Healthy Carrot Cake Pancakes (Baby-Friendly!*)

With whole grains and naturally sweetened, these Healthy Carrot Cake Pancakes are the perfect make-ahead bite for you AND all the little ones in your life. Who doesn’t like carrot cake for breakfast?

These Healthy Carrot Cake Pancakes (with no added sugar) are the perfect recipe for baby-led weaning, but all babies will enjoy them!

*This post is the first in a series of recipes I’ll be doing that ascribe to the philosophy of baby-led weaning, which is the method we have chosen to introduce solids to our little one. We’ve already tested her on all the potential allergens included in the ingredients (eggs, wheat, etc.) and she shows no sensitivity. Please use your discretion to decide if these recipes will be right for your babe. Mother always knows best!

All right mamas, you’ve been waiting so patiently and it’s finally here: my first baby-friendly recipe post! If you’re following me on my @caligirlkids (formerly @caligirlmomma) account, then you’ll know that we’ve been doing baby-led weaning with our little one. If you’re not familiar with baby-led weaning, the basic gist of it is trading in purees, mashes – your typical baby food – for solids and whole foods, essentially whatever you’re eating. You’re meant to allow your kid to explore, feed themselves and have a sense of autonomy about what they do and do not eat, which will (hopefully) set them up to be a more adventurous eater in the future.

We started our little one on solids shortly before she turned 6 months old, and it has been so fun watching her explore, try new things, learn how to chew and swallow, etc. She’s eaten curry-roasted squash, salmon, omelets, so many things. In fact, we have yet to find something she absolutely refuses to eat.

In the few months we’ve been doing baby-led weaning, one of my favorite things to make Raia is some sort of baked good with a hidden veggie inside. She loves grabbing on to pancakes, muffins, etc. because they are fairly easy for her to grasp, and I love the fact that she is getting a serving of vegetables at the same time (and, let’s be honest, what kid doesn’t love carbs?)

You won't be able to keep little hands off of these baby-friendly Healthy Carrot Cake Pancakes!

The only thing I have NOT loved about the “hidden veggie” method is the fact that you usually have to roast or steam the vegetable before you blend up the batter and, quite honestly, I usually don’t have time for that! So when I had a bunch of leftover carrots sitting in the refrigerator, rather than turning on the oven or stove, I decided to grate them and then throw them into the batter.

Since babies are more sensitive to sodium than adults, I never add salt to Raia’s baked goods (or really anything I make her, for that matter.) Instead, I get creative with herbs and spices. For these Carrot Cake Pancakes, for example, I added the OG spices clove, nutmeg and cinnamon.

These Healthy Carrot Cake Pancakes are easy to make and perfect for baby-led weaning. They're freezer friendly and super healthy!

I’m also really cognizant of how much sugar goes into everything I bake her. Banana and unsweetened applesauce are always great ways to add a touch of sweetness without too much added sugar, but in this particular case I opted to use some unsweetened apple butter we had sitting in the refrigerator. Finally, eggs and just a couple of tablespoons of flour (whole wheat, oat or almond would all work) bind everything together.

I love how every ingredient of these Healthy Carrot Cake Pancakes is just thrown into a blender and poured directly into the baking pan. Once baked, I often throw all of the goodies into the freezer and defrost as needed to cut down on food waste. It’s also great to have a stash of different things to choose from.

Make a batch of these Healthy Carrot Cake Pancakes the next time you do food prep and you'll have healthy kids' snacks for the rest of the week!

I’ve got a lot more baby-friendly recipes coming your way soon but, in the meantime, if you have any questions or special requests, shoot me an email or leave them in the comments below!

Healthy Carrot Cake Pancakes (Baby-Friendly!)
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
8 mins
Total Time
18 mins
 

These healthy pancakes are every child's dream. They taste just like carrot cake but use only whole grains and have no added sugar - the perfect breakfast or snack for babies and adults alike!

Course: Breakfast
Keyword: baby-friendly, baby-led weaning, carrots, healthy, pancakes
Servings: 6 pancakes
Calories: 58 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons flour (whole wheat, oat or almond)
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened apple butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Unsalted butter for the pan
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients (except butter) in a blender and blend on high until everything is combined. 

