Everything in life should be accessorized, including oatmeal! Despite it’s inherent healthiness, serving of plain, unadulterated “sunrise slop” reminds me of the gruel I feed my babies when they were first learning to eat. It’s bland, it’s boring and gonna get pushed back to my pantry. But, then there’s my When I kick of the texture of my oatmeal with quinoa and bedazzle it with berries, this morning mush turns into make-ahead morning magic!
You MUST try my recipe for Strawberry Cheesecake Quinoa-Oat Bake, it’s healthy, hearty and will have you racing to the kitchen before the rooster crows! Continue reading →
Feedback is in from friends, family and those of y’all around the Internets . . . . this hearty, healthy Banana Quinoa, Oats ‘n More Breakfast Bake is a winner! Other nutritious ingredients I’ve snuck inside this make-ahead breakfast meal — hemp seeds, chia seeds and cacoa nibs!
Botanically a fruit, embraced as a vegetable, the vibrant and vitamin-packed tomato is tops when it comes to versatility. Tomatoes are enjoyed at the annual rate of 31 pounds per person, eaten raw on salads and as a key ingredients in sauces, salsas and many soups. Even my tomato-avoiding son gets his fair share in the form of ketchup!
This post and giveaway sponsored by Hamilton Beach, but all opinions and enthusiasm are my own!
I never thought I needed a toaster oven and, boy, was I soooo wrong. I changed my mind when recently developed a recipe for Hamilton Beach that would work in their fancy 4 Slice Easy Reach™ Toaster Oven with Roll-Top Door. Honestly, it was my first time using a countertop toaster since back in my childhood days when this is how I made my buttery, cinnamon toast for breakfast! I love the convenience and quick clean up so much, I’m giving away one of these amazing appliances to one of you (enter at bottom of post).
The recipe I made for Hamilton Beach was a single serve breakfast cookie Chocolate Speckled and Seeded Breakfast Cookie, a much healthier option than the sugar and butter on white bread treat I would cook up as a kid. Fresh baked from the toaster oven, this cookie is packed with flavor and nutrition thanks to whole grains, seeds, and just a smattering of chocolate to soothe a sweet tooth. The entire huge cookie has just 268 calories and 16g protein – plus it’s gluten-free and nut-free plus sugar free and dairy-free (if you don’t use the chocolate chips). Get the full recipe on Hamilton Beach Every Day Good Thinkingblog
So, what’s so awesome about a toaster oven? Well, for one thing, it doesn’t heat the whole house up, and that’s a major concern here in Texas! But you still get that fresh-baked, crispy texture on foods that the microwave just can’t deliver – the little slide out tray will accommodate so many healthy food options – broil salmon, roast asparagus, bake eggs, make muffins and, yes, even make toast! It fits four slices of toast or even a 9” pizza! A smaller appliance is also so convenient when just preparing a meal for one or two people and works well in a dorm room, RV, cabin, office kitchen or other places where space is tight. Plus, the 4 Slice Easy Reach™ Toaster Oven with Roll-Top Door has several unique features including a removable roll-top door than makes it super easy to clean up!
My mornings can’t be complicated. I have a hard enough time getting out of bed at 5:15 am and then am greeted by a dog extremely needy for attention, kids to get ready for school, email to respond to, social media to monitor and loads of other things – like dishes and laundry! All this needs to happen before I head out the door for my run or gym time– and, believe me, that’s non-negotiable. I need a breakfast that is pretty much ready and waiting for me!
In the summer, a smoothie bowl (like my Orange Pistachio Almond Bowl one make with Almond Breeze Chocolate Almondmilk) or cold Greek yogurt and fruit are just fine, but in the winter, I need and easy, quick breakfast that will fuel me through my workout and warm me up from the inside. My recipe for Warm Overnight Java Brownie Chia-Oats to the rescue – it’s my hybrid take on traditional overnight oats and chia puddings.
This healthy breakfast recipe takes just a few minutes to prep – I do it after dinner when I’m making the kids’ lunchboxes because it needs at least 3 hours to sit in the fridge and do its thing. In the morning, the nutritious ingredients absorbed the liquid and await a quick blast in the microwave to warm. I can usually barely wait to get my hands on that hot mug of goodness! You can also eat this the chia oats cold too, I just prefer hot!
