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a spring in my step…April confessions

Hey friends, happy April 1st! Since it’s the beginning of the month and all, why not start with confessions?

1) Alleluia, Amen, Praise the Lord…it’s April!
This may sound dramatic but I have been waiting for this day ALL YEAR LONG. It’s not just because I’m sick of winter though (even though I am SO OVER it). The real reason I’ve been anxiously awaiting the arrival of April is because today’s the first day in two years that I can actually say ‘Brandon’s moving home THIS MONTH!’ {Insert happy dance here}. I am 100% positive that there is a spring in my step today.
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This was the welcome sign I made for his Sept./Oct. 2012 visit home…ahhh the memories. I get chills just typing this!

3 weeks until the best day ever at the airport.
3 weeks until a hug, kiss, and hand-hold can physically happen.
3 weeks until goodbyes won’t exist.
3 weeks until our new beginning. 
Can’t wait, can’t wait, can’t wait!!
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2) My Nana is my idol.
Nana turned 87 over the weekend and even though Boppa wasn’t well enough to join us, we made the best of it with a girls dinner on the ocean full of cocktails, live piano music, laughs, and tears. At 87, I can only hope to be as loving, vibrant, witty, youthful, full-of-life, and as fashion-forward as my Nana.  Leopard scarf and matching leopard flats at 87? She is my idol.
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3)Black ice is no joke.
Two days before my sister’s bridal shower, I fell and sprained my foot…Ooooof it was painful.  I wish I could tell you that I sprained it doing something athletic, but that’s just not the case.  I was actually volunteering when it happened, and all it took was a slip on a patch of black ice.Black ice is no joke, my friends. I was in so much pain that I proceeded to crawl to my car and cry for 30 minutes. I ended up not walking on it for most of Friday and Saturday, so by the day of the shower, it felt strong enough to walk on. I’m very lucky it wasn’t worse!   I was more-so freaking out about not being able to wear heels than my actual injury ( I know, it sounds shallow),but a new dress with no heels? That wasn’t happening. I’m pretty much all healed, with the exception of a nasty bruise. I’ll spare you a picture!

4) Once again, I have an iced coffee addiction.
Thanks a lot Dunkin’ Donuts for introducing the ‘Cookie Dough’ iced coffee flavor. So much for not spending money on coffee…now there’s absolutely zero hope for me in that department! My goal is to try and stick to my two coffee per-week limit. However, since it’s only been out for two days and I’ve already had two, I am fairly certain I am already failing miserably.
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5) I have a pancake problem.
It seems like ever since I adapted to a gluten-free (for the most part) lifestyle, my love of breakfast foods has grown and grown. I could seriously eat smoothies, pancakes and waffles all day every day. Last week I had a pancake craving around lunchtime so I tried a similar version of this sweet potato pancake recipe from Tina at Carrots ‘N’ Cake.  Now I’m hooked!

Cinna-Pumpkin Spice Sweet Potato Pancakes
Adapted from Carrots ‘N’ Cake
Ingredients:
1/2 cup sweet potato (cooked and mashed)
1/3 cup almond flour
1/2 cup egg beaters (or 2 eggs)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 Tbsp. maple syrup

Directions:
1) Clean, peel, and chop a small/medium sized sweet potato into chunks, then put it in a microwave safe dish with a small amount of water, cover with saran-wrap and cook for 4-5  minutes, or until soft. Let it cool off, mash with a fork or potato masher until smooth, and measure out a 1/2 cup.

2) Preheat skillet on stovetop and coat with cooking spray. Then combine the 1/2 cup of sweet potato with the remaining  7 ingredients in a mixing bowl (or food processor) and mix well. (I used my hand-mixer).
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3) Once your skillet is heated, add the desired batter amount you’d like and cook evenly on both sides.
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4) Add your desired toppings and serve immediately.  I topped mine with almond butter, raisins, and slivered almonds, but the combinations are endless (granola, pecans, cashews, anything!)
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#pancakeproblems

What are you looking forward to the most about April?

Has anyone else tried the new Dunkin’ flavors? If so, what’s your favorite?

