Vegan Breakfast: A protein bar to kick start your day

This is literally the best breakfast bar I’ve ever made!

I’ve been making them weekly since my friend Leesa brought a batch to QuiltCon {her version involved dried cranberries & were probably healthier, but I believe in eating dark chocolate by 9am everyday so mine are slightly more dessert-ish 😉 }.

While I’m not entirely vegan, I don’t eat a lot of dairy and I struggle with high protein breakfast options (or breakfast options with much protein at all…). I also start my day at the gym so preparing my breakfast at home isn’t conducive to my morning routine.

Thus, these high protein energy bars [that just-so-happen to be vegan] are amazing!

Warning: This post is going to be short and sweet. I’ve always dreamed of posting really beautiful recipe photos documenting the entire process and all ingredients, but let’s face it – I’m impatient and you need this recipe more than you need pretty photos. 

I used the No Meat Athlete’s Ultimate Vegan Energy Bar formula to construct these. I love the options – if you don’t have something I’ve used, try replacing it with one of the other options. BUT if you have all of my ingredients, use those! I’ve tried a few different combinations and the one I’ve landed on below is pure bliss. 

Best Ever High-Protein Vegan Energy Bars Recipe

Makes 12.

Go ahead and pre-heat your oven to 350 because the prep work doesn’t take too long.

FIRST

Wet Ingredients (combine these in your food processor)

  • 1 can Great Northern Beans (or white beans) – rinse & drain the beans using a sieve
  • 1/4 cup Maple Syrup
  • 1 mashed banana (you want it to be a few days old so the peel is starting to speckle/turn just-a-bit brown so it’ll be sweeter 😉 )
  • 1/2 cup Peanut Butter (I’ve had the most success with Trader Joe’s peanut butter which contains the bare basics – peanuts & salt. You can also make your own PB with some peanuts & a Magic Bullet/food processor)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract

SECOND

Dry Ingredients (compile these separately and add to the food processor after the wet ingredients are smooth-ish-ly blended)

  • 1.5 cups Oats
  • 1 cup Peanut Butter flavored Protein Powder (I use this kind)
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon 
  • 1/4 tsp salt (I have been using Pink Himalayan Salt because it’s what I had closest. Sea salt is recommended, but I’m sure you’d survive with table salt)

THIRD

Once the wet ingredients are smooth and you’ve added the dry ingredients to your food processor, add 1 cup dark chocolate chips and pulse a few times. Go easy! You do not want to chop your dark chocolate chips, you just want to attempt to evenly-ish distribute them. {If you’re not lazy like me, you could stir them in by hand…but that mix gets sticky and my arms aren’t exactly muscular so I pass on that}

FOURTH

Line a 13×9″ glass pan with parchment paper.

Dump mixture onto the parchment paper in the glass pan.

Flex your arm muscles and spread it as best you can in the pan (have I mentioned it’s really sticky?)

FIFTH

Bake at 350 degrees for about 17 minutes.

SIXTH 

Let it cool then cut into 12 bars.

Store in the fridge.

To make your life easy, go ahead and put the bars into individual zip-lock bags so you can quickly grab-n-go.

I try to keep it healthy as often as I can (and I do like yoga..), but this chihuahua sums up my true feelings…

Enjoy the recipe, y’all!

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What I’m Lovin’ in March

Maybe you realized {or you didn’t? #NoHurtFeelings} I’m behind on my What I’m Lovin’ monthly posts. So, as a treat (to both of us 😉 ) I’ve combined January, February, and March for a big batch of all of the things I’ve been enjoying that I hope you will too!

1. QuiltCon

I bet you know this by now! I had such an amazing time at QuiltCon in February! You can read all about my experience in this post and go on a virtual quilt tour with me here and here.

2. Thug Kitchen Cookbook

My mother-in-law got me this cookbook for Christmas and it has not disappointed! The pages are filled with hilariously written recipes and tips embellished with some very flavorful language {the kind I often use when cooking – because let’s be honest – cooking is not a talent of mine}.

