breakfast, cooking, dairy free, food, pancakes, pumpkin, Tasty Tuesday

Recipe Round-up: Pumpkin Pancakes

There’s just something about the word “fall” that rhymes with the word “pumpkin”. Oh, how I long for the time of year when I can break out my pumpkin scented candles, buy dozens upon dozens of pumpkin puree cans, and I can begin decorating my house in autumn colors or orange and yellow. Fall also renews my baking spirit and I eagerly plan out what new tasty treats I’ll be whipping up on a weekly basis.

And yes – as you can probably infer – my waistline tends to expand as the fall season begins. I know, it’s no longer swimsuit season. So who really cares if you have an extra cookie here or there? It’s fall and it’s starting to cool off, so you’re not wearing such revealing clothing. You’re not going to the beach or going to a bunch of outdoor events. Oh no, you’re starting to stay indoors, watch the new fall lineup on television, and cheering on your football team each weekend. Yes, fall is the time of year when we all become just a bit more complacent and settle into a more relaxed routine.

This year, I want my fall routine to be different. And boy, will it ever be different (more on that later). I just wanted to prove to myself and my family that it is possible to enjoy some delicious foods while still maintaining healthy habits! Remember – I don’t do DIETS. Most people don’t do well with them, and I don’t feel we should punish ourselves! Instead, making a few LIFESTYLE adjustments here and there has a much more positive effect on one’s life.

Take for example the all-american breakfast entree – pancakes. Pancakes can come in so many different shapes and sizes. You have your traditional versions: whole wheat, buttermilk, blueberry, or chocolate chip. Then you have your healthified versions: gluten-free, paleo, 3-ingreidents or less, grain-free, or sugarless. Then there’s always the fancy versions: pumpkin, red velvet, cinnamon roll, or cake batter. Some recipes are made from scratch, while others are made using a pre-made mix. As you can imagine, the homemade versions are usually better for you than a processed box mix like Bisquick. But please don’t be fooled – a homemade recipe can be just as unhealthy as if you went to a diner and ordered it with bacon grease as a side!

But we love pancakes and why on earth would we want to part with them? Well, most diets would tell you that you can’t have these soft, deletable discs. There are just too many carbs in the white flour mix or there’s too much sugar in the syrup and on low-carb diets, these are big no-no’s! But when you make a life style change to your eating plan, you realize that you can still have your pancakes and eat them too! It’s all about balance and it can be achieved in 3 simple steps. One: swap out a few not-so-great ingredients for healthier versions. Two: make them in smaller serving sizes and eat a smaller portion. Three: don’t douse or drown them in butter and syrup!

Now, as I was saying, fall is my favorite time of year. And since canned pumpkin has FINALLY returned to my local Aldi, I took advantage and stocked up for the month of October. Yes – you heard me right – I have enough to last me through Halloween. That’s about 10, 15 oz. cans. I will be re-stocking in November and December! Now what did I plan to do with all of this pumpkin? Well, I have been craving pancakes recently, so I decided to set out on a mission. The mission: to find the best “healthy” pumpkin pancake recipe.

I did a simple Pinterest search and found at least 20 different recipes that all looked delectable. I wound up settling on the below 3 recipes. You’ll notice that they are all healthier versions, but they each have a different niche market that they cover. I wanted to try new options with some new ingredients that I wouldn’t have thought to use. I’m also very interested in learning about other eating routines, so I decided to try a Paleo recipe as well! If you have specific dietary restrictions, you can always find a version that will work best for you! My biggest thing is watching my carb intake, so I wanted recipes that focus more on the veggies (pumpkin) and healthy fats (coconut oil). Below you will find the step-by-step instructions to make the 3 versions I made and test out for yourself which one is the favorite!

Grain-Free Pumpkin Pancakes

2 eggs, large
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 T maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup almond meal (I made my own)
1 T coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

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  1. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs. Add in pumpkin puree and maple syrup; mix well.
  2. Next, add in the remaining dry ingredients; mix again until everything is combined.
  3. Heat a greased skillet over medium heat.
  4. Using an ice cream scoop, spoon about 1/4 cup of the batter onto the pan.
  5. Cook the first side for about 3 minutes, or until cooked through enough to flip. Let the other side cook for 2-3 minutes or until cooked all the way through.
  6. Seve with maple syrup and enjoy!!

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Healthy Pumpkin Oatmeal Blender Pancakes

1 cup rolled oats
8 oz (1/2 can) pure pumpkin
1 large egg
2 T pure maple syrup
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

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  1. Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and puree until batter is smooth.
  2. Heat a non-stick skillet (coated with oil or cooking spray) over medium heat. Using an ice cream scoop, drop about 1/4 cup of the batter onto the hot skillet.
  3. Cook each pancake about 2-3 minutes per side, until pancakes start to brown just a little on each side and are cooked all the way through.
  4. Remove pancakes to a plate and keep warm in the microwave/oven while you cook the remaining batter into pancakes.
  5. Serve with additional maple syrup.

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Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes

2 T coconut flour
2 eggs
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
2 T pumpkin puree
1/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 T coconut oil, melted, (add more for more moisture)
1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 T coconut milk, (optional, if your batter is still too thick for your preference)

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  1. In a bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: coconut flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: eggs, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, and pumpkin puree.
  3. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mix. Stir until the ingredients are well combined.
  4. Heat a pan or skillet with coconut oil or organic butter over medium-low heat. Use an ice cream scoop to portion batter onto the pan. Note: these will not bubble like regular pancakes, so be sure to check them after a few minutes! Flip them over and cooke until golden brown.
  5. Serve with pure maple syrup or enjoy them in all of their pumpkin glory!

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Now, go get baking to discover which on is your favorite!!! Be sure to leave a comment below letting me know what pancake recipe you liked best!

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meditation, self-improvement, self-love, The Savvy Kitchenista

When the Rush Comes…

Have you ever had the feeling is if you just cannot stop what you’re doing? I’m not talking about how you get in the middle of activity and you’re so zoned in that you just can’t put it down. I’ve experienced that many a time, whether it’s a project for school, some sort of scrapbooking project, or even a book that I was reading. The kind of feeling I’m talking about is when your mind just doesn’t seem to shut off. I’ve heard people talk about it, I’ve read about it, and I thought I had experienced it… But these last few weeks I finally experience the full effects of it. And I wasn’t really a fan of it.