  2. Melt a small pat of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once butter is melted and pan is hot, ladle in the batter to make silver dollar size pancakes.

  3. Cook pancakes over medium heat until edges begin to set, then flip and cook until batter is no longer runny. 

  4. If you are working in batches, add another pat of butter when you start a new round.

  5. Enjoy!

 

Indulgent Smoked Salmon and Bagel Breakfast Casserole

Good thing it’s Friday, because I’ve got an incredibly Indulgent Smoked Salmon and Bagel Breakfast Casserole to rock your weekend!

A hearty dish of Indulgent Smoked Salmon and Bagel Breakfast Casserole is delicious, easy to assemble and sure to feed a crowd at brunch!

That’s right, I’ve taken just about everything that goes into your favorite bagel breakfast – we’re talking cream cheese, chives, smoked salmon, the works – and turned it into a tasty casserole that will feed a crowd. I mean, what’s not to like about that?

To be honest, I’ve been wanting to make something along the lines of an Indulgent Smoked Salmon and Bagel Breakfast Casserole for a looooong time, but have been struggling to find just the right excuse to make it – or enough people to feed it to. So when my Santa Barbara Foodie Gals decided it was time for our first picnic of the warm weather season, and a brunch picnic at that, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to test this recipe out on a critical yet incredibly appreciative crowd.

One little piece of this Indulgent Smoked Salmon and Bagel Breakfast Casserole is all you need at brunch to start your day off on the right foot!

We opted to hold our season opener of a picnic at the Santa Barbara Mission Rose Garden, which is probably one of the most beautiful open, public spaces you’ve ever seen. It’s our favorite spot for picnics, with a large, open grassy area framed by a lush rose garden and our own historic mission, which still functions as a church today. If you’re ever in the Santa Barbara area and looking for some scenic spots in addition to your eating and drinking, this Rose Garden (along with the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, home to the Sunken Gardens) are not to be missed.

We had quite the spread at our SB Foodie Gals get-together, and my Indulgent Smoked Salmon and Bagel Breakfast Casserole was a huge hit (although not the only star of the show as quiche, mimosas and donuts were also in attendance.) Needless to say, I got the approval on the recipe so I’m super excited to share it with you today!

There's quite a bit of deliciousness in a hearty slice of this Indulgent Smoked Salmon and Bagel Breakfast Casserole!

You know I’m the hugest fan of balanced living and whole foods eating whenever possible, so you should also know I’m not messing around when I call this dish indulgent. Gluten, dairy, cheese, CARBS – we’ve got it all in this bad boy, hence my emphasis on enjoying it only once in a while, in great company. It’s a dish that can serve a crowd, so it would be the perfect addition to an otherwise balanced brunch menu. In fact, a fresh fruit salad and crudité platter would be the perfect accompaniments!

I roughly based this Indulgent Smoked Salmon and Bagel Breakfast Casserole recipe on my savory bread puddings, however I increased the quantities of certain things to account for the crazy absorption rate of the bagels (and to make it a bit more egg-y and “breakfast-like.”)

When it comes to bagels, feel free to use whatever flavor you prefer to pair with your lox. I used a combo of onion and pretzel, but I also think everything bagels, rye, salt or even plain would be just fab here.

A boatload of bagels form the base of this tasty smoked salmon breakfast casserole, perfect to serve a crowd for brunch!

Also, I baked the casserole pretty much right after I assembled it, but I’m venturing to guess that prepping it a little bit in advance (maybe even the night before?) might be a VERY smart idea. After all, after everything is mixed together and loaded in the casserole dish, your Indulgent Smoked Salmon and Bagel Breakfast Casserole is pretty much “set it and forget it,” and who doesn’t want that when you’re trying to entertain a crowd?

This Indulgent Smoked Salmon and Bagel Breakfast Casserole is the perfect make-ahead dish to serve at your next brunch!

Indulgent Smoked Salmon and Bagel Breakfast Casserole
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 

This make-ahead casserole is loaded with bagels, smoked salmon, cream cheese and all your other favorite bagel toppings, and is perfect to serve a crowd!