My favorite oats on-the-go

Hey friends! I hope you all had a great start to your week and/or had a relaxing day off if yesterday was a holiday for you. It happened to be a holiday for me and I was psyched! I got back from visiting my twin sister in Connecticut late on Sunday night so after a day full of travel, I was happy to have a day to ease back into things on Monday.
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Kimmie and I at dinner over the weekend
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Beautiful Mom and beautiful Deb

Speaking of the weekend…my Mom and I had a memorable few days with my sister, her puppies, and her fiancé at their home in Connecticut.To say we were sad to leave is a definite understatement; family time is truly the best time. Anyway, we weren’t planning on staying for as long as we did, but because of the storm warnings we had heard in advance, we actually left our house in Maine at midnight on Wednesday night and drove through the night to beat the storm, arriving around 5:00 a.m. in CT.  (Yes we are a bit crazy, but we beat the storm.) We got a great greeting from the puppies, too, so it was worth it!
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It was important for us to be there because her wedding is now less than 100 days away!  Wedding preparations were our mission this weekend, and wedding prep we did. Veil and garter shopping/buying, seating plans, invitation prep, wedding band hunting… you name it, we discussed or accomplished it. It was an extremely productive few days. I love this beautiful bride-to-be.

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I have to admit, our fun-filled weekend made it a bit challenging to stay on track food-wise.  Just to update you, I’m still mostly following the “clean-eating” plan I blogged about a couple of weeks ago. I say ‘mostly’ because I’ve occasionally had some dairy and gluten (and chocolate and champagne…oops), and this weekend was no exception. In all honesty, though, as strict as I felt this plan was at first, it has gotten easier and easier with time. Now I simply feel that I’ve adapted to this way of eating and I just really enjoy it and the way I feel, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to deprive myself from my old favorites once in a while. (Favorites such as pink bubbly and cookie dough Oreos).

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While in Connecticut, the three of us squeezed in a couple of at-home workouts together which was great, but food-wise, when you’re near New Haven, CT and have the opportunity to eat their pizza (literally voted #1 in the USA) how could you not eat it? My gluten-free and dairy-free guidelines were pushed to the wayside that day, which I was perfectly happy with because it was truly worth it to me! 

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My plate x 2 (at least)

I’m sure I’m not the only one who struggles with staying on track food-wise when they’re traveling, so I felt like this would be a good topic to address. This weekend was the first time since starting the clean-eating plan that I would be traveling, so it was a true test, that’s for sure. However, I tried to strategize my meals as much as I could.  For example, something that always seems to help me stay on track food-wise when I’m on the road is keeping my breakfasts and lunches consistent with what I’m used to eating.  We did this in Connecticut, too, by starting the day with protein shakes and fruit for breakfast, and having big salads for lunch. It filled us up but didn’t slow us down, something so crucial when you’re busy!

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This is something that helps me during the school week, too. My class schedule this semester is pretty much all over the place, since Mondays and Wednesdays I’m gone from roughly 8:30 am-10:00 p.m., and Tuesdays/Thursdays I have night class and I don’t return home until around 9:00 p.m on those nights, either. Needless to say, starting my days off with a wholesome breakfast and packing ‘real’ snacks and hearty lunches  is integral to fueling me through the days. That being said, overnight oats have become my staple lunch at least 3 days a week. I love them because I can prepare them the night before and just grab-and-go the next morning. They’re wholesome, protein-packed, versatile, and just so-darn-delicious. Here’s my go-to recipe :

Cinnamon-Almond Overnight Oats
Ingredients:

-Small to mid-sized container (I use a glass jar)
-1/2 cup gluten free old-fashioned oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
-1/2 cup of Almond Milk (original or vanilla Almond Breeze) Use enough to immerse the oats. Add 1-1.5 tbsp. water if oats are not immersed in liquid fully.
-1/2 TBSP chia seeds (optional)
-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
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Toppings
(Feel free to mix it up with different fruits, nut butters, and nuts; these are just suggestions!)

1/4 cup blueberries
1 TBSP almond butter
1/2 TBSP silvered almonds

Directions:
Add oats, almond milk, water, chia seeds (for added protein), and cinnamon to your jar or container, stir well, and store in fridge overnight. Add desired toppings the next day before eating. Store in cold space before consuming.
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The next morning when you take your oat jar out, you’ll see that your oats have soaked up a majority of the liquid and they are now a thicker consistency. If they seem too dry, stir in a little more almond milk or water, that will help. Trust, me, they may not look pretty but they are delicious,  full of protein, and will keep you satisfied for hours.

