Tag Archives: breakfast

Meal Planning Monday: 1.16.2017

meal-plan-monday-1

I always write these on Sunday, but Monday sounds so much catchier. Anyway, if you’re actually reading this on Sunday, high fives to you for being a go getter. 

It doesn’t even matter when you meal prep: just get it done when it works for you. 

Here’s what I’m cooking and eating up this week for dinner. I also have some badass breakfasts to share. Lunches for me are usually leftovers. I live a glamorous life, I know. 

Sunday (today): Slow cooker cider pork roast with apple thyme gravy. Serving with mashed cauliflower. This recipe is cooking right now. It smells great and was stupid easy to throw together. I skipped the apple brandy and picked up a mini bottle of apple whiskey. Boozy dinner ftw. You can freeze extra meat to use in other things if you won’t be using it up for leftover lunches and dinners this week. 

Monday: Upside down BBQ chicken bowls. The bonus of this is that you can put a huge batch of chicken breasts in your slow cooker with a little BBQ sauce. Cook that 4-6 hours and shred with a bit more sauce. You now have meat for more bowls during the week, or just freeze the cooked meat in individual portions for another day. I like that this recipe uses lots of broccoli slaw. Eat that up, it will fill your belly. 

Tuesday: Slow cooker posole(pork and hominy stew). I’m going to riff off of this Skinnytaste recipe, using the leftover pork from Sunday, though her instructions help you use fresh pork too. I don’t own a pressure cooker (wah!) so I’ll use the slow cooker instead. I’ll serve this with a fresh salad of citrus, avocado, and greens. 

Still have soup leftover? This will freeze just fine to live another day. 

Wednesday: Winter citrus butter salmon. Serving with a wild rice blend and steamer bag broccoli. This recipe sounds incredibly good. I’ll likely go light on the butter and need to sub regular oranges for the blood oranges unless they appear in the market soon. 

Thursday: Leftovers if we’ve got them: or soup from the freezer. 

Friday: Taco Friday is not #tacotuesday. But if I make a giant batch of seasoned taco meat, I can eat a taco on Tuesday and feel cool. Freeze some extra meat for tacos any time. I have tons of ground turkey in my freezer, so I’ll use that plus some low sodium taco seasoning. Or make your own. I usually opt for small corn tortillas – they’re low in calories. Lower carb tortillas work well too. And I’m perfectly happy to make a taco salad out of taco meat, tons of veggies, and a little guacamole. 

Saturday: Beef bourgignon (stew with red wine). A lazy kind of winter day meal to fill your kitchen with good smells. If you make a big batch, this freezes really well too. I’ll serve it with just a little crusty bread along with the veggies in the stew. 

Have a recipe that rocks your world? Leave a comment and tell me all about it. Have a great week! 

High protein, low calorie frittata with poblano and turkey bacon

egg-white-frittata-with-zucchini-onion-and-turkey-bacon

I think I shall call this a “brotatta”. Because the bros and lady bros will love this for a high protein meal or snack that is remarkably low in calories. But it’s not low in flavor. 

I don’t mind using whole eggs with egg whites in my fritattas and omelets. The nutrition from the yolk is good and you don’t need to worry about the cholesterol. Yet if you want to shave off a few calories and leave room for extra bacon, that’s cool too. 

I experimented with an ingredient I love to diss: turkey bacon. I’m an Iowan, and we love good, porky bacon. But my challenge was to create a leaner, meaner frittata without skimping on flavor. And honestly, tossed in the frittata, I still got that smoky bacon flavor for only 35 calories in 2 slices of the turkey “bacon”. I used Wellshire uncured turkey bacon. It’s low in sugar and calories. But I’ve heard Oscar Mayer makes a tasty turkey bacon too. Use whatever you like for your meat if you decide you’d like your frittata to have some. 

This recipe serves one hungry lady. I attempted to cook this on the stovetop instead of finishing in the oven as I usually do. It worked fine, except flipping the thing was a challenge. It doesn’t matter – just cook it until the egg whites are set. 

If you want a heartier meal, add some whole grains or fruit on the side. For breakfast or brinner – it’s tasty fuel for your day. 

