Baked Oatmeal- up with the moon, out with the sugar

Some days are perfectly lovely. This week early in the morning, we were able to enjoy the lunar eclipse.

I had zero awareness it was this week. My little two year old, however, was awake at 4am, and my husband said from under his covers, ‘there is a lunar eclipse…’ With that we turned our early morning lemons into lemonade and bundled ourselves up to go outside and watch the moon.

Before venturing out though my husband brewed some coffee over the chemex, and I thought ‘hey, there’s enough time to bake the oatmeal,’ and I set out to find a recipe that didn’t use sugar.

Here’s the thing, so many recipes say they’re ‘sugar free’ and they are quite literal about it- while there may be no sugar, there is honey, or molasses, or agave. While each is unique and precious, when my goal is to eliminate minimally nutritious carbs, those sweetners aren’t much better than sugar.

So I decided to improvise.

For mine:

1/2 mushy banana
1/3 cup unsweetned applesauce
1 egg and 3/4 cup egg whites, whisked together
1 cup oats
1/2 a medium to large apple, cubed
Pumpkin spice to taste
Dash of salt

Combine the egg mixture with the applesauce, banana, pumpkin spice and salt. Add in the oats and apple.

We baked ours at about 425 for 30 minutes. Cook as long as you need to for a golden hue.

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We watched, huddled in blankets, as the earths shadow covered the moon and turned it red. My son delighted at seeing stars, and the moon, and we stamped on the earth as he thought about it casting a shadow, just like he does.

We then enjoyed our baked oatmeal with a bit of almond butter and yogurt. Truly sugar free, since honestly life is sweet enough already.

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Did you catch the eclipse? How do you make your recipes slightly healthier, what subs do you make?

XOXO

Quick Beef and Wild Rice bowl

Besides the magical microwave, the crockpot is my easy healthy cooking weapon of choice.

You pretty much ignore it and it does everything else!

And it does well with approximations, so you dump stuff in and cook it till you want to eat. My toddler can prep that!

So for today’s bowl I threw in:

1 cup mixed red, brown and wild rice
16oz 99% lean grass fed beef
1 onion
A bunch of water
1 can tomatoes
1 bag frozen broccoli
Garlic Salt up the wazoo
Oregano

And I let that baby roll all day. The rice just grows, so does everything else. So when you go to eat it, it feels like loads of food!

This made about 6-8 servings, depending, so plenty of happy easy left overs.

I put a handful of fresh spinach under mine to wilt, and to add just a bit more veg. Then I topped it with crumbled mushroom, some of my mean homemade salsa, and fresh avocado. And more garlic salt. Lol.

Do you use the crockpot? I love how easy it is to control the quality of ingredients and how wonderfully low maintenance this whole process is.
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You can mix all kinds of goodies in there and the crockpot will work it out for you!

Have a great day!

XOXO

Cumin Roasted Chickpeas (good as potato chips!)

Chickpeas roasted in olive oil my friends taste just as decadent as any potato chip, but do so much more for you.

Fiber, heart healthy fats, vitamins. Get the picture? Just mind the portions 😉

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1 can chickpeas

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1/4 cup olive oil

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smother in garlic salt

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and cumin

broil them in the oven for 15-20 minutes, till desired crunchyness is achieved.

My dear son loved playing with crispy crunchy balls, and oh boy, were they good.

Unfortunately I was a dork and don’t have a pic of the final product 😉

XOXO

Quick Salad

I aim to eat as nutrient dense as possible, even when bulking, aka, adding muscle 🙂

Sometimes you wanna ration your fat grams and might want to spend them on something other than the oil for your salad, as good for you as it might be to eat that oil.

The solution? A garbage salad!

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chicken, 1/4 cup chickpeas, 1/2 small avocado, tbl fresh hummus, lots of salsa, spritz of vinegar, garlic salt, over a bed of fresh spinach

mmmmmmm

Leaving me room for avocado aaaaand a Halloween trader joe joe 😉

Do you trade your calories, save here to splurge there?

Do you enjoy salads?

XOXO

There’s Always Time :)

Pre-dinner HIIT cardio for the hubs.

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Have you ever done HIIT?? It’s amazing. You burn some amazing fat while preserving that muscle. Win win.

