A date with oatmeal

July 26, 2010 § 24 Comments

Today was an oatmeal kind of day.

Yes it is the middle of the summer, and yes it was after I was on the elliptical for 40 minutes and did about 15 min of light yoga afterwards–I was sweaty. But after that cinnamon roll yesterday, I couldn’t help craving for something warm, toasty, and, well, cinnamony.

When I first got introduced to oatmeal, my toppings were just the same old: cinnamon, brown sugar, raisins, and occasionally some chopped walnuts. I experimented with it more as my relationship with oatmeal grew stronger, occasionally adding in chopped apples, chopped pears, stirring in bananas, or throwing in some mixed nuts in the end. And then I met the foodie blogworld, where everyone made their oatmeals in the morning look like desserts.

But sometimes, the good old can be just as good and somewhat nostalgic.

My plain-Jane oatmeal:

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 almond milk
  • 1/2 water
  • 1/2 banana (okay, maybe I cheated a little here)
  • dash of salt

Toppings

  • cinnamon sugar
  • raisins
  • chopped walnuts

Delicious, and hit. the. spot.

Okay, I may have cheated more than once. I couldn’t resist but throw in a handful of blueberries and a blob of sunflower seed butter after I’ve devoured half. :P

Today while I ellipticalled, I cracked open my new-found book: The Yoga Body Diet.

One of the things mentioned in the introductory chapter that really caught my attention was the principle that we should eat 3 square meals a day without snacking. Their belief is that by not snacking between meals, we allow our digestive systems to properly digest everything and clear out the digestive tracts before our next meal. When we snack, we clog up the digestive tract with undigested food while the stomach has to get to work on the incoming food.

Which made sense, but what about the eating every 2-3 hours to help stabilize your blood sugar principle? Personally, I find that if I go too long without eating, I’d be starving by the next meal and just scarf down everything in sight. Not very healthy and friendly to the waist-line either.

So what’s the dealio?  I’d have to find out as I continue on reading. The book includes some sample meal plans and types of food to eat according to the three main body types: vata, pitta, and kapha. In Ayurveda (which literally translates to The Science of Life from Sanskrit), each one of us is born with all three of these doshas, or body types. However, we all have one predominant dosha. The doshas are based on four elements: fire, air, water, and earth. Vata types are made of air, while pitta types are made up of fire and water, and kapha types are made up of water and earth.

Another thing that I picked up from what I’ve read so far today is that we should always, always eat in a stress-free environment. Heart of the fight-or-flight response? Yep, that’s our sympathetic nervous triggers. Back in the days when humans are not snobby predators on top of the food chain, our stress responses were useful when we were running for our lives away from sabertooth tigers and what nots. When this particular switch is flipped on, our body starts storing fat as energy reserve, ’cause when you’re running for your lives, you don’t have time to down an energy bar or fuel up with some coconut water. You run like heck, and who knows when your next meal is?

Nowadays, there are so many stress triggers around us, from blaring TV’s to honking horns, 8+ hrs workdays to endless errands–we live in a stressful environment folks. And then our body would mistake that for a lion chasing us down in Africa and start storing fat.

So I know all of us bloggies like to hug our laptops while we sip our coffees and munch on breakfast in the morning. But reading and typing while eating in itself is causing stress, believe it or not. There are distractions, and your brain is thinking and thinking. Food won’t be digested properly, and you’re less likely to savor each bite of food. You also tend to eat more if you distracted while you’re eating.

This morning, I ate alone. In silence. No laptops opened, no books, nothing. It was me, my oatmeal, and some water. It was almost like having a one-to-one conversation with my oatmeal. Hi how are you? Fine, just dandy, and you? Oh I’m feeling glorious this morning. You’re delicious you know that? yes I know, and please give your full attention on me. I will.

What usually is a 5-8 minute breakfast for me lingered for more than 15 minutes today. I could feel my tummy filling up with each bite. I could feel when it was not hungry, and it was just below the line of being full. Fantastic, fantastic date with my oatmeal.

Unfortunately, my dinner wasn’t as distraction-free. Dmitri was watching Supersize Me on his laptop while we were eating.

Have you watched the documentary before? I watched it back in high school during our Health class. That was when I stopped eating at McDonald’s.

I tried making some sort of curry but failed miserably. No curry taste at all! I shouldn’t have added the half can of tomatoes in since it just overpowered everything.

