good morning granola

April 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

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I have a wonderful brother-in-law. He spoils me constantly with gourmet food goodies, most of them homemade. It began just a few years back when he made me vanilla and stuck it in my Christmas stocking. I was not only happily surprised, but impressed too! Last year I was gifted homemade gingerbread syrup, perfect for pancakes and oatmeal in the morning. And most recently, he surprised me, for no reason at all, with honeycomb, just oozing with honey. He cutely pointed out that honeycomb aids digestion. I smiled and hugged him and was so happy for the awkward but lovely gift. The next weekend it was on my morning toast, just as tasty as the creamed honey it had replaced.

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I didn’t use the honeycomb in this granola recipe, but it got me thinking about good breakfast food. This granola is so easy and so tasty, and hearty too! I promise it will keep you full until lunch.

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Inspired be Thrive
Makes 3 cups

1 cup old fashion oats*
1 cup steel cut oats
1/4 cup shredded coconut, sweetened
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 tablespoons flax seeds
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 tablespoons agave nectar or maple syrup
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a large bowl combine all the ingredients except the cranberries and raisins. Mix until everything is coated. Lightly spray a baking sheet and evenly spread the granola in a single layer.

Bake for 20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes, until just slightly golden brown.

Remove from the oven and stir the granola around, so it doesn’t stick to the baking sheet. Allow to cool completely. Once cooled, stir in the cranberries and raisins. Store in an air-tight container and keep refrigerated. Enjoy with milk or yogurt.

*Note: You can use 2 cups of old fashion oatmeal instead of 1 cup of old fashion and 1 cup of steel cut, if that’s all you have.

chocolate banana shake

October 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

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I read on the train every morning and each night on my daily commute into the city. It’s actually quite nice to have an hour each day to spend reading. I never used to be a reader and I know the only reason I am now is because of my commute. So I guess I am thankful for the subway in this way, because I have fallen in love with reading, and know I wouldn’t keep up with it if I didn’t have this free time. I just finished You Learn by Living by Eleanor Roosevelt. What is so wonderful about her book is it made me ponder while I was reading it. It made me stop throughout the day and rethink my actions and days after I finished the book I can still feel myself trying to adjust.

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I have read a few good inspirational books that make you stop and really analyze your day-to-day assumptions, but it was the practicality of Eleanor’s words that seem to be sticking a bit better for me. Typically what happens is, I read a book, feel great while reading it, and then once I’ve finished I forget to apply the things I’ve learned. The issue quickly becomes forgetfulness or even laziness over application. I found most of the things Eleanor had to say about improving your life stem from just a few areas of improvement for me. I need to pause for just a moment before I react, so that I take into account all sides not just my own. I need to have the desire to learn something everyday, to want to interact with people, and strive to stay engaged as much as possible.

This sounds so easy in theory, but in application the desire to say no, go home, just relax, can overpower this need to be engaged very quickly. Boredom for me can lead to so many other negatives; the ripple effect can last for days. I have found doing just one more activity a week has had a huge impact in my level of happiness. Saying yes to things rarely has a negative outcome and so I am trying to say yes to most things these days. I have also found that a negative response rarely gets a positive reply. In Eleanor’s words, all of these ideas make up one’s level of maturity. I think my maturity level is somewhere in the middle. Here’s hoping that some subtle adjustments have a much greater long term impact.

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Serves 1
Inspired by Self Magazine

1 banana, frozen
1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup greek yogurt
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

With a sharp knife, remove the peel from the frozen banana. If the banana is too hard to cut you can microwave for 15 seconds, but no longer, just to soften the peel a bit. In a blender combine all the ingredients. Pulse until everything is blended. Serve chilled.

Note: The texture of this shake takes on a completely different consistency if you don’t drink it immediately. So this should only be made when ready to consume.

blueberry & lemon pancakes for two

August 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

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With the blueberry season in full bloom and yet almost over, I felt some urgency to get this post up. I absolutely love blueberries, it’s very hard to describe this love. I think it all started when I was just a kid.

