Greens for Breakfast?

October 31, 2012

So.  For the past few weeks I’ve been reading about and trying out a more macrobiotic outlook on food.  For those of you who are a little unfamiliar with the idea of macrobiotics, it can be both complicated (yin, yang expanding, contracting energies in foods, etc) and simple (whole grains, greens, not a lot of sugar and not a lot of caffeine, boom).  Because I don’t feel comfortable enough with the more complicated ideas of macrobiotics to talk about them, I can speak to the simple version.

For the past few weeks i’ve tried really hard to have whole grains and something green for at least 2 out of my 3 meals in the day.  Yup.  Greens for breakfast.  I used to think it was crazy – I could get down with the salty (hello sunny side up eggs) and even the sweet (pancakes and french toast, i’m lookin at you), and of course, there was oatmeal (yay grains!) but the greens thing I couldn’t quite wrap my head around.  So I started out slow, creating what I guess would be considered macrobowls – greens, veggies, grains and beans for dinner once or twice a week and enjoying leftover grains as a side for lunches.  I inched closer with my breakfasts by switching to decaf (going strong!) and enjoying a mix of grains with my oatmeal, instead of just oatmeal (things like bulgur wheat, quinoa and sometimes even barley, love barley…).   Then, this weekend it kind’ve just sort’ve, happened. 

It started on Friday morning, I drizzled my oats with some maple syrup and could BARELY get it down.  All of a sudden, in as little as a week or so of cutting back sugar – maple syrup was just a little too sweet for my everyday tastes.  Things got weirder on Saturday – I thought about oatmeal, I thought about quinoa, I thought about an Ezekial English muffin.  And in the end (and much to my husband’s annoyance), the only thing that sounded good, was kale. What?

And so I had steamed kale.  I still retained some of my breakfast senses though (i’m kidding, actually, the kale was great).  I cooked up the last of my Field roast Apple and Sage sausages and made a flat bread breakfast sandwich with some tofutti cream cheese, sweet jalapeno pepper jam, steamed kale and the sausage.  As you can see there was enough sausage and kale leftover for a side. 

The craziest thing about all of this?  Is how good of a mood it put me in – for pretty much the ENTIRE day. I’m starting to realize that when I’m cranky, I can look back at what I ate and think “ok, I haven’t had any whole grains or something green yet today, lets fix that” and placebo or reality, it usually works. 

So, greens for breakfast, am I crazy?

xo

ps – Happy Halloween everyone!

Oh man.

I had such an enjoyable weekend.  I relaxed with an old Black & White movie late on Friday night.  Have you ever seen Little Women, from the 1930s, I believe?  Katharine Hepburn stars in it and it has renewed my love of the story.  I adore the ’90s version and of course, the book is fantastic – i’m looking forward to re-reading it.

I enjoyed some drinks ala – husband this weekend too.  We had homebrews (the latest is a Kolsch, although he’s brewing a Vanilla Porter and a Pumpkin beer as we speak!) and as a surprise he made me one of my favorite cocktails, a Buzz Aldrin.  Which is glorified tang, in a martini glass.  See also: delicious.

I even got some WORK done.  Which, as surprising as it sounds, was enjoyable.  Its nice to feel productive again.  Ask me again in a few weeks, but for now, I’m going to enjoy the feeling.

All said and done, it was a great way to end a great week and start off what I hope will be an even  better one.  I’ve said more than a few times, that I hope and anticipate that with the return of an everyday schedule, I’ll also see the return of a healthier lifestyle and workout routine.  Well, you guys – I am STILL SORE from Wednesday night’s yoga class.  I could say “oh, the instructor taught a GREAT class” and she did, honest.  But truth be told, this soreness?  Well, its all on me.  Yoga classes are supposed to be reflective and relaxing.  It was both of those for me, but not in the classic “i’m so relaxed” after yoga way.   The class was ROUGH guys, for me.   I struggled with balance poses, I struggled with holding poses and came away with a very potent reminder of the consequences that come with not maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  Dramatic?  Maybe a little.  But sometimes a little drama is what you need in order to kick your butt back into gear.  I took for granted the body I had worked hard to shape for the past 8 months and after 1.5 months, I’m starting to see it slip back away.  What’s even scarier?  Is seeing that return of complacency and laziness.   For me, laziness begets laziness these days and that’s bad.  But i’m just tired and sore.    But excuses are no more.   I’ve made big efforts this past week to get back to a healthier eating style, salads for lunch, water during the day and really avoiding those things which I’ve found just aren’t appealing anymore.  Right now, for me that’s dairy annnnnnd baked delicious.

