a snowy day

We have snow literally coming out of our ears, here in New England!

 

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Sent home early.  No critical homework due. 

There’s but one thing for a girl to do in such a situation.

 

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First I made a steaming hot cup of licorice tea…

 

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…and then I had myself a date with Mr. Quaker.

 

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These are my stand by, true blue, you’ve never let me down, fool-proof recipe for granola bars.  What I love most about these chunky little bars, is that the combination of flavors is limitless.  Honey?  Molasses?  Agave?  Chocolate chips?  Peanut butter chips?  Raisins?

Absolutely limitless!

Today’s combination of flavors included pecans, dark chocolate chips, flax…

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…and a deep, intoxicatingly rich swirl of blackstrap molasses. 

 

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Honey would have given these bars more of a golden hue vs. the deep chocolate color.  But I absolutely love the flavor that molasses imparts.

And, really now, who doesn’t like the color of chocolate?

 

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You want to know something?  When Mr. Quaker is around, a little bit of extra snow around the place doesn’t look so bad after all.

 

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Granola Bars with chocolate chips and pecans

These bars can be made with any mixture of your favorite ingredients—peanut butter chips, dates and coconut come to mind!  Enjoy them for breakfast, as a snack or even as a dessert with a cup of tea.  They also keep very well, and can be packed as a fun addition with your lunch-to-go.

ENJOY! 😀

  • 1 T. olive oil + pam for spraying pan
  • 1-1/4 c. old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 c. dark or semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 c. ground flaxseeds
  • 1/4 c. chopped pecans
  • 1/4 c. blackstrap molasses
  • 1/4 c. natural, chunky, salted peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Line bottom and two sides with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on each side.  Spray again with cooking spray. In a bowl, combine oats, chocolate chips, flaxseeds, and pecans; set aside.
  2. In a small/medium saucepan, combine molasses, peanut butter, oil, and vanilla. Cook over medium until melted. Add dry ingredients to pan, turn off heat and stir to combine. Transfer mixture to prepared pan; smooth top. Bake until golden and edges pull away from sides of pan, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Using paper overhang, lift bars out of pan. On a cutting board, gently cut into 8 pieces using a serrated knife. Store in an airtight container, separating pieces with wax or parchment paper, for one week.  ENJOY!

Question: What is your favorite activity on a snow day?

Family Favorite

Why, hello there, Oats In A Jar.  It sure has been a while.

  • 1/4 c. oatbran
  • 1/4 c. wheat bran
  • 1 c. milk + 3/4 c. water
  • 1/2 banana
  • 2 T. raisins
  • cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove

I cooked the oats to perfection and then poured the hot mixture into an almost empty pb jar.  The Galaxy Granola was added a little bit here and a little bit there as I ate my way through.  This breakfast will never—never, never—grow old.

But enough with breakfast.  I have an announcement to make.  Ladies and Gents, I have found a yogurt that deserves to be called my most favorite yogurt of all: Voskos Honey Vanilla Bean.

It’s true.

I can’t decide if it was the silky texture, the homemade blueberry banana muffin that was crumbled on top, or the pure, sweet creaminess of it all.

I think the fact that real, honest-to-goodness vanilla bean is used instead of vanilla extracts or flavorings has something to do with it too.  Just look at these little vanilla specks sprinkled throughout!  This is the real deal.  My mom stated it was the best yogurt she’s ever had, and I couldn’t have agreed more.  All I can say is that it’s a good thing my local grocery store doesn’t carry this, or I’d go in debt over yogurt. 

Now that I’m on a role with personal favorites, deep obsessions and other such matters, I think it’s time I introduce you to a new favorite salad combination of mine…

  • 1 broccoli crown, cut into bite sized peices
  • 1/2 c. canned black bleans
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Combine the above ingredients and bake on a cookie sheet at 425 for about 20 minutes (remember to flip halfway through cooking time and adjust salt and pepper to taste.)

Once the veggies are browned to your liking, mix in:

  • 1/4 avocado (very ripe), smashed
  • garlic powder (don’t be skimpy!)
  • 1/2 tomato

If you think this sounds odd and strange, you are not alone.  It does sound peculiar.  Which is why you simply must try it. I promise that if you love guacamole, garlic, and roasted vegetables, you will love this simple meal.

On the side, I had 1-1/2 slices of Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Sourdough bread, toasted, with a pat of butter.

Afternoon Snack: Homemade Dates & Coconut Granola Bar

If you’re a regular reader of Running To Slow Things Down, you have probably seen this Gypsy Soup more than one too many times.  But that’s simply because it’s one of my absolute favorites.  This is one of those recipes that has wiggled its way into becoming a family favorite.   It’s that “go-to” soup recipe.  It’s a soup filled with memories.  In fact—if it wasn’t too dangerous to say—I might even put it up there with chicken noodle soup as being a comfort food.  But that’s dangerous territory, so I’ll have to save it for another day. 😉

Needless to say, the recipe for Gypsy Soup will forever be dog-eared in my Moosewood Cookbook, and it will permanently be stained with turmeric and tomato juice.  And, yes, you will see it many more times in the future of this blog.  It’s just that kind of recipe.

