Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ode to Oatmeal,The Pumpkin Edition!

Pumpkin Oatmeal! Yay! How do ya like my pug mug? :)
 I'll admit it. I may or may not be a smidge obsessed with oatmeal. I think you would be too if you just took a look at some of the great health benefits! I actually blogged about it not too long ago... you can read all about why I love it so much. I've heard so many people say, "No, I know it's good for me, but the texture freaks me out." Or, "I hate the way it sounds when you eat it... like when you dig your spoon into it, it just sound, ugh." That last sentiment is from my younger sister, she's silly like that, and she's probably the one person I know that would avoid a food because of the way it "sounds." That's why I love her though :)

If the texture, taste, smell, sight or sound freaks out, then check out my previous post about my FAVORITE way to eat oatmeal... with mashed up bananas and PB! Yummers! I'm pretty sure it will change your life forever.

I'm not gonna bore you with a re-post of a previous post, I'm here to tell you about a FABULOUS new oatmeal recipe for all you oatmeal skeptics and pumpkin lovers alike (PS try the pumpkin cupcakes I made last week, they're to die for even without the frosting!) Friends... I give you, pumpkin oatmeal! I used the same basic ingredients (oats, oatbran, chia seeds, etc) but instead of PB I use canned pumpkin and a little something extra special to top it off...

Warning: Pumpkin Spice Candle was not an actual ingredient, just the inspiration :)
Laurie's Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal
1 cup water
1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1 Tb. oat bran
1 Tb. flax seed meal (ground flax seeds)1/4 - 1/2 tsp *pumpkin pie spice
1/2 medium banana (the riper, the better!)1 -2 Tb. vanilla almond milk
1/3 cup canned pumpkin (NOT canned pumpkin pie mix! That's got sugar 'n stuff added in! Also, because of the pumpkin shortage last fall, it may be a challenge to locate. Kroger doesn't have it in stock yet, but Schnucks does!)
1 Tb. chia seeds
Agave Nectar
1/4 cup Nature's Path Organic Pumpkin Flax Seed Granola (only $2.75 at Target... it'll cost you almost double at Kroger!)

1. Bring the water to a boil in a medium sauce pan.
2. While that's happening, put the banana  in a ziploc bag and smoosh it till you have a lovely banana "puree."
3. Add the oats, oat bran, flax seed, spices to the boiling water. Stir constantly for 3 minutes.
4. Snip off the corner of the ziploc bag and squeeze the banana into the oats, add the canned pumpkin and vanilla almond milk. Keep stirring for 1 minute.
5. Add the chia seeds and stir until completely combined.
6. Pour your oats into your bowl and top with granola and a nice little drizzle of agave nectar.
7. Enjoy!

Here's a few tips from me to you... when it comes to granola:
- Psst... easy on the granola there! While it is very tastey and good for you, it can also be VERY high in calories, fat, AND sugar! Always check your ingredients before you purchase.
- Here's my rule of thumb when it comes to sugar content and cereal... no more than 10g of sugar PER serving. That's just too much for you!
- Like I said, granola is high in calories... that's why I use 1/4 cup sprinkled on top of my oats rather than eat a bowl of granola cereal on it's own.
- It this stresses you out too much, you can always make your own! There are lots of simple, healthy recipes for granola out there on the interweb ;)

Don't have a jar of Pumpkin Pie Spice on hand? Cause I didn't...

Make your own PPS!
4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
4 teaspoons ground ginger 
3 teaspoons ground allspice
- Place all spices in a small tupperware container... close the lid tightly. Shake, shake, shake! Store along with the rest of your spices.

I usually don't have the time/energy/money to grab a Starbucks unless I'm eating on the run... but I'm sure that a Pumpkin Spice Latte would be heavenly with this breakfast. I actually prefer a Pumpkin Spice CHAI Latte. That is heaven. Now if we can just get this crazy Memphis weather to actually act like it's fall...

Up close and personal... see the little green pumpkin seeds? De-lightful!

