Sunday, March 27, 2011

Banana Nut Oatmeal

It seems for the past 3 weeks all I have been having for breakfast was smoothies. When I woke up today, it seemed so chilly in my apartment that I just wanted something warm instead of cold, pulverized fruit. I'm actually getting low on groceries, so I was pleased to find I had all the ingredients to not only make oatmeal, but a really delicious one at that. I really needed an energizing breakfast because I have a stressful load of schoolwork that I need to do by Tuesday (hence why I am low on time for shopping). Truth be told I really wanted to make banana nut muffins or pancakes, but I compromised with a bowl of oatmeal flavored with banana, pecans, cinnamon, vanilla, and maple syrup. The addition of the banana makes the oatmeal so creamy, which sometimes is not the case with old-fashioned oatmeal, which retains a lot of texture once cooked.

It's been about 3 hours now since I had it and I'm not hungry yet which is highly unusual for me. Therefore this is a good breakfast if you tend to be like me (ie: ravenous by mid-morning). If you prefer a higher protein breakfast, you can stir in a little whey or soy protein powder at the end. Vanilla-flavored protein powder would be good, and I often add it to oatmeal. But after all those smoothies with whey powder I really wanted to escape from a habitual flavor and try something different.

Banana Nut Oatmeal
Printable Recipe

3/4 cup water
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp 1% milk (soy or almond milk may be substituted)
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon (leave a little out for garnish)
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
pinch salt
1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1 medium ripe banana, mashed
2 tbsp chopped pecans (reserve some for garnish)

1. In a small saucepan, heat the water and 1/4 cup of milk over high heat until boiling.
2. Blend in the cinnamon, vanilla, maple syrup, and salt as the liquids are coming to the boil.
3. Once the liquids are boiling, add the oatmeal and immediately drop the heat to medium-low. Stir frequently for about 4 minutes. The oatmeal should soften and the liquids should thicken.
4. Blend in the banana and nuts and once they are incorporated serve the oatmeal, drizzled with the remaining milk and sprinkled with a little more cinnamon and topped with a few pieces of pecan.

  • Servings per recipe: 1
  • Per serving:
  • Calories: 457.9
  • Fat: 15.3 g
  • Saturated fat: 2.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 4.5 mg
  • Sodium: 46.5 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 75.5 g
  • Fiber: 8.7 g
  • Sugar: 32.9 g
  • Protein: 10.6 g

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Pulled Chicken with Cranberry Barbeque Sauce

Today's the last day of spring break, and while I wish I could have gone home or have been able to go somewhere exciting, the truth is I am in grad school so I had to stay near campus to get some work done. I did get to go hiking at Palo Duro Canyon with one of my friends. It was so beautiful it was surreal. We walked a whole 6 mile trail. We never expected to walk that far, but the beauty of the canyon kept us going. Plus, I really wanted to make it to the lighthouse, and amazing rock structure. I regret not climbing all the way to the top, but luckily the park is only about 2 hours from where I live so I can go back some other time.

We walked all the way to that rock structure (the Lighthouse) in the distance.

At the Lighthouse, with my feet hanging over the edge.

The park happened to be near Amarillo, so we drove into town for dinner, which was well-deserved after that long hike. On the way I saw a sign for award-winning barbeque, so we had to try it out. I love Texas-style barbeque because it's not as sweet as some other types that can be found around the country. I can gladly now recommend you visit Dyer's Barbeque if you ever find yourself in the Amarillo area because it was seriously good. I had the chicken and my friend had the brisket and both were excellent. I loved their barbeque sauce, which they served warm in a bottle. It wasn't too sweet and didn't have a molasses flavor like some other sauces seem to have. It had heat from black pepper and was more tomato sauce-based than ketchup-based because it wasn't sticky at all like some ketchup-based sauces tend to be. We indulged in blackberry cobbler with ice cream for dessert, which was necessary after burning all those calories walking for 4 hours. It was almost as good as what my mom would make, which means it was pretty fantastic.

At Dyer's. I knew it would be a good place to eat just because they had John Wayne on the mantle.