Nutrition:
207 kcal|8g fat|4g carb|27g protein|1g fiber

Egg white frittata with poblano pepper and turkey bacon
Serves 1
A high protein, low carb and low calorie frittata for breakfast or brinner.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 8 Tbsp liquid egg whites (that's about 3 egg whites)
  2. 2 Tbsp 2% milk
  3. 2 slices fully cooked turkey bacon (I used Wellshire uncured pre-cooked bacon)
  4. 1/4 cup 2% shredded cheddar cheese
  5. 1 green onion - white parts separated from the green.
  6. 3/4 poblano pepper (I ate the rest while cooking. Use the whole pepper if you like.)
  7. Seasonings: a bit of salt and pepper in the eggs. Optional smoked paprika is excellent too.
Instructions
  1. Chop your veggies so they're ready to go. Chop the bacon into small pieces too.
  2. Measure your egg whites into a cup and add the milk. Whisk to combine.
  3. Heat a small nonstick pan over medium heat. Saute the pepper and white parts of the green onion.
  4. Add the bacon to the veggies plus any additional spices/seasonings and stir to combine.
  5. Add the egg whites/milk mixture and sprinkle on your cheese. Cover the pan and cook 4-5 minutes until the frittata is lightly brown on the bottom.
  6. If you're skilled, flip it in the pan to brown the other side. Otherwise just keep the pan covered and cook another 3-4 minutes or until the egg whites are fully set.
  7. Flip the frittata from the pan onto a plate. Sprinkle on the green onions. Serve.
Amy Dix http://amydix.com/

Cinnabon High Protein Oatmeal

cinnabon

When I first heard about making a high protein “frosting” I was deeply suspicious. I love frosting. Especially buttercream. I couldn’t imagine that this topper would actually taste great. 

The secret is in the two ingredients: vanilla protein powder and cream cheese. I used Greek yogurt cream cheese but you could substitute lowfat cream cheese and it would be just fine. 

For under 300 calories you get a breakfast that packs 28g of protein AND helps satisfy your sweet tooth. Win/win, yes? Enjoy!

Cinnabon High Protein Oatmeal
Serves 1
Make breakfast awesome and full of gainz.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup dry old fashioned oats
  2. 1 cup water
  3. pinch salt
  4. 2 egg whites
  5. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
  6. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, divided
  7. Optional: packet of stevia
  8. 1 Tbsp Greek yogurt cream cheese
  9. 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder (I used True Nutrition Whey Isolate)
  10. 1-2 Tbsp water or milk to thin frosting
Instructions
  1. Bring water to a boil over high heat in a medium saucepan. Add oats, a pinch of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Lower heat to medium and cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Turn off the heat. Add 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla, then whisk in egg whites gradually, stirring quickly so they don't scramble.
  2. While the oats cook, make your frosting. Mix the protein powder, remaining 1/4 teaspoons of cinnamon and vanilla, and cream cheese. Thin with milk or water to make a frosting consistency. Swirl over your oats and eat that up.
Nutrition
  1. Calories: 280
  2. 31g carbs
  3. 5g fat
  4. 28g protein
  5. 3g sugar
  6. 5g fiber
Amy Dix http://amydix.com/

Spiced Pear Protein Rice Pudding

rice-pudding

Dessert for breakfast. Breakfast for dessert. Either works and I love this cozy recipe for a tasty protein boost in the fall and winter. This would work well with all sorts of rice: wild rice blends, brown rice, even farro or oatmeal. What’s your favorite way to use protein powder? Leave a comment below and share.

Spiced Pear Protein Rice Pudding
Serves 1
Healthy dessert. Or dessert for breakfast. Use up your leftover rice and get a boost of protein at the same time.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup cooked basmati rice
  2. 1/2 scoop vanilla whey protein (I used Jay Robb brand)
  3. 1/2 cup skim milk
  4. 3 ounces bosc pear
  5. 2 teaspoons chopped hazelnuts
  6. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  7. Pinch of cardamom
  8. 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Chop pear and saute it in a nonstick pan on medium heat. Add an extra sprinkle of cinnamon if you like. It will take 5 minutes or so for the pears to soften.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the rice, spices, vanilla, and milk in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat for around 5 minutes, or until most of the liquid has disappeared.
  3. Take off the heat. Add the protein powder and mix well. It may be very thick. If so, add a bit more milk until it's the consistency you like.
  4. Top with pears and enjoy!
Nutrition per serving
  1. 275 calories
  2. 41g carbs
  3. 3g fat
  4. 4g fiber
  5. 14g sugar
  6. 21g protein
Adapted from Apple Cinnamon Protein Rice Pudding from Big Man's World
Adapted from Apple Cinnamon Protein Rice Pudding from Big Man's World
Amy Dix http://amydix.com/

Southwestern zucchini crepe to breakfast or brinner.