Course: Breakfast
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 530 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 9 bagels (your choice of flavor), cubed
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, cubed and softened to room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, plus 1 additional cup for topping
  • 12 eggs
  • 1 cup milk of your choice
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 4 ounces smoked salmon, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives, plus 1 additional tablespoon for topping
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour melted butter into a 15-quart baking dish and turn to coat dish. Set aside.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients (except the 1 cup of Parmesan and 1 tablespoon of chives for topping.)

  3. Pour mixture into prepared casserole dish and sprinkle 1 cup grated Parmesan over top.

  4. Bake in 400 degree oven for 30-45 minutes, or until eggs are fairly set (they may continue to cook a bit after removing the casserole from the oven so don’t fret if they’re still a tiny bit runny.)

  5. Let cool slightly and sprinkle on additional tablespoon of chopped fresh chives before serving.

Easy Pumpkin Macadamia Nut Muffins

I hope you’re not too sick of pumpkin just yet…

These Easy Pumpkin Macadamia Nut Muffins are full of healthy ingredients like coconut flour, pumpkin and macadamia nuts.

Because these Easy Pumpkin Macadamia Nut Muffins are incredibly worthy of your breakfast table this week and all the weeks remaining that are perfectly acceptable to eat all things pumpkin at every meal.

True to their name, these Easy Pumpkin Macadamia Nut Muffins are a snap to make. They are also incredibly moist (gotta love pumpkin in baked goods for that very fact alone) and not only loaded with the healthy orange stuff, but also tons of protein and Vitamin A from toasted macadamia nuts.

There’s also a fun twist to the base of these muffins that I stole from my friends at Big Sur Bakery – I used half good ol’ AP flour and half coconut flour to give them an extra tropical twist (and more healthy protein, fiber and fats.) Let me just tell you, if you haven’t tried baking with coconut flour yet, give it a shot! It adds a wonderful, crumbly texture and nice coconut-y flavor. I’m no expert in gluten-free baking, but I will say that I have found I still need to use some of the regular flour to hold everything together, otherwise everything just falls apart, but if any of you GF eaters out there have any suggestions on how to get things to hold together without it, I’m all ears!

Easy Pumpkin Macadamia Nut Muffins are incredibly moist and perfect for a fall breakfast!

I love these Easy Pumpkin Macadamia Nut Muffins because they are not overly sweet and therefore perfectly justifiable to enjoy for breakfast, a snack or even a healthy(ish) dessert. However, if you feel like adding a bit of indulgence, I think a dash of white chocolate chips would just be BOMB in these and if you end up doing this please bring me some because I really want to try it and right now I’m laid up in bed with the most adorable cuddly newborn ever with no heavy baking plans in my immediate future.

With the fall season in full swing, you most likely have all of these ingredients on hand or fairly readily available to you at a moment’s notice. You can find coconut flour at your local health food store (or gourmet grocery store) and the ½ cup of macadamia nuts the recipe calls for is well worth the little splurge (News Flash: Macadamia nuts are not cheap.)

A cooling rack of freshly baked Easy Pumpkin Macadamia Nut Muffins.

Once you have all the ingredients, the muffins come together in just about 30 minutes. I would also like to mention that they freeze beautifully, so if you’re looking for a tasty make-ahead breakfast you can have ready in a flash on a busy holiday morning, these Easy Pumpkin Macadamia Nut Muffins are the answer.

Long story short: You need to make these muffins ASAP and tell me what you think. Be sure to tag me in all of your CaliGirl Cooking adventures on social media @caligirlcooking #caligirlcooking. Xx

A basket of Easy Pumpkin Macadamia Nut Muffins is the perfect breakfast for a busy fall morning.

Easy Pumpkin Macadamia Nut Muffins
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

These easy muffins are full of healthy ingredients like pureed pumpkin, heart-healthy macadamia nuts and fiber-filled coconut flour.

Course: Breakfast
Servings: 12 muffins
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup canned pureed pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts, toasted
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and either line a muffin tin with paper liners or spray it with cooking spray.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together both flours, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice.

  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add both sugars and the eggs and mix on medium-low until combined. 

  4. Add in the pumpkin, almond milk and vanilla extract and mix again until combined. 

  5. Mix in the dry ingredients, then stir in the orange zest and macadamia nuts.

  6. Scoop batter into prepared muffin tins and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes in pan then remove from pan onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Easy Pumpkin Macadamia Nut Muffins | CaliGirlCooking.com

Make-Ahead Freezer Oatmeal Cups with Maple and Brown Sugar

It’s the final countdown!