I’ve always enjoyed staying busy and I consider myself pretty good multi-tasker. But recently I’ve just felt like I’ve had ongoing thoughts that keep circling in my mind, over and over again. And I just couldn’t shut them off. I would wake up in the morning and the thoughts would just start flowing in. I would go for a run and I’d have at least five really great ideas that would flicker in and out of my head as my feet took turns hitting the pavement. By the time I would get home, I would struggle to get all these good ideas down on paper. While I was trying to recall these thoughts, a new thought would pop into my head. Then I would be scrambling to write that thought down before I forgot it!

I would start my morning by getting ready for work – taking a shower, making breakfast, taking care of our puppy, etc. Usually at this point I was more focused on what I was doing, so the thoughts weren’t as loud. On my drive to work, I would talk to my my mom, which was my normal routine. Once at the office, I would set up my day and make myself coffee. I usually have 4-5 projects going on with my line of work, so I’m very focused oh whatever it is that I’m doing. But at some point during the morning, the thoughts would come back.

I want to take a moment to be extra clear about something. These are not like that that’s a bad thoughts. These are great ideas that would come to mind as I was working on something and I would quickly jot it down or tell myself, “ok, remember that”. And then I would go back to what I was doing. But they just wouldn’t seem to stop. Which is great, but I also very inhibiting when your intently working on something else. I just wanted the thoughts to stop. I wanted to be able to press pause and come back to it when I had more free time at lunch or later in the day. But I couldn’t seem to turn them off. This would go on for hours, and continued once I got home. It lasted for about a week, before I had enough.

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I used to think meditation was impossible and only something that I could dream of doing. What – you want me to clear my mind and not think of anything? Ummm that’s practically impossible for me (or most people, I would imagine). But I kept hearing about how awesome it was and how I should try it, so I began to consider it.

Then this happened – everything just seemed to start going haywire. You know those days when it all hits the fan? Yep – that’s what it felt like. I wasn’t sleeping, I couldn’t concentrate, and I couldn’t shut my brain off. The racing thoughts continued throughout the day. I spent a week circling through wake and sleep cycles, trying desperately to find a way to shut it all off. As I attempted to fall asleep last Sunday night, I told myself I was going to wake up the next morning and meditate. And I did. I’ll be the first tell you – it was extremely difficult. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I was thankful to just relax.

My first day, it took me forever to get into the “zone”. I set my phone’s timer for an ambitious 7 minutes and got in the “position”. You know – cross-legged with my hands resting on my knees, palms facing upward. But then I couldn’t get quiet enough. We live next to a busy highway and the sound barrier wall can only block so much noise. The perfectionist in me kept coming to the surface, with it’s tiny voice asking: “Am I doing this right?” “It’s not quiet enough.” “Should I keep my eyes open or closed?” “What do I do with my hands?”

It took me longer than it should have to silence this voice as well. I remembered one of the tips I had read – count your breaths – so I decided to give it a whirl. One – I took a deep breath and slowly let it out. Two – I tried to focus on envisioning myself on a beach. Three – ok, I think I can do this. Slowly, I felt as if the clouds in my mind began to move just a tiny bit and my mind was a little less chaotic. The timer for the seven minutes of that first day weren’t the best, but they were a start. And you know what? I wasn’t the least bit concerned about whether or not I did it correctly. My biggest concern was when could I do it again?

The following day, I didn’t make time for it in the morning and boy was that a mistake. I felt all sorts of oddness that Tuesday. I had slept decently, so I couldn’t blame that. On top of everything else that was going on inside me, I just felt like I was off balance. I once again felt like I couldn’t keep things in the right place and I felt as if I all over the place. I’m usually really good about multi-tasking and keeping things in order, but I just felt as if my mind was going a million miles a minute. It was a crazy feeling. I came home and tried to meditate then, but found it even harder than the first day to concentrate. I realized that mornings were my only hope for solace.

By the end of the week, I was in a much better state of mind. I began to sleep better – through the night without waking up or having an upsetting dream. I would wake up with a clearer and quieter mind – one that didn’t race as quickly as my footsteps on my morning run. I would come home and either do yoga and meditate, or just meditate. Five minutes of peace and silence (or as close to it as I could get) before my day would begin. Though it was only 300 seconds, those 300 seconds set my day on the right track. I could concentrate on getting ready for work and actually not be disturbed by rushing, fleeting thoughts. I began to feel like my old-self again and it was calming, which of course helped my mood even more. I have now begun to look forward to my morning sessions with myself.

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Meditation is a wonderful way to get in connection with yourself whether you’re struggling or not. Some people use it to improve communication and relationships. Others use meditation as a method to sharpen their thinking or master their emotions. Still others are like me – seeking to reduce anxiety and/or depression. Whether you’re new to meditation or a seasoned professional, here are some tips I found helpful.

  1. No matter what you read or hear, don’t expect your brain to just go blank! Especially if this is your first time. One tip I was given was to use a candle to focus your sight on, helping to clear your mind of other thoughts.
  2. You don’t have to sit cross-legged or hold your hands in a specific position. While some prefer this position, the overall goal is to be comfortable. It may take you a free tries, but find one that speaks to you.
  3. Don’t plan on a long amount of time. If you’re a beginner, pick a short length of time and set a timer on your phone. Start off small and slowly increase. I’ve only been practicing a week and I’m only up to 5 minutes.
  4. Try to practice meditation first thing in the morning. Not only is it quietest during this time, but it’s also when you’re most open. I’ve found that it’s extremely beneficial in helping me start my day off on the right note, connecting with my thoughts before the hustle and bustle begins.
  5. Whatever arises, just go with it. If emotions do come up, embrace them and feel what they’re trying to tell you. If the same thoughts or emotions frequent your sessions, pay close attention. Your body and mind are trying to tell you something.

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Happy meditating!

badass, positivity, self-confidence, self-improvement, self-love, self-talk, The Savvy Kitchenista

Replacing Your Stories

I remember when I was younger, I was such an avid reader. I would happily wake up every weekend, ecstatic about going to the library for new books. My mom gave us larger tote bags to carry our books in. My brother and I would load them to the brim and attempt to carry them into the library for unloading into the return bin. Then, the fun began. We would wander (or sometimes run) around the kid’s section of the library, exploring all the cool new covers and looking for something new to explore.