Time saving tip: Mix up everything in the microwave-safe mug or bowl you plan to eat from – who has time for extra dish washing?!
Since you know I’m a healthy food and fitness nerd, let me just tell you about some of the awesome ingredients in this easy overnight oat recipe and how each helps support optimal health and peak performance for your sport.
Almond Milk*: With just 30 calories per 8-ounce serving, almondmilk is a sensible addition to any meal or recipe. It also has 50% more calcium than 2% dairy milk, is an excellent s source of vicatims D and E and is low on the Glycemic index. Key for athletes is, adequate vitamin D levels promote good bone density, innate immunity, muscle wasting, and exercise-related inflammation and immunity. It is also suggested, this nutrient could help prevent stress fractures.
Whole Grain Oats: Oats are whole grain by nature add fill you up with lots of fiber, have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels and help stabilize blood sugar. Athletes can count on the quality complex carbs in oats to provide non-crashing energy and to refuel muscles after a taxing workout. I really love the Nuts and Seeds Super Oats by LoveGrownFoods.com.
Chia Seeds: The industrious Aztecs had a good thing going with chia seeds. This ancient superfood is loaded with nutrition despite it’s teeny-tiny size. Just two tablespoons of chia seeds contains 10 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein, more calcium than milk, more Omega-3s than salmon, more iron than spinach, and more antioxidants than blueberries.
Maca Powder: Nearly magical maca powder is derived from a root vegetable indigenous to Peru – don’t confuse it with Macha green tea powder. This natural boost has been prized for thousands of years for its ability to boost stamina, endurance and hormonal balance. It includes vital nutrients such fatty acids, fiber, proteins, carbohydrates and minerals. Don’t miss my past Maca Mint Chip Smoothie.
Cacao Powder: Cacao (or cocoa) powder has been linked to lower blood pressure, a boost in blood ﬂow to the muscles, and reduced cardiovascular demand during exercise. Cacao powder also lowers an athletes perception of fatigue and the boost of caffeine has been shown to improve performance. The higher percentage of cacao in your powder, the better. Try this one.
Coffee: This essential morning elixir has been suggested to reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and boost metabolism. It also actually has some beneficial nutrients like B vitamins, manganese and potassium and the natural epinephrine kick from the caffeine can improve focus and athletic performance.
*Typically, I purchase the chilled almond milk from the “dairy” aisle – however, I always like to stock the pantry with shelf-stable Almond Breeze Almondmilk so that I always have a supply on hand for emergency rations and 11th hour recipe inspirations.
What are your eating for breakfast these days? Are you a fan of overnight oat or chia puddings? Did you run a race this weekend or do something fun in winter wonderland? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer
This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almondmilk. However, the recipes, opinions and enthusiasm are all my own.
Warm Mocha Brownie Overnight Chia Oats
A welcomed wake-up call and boost of sustaining morning energy, this easy make-ahead breakfast recipe gives you more out of your mug and more out of your day!
Pumpkin, it’s what’s for breakfast this time of year! Maybe I’ve gone overboard with the gourd, but I don’t care. I’ve created a pumpkin recipe that you absolutely must make this weekend for a satisfying but not too sinful brunch – Pumpkin Pecan Oat Pancakes with Caramel Yogurt Topping.
Pumpkin is a super food, I know y’all have heard me ramble on and on about the health benefits. It’s filled with fiber and a great source of vitamins, especially A and E. That bright orange colored flesh indicates an abundance of antioxidents ready to help boost your heath and also potentially prevent a laundry list of chronic diseases and conditions. I eat to stay a lean mean, running machine, but I definitely don’t want to be a SKELETON — so in preparation for my hilly 10 mile race on Sunday, I’m going to attack a stack. YUM!
I pumped up the nutrients in my pancakes to the next level by adding Love Grown Foods® Super Oats (Simply Pure) to the batter – lots of good stuff here including quinoa flakes, amaranth flakes and chia. You can use any type or brand of oats you like – I’m just saying these Super Oats rock! Also, instead of dousing my pumpkin pancakes in a ton of sugary syrup, I simply mixed together some protein-packed Greek yogurt with just a touch of caramel sauce mixed in for a tasty topping.