Most days I top my overnight oats with almond butter and blueberries, but on other days I’ll choose apples, raisins, and walnuts. The possibilities are endless.  Plus, I can easily tote these in my school bag without worrying they’ll be crushed (unlike a sandwich or something of that nature), or I can leave them in my car to keep them cold. All I do is bring a spoon along with me, and I’m golden. I’ll be enjoying these today for breakfast or lunch, I can’t decide yet!
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Are you a fan of overnight oats?
Do you struggle with staying on track with your eating habits when you’re on-the-go?

Valentine’s day shake

Happy Valentine’s Day, my friends! I hope you have all had a special day today. I know some people don’t like this holiday, but I do…any excuse for an entire day to say ‘I love you’ to your loved ones is a great day in my book!  Although I am missing my valentine this year, I’ve been able to ‘celebrate’ V-Day with him two days in a row because of the time difference…can’t beat that!  Plus, I’m spending the weekend with my sister and Mom, so that is helping to fill the void for me. We just popped some bubbly and cooked a dinner of roasted veggies and fresh haddock. Yum. Yum. Yum.
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I always find it fun on holidays to look back at the previous year and reminisce , so today I did just that in my camera.  On Valentine’s Day last year, Brandon made me my very own edible arrangement and cooked a wonderful coconut shrimp dinner. I much prefer eating in and celebrating together just the two of us on this holiday, so it was perfect.  I’ll never forget it! Love you, B.

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And just for fun, this was our first  official Valentine’s Day together:
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You know how college is…eating carbs before you drink your weight in booze….whoops, guilty! ; )

Anyway, since I’ve had a very busy last two weeks between three exams, applying for grad school, and maid of honor duties, I just haven’t had the opportunity to blog. I’m planning on doing  a catch-up post this week for sure, but with a spare few minutes tonight, I wanted to share this delicious Valentine’s Day protein shake I made this morning for my Mom and me as pre-workout fuel. It’s choc-full of strawberry and chocolate, gluten-free deliciousness, and I enjoyed every sip. I hope you do too!

Valentine’s Day Shake
(Serves 2 as a snack)
-2 scoops Arbonne chocolate protein powder (or any chocolate protein powder would do)
-1/4 cup-1/2 cup almond milk (plain or vanilla)-I used Almond Breeze vanilla, and started with 1/4 cup. Then I added a little more at the end of blending.
-1/2 to 2/3 cup ice water
-1 scoop Arbonne fiber boost (optional) 
-8-10 frozen strawberries
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-handful of spinach
-1 tbsp flax (optional)
Crushed ice (to thicken if needed)

Instructions:
1) Put all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth. Add more almond milk or ice water as needed. (I tend to like my shakes thick, so I always add less liquid. To me, a shake is best eaten with a spoon!) However, if you prefer a more liquefied shake, just add more water or almond milk. If you’d like it thicker, just use less.
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2) Optional: Garnish with a strawberry to make more festive and enjoy!

What are you up to this weekend?
Did you have a fun valentine’s inspired meal today?

We are cheer’sing our girls weekend tonight, and tomorrow we are off to go veil shopping. Yay! Oh, and we are snuggling with the puppies : –) I will also be indulging in some Valentine’s Day caramels tonight…can’t wait!

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two weeks of cleansing: the good, the bad, the hungry

Hello, hello! How is Monday going for you? Today I am semi-celebrating because today I made it to day 14 of my cleansing goal. I am psyched. Plus, I feel great too.