For me, reading was a getaway. When I was young, my mom would read books to us each night before we went to bed. During the days at school (we were homeschooled), she would read aloud to us from various classics. As we grew older, we began reading on our own before going to sleep. I can remember being so enthralled with a book that I couldn’t put it down – so much so that I would read by the nightlight in my bedroom. Looking back on it, that wasn’t the smartest decision (my mother insists that’s why I had to get glasses at such  young age), but at least I found out what happened in the story!

Now days, I’m lucky if I pick up a book at all. With the invention and  explosion of the internet, everything is at our fingertips. Why would children want to go to the library and check out a book when they can just watch the movie version of it, or read the cliff notes online? Yes – these are actual arguments I’ve heard from parents and people outside of the teaching profession. This thought process drives teachers and librarians crazy! We as a society have somehow lost the value and satisfaction in reading and researching information. Instead, we rely on Google to locate the answers for us and in a condensed version only please – no lengthy scholarly articles with large, unfamiliar words!

I will admit, I’m absolutely at fault for relying on Google. I also rely heavily on my mother who has a multitude of books and resources at her fingertips. I’ll mention that my head is bothering me or I’m having trouble sleeping, and the next thing you know she’ll have found me 3-4 different tips on how to remedy it! This doesn’t include her mother’s intuition! It’s all very informative and you know what? These thoughts and tidbits that she shares with me will typically stick in my brain far longer than if I look it up somewhere. I’m convinced it’s because I’m actually reading the information and taking the time to absorb it.

But my point in telling you this is how I stumbled across this book that I’m now reading. I have been searching for a positive book to help me with some things I have been going through. I’ll be honest – I’ve always struggled with my confidence. Whether it was confidence in the way I looked or dressed, or the way that I ran, or the way that I spoke in front of large groups of people – I’ve always been pretty shy and timid. My job as a teacher definitely pushed me out of my introverted state, but I never struggled when working with children or adults. It was always my own age group that frightened me. Looking back, I realize my fear came from worrying about what they thought of me.

Knowing all of this, my coach recommended I read “You Are a Badass” by Jen Sincero. I already had a few books on my plate that I wanted to read first (one being a book about getting pregnant), so I pushed this book off. Life began to get in the way and I never even finished the pregnancy book. Then life began to get overwhelming and I really began to question myself. Was I making the right decision? Was I making a good choice by going down this path? Am I doing the right thing? All of these questions began to cloud my mind with fear and doubt.

I refused to give into this pity party that my body and mind were trying to throw without my permission. About this same time, one of my best friends sent me a photo with the caption, “look what I picked up at the bookstore!” It was the book my coach had recommended. It was fate! I researched books on tape and found that “You Are a Badass” as actually available. Without hesitation, I purchased it and began listening immediately.

I know, I know – I go on this huge tangent about people no longer reading books, and then I go and do this. I know; I’m awful! But over the past two months, I’ve literally not had the time to pick up a book and read more than 15 minutes without something coming up. I was hesitant to try books on tape because I know my attention span isn’t the greatest. But surprisingly, I’ve found myself turning the book on more and more and stopping it to jot down a key quote or thought. I was worried I might zone out or half listen to the book, but instead I find myself leaning in more closely to hear what she has to share. I’m hooked!

Now, I haven’t finished the book, but I have come across several treasures that I absolutely want to begin putting into place in my life. One of these nuggets is that whenever your mind begins to tell yourself something negative, you stop it in it’s tracks and flip it to a positive thought. For someone who has dealt with a lot of negative self-talk (I’m sure I’m not the only one out there), I find this positive affirmation activity very helpful. But Sincero pushes even further past just flooding yourself with positive affirmations every time a negative thought comes up. She actually recommends addressing the very cause of these negative thoughts and facing them head on in order to eliminate them.

The first step in this process is to “list off your old stories”. These stories are any lines or thoughts that we constantly feed ourselves. These stories are actually bad habits because they are negative in nature and we’re essentially self-sabotaging ourselves. For me, my “old stories” are:

  1. I’m not strong or intelligent enough to lead others.
  2. I’m not assertive enough to be a leader or someone who motivates others.
  3. I’m not positive enough for others to listen to me.
  4. I’m not smart enough to find a way to make a difference.
  5. I’m not savvy enough to find a way to do what I love and be financially stable.
  6. I’m not healthy enough to get pregnant.
  7. I’m not creative enough.

The list could go on and on, but I think you catch my drift. There are a lot of things that I give myself grief for. And I stupidly listen to this inner voice and doubt myself. Not all of the time, but a good deal of the time I just give in and believe the voice. This happens more often when I am struggling in an area of my life (work, personal relationship, etc).

Once you’ve identified the stories that you notoriously feed yourself, you then have to address the false rewards that you get from them. That’s right – when we talk to ourselves in this negative manner, we’re actually getting some sort of joy out of it. I know, sounds bizarre doesn’t it? This was an especially tough step for me.

  1. When I tell myself that I’m not strong or intelligent enough to lead, I give myself the break from trying to learn more about a given topic. If I know I’m not intelligent enough, why should I waste the energy trying to learn more?
  2. When I tell myself I’m not assertive enough to be a leader, I allow myself to take the backseat to someone else. I don’t have to be in charge and I don’t have to step out of my comfort zone. I can always say it didn’t work out because so-and-so was in charge, not me.
  3. When I tell myself I’m not positive enough for others to listen to me, I give myself an out from actually speaking my mind. I don’t share what I think might be a great tip because I’m more worried what they’ll think of me once I’ve said this. I don’t want to be judged, so I find a way to keep quiet.
  4. When I tell myself I’m not smart enough to find a way to make a difference, I stay in my comfort zone. Instead of taking a small (or big) risk and stepping outside the box to try something new, I just stay put. I don’t have to risk losing anything, but I do risk making a leap in my life.
  5. When I tell myself I’m not savvy enough to find a way to do what I love and be financially stable, I again allow myself to stay put. I’m not saying drop everything and run after a dream, but telling myself that I’ll never be able to make a passion a career is just my  way of giving in.
  6. When I tell myself I’m not healthy enough to get pregnant, I’m allowing myself to not be set up for sadness. Every month, I sit in anticipation and impatiently count the days down until the “big day”. And every month I’m disappointed at some point when it actually occurs. By telling myself that something must be wrong with me, I can say that it’s out of my control. Which to a degree, it is out of my control, but I shouldn’t allow myself to give up.
  7. When I tell myself I’m not creative enough, I compare myself to others. I think that others have more time and resources than I do, and that’s why they’re more creative. I am pretty creative on my own (or after some Pinterest inspiration), so it’s unacceptable that I talk down to myself this way.

