Saturday, February 2, 2013

My Favorite Oatmeal

On this snowy morning in Chicago, I'm enjoying some quiet time while the fiance sleeps.  Sipping cup of fresh brewed Starbucks blonde roast coffee, I started planning out my day. Looking forward to getting a good workout in, maybe doing a bit of shopping, prepping my Berger cookies for the Superbowl tomorrow and getting together with friends for dinner at the long-awaited Little Goat.

But first things first... I need a good, hot breakfast to get me going! After a fantastic, but slightly indulgent meal last evening (home-cooked perfect ribeye steak with roasted veggies and mashed potatoes), I need a clean meal to fuel my day. 

What better for a cold Midwest morning than a good bowl of oatmeal? My addiction to the cherry/almond combination is obvious, so why not try it with oatmeal? With all ingredients on hand I got started, slightly adapting the recipe from Hungry Girl's Growing Oatmeal Bowl

Here's what I did:
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1T brown sugar
  • 1T ground flax seed
  • 1/8th tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8th tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Bring all ingredients to a boil in a medium-sized sauce pan, then reduce to simmering. Stir often and simmer for 6-8 minutes or so until desired consistency reached. During the last minute or two of cooking add in 1/2 cup diced fresh or frozen cherries (or 1/4 cup dried) to heat through. 

Nutrition information using MyFitnessPal: 312 calories, 6g protein, 7g fiber

*Modifications - can use soy or skim milk if preferred or other milk of choice, use your favorite sugar substitute or sweetener in place of brown sugar, mix up the fruit by using chopped apple or another berry of choice, mix up the flavorings by using your favorite extract in place of vanilla or almond. Please note that any modifications may change nutrition information of recipe. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mixed Berry Pancakes and Updates

So I think I'm finally back to posting after having a whirlwind of a summer! The internship is going well and I've actually been offered an extension through September so I'm thrilled about that :) I've been exposed to so many different areas of "nutrition" and it has been a great and refreshing experience.

Mike and I finally moved into our new apartment at the beginning of July and absolutely love it. We're located in the heart of Lincoln Park right near the Zoo and are just a short walk to the water. With both of us being so busy this summer- me with my internship and him starting a new position at Bank of America, and both of us moving and traveling- we haven't really had time to enjoy the city together yet. But it's been so nice to just "be" together and not have to travel back and forth from Baltimore to Chicago every few weeks. 

Today has been a nice lazy one so far, starting out with a visit to Chicago's Green City Market.

It was great to get out to a farmer's market again and see all the fresh local produce and goods available! We only got a few things this trip (10 year aged cheddar, bread and butter pickles, nectarines, raspberries, kale) but there is so much more that we'll be trying in the coming months! 

When we got home I started on brunch for the two of us. I feel like I haven't cooked in so long and it's a shame since we have such a beautiful kitchen :) I'm totally in love with it!

I used my Magic Bullet to grind up some fresh coffee and got to work making some whole wheat berry pancakes:
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cup milk (I used light soy)
  • 1T honey
  • 1 egg or 2 egg whites, whipped until white and frothy (I used egg whites)
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup blueberries (can be frozen and thawed or fresh)
  • 1/2 cup raspberries (can be frozen and thawed or fresh)
Mix dry ingredients in one bowl. Mix the wet ingredients in another minus the egg whites.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredient bowl in batches until just combined. Fold in egg whites gently. 

Heat heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. Coat with cooking spray. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into pan (as many as will fit) and top each cake with blueberries and raspberries. Once bubbling on top flip over and cook until golden brown. 

Serve with extra berries, jam, honey, maple syrup or your other favorite toppings!