We’ve had a few weekends of friends over, so there’s been a lot of fun breakfast and brunch things sitting around the house.   The problem with that, is that I tend to enjoy the leftovers and of course, crave those kind of foods more and more and more.  I’ve weaned myself off of snacking during the afternoon and put myself back onto water.  But this weekend I woke up with that now familiar “hmmm…what would be fun and tasty to bake for breakfast”.  Not MAKE  guys, BAKE.  Now.  I am all for the occasional delicious breakfast, but for me personally, weekends in a row of cinnamon buns and potato hashes, muffins etc., just aren’t going to work.  And truth be told, when I woke up, while my initial instinct was to whip up a batch of muffins, coffee cake or easy cinnamon rolls, I had to stop myself and actually think.    Here’s what I came up with:

1.  I wasn’t really THAT hungry

2.  None of the things I was “craving” actually sounded like something I WANTED, when I really thought about it.

3.  Why did I still hurt so much from Yoga?

When I thought about it, what I was really craving was healthy, a little bit of sweet and refreshing.  So what I came up with, was this:

Helloooo delicious.

Thats right.  Another batch of homemade granola.  I had been snacking on some my mother in law brought with her last weekend.  And when it was gone, I was a little dejected.  So in the end, I made myself a batch on Saturday morning and instead of a carby and sugar heavy breakfast, I enjoyed a healthy and delicious brunch of granola.  100% worth the wait.  Cold almond milk supplied the “refreshing” and maple syrup and cinnamon satisfied that sweet craving I was having and as for healthy?

The last time, I made a PB & Chocolate chip batch.  For this go ’round, I used almonds and walnuts, maple syrup & cinnamon, a touch of oil and added in some goodies like hemp seeds and Maca Root powder to boost the nutrition info.    What I got was a delicious, comparatively healthy breakfast food, that will last me for the rest of the week.  If that’s not a healthy start, I’m at a loss.   Besides.

Its hard to beat something that looks so pretty when its stored.

Making healthier choices this week?

xo

Ya’ll I have been TIRED.   What is up with that!?  I’ve been trying to supplement my diet with lots of greens (Green Smoothies!) and trying to incorporate some more iron in my diet, but I just can’t seem to shake this groggy thing i’ve got goin on.  More water?  Vitamin?  I’m pretty sure that if I just stuck to my workout routine I’d get used to it, but lately i’ve been enjoying the freedom of getting in my workouts when I want to.  Which while healthy in one aspect, can lead to being an excuse for laziness down the road.   Maybe i’m not sleeping well?  Maybe I should realize that not everyone is wide awake in the morning and push through it 🙂

Maybe I should talk about granola?

This past weekend Brandon and I hit up our local Farmers Market for the first time this summer and it was nothing short of divine for me.  Walking around stands that are overflowing with fresh fruits, veggies, mushrooms, flowers is just so therapeutic for me.

I’m trying to make it a (better) habit to shop more local and opt for fresh, whole fruits and veggies when possible and as close to homemade or healthy when buying stuff that comes in packages (cereals, milks, etc).   Sometimes, when it comes to cereals – I find myself on a granola kick, which can be great, except as most of probably know by now- the store bought granola can be pretty unhealthy for you.  So I was pretty excited when Brandon pointed out a homemade granola stand at the farmers market.  They had fun flavors like apple quinoa or ginger & spice, but i’m not kidding – it was 7 bucks for what seemed like MAYBE 1.5-2 cups of granola, at the most! That’s even more expensive than the organic granola from the store!  SEVEN DOLLARS.  No.Thankyou.

The problem though, was now I wanted granola and I wanted it BAD.  But I really am shying away from buying it, especially since every time I’d reach for it, I’d get that nagging voice in the back of my head “why buy THIS, when you know you can make it, cheaper, tastier and healthier, at home?”.  Fair enough inner self.  I’d put the box back and promptly not make the granola.

This weekend, all of that changed.  Remember that “if I see it and like it, why don’t I make it” goal?