Pumpkin Pecan Oat Pancakes with Caramel Yogurt Topping Recipe
1 ½ cups “complete” whole wheat or buttermilk pancake mix
½ cup oats
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1-1/2 cups water
1/3 cup chopped pecans plus extra for topping
12 ounces plain Greek yogurt
¼ cup caramel dip
Heat skillet over medium-low heat or electric griddle to 375 degrees
In medium bowl, mix together pancake mix and oats. Stir in water, pumpkin puree and pecans with spatula until big lumps disappear, don’t over mix (toughens pancakes).
Pour approximately 1/3 cup batter for each pancake onto lightly greased skillet or griddle.
Turn when pancakes bubble and bottoms are golden brown.
In small bowl, mix together yogurt and caramel sauce. Top on pancakes and sprinkle with extra pecans.
Makes about 18 pancakes (serves 6).
Top Row: White Chocolate Pumpkin Oat Bread and Pumpkin Granola – Bottom Row: Pumpkin Protein Donuts and Caramel Pumpkin Smoothies
I have more granola for you! You just need to run over and grab a handful before it’s long gone. Sprinkling a couple of crunchy tablespoons on my Greek yogurt in the morning is a must; however, my husband prefers to munch it straight out of the bag. To create a more satiating snack, I almost always add a couple scoops of whey power and some raw, shelled hemp seed to my granola recipes for an extra protein boost. By the way, check out my granola recipe round up post for some other healthy breakfast, dessert and snack ideas.
Honey-Sweet Pecan Apple Hemp Protein Granola Recipe
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1/3 cup organic honey
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup (2 scoops) vanilla or plain protein powder
3 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (Gluten-Free, if needed)
1/3 cup shelled hemp seed
1 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup honey pecans, chopped*
3/4 cup dehydrated apples, chopped
Preheat oven to 300F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.
Place the coconut oil, honey, applesauce, water and protein powder in a medium saucepan. Turn heat to medium-low and whisk until mixture is smooth, thick and creamy and just beginning to bubble. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla.
Pour oat, hemp and cinnamon into pot, stirring to combine and coat. Pour mixture out evenly on prepared baking sheet.
Bake in preheated oven for approximately 45 minutes, stirring once or twice. If granola still seems moist, keep baking in 5 minute increments until dry. Remove from oven and let cool completely on sheet. Crumble up in bowl and stir in chopped pecans and apples.
Store cooled granola in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 2 months.
*Sugared and honey-coated nuts tend to burn easily, so I add them after baking. However, if you substitute raw nuts, they may be added with the oats before cooking.
I love trying out new ingredients and brands in my recipes; it makes me feel like an experimenter of epicurean proportions! I was recently sent some new products to try out, and give a thumbs up to both. First, I was surprised to find that the LouAna brand made a coconut oil. This great southern company, in business since 1894, has been making nearly every type of cooking and salad oil imaginable. LouAna Coconut Oil is ideal for baking, sautéing, stir-frying and more – the scent is enticing and there are no trans fats or cholesterol. You also get all the benefits of this heart-healthy “super fat” at a budget-friendly price – I’ve seen it at my local market for $6.00 per huge 30-oz. container.
I’ve used all types of sweeteners in my granola before including maple syrup, stevia and (gasp) real brown sugar. We have a couple honey-lovers in the house, so I decided to try Wholesome Sweetener’s Organic Honey. Here in Austin, Texas, it’s not hard to get my hands on some pretty delicious local honey – but, I must say, I did love my bottle from Wholesome Sweetener. It was a beautiful amber color and really did have the “butterscotch essence” as advertised! Aside from the superior taste, I feel confident using this product in recipes and letting my kids squirt it all over their biscuits, bacon and yogurt – that’s because this honey is fair trade-certified, non-GMO and organic. One thing I did notice is that it’s important to reduce the baking temperature by 25 F degrees; honey tends to caramelize (and burn) fairly quickly.
I’ve been practicing these one-armed pull-ups so I can get my workout in AND much granola at the same time. Well, just kidding – it was a dare and I figured out a way to make it happen. Sorry the video is sideways, oops.