 While doing some cleaning up of my computer, I found some pictures  of recipes I made while home for winter break. Luckily, I recorded the recipes because this unique recipe for barbeque sauce was really good. I believe the origin for the idea was the fact that cranberries are common around the holidays, but really it's because barbeque has to be one of my favorite foods and I'm always on a search to try it a new way.

Pulled Chicken with Cranberry Barbeque Sauce
Printable Recipe

1 13.5 oz can whole berry cranberry sauce
1/2 cup diced onion
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast

1. Blend the first 12 ingredients together to form a sauce.
2. In a slow cooker/crockpot, add the sauce and the chicken breast. Cook 8-10 hours on low or 6-8 hour on high.
3. Extract the cooked chicken from the sauce and, once cool enough to handle, shred using two forks. Meanwhile, decant the sauce from the crockpot base into a medium saucepan. Place the saucepan on the stove and bring to boil over high heat to reduce the sauce to the desired thickness. Add the shredded chicken to the thickened sauce and serve, if desired, on bread or rolls.

  • Servings per recipe: 6
  • Per serving:
  • Calories: 278.1
  • Fat: 1.1 g
  • Saturated fat: 0.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 43.8 mg
  • Sodium: 427.5
  • Carbohydrates: 50.5
  • Fiber: 1.8 g
  • Sugar: 41.8 g
  • Protein: 17.8 g

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spaghettini with Turkey-Mushroom Meatballs

Since I started my grad program I have taken very little time to prepare a special meal just for myself. Now that it's spring break and my friends are away (or sadly enough, even harder at work than I am on take-home exams) I had the opportunity to make myself a nice dinner. I have been craving spaghetti for weeks (one of my favorite foods of all time) and I wanted to put a twist on it. To make a healthy yet unique version, I used white meat turkey and sauteed mushrooms to make flavorful meatballs. I made a simple tomato sauce and used whole wheat spaghettini (thin spaghetti) for more fiber.

I'm really pleased with the fact that I had the patience to roll all the meatballs. I have honestly attempted to make spaghetti and meatballs before, but get fed up and end up crumbling the meat in the sauce. Patience is a virtue that I don't possess. Anyway, these turned out so well I'm glad I took the extra time to make the flavorful meat mixture. Really it wasn't as much trouble as I anticipated since I wrapped the pan with foil for easy clean-up. Baking the meat was less fussy than cooking the meatballs in a skillet, where I would need to stand at the stove, flipping each meatball. I want to try the meatballs as a sub sandwich next, with melted mozzarella cheese on top!

Spaghettini with Turkey-Mushroom Meatballs
Printable Recipe

For the meatballs:

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
10 oz button or cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 lb ground white meat turkey
2 tbsp plain bread crumbs
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp chopped parsley
dash nutmeg
salt and pepper, to taste
non-stick cooking spray

1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until warm, then add the mushrooms, onion, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and saute until all the vegetables are tender. Set the cooked vegetables aside until they are cool before proceeding (can be made up to two days in advance and refrigerated).
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
3. Add the cooked vegetables and the remaining meatball ingredients to a bowl. Combine all the ingredients and form into 24 meatballs.
4. Arrange the meatballs on a sheet tray lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Bake 15-20 minutes or until they are cooked through. Add them to the sauce, recipe follows:

For the sauce:

1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried thyme
pinch sugar, or to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

1 lb whole wheat spaghettini
Parmesan cheese, for garnish

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, then add the garlic and onion and saute until tender.
2. Pour in the tomatoes and add the herbs and some salt and pepper. Allow to simmer 20-30 minutes (while you prepare and bake the meatballs).
3. Cook the pasta according to package directions in boiling salted water.
4. Toss the cooked pasta in a little sauce, then arrange the meatballs and extra sauce on top of the pasta. Serve, garnished with a little extra Parmesan cheese, if desired.

  • Servings per recipe: 8
  • Per serving:
  • Calories: 300.5
  • Fat: 6.5 g
  • Saturated fat: 1.0 g
  • Cholesterol: 14.1 g
  • Sodium: 196.5 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 49.7 g
  • Fiber: 7.7 g
  • Sugar: 3.0 g
  • Protein: 18.1 g

Chocolate-Pecan-Oatmeal Cookies

The good thing about spring break is that it has given me a little time to get away from work. Well, I've still been working on homework and writing, however the other night when I had the urge to bake some cookies, I succumbed. It's really difficult to make cookies healthy, but this recipe cut back on a lot of the butter usually found in cookies, which may be even up to a cup! These cookies are crunchy, but also chewy from the caramelized sugars. Instead of adding a whole bunch of chocolate, which can have a lot of fat (though is a good source of antioxidants), I used a moderate amount and made up the difference in texture with some oats for whole grain and pecans for healthy fat and protein. These are especially great mid-afternoon with a cup of coffee.

