Healthy Brunch – Not Just For Sundays

Do you have days when you crave for breakfast for dinner or brunch on a weekday? I recently had one of those, where I did not want to eat the usual lunch fixings for lunch. Since I work from home, I have the luxury to cook my own meals on most days. So, on a Wednesday afternoon, I decided to do brunch! I feel like there is a certain leisurely, let-yourself-go attitude that comes with weekend brunch. We tend to indulge in high fat, sugary treats more on the weekend, than on a weekday. To keep with the tradition of eating healthy during the week, I created myself a healthy & quick brunch menu.

The menu comprised of whole wheat blueberry muffins, red pepper & goat cheese frittata, potato latkes & fresh strawberries. It took me an hour to prepare all these items, which were light yet filling. But the excitement of eating freshly baked muffins and enjoying a brunch in the middle of the week was priceless!

If you want to follow my league, here is how…

It’s best to start with the muffins, as you have time to prepare the rest of the dishes while your muffins are baking. Preheat the oven to 400F. I used a recipe I found online & modified it slightly. I added a larger quantity of fresh blueberries (1 ½ cups), some extra honey & a few toasted almonds. I filled up large muffin cups so had a yield of 9 muffins in total. Given they were made with wheat flour, no white sugar & fresh fruit; I consider them to be guilt-free! Even if you don’t make them for brunch, they are perfect for on-the-go snacks, afternoon treats or breakfast for next morning.

My version of potato latkes are inspired by something I ordered at a French bistro, La Madeline. I don’t know how they prepared them but mine are so easy, anyone could do it. In a food processor, fitted with the grating paddle, add 3 large potatoes (peeled), ½ onion & ¼ cup fresh parsley. Once completely grated, transfer to a large bowl lined with paper towels. Drain the excess water by pressing on the potato mixture with your hands, and then transfer to a clean bowl. Add 1 egg (lightly beaten), ¼ cup grated parmesan, salt & pepper. Mix well.

In a large fry pan, heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil on high heat, evenly coating the pan. Take a handful of the potato mixture and flatten it in the palm of your hand, as if creating a patty. Drain out any excess water. Gently place the potato patty in the fry pan. Reduce heat to medium-low & cook for about 10 minutes until golden brown, turning once. Repeat the process with the rest of the potato mixture.

While the muffins & potatoes are being cooked, heat a small oven-safe wok on medium heat. Add 2 tablespoon olive oil. Lightly stir fry ½ finely diced red bell pepper. Beat 6 eggs in a bowl with some salt & pepper. Pour over the red peppers. Sprinkle 2 tablespoon chopped black olives & 4 tablespoon crumbled goat cheese on the egg. Let cook on low heat till the eggs begin to settle (about 5 minutes). Transfer the wok to the oven (which was set at 400F) & cook for another 5-7 minutes till the frittata starts to brown. Remove from wok by flipping the frittata onto a plate. Allow to cool for couple of minutes before serving.

I used fresh cut strawberries but you can serve any fruit you have lying around. In a small bowl, add 2 cups chopped strawberries with one teaspoon sugar and juice of ½ a lemon. Mix well & serve cold. You can also add blueberries to it for a delightful treat.

Finger Licking Blueberry-Mascarpone Ravioli

Who says ravioli can only be served as a savory dish? With homemade dough, fresh blueberries and soft mascarpone cheese, this dessert has all the components that will want you coming back for more. Did I mention it was also deep fried? It tastes like a freshly made fried blueberry pie, only a lot more sophisticated!

These finger licking raviolis are darn good on their own, but you can also pair them with a homemade blueberry gelato to create a delicious summer treat.

Makes 8-10


1 ¾ cups all purpose flour

2 eggs

2 tablespoons water

Pinch of salt

2 cups blueberries

Juice of ½ lemon

¼ cup water

¼ cup sugar

8 oz mascarpone cheese

1 tablespoon vanilla essence

Vegetable or canola oil


Prepare the blueberry compote by placing blueberries, lemon juice, water & sugar over medium heat in a heavy bottom pan. Allow it to come to a boil. Then reduce heat & simmer for 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Let cool completely before use.

Meanwhile, make the pasta dough by kneading the flour, salt and eggs in a kitchen stand mixer with paddle attachment. Knead for 8-10 minutes. If the dough becomes too dry, add 2 tablespoons of water. Divide the dough into two balls and roll them out into 8×4 inch rectangles. Run each rectangle through a pasta roller until it reaches a fairly thin consistency. (I get to a level 5 for ravioli pasta dough.)

Gently mix the mascarpone & vanilla. Add the cooled blueberry mixture to the mascarpone. Using a melon scooper, place 2 scoops of this filling on the pasta sheet for each ravioli. Lightly brush the pasta surrounding the filling with water so the dough sticks together. Fold over the second pasta sheet. Use a ravioli cutter to cut & seal the raviolis.

In a large fry pan, heat enough oil for deep frying till very hot. Fry the ravioli for 1 minute on each side until golden brown. Transfer to a plate with paper towels so that the excess oil is drained. Serve immediately.

Lamb and Blueberry Chutney Pastries

This recipe is inspired by Northern Africa where you will often find savory meat pastries. I learned to make Bastilla while volunteering in Morocco last year and fell in love with it. Bastilla is a pastry made with phyllo and layers of spiced ground chicken, omelets, almond paste and powdered sugar. It requires some skill to keep it all together but is not as hard as it looks.