Off now to get ready for a bbq with some friends downtown :) 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Here's to a New Beginning

I woke up early, around 7:30, after promising myself that I would sleep in after such a busy couple weeks. Well, if you add in the time change (about an hour) and the fact that I've been waking up between 5:30 and 6am this IS sleeping in, so I shouldn't be too upset with myself. The truth is, I woke up and started to panic a bit. I had done it. I had moved back to the Midwest after two years. The past three weeks have been a whirlwind and I haven't really had time to absorb it until this morning while lying in bed. But here I am, after making the decision to take on a nutrition communications internship that I'm so excited about, leaving a fantastic job that I really did love and friends that had become my family in a city that I initially knew nothing about but grew comfortable in, coming to a new city that I once swore up and down that I would never move to, and am now near the guy that I love with all my heart along with my family and best friends. It has been a big three weeks and I'm tired. And nervous. And happy. And scared. And excited. All the emotions that accompany change I suppose.

I had to get up and get out. I needed to clear my head and calm down. I put on my good ol' MSU long sleeved T-shirt (it really does feel good to be back in the Midwest) and tied my shoes and stepped out into my new city for a nice long morning walk. The air was cold, the sky was gray, a welcome contrast to the 90+ degree weather we were having in Baltimore when I left.

I started walking around our current neighborhood in the Gold Coast district and was surprised at the activity going on. Usually when I would go out early on a Saturday morning in Baltimore the streets were quiet, peaceful with very few people out and about but here, this was a different kind of peaceful. It was a nice sort of busy. Couples and individuals were already out walking their dogs, grabbing coffee at the already half full coffee shops and restaurants, riding their bikes and enjoying the morning air. I stumbled across an early morning farmers market just a couple blocks down on Division filled with delicious goodies and hand-crafted items that was filled with people. Families were out taking walks and having breakfast. I walked by a couple already working on their garden out front of their beautiful stone walk-up. I had several friendly faces nod and tell me good morning. All of this before 9am.

I loved it. I loved the feel of the city, the energy, the things to do, the people, all of it. This morning was just what I needed to get myself back on track. Chicago, I know we're going to get along just fine. I know we'll have our ups and downs especially until we get settled into our new location in Lincoln Park but I welcome this. I'm so happy to be here, in my new life with MB. I'm grateful to be back in this wonderful Midwest city near people I love. I'm looking forward to all of our adventures to come. I can't wait to explore my new location and see all that Chicago has to offer. I can't wait to start my internship and begin my path to a career I know I'm going to enjoy. I'm open to this change and love my new life already :) More updates to come!
My "welcome to Chicago" flowers :)

Indulging in some crab dip with the crew before I left Baltimore.

One last Baltimore crab cake (for now anyway)!

My beet salad during my first Chicago dinner as a resident :)

Pretzels with beer cheese and whole grain honey mustard.

My life...packed into this little unit...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Super Quick Egg Sandwich!

Hey all, so I've been super busy packing for the past week since I'm moving to CHICAGO so soon!! I can't wait to be completing my foodie updates from our new apartment in Lincoln Park :) So many new things to do, see and eat! I can't wait!

With that being said, I haven't been to the grocery store and have been trying to exist off of what I bought about....2-3 weeks ago :/ Plus I've been going out to dinner quite a bit with friends and my family that came to visit so there's been no need to shop.

I peered into my fridge tonight prior to continuing to pack up clothes, odds and ends...and found...a half loaf of wheat bread, about 4 eggs (no pan since they're packed), and a few wedges of laughing cow cheese. Oh! and a small amount of Real Bacon Bits! hmmm...what can I do with this? Thinking back to my childhood when my grandfather was in charge of making us meals, our go-to was always a simple egg sandwich. Eggs prepared in the microwave for a quick easy dish. Yessss! Dinner will not consist of dry cereal :)

So here's what I did: sprayed a small microwave safe dish with nonstick spray, crack 1 egg (you can use egg whites or substitute if you time may vary) into dish and microwave about 45 seconds until just cooked through. Be careful, if you cook it even a few seconds too long it may explode! Spread your favorite Laughing Cow cheese onto 1 slice of whole grain toast (I used Queso Fresco Light), top with egg and another piece of toast and you've got a very quick sandwich! I paired it with one of the two apples I have left. Easy, super fast and yummy. 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Semi {Healthy} Comfort Meal

I really wanted some comfort food tonight...and I was about to cave and get takeout from my neighboring restaurants here in Little Italy, I really really was. I restrained myself to keep a hold on my calories as well as my wallet and went to the freezer where I have been building my stores :)

I realized I had some frozen whole wheat tortellini, reduced fat pesto and Italian sausage. Perfect! However, just because something is whole grain and "reduced fat" does not mean the calorie content is low or it is necessarily "good" for you. You still need to keep your portions in check and not go overboard. I made a few modifications (mainly the portions) and was still left satisfied with a comforting choice.