My favorite recipe so far is for the To-Go Breakfast Bars [in progress in the photo below] – they are surprisingly easy to make and quite tasty! For the past few months they have been my “go-to” for sharing {I took a batch to QuiltCon to share with my guild and took a batch to work after my grandfather passed away to thank my colleagues for being so supportive – the bars were a hit with both groups!}

We also made the cauliflower “wings” and root vegetable fries which were also delicious.

For the past few years I’ve been making their Hoppin’ John recipe on New Year’s Day so it was no surprise the recipes in the cookbook have been packed with flavor! If you aren’t sure about the cookbook, browse the recipes on the website and try a few. You won’t turn back!

3. Colette’s post about organizing sewing patterns {here}

I found this post so helpful! My current system involves 3-ring binders & plastic page-protectors to house the pattern & instructions. This works great for PDF patterns whose instructions print on regular size paper (I tuck the folded freezer-paper-traced pattern pieces behind the instructions in the sleeve), but doesn’t hold vintage or printed indie patterns very well (too much space around them causes them to slide out too easily). The comic-book-storage sounds like a much better fit for those!

Once I find the perfect organization solution, I’ll share it with you 😉

4. Shoreline Boatneck

If I could just get away with wearing my Shoreline Boatneck every day, I’d consider it. I hoped to have another one sewn up by now, but I’ve been distracted…

5. Paper Tigers

Earlier this month, the Nickelodeon Theater hosted a free screening of Paper Tigers with a panel discussion that included the Superintendent of the district in which I work. The documentary was enlightening. It is definitely a must-see for anyone working in education, serving youth, raising/loving children, etc. {anyone & everyone}. It has started a really interesting dialogue locally that I hope continues and grows.

You can view the trailer below and find where to watch Paper Tigers here.

Paper Tigers Trailer – KPJR Films from KPJR FILMS LLC on Vimeo.

6. My paper-pieced Bunny

I finally dusted off my homework from QuiltCon {see how the bunny started in this post} and finished my Bunny block! I have big plans for him so stay tuned 😉

The bunny is from Violet Craft‘s Forest Abstractions quilt.

7. New beginnings with the New Moon

This week I went to a New Moon Circle hosted by a dear friend.

It was so refreshing, rejuvenating, and inspiring. We gathered, we meditated, we journaled, we shared, and we laughed. It was beautiful.

I have looked back at my journal from that night and boiled my intentions for the next month into 3 over-simplified mantras.

I have felt very scatterbrained lately. I’ve found myself jumping from project-to-project [at home and at work] – becoming very easily distracted by easier/quicker/shinier projects.

This month I want to SLOW DOWN {less multitasking}, FOCUS on one project at a time {giving whatever it may be all of the effort it deserves}, and BE PRESENT in the moment {less scrolling, less distraction}.

*If you’re local {or not! Penny shares great resources}, follow Earthstar Radiance on Facebook – Penny’s meditation classes are the 2nd Wednesday of every month & the New Moon Circle is around the time of the New Moon 😉

8. Our nephew is here!

L to R: on his birth day! > from his first full #SliceSisters day > that time my sister let me wear him > with the Hubs on the day he was born 🙂

To say I’m a doting aunt is probably an understatement. I won’t bore you with all the details and I’m trying to restrain myself from flooding Instagram with baby pics {now I understand why parents post so many pictures of their littles} but it sure is tough! He, my sister and her husband are all adjusting to being a family of 3 beautifully. I’m so thrilled to watch that and treasure the moments I get to be part of it.

{Catch up on all of my monthly What I’m Lovin’ posts here.}

What I’m Lovin’ in June

It’s true. I completely missed the last Friday in June (why does June feel like the shortest month of the year?!). So, you are receiving what I’m lovin’ in June on the last day of June instead!