Granola is so darn easy to make, I’m kicking myself for not doing it more often, although now that I have depleted my granola innards supply, I’ll need to restock before I can again!  But luckily, this batch I whipped up this weekend seems to have made just enough to keep me settled until next time.

Funny story about this granola, or rather, its flavor – is that before I started running, I wasn’t much of a peanut butter fan (GASP).  I think I may have even written about not being a peanut butter fan in an earlier post.  Almond or sunflower seed butter all the way! That was my philosophy.  But suddenly, PB is where its at! Its all I want, PB on bananas, on apples, on toast, crackers, in my smoothies, my oatmeal and of course – the natural transition – IN MY GRANOLA!

That’s right, Peanut butter granola, with a sprinkling of bitter sweet chocolate chips (dairy free!).  Sort’ve amazing.  I ended up modifying a few different recipes I found for granola and I think the recipe needs a little more PB for my taste (who AM I?) and I’ve also seen a few ways to reduce the oils (mashed banana!), but its a great first try, if I do say so myself…

Peanut butter (chocolate chip!) Granola -Trial 1

About 2 Tbsp cooking oil

1/3 cup peanut butter (I used reduced fat, because that’s what we have in the house)

1/4 cup Pure Maple Syrup

About 3/4 cup total of seeds and nuts (I used sunflower, pumpkin and flax seeds and chopped up some Almonds)

2 cups rolled oats

bitter sweet chocolate chips (be sure to get dairy free if you want to keep the recipe Vegan!)

Directions:

In a bowl, mix together Seed/nut mixture with the rolled oats.  Meanwhile, iIn a small sauce pan, add the oil, Peanut butter and maple syrup and heat on med-low heat, stirring until the PB is melted and the ingredients are combined to make a nice sauce.

Combine the sauce with the oats/seed mix and toss until all the pieces are “wet” or coated.  Add the granola mix to a greased baking pan with an edge (I used a lasagna pan) and try to make sure the granola is in a single layer.  I baked mine at about 300 for 40-45 minutes or so, stirring up the pieces half way through.

The baking times may vary, I think our oven is a little off on the temperature, so be sure to adjust your temp/times to make sure you granola is cooked, but not burnt!

Once the granola is done and out of the oven, set it aside to cool.  Be patient!  Once the granola is fully cooled, add in the chocolate chips.  I didn’t use a lot, just enough to play off of the Peanut butter, but use your personal preferences here (same with the PB amount!)

The result?

A tasty treat to mix in with my normal morning bowls, on top of some Coconut Dream Icecream or even just to snack on its own!  Is it a nutritional powerhouse?  Not in the least, but sometimes, those little indulgences are worth it 🙂  And its important to remember NOT to eat the whole bundle of deliciousness all in one sitting too 😉  This recipe made a LOT of granola and I use it sparingly, since its not the healthiest thing I’ve ever made – but it definitely tides me over when I need a little something to get me through the afternoon.   The ingredients could easily be pared down also to make smaller amounts and are so adaptable to what you have on hand.

An easy recipe for granola whenever the craving strikes, I’m liking it.   Also on my “i’m liking it list?” FRIDAY!!!!!!! Who has fun plans?  I DO! 🙂

xo

ps – do you guys know about this? Tomorrow, all of the National parks have FREE ENTRANCE for hiking and the like. GET OUTSIDE PEOPLE, its going to be gorgeous out and what better way to enjoy the weekend by taking a hike in our beautiful national parks.  If you have one by you – get OUT THERE 🙂

 

This vs That

May 24, 2012

Ugh.  Well.  This morning has been a morning.

1. running late

2. My strawberry cupcakes are more like…strawberry bread…

3. coffee machine ISN’T working

4. running late

5.  Grab an umbrella, find out later there’s already one in my bag (d’oh).

6.  Dear lady on 83, if your idea of merging is to first stop on the on ramp, then creep out onto the highway, then stop on the highway, all the while managing to almost merge into the ONE CAR that was in the lane for the entire process, go retake your drivers exam. Or stop texting. On second thought – do both.

Lets just say I will not be suffering fools gladly today.  But I’m trying super hard to not let it all get to me.  I’m currently trying to figure out a way to salvage the SECOND round of cupcakes (First round was edible, but not what I wanted or really presentable).  Strawberry Bread Bites has a nice ring to it, or maybe some sort of parfait? Any ideas?