Here's what I used:
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat tortellini, cheese filled, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 Italian sausage link, sliced into about 1/4-1/2 inch rounds
  • 1T reduced-fat pesto (such as Buitoni)
Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat, spray with nonstick spray and add sausage rounds. Cook until done tossing occasionally. Add in cooked tortellini and pesto and mix. Heat through. 

This amount is filling, tasty and provides you with only 443 calories. If you were to use the "serving size" listed on the package of pasta (1 full cup) and pesto (1/4 cup) you would add on an additional 289 calories. If you were to use a full serving of regular pesto you would add 225 calories (on top of the 115 calories from the extra pasta)! All you need is a small spoonful to get that full basil-garlic-olive oil flavor! Pair this smaller version with a nice green salad and a drizzle of your favorite dressing and you have a better-for-you comfort meal. For an even better version you could swap the sausage for Jennie-O turkey sausage or a chicken breast (this will cut out another 100 calories).

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Quick & {Healthy} Sweet & Sour Chicken

I initially started this with the motivation to make my own sauce...but then saw a bottle of sweet & sour sauce when I was grabbing some produce at WF and I caved. Especially since I'm not making dinner until 8pm! I saw this as an opportunity to make something even faster, easier for families and individuals on the go and healthy to boot. 

What I used:
  • 2 large chicken breasts, skinless and trimmed of extra fat, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup snap peas
  • 1tsp onion powder
  • 1T soy sauce
  • 1/2 Cup prepared sweet & sour sauce (I used Kikoman) 
I pretty much prepared my recipe using the same as what was suggested on the bottle, but I modified it by using chicken breast (pork would be a lean white meat option too), removing the corn starch and halving the amount of sauce used (really, you don't need all of that). 

Heat large skillet over medium heat, spray with nonstick cooking spray or a little olive oil. Add chicken, onion powder and soy sauce, browning on all sides. Add 1/4 cup of water, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes stirring occassionally. Add vegetables, pineapple and sweet & sour sauce, mix well, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes. Uncover and simmer for another 5-7 minutes until heated through and sauce has reduced a little.

Serve with some 90 second Ready Rice and you're set for a healthy quick meal in about 30 minutes! 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

{Healthy} Peanut Butter Brownies!

If you're like me, you always need to have a little somethin' sweet after dinner :) So I've been trying to buy and make more healthy dessert options, keeping the sweet treats around 150 calories or less. With that said, I also like to try to be all natural if possible and avoid anything processed or artificial. Some of my new favorites have been Diana's Bananas (chocolate dipped frozen bananas!) and Almond Dream Lil' Dreamers.

On my quest for an easy and healthy brownie I came across quite a few good options...calorie-wise...but many contained artificial sweeteners or had too many ingredients that I just know I would only use a pinch of and not have any use for the rest! I don't really LOVE to bake so for me, the easier the better. Then I hit the Hungry Girl website and found a perfect recipe for me! The only thing I didn't have on hand was the box of cake mix! After my grocery shopping trip to WF here's the adapted recipe I made, with yummy results:

  • 1 box organic chocolate cake mix (Such as Dr. Oetker)
  • 2T cocoa powder
  • 1 can (15oz) pumpkin (Libby's)
  • 1/4 cup natural creamy peanut butter
  • 2-3T light soy milk
Mix together the cake mix, cocoa powder and pumpkin well (batter will be thick). Spread into a greased 9x13inch cake pan. Mix together peanut butter and soy milk and pour on top of brownie mixture. Swirl together. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Make sure not to overbake these! Allow to cool and cut into 16 pieces. 

Each brownie: ~150 calories, 2.6gm fat, 3gm fiber, 3gm protein and cholesterol free!