Wow – that was a lot, wasn’t it. That was pretty eye-opening for myself just writing this all out. I never looked at the negative self-talk as a method of somehow rewarding myself. But when typing out what I’m getting out of each thought, I can see how I tend to cycle back into the behavior more often. From here, Sincero says to thank each of the false rewards for what they have done (put me down, held me back) and then put them away.

Now that they have been properly dismissed, you are no in a sense “story-less”. We need new thoughts to tell ourselves when doubts begin to creep in or when tough situations arise. Instead of having negative thoughts to feed ourselves, we need to proactively plan for positive stories to build ourselves up with.

  1. I am strong enough and intelligent enough to lead others. I have trained several people within my company to take over a role that was created for me 2 years ago. Both people did an excellent job in this position thanks to my tutelage and have gone on to even better roles within our company. I am intelligent enough because I have experience and passion for what I do, both in my personal and professional life. IfI don’t know something, I am that person that will hunt down the information not only to help others, but to further educate myself. I love learning and I feel that we never should stop seeking answers.
  2. I am assertive enough to be a leader. I may not be ready to lead a company or a department on my own, but I have lead groups and projects within my current position. I do have the experience, the drive, and the intelligence to operate a project effectively. If I need guidance or answers, I have mentors that I can go to for answers. I observe people in order to better develop myself as a good employee and prepare myself for handling the same situation on my own in the future.
  3. I am positive enough for others to listen to me. I try to share positivity and hope every day, whether it’s in person, through social media, or through a message. I have been told multiple times that I’m very positive and I have “good vibes”. Others do listen to what I have to share.
  4. I am smart enough to make a difference. Because I crave knowledge and learning things, I will always think that I need to learn more. But it’s this drive and determination to learn more that has lead me to where I am today. I wouldn’t have met my husband or found this new career had it not been for my ambition. When I dislocated my knee and wasn’t able to teach that spring, I began researching ways that I could further my education and help others. When school didn’t pan out as planned, I found what I thought was a temporary job. I wound up training in several other departments and finding one that I loved. I made it known and actively asked questions, leading me to be considered for a position in this department. I never stop learning and this will always keep me pushing ahead to try new things.
  5. I am savvy enough to find a way to make my passion my career. I may not have the finances to start-up this dream, but I won’t lose the dream. After all, I am the savvy kitchenista, so I will find a way to make it happen! This is also the time when I say that I’m leaving this decision in His hands. I know there is a time and place for everything and believe that when the time is right, I will make my move.
  6. I am healthy enough to get pregnant. I have improved my diet so that I’m eating cleaner and healthier for myself and future baby. I have begun to make life style changes in order prepare my body for nine months of pregnancy. I am still working on the getting pregnant part, but I am at least not obsessing over it anymore. As much as I want to be a mother, I know that God has placed me on this earth to have many roles. If it’s not time for me to be mother yet, it’s because He has some things up his sleeve that I need to accomplish first!
  7. I am creative enough to succeed and make my mark in this world. I am very good at finding creative ways to be healthy in the kitchen. I am creative at finding ways to display and organize information both at home and at the office. I do come up with great ways to display information. I may not be the first one to speak up or think of an idea, but I do have bright ones to share.

Finally, we have new and positive affirmations to celebrate ourselves with. Sincero instructs that these thoughts need to be repeated over and over again until they are “your truth”. That’s a very powerful phrase – repeat them until it becomes your truth. I don’t know about you, but I have a difficult time believing myself when I’m trying to convince myself of something good. I’m not a negative Nancy, but I do have a tendency to play the “what’s the worst that could happen” game and assume that it will all go to pieces.

When someone else tells me something, though, I rarely question them. This may just be me being silly and naive, but it goes to show you how much we rely on others for opinions about ourselves! If you tell me that I’m gorgeous, I’m more apt to believe you than if I were to look in the mirror and tell myself that I’m gorgeous. I can’t imagine I’m the only person out there that feels this way. So to hear Sincero say that we need to repeat these stories to ourselves until we absolutely believe it is just mind-blowing for me. I don’t know how I’m going to repeat this to myself to that point, but I’m thinking flashcards and Post-It notes may be involved…

So, in closing, I want you to really take a look at yourself and see if there’s anything you’re telling yourself that’s absolutely untrue. If so, take the time to work through the steps that are outlined in “You Are a Badass”, or better yet, pick up the book (or audiobook) and see what gems of truth you find yourself!

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better for you food, cooking, food, granola bars

Recipe Round-up: Granola Bars

So a few years ago, I discovered Nature Valley Oats ‘N’ Honey granola bars. I absolutely fell in love with this crunchy little packages of heavenly joy. I told myself they were healthy for me and that having a pack a day was totally fine. This went on for quite some time and I even got creative with it. I would crunch them up into makeshift granola for my yogurt and make mini parfaits. There’s no way this couldn’t be healthy, right?

Wrong! Have you looked at the nutritional labels on some of the bars on the market? Have you seen what the ingredients are? As I’ve learned through my clean eating research, you shouldn’t eat anything that has an ingredient that you couldn’t buy as a standalone. While the Oats ‘n Honey aren’t that bad, it does raise some questions. Like why are there 160mg of sodium or 12g of sugar in one serving? Or what “natural flavor” really is? I share some other granola bars that have more ingredients than this.

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I haven’t touched one of these granola bars in almost 3 months – go me! But I knew this was going to end soon. I have been taste-testing at my office for possible products and I had an enormously large amount of granola and protein bars that have been piling up. I purposely waited until the end of the taste-testing time frame to try out the granola bars. I even planned so that this would occur during my “cheat” days, so I could taste each one, guilt-free.

But about a week before the taste-testing, I had a brilliant thought (yes I get those every once in awhile). Why not try my hand at making my own granola bars and testing them against the store-bought ones? I could find 2-3 recipes that were close to what I would be taste-testing, but mine would be cleaner versions. I could then see which ones tasted the best – the professionals or mine.