Truth time... seriously, who's the cuter pug? Mug pug, or Mr. Teddy? I found him sunbathing in the backyard the other day... look at the relaxed look on his face! Hehe... he makes me giggle :)

This coming Saturday, September 25th is National Health and Family Fitness Day! Wahoo!
So get out there and get moving... want an idea?

The City of Memphis & Shelby County are hosting the 1st Annual Family Fun Run & Walk 5K! Check out this link to the Shelby County's website for more information, but I will say this... it's FREE! And you get a FREE tshirt (while supplies last.) If you pre-register, they will reserve a shirt for you! It's not
too late, fax in your registration form today! There's going to be other FREE activities like
fitness demos, FREE food, music, and FREE health screenings!

I would totally be going, but I have a prior engagement.
Remember my BFF Christen... the one that loves all things polka dots?
She's getting married on Saturday!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Drink Your Veggies!

I love spinach.
I love smoothies.
I love spinach in my smoothies.

Hey now, before you roll your eyes in disgust... hear me out. I started reading about spinach smoothies, aka "Green Monster Smoothies," about a year ago while reading one of my fave healthy living blogs Oh She Glows. I think Angela actually started the whole ""Green Monster Movement". I guarantee if you give one of these smoothies a try you will start telling all of your friends, family, etc to throw some spinach in a blender and call it a day. Seriously, try one of these after a hard workout or for a quick lunch on-the-go - it's practically a salad in a blender! Well not entirely, that would be kinda gross... to me at least.

Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Give Spinach Smoothies A Try:
1. Hellllllllo Popeye! Talk about a heaping serving of IRON! Gimme! Gimme! As a girl who rarely eats red meat (unless its included in a recipe that the boyfriend requested) I could use all the iron I can get!
2. You're drinking 2-3 servings of veggies!
3. Extra energy... don't we all need it? Um, yes please!
4. More fruts & veggies = clearer skin, again... yes please!
5. You can't even taste the blasted spinach! I know y'all are all imagining sticking a straw into a bowl of creamed spinach... that's gross, and not true. All of the lovely and sweet fruits that you toss in there totally take over your taste buds. If it weren't for the green color, you would have absolutely NO IDEA that spinach was the "not so secret" ingredient.

Look at all that spinach... mmm!

My blender... working it's magic!

Perfectly blended! Now for the fun stuff!
I don't know if people still drink slim-fast shakes... gross, but green monsters taste waaaaaaay better and they're waaaaaaay better for you! Plus you can tailor the "recipe" to whatever fruits you have lying around the kitchen!
Today's Green Monster... ripe banana, frozen mango, and chia seeds! Oh my!

Here's the finished product! Mmmm! Green is my favorite color... so pretty! :)
 Laurie's Green Monster
1 cup Vanilla Almond Milk (I'm kinda anti-soy right now, I'm sure elaborate more on that in another post)
3 BIG handfuls of FRESH *baby spinach
1 medium ripe banana
1 cup of frozen mango chunks
1 Tb. chia seeds
Lil' drizzle of Agave Nectar
Ice Cubes (not always necessary if you use frozen fruit... you be the judge.

- Pour the milk into the blender first, then stuff as much spinach as you think you can handle... then add a little more ;)
- Blend until you get what looks like bright green milk! The spinach should be completely pureed.
- Add the mango, banana, and chia seeds.
- Blend until smooth! ENJOY a fabulously healthy, and super nutritious smoothie that is chock full of fiber, protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fat from the chia seeds! :)

*If you're feeling adventurous, try kale instead of or in addition to the baby spinach. I love kale, and it's extremely nutritious! High in Vitamin K, fiber, and glucosinolates which have been linked to cancer prevention (specifically colon and breast cancer.) I've heard that the texture isn't as smooth, because the kale leaves are composed of a much more fibrous tissue may give it a bit of chewy texture. However, if you have one of those AWESOME VitaMix Blenders, then this should not be an issue.
I put my Memphis Grizzlies souvenior cup to use. Mr. Teddy doesn't approve of my love for #33 Marc Gasol!  

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Women Running & Walking in Memphis 5K!