Read on to see the short list of what I’ve been lovin’ this month!june

1. Supporting Handmade Shops

When you make a purchase from a local artisan, you are doing more than purchasing the item. You are inspiring them to follow their passion. I always air on the side of buying whatever I’m lusting after when I’m at craft fairs because I know what it feels like to have someone walk past your booth, mumble “I could make this” to a friend or mindlessly pass by your booth like your creations aren’t worthy of their time to browse. I also know what it’s like when a customer is as excited about your creations as you are and makes the purchase that keeps your dreams afloat.

If you’re looking for an excuse to treat yourself, browse the artisans I discovered at Made South and send them a little inspiration with your spare dollars 😉

Made South

2. This hilarious blog post…

70s moms

{Click the image to read the post}

…oh if only to live in the 70’s!

3. The Kindred Company’s Lavender Face Wash

kindred company

I discovered these folks at Made South and I’m totally hooked on the face wash! This is the best face wash I have ever used. It’s light and fluffy with the perfect balance of creamy that leaves your skin feeling perfectly refreshed – clean but not dried out.

4. Our annual Etsy Craft Party

craft party 1

My sister (left) and best friend, Caroline (right) crafting away at the party

Every year the team I co-founded, Cola Indie Makers, hosts an Etsy Craft Party. It’s such a fun event! {Wondering what it’s like? Check out this recap of last year’s event}

This year we had two upcycle-themed crafts. The first was a bucket made from paper grocery bags and duct tape. {tutorial info}

craft party 3

My sister picked a pretty stellar combination!

craft party 2

One of my finished bins {yes, holding sewing patterns of course!}

The second craft of the night was an upcycled gift bag made from a map. {tutorial info}

I am so grateful to my friend MaryAnn of Life is a Maker Faire who helped me plan this year’s event!

craft party

MaryAnn and I at the Craft Party!

The event is a lot of fun and something I take a lot of pride in planning. We incorporate a night of crafting with the community (the event is open to all!) and showcasing local handmade vendors which is another of my passions as you know 😉

You can browse all of the event photos here and be sure to follow Cola Indie Makers on Facebook and Instagram to hear about our upcoming events!

5. Quilting

quilt block

A few weeks ago I got the itch to start a quilt. There’s so much I want to learn so I dusted off a “how to build a sample block quilt” book I picked up at a quilt shop my mother-in-law recommended when I was visiting in Atlanta a while ago.

Being that my fabric stash has once again grown beyond my drawers, shelves and bins, I’m making this quilt using material I already have (aka: “scraps”).

I also registered for Quilt Con! February will be my first Quilt Con and I am so excited to see what it’s all about and soak up some quilt’spiration!

6. Farm Fresh Produce

I have the brownest of brown thumbs. I can’t even keep my succulents alive. Thus, I am so grateful to green-thumbers who share their wealth with me!

green beans

gorgeously colorful “green” beans from a recent Limited Edition Farms basket

Last year a friend-of-a-friend started offering her farm’s produce as a Crop Share program. I jumped on it! First, I love supporting local people doing what they love {see #1…} – and – second, everything I attempt to grow dies + I love fresh produce so this was perfect for me.

I meet the farmer once a week and pick up my basket. It’s so fun because I never know exactly what will be in there which forces me to be more creative with menu planning than I would’ve been.

This is my second year as a Limited Edition Farms crop share member and I can’t speak their praises loud enough. They are an all organic farm with very reasonable prices and wonderful selection. If you’re local to the Midlands SC area, check out the services they offer here.

7. Sun tea

Speaking of fresh produce, I got my hands on some super sweet peaches recently and decided to make a jar of sun tea. I had forgotten how delicious sun tea is!

sun tea

To make my tea, I threw a small handful of fresh blueberries (likely about 1/4 cup) in a glass jar with 2 peaches cut in large slices with 3 cups of warm water and 3 black tea bags. I set it in the sun for around 6 hours.

After the six hours, I poured it over a sieve and discarded all solids. The sliced peaches added enough sweetness for my taste so I did not add any sugar, but I won’t judge you if you do 😉

8. My new leather hole punch

Just before the Etsy Craft Party, I received the leather hole punch I’d ordered. I couldn’t wait to use it! I tested it on a few pieces of scrap leather I had gotten from my friend Amber.

