Category Archives: Breakfast

My Oatmeal Review

Through my association with the Sweat Pink Ambassadors I recently got the opportunity to try a free sample of customized oatmeal from My Oatmeal! My Oatmeal is an awesome online company that allows you to customize rolled oats, steel-cut oats, or a blend of the two with tons of flavors, nuts, dried fruit, and other add-ins. Although this is something I could totally do myself at home (like my Banana Bread Oatmeal), it was so much fun to look through the ideas on the site and come up with my own blends :-). I ended up making two 1 pound bags – one with regular rolled oats and one with steel-cut oats which I’ve been meaning to try! In order to keep myself on some kind of path with the myriad of ingredients offered I tried to re-create some flavors I already knew. I used my rolled oats batch to make a “Blueberry Muffin” blend with dried blueberries, chia seeds, ground flax, and sliced almonds. For the steel-cut oats, I made an “Oatmeal Raisin Cookie” blend using dark raisins, walnuts, ground flax, and coconut chips.

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I love the way the site works – as you add ingredients to your blend, the price for your chosen size automatically updates, and a Nutritional Facts label updates with all the pertinent facts for your blend – it helped me keep an eye on calories and protein, as well as how much I was spending! It helped reign me in when I started to get carried away! The Nutritional Facts label is also on the bags when you get them, along with all your ingredients 🙂

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I chose to leave any sweeteners out of my mix, since I rarely eat sweet things I tend to be sensitive to sugar so I wanted to add my own later own – but the site has a great selection of natural sweeteners you can add, and they are slowly increasing their organic options! 🙂

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I cooked up both types of oatmeal as mid-morning snacks this week and loved them both! They are so hearty and filling that I ended up eating lunch really late one day since the oatmeal was really carrying me over. The steel-cut oats take much longer to cook, about 20 minutes on the stove, but the bag gives a great microwave option where you soak the oats overnight and then microwave them the next day. I tried this method (and the stove method) and it worked great for me! I am so happy with My Oatmeal’s products and I’ll definitely be making more blends in the future!

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Check out this deliciousness!

Full disclosure: I received a free sample of My Oatmeal in exchange for my fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own 🙂

Homemade Banana Bread Oatmeal

One of the healthy habits I was able to maintain during my crazy January was eating oatmeal every day for breakfast. Usually, I drink a green smoothie everyday for breakfast but during that month I wasn’t going grocery shopping and definitely didn’t have the time and patience for my usual green smoothie routine. It’s a shame, but rather than dwell on the past I’m going to focus with this delicious oatmeal recipe I came up with as a result!

One morning when I was grabbing myself a ziplock baggie of oatmeal to take to work I decided to mix it up a little. Up until this point, I was usually grab about a cup of plain oatmeal from my large container and add a few shakes a cinnamon and call it a day. This particular morning, I decided to add in a scoop of Banana Bread granola from Nature Box (delicious – by the way!) and headed off to work. When I added hot water at work, the granola broke apart and mixed into the oatmeal but still had that awesome toasted flavor and the nuts/seeds/raisins in the granola mixed throughout the oatmeal. It was really delicious! While I love the idea of using the granola in my oatmeal, I decided to make a homemade version with all the same great flavors!

Banana Bread Oatmeal

Banana Bread Oatmeal
Makes one bowl.

    – 1 cup plain oatmeal
    – 1 1/2 tablespoons dried bananas, chopped (I didn’t chop mine out of laziness, but I think they’d be better chopped up)
    – 2 tablespoons raisins
    – 1 1/2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped
    – 2 teaspoons cinnamon
    – 1-2 teaspoons brown sugar (to your taste)
    – Approx. 3/4 cup hot water or milk (to cook the oatmeal)

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Add hot water or milk and allow to sit and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Alternatively, add cold water or milk and cook in the microwave for 2 minutes, or until soft.