After much perusing, I narrowed it down to 3 recipes that I would try.  Each of these was modified just a bit to meet the ingredients that I had on hand or what taste I was going for.

Nut-Free Oatmeal Bars

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar 
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or dried fruit, or both (I used dried cranberries and raisins)
  • 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ; I substituted wheat bran
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt 
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup soy butter, sun butter, or coconut spread
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract 

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Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a small skillet, heat a little bit of coconut oil and lightly toast wheat bran.
  3. In a large bowl, mix oats, flour, brown sugar, chocolate chips or fruit, wheat bran, and salt until blended.
  4. Stir in oil, honey, butter, egg, and vanilla. Make sure it’s thoroughly combined.
  5. Spoon mixture into the baking pan and pat mixture.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden around the edges. If you want crispier bars, bake 25-30 minutes.
  7. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Once cool, cut into bars.

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Feedback

These bars turned out rather delicious. I did opt for the crispier version, so they have been falling apart rather easily. Next time I would definitely follow the recipe and only bake about 18 minutes. On the bright side, these will make a great clean granola!

 

Nut-Free Larabars

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup seeds (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, or mixture of both)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Two big pinches salt
  • 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 ½ tablespoons water

Instructions:

  1. Toss seeds with olive oil and salt; mix together thoroughly. Toast the seeds in toaster oven, a pan on the stove (on low heat), or in the oven on 350 degrees F until slightly brown.
  2. Combine toasted seeds, dates and water in a food processor and puree until mixture starts to stick together. Continue to add a little bit of water to help mixture come together. I wound up using close to 4 tablespoons.
  3. Using your hands, squeeze the date mixture together into one big ball. Mash it down on a sheet of wax paper and form a rectangle shape. To help, I placed mine in a rectangular Tupperware container. Use a knife to make sure the edges are straight.
  4. Store in fridge for 2-3 hours. Remove and slice into 8 even squares. For best results, make sure to store in the fridge.

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Feedback:

These oddly taste like they have nuts in them! I’m not sure how, since it’s only dates and sunflower seeds. I will be the first to admit that they aren’t as smooth tasting as Larabars. Larabars have a very smooth texture with a multitude of flavors. There aren’t large chunks of ingredients or flavors – everything is distributed evenly. My bars didn’t turn out this way. You can see the bits of sunflower seeds and you get a distinct nutty seed flavor. I have looked at some other homemade Larabar recipes and I plan to try some more in the future! On this account, the store-bought brand won.

 

Before I share this final recipe, I want to go back to what I was talking about earlier – nutrition labels. As you can see, this item’s nutritional facts are lower than the Oats ‘n Honey, but this is also only for 1 bar. If you double everything, you would be back around where the Oats ‘n Honey are! Let’s also look at the ingredient. The ingredients list starts off nicely – whole grain oats – but then jumps to corn syrup, chocolate, and sugar. While the ingredients are things we can buy at the grocery store, healthy items shouldn’t have corn syrup and sugar within the first five ingredients!

nv_chewy_trail_mix_bars_dark_chocolate_cherry

Now, let’s try our homemade version of Chocolate & Cherry snack bars.

Chocolate Cherry Almond Snack Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup honey or brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon almond butter
  • 2 cups almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

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Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line an 8 or 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper and coat with cooking spray.
  2. Mix the honey, vanilla, almond meal, salt, and almond butter together until combined.
  3. Fold in the almonds, cherries, and chocolate chips until combined.
  4. Pour mixture into coated baking pan and press very firmly into an even layer. Bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Pour mixture into coated baking pan and press very firmly into an even layer. Bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the pan for 1 hour.
  7. Then transfer to the refrigerator to chill for 1 more hour. This helps all of the ingredients to meld together into actual bars.
  8. Remove bars from the pan and cut into bars.
  9. Individually wrap each bar in plastic wrap or parchment paper. You can store at room temperature for 1 week or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

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Note: If making your own almond meal, you can do so easily by grinding slivered almonds in the food processor until a powder forms.

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Feedback:

These bars were delicious. I did notice that at room temperature, they did get a bit gooey. This was something I read on the recipe beforehand, but then forgot. Lesson learned – never forget what you read! I taste-tested this next to the store-bought brand and honestly preferred my version. It had more texture and taste to it, and wasn’t overrun with chocolate. I had several people blind taste-test this and they too found the homemade version to be more flavorful.

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Which will you choose?

 

 

dairy free, ice cream

I Scream, You Scream, We all Scream for Ice Cream

I know it’s the end of the summer and this seems like an odd time to crave ice cream, but here in Florida, summer never ends. So while the rest of the country begins to shift into fall – experiencing the change of leaves and cooler breezes – Florida continues to experience some of the warmest months of the year. As a result, we’re all sweating and just looking for  way to cool off. Enter ice cream; stage left.

If you know me, you know that I love Pinterest. I can get sucked in for hours and completely lose track of time. Sadly, I often times pin too many things to remember and never get to try them out! That’s exactly what happened with my ice cream pins. About 6 months ago, I did a 30-day dairy-free challenge and I stumbled across all of these delicious DF ice cream recipes. At that time, it was still winter and no way was I wanting to eat cold ice cream. So, I created a “Dairy Free” board and pinned these recipes for a later time.

And so they were forgotten. Until about a month ago when one of my good friends mentioned wanting to try her hand at vegan ice cream. She said she’d found some recipes and the light bulb in my head went off. “Oh my goodness,” I said, “I have a bunch of recipes too!” I excitedly pulled out my phone and scrolled happily through my Pinterest app to find these long-forgotten recipes. “We should try some of these and have a taste-testing party at the office,” I exclaimed. She thought it was a great idea and the date was set.

Well, I simply couldn’t make up my mind what recipes I wanted to try. So, in true form, I chose about 5-6 recipes to test. I started making them about 2 weeks prior to our taste-testing, just to give myself enough time to make each one. There was no way I could’ve made all 6 in one day without slightly going bonkers. Plus, spreading them out gave me more time to test what did and didn’t work.

I’ll be honest – I chose most of my recipes based on not needing an ice cream maker. I don’t own one and I couldn’t justify to my husband purchasing one just for the occasion. I did wind up with two that needed to be churned, but I was able to borrow a friend’s. One recipe I simply couldn’t pass up on (pumpkin spice) and the other one I actually didn’t realize I needed to churn it until I was halfway through the recipe!