I sauteed some onions in a pan with curry powder and a little tumeric till soft, then added in the canned tomatoes, cauliflowers, and cabbage. I covered the pan to let the whole thing simmer and steam a little. In another pan sprayed with cooking oil, I sauteed cubed tofu with curry powder till crispy, then threw the tofu into the veggie mix and combined everything.

Nutritional yeast saved it…sort of.

I almost poured some Almond milk into the picture to make it creamy. Fortunately I knew better, especially when the almond milk is vanilla-flavored. Vanilla-tomato-curry stir fry? I don’t think so.

Two more days till home-free! :D:D:D

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+ Anyone have good curry recipes out there?

28 miles, 2 burning quads, and 1 sore butt later…

July 25, 2010 § 21 Comments

…I was finally home.

Because of last week’s whale-watching fail, Dmitri and I braved the chance of biking those long 50 miles out to Newport beach. The roads were ugly alot of the time, with bumps and dips, and there were a few long stretches of uphill roads.

I filled my bottles with coconut water, which I finished within 2 hrs of our bike trip. It was so sweet and refreshing!

15 times the potassium? YES PLEASE! :D

I also made myself an apple + brie sandwich on ab Ezekiel Sesame Toast for lunch.

Of course I had to bring some sort of snack. Enter: Mama Pea’s KIND bar.

…which turned out kind of soggy (everything was sort of falling apart!). I blamed it on the maple syrup (I should have used honey instead). I wrapped the somewhat more solid ones in plastic wrap and took them on the road. It’s just as delicious if you simply scoop the “dough” and eat them straight like that :D.

0 hr (7:10am). Little did Trekmeister and Ms. Gianta know that their mountain bike frames were going to be tested on the road.

25 miles and 2 hrs and 30 min later, I was exhausted.

28 miles and 2 hrs 45 minutes later, Dmitri got a punctured and flat tire. Fortunately, while I sat in Subway as Dmitri biked over to the nearest Target to get some rubber stuffings, he met a couple of bikers who happened to have equipments & tools on them!

28 miles and 4 hrs later, I called it quits. I’m usually not one to give up easily, but my quads were burning and my knees were starting to act up. I didn’t want to strain my knees because I have really bad knees!

5 hrs later, we were still circling around the city of Fullerton trying to find the nearest train station. Dmitri recently got the new Android phone and he was using the GPS on his phone to look for the Metrolink station. All the GPS did was take us in a big circle.

7 hrs later, we finally hopped onto the train heading to L.A. Union Station.

8 hrs and 25 min later, our train to Claremont departed from L. A. Union Station.

9 hrs and 5 min later, we arrived at Claremont and biked 2 miles back home.

9 hrs and 30 min later, with more than 28 miles behind me, 2 burning quads, and 1 sore butt, I was home.

I did a full on Savasana the moment I stepped into the house. Whale-watching still did not happen, but it will, it will, I PROMISE!

11 hrs and 30 min later, we celebrated our failure with McDonald’s McElaine’s.


On the menu:

  • Egg McMuffin (one fried egg and melty cheese)
  • Chicken McNuggets Boca McNuggets
  • French fries Carrot fries
  • Real fruit smoothie (yes real watermelon!)

I haven’t been to the Golden M in almost 6 years. I don’t plan to ever go there when I got this!

Dmitri got creative and made In & Out-inspired animal (carrot) fries!

Everything was lip-smacking delicious! And you bet I went back for more Boca McNuggets ;-).

After that lonnnnng day, I still had to drag my butt to lab for about an hour or so. I came home and was barely awake as I mindlessly skimmed through some blogs.

15 hrs and 10 min later (10:20 pm), I crashed onto the sweet comfort of my bed, and snoozed till 7 this morning. I feel so refreshed now!

Yesterday, Dmitri brought this banana on the road but didn’t get a chance to eat it. The poor banana barely made it.

Heat + bumpy roads = no good for bananas.

Well, with a banana like that, I can only think of one thing for the morning: Banana Pancakes!


Quick Whole-Wheat Banana Pancakes
(adapted from Green Lite Bites)

  • 1 large overripe banana
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder (forgot to add this, but still turned out a-okay!)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg I used cinnamon because I didn’t have any of this
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour

Mash the banana in a large mixing bowl. Add the egg and the milk. Whisk till light and frothy.

In a separate, smaller bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Add the dry to the wet and mix till just combined.