I’m pretty obsessed with this oatmeal blend and I’ve been eating it as an afternoon snack most days – it’s perfect during this last spell of cold weather! 🙂 I love how the dried bananas soften up in the oatmeal – so delicious! I actually ended up making a huge batch of the dry ingredients for this oatmeal in a glass jar and I just scoop out what I need each time. 🙂

Holiday Eats

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I know I had a great time relaxing at home with my family, and I wasn’t ready for it to be over. My family celebrates Thanksgiving with just myself, my sister, and my parents so it’s a relatively easy-going affair. As my mom put it, we eat when the food is ready! It’s nice to not have to worry about traveling or organizing a large group of people for the meal. It was especially nice this year since my dad had the flu the whole week, so it was much easier on him to be able to sleep and relax without lots of other family/friends around. Not that it was nice that he had the flu! Poor guy 😦

The last day of work before the break, even my afternoon tea was advising me to take a break from work. Such wise words!

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I didn’t take a ton of pictures over the Thanksgiving break because I prefer to unplug and just “be present” and spend the time with family. This may make me a #badfoodblogger but I can deal with that. I did snap a few pictures though.

This year, we used a recipe from Rachael Ray for our stuffing called ‘Simon and Garfunkel Stuffing’, called that because (wait for it!)…it uses parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme! I am absolutely in love with this stuffing recipe. It’s a good basic stuffing recipe, absolutely packed with fresh herbs. This is definitely going to be my go-to from now on! In our house, we always make ‘stuffing muffins’ instead of just a big casserole dish of stuffing for two reasons: 1) instant portion control and 2) there’s lots more yummy crunchy pieces (which lets face it – is the best part) to go around! I managed to take a picture of the stuffing muffins before they went into the oven, but that’s the only ‘Thanksgiving’ picture I took. Trust me – they’re delicious!

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On Friday, my mom and I got up at 5 am for Black Friday shopping. It’s a tradition for her and I to go every year – but we do a very laid-back version of Black Friday. We get up at 5 am and are usually shopping by 5:30-5:45 which is too late for the people who get up really early to shop (or go the night before) but too early for the people who sleep in and shop at a normal time. This, combined with the fact that I’m from a relatively small town, means that there’s barely anyone at the stores. We also don’t go out looking for anything in particular or any big-ticket items. We just like to spend the time together and browse – picking up a movie here and a sweater there. I got a beautiful new sweater at American Eagle for 50% off as well as a couple movies from Target – ‘The Way, Way Back’ and ‘The Heat.’ I also picked up some more water bottles at Target as they had my favorite Contigo bottles on sale for $15 for a 2-pack. I’m happy with the things I bought, but I was more happy to spend the time shopping and chatting with my mom.

On Saturday, my mom and I went out shopping again to celebrate Small Business Saturday. We stopped by a new shop that just opened up called ‘Olives and Grapes’ that sells high-end olive oils, infused oils, and vinegars. We tasted a few different oils, and my mom bought some bottles as gifts for her friends. It was a really nice place and it sounds like they have some great ideas for the future (like hosting nights when chefs come in and prepare dishes featuring their oils!)

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On Saturday, I decided to make some bread pudding for my family with the leftover bread cubes from the stuffing. Someone (a.k.a. me) got a little carried away and we ended up with WAY more bread cubes than we needed for the recipe. So I decided to put the leftovers to good use! I’m always seeing chefs whip up bread puddings from all kinds of ingredients in the final (dessert) round on Chopped so I figured I could do the same with items we had around the house. I ended up with this delicious recipe!

bread pudding

Apple-Raisin Bread Pudding
Makes 8-10 servings.

    – 10 cups cubed stale or toasted bread
    – 5 apples, peeled, cored and cubed
    – 1/2 cup raisins (I didn’t measure these – just sort of added them to the bread until it looked like enough)
    – 3 1/2 cups milk (I used soy but any will work)
    – 4 eggs
    – 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    – 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon (I probably use a lot more than this because I’m a little cinnamon-obsessed)

Mix bread, apples and raisins together in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, vanilla and cinnamon. Add the milk mixture to the bread mixture and stir gently to combine. Let sit for 15 minutes (up to overnight) to allow the bread to soak. Transfer to a casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Confession: we ate this for breakfast on Sunday, with ice cream and it was amazing. So amazing I didn’t think to Instagram it until after I had finished stuffing my face.

I must have been bit by the baking bug this week, because last night I used the leftover cranberry sauce to bake these ‘Cranberry Cheesecake Brownies’ from Damn Delicious. Not healthy at all, but at least they’re made from scratch and absolutely delicious! After all, the holidays only come once a year!