This is my pre-race smiley face.
Yesterday I ran in my second ever 5K. Actually I think I did "run" in one when I was in 8th grade. I don't feel like it really counts though. I ran in the Church Health Center's Race for Grace back in November 2008. This past week I decided to check my finishing time from that race just to have something to compare with my upcoming race. I remember doing some walking at that race, and I had absolutely no idea how to pace myself... of even that I was supposed to myself! Eek! My finishing time was 38:53. Ouch! I mean, like I said, I hadn't been running, like at all. So I guess I shouldn't be so hard on myself. I should be proud of myself for finishing, right?

Back to the recent running endeavor. Even though I signed up for the 10-week training program that was a part of the package when I registered... I honestly only attended 2 of the trainings (3 were canceled BTW.) I didn't exactly put in my time hitting the pavement on my own either. BUT... a commitment is a commitment. I figured that even if I wasn't prepared to run a 5K, maybe I could at least beat my body into submission ;) And beat it I did, jeez Louise! More onto that later though.

I showed up to Oak Court Mall at 7:30am to pick up my race number, and "swag" bag of goodies. I brought along my camera to snap some photos before the race began. It was pretty amazing to see the sea of Memphis ladies, every shape, size, color, age. It was a very "You Go Girl!" kind of an atmosphere.
Look at all that pink! I love the shirt for this race
Those raised hands represent the women who were running in their first 5K. You go girl!!!
In fact, just before the 2nd mile marker, there was a handmade sign that literally said "High five the woman running next to you and say, 'you go girl!' I totally wanted to take a picture, but I was kinda busy... ya know, in the middle of running a 5K and all.  

I had two goals for this race... the first one was to run the whole race (no walking breaks.) The second goal was to finish faster than my "PR" of 38:53 from 2 years ago. I admit, I did end up walking, BUT I didn't take my first walking break until approximately 20 minutes into the race... this was definitely a first. Yay me!

My finishing time was 37:09!! Wahoo! AND even though I did take a walking break, I power walked it... Oprah-style! Of the 37:09... I truly think I only walked a grand total of 4 minutes! Yea I know... that's small potatoes for you folks who run a 10K or half marathons without batting your eyelashes. But for me, this was pretty exciting. I actually think I could have finished by a minute or so earlier, but just before the third mile I started feeling kind of sick. I refused to quit though, I kept running... definitely not as fast I wanted to, but I ran! I don't know if it was the freakishly-hot-at-8am-sun beating down on me, or what... I actually think I wasn't adequately hydrated. Never a good thing.

I'll spare you the details, but I think my body started to rage against the machine as soon as I finally laid eyes on the clock at the finish line. I started gagging, I literally had to cover my mouth as I finished the last 45 seconds. I definitely thought I was gonna be sick, but I ended up dry heaving after I crossed the finish line instead. Painful!

Here are the running coaches for our training sessions, handing out bright pink medals to all the finishers.

How cool are those trophies!?! I SO wish I could have qualified for one... they were pretty rad.

Check out my medal. Pretty sweet, right?
Well... you think I would swear off running after almost passing out at the finish line, right? Negatory! I decided that since I jump-started my body into this whole running thing, I'm gonna go ahead and sign up for another one... for next month! Aside from the soreness and the dehydration-induced sickness, I thoroughly enjoy the whole community of runners that I've encountered at races. Plus, it seems like every organization and their brother are hosting 5K races nowadays, so you're bound to find a cause that you'd like to support. Stay tuned to find out which race I choose and to read more about how I ACTUALLY prepare myself for this one. Cheers!

How exhausted do I look? Haha!

Check out  Races Online to find a race in your area!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Working on my fitness...

So... you know you haven't been to the gym in a while if you have absolutely no idea where your headphones are! Argh! The other day, I was running around like a mad woman... literally! My day went as follows... work, class, walk Mr. Teddy, just enough time to squeeze in the gym/shower, doctor appointment, my BFF's final dress fitting for her wedding (which is one week from today) and then babysitting.