Less than an hour before the party I whipped up this chevron necklace with a printed floral leather to raffle off at the party.

necklace

I plan to make several more since they were so easy to make! Stay tuned – I might even post a tutorial 😉

9. These fabulous tips for being productive via Afford Anything

simple-habits-that-create-success

{Click the image to read the post from Afford Anything}

10. My new name!

After four years of marriage, I finally changed my last name.

name change

Surprised the Hubs at work with the news

I thought I’d be a Lucy Stoner forever, but I got the urge recently and ran with it. Being that I am called by my middle name this proved to be a little more difficult than I had envisioned so I settled for hyphenating my name which means I now have an incredibly long name, but at least it isn’t too far from what it’s always been 😉

I hope you’re all staying cool and enjoying the summer sunshine! – Jordan

{Catch up on all of my monthly What I’m Lovin’ posts here.}

What I’m Lovin’ in January

It’s finally gotten chilly in the south and feels like winter! (Confession: I love cold weather.) I hope you are all staying warm and toasty wherever you are. Snuggle up and share a few giggles with me as you read on through the short list of what I loved about January…
january

1. Cookies made with Chickpeas

Guys!! Before you go rolling your eyes and completely abandon this post, hear me out!

Or just oogle this mouth-watering photo of proof I’m not crazy…

chickpea cookie

{I borrowed this delightful picture from Texanerin Baking. If your mouth is watering (mine is!), click the picture to jump over to the recipe.}

I have a very serious sweet tooth. I am a firm believer that dessert is essential – not optional. I also try purdy hard to stay healthy. So…I seek out “healthy” treats. {Chocolate Covered Katie is one of my favorite resources}

And y’all – these Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites are a winner!

The recipe is super easy and fairly guilt-free. {Lazy Cook Tip: If you don’t have roasted peanuts on hand to make your own PB (see #2 below!), Trader Joe’s Creamy, Salted Peanut Butter works great – and the ingredient list is desirable with just peanuts and salt.}

Hubs loves them. And we even made these when my Mom came over for dinner and she was quite delighted and announced that they tasted just like peanut butter balls (which they kind of are, but I’ll let her have that connection!).

PS: If you also enjoy “healthy” [aka: less guilty] desserts, these flourless chocolate muffins are the perfect go-to if you need something easy to take to a party that your vegan and gluten-free friends can enjoy. I wouldn’t recommend the chickpea cookies for parties because 1) they are best served warm and 2) the first batch I made was a bit messy to eat.

2. Making my own Peanut Butter

As I said to my Mom earlier this month: “your generation would probably refer to my lifestyle as ‘crunchy granola’.” I’ll own it. I’m not offended (and yes, I once had a granola-supplier who recently went out of business and I teared up a bit…before ordering 5 bags as stock).

I was destined to be this way: I have a Public Health degree (aka: I was trained to be overly cautious about my health) and I’m a Researcher by trade.

Confession: The context of the statement above was when I was [being very Millennial and calling my Mom to debrief about my doctor’s appointment] after I explained that I told the doctor I had started making my own lip balm because I discovered what I had thought was just petroleum jelly in fact had dyes in it for reasons unknown (I’ve been having some lip issues [and I’ve already told you I’m a) a Public Health nerd and b) a Researcher] and was subsequently eliminating everything funky – including switching my toothpaste to Tom’s without fluoride – in an effort to eliminate triggers. Yep, crunchy granola).

Oh – and if you’re wondering: YES I’m going to share my lip balm recipe with you. I’m still perfecting it so stay tuned!

Anyways, back to the peanut butter!

