Tag Archive | raisins

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.
fan
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.
iced

-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?

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Peanut butter & cinnamon raisin no-bake snack bites

Hey there, how’s your Tuesday? My sinus infection is thankfully gone (thanks so much for all of your get-well wishes!) and while I’m feeling much better, my day was pretty darn boring thanks to countless hours of studying. However, it did get exciting once I got into the kitchen. I’m a firm believer in study breaks so I took one this afternoon in order to make quite a delicious treat:  peanut butter and cinnamon raisin no-bake snack bites. I realize it’s a mouthful, but I promise it’s a delicious one! Although I’ve seen a lot of “protein ball” and “energy bite” recipes circulating around Pinterest and the blog-world, these are a new-to-me treat. I have read countless versions that used ingredients like wheat germ, protein powder, flax seeds, chocolate chips and more. The combinations are truly endless.
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For this version, I included all of my favorites things like peanut butter, oats, cinnamon chips and raisins. I’m sure happy I did…there’s a treat in every bite! The dough is delectable but the finished, chilled product is even better. Best of all, there’s no baking required. Simple snack bites…sign me up!

Peanut Butter & Cinnamon Raisin No-Bake Snack Bites
Adapted from Sweet Anna’s

Ingredients:
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup sweetened or unsweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup ground or slivered almonds (I used slivered but any ground-nut would do!)
1/2 cup cinnamon chips (or any type of chocolate-chip)
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup creamy peanut or almond butter ( any type of nut-butter would be fine!)
1/4 cup honey
~4 tablespoons maple syrup (add more if needed)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
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Directions:
1) In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients together until well combined. I used a spatula to do this. You’ll just need to stir well!
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2) Once completely combined into a large ball, cover the dough in the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for about an hour, until completely chilled.
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3) Once chilled, roll the dough into small balls and place on parchment-paper or a wax-paper lined baking sheet.
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4) Chill them again in the fridge or freezer before serving.

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Not only are these easy-to make and super delicious,  they also make a great grab-and-go snack, which is something I’ve been in desperate need of since becoming a student again.  Ever since classes began in February, I’ve had a hard time figuring out a balanced eating schedule considering most of my classes and labs occur at very inconvenient times (always at a meal time!). I will most definitely be taking a few of these with me to class tomorrow…that is, if there are any left!  Hope you enjoy these as much as I did : –)

What’s your favorite grab-and-go snack?
Have you every made protein or energy bites? Please share!

Mom’s Crunchy Surprise Cookie Bars

 Have you ever had a dessert that combines all of your favorite flavors in one? Chocolate…check. Molasses…check. Peanut-butter…check. I was sold…are you?

First things first…lets thank Mommy Rowden for this recipe. Last year, she told me she had made her “favorite” dessert when I traveled home to Maine for a long weekend. Well, my Mom has a lot of favorites, so I didn’t know what to expect…but this favorite took the cake. When I tell you that once you try one, you won’t be able to eat just one…I’m serious, good luck. I honestly have to tape the pan to stop eating these each time I make them.

The best part about these bars is that they’re good in any form…piping hot from the oven, cold from the fridge, and even at room temperature. I suggest you make them three times, then you can try each way to see what you like best! They saying is true…this recipe is definitely “an oldie but a goodie!!” –check out the recipe card if you don’t believe me! It’s definitley been used over and over again! 

oldie but a goodie!

Mom’s Crunchy Surprise Cookie Bars

Ingredients

1 cup sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 package (12 ounces) semi-sweet real chocolate chips
1 cup Sun-Maid seedless raisins
1 cup peanuts (optional—I don’t include these).
1/3 cup peanut butter (Crunchy or creamy works–I used reduced-fat crunchy).

Directions
1) Heat oven to 350°. Mix sugar, butter, molasses, egg yolk and vanilla with spoon. Stir in flour and 1 cup chocolate chips.

first ingredients

Mommy dearest, mixing away

 

mixed

2)Press dough in un-greased 13×9 rectangular pan. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. *I like mine under-cooked, so I usually take mine out after 22. Watch them closely!

delicious dough, spread evenly

3) While the bars are cooking, mix the remaining chocolate chips, the raisins, and the peanut butter in a saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate chips are melted.

stovetop ingredients

the best chocolate sauce around!

4) Once the bars have been removed from the oven, spread the chocolate/peanut butter mixture over the crust in pan. Refrigerate at least 2 hours ( I usually stick mine in the freezer for 20 minutes, to speed up the process). Cut into bars. Enjoy!

spreading the sauce evenly

Mom's surprise bars!

Make-your-own-granola bars

Make your own granola bars

Lately, I’ve been making a diligent effort to eat less processed foods, and incorporate more protein into my diet. But as I’m sure many of you know, this can prove to be particularly difficult if you’re stuck in an office all day! I have to admit, I really wonder how in the world I get hungry from sitting at a desk and in meetings all day, yet somehow, I do. I don’t exactly enjoy sitting all day, which is my main motivaton that gets me to the gym each and every morning. I know it’s in my head, but I just feel better at 8:30 a.m. knowing I was already active that day, especially since I’m sitting there all day.

Anyway, something that’s even more difficult than sitting at a desk all day is feeling satisfied after breakfast and lunch each day. Up until last month, I continued to realize that I was starving within one hour after eating. I wasn’t eating enough protein at or between my meals, and was eating empty calories of “100 calorie packs” and sugar-laden granola bars, instead of choosing protein-packed snacks or whole-grain options. That’s why I love these granola bars. They’re full of wholesome, high in protein, and they satisfy my sweet-tooth….good things really do come in 3’s!