Me & Mr. Ted, after his workout, before my workout

Stress was likely to ensue right? When it comes to my three main daily health-isms: eat healthy, exercise, and get sufficient sleep... exercise is usually the first to go when I'm short on time. However, considering the fact that I too have to fit into a dress in 7 days, as I stand beside the fabulous Christen Barnard serving as one of her maids, that's just not an option this week. My dress fits, but since I don't consider breathing while wearing it optional... working out wasn't about to be taken off my to-do list.

So... like I said I was running around like a mad woman, tearing up my house in search of my headphones... to no avail. ARGH! So frustrating... not to mention the fact that HELLO, I was short on time!!! Then the light bulb went off! I still had a copy Jillian Michaels' "No More Trouble Zones!" I grabbed my yoga mat and 3 lb weights (high reps, low weights ladies) and popped that DVD in.

These are the looks I got from my Mr. Teddy as I did my lunges with a shoulder press. He's a comical little guy. It's kinda hard to stay in the zone when you look over to someone a puglet starring at you as if to say,
"What on earth are you doing momma?!?!"

After the fruitless search for my headphones, I only had time for 3 of the 6 circuits, plus a warm up and cool down. I did chest and abs, arms and legs, and finally glutes and thighs. This wasn't my first workout will Jill (as I like to refer to her... makes her less scary.) I actually did her 30 Day Shred a few months ago. I didn't exactly get shredded, but I didn't exactly complete the whole 30 days either. Mainly because I wasn't able to move by day 6, and it got preeeeeetty boring doing the exact same 20 minute workout every day. However, if you're into monotony... give it a shot, I'm pretty sure you'll see results.

Anyways... results are in and I was struggling to walk around in heels the next day at work. Every time I laughed... I was definitely reminded of the ab work I did the day before because I felt it! Geez Louise! I'm planning to alternate her circuits every other day, just to spice up my usual fitness routine. It's good when I'm short on time, especially since somewhere in the madness of my everyday obligations I still have to find the time to live my life, as in ya know basic things like eat, walk the dog, water the plants (I've sort of developed a green thumb lately,) homework, study, and spend time with the BF. Ay yi yi!

On a related note... look what finally arrived in my mailbox!!!!!! I'm giddy with excitement! Thank you!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pizza! Pizza!

… and I am not talking about Little Caesar's. About six months ago, I decided that I really wanted to start cutting out most processed foods (or where I can at least.) My first order of business was to buy a bread maker… seemed like the obvious choice for some reason, I don't know why. I started making these delicious, fabulous, homemade breads. The best part about making your own food (no matter what it is) is that you know exactly what you're putting in the food that you're putting in your body. I'll be sure to post one of my killer bread recipes soon…

My foodie brother got wind of my new purchase and was kind enough to pass along this AMAZING recipe from one of HIS favorite foodie blogs, The Amateur Gourmet. The recipe is for pizza dough made in the bread machine. And yes… my brother and I talk about food... a lot, as well as cooking methods, gadgets, and food blogs with each other quite frequently. We're cool like that. Anyhow, I've probably made about 3 dozen pizzas since I first tried out this recipe, and once you give it a whirl… I guarantee that you will NEVER go back to Papa Johns.

This was GREAT news for me, because the hungry man/ bottomless pit boyfriend and I used to order Papa John's pizza out the frame when we first started dating! At $20 a pop and excess calories that neither of us needed, we kicked that habit about a year ago. So when I made homemade pizza for my boyfriend with HOMEMADE pizza crust… no lie, he told me it was the best thing I had ever cooked for him! Now… not to toot my own horn or anything, but when it comes to my cooking skills, I'm kind of a big deal ;) So for him to say that this pizza was the best meal I cooked for him... that's gotta say something, right? Well maybe it's cause he's also a guy and prefers homemade pizza to coq au vin. Pish posh... either way, he loved it.

Look at that beautiful ball of dough!

I roll out the dough with a rolling pin (confession: I used to use a wine bottle – so I won't judge you if you do) If you're wondering what exactly is the odd shaped contraption that my pizza dough is draped over… it's a pizza stone! Run to your local Williams-Sonoma and grab one. They make all the difference in the world!

