Category Archives: Snacks

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 🙂

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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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Quest & Ignite Naturals

I hope everyone has been having a great week so far! This is “busy season” at work for me, so I’ve been working longer hours, and the last thing I want to do when I get home is look at a computer screen. Although I haven’t been posting as much, I’ve been sticking with my routine of Body Pump classes, yoga, and lots of home-cooked meals! With the change in weather, I’ve become more of a hermit than usual and I’ve spent much of the past few weekends hanging out at home, watching some shows/movies, and working on going through stuff around the house to find stuff to donate to the Salvation Army.

A few times a year, I like to dig through my clothes, shoes, purses, etc and donate things that I’m not using to the local Salvation Army. It’s a habit my mom instilled in me when I was younger and it continues to this day. Lately, I’ve taken this habit to a new level as I’m trying to declutter and simplify my entire life. I’m making a conscious effort to cut down on the material stuff around me in favor of more important things. Basically, if something isn’t being used around my house then it’s getting kicked to the curb (literally, in some cases). I’ve made some ruthless cuts to my movie and book collections, and I’ve steadily copied all my CDs into iTunes and gotten rid of the hard copies (seriously – when was the last time I played a CD?!). Some of the CDs are being donated, but a good chunk I was able to sell on the website Music Magpie which I have had a very positive experience with. I didn’t get much for the CDs (about $.50 each) but it’s better than nothing! My next big step is to get rid of my stereo. I’ve had the stereo since high school, and probably haven’t turned it on in 4 years. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just sort of outdated in our MP3 and Bluetooth culture. I haven’t decided yet if I should try to sell it or just donate it to the Salvation Army. I have a feeling selling it would be more trouble than it’s worth – does anyone buy stereos anymore? Thoughts?

Stereo Issues

On a completely different note, I wanted to share my thoughts on two companies with you: Quest, and Ignite Naturals.

Recently, through my affiliation with Sweat Pink Ambassadors, I got a chance to try a free sample of Quest bars.

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I was super excited for the opportunity because I had seen Quest bars before, but never stopped to read the label and realize that they are some pretty clean bars! These protein bars are made from real ingredients, with the addition of protein powder (which I think of as processed). I tried the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough one after Body Pump on Tuesday night and really enjoyed the flavor. The texture was a little on the chewy side, but it wasn’t unpleasant – just not what I was expecting. I prefer to get my protein from whole-food sources, but these bars could be a great (portable!) addition in a pinch!

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Now, onto Ignite Naturals. A while back (like 6 months ago), Ignite Naturals contacted me and offered me a free sample of their product Ignite Naturals Refresh in exchange for me filling out a survey about the product. I fell in love with both Refresh and Ignite Naturals, and have been buying their products ever since! The company is dedicated to whole food, non-GMO, healthy nutrition for active lifestyles. I love them so much, I also joined Team Ignite – which basically means that I get to share an awesome coupon code with all of you! Using code IN0690 will get you 10% off any Ignite Naturals purchase. Disclaimer: while my first sample of Refresh was free, I received no compensation for this post, I wasn’t required to write it as a part of my partnership with Team Ignite, and all opinions are my own! I just truly love these products!

Ignite Naturals Refresh is an electrolytes powder meant to help refresh and rehydrate your bodies. The best part is – it’s made from real food ingredients! I’ve tried the Tangerine Passion Fruit and Prickly Pear flavors and really enjoyed them both although Prickly Pear is more my speed since it’s not sweet at all. It easily dissolves in water, and is perfect for those super-long sweat sessions like Body Pump or Cycling class where you just need something a little more than water. In addition, the company makes gels, protein powders, and other nutritional aids so definitely check them out! 🙂

Don’t forget: coupon code IN0690 gets you 10% off any Ignite Naturals purchase.

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

I cannot believe it took me so long to actually make a chia seed pudding.

I’ve seen it on blogs more and more over the past year, and I love chia seeds (I put them in my green smoothie each morning) but somehow I just never took the step of making pudding – until now!

My Body Pump class on Tuesday nights starts at 7:40 so it’s usually very close to 9 by the time I get home. After a strenuous class like Body Pump, I definitely need to eat something – and preferably something with a good dose of protein to help re-build my muscles. Since it’s later at night, I came up with the idea of making a chia seed pudding since it’d be very dessert-like. And who doesn’t love a good dose of chocolate late at night? Plus, chia seeds are a good source of protein, fiber and unsaturated fats!

Yes, I consider 9 o’clock late at night. Try not to judge me! 🙂

So I through together this chia seed pudding and I was super impressed with how well it came together! For those of you that don’t know, when chia seeds soak in water (or any other liquid) they absorb the liquid and turn into a gel-like consistency. This makes them perfect for puddings, jams and jellies! (I can’t wait to try some chia seed jelly next!)

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Chocolate Chia-Seed Pudding
Makes one serving.

    – 1/2 cup almond milk, unsweetened (or other non-dairy milk)
    – 1 1/2 tablespoons chia seeds
    – 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
    – 1/2 scoop chocolate protein powder
    – 1 teaspoon honey, maple syrup or other sweetener (optional! I didn’t feel like I needed it in mine)

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for at least half an hour to set. The enjoy!