My dad had and still has these huge gardens, filled with vegetables, fruit brushes and trees and flowers everywhere. One year he planted each of us kids our very own blueberry bush. I was so proud of my bush. Each year, I would not so patiently wait for the little white buds to turn ripe and deep blue. And as soon as they did, I would run out in my bare feet and pick and eat and pick and eat. I gave myself a bellyache many days eating too may blueberries, and yet I would get up the next morning and do it again.

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My blueberry bush was the best bush, not just because it was mine, but because it made my favorite kind of blueberries, the big plump ones that are sweet. The tiny tart ones always brought a pucker to my face and had me searching for a fat, sweet one. I loved that bush and honestly still do. I still pick at it each year when I’m home visiting. And I always pile as many as I can in a big Tupperware container to bring back to Boston and savor for a couple days, they don’t last longer than that.

So I guess I should thank my dad for this blueberry obsession, because it all started with the bush he planted for me. And now whenever I see a sign for “Blueberry Picking”, I pull over and fill a big pint and think of home.

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Serves 2
Inspired by Smitten Kitchen

1 tablespoons margarine or butter, plus extra for the skillet
1 large egg
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons milk
zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup blueberries
Vermont maple syrup

Begin by heating a skillet over medium heat.

Slightly soften butter in a small dish in the mircrowave, whisk until butter is fully melted.

In a large bowl, whisk together egg, yogurt and milk. Stir in the melted butter, lemon zest and juice. In a small bowl sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk until just combined. Do not over mix. Gently stir in the blueberries.

Once your skillet is warmed, spread a bit of butter or margarine along the entire surface. If the butter doesn’t immediately melt, your pan is not hot enough. Scoop and pour 1/4 cup of batter onto the pan, pushing the batter around to make an even circle. Continue to pour individual pancakes until your skillet is full. On a large skillet don’t try to fit more than four pancakes. Be patient and allow the pancakes to cook until you start to see little bubbles appear on the top, usually 4 to 5 minutes. The key is not to rush here. The worst thing you can do to a pancake is flip it before it’s ready. Flip each pancake with a spatula and press down on the tops just a bit. Cook for another 5 minutes. Pancakes are done when both sides are golden brown.

Serve pancakes immediately with a drizzle of Vermont maple syrup.

blackberry scones

July 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Not much changes once you get engaged, day-to-day life goes on as usual. I still have to meet deadlines and do laundry. I still have to make phone calls I’ve been putting off and cook dinner each night. Except every time I am in the midst of doing one of these tasks, I’ll catch a glimmer of my ring and smile. A little grin appears on my face every time I see it. So in that way the biggest change is I’m a wee bit happier than I was a few weeks ago.

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I have been told that this is the “oohs and aahs” stage of being engaged and I should enjoy it while it lasts. And it’s true, everyone is crazy excited for us. It is very humbling and so much appreciated. Our date book has been filled with dinner dates and drinks out to celebrate the occasion. With this excitement comes a boatload of questions that I have no answers to. I don’t know anything about our wedding other than the fact that we will wed. And for now, only a week or so in, I am very happy to be all doe-eyed and have no answers to anyone’s questions. I plan to continue to keep smiling at my ring and enjoying celebratory drinks until the “oohs and ahhs” stage passes and I have to figure out at least a few answers to everyone’s questions.

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On my very first post, back in February, when I shared my Oat and Honey Scones I mentioned that as soon as Summer came I would share my fruit scones. Staying true to my word, it is officially Summer, and it is time for blackberry scones!

Serves 2 (Makes 4 scones)
Inspired by 101 Cookbooks

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
pinch of sea salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup fresh blackberries

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with just a touch of cooking oil and set aside.

In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Stir to combine. Chop up your chilled butter into tiny pieces before tossing into the flour mixture and working the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers (if you have a pastry blender you can skip the chopping and toss all the butter right into the flour and use the blender to chop into tiny pieces).

Stir in the yogurt and milk just until combined (you don’t want to over mix here and it’s OK if it’s a crumbly mess). Give the blackberries a light chop and toss into the dough, mix until combined.

On a lightly floured surface transfer the dough and pat dough into a square. Slice the dough into 4 triangular pieces and place on the prepared sheet. Bake for 20 minutes until just slightly brown on the top.

