Getting ahead of the game: Overnight oatmeal

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I love oatmeal but my favorite version has become “overnight” or “fridge” oatmeal. It so easy to make and it keeps in the fridge for several days.

I got my original recipes from the Yummy Life webpage but its been adapted a few times from the first time I made it. I think that is the sign of a great recipe– it adapts to your taste and dietary needs.

Before you get started I would suggest finding some wide mouth jars. Mine are actually Ball jars but anything that makes it easier to eat out of is fine. I use a 1 pint size jar but depending on how much you add to the basic recipe you can use a smaller jar. I generally make 4-6 jars at a time.

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“Overnight Oats”

Base 1 (dry):

1/2 cup uncooked old fashioned oats ( you can use steel cut but I prefer this texture)20150308_115034

1 1/2 tsp chia seeds

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Base 2(wet):

1/2 cup milk (almond, “cow” or alternate)

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

Fruit and sweetener:

This is where you can play with flavor and options. I generally use bananas, apples, berries, and dried fruit. About 1/2 an apple or banana is about right but adjust to your liking. For the sweetener– I like real maple syrup but honey is also a nice choice. I add it when I am ready to eat but you can add this at the same time as all the ingredients if desired.20150308_115800

Once you’ve got it all in the jar give it a really good stir and put it in the fridge overnight or at least 3 hours to thicken and absorb the wet ingredients. I normally re-stir it when I am ready to eat and maybe add another splash of milk if needed. I eat mine cold from the fridge– its great in the warmer weather and very refreshing after exercising!20150308_120331

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Another week, another challenge!

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This past week just flew by and I really found myself having more fun looking for ways to be healthy. Working, however put another spin to my getting it actually done. Normally I work night shifts but this week I had some education and Nursing Council  during the day. Not big challenges to deal with but it still required some planning.

Planning is a huge factor in living a healthy life for me. If I don’t plan ahead at least a couple days for meals I find myself falling into the “easy but not great” rut of grabbing a protein bar. If I don’t plan out exercise I definitely find other things to do and I fall into the trap of couch sitting with my husband in the evening.

consistancy

Courtesy of #Healthy Monday

 

20140601_144230 20140601_144243How do you keep on track? Do you use a planner, a training plan, an online site? I’m more of a paper and pencil girl for the actual planning but I am liking the online site of Sparkpeople for tracking the actual food I eat and Map My Run for my activity.

 

 

These are what my typical planners look like. Its taken a while and many adaptations to fit it into something resembling my life but it makes it easier to look back and see where things went wrong when they invariably do.

So aside from the challenge of working day shifts I also got a challenge of an extremely busy night at work. I work in a fairly busy “OB” unit and you just never know what might happen on any given shift. Unfortunately being busy and finding time to eat don’t always go smoothly. And then you find yourself eating whatever is quick in the break room in lieu of actually sitting to eat your meal. I love that patients give us homemade goodies and generally I can resist but someone made us a basket that included Irish soda bread. Bread, especially homemade, is my weak link. And I had not one but 2 slices of the soda bread. With butter.

Keeping in mind the saying about getting back on the horse I did a major food prep on Sunday. I prepped veggies for salads, made jars of Overnight Oatmeal and baked my eggs (hard “boiled) and defrosted shredded chicken. This made working Sunday and Monday so much easier both at work and eating between shifts. I also tried to keep in mind my findings from last week that needed improvement. My calories are a much better range and the carb/protein/fat balance is becoming more balanced.

The thing that really was a high point was being able to use last week’s reward of the Aasics– I ran twice this week and just was so very happy and energized afterward. I also started doing my floor core work and I can say I definitely felt muscles that had been on hiatus since December. It was such a good feeling though; having sore muscles showed I am improving.

warning-health

 

While I love coffee I did find myself reaching for water first when I felt tired which is a great thing for me. I put wedges of lemon in the water which made it go down much easier when I was not totally thirsty. I bought oranges, lemons and limes to experiment with this week.

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Fruit is great for adding flavor to plain water!

So overall a great week. Although the getting healthier was my main goal I also found more room in my clothing and I am down 2.4 lbs this week. Now that I have started running and adding strength training I hope that will continue as well!

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Have a great and healthy week! Let me know how YOU are doing!

Best wishes–Janice

My thanks to #HealthyMonday for giving me permission to use their image!! The other images (aside from my own) were found on Google images– my thanks to their creators!

 

“Grazing Buffalo Burgers”

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Eating Healthy does not have to be a boring tasteless existence–in fact, by replacing ‘processed food’ with healthy ones I have opened my taste buds to ever widening experiences! When you replace fat with flavor you can really enjoy eating real food again!

OK, lets face it, for most people eating a burger means a big thick juicy beef burger full of fat and toppings.  For many people looking for a healthier alternative it might mean a turkey burger…and I have to say it: it really can’t compare as a true alternative if you are buying the pre-made kind from the store. The Jennie-O seasoned one is not bad but it still lacks something that would make you want to say ” yea I WANT a turkey burger” despite wanting to eat better.