In addition to the ice creams, I brought along some toppings and mix-ins for my colleagues to try. I made some dark fudge brownies by Ghiradelli for my husband, but he claimed they were too fudgy. He recommended I throw them away. Uh, no way was I going to waste perfectly good chocolate! I also made a batch of chocolate chip cookies that turned out very dry and brittle, so these also were donated to the ice cream party selection!

Today was it – the beloved ice cream taste-testing day. Sadly, several members of our test group were absent from work, so we had a very small gathering. Those who did participate said they enjoyed all the flavors they tested. One tester was skeptical at first, asking me, “Are these healthy?” Apparently I have gotten a reputation for making healthy baked goods around the office! I would rather be known for that than scorned for ruining someone’s diet. And at the rate that I bake, it’s kinda necessary that I find ways to make recipes healthier…both for my waist and others!

I would have to say that my overall favorites were Mint Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Pumpkin Spice. I was a bit concerned about the Mint Chocolate Chip for two reasons: 1) because it was the first one I made and 2) because it had spinach in it. The mint extract masked any spinach flavor though and the food processor chopped it up so fine that you didn’t taste it! The Chocolate Peanut Butter was heavenly. I MAY have overloaded a bit on the peanut butter, but what harm could that do? Unless you don’t like peanut butter, of course. And last, but not least, Pumpkin Spice brought the fall hint to the party. The pumpkin and the spices blended nicely with the coconut milk. Some commented that you could taste the coconut, but it wasn’t overpowering.

Overall, I would say our first taste-testing was a success! Next year, I won’t wait until the end of summer to host this fun party!

Below are the recipes that I sampled for our taste-testing. I hope you find one that you enjoy!

 

Ice Cream Maker Recipes

Vegan Pumpkin Spice

1 can (14 oz) coconut milk 
7 oz. pitted dates
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt

  1. Soak the dates in hot water for about 10 minutes, until most of the water is gone. Puree in a food processor. If needed, add a little water until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  2. In a bowl, pour milk. Add half of the date paste, and the remaining ingredients. Mix by hand until smooth, slowly adding in the remaining date paste.
  3. Pour the ice cream mixture into the ice cream machine and churn according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Scoop out the mixture into a covered container and freeze for at least 4 hours to set.

Cherry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

1 (13oz) can full-fat coconut milk
1/2 cup almond milk (can substitute other milk) 
2 cups fresh or frozen pitted cherries
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

  1. Place all ingredients through almond extract in a blender. Puree until completely smooth.
  2. Refrigerate 1-2 hours or until completely chilled.
  3. Pour the mixture into your ice cream machine and churn according to manufacturer’s instructions. During the last 2-3 minutes of churning, add the chocolate chips.
  4. You can choose to serve immediately (consistency will be closer to soft-serve), or pour into a container and freeze 2-3 hours until firm.

Adapted from: http://www.superhealthykids.com/dairy-free-cherry-chocolate-chip-ice-cream/

 

No-Churn Recipes

Chocolate Peanut Butter Shakeology Ice Cream

1 medium banana, cut into chunks
½ cup unsweetened almond milk
2 scoops Chocolate Shakeology
2 Tbsp. all-natural smooth peanut butter

  1. Cut banana and place in plastic bag. Freeze for 4 hours or until completely frozen.
  2. Pour almond milk into blender and add bananas, Shakeology, and peanut butter. Cover and blend until smooth.
  3. Serve immediately or pour into a container and freeze 2-3 hours until firm.

Coffee Ice Cream

3-4 sliced frozen bananas
1 cup strong coffee (room temperature)
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract 

  1. Brew coffee as strong as possible. Use sugar to sweeten it. I used about 1 Tbsp. for 1 cup. Let it cool.
  2. In a food processor, blend the frozen bananas, coffee, and vanilla extract.
  3. Blend until smooth and creamy. Pour into a container and place back in the freezer for an hour.

Adapted from: http://mycrazygoodlife.com/dairy-free-coffee-ice-cream-recipe/

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

1 can coconut cream 
½-3/4 cup fresh spinach leaves
6 Tbsp sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp peppermint extract
½ cup mini chocolate chips

  1. Chop up spinach place in blender with 1/2 can of coconut cream. Blend until smooth.
  2. Add the next 3 ingredients (through peppermint extract) and remaining cream; blend again until smooth.
  3. Mix in chocolate chips.
  4. Pour into a lidded container and freeze for 3-4 hours until set.

Adapted from: http://petiteallergytreats.com/mint-chocolate-chip-ice-cream-vegan-dairy-free-coconut-nomachine/

 

 

better for you food, cooking, food, football

Are you ready for some football??

Ah, the fall season is quickly approaching and that can only mean one thing – pumpkin everything, hoodies, and football are back! I think every man on the planet looks forward to that last one. We were in church a few weeks ago and our minister was talking about how he couldn’t get into the Olympics. He said it wasn’t anything personally against the athletes, he just couldn’t get into it because his favorite sport was not represented – football.

I personally am a college football fan (go Noles!!), but the football parties always seem to get me into trouble. We all know what pairs best with football – beer, pizza, wings, and chips. And to anyone who’s watching their figure, these all spell out TROUBLE in big capital letters.

Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t like being told I can’t have something and unable to eat things. That’s why I’ve never done well with diets, especially around the holidays. I like to live life and enjoy myself, so I would fall off the horse and joint in on the festivities. Three months and 5-10 lbs later (yes, let’s be honest that’s possible during the holidays), I would regret my decisions.

Well, this year I refuse to go through that. I’m putting my foot down and taking charge of my menu. I refuse to sacrifice fun and my taste buds in order to keep my weight in check. Instead, I will make the menu confirm to me! I decided for this fall’s college and NFL kickoff season to try out some popular football finger foods and find ways to lighten them up. Again, I want to stress that I’m not getting rid of my favorite foods. Instead, I’m finding ways to make them healthier and contain less guilt!