I want to back-up for a minute and briefly explain why I started this clean-eating cleanse.  My Mom recently started a ‘clean-eating 30-day detox’ plan with her clients, and since it’s a part of her business, she practices what she preaches. Personally I think it’s wonderful that she participates in it right along with them, even though she doesn’t necessarily have to.  Anyway, at first, I really was not into the whole “cleanse” or “detox” idea. I never have been simply because I consider myself a pretty healthy eater. I always eat 3-5 fruits a day, I drink a lot of water, I do my best to eat healthy fats at each meal, etc.  You know the drill…however, after hearing multiple testimonials regarding how great people were feeling on the cleanse, I decided it might be a good idea for me to try. Besides, since I live with my parents right now and basically eat the same meals as my Mom anyway, it was a lot easier to do the cleanse than to not do it.
These are some of our cleanse-friendly dinners: (please excuse the Christmas plates!)
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Another reason this was important for me to try out was for health reasons. A couple of years ago I underwent serious testing for celiac disease (all of which came back negative), but some of my issues surrounding it haven’t gone away. I figured two weeks of this cleanse might help me self-diagnose myself. Am I gluten intolerant? Is my dry skin a result from that? Is dairy affecting my skin?
So I began. Two weeks of no gluten, no caffeine, no dairy, no artificial sweetener, no corn.
At first, I was like um…can I eat anything? Little did I know, I could eat a lot of things!
These foods became my staples:
-Almond milk
-protein powder
-gluten free oats
-fruit (blueberries, apples, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, clementine’s)
-Vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, parsnips, squash, cucumbers)
-Nuts (almonds and walnuts)
-grains (quinoa, brown rice, lentils)

The good of cleansing
-The cleanse forced me to try new things.
I am pretty much a creature of habit when it comes to food. For instance, I have eaten oatmeal and fruit with yogurt for breakfast about 6 days a week for the last 4 years of my life. I never imagined drinking a protein shake for breakfast would be appealing to me. However, after doing this for 2 weeks straight, I now look forward to making my daily shake. A few of my favorites are blueberry vanilla and pumpkin pie spice, both made with Arbonne vanilla protein powder (recipes coming soon!)
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Plus, I am now a fan of vegan cheese, gluten free pizza crust, rice chips, and more.
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-My skin improved
May I just say that this is the thing I am most happy about? The past few months I’ve had some skin issues, including breakouts, dryness on my face and hands, and unwanted bumps, all of which caused me serious frustration. Why was I have skin issues at 27? My answers: dairy and gluten. I’ve never had clearer skin and my dry hands are 10 times better. I’m certainly not going to cut dairy or gluten out of my diet completely, but I’m going to lower my intake of them, and stick to almond milk!

-I broke some habits
I was well aware I had a caffeine (iced coffee) addiction before this cleanse. It was such a habit for me to make a stop at Dunkins’ on my way to class. Well, not only have I shaken my caffeine headaches, I’ve also saved a lot of money by eliminating my coffee shop trips. Since coffee wasn’t an option for me on the cleanse, I branched out and drank a lot of caffeine free tea. Well, I am happy to say I now have a new favorite. Have you ever made a chai tea latte at home? I hadn’t, but now I am addicted. Here’s how:
Ingredients:
1 cup vanilla almond milk  ( I used almond breeze)
1 decaf spiced chai tea bag
Directions:
1) Warm almond milk until steaming on the stovetop.
2) Place teabag into mug, and then pour the steaming milk into the mug with tea bag. Let sit for 1-2 minutes.

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Voila, you now have an 80 calorie chai tea latte. You can thank me later! Smile

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-You become much more aware of what you’re putting into your body
I love meal-planning and food-planning, so I enjoyed this aspect of it. Plus, I’m now much more conscious of my choices and the nutrients I’m consuming.

The bad of cleansing
-Breaking food habits is HARD. For the first few days, I felt like I couldn’t be in the kitchen. I was having peanut-butter withdrawals, I just wanted a peppermint patty, and I really wanted to snack on my skinny-pop popcorn. Also, the lack of iced coffee in my life was not fun for the first few days. Caffeine headaches are some of the worst headaches in my opinion.

-You have to be prepared
If you’re normally an organized, prepared person, then this isn’t necessarily a bad thing! However, if you’re not, you have to be aware that preparation is a key to a successful cleanse. I packed my food bag for classes every night before bed.
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If I hadn’t prepared, I would have been hungry, and most likely would have deterred from the cleanse. Packing ample amounts of fruit, almonds, almond butter brown rice tortillas, overnight oats, gluten free crackers, and protein bites for my long days helped me to stay on track, even when I wasn’t home.
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-Socializing can be challenging
How hard is it to go out to dinner and drinks and not have your favorite cocktail or glass of wine? It’s pretty hard for me. Luckily, I’ve laid pretty-low socially for the last couple of weeks due to my exam schedule and family commitments, but there were a few nights in particular (ESPECIALLY on the Super Bowl, when I REALLY wanted a glass of white wine).