This pizza sauce is where it's at... the brand is DELALLO. You can find it on the pasta aisle in the little bitty section of "specialty Italian foods" at your local Kroger.

Basil is such a sentimental herb for me. Some of my earliest memories with my Italian grandmother, Mimi, involve cooking with basil. How cliché does having an Italian grandmother sound, but I do have one and she's amazing! Anyways...she would be cooking in the kitchen and ask me to go outside and pick some basil leaves from her basil plant. The scent of basil just takes me back to my summer visits in NJ. As you can see, my basil plant has flourished this summer! Clearly I'm overdue for making a batch of homemade pesto! I'm sure I'll be blogging about that soon. I also have some rosemary (I tempted to add that to my pizza dough soon) and lots o' fresh mint… hello mojitos!

Today's pizza toppings... fresh basil, mushrooms, caramelized onions, and sundried tomatoes!

My method for pizza toppings…. a light sprinkle of cheese followed by veggies/other toppings, followed by a blanket of cheese to seal the deal.

Up close and personal... before the blanket of cheese.

Easy Bread Machine Pizza Dough ... recipe courtesy of The Amateur Gourmet
3/4 cup water
2 cups bread flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar (the sugar is "food" for the yeast, it's a science thing, go with it)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon of vital wheat gluten (I never add this, but you can if you'd like)
2 tablespoons ***lard, cut into four small pieces

***I use Crisco, works like a charm… don't be freaked out! Two measly tablespoons spread out through an entire pizza won't kill you, although Jillian Michaels probably would if she ever read this.

Add the water to the bread machine's pan and then pour the flour, sugar, salt, and wheat gluten (if using) over the top.
Tap the pan to settle the ingredients and make a well in the center.
Add the yeast to the well, and then put the pieces of lard into the corners of the pan.
Set your bread machine to the dough setting and let 'er rip!

I'm sorry, but I think Papa John would be pretty jealous right about now.  Look at that crust! So tender and delicious! Don't forget to practice portion control! My serving is always two slices... and because of all the veggies, it's quite filling!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It's PUMPKIN season!

Pumpkin season is to me what wedding season is to Owen Wilson.
Love that movie, by the way ;)

Pumpkin Cupcakes? Heck yea I will!
I love the season of fall for oh so many reasons. I love the sound of crunching leaves, pumpkin spice chai lattes from Starbucks (way better than a regular pumpkin spice latte,) the smell of October when you walk outside in the morning, fall sweaters, carving pumpkins, and being able to walk my pug at 3pm without him hyperventilating over the Memphis heat. ;)

Another fun fact about me... my two favorite flavors in the world are s'mores and pumpkin. I will eat any and everything with either of those culinary themes. In fact, I just suggested that the local froyo (aka frozen yogurt) place in town, YoLo, look into getting some pumpkin yogurt in their machines. Can you imagine pumpkin & cheesecake swirled together in a magical mess of froyo! Yum! Ok... I digress...

So the other day when I saw the recipe for these little cupcake cuties from fellow healthy living blogger, Courtney over at Sweet Tooth Sweet Life,  I knew it would be a mere hours before I rushed out to be the ingredients and get those little guys into my oven and into my belly! I love that Courtney took a box of cake mix and "spiced" it up (pun intended.) I'm all about semi-homemade here, if you are too then check out Ann Byrn's The Cake Doctor cookbook. It's a staple in my mum's cookbook collection and she's a published cake decorator. HEY-O! Courtney substituted unsweetened applesauce for oil (which makes a moister cupcake in my humble opinion) and she substituted egg substitute for... you guessed it, eggs! Little healthy alternatives like that will save you calories and you won't even notice! Try it! Now have I mentioned that my roomie is lactose-intolerant? Because she is... which means if I don't want to consume a whole batch of cupcakes by myself, I need to accommodate her dietary needs. I don't mind at all actually, it gives me a chance to be more creative in my baking endeavors.