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I had a zucchini sitting around, wanting to become something. The only thing I actually long to eat, most of the time, is breakfast. So the answer was clear: a zucchini tortilla. 

However, as often happens when I start making stuff up as I go along in the kitchen, my tortilla became more of a crepe. But that’s fine, because it ended up just as delicious. 

Use the basic template I have and then riff from it with whatever you have on hand. I had diced onion and a bit of jalapeno pepper that needed to get eaten so I threw those in. 

Top it with whatever you like: an egg is a must if you’re a fan of them. I wanted sliced avocados but I only had guac. That was just as tasty. Shredded cheese and salsa also made it to the final plate. Cilantro would make a perfect garnish, but I was fresh out. I guess it’s time for a grocery run. 

Whatever you choose, the recipe is simple. I’ve included the ingredients for 1 crepe, because it’s all about me. But you could easily multiply them. Enjoy!

Southwestern Zucchini Crepe
Serves 1
It's a flat thing; not quite a pancake, but softer than a tortilla. Who cares though - it's yummy!
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 zucchini, finely shredded (about 1/2 cup)
  2. 2 Tbsp diced onion
  3. 1 Tbsp diced hot pepper, such as jalapeno
  4. 1 egg white
  5. 1/2 Tbsp oat flour
  6. 1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder or other seasoning
  7. 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  8. Dash of salt
Toppings
  1. 1 egg
  2. Avocado or guacamole
  3. Salsa
  4. Chopped cilantro
For the Crepe
  1. Shred the zucchini and squeeze it in a paper towel to remove the excess water.
  2. Place into a bowl and add the onion, pepper, egg white, flour, and seasonings. Cook over medium heat in a skillet or griddle sprayed with nonstick spray for approximately 10-12 minutes, or until lightly brown on each side.
  3. Remove from heat and top with fixings.
Notes
  1. Chopped bacon would be outstanding. I'm always pro bacon. Always.
Nutrition for 1 crepe (without toppings)
  1. Calories: 80
  2. Carbs: 7g
  3. Protein: 6g
  4. Fats: 2g
  5. Fiber: 2g
  6. Sugar: 1g
Amy Dix http://amydix.com/

You need poblano pepper egg boats in your life.

eggs-in-pepper-boats

I eat eggs for breakfast almost every morning. You’d think that would get boring, but I haven’t hit my breaking point yet. My 9 year old is on Team Runny Eggs with me, and is game to try just about any way of eating the mighty egg: poached, scrambled, fried, soft boiled, hard boiled, whipped into oats… you name it. 

Eggs are a rich source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Plus they taste mighty fine for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I stumbled upon a recipe for poblano pepper egg boats from Jacques Pepin, one of the OGs of fine cooking.

Sup, Jacques? Photo Credit Tim Hopkins

Sup, Jacques? Photo Credit Tim Hopkins

Jacques knows what’s up. His recipes calls for some cooking oil in the water that you use to steam your peppers before you fill them with eggy goodness. This seemed unnecessary to me, especially if I used a nonstick pan. Not that I’m dissing Jacques. But Jacques probably doesn’t give a flying French fry about calories. So I was off to modify this. 

By the way, you can use any large-ish pepper for this. Some people have used big banana peppers, but the ones I always see are so narrow that I figured they’d become a huge mess. Pick the pepper that pleases you.

Scroll down for a printable recipe, or get some how-to help here.

Begin by carefully cutting your peppers horizontally and scrape out the seeds and extra bits.

Begin by carefully cutting your peppers horizontally and scrape out the seeds and extra bits.

Fill a nonstick pan with some water - around 1/3 to 1/2 cup should be enough. Sprinkle in around 1/4 tsp of salt and let your peppers rest in there, cut side up. Heat your pan on medium heat and when it begins to warm up, cover the pan and set a timer for around 4 minutes.

Fill a nonstick pan with some water – around 1/3 to 1/2 cup should be enough. Sprinkle in around 1/4 tsp of salt and let your peppers rest in there, cut side down. Heat your pan on medium heat and when it begins to warm up, cover the pan and set a timer for around 4 minutes.