Buffalo Chicken Bites with Ranch Dressing

1 small chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg

For the Sauce
2 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

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1. Preheat oven to 400 and spray a baking pan with cooking spray.
2. In a small bowl whisk the egg. In a second bowl mix the flour, garlic powder, cayenne and salt.
3. Dip each chicken piece into the egg and then dredge in the flour mixture. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes.
4. While chicken is baking, mix the sauce ingredients together.
5. Remove the chicken from the oven. Dip each piece of chicken in the sauce and return to the baking sheet.
6. Return to oven for 5-10 minutes. Serve and enjoy with your favorite ranch dipping sauce, or eat plain!!

**21 Day Fix counts: 1 red, 1/2 yellow, 1 teaspoon**

Ranch Dressing, version 1
1/2 cup Greek Yogurt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder, onion powder, and salt
1/4 tsp. pepper, parsley, and dill weed

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Ranch Dressing, version 2
1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
2 T 1% or 0% Greek ought
1 T unsweetened plain almond milk
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp dried dill
1 T parsley
Salt and black pepper to taste

  1. In a blender, blend all ingredients until the mixture is smooth.
  2. Serve immediately or store in air-tight container up to 5 days.

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Autumn Calabrese’s Guacamole and Veggies

1 ripe avocado mashed
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 small tomato chopped

  1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl and serve immediately with tortilla chips or chopped veggies.

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Philly Cheesesteak Sliders

1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup medium onion, sliced
1/2 cup medium green (or red) bell pepper, sliced
4 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 tsp. dried oregano leaves, sea salt and ground black pepper OR
McCormick® Grill Mates® Steak Seasoning 
8 oz. raw lean beef sirloin, sliced very thin
2 slices provolone cheese or 1/2 cup shredded
2 small whole wheat rolls, toasted

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  1. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet (or griddle) over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper; cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until onions are soft.
  2. Add mushrooms. Season with salt, pepper, and oregano or steak seasoning. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes until mushrooms are soft.
  3. Add sirloin to the pan. Sprinkle liberally with steak seasoning. Continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and spoon evenly onto two rolls. Top with cheese and let stand for 1-2 minutes, until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

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Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

2 cups of fresh cauliflower florets
1 tsp garlic powder
A pinch of salt
A pinch of pepper
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot hot sauce

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  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Mix the garlic powder, salt, pepper, melted butter, and hot sauce in a small bowl.
  3. Place the cauliflower in a large Tupperware and pour the buffalo sauce over top. Seal container and shake until the cauliflower florets are fully coated. Spread on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Serve with your favorite ranch or blue cheese dressing.

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Buffalo Chicken Dip with Chips

1/2 red container Greek yogurt
1/2 red container shredded chicken
1/2 blue container shredded cheese
1 tsp favorite hot sauce

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  1. Preheat oven to 350 and spray small oven-safe bowl.
  2. Mix yogurt, chicken and 1/2 of cheese and hot sauce. Scoop into oven safe bowl and top with remaining cheese.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes until heated all the way through.
  4. Serve with your favorite veggies or whole-wheat tortilla chips.

**21 Day Fix counts: 1 red, 1/2 blue, and 1 green (if using veggies) or yellow (if using chips)!**

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In sum, I think everyone was quite pleased with the lightened up menu. My top three favorites had to be the chicken bites, sliders, and the dip! The Buffalo Chicken Bites were spicy, but the homemade ranch dressing really brought out the heat for me! I didn’t have cottage cheese, so I stuck with the Greek yogurt version. The Philly Cheesesteak Sliders were also a hit – my husband ate three! The steak seasoning really gave it a nice punch. I was really impressed with how tasty the Buffalo Chicken Dip – it tastes very close to the original! Now, if only this tasty food could help inspire my Seminoles to actually score in their opening season game…

Don’t forget to pop back every once in awhile for more lightened up tailgating dishes that won’t leave you feeling unhappy and guilty the next morning! Until next time, ya’ll! 🙂

The Savvy Kitchenista

Oats, Quinoa, and More Oats!

So I have a confession to make – I’m obsessed with oatmeal. I used to have a pretty bad addiction to Quaker’s Maple & Brown Sugar flavor in particular. When I realized how much I was spending on pre-packaged oatmeal, I decided to take a break and try to make my own. My mom used to do it all the time and I loved her recipe. But when she sent it to me, I realized that it had dried milk in it! As much as I loved the recipe, it wasn’t worth my lactose-intolerance flaring up on a daily basis.
So, I set out to find my own recipes. And where else to look than Pinterest?! Now, keep in mind that I began this research just recently when I was already on the 21 Day Fix. This meant I had some guidelines that I was looking to stay within. If you’re not familiar with the 21 Day Fix, here’s the short version. You have so many containers per food group throughout the day. Yellow containers are very precious because they are your carbs and they measure 1/2 cup. Soy and almond milk count as yellows, so I opt to make my dishes with water. I actually am not a huge fan of milk in oatmeal, so it works out for the best! By choosing water, I only had to “spend” one of my yellows on this meal. I also wanted to keep it to a minimum on fruits, so only 1 cup for this particular mix-in. This is for two reasons; one being that I only get 3 fruits (“purples”) each day and two because fruit has natural sugar so I don’t need to overdo it in one meal. Speaking of sugar, you limit your fat and sugar intake on the 21 Day Fix, so I am big on using spices and keeping syrups/honey to minimum.
Surprisingly, I was able to find a number of recipes that met my requirements. Below are just a few of the recipes that I have tried, along with my photos and feedback. I’ve tried a few different varieties of oatmeal, using both rolled oats and steel cut oats. I’ve also tried quinoa versions and overnight oats. As the quirky cook that I am, I’ve modified almost every recipe that I’ve tried, so the recipes included are my versions.

Oatmeal

Morning Glory Oatmeal

INGREDIENTS

1 cup water (you could use coconut milk)
1/2 cups old fashioned oatmeal
3/4 cup diced apples
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup canned crushed pineapple in 100% juice
1 /4 cup grated carrots
1 T raisins
2 T chopped pecans or walnuts

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place the first 5 ingredients in a sauce pan on the stove heated to medium. Let it come to a boil, then add carrots, raisins, and nuts.
  2. Once heated through, remove from heat. Pour into serving dish and mix in pineapple.

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FEEDBACK

Oh my goodness – this has to be one of my favorites! The recipe is for overnight oats, but I accidentally forgot to make them the night before so I modified! I heated the oats on the stove and mixed in all fruits except for the pineapple. I also didn’t have carrots at the time, so I omitted these. Again, this was definitely one of my favorites and I think it was because of the variety of flavors with the fruits. I will definitely be making this again.

