Struggling to get back in the swing of things and settle into a routine post summer?
I feel you! I’m sharing four ways meal prep can streamline your morning routine, plus a simple, make-ahead recipe for apple cinnamon paleo pancake breakfast bars.
Think pancakes without the tedious flipping and bursting with fall’s best flavors—apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, and maple syrup. The recipe is paleo, gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free and there’s even an option to swap the coconut oil for applesauce!
Two questions…Both equally important.
1. Could the term “rush hour” apply to both your commute and your morning routine?
2. Do you love pancakes, healthy breakfast recipes that are crazy simple, and fall flavors (specifically apple cinnamon—I know you love pumpkin—patience!)?
Well, my friend, this post is for you. Especially if you answered “yes” to the second question because this “pancake” recipe involves ZERO flipping (there’s not even a pan involved!).
And my favorite spice ever: CINNAMON.
So. Much. Excitement.
It does sound like a lot to promise in one post, but we’re not going to waste one second today.
I’ve got four foolproof ways to simplify and streamline your morning meals and a recipe for the easiest ever, freezer friendly, apple cinnamon paleo pancake bars to demonstrate how simple this whole morning meal prep thing really can be.
Because let’s face it, the lazy days of summer are gone and for most of us that means the return of routines of all kinds.
Whether you’re a student, parent with littles in school, or simply find your schedule much more predictable since the flurry of warm weather social events and vacations are likely less frequent, chances are we’re all settling into a new fall rhythm.
One way to make easing into the new season simpler and the shifting demands on your time less stressful, is finding ways to streamline your morning with a little MEAL PREP.
If those words conjure up images of row upon row of Tupperware containers or body builders, fret not! I promise that meal prep doesn’t have to mean that at all…OK, yes, some kind of uniform food storage container will help, but there’s no bro attitude (or chicken and broccoli) required.
Meal prepping—especially in the morning—will make it easy for you to choose healthy instead of processed convenience food or takeaway items at a café or restaurant.
I’m also convinced that once you realize how simple it is to prep these healthy APPLE CINNAMON PANCAKES, you’ll be sold.
OK, so the recipe isn’t pancakes exactly, it’s better, really—I promise!
The point? Healthy doesn’t have to mean hard.
Let’s dive into the meal prep and I’ll show you what I mean… 😉
THE SECRET TO A SIMPLER MORNING
START SMALL (I.E. BREAKFAST!)
Don’t get me wrong, I L-O-V-E meal prepping, but even I don’t do it for every.single.meal.and.snack.
Too often, I see women attempt meal prepping only to give up after one week after feeling overwhelmed by attempting to prep every meal and snack for their entire week.
When making any change or trying to establish a new habit, ease into it! I know it’s hard for Type A ladies or general go-getters like you, but trust me, this ain’t no race or competition!
Start with something really small based on a wellness goal you’re working toward, like perhaps, for example drinking more water.
Based on this goal, you could spend five minutes before the week starts to fill a pitcher with filtered water and add berries, sliced citrus wedges, cucumbers, or fresh herbs to make it more appealing. Keep it front and center in the fridge so that when you open it, you’re reminded to chug, chug, chug! You could also chop a bunch of fresh lemons to keep at the ready if you want to try drinking a cup of warm lemon water upon waking.
Ta da! Two fab ways to work toward a wellness goal with a super simple, manageable meal prep strategy.
You’ll be poised to hydrate like a boss all week long and well on your way to Meal Prep Pro status. High fives, girlfraaaaaand.
MAKE A PLAN + KEEP IT SIMPLE
Now that you’re sold on the benefits of morning meal prep, it’s time to get legit. Not too legit (remember, too legit – to quit hey hey)…
OK sorry. I couldn’t help myself.
Legit as in, let’s create a plan based on your favorite, go-to breakfast meals.