Can it get any easier than that? I was so impressed at how the texture was just like real pudding. I’m definitely going to be making this more often – and trying out more flavor combinations!

chia seed pudding

As another post-workout, late-night snack I tried a recipe from Gluten Free Fix for chocolate muffins that are made using only cocoa powder, peanut butter, and honey. I apparently haven’t learned my lesson from the banana pancakes because I did not believe this combination would actually bake up into a muffin – but it does! I find them to be a little dry but not a bad snack overall, so check out the recipe!

protein muffin

Finally, last night Heather and I got together with my other friend Heather (I attract people named Heather apparently) to celebrate Halloween with dinner, a viewing of Hocus Pocus, and crafts! A few weeks ago, Heather and I picked up some craft pumpkins (made of plastic) at Michael’s so that we could decorate them and have them year after year. I gathered up a few ideas from Pinterest and decided to do three pumpkins – a glitter pumpkin, a mosaic pumpkin, and a sequined pumpkin. At Michael’s I also found these awesome plastic skull wine glasses that I just had to buy for the evenings festivities!

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The photograph doesn’t do justice to how cool they look

For the mosaic pumpkin, we stuck small squares of masking tape all over the pumpkin and then spray-painted it black. The plan is to pull the tape off and leave a pumpkin looking something like this. As of late last night, the paint was still drying so I’ll share the finished picture with you later, but here is the pumpkin in progress.

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For the glitter pumpkin, I painted a small white pumpkin with orange glitter paint from Martha Stewart’s line. It’s taking quite a few coats, so it’s not done yet but I think it’s going to be cute!

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I haven’t started on the sequined pumpkin yet because you’d be surprised how long it takes to stick all those little pieces of masking tape on a pumpkin, especially with taking breaks for wine drinking and quoting Hocus Pocus scenes.

As it was Halloween, I felt like I had to make some kind of dessert so I whipped up some Greek Yogurt Brownies I found on Pinterest. I was able to make them with ingredients I already had on hand, which I was super excited about. The only change I made to the recipe was to use sugar instead of stevia. I was really pleased with how they came out, as a moist, “cakey” brownie. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

I didn’t take a picture of the brownies. #bloggerfail – but I baked them in a muffin tin just like the original blogger and they turned out looking just like hers!

For more healthy dessert recipes, check out my Pinterest Board “Recipes: Sweet Thangs!

Whipped Feta Dip and Herbed Goat Cheese Dip

I hope everyone had a great weekend! Yesterday was my birthday and I celebrated with a relatively relaxing day of football and then dinner and drinks with friends. I don’t think there is a much better way to spend a Sunday 🙂

On Saturday I stopped by Starbucks post-Body Pump for a soy latte and noticed that Godiva has a new “truffle flight” out that is dessert themed. The truffle flight features flavors like Red Velvet Cake, Crème Brulee, and Chocolate Lava Cake. Needless to say, I couldn’t resist buying it. It seemed like the perfect birthday treat!

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When the cashier rung me up at the counter, she noticed that I was buying truffles and offered me a free truffle “sample” (it was a whole truffle) that they had been giving away earlier that day. Free truffle? Yes please! It was a great start to my Saturday. On Saturday night, Heather and I went to the Jason Aldean concert at Jiffy Lube Live. It was a great show, although the weather was a little chilly. I guess fall really is almost here!

Ever since my Mom and I tried the goat cheese dip at Café Caturra I have been obsessed with re-creating it. Well, I think I succeeded at making a homemade version! 🙂 This Sunday I whipped up a few cheese dips to enjoy while watching football, including a goat cheese dip. I had to restrain myself from eating all of it. This is a quick and easy recipe that I will definitely be making for many football gatherings (and non-football gatherings) to come!

Sidenote: I went to Café Caturra last night for my birthday and again failed to take any pictures. #bloggerfail I think the problem is that when I see food, I instantly start stuffing my face. #thingsIneedtoworkon

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Herb & Goat Cheese Dip

    – 1 log goat cheese (I used a small one – just a few ounces)
    – an equal amount of ricotta (I used this to tone down the tangy goat cheese, you can use less ricotta and it’ll be more tangy)
    – a pinch or two of oregano
    – a pinch of herbs de provence, Italian seasoning, or other herb blend
    – 1 teaspoon lemon juice
    – 1 tablespoon Greek yogurt

Process or blend all ingredients together in a food processor. Serve with chips, crackers, or toasted bread.

Once I made the goat cheese dip, I figured I could apply the same technique to some feta cheese I had to use up. It turned out great!

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Whipped Feta Dip

    – 1 container feta
    – 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese
    – 1 tablespoon Greek yogurt
    – 1 teaspoon lemon juice
    – a pinch or two of dried oregano

Blend or process all ingredients together in a food processor and serve with chips, crackers or toasted bread.

I also think either one of these would be great spread on a sandwich or in a pita! 🙂

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.