Also, this recipe was invited to be a part of "Sweets for a Saturday" at Sweet as Sugar Cookies, a blog focusing on all things dessert. Please click the link to check out all those fabulous recipes. 

Chocolate-Pecan-Oatmeal Cookies
Printable Recipe

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup unbleached granulated sugar
3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/8 tsp baking powder
scant 1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips or small chocolate chunks
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup old-fashioned oatmeal

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a medium mixing bowl with an electric mixer, cream the sugars, butter, and vanilla.
3. Add the baking powder, salt, and a third of the flour; mix. Add the flour in two more additions, mixing in between each one.
4. Fold in the chocolate, pecans, and oatmeal with a rubber spatula.
5. On parchment-line baking trays, add mounded teaspoon-fulls of the cookie dough. It helps to use two spoons, one to scoop out a little dough, and the other to form a smooth top to the cookie.
6. Bake each tray by itself on the middle rack of the oven, 9-11 minutes (until the outer edges of the cookies are only just firm and very light brown).
7. Remove each tray to a cooling rack and let sit 1-2 minutes. The cookies will firm a little more, and then you can move them to a piece of waxed paper to cool completely. Makes approximately 30 cookies.

  • Servings per recipe: 30
  • Per serving:
  • Calories: 73.5
  • Fat: 3.6 g
  • Saturated fat: 1.8 g
  • Cholesterol: 5.5 mg
  • Sodium: 39.4 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 9.7 g
  • Fiber: 0.3 g
  • Sugar: 8.3 g
  • Protein: 0.5 g

Friday, March 11, 2011

Garden Chicken Sandwich

This past weekend was amazing. I went to the annual Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association conference in San Marcos, TX. Not only was it exciting to travel to a place in Texas that I had never been, but it was my first opportunity to network with people in all aspects of the Texas wine industry. Learning the range of professions within the wine industry was inspiring. We had some delicious meals and wines, which inspired me to re-create some of the dishes. I saved the menus from the meals and I can't wait to try and make my own versions of the recipes. In the meantime, I have to get back on track with healthy eating. When I got back in town I went to the grocery store and picked up a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. I have been enjoying smoothies in the morning made with different combinations of mango, strawberries, blackberries, and banana. I add 1% milk and vanilla whey protein to balance the smoothies out. They don't keep me full for long, but they give me a good energy boost and taste really good. I have been making big salads (makes me think of Elaine from Seinfeld) for lunch with a variety of vegetables. I have also been making sandwiches stacked with vegetables, like the one posted here. Normally I will just put some spinach on my sandwich, but I found crimson clover and radish sprouts at my local health food market, which are so pretty and pink peeking out of the sandwich. I love cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches, so instead of sliced cheese I used cream cheese (which helped seal the bread away from getting soggy from the vegetables, too) as well as cucumbers. I also included chicken for extra protein and arugula, which provides more flavor than just spinach.

Garden Chicken Sandwich
Printable Recipe

2 slices good-quality whole wheat or multi-grain bread
2 tbsp reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
a few baby spinach leaves
a few baby arugula leaves
6 thin slices English cucumber
1 oz thinly-sliced roasted chicken breast
about 2 tbsp mixed sprouts (I used crimson clover and radish)

1. Divide the cream cheese evenly between the two pieces of bread.
2. Layer on the arugula and spinach leaves, cucumber, chicken, sprouts, then top with the other slice of bread (cream cheese side down). Cut however you please (I think triangles are prettiest).

  • Servings per recipe: 1
  • Per serving:
  • Calories: 259
  • Fat: 9.9 g
  • Saturated fat: 6.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 46 mg
  • Sodium: 347 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 24.4 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Sugar: 3.4 g
  • Protein: 17.9 g 
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