So I’ve been on a hunt to find more appealing alternatives . This is one of my finds–a Buffalo Turkey burger. The original recipe was found at Skinny Taste but I’ve adjusted it just a bit for my preferences.

So– Option 1 for a Burger Alternative:

Grazing Buffalo ( Turkey) Burgers

1 package lean ground turkey (usually 1.25 lbs)

1-2 grated carrots,shredded (about 1 cup packed)

1 medium zucchini, shredded (about 2 cups)

1-2 cloves of garlic, minced

2-3 Tbs red onion, minced

1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot sauce (more or less to preference)

1/2 cup whole wheat bread bread crumbs or Panko crumbs

salt and pepper to taste

Optional-cheese slices of choice (I use cheddar)

Whole wheat rolls–burger or kaiser

In a large bowl combine well –this is easiest with your hands. It does get pretty messy so you may want to use plastic/ latex-free food gloves if you have them.

Mixing it with your hands is best but messy!

Form the mixture into 8 patties (about 5.5 oz each).

If I am freezing it for future use I actually use plastic container lids (from butter/ 15 oz yogurt/ricotta)

to form and stack them in the freezer.

Use old container to hep form the patties. They are great for stacking together in the freezer.

To Cook–Preheat a pan with a little nonstick spray on medium heat and cook on one side 4-5 minutes and then flip. Cook an addition 3-4 minutes and if using cheese  top with cheese and cook until melted. (I use cheddar)

If using a frozen burger then add 1-2 minutes per side or allow to defrost prior to heating.

Note: If grilling make sure the grill is well oiled because it tends to stick on the grill.

This is great topped with blue cheese dressing and/or coleslaw.

There is no place like….a house that loves Pizza!

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We LOVE pizza!! It doesn’t matter how it is made, homemade or from a pizza place…we love it. Once upon a time we ate it every week, on the same day, from the same place.  Unfortunately, or maybe its for the best, but our job’s hours and health outlooks have changed that. Now it is more of a treat than a standby.  Now I am more apt to have some whole wheat crust in the freezer ready to go; my recipe makes 2 doughs so if we don’t use both the other one goes in the freezer after rising.

We started with our basic homemade pizza which is usually either plain cheese or with pepperoni. The original crust was all purpose flour, not whole wheat and I have to admit, pretty good. Just not as healthy as it could be. It was overloaded with cheese and the pepperoni….just dripped with grease (yummm!).

We them switched to a whole wheat crust but that got a little bit dry in the crust and didn’t want to “fold”. Our current ratio is now 2.5 cups whole wheat flour and 1.5 cups all purpose flour. It is soft and pliable and a bit more healthy.  We cut back some on the cheese and then microwaved the pepperoni to eliminate a lot of the fat.  OK, we are getting better at being a healthier option!

On occasion I can get my hubby to go for a vegetable pie but he prefers adding meat (pepperoni or sausage) to it. I like the added vegetables and he can deal with the overall picture.

Loaded with veges…..

or a “Sausage and Pepper” pie, its still an improvement over our heavier versions!

Enter the challenge: my daughter has become a vegetarian and is really watching what she eats. We found a vegetarian recipe in a Cooking Light cookbook and started with that. We did adjust it to our taste and preference and I think we’ve gotten a pretty decent pizza option: Deep Dish Pizza with Roasted Vegetables. Both my older daughter and I will eat this one while my hubby and younger daughter will share the modified/lightened traditional one.  We are all eating together which is what matters  and we are eating healthier–its the best of all worlds!

Deep Dish Pizza with Roasted Vegetables (pan option a)

Pizza Healthified: Deep Dish Pizza with Roasted Vegetables

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Pizza has become a bit of a challenge now that we are striving to eat healthier and my older daughter is a vegetarian. She will no longer eat the pizza from our local place, and has also started declining our homemade version (too much cheese for her). So we needed to come up with an alternative. This one has been adapted from a Cooking Light recipe to fit our tastes and her preference.  We focused on getting in as much vegetables as possible with just a bit of cheese to keep the taste satisfying.  Use it a jumping off point and adapt it to fit your needs and tastes!

                                         Deep Dish Pizza with Roasted Vegetables

The Dough

Whole wheat flour, 3/4 cup

All purpose flour, 3/4 cup

Quick rise yeast , 1 package or 2.25 teaspoons

Salt, 1/2 teaspoon

Sugar, 1/2 teaspoon

Warm water, 2/3 cup ( very warm but not too hot)

Olive oil, 1 tablespoon

I use my Kitchenaid stand mixer  with a dough hook but you can use a food processor or alternate with a blade attachment. Place all dry ingredients in the bowl and mix briefly to blend. Add water and oil while the mixer is running and mix until the dough forms a ball, about 1 minute. I kneed mine for just a few minutes more but you can omit it if desired. Place ball of dough in a bowl, preferably glass, that is coated in non stick spray. Turn to coat and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Allow to rise until doubled in size, 15-30 minutes depending on the heat/humidity of the day.