Jacques said to turn them while cooking, but I pretty much forgot. Oops. I was checking Facebook. They were fine. Whateva. Take the lid off, and you’ll notice that the water evaporated and it looks a little sketchy. Move onward. Your pan will be dirty but your peppers won’t stick.

Fill each pepper half with a tablespoon of cheese. I used 2% colby jack, but I can think of way more luxurious ideas. It's just what was laying around in the fridge. Then carefully crack an egg into each pepper half. If it oozes out a little, it's no biggie. It'll all be wonderful, I promise.

Fill each pepper half with a tablespoon of cheese. I used 2% colby jack, but I can think of way more luxurious ideas. It’s just what was laying around in the fridge.

Then carefully crack an egg into each pepper half. If it oozes out a little, it's no biggie. It'll all be wonderful, I promise.

Then carefully crack an egg into each pepper half. If it oozes out a little, it’s no biggie. It’ll all be wonderful, I promise.

You'll sprinkle a bit more salt on your eggs, cover the pan, and cook over medium heat another 3-5 minutes. 5 was just about right for the acceptable amount of runniness in my eggs. You want the yolks to still be runny but the whites to be white. Otherwise, you'll get "snotty eggs", as my kid calls them. He's so gross.

You’ll sprinkle a bit more salt on your eggs, cover the pan, and cook over medium heat another 3-5 minutes. 5 was just about right for the acceptable amount of runniness in my eggs. You want the yolks to still be runny but the whites to be white. Otherwise, you’ll get “snotty eggs”, as my kid calls them. He’s so gross.

Anyway, when they’re done, all you do is plate them, sprinkle on a little cilantro to be fancy, and eat them up. Enjoy! Serve this with some roasted tomatoes and a little whole grain toast and you’ll be breakfasting like a boss. 

Recipe below! What’s your favorite way to eat eggs? Leave a comment and share. 

 

Poblano Peppers in Egg Boats
Serves 2
A pepper stuffed with cheese and an egg is a healthy way to breakfast.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 poblano pepper
  2. 1/3 to 1/2 cup water
  3. 2 Tbsp 2% colby jack cheese
  4. 2 large eggs
  5. 1/4 tsp salt plus a bit more for sprinkling
  6. 1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
Instructions
  1. Cut pepper in half horizontally, removing seeds.
  2. Add peppers, cut side down, to a nonstick pan. Add water and salt, then heat over medium heat.
  3. When water begins to heat up, cover the pan for approximately 4 minutes, or until pepper is a bit tender.
  4. Uncover pan. Make sure the cut sides are up. Sprinkle cheese into peppers.
  5. Carefully crack eggs into each pepper boat, sprinkle with a bit of salt, and cover pan again.
  6. Cook covered over medium heat for another 3-5 minutes, depending on how runny you like your eggs. Egg yolks should be a little runny but the whites should be set.
  7. Serve and enjoy!
Notes
  1. This recipe serves 2, but I'm not saying you should stop at one half. Eat all the peppers. A pan will accomodate around 4 halves at a time.
Adapted from Jacques Pepin
Adapted from Jacques Pepin
Amy Dix http://amydix.com/

Make Now, Eat Later: Turkey Sausages with Zucchini and Apple Will Rock Your Breakfast

sausageplayas

Let’s see- a quick and easy breakfast option that we can make on the weekend for brunch but also eat all week long? Sound good? It does to me too. Read on if you’re nodding your head a lot at that. I gotchu, babe. 

My breakfasts have been larger lately – I want to munch on some veggies and a big punch of protein to hold me over until lunch. So I was looking for some ideas to beef up my usual breakfasts of eggs: eggs on greens, eggs in breakfast bowls, eggs on tostadas. Yeah, egg obsessed. Why not add a little turkey to the party? 

Ground turkey breast – whether it’s 93% or 99% lean, is a super resource for getting the job done. In four ounces of turkey you’ll get between 30-35 grams of protein, depending on the fat content of the turkey you choose. It’s low in saturated fat, but it’s also rich in other nutrients, especially B vitamins and several minerals like selenium, zinc, copper, iron, magnesium… and others but you’re probably less interested in THAT and more interested in how to make a tasty, healthy breakfast. 

Yes, turkey meat is valuable in a healthy diet. But it can cook up dry: that’s why adding veggies like zucchini can solve the problem. And add some green stuff to your day to boot. I also added a little apple for extra sweetness, and because apple pairs so naturally with sausage. 