When I discovered the chickpea cookies above, Texaserin recommended making your own peanut butter for the cookie recipe. She even has a recipe for the peanut butter, but I’ll spoil it for you: throw some [lightly] salted roasted peanuts in your food processor for 4 minutes. THAT’S IT! 

peanut butter

I know what you’re thinking: “but does it taste good?!” Yes, folks – it does! So delicious. I kept my batch in the fridge and it lasted about a day before I ate it all (while I seriously considered taking a spoon to the jar, I did not. I used most of it in the cookie recipe and the leftover was used in smoothies).

Next time your grocery store runs nuts on sale, grab a container of roasted peanuts and give them a whirl in the food processor – just for shiggles!

3. Homemade Vegan Korean Barbecue

korean bbq

{Picture borrowed from Brewing Happiness because my food never turns out this pretty. Click the image to get the recipe!}

DELISH!

The flavor is ahhh-mazing. This is one of the Hubs’ favorite new dinners. {Confession: The first time I tried this recipe, I got so frustrated because I was burning the tofu that *somehow* I pulled our junk drawer off it’s hinges and the contents flew all over the kitchen… Thankfully the Hubs was home and willing to talk me off the ledge – and clean up the mess [I’m a lucky gal!]. As a tip: Pre-measure the ingredients that you can and when you start cooking the tofu: stir often/constantly if you can.}

Since I try to keep my time in the kitchen minimal for everyone’s safety, I can’t speak about the taste of the aioli {I hit my ingredients-to-buy/time-I-was-willing-to-spend-cooking limit with the homemade barbecue sauce}. If you try the aioli, let me know if it’s worth the effort!

PS: Another favorite recipe from Brewing Happiness: Baked Veggie Dogs {they were on my September list}.

4. Tea Time

I got a batch of Lady Grey Loose Leaf Tea for Christmas from my step-sister. I’m trying to balance my sweet tooth with hot tea {otherwise I’d probably eat an entire batch of the Chickpea Cookies in one day which would make them far less “guilt free”}.

tea

Loose leaf tea is gorgeous. And I kind of want to learn to make my own blends, but I’m not sure where to start – if you know any good recipes, let me know!

Also – along with the tea, my step-sister gave me the most adorable ManaTEA tea infuser!

manatea

I named her Minnie the Manatee

Minnie motivates me to drink more tea and eat less sweets. Like a boss.

PS: I found Minnie’s twin Manny [well, they call him “Fred”] on Amazon if you’re interested in your own ManaTEA.

5. Family Recipes

Some friends invited us over for chili a few weekends ago and I knew immediately that I wanted to dust off Jeremy’s grandfather’s cornbread recipe! It’s always a big hit and we’d just eaten some his PawPaw made at Thanksgiving which reminded me how delicious they are (and that we hadn’t made them in forever).

cornbread

I know you’re shocked: Yes, I own an apron. And yes, the reason it looks well-worn is not because of yours truly – it’s vintage 😛

I weaseled the recipe out of Jeremy’s grandpa several years ago. We used to make them all the time, but it’s been years since we’ve made a batch.

The recipe is more of a Mexican-style cornbread with jalapenos and cheddar cheese. I’m not authorized to spill the family secrets, but here’s a similar recipe you could try 🙂

6. Our new knit sweaters

Speaking of grandparents, the Hubs has the best! Last week we received two packages from England!

Since we’d just chatted with his grandma, we had an idea of what they were. She has been working on sweaters for both of us since we visited last Christmas. {In fact, she had my sweater nearly done, but when I arrived and she measured me she realized the bodice was going to be too small and unraveled the whole thing! She laughed at my reaction because I almost cried!}

It felt like we’d won the lottery! 😉

sweaters

We were overwhelmed with excitement [obviously], but I promise to attempt a better picture of the sweaters later…

And with the recent cold weather arriving in South Carolina, we’re both pretty grateful for these snuggly new garments!

Isn’t Jeremy’s grandmother SO talented?! She’s been knitting for…forever. This is my third sweater from her. I wear the other two quite frequently when it gets cold and I know this one will be well-loved too!