But enough about crummy starts to a Thursday morning, I have my coffee now, so lets talk about breakfasts!

With the warmer temperatures creeping in, i’ve been shifting away from cooked oatmeal in the morning (although you couldn’t pay me to give up my overnight oats!) and into some more summer friendly breakfasts.  I don’t have a lot of time in the morning, so it ends to be something I can shovel into my mouth with a spoon while getting ready for work.  The less hassle and prep the better!

Lately i’ve been embracing two separate breakfasts and thought I’d share and take a peek at the nutritional value of each according to dailyplate.com, to see if I’m getting a decent meal in the morning!  Lets see:

Breakfast #1:  The best darn lookin’ bowl of cereal, ever.

   

Although I used to crave a more elaborate breakfast, I’ve found cereal to be simple and pretty filling if I do it right.  Nix the sugar cereals and add some more fiber with the berries and it turns into a pretty decent breakfast…This week i’ve been using Kashi Autumn Harvest Shredded Wheat, Almond Milk and berries.

Breakfast #2:  Millet/Quinoa bowl with Almond Milk and Berries

I have a rice cooker.  And I love it.  And its way underused.  Back when I was in grad school, one of my favorite ways to make sure I got some semblance of a nutritional meal during the day was to start with a bowl of quinoa and berries.  Millet has been floating around the blogosphere lately as a new and fun grain to try.  So this past week, when I (gasp) ran out of cereal, I decided to turn to my grad school standby, but wanted to make it a little more substantial.  Instead of going the traditional rolled oats route, I took a page from  Jenny’s book and decided to try some Millet.   Mixing and making the two together in my rice cooker resulted in some pretty creamy grains, which were easily broken up by a bit of Almond milk 🙂

In addition to the berries, I also added a drizzle of Maple syrup.  In the end, I’m not really sure it needed it (maybe my tastebuds have changed), but maple syrup is too delicious to pass up 🙂

   

Lets compare, shall we?

Head to head, the cereal seems to have less calories, fat, carbs and sodium,  the Quinoa/Millet breakfast bowl comes out on top for protein and less sugar.

I’ve never directly compared my breakfasts and I think its pretty interesting (and impressive!) that my two go-to breakfasts as of late seem to rate pretty well and so evenly for nutritional value – although disclaimer: I have had no nutritional training.   Based on the values, I’d probably opt for the Millet bowl on days when I have a little more time in the morning, but want to keep fuller for a longer period.

Have you ever compared your breakfasts for nutrition?  What’s your favorite?


xo

Breakfast switchup

April 24, 2012

Awhile back, I mentioned how a year ago, if you had told me I’d be eating, CRAVING breakfast every morning, I would’ve told you that was nuts.  Fast forward and I was busy telling you about how I was never going to eat anything other than oatmeal for breakfast for the rest of my life. Clearly an exaggeration, but honest – I ate oatmeal a lot for breakfasts.  Overnight oats, steel cut oats, baked oats. Yes yes and yes.  I could even get my diner fix in on the weekends with Oatmeal, sliced bananas and a dry English muffin with PB (and those leftover sliced bananas).

Sadly, now that the weather is starting to warm up a bit, my oatmeal tendencies are starting to wane.  That’s not to say I don’t still love a bowl of oatmeal, but my desire for a warm and dense heavy bowl of oatmeal in the morning isn’t quite as strong anymore.  The few times I’ve tried, I end up not finishing it and being satisfied with a piece of toast instead (also, not a bad option).   At the diner, that’s not so hard to accommodate, because I’ve been able to replace the oatmeal with some homefries and keep the English muffin w/ pb & bananas.  Still a pretty decent and filling breakfast.   The problem is, I can’t cook homefries in my rice cooker….and so I present to you – my new found favorite “will never any other breakfast for the rest of my life” breakfast…

 

If you guessed organic Fruit loops – you were so right.  Each morning I wake up and have a big ol’ bowl of Cascadian Farms Fruity-Os, or some ridiculous name similar to that.  There’s (sadly?) no sugar on the outside of these, but they are a fairly healthy and definitely tasty alternative to the Toucan Sam variety.  And with the added banana and raspberries, I haven’t missed the sweet sugar at all.  Best of all?  It keeps me full until at least mid to late morning.  Which is something I was pretty worried about missing.

 ever switch up your breakfasts based on seasons?

xo