Spray a nonstick pan with cooking spray on medium-high heat. Pour desired amount of batter into pan and cook about 1-2 min on one side, or till small bubbles form. Flip and cook the other side for another 1-2 min.

I made 4 small pancakes and 3 large ones.

Drizzled with watered-down PB2! I’m telling you PB2 makes the perfect pancake topper!

“…I’ll make you banana pancakes
Pretend like it’s the weekend now
…”

Pancakes with a side of yogurt for dippers and blueberries.

Have a fantastic Sunday!

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+ Do you know how to make perfectly smooth and even pancakes? I need help! My pancakes always turn out blotchy, with uneven brown spots!

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine

July 23, 2010 § 21 Comments

You make me happy, when skies are gray

You’ll never know dear, how much I love you

Please don’t take my sunshine away.

When I saw these gorgeous sunflowers at the Farmer’s market last night, I knew I had to get them. $5 for a bouquet of sunflowers? That’s definitely a steal! Sunflowers are my fav and I thought it’d brighten my home :D.

Other finds from the Farmer’s market:

KETTLE CORN!!! Zucchini ($1.00/lb), OKRAS!!!, and a huge package of ground flaxseeds for $4 only! I was very very pleased :mrgreen:.

I had a killer breakfast after my run this morning…pancakes! It’s a new recipe that I jotted down before I went to bed last night.

Amazing Banana Surprise Oatmeal Pancakes

  • 1/3 cups oats
  • one egg white (3 Tbs)
  • one scoop chocolate protein powder (15 g)
  • one scoop Amazing Grass Chocolate Infusion
  • 2-3 Tbs almond milk (or any other milk you like)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • sliced bananas

Mix everything except the bananas  in a bowl, and let sit for a couple of minutes. Spray a pan with cooking spray, and heat it up on medium-high heat. Once the oil is heated, turn heat down the medium. Scoop out about 2 Tbs of mixture for each pancakes (I made 3 small ones). Place one sliced banana in the middle of each pancake. Let it cook for about two minutes before flipping the pancakes over. Cook for another 2 min.

Arrange pancakes on a plate. Serve with your favorite toppings and devour!

I topped mine with watered down PB2 so that it has a runny consistency.

The amazing pancakes were accompanied by some sweet peaches and yogurt.

Banana surprise! (I had lousy picture-taking skills this morning)

Because of the Amazing Grass I did see some green specks in my pancakes. Some greens in the early morning don’t hurt right? Besides, I know all of you like downing Green monster smoothies in the morning too!

Yowza, these pancakes made me feel suuuppppperrrr energetic and awake afterwards!

Anyhooz, thanks Wei-Wei for notifying me that the cartoons that I posted in my last post weren’t showing up. Hopefully I’ve fixed it! Take a break, get some LOL’s in your system here.

Oh Friday…you are beautiful.

Today I… + EcoEd Thursdays

June 24, 2010 § 18 Comments

Today I…

…made a simple breakfast…

Cinnamon spice alternative bagels, smeared with raspberry preserves and PB2. Sliced nectarines and cottage cheese on the side.

…went into the lab for 2 hours and did some lab work…

…ate three EXTRA LARGE slices of San Biagio’s Veggie pizza…

…came home and took a siesta

…on the comfy couch and pillow.

Today I whipped up my virgin Janetha-inspired faux frosty…

…topped with the last of my raspberries :-(.

Today I did some reading…

(yawn)

MUCH better :-D

YESTERDAY I cooked up a batch of polenta and let cooled in a pan overnight.

Today I was calm in the kitchen, and cut them up into squares to make polenta gnocchi.

(Sprinkled with some nutritional yeast and baked at 350 degrees for ~ 25 minutes)

Meanwhile, I steamed a bunch of green beans in my rice cooker/steamer (hauled from TAIWAN!!!)…

and chopped up some SmartDogs.

I cooked some plump, meaty mushrooms in some vegetable broth and white wine vinegar

…threw in the Smartdogs

…then dumped in the last of my TJ’s basil marinara sauce.

(empty jar)

Of course, we can’t forget some parsley flakes and pepper

…and before you knew it, dinner was ready.

Still had some leftover slaw

From kitchen to table in less than 30 minutes. What a big difference it makes when you are calm in the kitchen.

Today I also made use of these sad-looking bananas

…and decided to transform them into Banana Oat Cookies.