PS: Did you know that “knitting and crocheting can lower heart rate and blood pressure and reduce harmful blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol“?! You can read all about the health benefits of knitting and real stories about how knitting has helped people get through tough times {like having a baby in the NICU and quitting smoking} in this article from the NY Times. Fascinating research!

7. Snow

Speaking of cold weather, last weekend we got snow!

snow

If you look REALLY close you can see the light dusting on the roof {and a fur baby peaking out the front door}

Anyone not from the south is probably laughing hysterically at my claim of snow based on the above picture. I was starting to worry we wouldn’t get any snow this year so I’ll take what I can get!

I did watch some tiny flurries come down from the window in front of my sewing machine and it was lovely (even if they melted as soon as they hit the ground).

Now I’m not wishing bad weather on anyone, but I do wish we’d get a little more snow this winter!!

8. My new accessories for sewing

earrings

Because who doesn’t need to look glamorous while sewing?!

My sweet friend Caroline surprised me with these the day before our first quilt guild meeting this year {so I was accessorized quite festively for the meeting}.

love them! And I love my sweet friend for being so thoughtful. She’s the best.

PS: My new earrings coordinate perfectly with my new planner from Sugar and Type {it looks like the planners are all sold out which is a shame because it is so useful!}.

9. Paper Piecing

At our Palmetto Modern Quilt Guild meeting this month, our president did a paper-piecing demo.

I’ve been really wanting to try paper-piecing, but was too scared. Amber demystified the process and I went home and gave it a try with the simple diamond blocks she shared with us.

paper pieces

I’m hooked!

What are some of your favorite paper pieced patterns? I’m looking to try more so I’d love it if you left me your favorite in the comments.

PS: If you’re local to Columbia, SC – follow the Palmetto Modern Quilt Guild on Facebook and consider joining us! We meet every third Thursday of the month and have a sew-in once a month (so fun).

10. My Double Zip Wallet

doublezip2

I won’t bore you with all the details [because you can read those here], but I’m still lovin’ it.

I think my favorite part are the two zipper pouches. I love zippers because they make your goodies feel so secure {and help you to avoid embarrassing moments when change starts flying out of your clutch like a slot machine}.

This also reminds me that I need to finish that Veronika skirt the corduroy was intended for…

Since I haven’t blogged as much this month, I had a lot to share! Thanks for reading all the way to the bottom – you’re such a trooper!

{Catch up on all of my monthly What I’m Lovin’ posts here.}

 

Best Blueberry Oatmeal Ever – recipe

When we were little, my sister and I would always fight over the blueberry instant oatmeal packets. We’d end up with loads of Quaker variety packs full of banana, peach and strawberry (which we refused to eat until we reached desperation). You couldn’t beat the blueberry.

I was enjoying brunch at Whole Foods one day (have you visited their buffet for breakfast? You should.) when inspiration hit. They have some of the most delicious oatmeal on their hot bar with assorted toppings. While I still love Whole Foods hot bar (and twist the Hubs’ arm regularly to eat there because of all the vegetarian options), it can be a bit expensive so finding an alternative to my new addiction was essential.

The following week, I ran across dried blueberries at Trader Joe’s. I had noticed these before, but had skipped over them because 1) they were expensive and 2) what was I going to do with dried fruit? DIY trail mix is not my thing. {And as a Public Health grad, I know that fruit in its raw form is always better than dried. I try to practice what I preach…sometimes}

With the homemade oatmeal recipe in my mind, I splurged on the dried blueberries and some sliced almonds.

For good measure, here's a picture of what you're looking for a TJ's. You can likely find these anywhere though :)

For good measure, here’s a picture of what you’re looking for a TJ’s. though you can likely find these anywhere 🙂

This recipe is incredibly simple. I’m not even sure I can call it a true recipe because I’m not coming up with anything that isn’t completely obvious, but I felt strongly inclined to share this discovery with you in case it saves any of my fellow blueberry-oatmeal-enthusiasts the heartbreak of wasting all those other fruit packets (but if you’re in a rut with all those extra packets: take them to your coworkers as a breakfast donation – they’ll love you forever…or at least until the packets run out).