Wondering why the hell anyone would make their own turkey breakfast sausage? After all, there are plenty at the grocery store – and if you dig those, that’s just fine. But I think they taste underwhelming. OK, I really think they just taste like sadness. So I made my own. Here’s the kicker though: they take a bit of time to prepare, so save them for a weekend. Cook up a giant batch, freeze them, and then pop them into the microwave to reheat them when you need them. 

You can just eat them on their own, chop them up into an egg scramble, throw on an egg sandwich, or onto a breakfast salad. Or in a taco, because everything is better in a taco. 

Here’s how it’ll work.

Here are the players for today.

Here are the players for today. Yassss. 

You'll chop up and lightly saute some apples.

You’ll chop up and lightly saute some apples.

You'll mix up all of that meat. It'll look gross.

You’ll mix up all of that meat. It’ll look gross.

You'll use a scoop to make uniform patties. I can't say turkey balls. Well, because.

You’ll use a scoop to make uniform patties. I can’t say turkey balls. Well, because.

pattiesuncooked

Get all the patties ready for action before beginning to cook them.

You’ll saute them in a nonstick skillet or griddle for 3-4 minutes per side.

You'll make them a bit bigger than I did if you want them to look less silly on your breakfast sandwich. Ooops.

You’ll make them a bit bigger than I did if you want them to look less silly on your breakfast sandwich. Ooops. 

I wanted a LOT of patties because then I could use them more easily at will in recipes. Mine made 34 little guys. But you could easily just make them a bit bigger – it won’t really change the cooking time. Let me know how you like these!

 

Apple Zucchini Turkey Breakfast Sausages
Yields 34
A healthy breakfast staple made more flavorful with zucchini, apple, garlic, and spices.
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Ingredients
  1. 1.5 tsp fennel seeds
  2. A few pinches of allspice
  3. 2 tsp rubbed/ground dried sage or 2 TBSP freshly chopped
  4. 2 tsp dried thyme
  5. 1.5 tsp kosher salt
  6. 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  7. 4 scallions, white and light green parts, finely chopped
  8. 4 cloves of garlic
  9. 3 Tbsp real maple syrup
  10. 2 pounds 93% lean ground turkey breast
  11. 1/2 cup zucchini, grated
  12. 1 cup peeled and diced apple
  13. Nonstick spray (I like olive oil)
Instructions
  1. 1. In a pan over medium heat, spray nonstick spray in pan and lightly saute the diced apples to soften them a bit. This should take 3-4 minutes tops.
  2. 2. In a big bowl, combine the apple with the remaining ingredients. Just dump it all in and mix it together with your hands.
  3. 3. Make your patties. I used a 1.5 inch scoop to make patties that ended up being quite small.
  4. 4. Heat a nonstick skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Spray your pan with nonstick spray and add the patties, leaving plenty of space between them. Cook 3-4 minutes per side or until golden brown and crispy. Transfer to a plate. Continue with the remaining batches of turkey patties.
  5. 5. Eat!
Notes
  1. When the turkey patties are cool, you can put them between wax paper layers in a container and pop that into the freezer. Boom. Turkey sausages all week long.
Adapted from Eating in the Middle
Adapted from Eating in the Middle
Amy Dix http://amydix.com/
 Nutrition Info Per Patty
Calories: 45|Protein: 5g|Fat: 2g|Carbs 2g

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High Protein Spiced Banana Baked Oatmeal

baked oatmealI woke up needing banana bread. So much needing. But banana bread is one of those treats that calls to me all day long and  I know before long I’d eat the whole thing. Then my kids would look at me bitterly. And also, I needed some filling oats and protein to keep me going until lunchtime.

As it turns out, baked oatmeal does a pretty bang-up job of both filling my belly and tasting like a breakfast treat. I took a risk with vanilla protein powder. Sometimes it ruins recipes with the funky taste. But not here.

It’s also remarkably low in calories per generous serving: mine came in at 241 kcal and 19.6 grams of protein for 1/4 of the pie. It boosts potassium from the banana and filling fiber too. I sprinkled on a few walnuts that my kids painstakingly picked off. If you don’t have to endure this, toss some inside the mix. Or add peanut butter. Or pb2.

Fancy bananas on the top are just for pretty but they do give you an extra hit of banana flavor. I caramelized mine in a nonstick skillet for just a few minutes while the oatmeal finished baking. Yum yum.