- First, decide which day you want to meal prep—Sunday and Monday are popular since they’re at the start of the week, but find a day that’s best for your schedule
- Choose a a time on that day to hold yourself accountable, like after you get home from the market or grocery, and block it out on your calendar. You can accomplish a lot in 15-20 minutes.
- Brainstorm a list of your go-to morning meals, beverages/smoothies, etc.
EASY! Here’s an example from my morning routine…
Example No. 1:
The Post-Workout Smoothie
Portion bananas, peel, wrap in wax paper, and freeze
Measure dry ingredients—raw cacao, stevia, chia seeds, hemp hearts, protein powder—nut butters and anything else non-perishable then place everything in individually portioned containers, store in a pantry cabinet until use
Example No. 2:
The Classic Bacon & Egg Breakfast Sandwich
Bake an entire package of turkey bacon on your meal prep day
Scramble a dozen eggs
Wake up, toast a gluten-free English muffin or bread, assemble, and enjoy!
* Always try to eat a balanced meal or snack, which means including a source of protein (P), fat (F), and carbohydrate (C) preferably in the form of nutrient-dense vegetables, low-sugar fruits (berries, green apple or banana), and sprouted grains/breads/wraps. Eating “PFC” is a simple strategy to help increase satiety and balance blood sugars (read: no hangry episodes!).
PREP IT, SISTA
Don’t underestimate the power of basic prep alone—especially if you’re a smoothie bowl, chia pudding, yogurt, or oatmeal artist. Read: You are all about a ‘dem superfood toppings.
If that’s you, why not pre-portion your toppings into little containers ahead of time?
No rooting around the fridge for those elusive pomegranate seeds or hemp hearts. No digging through the pantry searching for your favorite granola or chia seeds.
Prepping ahead gives you plenty of time to ensure none of your essential superfood toppings are running low and need to be restocked (THE WORST).
Or that you are completely out of nut butter. HA! As if, right?!
Because I’m willing to be that you, like me, are in ZERO danger of running out nut butter anytime in the next ohhhhhh 3-5 five years because #nutbutterhoardersforlife
Again, this small and simple task may seem like it wouldn’t make that much impact on your morning, but on a day when you’re especially rushed, overslept, or got stuck in traffic on the way home from yoga or the gym, it could be the difference of being on time or late…frazzled or cool and collected…OR more importantly, having time to snap a pic and Instagram your breakfast meal masterpiece or not.
Kidding!…Except kind of not kidding…?
Now we’re getting to the good stuff—batch cooking. This is where you get in the kitchen and get to work making a few meals or parts of meals in big batches to last through the week.
Think about foods you make all the time that could easily be cooked in bulk. Consider trying one per week to see how it fits into your schedule then rotate the next week so you don’t get bored.
That said, there’s no shame in keeping it consistent. I’m definitely an oatmeal 24/7/365 kind of gal with a few exceptions. Shrug. Whatever makes it easy, right?
A few suggestions that I use on the regular…
- Hard “boil” a dozen eggs in a muffin tin—seriously! No giant pot of piping hot water or water needed. Place one egg in each of the muffin tin compartments and bake for 25-30 minutes at 350° Fahrenheit and then cool eggs in an ice water bath. Voila!
- Slow cooker or overnight oatmeal
- Chia pudding
- Vegetable quiche
- Pre-blended homemade frozen smoothie packets (blend your favorite ingredients in a mega batch and freeze individual servings for quick use)
- Roast sliced sweet potatoes for sweet potato toast and pair with hard no-boil eggs
- Roast other vegetables to toss into an omelet or egg/tofu scramble
You get the idea!
Now that you have a handle on four ways that meal prep can streamline your mornings, how about some practice?
Like, say, whipping up these apple cinnamon paleo pancake breakfast bars? Hubba! Hubba!
APPLE CINNAMON PALEO PANCAKE BREAKFAST BARS:
A.K.A. THE SOLUTION TO ALL YOUR PROBLEMS
That seems like a stretch, but is it? Really?