You're supposed to make the cream cheese frosting for these little tasty treats. I prefer actual homemade cream cheese frosting, but I wasn't about to go on a search for the vegan version of cream cheese. So I asked my roomie what she suggested. Apparently, canned cream cheese frosting is made with soy products, so it is lactose free! Who knew?! Here's the recipe... my adjustments are in purple.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Honey Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
(Adapted from this original recipe)
Makes 24 cupcakes, or 12 cupcakes and 1 9-inch cake

1 box spice cake mix

1 15oz. can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
3/4 cup egg substitute (I used 3 whole eggs)

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Paper-line or grease 24 muffin cups.
Blend cake mix, pumpkin, eggs, applesauce, water, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice until moistened. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour batter into prepared muffin cups, about 3/4 full.
Bake for 18-23 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. After 10 minutes, remove from pans, place on wire racks, and cool completely.
Prepare frosting according to directions and spread evenly on cupcakes. ENJOY!

Look at those orange beauties!

Here's my canned frosting with the extras add-ins, canned cream cheese frosting if for a lactose free alternative or if you're just short on time ;)

Honey Agave Nectar Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter (I used 1 can of Pillsbury Cream Cheese Frosting instead of butter, cream cheese, and sugar)

4 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
2-4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon (I also added some nutmeg for good measure)

1 tb. honey (I used agave nectar)

1-2 Tb. milk

Cream butter until light and fluffy. Add the cream cheese and beat for another 2 minutes.
Add the honey and cinnamon, and gradually add the powdered sugar one cup at a time.
Add the milk and more powdered sugar (if needed) until you get your desired consistency.

Thought you'd like to see the end product one more time :) How cute are those muffin liners?  Found them at Target! 75 liners for under $2!!!! Shout out to my BFF Christen and her polka dot obsession! These are so your flavor!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Banana Oats = Hot Breakfast of Champs!

I would say that on average... I make oatmeal (of the old-fashioned stove top variety) at LEAST 3-4 times a week. And yes, even when the heat index in Memphis soars up to 120 degrees. Oatmeal is one of my favorite breakfasts for so many reasons...

1. Keeps me feeling full for a solid 4 hours, easily.
2. It allows me to get a healthy dose of protein, carbs, and fat (the good kind) into my belly before a long day of work/school.
3. I enjoy listening to NPR in the morning while I prepare/eat my breakfast. I truly enjoy the process of cooking, and it actually is a great for me to wake up and sort out of my thoughts for plans for the day.
4. And it's just so delicious! I CRAVE this stuff!

You may notice some strange ingredients in my "recipe" for oats, but I add them for health purposes. Allow me to explain that when these fabulous, fine ingredients are thrown together you have the SUPER breakfast fit for a champion!

Oatmeal -A great source of complex carbohydrates and water-soluble fiber. Simply put, when it gets around water, it forms this gel-like substance which allows the fiber to easily move through your intestines and regulate/get rid of waste." Also, because it takes longer to digest, it keeps you feeling full longer and helps you maintain your blood glucose levels.

Oat Bran - Slightly higher in protein, fiber, and iron content, but also a little higher in fat a calories. I mix a little in with my regular oatmeal for texture/taste and to get a little bit of that nutrition goodness ;)

Flax Seeds - MUST GRIND THESE UP! I've seen whole flax seeds baked into tortilla chips, added to muffins, breads, etc. They're a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. If you're not into fish or taking fish oil supplements, then flax seeds or using flax seed oil would be a great alternative.

Chia Seeds - Unlike flax seeds, your body can easily digest these little guys, so no need to ground them up. Also these seeds are hydrophilic (aka the LURVE water like I LURVE s'mores!) Chia seeds can soak up to 10x it's weight in water! That means when these seeds are in you body... you'll stay hydrated longer and maintain your electrolytes in your fluids. If you're a runner, try mixing a tablespoon of these seeds with some pomegranate juice and drink up about 20 minutes before you hit the pavement. Dehydration just ain't cool, especially in Memphis.