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Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes & A Kitchen Tip!

Since it’s October I’m taking full advantage of the excuse to celebrate two of my favorite things: pumpkin and horror movies! Both of these things are October staples – and I had plenty of each this weekend! After Body Pump on Saturday morning I whipped up some Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Up first – a tip for cooking bacon!

I learned this tip for Rachel Ray and have since seen it on many cooking shows and articles online. Apparently, restaurants bake their bacon on sheet trays rather than cooking it on the stove top. This prevents 1) grease from splattering all over the stovetop and 2) keeps the bacon from having those “less cooked” spots as it cooks and crinkles up in the pan. Another great tip is that if you bake the bacon up on top of a cooling rack over the sheet tray – all the grease will drop down below! I recently purchased a new set of cookie sheets from Bed, Bath and Beyond so I took full advantage of baking my bacon this weekend – but I have yet to find a cooling rack that will work to put up on top. As soon as I do I’m definitely trying that method!

Bake the bacon in a single layer in a 375 degree over for 12 – 15 minutes.

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cooked bacon
Tada!

And while the bacon was baking I moved on to making the pancakes!

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Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes
Makes 7-8 pancakes.

    – 1 cup of my whole wheat pancake mix
    – 1/2 can of pumpkin puree (I’d say it’s about 1/2-3/4 of a cup)
    – 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
    – Enough milk (I used soy milk) to bring the mixture to a pancake batter consistency

Mix all ingredients together until smooth – don’t over-mix! Drop onto a hot skillet and cook until golden brown on both sides. Serve with butter and maple syrup.

whole wheat pumpkin pancakes

Yum! These pancakes were so delicious and filling on a nice, cool, weekend.

I spent most of the weekend being sort of a hermit and getting stuff done around my house while I caught up on TV shows and watched a few movies. And by “watched a few movies” I mean watched the Paranormal Activity movies in marathon format. It’s not the first time I’ve done this, and I swear I never learn my lesson. I absolutely love horror movies, and I enjoy the scary feeling they give me while I watch them but sometimes after a marathon like this (or a particularly scary movie) I wake up in the middle of the night seriously creeped out. Luckily, I’ve discovered that the Animal Planet show “Too Cute” is on Netflix Instant and it is seriously the best cure for a case of the late-night heebie-jeebies! I’m sure I’ll need it again soon, as one of my favorite horror franchises – the Halloween series – is on marathon all this week on AMC. Even though I own all the movies on DVD (except for that terrible third outing that doesn’t count because Michael Myers isn’t even in it) I cannot resist the urge to watch them and/or DVR them when they’re on TV!

Questions of the Day:
What are your favorite horror movies? Or do you like horror movies at all?
Are you addicted to pumpkin too? If not, what is your favorite fall treat?

Black Forest Cake Smoothie & Protein Shake Recipes

I hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend! 🙂 I took Friday off of work to spend a long weekend with my mom. It was great catching up – and I’ll share a full post of our adventures tomorrow! 🙂

Yesterday, I guest posted on Domestic Superhero with another dessert smoothie recipe! (<— click to check it out! :-)) I was inspired by an article I found on Greatist about how cherry juice can help with sore muscles and thought the combination of cherry juice and chocolate protein powder would make a great dessert smoothie! Not to mention, it’s pretty healthy and tastes like Black Forest cake! Yum!

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In addition to the smoothie recipe, I also whipped up a Black Forest Cake Protein Shake recipe – all the goodness without the blender!

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Black Forest Cake Protein Shake
Serves one.

    – 2 cups cherry juice
    – 1 scoop chocolate protein powder (or 1 scoop unflavored protein powder with 2 tablespoons cocoa)

Blend or shake together ingredients in a blender bottle.

This protein shake is great for muscle repair and recovery immediately after working out – but the smoothie is too if you’re looking for something a little thicker or you aren’t into protein powder.

Zucchini Pancakes

One of my best friends went home to visit her family last weekend which is good news for me because every time she takes a trip home, she brings me a load of fresh vegetables from her dad’s garden! 🙂

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Check out that huge haul of veggies! I actually knew it was going to be a challenge for me to eat them all myself. Luckily, my mom is coming into town for Labor Day weekend and I know her and I will eat up a ton of them! My friend also brought me some zucchini bread which I had never had before and is absolutely delicious. It takes like dessert to me! In addition to the zucchini bread, she also gave me two of the biggest zucchinis I have ever seen! I hope the picture does them justice – they were each literally the size of my forearm.