High Protein Spiced Banana Baked Oatmeal
Print Recipe
A higher protein, fiber filled baked oatmeal masquerading as banana bread. Adapted from Southern in Law blog.
Servings Prep Time
4 people 5 minutes
Passive Time
22 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 5 minutes
Passive Time
22 minutes
High Protein Spiced Banana Baked Oatmeal
Print Recipe
A higher protein, fiber filled baked oatmeal masquerading as banana bread. Adapted from Southern in Law blog.
Servings Prep Time
4 people 5 minutes
Passive Time
22 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 5 minutes
Passive Time
22 minutes
Ingredients
Optional Toppings
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Coat a pie plate or 8x8 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Or lightly coat with oil or butter. Set aside.
  3. Mash banana in a medium mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients except for the egg whites and mix well.
  4. Whisk the egg whites lightly in a small bowl until frothy. Then fold into the oatmeal batter. I use this technique with pancakes and even if they're not whipped fully, I think this makes the oatmeal a bit fluffier.
  5. Pour into your pan and bake for 22-27 minutes, until fairly firm and lightly brown around the edges. I took mine out at 22 and the oats were still soft. Just the way i like 'em. If you want yours firmer and more cake like, add a few more minutes.
Recipe Notes

Nutrition info:
(before toppings)

241kcal|19.6g protein|2g fat|33g carbs|4g fiber|11g sugar

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How to Make Oatmeal like a Boss

photo credit: Daniella Segura

photo credit: Daniella Segura

Oatmeal is life.

I am partial to grandiose statements like these, particularly when it comes to food. Damn, I love oatmeal. I love it even more now that I’m coming off a long-lived fat loss cycle and now have more carbs to play with… but even when I was carb poor, I made room for at least small portions of oatmeal. It makes for a great pre-workout boost as well. 

We’re coming to the end of winter so perhaps the feeling will pass, but lately all I want to eat is jacked up, fancifed bowls of oats. I’ll get to a few recipes soon, so hang tight. Let’s take just another moment to reflect on how badass oatmeal really is. First let’s talk nutrition.

Oats are whole grains.  I can tell you that oatmeal fills you up, helps you poop better (yay!) and is filled with soluble fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. One serving of just oats is around 117 kcal with very low fat, a healthy source of carbs, and contains protein too. It also can decrease your cholesterol and colorectal cancer risk. Good stuff all around, yes?

But let’s be honest, that’s not why I’m craving oatmeal. I’m not eating it plain. Oh ho ho, that would be silly and sad. Oatmeal is the most perfect canvas for whatever your heart desires. It works with both sweet and savory flavors, so get creative and punch up your oats with some fun ingredients.

Get Started By Using the Best Base
First of all, you need to make some oatmeal, right? There are all sorts of varieties available to you, from quick oats that cook fast to old-fashioned rolled oats, and steel cut. Let’s toss out the obvious tiny little packages of flavored oatmeal, because while those are okay in a pinch, they’re not that tasty. If I want a bunch of added sugar, it’s going to be luxurious maple syrup tapped from the trees of Vermont by a rustic syrup farmer or some shit, not a craptastic fake peach flavor.

The biggest difference among oat varieties is simply how much the oat groat has been processed. They’re all pretty similar with nutrient profile. But the processing nuances give them all their own special texture. My go-to lately has been steel cut oats. They don’t even look much like oats. They more resemble short grain rice or even quinoa. Except they taste great, unlike quinoa, which can go to hell for being overplayed and underwhelming in flavor. Quinoa is merely the current it girl. Oatmeal is O.G.

My favorite is steel cut. You might say it’s the manly man of oatmeal, with a firm body but warm and… well, that got weird. Ok, moving on.

Steel cut oats have more chew than the oatmeal most of us grew up eating. When you cook it, it becomes creamy yet has a fantastic, chewy texture that will make you a convert if you’re not already.

The only downside is the cooking time – it’ll take you around 25 to 30 minutes to prep a batch. On the upside, you can prepare a big batch and reheat it all week. It’ll still taste wonderful. And c’mon, we all have time. How many minutes do we dump every morning checking social media? Scroll through your Instagram while you give your oats a loving stir here and there. You’ll #multitask and have #instafood in no time.