Pizza Filling

1 medium green pepper, cut into 1 inch (bite size) pieces

1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces (optional, my preference)

1 (8oz) package of baby bella mushrooms, sliced (you can sometimes find them pre-sliced)

1 medium sized red onion, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

1/2 cup pitted black olives

4 plum (Roma) tomatoes, coarsely chopped

6 oz part skim mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup pasta sauce of choice

For the filling:

1-Preheat oven to 475*F.

2-Line a cookie sheet with foil (this saves clean up time), combine the peppers, mushroom and onion together and coat with cooking spray, sprinkle with the Italian seasoning and toss well. (I would also roast the tomatoes personally but my daughter prefers to add them later.)  Bake at 475* for 20 minutes then stir and bake for another 5-6 minutes or until they are roasted to preference.

3-Add the black olives and tomatoes to the pepper mix and combine well.

4-Reduce oven temp to 450*F

5-Pan choice is your option–I’ve done it two ways and enjoyed both. Choose either (a) a round tart pan (like a Corelle pan) or (b) a 13 x 9 inch rectangle pan. Coat with non-stick spray.

6-Roll out the dough to fit the pan with just a little extra for the crust. Place in preferred pan and press dough up sides of pan and then roll the extra to form the crust edge.

7-Spread the sauce over the base of the crust. Sprinkle 1/3-1/2 of the mozzarella cheese over the sauce (if you like move of a cheese topping use less on the bottom or just put on the top.  Top with the roasted vegetables, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

8- Bake at 450* for about 20 minutes or until the crust is browned and cheese is melted and bubbling.

9-Allow to cool for 5 minutes before cutting into 6 slices/portions.

Using the round pan….

                                        or the 13 x 9 rectangle one…..either way, its a delicious way to have a healthier pizza!

 

 

 

Sarah’s “Faux S’mores”

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My daughter Sarah and I were talking the other day–we wanted something  tasty as a snack.  It was also hot and it would be better if it were something cool as well. Chocolatey would be great too. Ice cream sandwiches? Nope, none in the freezer.  What to do, what to do?

All of a sudden it hit me–“faux s’mores”. So simple to make, reasonable calorie wise (especially compared to ice cream), and it has chocolate!  You probably have most of it on hand–graham crackers (squares preferred), Cool Whip and Hazelnut spread ( “Nutella”).  Here’s how we make it:

Its easier if you work on a paper towel but a plate is ok too.    Lay out pairs of graham cracker squares.

Spread about a teaspoon of the Hazelnut spread on 1 of each pair of crackers.

Add about 2 -3 teaspoons of Cool Whip  on top of the Nutella/Hazelnut spread. You can use any version you like (regular, lite or fat free). We used the lite version for these. Top with the second graham cracker.

I normally pack 2 s’mores in a snack size bag and then put them in the freezer. They are ready to go in about an hour but  freeze well in you are making for the week (if they last that long!).

Enjoy this little treat anytime.

Choosing Favorites: Refrigerator Oatmeal, my new standby

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Oatmeal….its just not glamorous.

But it is my new favorite “go to” since I am working on making my eating habits healthy ones.

Making food and prepping ahead of time is a big part of healthy eating; you know that healthy choices are quickly available and that you really do know what is in your meal. The “Refrigerator Oatmeal” is one of those things you can make ahead and just grab and go. I never in my wildest dreams would’ve considered eating cold oatmeal but…this isn’t normal oatmeal.

I found my original recipe at “The Yummy Life”  but its been adjusted to fit my tastes just a bit. That is what I really like about this recipe–it is so adaptable and practically any combination of fruit or additive will work. You’ll need several jars, minimum one cup in size. Canning jars are great but you can use old jars as well (just run in dishwasher to make sure there is no lingering smell from the original use). The ones with screw on lids are much easier but not required.

Basic recipe for Refrigerator Oatmeal

1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats (not instant)

1/2 cup skim milk (or alternate like almond or soy)

1/4 cup low fat plain Greek yogurt

1 1/2 tsp dried Chia seeds

1/2 tsp cinnamon

optional:

1 Tbsp of dehydrated peanut butter (like PB2)

1 tsp honey, maple syrup or sweetener of choice

Suggested fruits: (one or combination)

1/2 banana, diced

3-4 strawberries, diced

1/4 cup blueberries

1/2 apple, diced

1/2 pear, diced

1- Add oats, chia seeds, (PB2), cinnamon to jar and shake–close lid tightly

2-Add Greek yogurt and milk–close lid and shake .

3-Add fruit of choice– I love the PB2 and banana, strawberry/blueberry,  and strawberry/banana.  The pear and apple are good too but try to use when fresh and in season.  Shake container again making sure lid is tight.

4-Place in refrigerator overnight (or several hours minimum). At this point I add a splash more milk and a tsp or so of pure maple syrup and stir. This is delicious cold–very refreshing after exercise or working in the yard.

I usually make 3-4 at a time and they last 3-4 days in the refrigerator (mine are usually gone before then!)

Word of advice–the contents do expand as the liquid is absorbed–make sure you use a big enough container!

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