-It’s really  important to pay attention to food labels
I love reading food labels (guess I’m going into the right career!) but if you don’t, this might take some practice. Reading is key to see if a particular food or product contains dairy, gluten, artificial sweeteners, corn, etc. You will be very surprised at what certain things include…quite frankly it’s frightening!

The hungry (like my spin on the good, the bad, the ugly ? hehehe!)
-For the first few days, you might feel constantly hungry.
I certainly felt like I did, but looking back I think this was my mind craving the things I wasn’t eating (peanut butter, popcorn, chocolate,  yogurt, etc.).

-It may be a bit expensive at first
Buying gluten-free, dairy-free items can tend to be pricey, at least when stocking your cupboard and fridge. However, you won’t have to buy oatmeal, crackers and bread each week either, those things will last. The things you’ll buy weekly, things such as fresh fruits and vegetables ,cost A LOT less than boxed, processed foods, and since you’ll be eating in quite a bit, you’re saving yourself money there, too!
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Our gluten-free, vegan,  homemade pizza

-If/when you tell people you’re cleansing, be wary of the reaction.
People may be excited for you, or wonder what it is about, or may think you must be starving yourself or simply have no interest what-so-ever. That’s okay, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Just stick to your goal.

Overall,  I truly never felt like I was food deprived or starving. I’m so happy I followed through with the cleanse, and I’m looking forward to continuing to implement the things that I learned, in addition to trying new cleanse-friendly recipes. Although I will slowly introduce dairy and gluten back into my diet, I’ll eat them in lesser amounts, and choose gluten-free when I can. Oh, and I am most definitely enjoying a margarita tonight with my Mom!

Have a great Monday, friends!

Have you ever tried a cleanse? If so, how did you like it? If not, would you do one?
Are you gluten or dairy intolerant? If so, have any fun recipes to share?

study bits and bites

Hey there!  I know I’m a few days late on this, but I can’t believe it’s October already! Sometimes I wish life would just.slow.down. A sure sign that time is flying for me is that my exams have begun. I feel like I just started fall classes here, yet somehow I had two exams last week, and I have two more this week.  Thankfully I did well on both of last week’s, and I’m attributing this mostly to the fact I had some trusty ‘study bites’ to get me through my long, late- night study sessions. Cookie Butter Oatmeal Energy Bites=greatest snack ever.

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Besides these energy bites, there’s a  few other things that consistently  help power me through study sessions, too. I thought it might be useful to share a couple of study habits I live by, in case anyone else out there is looking for a tip or two.  I have to admit, even though this will be my second degree, studying has not gotten any easier. Truthfully, I think in many ways it’s a lot harder the second time around because of additional responsibilities and time-management quandaries  that naturally occur as we get older. However, I also feel a major benefit of going back to school school when you’re older is that it’s likely you already know how to study. Knowing how to study is quite a talent if you ask me! To power me through daily study sessions, these are the top things that keep me in line and stop me from procrastinating: 

-Starting early
My mind is most responsive and most willing to learn in the early morning hours. By early, I’m talking 6a.m. to 3p.m. After that, my brain is toast. Since I know this, I don’t try to fight it. Instead, I just plan my study-times within those hours.

-White noise
I am so NOT a music-studier. For the life of me, I really wish I could learn while listening to my favorite tunes because I would be smiling the entire time if that was the case! However, its just never been that way for me. Instead, I turn my bedside fan on high and go from there.
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Source
Sidenote: I have a basic, boring black fan. HOW CUTE is this pink one?! Must find a.s.a.p!