Remove from the baking sheet and let cool on a wire rack for at least 5 minutes before enjoying with honey or jam (they should completely cool, but I can never wait that long in the morning and they are still quite tasty when slightly warm).

hearty oatmeals & the big race

May 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Yes it’s true, I have been training for a marathon for the past five months and now can officially say, I finished! I feel incredibly accomplished and yet a bit sad that it’s over. Don’t get me wrong, the aches, soreness and constant need for a heating pad will not be missed, but the runner in me loved a lot of those long run miles and training has always been a little side passion of mine.

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I think a lot of peoples’ Memorial Day weekends were cold and rainy like ours. We were in Vermont for the long weekend and got nothing but heavy, constant rain with temperatures hovering in the low 40s all weekend. There was even snow! Yes, snow in the mountains. The ski resorts reopened and offered free skiing to anyone who wanted to enjoy fresh powder in late May. It was a crazy weather weekend and nothing that we had trained for. Luckily with tremendous support from our families and friends, my boyfriend and I were able to check a bucket list item off. We simply could not have done it without them. They stood in the rain and cold all morning, cheered and hollered every time we passed them on the course, and hugged us, all wet, sweaty and covered in mud at the finish line, with the proudest of grins. So I have to say thank you to all of them once again. Thank you for putting up with our strict eating habits and early bedtimes. Thank you for all the good wishes and congratulatory hugs. Thank you for dealing with us over the past few months with all of our complaints and excuses while we ran and ran and ran.

I also must thank Ross, who pushed me, struggled with me and made me believe that we could do this. I now know we can do anything together.

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It’s a funny feeling completing something so big. I was so incredibly happy that day. Like most things you look forward to, the anticipation was nerve wrecking and exciting, but the actual event flew by. If you can believe it, four hours of running in the cold rain felt like 30 minutes. I was done before I even knew what I had achieved. And now that it’s over, it is a bit sad. I may never run a marathon again, and even if I do, I will never be able to run my FIRST marathon again. I can not be too sad though, because we could not have asked for a better race. We just wanted to finish, but secretly, we wanted to finish under 4 hours. We finished in 3 hours and 53 minutes. Who knew seven minutes could make you feel so fabulous.

And so with all this talk about running it only seems appropriate to share some of my go to running food. We ate a lot of oatmeal over the past few months in preparation and I wanted to share a few hearty ones. There is just enough to these recipes that they keep you full but nothing too crazy that will upset your stomach, in case you want to go for a little run yourself.

Blackberry & Yogurt Oatmeal
Serves 1

1 tablespoon slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon chia seeds
1/2 teaspoon agave nectar
cinnamon, for sprinkling
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1/3 cup fresh blackberries

In a small sauté pan, toast the almonds over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from pan and let cool.

In a small bowl combine oats, milk, chia seeds, agave and a few sprinkles of cinnamon. Place bowl in the microwave and heat for 1 minute. Stir and heat for another 30 seconds. (The oats and milk will puff up quite high in the bowl, this is a good thing. Overflowing is not.)

Top the cooked oatmeal with yogurt, toasted almonds and blackberries.

Blueberry & Almond Crumble Oatmeal
Serves 1

1 tablespoon slivered almonds, toasted
3 to 4 large prunes
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
cinnamon, for sprinkling
1/3 cup fresh blueberries

In a small sauté pan, toast the almonds over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from pan and let cool.

In a food processor combine toasted almonds and prunes. Pulse until tiny pieces form.

In a small bowl combine oats, milk and a few sprinkles of cinnamon. Place bowl in the microwave and heat for 1 minute. Stir and heat for another 30 seconds.

Top cooked oatmeal with the almond and prune crumble and cover with lots of fresh blueberries.

whole wheat waffles

May 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Sunday mornings are one of my favorite times of the week. We usually try to sleep in, I try and make a bigger breakfast, and we take our time with the Sunday paper. It’s one of the most peaceful times. I really love the quiet in the morning; when you can sip your coffee slowly, eat seconds if you want to and have nothing to rush off to. Every Sunday when we are home, we indulge ourselves in this tradition.