Here are some awesome options from Around the Web:

fitness blender produces simple and effective workouts, tons of options for hiit workouts of varying lengths

jamcore produces some of the toughest hiit workouts I’ve ever done!

zwows by zuzka light are for the advanced exerciser, prepare to fall in love with this inspiring woman

And then lisa marie at dailyhiit who took zuzka’a place at bodyrock is also crush and love worthy- and oh so motivating

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Are there pockets of time that you can squeeze in fitness?

Have you tried doing HIIT for your cardio in lieu of the traditional cardio exercises?

Happy sweating!

XOXO

What to Do, Leftover Fruit??!

My eggwhites and oats are just not complete without toppings.

I love toppings.

Yes, it’s like a thing for me. Toppings. Maybe it’s growing up in the age of self-serve frozen yogurt shops, but it just makes eating egg whites and oatmeal something fun, like making an ice cream sundae.

So what happens when our fruit gets old? Well, a quick compote of course!

And I mean quick.

My cooking took a distinct turn when I became a mom. I use the microwave all the time.

Munchie never wanted me to put him down so cooking was a challenge to say the least. I tried nursing and stirring- not great results…

So I embraced that enemy of the slow cooking foodist and microwave almost everything. 🙂

Today I had pluots and apples that were a breath away from a sour moldy death. That’s too many pennies wasted for this stay at home mom, thank you.

So I chopped them fruits up, tossed them in a bowl, and ‘sweetened’ ’em up with some raisins and dried mango.

Microwaved that baby for like 6 minutes, stirring every couple.

And here I have a lovely compote, pie like topping for my oats. And no food waste.

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I know ZERO about canning, so I can’t say how safely or longly or howeverly to preserve something like this. I know between my yogurt today and my oats tomorrow this stuff will be gone by the time you read this. 😉

Enjoy!!

XOXO

Salsa!

I crave salsa like some folks crave candy. It’s true!!

After all, I was born in Tiquisia (aka, Cost Rica, aka Paradise). As a result, I’m super picky.

I’m most usually disappointed by the mediocre stuff I find at the store. It just doesn’t cut it. Bland, flavorless, blahness great for making chips soggy, and that’s about it.

There’s nothing like fresh made pico de gallo to get the flavors bright fresh and right. My salsa has to taste of sunshine, beaches and cilantro.

Friends, take the 20 minutes to make a fresh pico de gallo.

For mine I did:

equivalent of 10 Roma tomatoes (basically I used a bunch of different kinds of tomatoes found in our fridge)

3/4 red onion

1 cup cilantro

3 cloves garlic

1 jalapeño

juice of 2 limes

2 tsp garlic salt

2 tsp cumin

salt ! lots, to taste

Dice the tomatoes and onion.
Finely dice the jalapeño, keeping the seeds, and the garlic.
Chop the cilantro.
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Then combine the tomatoes, onion, jalapeño, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, garlic salt, cumin, and lime juice.

If you’re lucky enough to have Lizano salsa at hand, you can add a dash of it to the mix for true Tico flavor.

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Tastes good right away or after sitting an hour!

Use within a day or two 😉

This is a big batch because I like to just spoon the stuff right into my mouth! Or I dip celery and cucumbers. Or throw it on top of eggs, salads, steamed veggies, or anything else. Or just eat it by the heaping spoonful.

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Of course, it goes great with tortilla chips too :).

¡Buen provecho!

XOXO

Veggie Load!

Sometimes I gotta veggie overload in order to stay the course!IMG_1043.JPG

What are some ways you keep your nutrition on target? Especially when your goals are ambitious and taxing?

Here are some of my ‘gotta get through this’ tips:

*Celery and salsa
*if I find myself at the fridge, I grab a handful of baby carrots (they’re just sweet enough!)
*high protein intake (right now between 150-160 grams!)
*a fat source at each part of the day
*teas
*gum and water
*do some burpees or high knees
*broth
*deep breathing and relaxing, lie down on the couch and relax before going back for more food
*leave the kitchen once you’re done eating
*salsa, mustard and hot sauce- load on the flavor with these low cal options that make a big statement

Anything to add?

XOXO

Make Peas, Not War

The War.
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Just one bite!
Sit down!
Try it!

The negotiations have failed. And there the broccoli sits.

Toddler meal times can quickly devolve into minor power squabbles. And all you want is for one bite of cabbage to pass those little lips.

It’s complicated though.

They’re appetites, for one, are in flux. They’re not as hungry as they were as little babies since they’re growing less..