How To Make (Better) Steel Cut Oats
First of all, forget all those overnight slow cooker steel cut oat recipes. They mostly blow. Usually, the outside edges burn and the middle gets mushy and strange. Gross. It’s not that hard to prep these the morning before using, or like I said, if you’re all about #mealprepmonday, make a big batch and reheat.

I should have included pictures of the step by step instructions, but I’m one of those people who scrolls directly to recipe details, so I’ll spare you that. Plus it’s so easy. Also I forgot to take pictures while I boiled oats. Please forgive me, as I have three kids who distract me with last minute math homework, can’t find socks, and fight over the Xbox. That’s life.

The Big Secret for Awesome Oats
First of all, you can chill out about the basics – the directions are on the bag. Seriously, that part is easy, and depending on different recipes, you may have slightly varying instructions. But usually directions have you boil about 3 parts of water to 1 part oats. You boil up your water and then add your oats.  You can use milk for part or all of your liquid too, though as you’ll see, I sometimes just add more milk at the end of cooking.

But back it up a bit. Here’s how you can make your oats even better – just toast them first. You can use a nonstick skillet with a spritz of oil spray or be a bon vivant and use a few teaspoons of butter. But toast them, with or without spices, and THEN add them to your boiling water. Turn down your water to moderate heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until they absorb most of the the liquid. Watch them closely as most of it evaporates and turn the heat down even lower to finish them off.

At this point, add your fixings- whatever your little heart desires. Worried about calories? Try cooking some diced apples separately with a bit of cinnamon to intensify their sweetness, then add them in at the end of cooking. Small amounts of banana pack quite a bit of a sweet hit. Go easy on the added nuts – they add calories rapidly, yet very small amounts still add crunch and can be a healthy, delicious addition to your bowl. 

If you want to beef up your oatmeal with more protein, whisk in some egg whites to improve the protein profile. You won’t taste them, and in fact the addition will make them creamier. I’ll share a few variations that rocked my socks. You ready for the fun part? Here are my favorite recipes. Let’s do dis.

Sweet and Spicy Buttermilk Oatmeal with Peaches and Blueberries

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I adapted this recipe from Saveur Magazine, decreasing the fat and sugar a bit by going easy on the butter and choosing a mix of unsweetened dried fruit and fresh berries. Instead of adding nuts to the mix, I choose to sprinkle them on as I eat a bowl so they remain toasty and crunchy. I never know what to do with leftover buttermilk from recipes – here’s a delicious solution. 

Ingredients:
1 tbsp. unsalted butter

1 cup steel-cut oats
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
12 tsp. ground green cardamom
14 tsp. ground star anise
1 (1”) piece ginger, peeled and mashed into a paste (I used 2 tsp of refrigerated ginger paste, which I found next to the fresh herbs in the grocery store). 
12 tsp. kosher salt
34 cup buttermilk
14 cup whole milk
1 tbsp. honey
12 cup unsweetened dried peaches, chopped (I had some of these on hand as a treat. Sweetened dried fruit is basically candy in terms of sugar content. This is a bit better. Better still would be fresh peaches, but I was fresh out. Boooo.) 
12 cup fresh blueberries
Orange marmalade or raspberry jam, for serving (optional – if I do this, I use low sugar jam. The oatmeal is already fairly sweet.)
1 tsp of chopped toasted pecans per bowl, for serving.

Instructions:
Melt your butter in a 4 to 6 quart saucepan. Pour in your spices, oats, and ginger.  Toast for a few minutes until everything smells fantastic and the oats are a bit toasted. This will seriously only take a wee bit of time, so don’t wander away.

I know I said to add your oats to boiling water, but in this recipe, just stir your salt and water right into the pot you are using for the oats. Bring it all to a boil and stir until the oatmeal is thick and tender. 

Next, add your milks and simmer another 5-10 minutes until the oatmeal is thick again. Toss in your fruit, give it some stirs for another minute or two, and serve with optional toppings. 

Serves: 4-6 depending on how big you like your bowls.

Lemon Ricotta Oatmeal
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I wasn’t sure if I’d like this. I adapted this recipe from an idea I found in Cooking Light magazine awhile ago.  Mint in oatmeal seems weird – yet it’s in dessert all the time. It meshes beautifully with the lemon. I prepare the ricotta mixture separately and then just dollop a few tablespoons into my oats each time I eat them. 