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It’s also a fun time for me in the kitchen. I’m usually – no, always – the first one up, which gives me some extra time to cook. We eat a lot of waffles, pancakes and French toast on Sundays. If I’m feeling extra ambitious I’ll make muffins, scones or some kind of bread. It’s the only time we really indulge in breakfast and it’s a nice change up from the week’s routine of English muffins and cereal.

This past Sunday was all about waffles. I have had trouble with my waffle iron in the past, it’s probably at least five years old and over time I feel like it’s been losing its power. I had been struggling to get any crunch on my waffles and was starting to not make them at all. Soggy waffles are not a happy start to the day. Come to find out, it wasn’t my waffle iron but rather the waffle batter I was using and maybe a bit of impatience on my part. I have made this new batter a few times now with great success. I also leave the batter in a bit longer than ever before to get that extra golden crunch.

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The other great part about this recipe is the toppings. I have started to put Greek yogurt on almost everything. The combination is creamy and sweet and makes the waffles feel so indulgent. It is the perfect Sunday morning treat.

Serves 2 (Makes 3 large waffles)
Inspired by The FauxMartha

Batter:
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
cooking spray

Toppings:
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1/3 cup berries
maple syrup, for drizzling

Heat up a waffle iron.

In a small bowl mix together the liquid ingredients: egg, milk, orange juice, vanilla and vegetable oil. In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients: flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry and whisk until combined.

Once the waffle iron is heated, spray with a touch of oil. Pour in a heaping amount of batter. Our machine needs about 1/2 cup, but it will all depend on the size of your machine. (I find it’s best to go small on the first test. When you overflow the batter, it becomes quite a mess to clean up!) Cook the batter until golden brown and crispy, again this will depend on your machine but it takes mine about 4-5 minutes.

Top each waffle with a bit of Greek yogurt and load on the berries. Then drizzle just a dab of maple syrup on each. Enjoy immediately while the waffle is still warm.

blueberry smoothie

April 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

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It may seem a bit early in the year to be pulling out the blender to have a frozen drink. Maybe after spending five days in the Florida sunshine, where you crave a cold drink, I just didn’t want to leave that feeling behind. We had a lovely time getting away from the Boston snow, which is almost all gone, and spending a few days with the rents in The Villages (a 55+ community). It might not sound like the most glamorous vacation, but we enjoyed it just the same. We spent our mornings waking early and running in the cool air, my dad leading the way on his bike. Our afternoons were filled with activities and more activities, zumba class, pickle ball, shuffleboard, bocce, polo matches, oh and two for 1 drinks every afternoon starting at 4. Not a shabby way to live. It’s always a pleasant feeling to not have to do anything or not have to be anywhere at a certain time. You just do what feels right in the moment. And that’s what we did.

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Another great feature of this vacation was that I’m spoiled whenever I’m with my parents. They always do those little things to make their guests feel so welcome. And just like when I was a kid, they make me fabulous breakfasts each morning; waffles piled high with syrup and strawberries, sweet banana bread and Florida orange juice from Florida.

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So I’m not sure if it was my need to hold on to some of that relaxing, vacation feeling or just sheer laziness that had me turn to this blueberry smoothie, either way I was happy to be sipping it in almost 50 degree weather.

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Serves 1
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
juice of 1 orange (about 1/3 cup)
1 teaspoon chia seeds (optional)*

Juice the orange and combine in a blender with the blueberries and yogurt. Pulse until everything is smooth. Add the chia seeds and pulse until just combined. Pour into a tall glass and serve with a straw.

*I first heard about chia seeds in the book, Born to Run. If you’re not familiar with the book, it’s about crazy runners, runners who can go 50 miles one day and then turn around and do another 100 miles the next, insanity. Chia seeds were a big piece of the Tarahumara Indians’ diet, a tribe in Mexico, a tribe of runners. Theses little black seeds are now quite the rage in the U.S., especially with long-distance runners.

Learning a little bit more about the seed, it’s loaded with Omega-3s and antioxidants; you know that stuff that you get from fish, that I’m sure I don’t get enough of. They have been called “one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the market.”

I guess you can add them to almost anything: drinks, breads, baked goods. They didn’t change the flavor of the smoothie so I’m assuming across the board they are just a nutrious add, more research on that to come.

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