Make-Ahead Freezer Oatmeal Cups with Maple and Brown Sugar are the perfect healthy breakfast for busy mornings on-the-go.

Two weeks (plus or minus a few days) until Baby D’s due date and things are getting real. I’m rushing around trying to get a bunch of things done before she gets here, but I’m also trying not to stress myself out too much because I know right now I need to be focusing on relaxing and not being too exhausted whenever I go into labor. I’ve got a few meals (and baked goods) stocked in the freezer and I have to say that one of the things I’m looking forward to the most are these Make-Ahead Freezer Oatmeal Cups with Maple and Brown Sugar, so naturally I wanted to share them with you!

I’ve had these in my mind to make for quite some time, and I figured there’s no time like the present to give them a shot. I mean, who doesn’t want single-serve batches of brown sugar and maple-flavored oatmeal ready to go at a moment’s notice when they’ve got a newborn baby in their arms?

Not only is it a quick and easy breakfast or snack solution for what I’m sure is going to be a crazy time for us, I also hear oatmeal is good for lactation and, since I’m trying to breastfeed as much as possible, I want to get that milk flowing!

Two bowls of Make-Ahead Freezer Oatmeal with Maple and Syrup ready to be devoured for a healthy breakfast.

If you’re as much of a fan of Trader Joe’s as I am, then you may have come across THEIR version of freezer oatmeal packs which I absolutely love. I haven’t made them much since I’ve been working from home since I have a little more time (and the hubs likes his Protein Power Smoothie in the morning), but when I was working my 9-to-5 I loved being able to pop them in the microwave for a couple of minutes and have a delicious bowl of non-instant oatmeal on days it would otherwise be impossible time-wise.

There’s really not anything tricky about my version of Make-Ahead Freezer Oatmeal Cups with Maple and Brown Sugar. In fact, they’re a meal-prepper’s dream come true. You’ll simply cook up some high-quality oatmeal on a morning you have a little extra time, flavor it with tasty (and very seasonally appropriate) maple syrup and brown sugar, dollop a hefty scoop of said oatmeal in some jumbo muffin tins, and pop them in the freezer.

Once they’re set, you can pop them out of their tins and wrap them up individually for an easy grab-and-go breakfast that everyone in your family is sure to love, not just busy breastfeeding moms!

Create your own Make-Ahead Oatmeal Freezer Cups by scooping homemade oatmeal into jumbo muffin tins and freezing!

Seriously, though, they are like a little taste of homey comfort food that you can enjoy on any day of the week. As long as you have a couple of minutes to give the cups a quick spin in the microwave, you’ll be setting yourself up for a REALLY good day with a tummy full of healthy, filling oatmeal that tastes like it took you at least an hour to make.

Now, enough about delicious Make-Ahead Freezer Oatmeal Cups with Maple and Brown Sugar, on Friday I promised I would tell you about the fun, surprise-filled weekend we had. It was one we’ve had on tap for at least 5 or 6 months now, basically ever since we found out I was pregnant. Chris’ mom’s 70th birthday is this week (tomorrow, to be exact) and we wanted to do something really special for her.

Unfortunately, since I’m ready to pop any day now, we knew we wouldn’t be able to travel to celebrate with her, so we decided to bring the party here to Santa Barbara. We talked all of Chris’ siblings into coming to town (yes, all four of them, even his sister from Texas!) and rented a sweet house just up the road from ours.

Make-Ahead Freezer Oatmeal Cups with Maple and Brown Sugar make the perfect balanced breakfast for a busy morning.

Chris was able to convince his parents to come visit, but mom thought she was just coming to see us and stay at our house. Little did she know that the whole family would be here, and staying at a beautiful vacation home to boot!

Long story short, we had such a great time hanging out with everyone and celebrating my MIL, but now I think we’re ready to slow down and really take in these last few days as a family of two (well, three if you count our fur baby). We have a couple of date nights and lots of relaxing in our future…Any other suggestions as to what we should do to savor these last few days before our little babe arrives? Let me know in the comments below! (And go make some Make-Ahead Freezer Oatmeal Cups with Maple and Brown Sugar ASAP!)