Because there is ZERO pan required, meaning no babysitting batch after batch of pancakes for-like-ever.
ZERO flipping involved.
I think I’ve outdone myself this time.
This recipe is all about the CAKE in pancakes, not the pan. Ow. Ow.
It’s healthy, satisfying, nourishing, and full of seasonal ingredients—apples, cinnamon, nutmeg—which means more nutrients for you and less pollution for the planet.
You’ll spend 25 minutes tops making these bad boys on your prep day and can grab them and go in less than 60 seconds when you need one. Even if meal prepping isn’t your jam, I promise that this recipe will convert you.
HEALTHY IN A HURRY
Beyond the fact that these breakfast bars are made in one baking dish—including the cinnamon apples (read: minimal cleanup!)—the real secret to what makes this recipe so fabulously simple and perfect for weekend meal prep is that it uses a boxed baking mix.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Simmer down.
I know what you’re thinking and no, it’s not that boxed pancake mix. Psh.
These apple cinnamon paleo pancake breakfast bars start with Simple Mills Pancake and Waffle Mix—which contains only SEVEN healthful gluten-free, grain-free ingredients.
No refined flours or sugars. No preservatives.
It’s made with almond flour—one of my go-to grain-free baking bases because it’s highly nutritious, a good source of vitamin E, and when it’s ground into flour it becomes easier to digest. There’s also coconut flour and arrowroot to help thicken the mix since it’s gluten free.
It’s also dairy free and grain free, too—qualities that I know a lot of you appreciate in recipes.
Straightforward, simple, and low glycemic—these bars aren’t overly sweet with only a tiny bit of coconut sugar in the pancake mix. Read: No blood sugar rollercoaster riding here!
The base of the bars is a mix of sweeter Pink Lady apples and more tart Granny Smith that are coated with cinnamon, a little coconut oil, and just one tablespoon of coconut sugar, which you could omit if you choose.
A note on the cinnamon quantity in the recipe…I promise that I did not go CRAY with the cinnamon despite wanting to because you know how I feel about that spice. Personally? I’d up the amount by a few tablespoons, but you’ll probably be satisfied following the existing recipe. Wink.
The pinch of cinnamon and a little nutmeg give the pre-boxed mix a fall flavor boost and if you want, you can swap the coconut oil in the wet ingredients for unsweetened applesauce to enhance the overall apple flavor.
Both versions will rise into a spongy, fluffy, and moist cake to slice into breakfast bars, almost feeling too much like dessert to be healthy….
A nutritious breakfast that can moonlight as dessert and vice versa? Yeah. It’s pretty much the ideal scenario.
Oh and your kitchen will smell like a fall wonderland while it bakes.
Apples + cinnamon = What’s not to love?
It’s the classic American dream team.
When it comes out of the oven, it will be like a big warm and cozy hug in your mouth. While I fully support giving it a try right away, try not to eat it all immediately.
Remember, the point is to prep a healthful breakfast for the week, right?
Unless you double the ingredients and bake TWO. One for now, one to freeze for later! Brilliant! Do that!
Even after storing in the fridge or freezer, I can attest that these bars retain their moisture and tender texture after they thaw—truly the perfect recipe to keep on hand for a busy week, impromptu fall brunch, holiday party, or to serve houseguests.
Last, but not least, let’s chat topping and then get on with it, shall we?
TOPPING TIPS + WAYS TO ENJOY
Obviously, I recommend making the vanilla maple cashew cream icing, especially if you’re going for pretty factor, which always counts!
Homemade Slow Cooker Apple Butter
Extra sauteed innamon apples
Crumbled over high quality grass-fed Greek yogurt or coconut yogurt
Layered into a vegan Chai-Spiced Chia Pudding Parfait
Dairy-free ice cream
Sliced almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios
Serves: 18-22 1.5 X 2.5 inch bars
- 1 box Simple Mills Pancake & Waffle Mix
- 3 tbs coconut oil*
- 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp baking soda
- ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1½ tsp vanilla extract
- 5 eggs
- ⅓ cup almond milk or water
::FOR THE CINNAMON APPLES::
4 small organic apples peeled, cored, and sliced thinly*
- 1½ tbs coconut oil, melted
- 1 tbs coconut sugar (or maple syrup, stevia, etc.)
