Cinnamon Nutmeg Vanilla French Toast

Toddler, Kid, Adult

Science Corner
As discussed in a previous post on the science-backed health benefits of cinnamon, this miracle spice can temper the effect of sugar on the body. Studies on type II diabetics have shown that even less than 1/2 a teaspoon a day of cinnamon for 4 months reduces blood sugar levels. There is evidence that cinnamon improves the function of insulin, the hormone that coaxes our cells to soak up blood sugar and use it for energy. Rice pudding flavored with cinnamon spikes blood sugar less than bland rice pudding. It's no wonder then that we encourage the use of cinnamon in any carb-heavy, sugary treat and this delicious French Toast is no exception! 

2 adult and 1 toddler portions
1 loaf of challah or soft white bread (unsliced)
3 Eggs
½ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon  cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Maple Syrup
Fresh fruit (banana or berries)
Crack eggs into a shallow square bowl and beat lightly with a fork. Add the milk and stir with a fork until mixed. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. Stir again until well mixed and set aside.

Cut off the ends of the challah bread. Cut the middle section into ¾ inch thick slices.
Heat griddle (or frying pan) on medium heat. Once water sizzles and evaporates the pan is ready. Brush the pan with butter. 
One piece of bread at a time, dip into egg mixture until both sides are well coated, and place onto hot, buttered griddle. Cook each side for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Garnish with a sprinkling of fresh blueberries or a few slices of banana and a drizzle of maple syrup. Some powdered sugar is also a nice touch. 

Cinnamon, Chocolate Chip Pancakes

As you know, I am obsessed with healthy pancakes - spelt, oat, buckwheat - so I was rather taken aback one Sunday when hubby asked for "regular pancakes" and toddler chimed in "with chocolate chips!". To prove that I too can be fun sometimes, I whipped up these fluffy, buttermilk pancakes but, of course, added the miracle spice cinnamon to keep the blood sugar spike in check. 

5-6 4inch diameter pancakes

1 cup self-raising flour
1 teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon (or 1/2 teaspoon of the more commonly available Cassia cinnamon)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly ground over a microplane
1 tablespoon sugar
1 egg beaten
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Butter for the skillet

In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients except the chocolate chips. In another bowl, mix the wet ingredients. Add the wet to the dry ingredients slowly, whisking into a smooth batter without over-mixing. Fold in the chocolate chips. Allow the mixture to rest for a minute or two to relax the gluten and prevent the pancakes from turning rubbery. 

In a small skillet or non-stick pan, heat a knob of butter over medium until melted. Using a 1/4 cup measure, pour the pancake batter into the pan. Once the pancake has set (1-2 minutes), flip it and cook for another minute or so until golden brown but not burnt. 

Serve with fresh fruit or more chocolate chips and maple syrup for a truly decadent and delicious treat. 

Cinnamon Chocolate Smoothie

Cinnamon Chocolate Smoothie
Toddler, Kid, Adult

2 toddler servings depending on appetite!

3/4 cup almond milk
1 banana frozen
1 date
1 teaspoon raw cacao powder (regular is fine but you really do miss out on major health benefits!)
1/4 cup chopped strawberries
1/2 teaspoon ground Ceylon cinnamon (1/4 teaspoon if using the widely available Cassia variety)

Blend ingredients until smooth. Enjoy for a burst of luxurious, delicious nutrition for breakfast or a mid-afternoon snack. 

Spiced Semolina Porridge

12 months+, Toddler, Kid, Adult

In the way that is typical of toddlers, my 2 year old has, out of the blue, boycotted his staple morning oatmeal. I am a big believer in a nourishing, warm bowl of porridge for breakfast, especially in the cooler months of the year, so I started rummaging around my pantry frantically for an alternate solution. Enter semolina! Made from ground durum wheat and yellowish in color, it's richer in iron and protein than wheat - having used it in the Lebanese Sfouf we shared recently, I had some lying around so decided to give it a go. It's been three days and it's all toddler wants. And naturally, he calls it 'Goldilock's Porridge' <smile, wink, heart slightly melting>

2 toddler servings

1/3 cup fine semolina
1 cup full fat milk plus 1/2 cup water 
1 1/2 cups almond milk
2 cardamom cloves lightly smashed to expose seeds 
Pinch or 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons maple syrup 

Add the semolina, milk, water and spices to a pot and bring to a gentle boil stirring constantly about 3 minutes. Once starting to bubble, reduce heat to low and stir for another 30 - 60 seconds until the porridge is as thick as you like. Transfer to a bowl, add the maple syrup and serve. If it gets too thick by the time it cools, add a splash of milk. Using this as a base, you can stir in raisins, chia seeds, slivered almonds - the list is endless. Happy breakfasting!