 

Blackberry Pie Oatmeal

INGREDIENTS

½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup water
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup blackberries
1 T chopped walnuts (topping)
Additional blackberries for topping

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a small pot over medium heat, combine oats, water, and salt. Stir occasionally, until oats are thick, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in blackberries until just heated through – careful, they will pop!
  3. Pour carefully into a bowl, add toppings, and enjoy!

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FEEDBACK

This was another one of my favorites. I never buy blackberries, but my husband picked them up one day for fruit salad so I decided to use them as a treat! The recipe was super simple and one the blackberries burst, they were incredible! I will definitely be trying again.

 

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

INGREDIENTS

1 cup water
1/2 cup gluten free oats
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 banana, mashed
1 T chia seeds (optional)
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt
1 tsp maple syrup
1 T vegan chocolate chips (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat water and oats on the stovetop.
  2. Meanwhile, mash the banana and pumpkin puree in a separate bowl. Add in pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, salt, and maple syrup.
  3. Once the oats are cooked, remove from heat and stir in the pumpkin mixture. Mix until well combined. Add in optional chia seeds.
  4. Top with vegan chocolate chips!

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FEEDBACK

I am a HUGE pumpkin fan. Anything pumpkin I absolutely adore and it doesn’t have to be fall for me to partake. I also may have overbought pumpkin pie filling last fall and wound up about 6 cans in the pantry! So, to avoid them expiring on me, I’ve found some unique ways to include them in my meals. Pumpkin pie filling, mixed with cinnamon, chia seeds, and cinnamon were a simple and quick pick me up for plain cooked oats.

 

Blueberry & Peach Oatmeal

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup water
1/2 cup fresh peaches, diced
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 T flax seed
additional blueberries for topping

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat oatmeal, water, peaches, blueberries, vanilla, and cinnamon in a small saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium heat for 5-6 minutes or until oatmeal is cooked to your liking.
  3. Remove from heat and spoon into a serving bowl. Top with flax seed and any additional blueberries.

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FEEDBACK

Peaches come and go with the seasons and tend to be expensive, so I don’t have them often. But when they are on sale, I find all sorts of ways to mix them. This was one of my first times trying peaches in oatmeal and I wasn’t disappointed. They mixed really well with blueberries!

 

Overnight Oats

Lemon Blueberry Overnight Oats

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup oats
1/2 scoop Vanilla Shakeology powder
1 T chia seeds
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup blueberries
1/4 tsp lemon extract
1 T maple syrup or agave nectar

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Combine oats, Shakeology powder, and chia seeds in a mason jar.
  2. Stir in yogurt, lemon extract, and maple syrup.
  3. Finally, mix in blueberries. Seal with lid and chill overnight in the fridge.
  4. Enjoy the next morning!

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FEEDBACK

This was the first overnight oats recipe that I tried. As I mentioned, I don’t want to use almond milk or Greek yogurt because then I would run low on my containers! So, I used very little almond milk in my recipe and I fear that may have tampered with the consistency. The lemon and blueberry went really well together, but I think what was missing was a heated bowl of oatmeal. Maybe that’s my hangup with overnight oats – they’re just not hot!

 

Pina Colada Overnight Oats

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 tablespoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 cup coconut milk or the milk of your choice
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used 2%)
1/2 cup chopped fresh pineapple (crushed pineapple may be substituted)
1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Mix the oats, chia seeds, maple syrup and milk in a container (I used a mason jar). Cover/seal and chill in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. Before eating, stir in Greek yogurt, pineapple, and coconut. You can top with more coconut and pineapple. Enjoy!

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FEEDBACK

This was the third recipe I tried with overnight oats and it is delicious! I truly believe third time was the charm for this item. Now, I may be a bit biased considering that pina coladas are one of my top 3 favorite drinks. But let’s ignore that for now! The balance between pineapple and coconut is impeccable – one doesn’t overpower the other. It reminds me of a day on the beach, drenched in sunshine and hearing waves lap against the sand. All in all – this is a new favorite!!!

 

Quinoa

Strawberry Chia & Quinoa

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup quartered strawberries
2/3 cup your favorite non-dairy milk (I used coconut milk)
2 T chia seeds
4 to 6 quartered strawberries (topping)
1 T pecans (topping – optional)
2 T unsweetened shredded coconut  (topping – optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. To prepare strawberry chia, place the first 3 ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth.
  2. Pour the mixture into a jar or a glass container and add chia seeds. Mix well until all chia seeds are covered with the liquid.
  3. Cover with a tight lid and leave in the fridge overnight.
  4. In the morning, pour the mixture into a bowl. Top with additional strawberries, pecans, and shredded coconut.

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FEEDBACK

This was unfortunately not one of my favorites. This was one of the overnight oats that I tried and I have to admit I wasn’t a fan. I think it may have been something with the consistently and also with the fact that I used coconut milk instead of almond milk. For whatever reason, I’m not a fan of coconut milk.Anyways, as much as I tried to spice this dish up, I felt it was hopeless. Maybe I’ll have better luck with another quinoa recipe.

 

Steel Cut Oats

Almond Butter Steel Cut Oats with Banana

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup steel cut oats
1 cup water
1/2 smashed ripe banana
1 tsp almond butter
1 tsp cinnamon

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat water and steel cut oats on the stovetop over medium heat. Be sure to read instructions of how long it will take for oats to cook. Mine take 30 minutes.
  2. Once oats are cooked through, remove from heat. Mix in smashed banana, almond butter, and cinnamon. Enjoy!

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FEEDBACK

This was the first recipe I tried with steel cut oats. I was a bit annoyed at first because it took SO long for these to cook on the stovetop. I also may have over-heated and boiled over, making a delightful mess on my stovetop. Once I cleaned it up and the oats were actually cooked through (30 minutes later), I was able to mix in the almond butter and cinnamon. The first time i tried this, I mashed my banana up in the oats. The second time, I sliced the banana up. Either which way, it was a delectable experience.

 

I hope you were able to find something that you like! Keep checking back for more oatmeal recipes, as well as many more breakfast recipes.

I will be hosting a 21-Day Breakfast Challenge during the month of September. There’s still time to join us and learn new recipes that are quick, healthy, and easy! See link below:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/344236029297350/