In addition to the toppings, you’ll need: your milk of choice, brown sugar and oats.

oatmeal milk

I used unsweetened, unflavored soy milk, Quaker quick cooking oats and some random brown sugar I found in my cabinet that didn’t appear to be expired.

Why is the milk soy you ask? Well…After my Mom (yes, my meat-and-potatoes obsessed mother) suggested I watch the Forks Over Knives documentary on Netflix (when she pet sits for me, she always has a documentary recommendation when I return :)), I have been sticking to soy milk rather than cows milk {if you’re also obsessed with trying to live forever, watch the documentary for tips and I bet you’ll join me}. I have made zero progress with cutting out cheese [or butter…] so replacing the milk seems like a good enough start 😉

While you’re at Trader Joe’s picking up blueberries and sliced almonds (because obviously no one else sells these items), pick up a little carton of their soy creamer and try it in your coffee – it tastes like your coffee just morphed into a latte! Delish.

Ok – back to the oatmeal…

oatmeal1

Just a reminder that the hard work you’re about to put forth will be worth it!

Here’s the basic recipe:

Ingredients

  • Milk of choice, 1/2 cup
  • Water, 1/2 cup
  • Oats, 1/2 cup
  • Dark brown sugar, 1 tsp
  • Dried blueberries, 1 Tbsp (you could substitute cranberries, but the blueberries really elevate this dish…yes, I’m calling it a “dish” because this is my blog and I’ll be fancy when I want to)
  • Sliced almonds, 1 Tbsp (you could substitute chopped walnuts or some other preferred raw nuts)

Directions

The recipe below is based on 1 serving. Multiply as you wish.

  1. In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of water to a boil.
  2. Stir in 1/2 cup of the quick cooking oats. If you are using a different kind of oat, please adjust and follow the instructions on your package. 
  3. Cook over medium (stirring a few times) for 1 minute or according to your oats package.
  4. Remove the saucepan from heat when the oatmeal reaches your desired consistency or after the appropriate cooking time has passed.
  5. Mix in 1 teaspoon of dark brown sugar and transfer the oatmeal to your serving bowl.
  6. Top with 1 tablespoon each of dried blueberries and sliced almonds.
  7. Pat yourself on the back because you just made an elegant dish of oatmeal. Go forward and enjoy this delicious treat you made with your own 2 hands!
oatmeal2

YUMMM.

Enjoy! 🙂

Tasty Tuesday: Trader Joe’s Harvest Summer Salad

Not too long ago, Columbia got our very first Trader Joe‘s and I’ve been smitten ever since! As a very indecisive gal, I really appreciate the simplicity of grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s – there are just enough choices so that you have one, but not enough to keep you stumped for 20 minutes deciding between brands of cheese.

Another thing I love about TJ’s: they always have samples! These samples are more than just slivers of something pulled from a box. They’re usually unique combinations of TJ-original items that bring out the kind of flavor that sends you in search of the ingredients to replicate.

Well, that happened to me and I had to share the recipe with you!

This “salad” is great for packing in your lunchbox because it does okay at room temperature for a few hours (or you can get fancy and use a freezy pack, but as I’ve admitted in previous posts: this cook is lazy…and I usually run out of room in my lunch box for those!).

Plus: it only require 3 ingredients! It’s so simple it’s hardly worth listing, but I’ll share the recipe nonetheless!

Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain Summer Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 bag of Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains Blend
The blend includes Israeli couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans & red quinoa.

The blend includes Israeli couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans & red quinoa.

The blend includes Israeli couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans & red quinoa.

In case you’re a visual person (like me!), here’s what the bag looks like so you can find it easy at TJs!

  • Trader Joe’s Healthy 8 Chopped Veggie Mix
The veggie mix includes broccoli, carrots, green & red cabbage, jicama, green bell pepper, radish and celery.

The veggie mix includes broccoli, carrots, green & red cabbage, jicama, green bell pepper, radish and celery.