-Keeping Hydrated
Staying hydrated keeps my headaches away, my hunger at bay, and  helps me focus. My line-up of beverages includes iced-coffee/water in the morning, hot chocolate and flavored water in the afternoon, and water/tea at night.
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-Having an organized ‘study-zone’
Since I haven’t studied at home (where I grew up) since I lived here in high-school, I knew my desk area in my old bedroom would need some revamping. I hit up Target for some inexpensive cork-boards, thumb-tacks, mail organizers, and other cute trinkets to spruce up my desk area a bit, and it did the trick! I don’t know about you, but when things look organized, I simply feel more organized too.
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-Satisfying snacks:
This is where the  ‘study bites’ come into play.  I love these bites because they’re simple to make, satisfying, no-bake, require one mixing bowl, and are perfect for snacking on-the-go which is what I (unfortunately) have to do most days of the week due to my class schedule.  These are full of protein (in the form of oatmeal, nut-butter, & protein powder)  but they are sweet too, and I always appreciate a small sugar-kick while studying. It helps my brain!

If you haven’t tried cookie butter, I promise you, you’re missing out. When I was in Australia, I had my Mom ship me a jar each month because I simply can’t live without it. I hope I never develop an aversion to it because I will be devastated! Lately I’ve been buying the ‘Biscoff’ brand, but whenever I get to pop into a Trader Joes, I buy their version, too.  If you don’t have cookie butter or would rather use something else, any type of nut butter will work in these bites. The best part of making these is that you can use the ingredients you have on hand. Here’s what I used in mine:

Cookie Butter Oatmeal Bites
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Ingredients:
1 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1 scoop chocolate protein powder ( I used Arbonne)
1/2 cup cookie butter
1/3 cup light maple syrup
1 tsp.vanilla
2 tbsp. sunflower seeds
2 tbsp. chopped pecans
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1/3 cup raisins or craisins

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in one large mixing bowl, mix and combine until you form a large ball of ‘dough’.  
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Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30-45 minutes. Once chilled, roll into ball-formation and place in an air-tight container.
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Voila, study bites are ready when you need them!
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I’d like to say these lasted me all week but truthfully they only lasted about 3 days. Once my parents tasted them, that was the end of them!
Have a happy weekend : –)

Are you obsessed with cookie butter like me?

Do you have a favorite studying snack ?
Any fun plans this weekend?

Easy Low-Sugar Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bites

The baking bug officially hit me this week and I  honestly couldn’t be happier about it.  It’s been so fun to find new recipes and experiment/adapt them to sugar-free and lower-sugar treats;  it’s becoming a new hobby of mine! So far, I’d say they’ve all been pretty successful, and these oatmeal raisin cookie bites were no exception. I stumbled upon these Cinnamon and Raisin Granola Cookies via Pinterest and was immediately intrigued.  Jennifer makes some great looking healthy recipes!

Anyway, since I’m a big oatmeal lover and an even bigger oatmeal-cookie lover, I  was excited to experiment with these, yet somewhat skeptical of how they would turn out due to the lack of butter and brown sugar in the recipe. An oatmeal cookie without brown sugar? Neverrr …or so I thought. I was proven wrong once I tasted the dough. These are chewy, full of raisins, and have just the right amount of natural sweetness. The only change I made was adding a half-tablespoon of protein powder in place of a tablespoon of maple syrup, since I thought this would bind the dough together a bit more. It worked! I’m calling these ‘bites’ because they’re a bit smaller than a traditional cookie, at least for my standards.
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The portion-size of the cookies can be whatever you want—I used an ice-cream scoop to spoon-out the dough for mine and simply flattened each slightly with a spoon before popping them in the oven. Remember, whatever portion you spoon-out for the dough will be the size of  each cookie, since they don’t spread.  I loved that these were easy to make and portable enough to eat pretty much anywhere, and you can enjoy a few without any guilt at all! I enjoyed mine with a side of vanilla ice-cream, but that’s an optional (excellent) addition.
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Low-Sugar Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bites
Adapted from this Peanut Butter and Peppers Recipe
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Ingredients

  1. 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (I used store brand)
  2. 1 tbsp. maple syrup (sugar free)
  3. 1/2 tbsp. protein powder (I used chocolate by Arbonne)
  4. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  5. 1 cup oats, ground (I used whole oats)
  6. 1/2 cup oats
  7. 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, ground
  8. 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  9. 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  10. pinch of salt
  11. 1/3 cup raisins