- ½ tsp cinnamon
::FOR THE VEGAN VANILLA MAPLE CASHEW ICING::
1 cup raw, unsalted cashews (soaked in warm water for at least 3-4 hours)
- 2 tbs maple syrup
- 1 tbs light, unsweetened coconut milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 pinch sea salt (about ⅛ tsp)
- 2½ tbs coconut oil melted
- Preheat oven to 400° Fahrenheit and spray a 9x13 baking dish with a high quality cooking spray or coat sides and bottom with coconut/avocado oil.*
- Peel, slice, and core the apples and add to a glass mixing bowl with melted coconut oil, cinnamon, and coconut sugar and stir to coat. Spread apples evenly in the bottom of preheated baking dish. Bake for 5-8 minutes, until softened.
- While apples are pre-baking, whisk dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately and then combine to form the batter.
- Remove partially baked apples from oven, lower oven temperature to 350° Fahrenheit and re-spray sides of baking dish with cooking oil spray before pouring pancake batter overtop. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from center.
- Cool in the baking dish on a wire rack for 15-20 minutes. As it cools, it should “shrink” away from the sides a bit. Gently use a spatula to release the pancake from the dish and carefully slide it onto a wire rack to cool completely trying not to disturb the sticky apple layer on bottom!
- Once cooled, transfer to a cutting board and slice into 1.5 X 2⅓ inch bars to yield 21 total or however you prefer.
- Enjoy with vegan vanilla maple cashew cream, maple syrup, more baked/sauteed cinnamon apples, coconut butter, nut butter, raw honey, vegan ice cream, fresh fruit spread—you get the picture!
VEGAN VANILLA CASHEW ICING (OPTIONAL)
- Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until combined. Scrape down sides and run food processor for 3-5 minutes or until icing is a thick and smooth consistency. Transfer to a storage container and keep in the refrigerator until ready for use. To create a drizzle, spoon icing into a clear plastic storage bag and snip the end off a corner to create a makeshift piping bag and decorate your heart out...Or simply spread it on with a spatula/knife.
* If you want to make the cake even lighter or can't consume coconut oil, you can swap replace it with unsweetened applesauce using a 1:1 ratio. I tested both versions and they each produce a perfectly moist and tender pancake. Mmm.
* Choose two types of apples for variety—preferably one slightly tart like a green Granny Smith and one that’s slightly sweeter like Pink Lady, Gravestein, Fiji, etc. Avoid Red Delicious, which will become too mealy once cooked.
* Vanilla maple cashew cream icing can be made in advance and piped onto bars when ready to eat.
* Bars will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 5 days; freeze for up to 2-3 months with wax paper between layers and thaw in refrigerator overnight. When ready to eat, simply warm in the oven or microwave (or eat them cold!).
Hopefully these tips and this recipe makes your mornings a little sweeter this week and in the months to come! Later this week, the soup is on, y’all so get ready for more warming, comforting fall goodness. Mmm.
YOUR THOUGHTS >>>
How do you make your morning routine less hectic?
Have you gotten into meal prepping or are you still on the fence?
Favorite way to top pancakes or panCAKE in this case? Ready go!
When you make this recipe, don’t forget to snap a photo and share the love on social media! Tag me @honestlynourished in your photos and use #honestlynourished so I can see! Because if you don’t ‘gram it, did it even happen?
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Simple Mills – maker of naturally gluten-free almond flour baking mixes and crackers that are also grain-free, vegan, paleo-friendly and that I genuinely use and love. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Honestly Nourished possible and eating healthy easier!