Then there’s that survival instinct that comes with their increased independence- an increased wariness of all things new, untested, especially foods. Good thing too if we lived in the woods and they were now able to wander more freely- that caution might stop their hands from putting that poisonous berry to their mouths.

So then there’s that independence- it’s a new reflex for toddlers to refuse, to say no. A new freedom, an important skill, to will something different than mom or dad. Don’t just quash it! They need a sense of their own wills if they’re to manage life on their own in the future.

Unbeknownst to the well meaning carrot-wielding parent, the more they push, the more that little persons primal instincts and developmental trajectories tell them to dig those heels in!

NO!

What’s a well meaning parent to do? You’re trying to teach them healthy habits!

Maybe you’ll try to reason with the little wild, candy seeking thing.

If you’re going to ‘reason’ with a toddler, it might seem natural to extol the health benefits of particular foods. Education, right? Sugar bad, broccoli good.

Well then I read this article about a study where they tested two approaches to ‘selling’ foods to kids. One group heard about all the healthy things about wheat thins (ok, not what I want to be selling lol, I’m not nabisco). The other about the tastiness of wheat thins. The last heard nothin.

Which group ate the most wheat thins?

The Tasty group of course!

Makes sense too- I mean you know that eating a bowl of broccoli is healthier than a whole tray of brownies. But does it always workout that you choose the boring healthy spartan broccoli over the gooey Fudgey decadent s’mores brownies? (Ummmmm, ok purely metaphorical here…)

I mean besides the obvious taste difference, it appears there’s something else at play psychologically speaking.

Some of you might be going, ‘well hold on! Back up! Since when is broccoli boring? Spartan? Ma dear, that veg is vibrant!’

Well you friend are on the money! When we focus on the enjoyable aspects of a particular behavior, the researchers suggest, were more likely to engage in it! Toddlers too! They were able to get excited about wheat thins when they heard they’d be yummy.

Sure, broccoli might never have the raw appeal of brownies, but we can certainly get more into yummy broccoli than healthy broccoli.

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broccoli, mango salsa, and día de Los muertos spoon

Based on this information, here are some things I do to encourage my picky little eater to consume healthy foods, or to try new ones, that focus on what’s enjoyable about certain foods:

*We make up silly songs about the food-
Broccoli tree, broccoli tree, boy you are sooo yummy; vitamin a, vitamin c, so yummy in my tummy!

*We describe the food:
Is it squishy? Is it sweet? What color is it? What’s it taste like?

*We prepare the food together:
We’ll scrub the sweet potato, put it on the tray, put it in the oven, watch it cook with the oven light on. If you can plant the veg together, well, gold stars upon your green head!

*My husband and I will make exaggerated sounds of enjoyment, talking up the delicious qualities of the food.
Mmmmm carrots are so sweet! I loooove yogurt in the morning!

*Peer pressure (well applied!)
We’ll talk about all the people (or animals or toys) that enjoy a particular food.
Grandma loves beans! Bunnies eat lettuce all the time!

*Choices! I’ll ask him what he wants between several options, and he’ll decide what we make that night. Often he’ll be more invested in the dinner then, and excited by it.

*Butter, cream and cheese. A bit of flavor can work wonders with a veggie, without overpowering it’s healthfulness.

Basically I try to limit good/bad food categories. We try to find room for all foods in Munches diet. Just some things get more air time than others. But most importantly, we focus on the fun, the pleasure. Or we try too, at least 😉

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chewing on celery sticks- after banging it on the table first

All of this is great parenting fodder- but most certainly, like with all sound parenting advice, it’s so useful in how we approach ourselves.

Do we do food power plays with ourselves? Demanding we eat the healthy, non fattening broccoli when our playful toddler hearts want a pint of ice cream? Do we try to enforce healthy behavior for it’s own healthy sake, teeth gritted, health-conscious warrior like?

Were so very much like toddlers- we want our life, our food, to be fun and enjoyable. Sure, sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do, and that’s a good thing. We are grown ups.

Often though, we could probably afford to change our approach, especially regarding health and fitness. We can afford to be a little more like toddlers, toddlers with awesome parents (us!).

What are ways you can be more playful and ‘pleasure oriented’ in your approach to healthy eating and exercise?

Maybe get some ideas by listening to this podcast, Why Willpower Isn’t Enoughby the Nutrition Diva.

Also, what are ways you encourage the picky eaters in your life, toddler or otherwise, to enjoy delicious good for you foods?

XOXO