Make-Ahead Freezer Oatmeal Cups with Maple and Brown Sugar are the perfect meal-prep for busy mornings on-the-go.

Make-Ahead Freezer Oatmeal Cups with Maple and Brown Sugar
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 

These convenient, single-serving oatmeal cups are laced with maple and brown sugar and make the perfect on-the-go breakfast for busy mornings!

Course: Breakfast
Servings: 18 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 3 1/2 cups coconut milk (two 13.5-ounce cans)
  • 8 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
Instructions
  1. Bring coconut milk, water and salt to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and add oats. 

  2. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until most of the liquid has absorbed into the oats, stirring occasionally, then stir in the brown sugar and maple. 

  3. Spray some jumbo muffin tins with cooking spray and scoop oatmeal evenly into the cups. Place in the freezer until solid, at least a couple of hours or overnight. 

  4. Remove the tins from the freezer and, using a butter knife or small offset spatula, gently loosen the oatmeal cups from each tin. Wrap each cup in plastic wrap and place back in the freezer.

  5. When you’re ready to heat up your oatmeal, take one of the cups, unwrap it and place it in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 2 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally if needed and top with any additional toppings you desire. Some of my favorites include nuts, peanut butter and more maple syrup.

Make-Ahead Freezer Oatmeal Cups with Maple and Brown Sugar | CaliGirlCooking.com

Apple Cinnamon “Faux-mosa”

Because when one can’t enjoy a mimosa, you might as well enjoy a fall-themed “faux-mosa!”

These Apple Cinnamon "Faux-mosas" are the perfect mocktail for fall.

Yes, I’m counting down the days until I can consume the real deal again, but until then I’ll have to say I’ve been pretty darn good at coming up with tasty alternatives – like this Apple Cinnamon “Faux-mosa!”

It may be because this season is always met with so much anticipation, but it seems like every year once September or October rolls around I get the urge to make some sort of fall-themed mimosa. In fact, this exact same week last year I made this delicious Harvest Mimosa featuring pear, apple AND brandy, and you can bet it’s one of the first things on my list to make once Baby D arrives in just a few short weeks!

So here’s the deal with this Apple Cinnamon “Faux-mosa”: My primary complaint about most virgin mimosa recipes is they either taste (a) too sweet from an overload of juices (both sparkling and still) or (b) the sweetness problem is overcompensated by using club soda to add bubbles, but then the drink tastes incredibly watered down.

Well, I’m proud to say this Apple Cinnamon “Faux-mosa” solves both those problems!

An Apple Cinnamon "Faux-mosa" with tons of flavor - and perfectly acceptable for breakfast!

It took a bit of trial and error, but I tasted through a couple of brands of sparkling apple cider and found one that isn’t too sweet. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t write down the brand and discarded the bottle, but I highly suggest you make your own decision on this anyhow as the perfect “faux-mosa” is largely a matter of personal taste anyway.

You’ll also be adding some still apple cider on top of the sparkling apple juice, which tends to be a bit more concentrated. Plus, if you get your hands on a high-quality brand such as Trader Joe’s Honeycrisp Apple Cider, you’ll get tons more flavor in every sip.

Finally, an Apple Cinnamon “Faux-mosa” just wouldn’t be a “faux-mosa” without a hint of orange juice. I mean, we need to make this drink acceptable for breakfast, don’t we?

Looking for a festive fall-themed nonalcoholic drink? These Apple Cinnamon "Faux-mosas" are the answer!

I don’t know what your plans are for this weekend, but we have some big ones (shhhh….it’s a surprise – I’ll fill you all in on Monday!) so some Apple Cinnamon “Faux-mosas” are definitely in my very near future.

Cheers to a relaxing weekend that I hope is filled with all the fall-themed things!

Apple Cinnamon "Faux-mosa"
Prep Time
5 mins
 

This virgin take on the mimosa features tons of apple-cinnamon flavor - perfect for kids, drinkers and non-drinkers alike!

Servings: 1 drink
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 4 ounces sparkling apple cider
  • 2 ounces apple cider
  • 1/2 ounce fresh orange juice
  • Dash of ground cinnamon
  • Apple slice, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Pour both apple ciders and orange juice into a champagne flute. Top with a dash of cinnamon and garnish with an apple slice.