clinic. The entire car ride I was sitting in the passenger seat, sneezing and shaking and hyper-ventilating and just wishing all this craziness would end and I could just go back to my taking a nap and dreaming of drowning kitties in a bathtub. Well, we finally got to the vet and were immediately hurried in to an exam room. The vet came in, poked and prodded me all over, asked mi mama a few questions and diagnosed my condition as Bordetella (aka: Kennel Cough). Somewhat peculiar since I hadn’t been around many others sickly dogs in awhile nor had I ever been boarded at the Pet Hotel. Nonetheless, he said I had this horrible illness,  gave mi mama a prescription for some medicine, asked for her credit card, and away we went $300 poorer and me still sneezing like a crazy-caged animal. Mi mama put me in the passenger seat of her car, strapped me in for the ride and started heading for home. About 10 minutes into the car ride I began to sneeze harder and more forceful than I had the entire afternoon. Mi mama pulled the car over to the side of the road at the same moment that I gave one ginormous sneeze and Bam! out of my nose came a huge blade of fresh green grass… of which I quickly licked up with my tongue and swallowed before mi mama could take it away from me. The sneezing stopped, all was well again and away we drove home.

Moral of this story: The next time you go to the doctor/vet, thinking you may have some sort of serious medical condition, check first to make sure you don’t have a blade of grass stuck up your nose.

Oh yeah, I also have a recipe for you today. It does not involve grass or snot or really anything to do with my story. It does, however, have to do with delicious and nutritious ingredients like blackberries, bananas and oats all baked into little small breakfast cakes.

Blackberry-Banana Breakfast Bake

1/2 cup oat flour (just grind steel-cut or rolled oats in a blender until powdery)

1 tbsp rolled oats

1 tbsp ground flaxseeds

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 egg white, whipped

1/4 cup milk

1/2 banana, mashed

1/2 cup blackberries, cut in half

1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Grease 2 small ramekins or 4 muffin cups with cooking spray.

3) Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Do not over-mix.

4) Spoon batter into prepared cups. Bake 30-35 minutes or until edges are browned and breakfast bakes are set and not gooey.

6) Allow to cool 5 minutes, remove from cups and put onto serving plate. Top with honey, peanut butter or a small pat of Earth Balance and enjoy! Hooray for breakfast!

Well compadres, it’s been a long day and I think I may need to finally make up for that nap I missed all those years ago. Buenos noches!