Make-Your-Own-Granola Bars

Ingredients
½ apple (I used a granny smith)
1 ½ cups whole oats
½ cup raisins
½ cup nuts (pecans or walnuts would work)
½ cup chopped dates
½ cup light maple syrup
¾ cup peanut butter (I used creamy, but chunky would do!)
½ cup chocolate chips (optional)
1-2 scoops vanilla or chocolate protein powder ( I used Arbonne protein powder)

Optional Ingredients
1.5 tsp. Vanilla
1 tsp. Cinnamon

Directions
1) Chop apple, a cook Apple(or your choice of fruit) on stove, then mash in a large bowl.

cooking the apple

2) Add all ingredients to bowl and mix together.

Ingredients, all together

All mixed!

3) Smooth out in 8X8 pan, and chill in refrigerator for 2 hours.

granola bar goodness :)

One of the best parts about these granola bars is that you can adapt them to your taste. For instance, use a banana instead of an apple. Or, don’t include the chocolate chips and double up on the raisins instead. It’s up to you! Whenever I make these, I package them up in plastic wrap and take one to work each day for my afternoon snack. It’s quite the afternoon treat. Make these!!

Apple Butter Oatmeal Cookie Bars

Last fall marked the moment I first tried apple butter. A trip to a local apple orchard sparked my interest in this healthy, sweet spread. The orchard had a shop full of pre-picked apples, cider donuts, and homemade jams and butters. I saw the apple butter and knew it was for me! I first tried it straight from the jar with apple slices, then moved on to spreading a layer over English muffins and toast. Delicious! Recently, I stumbled upon a cookie recipe that incorporated apple butter, and I immediately recreated it. Let’s just say I managed to eat the entire pan myself, in less than a week. The sign of a great recipe? I think yes.

To cut down on dishes ( pathetic, I know), I opted to make these into cookie bars. Not only are these healthier than your standard oatmeal raisin cookie (the recipe calls for just a ¼ cup of margarine, along with egg whites, whole oats, and dried fruit of your choice), but they’re also extremely moist, without any butter or grease. They’re moist because of the star ingredient…apple butter!

Try these…I promise they don’t disappoint!

Apple Butter Oatmeal Cookie Bars

¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) light butter
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce or apple butter
2 egg whites or 1 egg
2 tablespoons skim milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups Quaker® Oats (I used old fashioned, uncooked)
1 cup diced dried mixed fruit or raisins ( I used ½ cup raisins, ½ cup cinnamon chips)

Directions

1) Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray pan with cooking spray.
2) In large bowl, beat sugars and light butter with electric mixer until well blended. Add apple butter, egg whites, milk and vanilla; beat well.

first steps...

Apple Butter!

Mixing the goods!

 3) Add combined flour, baking soda, and cinnamon; mix well. Stir in oats and raisins ( and cinnamon chips if you‘re me!); mix well. (The dough will be moist!)

Flour and oats!

raisins and chips!

delicious dough

 4) Spoon dough into pan, and press lightly to flatten.

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bars!

 Bake 18-22 minutes or until edges are light golden brown.

Note: I have a tendency to undercook cookie bars, because once they cool, I think they’re a better consistency. Moist and partially doughy, just how I like them! Careful…you may not be able to stop at one!

A brand new breakfast bowl

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I love oatmeal. It fills me up for hours, warms me up in the morning, and is just plain delicious. The problem is, since I eat it at least 5 days a week, I tend to go through phases where I’m just plain sick of it. Today, I hit that phase. However, I knew once I got to my desk I’d crave something warm, filling, and syrupy. Enter—a brand new breakfast bowl. A brown rice breakfast bowl to be exact and boy was it delicious!

I found this recipe last year while reading Bethenny Frankel’s first book, Naturally Thin. I enjoy the book so much, I’ve read it twice, and I’m sure I’ll read it again. It’s down-to-earth, comical, and full of “real-life” advice, not your standard “diet” book. She includes her favorite recipes, and this just happens to be one of them. Before I read this, I would NEVER have thought to eat brown rice for breakfast. Rice has always been in the “dinner” category for me. Bethenny was right-on. This breakfast bowl is rivaling my favorite oatmeal bowls!

To make my breakfast bowl, I used Uncle Ben’s brown “ready rice”, since that’s what I had in my cupboard. Really, any brown rice will do. Since mine was already cooked, I’m pretty sure that’s what explains the extra chewy and grainy texture of my rice. Not that I’m complaining. I loved it! This is simple to make, too. Add your rice, milk, toppings, and you have a protein packed, nutrient-dense breakfast in less than 5 minutes.

Healthy Brown Rice Breakfast Bowl
Adapted from Bethenny
Ingredients

1/2 cup brown rice
1/4 C milk (I used skim)
½ tsp. cinnamon
1-2 Tbsp. dried cranberries or raisins
1-2 tsp. of sliced almonds or nuts of your choice
1 Tbsp. maple syrup or brown sugar

Directions
1. Combine brown rice with milk, cinnamon, dried cranberries or raisins,1/2 the portion of nuts, and maple syrup/brown sugar in a saucepan.

heating up

2. Heat over medium heat, stirring until desired consistency is reached. (If your rice isn’t cooked, it’ll take around 5 minutes.
brown rice breakfast

MMMMMmmmmmmm

3. Once done cooking, top with additional nuts, cinnamon, granola, or toppings of your choice. Today, I topped mine with plump raisins, Kashi go-lean crunch, cinnamon chex, glazed walnuts, and sesame seed almonds. Heaven in my mouth!

Enjoy your weekend!