Banana Oat Cookies
(adapted from Steph Chows)

You’ll need:

  • 3 large, ripe bananas (the browner the better!), well mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup almond meal (almond slices + food processor for a few pulses) whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/3 cup flax seeds
  • 1/3 cup coconut, finely shredded & sweetened
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries or other dried fruit of your choice (I used craisins)

Destruction Constructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, wire rack on the top third of the oven.

Combine bananas, vanilla, and apple sauce in a large bowl and mix well.

In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.

Add dry to wet. Mix till just combined.

Add in the sweet bits and mix.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet.

Bake 12-14 minutes.

Let cool on a wire rack. Lay them out pretty and take pictures.

Today I devoured these cookies.

~~~

Today is…EcoEd Thursdays!!!

Okay I’m going to keep this one short since I still have some boring exhilarating readings to do. So sort of branching off from my last EcoEd post on plastic bags, today I am going to talk about Ziploc bags!

You use ‘em, you love ‘em. Don’t deny it, you probably have 5 boxes each of different assortments and sizes at home. It’s so convenient, from keeping veggies fresh to bringing it with your sandwich inside to work, to using them to keep your toiletries, loose coins, candies, cookies, chapsticks, lotions etc, in one place.

It’s okay, I use them all too often as well.

But one way to be more environmental-friendly with these cute, handy ziploc bags is to reuse them. I’d pack sliced apples to work one day, but I’ll wash and reuse them to pack other stuff for up to five times. They don’t break easily, as you can see. If I buy a box containing 50 sandwich-sized bags, I can subsist on this one box for up to a year.

Next time when you’re subconsciously tossing a “dirty” ziploc bags into the trash, consider the conditions of the bag and see if you can reuse them. Not only will you be reducing plastic waste on this planet, you’ll also be saving some moolah! :-D

~~~

Till Friday fellow blogsters!

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+ Complete the sentence: “Today I…”

SB & B “Quesadilla”

May 23, 2010 § 4 Comments

I know I usually don’t post so quickly or so often, especially after the last lonnnng post (that had me working for a couple of hours!). However, I feel like I must share this recipe with you guys! Before I went to bed last night, I was propped up on my pillow reading Eat, Drink & Be Vegan and was inspired by the Peanut Banana Tortilla Turnovers. I have literally been dreaming about this one for breakfast the whole night. I actually got woken up in the early mornin’ of 6:30am by my churnin’ tummy! So I immediately got to work in the kitchen and made this “quesadilla”. The original recipe actually uses peanut butter, but I am lovin’ my sunflower butter right now, so I used that. So now I called this:

SB & B Quesadilla
(Adapted from Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan)

You’ll need, for one:

  • 10-inch tortilla
  • half a banana, sliced
  • 2 tbsp sunflower butter (or any other kinds of nut butter)
  • cinnamon

To assemble:

  1. Place tortilla flat on a surface. Smother one half of it with nut butter of your choice.
  2. Add alot of cinnamon :-). Then place sliced banana on the smothered half.
  3. Fold the other half over so you get a half-moon shape, like your regular quesadilla.
  4. Spray skillet with cooking spray to coat pan, then slide your quesadilla in to cook, about 3 min. Flip to cook other side.
  5. It is done when both sides are slightly golden brown, with speckles of brown spots, and the edges of the tortilla is slightly crispy.
  6. Let it cool a little on a plate. Cut into triangles. Serve with yogurt of your choice. Devour.

Gooey!

I drizzled some protein brownie batter on top, and served with a side of plain, nonfat yogurt mixed with the rest of the brownie batter. Soooooooooooooo delicious! The original recipe actually comes with a recipe for “Molassa-Sauce” for dipping. This makes 4-5 servies, and it simply combines 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce, 1 tbsp blackstrap molasses, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/2-1 tsp agave nectar (optional).

I’m already dreaming of other variations I can do for this! Seriously this recipe is so versatile! Next time I’d probably mash the banana a little  so it gets more gooey and soft inside. I may also try using sliced strawberries instead, or sliced pears/apples that have been softened a little in the microwave, or maybe try other nut butters. This would be a lovely dessert too if served with ice cream! :-D

Gonna go read up some more recipes now! Later!

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+ Do you like “indulgent” breakfasts? If yes, what are your favorites?

+ Can you think of other variations for this recipe?

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