  • 1/2 bottle of Trader Joe’s Tuscan Italian Dressing with Balsamic Vinegar

dressing

 

Directions:

  1. Cook half the bag of the Harvest Grains Blend with water according to the package.
  2. Once the grains are cooked, combine with the vegetable mix in a large bowl.
  3. Drizzle half the bottle of dressing over the grain and vegetable mix. Combine the ingredients until the dressing is evenly spread throughout the mixture.
  4. Taste and add more dressing as needed.

You can store the leftovers in the fridge for a few days and eat cold or at room temperature.

TJ couscous salad

I used Trader Joe’s ingredients because it was convenient (and after all, it is their recipe!), but you could adapt this recipe by using a different grain blend (or entirely Israeli couscous), chopping your own vegetables or using a similar chopped mix and a blend of Italian and Balsamic Vinegar dressing.

Enjoy!

Tasty Tuesday: Morning Smoothie

In case you didn’t know: I am a huge fan of smoothies! They’re so easy to prepare and it’s the most conveniently delicious way to pack extra fruits and veggies into your day.

In the past, I would make a big batch of smoothies in my very messy, very clunky, very-much-nearly-dead smoothie maker (aka: blender) on Sundays. I’d transfer (very messily) the smoothies into mason jars and freeze them. Every morning, I’d pop one in a koozie, throw it in my lunch box (they double as a freezy pack), give it a good shake around noon and voila! Fresh smoothie at work.

I won’t take full credit for the brilliance of that tip – I heard it on NPR one day as a recommendation for parents to make for their children to pack in their lunchbox (meant for children obviously means meant for Jordan).

Recently, my sister offered to give me her Magic Bullet which I jumped on! I wasn’t sure I’d like it because it made single servings and as you read previously I’m really into saving myself effort by making food in big batches when possible 🙂 Well…I’m obsessed with it!

magic bullet

Here’s my little bullet in action!

The biggest success out of all of this is that nearly every day I come home to find that the Hubs made himself a smoothie at lunch (which is a huge accomplishment because when I met him, he didn’t eat ANY fruit. Seriously. And he barely does now. Unless it’s in a smoothie).

I have been wanting to share a smoothie recipe with you all, but I have to admit: I rarely stick to the same combination and I rarely (..never) measure anything I throw into my smoothies. So, bear with me on this and let your imagination run wild!

Morning Smoothie Recipe (or my guide to your creative smoothie path)

Gather your ingredients:

  • Milk (I use skim, but use what you want! Soy milk is also great! You could probably try to substitute water if you wanted)
  • Frozen fruit: bananas, blueberries, strawberries – if you don’t have frozen fruit, add some ice cubes
  • Fresh spinach
  • Peanut butter
  • Honey (somewhat optional)
  • Ground flax (optional)

Line the bottom of the blender (or cup) with a handful of fresh spinach leaves. This will keep the fruit from clumping under your blender blades making for a more consistently smooth smoothie!

Next, layer in the frozen fruit until the cup is about 3/4 full. If you are using a traditional blender, just throw in about 2 handfuls of fruit.

Toss in a scoop (about a tablespoon) of peanut butter and drizzle of honey (if your sweet tooth isn’t so strong, feel free to omit the honey and save some calories. You can always add it at the end after you taste test).

Add another handful of spinach (to keep the peanut butter from sticking to the blade when you flip it over if you are using a Bullet-like-contraption).

You should have a vibrant, beautiful layer of fresh fruits and spinach in your blender/Magic Bullet cup, like this:

smoothie1

You will want to add milk until it reaches the bottom of the top layer of spinach.

smoothie2

Screw your lid on tight and blend until smooth. After a few seconds, remove the cup or lift the lid of the blender to check the consistency (taste test time! Add more honey if needed).

If the smoothie is too thick, just add a little milk and blend some more. If the smoothie is too thin, add a little more frozen fruit and spinach. Repeat until you reach your desired consistency.

Cheers! Enjoy!