With my bounty of blueberries, I created my own sweet and spicy meat pastry. These make wonderful entrees for that special date night or you can do a smaller appetizer sized version for a party.

Makes:  4 pastries

Total Time: 5 hours (Prep: 1 hour, Inactive: 45 minutes)

For the lamb:

Place chutney in the center of the lamb mixture on phyllo sheets

1 lb lamb, ground

2 cloves garlic

1 inch piece ginger

1 green chili

1 medium onion

3 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper




For the blueberry chutney:

Ground lamb & blueberry chutney stuffed in phyllo pastry

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ teaspoon cumin seeds

½ teaspoon cumin powder

½ teaspoon coriander powder

½ teaspoon ground clove

1 teaspoon garam masala

¼ teaspoon allspice

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups blueberries

1/3 cup sugar

¼ cup water


For the pastry:

1 lb phyllo dough, thawed

1 egg

1 tablespoon water



Preheat oven to 350F. In a food processor, grind the onion, garlic, ginger and green chili. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the ground lamb and the spices. Mix well and set aside.

To make the blueberry chutney, place a medium saucepan on high heat. Add the oil and let heat. Then fry the cumin seeds for 1 minute. Add the rest of the ingredients. Once the liquid comes to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Let cool completely before moving on to the next step. The chutney can be prepared ahead of time & stored in refrigerator for 2-3 days.

Spread parchment paper on a large cookie sheet. Prepare an egg wash by lightly beating the egg with water. Using 2-3 layers of phyllo sheets at a time, brush the egg wash lightly on each layer. Alternate horizontal & vertical sheets so you have 4 solid layers of 2-3 phyllo sheets each.

Place 2/3 cup of the lamb meat mixture in the center of the prepared dough in a circular shape.  With your fingers, create a small dent in the middle of the meat. Carefully place 2 tablespoons of the chutney into this indent. Close the pastry by wrapping the meat with the sheets, in the shape of a pentagon. Make sure to fold even number of sheets on top and under the meat patty, always brushing with the egg mixture. Repeat the process so you have 4 pastries.

Once you have a nicely wrapped pastry, brush the top with more egg. Place in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes until crispy.

Blueberry-Honey Gelato

With 2 gallons of blueberries from picking at Roland Farms over the weekend, I have been contemplating how to put them to the optimal use. Over the next few days, I will be posting totally original and finger licking recipes using my fresh picked, pesticide free, for a good cause blueberries.

The first one is a honey-blueberry gelato. I love the taste of homemade gelato as it’s fresh, creamy and you know what’s in it. The gelato recipe below is actually much healthier than any ice cream you will ever come across. It is made with mostly milk (as oppose to cream), does not have eggs, and uses fresh honey and a lot of blueberries.

Honey-Blueberry Gelato

Makes 2 Quarts

Total Time: 5 hours (Prep: 1 hour, Inactive: 4 hours)


4 cups whole milk

½ cup heavy cream

5 oz sugar

1.2 oz corn syrup

1 oz skim milk powder

3 cups fresh blueberries

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

¼ cup honey


Heavy bottom saucepan

Cooking thermometer

Rubber or wooden spatula

Blender or hand mixer

Mesh strainer

Medium glass bowl

Ice cream maker

Air tight freezer safe container


Combine the milk and heavy cream in a heavy bottomed saucepan and place on medium heat. Attach a cooking thermometer to the pan. Cook stirring occasionally, until the temperature reaches 170F. The milk should not form any skin.

Add the sugar, corn syrup and skim milk powder. Blend until mixed well. Cook the liquid base for five more minutes maintaining the temperature at 170F.

Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath placing a medium glass bowl in it. Strain the prepared liquid gelato base into the glass bowl. Let chill completely. Cover and refrigerate for four hours.

Puree the blueberries using in an electric blender. Add the lemon juice. Blend the chilled liquid base with the blueberry puree. Add the honey and mix well. Pour into the ice cream machine and let it churn for 25 minutes (or as directed by your particular machine).

Transfer to an air tight, freezer safe bowl. Freeze at least four hours or overnight.

Blueberries for Belarus

Sidney Roland blubbery farm in GeorgiaIts berry picking season in Georgia and I happened to come across a farm which allows you to pick your own blueberries for a good cause. Located only 70 miles from Atlanta, the Roland Farm grows varieties of blueberries that are available for picking from June to September for only $5 a gallon!

Sidney Roland, who has a street named after him, is retired and lives on his farm home where he grows the blueberries. Sidney donates all of the money raised from selling blueberries to The American Belarussian Relief Organization. ABRO has a host program where it brings children from Belarus to US every summer so they can get away from the effects of radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear accident. For the last 9 years, Sidney and his wife have hosted up to 14 Belarusian children each summer, at their home for six weeks. The children are given medical attention, tours of local attractions, beach trips and much more.

Picking Blueberries in GeorgiaSidney told me that after coming across the local chapter of ABRO, he just wanted to make a difference. He enjoys hosting the children and loves to see the impact on them year after year. He has a warm heart and frequently opens up his riverside property to baptisms, fundraisers, weddings and private events. He even helped his nephew’s band, Collective Soul launch right in his backyard.

If you would like to support Sidney’s good cause, gather a group and go to the Roland Farm for a fun day of blueberry picking. Bring bathing suits, food and drinks and enjoy a picnic by the river afterwards (located right on the farm). I bet Sidney would join the party in a heartbeat!

Contact: Roland Farm, 860 Sidney Roland Road, Demorest, GA 30535; Phone: 706-754-6700