So one of my first challenges was to decide what to do with all this zucchini! I already had zucchini bread – so I was looking for other ideas. I decided on zucchini pancakes, or latkes or zucchini fritters – whatever you want to call them. I’ve seen them called a bunch of different names on the internet. Basically, they’re very similar to potato pancakes.

First thing, I shredded up about a zucchini and a half (I saved half and diced it up to use in a frittata). I was a little wary of the task of shredding up that much zucchini, but it actually went pretty easily – probably because the zucchini has such a high water content. Because of that, I didn’t want soggy pancakes so I put the shredded zucchini in a strainer with a little salt and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Then, I squeezed it out in a water towel. I’m glad I did because a ton of water came out!

Next, I mixed the shredded zucchini up in a bowl with granulated onion, granulated garlic, eggs, and a little flour.

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I heated up a few tablespoons of oil in a skillet and dropped in small, silver-dollar sized pancakes of batter and cooked over medium-high heat until golden brown on both sides.

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I drained the pancakes on paper towels to soak up the excess oil.

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Ta da! These are delicious. They really remind me of potato pancakes, and a little bit of hashbrowns. They would be great served up with ketchup, or sour cream, or even apple sauce (which is traditional for potato latkes). I definitely saved up the leftovers for my mom and I to enjoy for brunch on Friday!

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Zucchini Pancakes
Makes approximately 12 pancakes, depending on size.

    – 2 cups shredded zucchini
    – 2 eggs
    – 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
    – 2 teaspoons granulated onion
    – 1 tablespoon flour
    – 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Mix all ingredients together and sauté a few tablespoons of batter (small pancake size) in hot oil until golden brown on both sides, approximately 5 minutes per side. Serve for breakfast or brunch.

Pumpkin Granola Recipe

I hope everyone had a great weekend! Mine was jam-packed with fun activities. Friday night Heather and I got dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant then went to see The Mortal Instruments. Heather was a big fan of the books, which I’ve never read, but I thought the movie was pretty good. Saturday morning we went to Body Pump where I managed to stay up on my toes for all 10 push-ups in the shoulder track! 🙂 They weren’t full-on 90 degree “real woman” push-ups though so I’m not counting it as something I can cross off my bucket list just yet!

On Saturday, we went to the Toby Keith concert and had absolutely beautiful weather. Toby Keith is one of my all-time favorite performers to see in concert. He just puts on such a show, and you really can’t compete with someone who’s been making hits for 20-ish years. Heather and I did lots of dancing, and really enjoyed ourselves.

On Saturday I also decided to make some more granola (because I ran out) and decided to make a pumpkin version to celebrate the fact that I found canned pumpkin in the grocery store! I used the same basic recipe as before, but changed it up a little to accommodate the pumpkin and the pumpkin pie spices. It turned out delicious! It’s a different type of granola than my last recipe though. The last recipe was very crisp and not very clumpy – but this version has a lot more chunks and the chunks are crisp on the outside but chewy in the center, because of the pumpkin. I think it’s a delicious new texture for granola!

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Pumpkin Pie Granola
Makes 5 1/2 cups.

    – 4 1/2 cups oats
    – 1 cup pecan bits, or chopped pecans (optional – but they just seem to go with pumpkin to me!)
    – 1 tablespoon cinnamon
    – 1 teaspoon ground cloves
    – 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
    – 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    – 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
    – 1 can pumpkin puree
    – 3 tablespoons honey (or maple syrup or other sweetener)

Mix all ingredients together. I found that because of the pumpkin it takes a while to really get it all incorporated. Spread the mixture onto a greased baking pan (I used coconut oil), breaking up any big chunks as you go. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until crisp.

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I added pecans to this granola because pecans and pumpkin seem to go hand-in-hand to me. I think it’s because every year for Thanksgiving my mom makes a pecan pie (because it’s my stepdad’s favorite) and a pumpkin pie (because it’s my favorite). Either way, it turned out delicious! 🙂