Strawberry Almond Butter Smoothies (photo by Alicia Sokol); ingredients for energy's Best Banana Pancakes (photo by Sarah Shatz)
Weekend mornings have a distinct sound at my house: the whir of the blender, the gentle beep of the waffle iron, the hiss of the espresso maker. These sounds are often accompanied by the aroma of warm maple syrup and on rare occasions, smoky bacon wafting through the air. Happy. Sleepy. Calm. In sharp contrast, weekday mornings are anything but tranquil, characterized by hastily-warmed freezer waffles, harried searches for book bags and lunch boxes, arguments, prodding, and almost always these words: “Hurry up. We’re running late.”
How might I infuse a dose of the serene mood from those pajama-clad weekend mornings into the typical school-day hurricane? Perhaps the introduction of leisurely weekend foods into the weekday frenzy -- without the added work -- might coax some of those feelings along. It couldn’t hurt to try.
With strawberries in season, Strawberry Almond Butter Smoothies seemed a likely choice to work some Sunday morning blender magic. The kids, ever eager to help operate anything with an “on” button, tossed the ice into the blender and crushed it with a few pulses. They then added the juicy red berries for which we’d waited so patiently, followed by the soy milk and finally the almond butter. The result was smooth, creamy, and to my delight, not too sweet. The kids wanted a bit more sweetness, so I added a touch of agave syrup. Honey would also have worked nicely. I saw smiles all around. We doubled the recipe, so there was enough to store covered in the refrigerator for the next day (a school day!), at which point a quick stir returned the smoothie to its original blended state.
While we sipped our smoothies, the kids helped sift together the dry ingredients for energy’s aptly-named Best Banana Pancakes. I was in luck to find two perfectly softened, dappled bananas for the task. As the butter began to melt in the pan, we prepared to drop the batter onto the hot skillet. For each pancake, we used ¼ cup of batter rather than the ½ cup energy suggested, which allowed us to flip the pancakes more easily and stack ‘em high. The recipe made roughly 10 pancakes using this method.
Reminiscent of a freshly baked banana muffin with added texture from the oats, these pancakes were a pleasant surprise. Faintly sweet and slightly puffed, a dusting of confectioners’ sugar and a drizzle of warm syrup were the only additions needed to complete the meal. I cooled the remaining pancakes and froze them in a sealed bag in hopes of revealing them the next morning. When the time to reheat them arrived, I was armed with weekend-quality breakfast fare with a little help from the toaster oven. No clean up and no waiting, just smiles and happy bellies. So it is possible to replicate the peaceful mood of a weekend morning with a wee bit of planning!
The day seems off to a better start -- a satisfying breakfast enjoyed without the usual morning soundtrack. I’ve not elevated my voice or delivered any threats. Although, I am startled by a tug on the hem of my skirt. A child wearing a pink mustache, book bag slung over one shoulder, speaks to me: “I’m ready to go, mom. What are you waiting for?” Now that is music to my ears.
Photo by Alicia Sokol
Strawberry Almond Butter Smoothie by Whole Foods Market
Serves 2 but is easily doubled
4 ice cubes
8 ounces strawberries
1 cup chilled unsweetened soy milk or almond milk
2 tablespoons smooth almond butter
Best Banana Pancakes by energy
Serves 2 but is easily doubled
1 large egg
1/2 cup natural (plain) yoghurt
1/2 cup oats
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large banana or 2 medium, the riper and spottier the better
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Alicia writes the blog Weekly Greens, where she gives busy families healthy recipes for everyday farm-to-table eating.