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Every year, my friends call on me to help them plan their spring and summer parties. Not to exercise their right to take advantage of a chef, but to up their game when it comes to having the best party on the block. And since most of them have children, I find that having a stellar party gives them full bragging rights for the entire year.

This year I wanted to do something a little different and offer up a brunch party instead of the usual potluck or cocktail event. I thought it would be fun to create a Sunday Waffle Bar that was loaded with healthy picks (and a couple of sinful delights scattered in) that would kick-off a week of mindful eating. It’s always fun to indulge, but as we indulge less, the healthier we end up being. By no means am I saying that a waffle bar is the healthiest brunch idea on the planet, but I was inclined to give my friends some waist-friendly options.

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First off, a waffle bar is a delightful idea when you have overnight guests in town, have a graduation party to set up but wanted to feed the kids prior to their big day, as well as the perfect setting for a baby or bridal shower. It’s all in the details and how much your budget allows. The waffle bar I set up feeds 8-10 people and cost me only $32.54!

Two days before the party I made a list of must-haves including the place settings and serving dishes. This Sunday waffle bar was set up in a dining room so I just pushed the table flush against the wall, added a cute table runner, and draped it with a wooden runner to lighten the clean up. I set up all of my service ware and novelty items (like the chalkboard) prior to adding any food. Having this all set up prior to putting the food out will save you time in the long run.

The day of the party I prepared the food and made a couple of special items from scratch including Homemade Roasted Almond Butter and Gluten-Free Blueberry Granola. These special treats added to my healthy theme and I also printed up recipes for all of the guests to take with them.

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Some of the items I decided on were fresh strawberries, pineapple, blueberries, bananas, nuts, whipped cream, dolce de leche, crushed up Speculoos cookies (from Trader Joe’s), whole grain waffles, and gluten-free waffles. You could take this to the next level and add sausage and bacon, but I wanted to keep this a vegetarian brunch.

So next weekend, invite your friends over and throw a fancy fresh brunch party that will have you feeling fabulous on Monday morning! Happy eating!

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Homemade Roasted Almond Butter
Ingredients:
1 pound dry roasted almonds
1 pinch Himalayan sea salt

Directions:
In a high-powered Kenmore food processor, add almonds and salt. Process for 10 minutes or until thick and creamy. Scrape down sides often. Place in glass jar. Can be refrigerated up to a week.

Gluten-Free Blueberry Granola
Ingredients:
4 cups certified gluten-free rolled oats
1/2 rounded cup rough-chopped organic walnuts
1/2 rounded cup rough-chopped organic pecans
1/2 cup pure organic maple syrup
6 tablespoons light olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup dried blueberries

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 325º. Take out two baking sheets and set aside.

In a large bowl combine the rolled oats, walnuts, and pecans.

In a glass measuring cup, combine the maple syrup, olive oil, cinnamon and sea salt. Mix well with a fork. Drizzle the syrup mixture over the oats, and stir as you go. Gently keep stirring until all the oats are coated with the syrup blend.

Spread the granola mixture onto the two baking sheets. Bake in the center of the oven for roughly 25-30 minutes until golden and toasty. Check the granola half way through baking time to stir gently.

Remove from the oven and allow the pans to cool a bit. Pour the cooled granola into a large bowl. Add in the dried blueberries and stir.

Store in an air-tight container.

Of course, you can’t have a waffle bar without a waffle maker. Fortunately, Kenmore has the 4-Slice Waffle Maker with a brightly-lit, LED indicator lights make baking perfectly golden waffles a snap.

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