Ingredients 
1 bowl Prepared, plain steel-cut oatmeal
2 Tbsp Ricotta blend:for the blend, mix 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese, the zest and juice of a lemon, plus a tablespoon or two of honey, depending on how sweet you like it. Taste it and adjust. Store extra mix in the fridge for another day’s bowl. Or later that day – I’d never judge you for that.

Instructions:
Scoop 2 tablespoons of your ricotta mix on top of your oats, and garnish with mint, you fancy pants. I think this would be lovely with fresh berries added too. Go crazy. 

Shakshuka on Oats
shakshuka

I’m enamored with shakshuka lately, the North African dish that is super popular all over the middle east, and more recently in the states too. It’s a spicy, tomatoey egg dish that will blow your socks off. My favorite recipe for shakshuka is from David Lebovitz, so check that out here to get the recipe for the sauce and his instructions. I prepare batches of the sauce ahead of time and make single serving portions. Traditionally, the runny eggs and sauce should be mopped up with wonderful bread. But if you have plain oatmeal to use, why not spice it up with a serving of shakshuka? Just slide a prepared serving right onto your bowl of oats. 

Other savory options include topping with a poached egg and sliced green onions, a fried egg and sriracha or really whatever leftovers you feel like reheating. If you think of plain oats like rice you’ll get more ideas. It sounds a little odd but it makes for a tasty and healthy breakfast. 

Hungry yet? Get more recipes, fitness tips, and extra motivation when you sign up for my insider newsletter. I’ll send you my free e-book, Fat Loss on a Budget, too so you can eat well without going broke. 

 

Banana Blueberry Protein Pancakes with a Super Secret Ingredient

protein pancakes

How mysterious do these sound? Ok, there’s really  very little mystery, but I’ve been tinkering around with protein pancakes for awhile now.

My first few experiments resulted in ugly faces and bites spit into the trash. Seriously, they were that disgusting. I’m also highly suspicious of recipes that come from fitspo sites. Some of these people have been deprived of delicious, gluteny, rich treats for so long that they actually believe that their concoctions taste good. That’s sad. I cry tears for these sad substitutions.

Still, I’m reining in my calories lately and don’t have a lot of wiggle room for eating pancakes on the regular unless I make them a bit less calorie laden. These help me meet my protein target AND they taste delicious. Boomshakalaka!

Here are truths that I’ve found about making protein pancakes. Man, that sounds serious for a post about breakfast food.

  • Greek yogurt is the secret ingredient. It makes them have a little something something: a tang, if you will. It also seems to help the texture be  thicker.
  • A vehicle for protein powder that is not a smoothie was my initial purpose for making protein pancakes. However, protein powder can make your cakes really dry. Using a little extra liquid in the form of yogurt, milk, or egg helps.
  • You’ll need some kind of pancake mix or flour + 1/2 tsp of baking powder. Kodiak Power Cakes have a higher protein content than most mixes. I find it at Target.
  • Certain brands of protein powder give pancakes a really funky, awful taste. I haven’t yet found a whey protein powder that meshes well in pancakes from a flavor perspective. Egg white protein, at least the Jay Robb brand, blends in perfectly. (Note: I’m not affiliated in any way with Jay Robb Protein. However, I’m a big fan. Sup, Jay Robb?)
  • A little bit of fruit really helps with taste and texture. Bananas in particular helped combat dryness while adding a hit of sweet.

 

Blueberry Banana Protein Pancakes
Print Recipe
Protein-filled fruity pancakes that don't taste like bro tears.
Servings Prep Time
1 person 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
5 minutes 0 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 person 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
5 minutes 0 minutes
Blueberry Banana Protein Pancakes
Print Recipe
Protein-filled fruity pancakes that don't taste like bro tears.
Servings Prep Time
1 person 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
5 minutes 0 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 person 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
5 minutes 0 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: person
Instructions
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients except the blueberries and the bananas. Fold in the bananas, Preheat nonstick pan over medium heat. Spray nonstick spray into pan. Pour in batter, and sprinkle blueberries over the top. When the sides begin to look set and there are bubbles on top, flip your pancake. Cook another minute or so and serve.
Notes
  1. To top these pancakes, depending on how extravagant you want to get, you can top these with syrup, a bit of low-sugar jam, peanut butter, or a squeeze of lemon juice and powdered sugar. 
Recipe Notes

proteinpancakenutrition

Eat em up and enjoy!

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