Instructions

  1. Preheat  the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit  (176 degrees Celsius). Then line your baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine the applesauce, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Mix well until combined.
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  3. In a blender or food processor (I used a blender), grind one cup of oats  until it is a flour-like consistency (this should take about 30-45 seconds max.)
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  4. Then add the oat-flour, oats, cinnamon, protein powder, baking soda, baking powder and pinch of salt to the bowl; mix until combined.
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  5. Fold in the raisins.
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  6. Scoop the amount of batter you’d like for each cookie bite into cookie-form and place on the cookie sheet, about an inch or two apart from one another. (I flattened each with the back of a spoon, so they weren’t so round). Then bake them for about 8-10 minutes or until bottom is lightly golden.
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We all loved these. Next time, I’m doubling the batch!
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Thanks again Jennifer for the recipe idea!

I’m off to enjoy the sunshine today, with the help of my new floppy hat.
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Another first for me, thanks to Sue! She insisted on getting it for me yesterday, and I’m already  obsessed with it! I just love the hat trend in Australia. Is it just me, or do big hats scream “royal”?! 
It might just be me…oh well, I love it!

Happy almost-weekend!

Muffins Make It Better

This week, muffins have just made it better. The “it” being studying, snacking, breakfast preparing, everything. Between all of this studying, I needed a pick-me up. Is it just me, or does anyone else ever feel like they just NEED a muffin?  Or a sweet little pick-me-up of some kind? I feel like this pretty much all the time thanks to my massive sweet-tooth, but when you add being in the middle of finals on-top of a sweet-tooth, my cravings have been out-of-control. Things got even worse this past weekend after seeing ‘National Donut Day’ mentioned on nearly every blog I read! After seeing picture after picture of delicious-looking donuts popping up, there was no question that I had to bake something for a Sunday brunch and get-me-through-the-week treat. With no Dunkin’ Donuts or Krispy Kreme’s in Australia, Brandon and I were out of luck on the donut front, but not on the muffin front.  This week, homemade muffins have just made studying better, and I’m very thankful for that!
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These aren’t just any muffins, these are Blueberry Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins, and they are definitely a healthier alternative to your traditional bakery muffin. I combined three of my favorite things for these muffins: blueberries, oats, and cinnamon. The result was a tasty, sweet and satisfying baked treat. These are perfectly good to eat on their own, but I’ve also been crumbling mine on top of my oatmeal in the mornings, as well as eating them warm as a snack, too.

Need for muffins=fulfilled : –)

Blueberry Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

 

makes 12 muffins

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup milk, divided (I used skim)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup cinnamon chips (or chips of your choice- I used Hershey’s Cinnamon Chips)

Directions
1)Preheat oven to 350 F (176 degrees Celsius), and line 12 muffin tins with muffin liners.
2) Add the oats to a small mixing bowl and add 1/2 cup of milk. Let the oats soak for 5-10 minutes, while you prepare the first few steps of the muffins.
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3) In a large bowl, combine the egg and brown sugar and whisk together until it’s smooth and caramel in color.
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4)Next, add in the vanilla and the butter (make sure it’s at room temperature), whisking well. Try to smooth the batter as much as possible; there still may be some small butter chunks but try to get as many out as you can.
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5)Add the flour, soaking oats, baking soda and cinnamon to the mixture and stir it all-together. Add the remaining 1/2 cup milk and combine until smooth.
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6) Now fold in the blueberries and cinnamon chips (or the chips of your choice). Be careful not to over-mix.
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6)Spoon the batter evenly into each muffin tin. Sprinkle the top of each with cinnamon sugar if desired. (I like to do this because it adds a nice crunch to the top! )Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until cooked through.
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Cinnamon-sugar topping
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Finished Product!
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These muffins are delicious whether they’re served warm or cold, and the possibilities for toppings are endless. Enjoy them with margarine, a nut-butter, jam, plain or with topper of your choice, it’s up to you!
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What’s your favorite muffin?
At a bakery, my favorite is  a coffee-cake muffin. Blueberry is a close runner-up!

When do you crave sweets the most?
I crave sweets in the worst way when I’m stressed!

P.S. Countdown to home: 9 days : –)