Agave Nectar - Made from the agave plant, it's a natural sweetener. AND it's lower on the glycemic index than honey (which is what I used to drizzle in oats.) Click on the agave link to learn more about the glycemic index. If you're diabetic, you should be well-versed on this stuff! Here's a little tip from me to you... head to your local TJ Maxx and check out their "gourmet grocery" aisle. That's where I always buy my agave, and it's way cheaper than it is in the natural food section of Kroger.

Laurie's Banana Oats
1 cup water
1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1 Tb. oat bran
1 Tb. flax seed meal (ground flax seeds)
Sprinkle of Cinnamon & Nutmeg
1 medium banana (the riper, the better!)
1 tsp. agave nectar
1 -2 Tb. vanilla almond milk
1 Tb. chia seeds
Blob of Better'n Peanut Butter

1. Bring the water to a boil in a medium sauce pan.
2. While that's happening, I always put the banana and agave nectar in a ziploc bag and smoosh it till you have a lovely banana "puree."
3. Add the oats, oat bran, flax seed, cinnamon, and nutmeg to the boiling water. Stir constantly for 3 minutes.
Don't confuse the paprika with nutmeg. Because I definitely did that the other morning.
4. Snip off the corner of the ziploc bag and squeeze the banana into the oats. Add the vanilla almond milk. Keep stirring for 1 minute.
5. Add the chia seeds and stir until completely combined.
6. Pour your oats into your bowl and top with a blob of PB and ENJOY!

If I had to be stranded on a desert island... THIS would definitely by on my list of things to pack!

Seriously check out that Better'n Peanut Butter if you're a PB fan, and watching your waistline! I actually prefer it to "regular" PB now. I could go on and on and ON about the goodness of this stuff... but one glance at their website and I'll be surprised if you don't utilize the "product locator.' All I'm saying is that I know EXACTLY where to find this stuff in Memphis... both Super Targets, and the Target on Colonial just started carrying it too! SCORE!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

World Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Nom! Nom! Nom!

So recently I went on a quest for the best chocolate chip cookies. I remember my foodie brother making a batch that were off the chain a few months ago when I visited him and his wife in Alabama.

As it turns out. that recipe was a copycat recipe for Levain Bakery in NYC. Apparently this bakery makes a chocolate chip cookie that's so good... it'll make you wanna slap your mama!

So the other day, when I was hanging out with my uber pregger sister and she requested that we make some chocolate chip cookies.... I simply replied with, "I have just the recipe."

The ingredients in this recipe are nothing out of the ordinary... except for the cornstarch. I think it helps to make a more tender cookie. Also the recipe suggested using 2 different kinds of chocolate. I opted for semi sweet chocolate chips and happened to have three milk chocolate Hershey bars left over from s'mores season. I luuuurve me some s'mores. Mmmm.... another blog post, another time. Back to the cookies...

I found the recipe on Parsley, Sage, Desserts, and Line Drives. The author recommends using the "formed" cookie method before tossing these into the oven. She insists that it give the cookie that crackle top appearance of bakery-style cookies. Allow me to elaborate on how YOU TOO can achieve this look for your cookies...
Roll it....
Break it in half...
And put it back together!

Levain Bakery Famous Chocolate Chip Cookie Copycat Recipe
  • 2 sticks ‘cold and cubed’ unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 3/4 to 3 1/4 cups AP flour
  • 1 teaspoon table or fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tb. corn starch
  • 2 cups good quality semisweet chocolate chips or chunks (I usually use half semisweet and half milk chocolate)
  • 1 cup walnuts (I actually left these out, per request of the pregnant sister... next time I'll be adding them for a lil' something extra)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
1. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle, cream together butter and sugars until well blended and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time.. and beat until well incorporated.
2. Add flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, corn starch, and mix until just combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips/chunks and nuts.
3. Place each on sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake in the preheated oven 15-20 minutes depending on how gooey and raw’ish’ you like the interior, until very lightly browned, taking care not to overbake. Let cool on rack and store what you don’t immediately eat in an airtight container.

* These are best eaten on the day they are made (ESPECIALLY warm out of the oven – like most chocolate chip cookies).