Gypsy Soupcourtesy of Moosewood Cookbook with some minor tweakings

  • 1 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 c. chopped onion
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • 2 c. peeled, diced sweet potato
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. mild paprika
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp basil
  • dash of cinnamon
  • dash of cayenne (I use about 1/8 tsp to make it spicy)
  • 3 c. water
  • 1 medium bell pepper, diced
  • 1 15 oz. can of chick peas (drained and rinsed)
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot.  Add onion, garlic, celery, and swee potato.  Saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add salt, and saute 5 more minutes.  Add seasonings and water, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  2. Add tomato, bell pepper, and chick peas.  Cover and simmer for 10 + minutes or until all vegetables are as tender as you like them.  Taste to adjust seasonings and serve.

This bread is also a tried-and-true family favorite.  I love that it’s made with all whole wheat flour while still remaining moist and soft.  Yesterday I confessed to having a fear of tasteless, rubbery, overcooked red meat.  But I also have a fear of dried out, stale, tasteless bread.  100% whole wheat breads have a reputation for being dense and dry—cardboard, they call it (and oftentimes, rightly so!)  This bread, however, is the furthest thing from being dry.  On first bite, you’ll note how soft and moist it is.  You’ll taste the subtle sweetness of molasses.  And you’ll forever be convinced that whole wheat bread does not have to taste like cardboard. 😀

King Arthur’s Whole Wheat Bread

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast, or 1 packet active dry yeast dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/3 cups (10 1/2 ounces) water
  • 1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup (3 ounces) honey, molasses, or maple syrup
  • 3 1/2 cups (14 ounces) King Arthur Traditional Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) nonfat dried milk
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt

Mixing: In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir till the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple. (You may also knead this dough in an electric mixer or food processor, or in a bread machine programmed for “dough” or “manual.”) Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise till puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 60 minutes, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.

Shaping: Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and shape it into an 8-inch log. Place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan, cover the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for about 1 hour, or until it’s crowned about 1 inch above the edge of the pan. A finger pressed into the dough should leave a mark that rebounds slowly.

Baking: Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for about 40 minutes, tenting it lightly with aluminum foil after 20 minutes. Test it for doneness by removing it from the pan and thumping it on the bottom (it should sound hollow), or measuring its interior temperature with an instant-read thermometer (it should register 190°F at the center of the loaf). Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a wire rack before slicing. Store the bread in a plastic bag at room temperature. Yield: 1 loaf, 16 slices.

Nutrition per serving (1 slice, 51g): 150 cal, 3.5g fat, 5g protein, 24g total carbohydrate, 5g sugar, 3g dietary fiber, 0mg cholesterol, 200mg sodium.

Off to chillax with My Homemade Life.  What a great book!!! 

Question: Do you have a Family Favorite Recipe that is made over and over again?

schedules and productivity

Rain storms are beautiful.  And so is the sun that comes out the next morning, working hard to help dry things up.  I honestly can’t decide which I like more.

This morning I had plans.  Plans to walk 4-miles with mom.  Plans to cut the entire lawn.  Plans to work on some internship homework.  Plans to be productive!!!

First things first…

  • 1/2 c. oatmeal
  • 2 T. wheat bran
  • 1 banana, smashed
  • 6-oz. plain, nonfat dannon yogurt
  • toppings: 1 T. Galaxy Granola Very Vanilla, 1 tsp chia seeds, 1 T. Teddy peanut butter 

I’ve been loving this combo lately.  It’s very much like overnight oats, only there’s no soaking period.  This results in chewier oats which I love. 

mid-morning snack: grapefruit and almonds

It was a little strange having a set schedule for myself today.  Not too long ago, I was an undergraduate nutrition major who lived on a very tight schedule.  But this past month has been the most laid-back, free-flowing month since…well…probably since being a high school student! 

But not today.  Today I was organized.  Determined.  Productive. 

Lawn mowed?  Check!  4-mile walk with mom?  Check!  Internship homework?  Check!  Sometimes it feels good to have a planned schedule. 😀 

Time for lunch!

  • mixed greens
  • carrot, diced
  • tomato, diced
  • leftover sauteed summer squash and zucchini
  • can of sardines
  • feta cheese
  • 1/4 avocado, diced
  • splash of balsamic vinegar and orange juice

+ kashi crackers!

I’ve been attempting to eat sardines at least once a week, but haven’t actually had them in a while now.  I forgot how yummy they can be on top of a salad!   

My internship homework is actually quite enjoyable right now, I’ve got to say.  The material is really interesting, and it’s all the stuff that applies directly to what I’ll be doing as a future RD.  Fun! 😀 

p.s. my afternoon snack was the same granola bar recipe that’s under the recipe page, except I used chopped dates, added in some coconut, and replaced the flax with chia seeds…a very yummy combo!

If you’re currently on the fence about roasting vegetables, I’m begging you to give it a try.  I promise that it will make you rethink many vegetables.  And, aside from helping to retain many of the nutrients, roasting also brings out a whole new flavor dimension.  Brussels sprouts become crispy and buttery with just a touch of salt and oil.  Squash becomes soft, velvety, caramelized.  Kale becomes light and crisp. 

Cauliflower becomes sweet and earthy. 

One cauliflower with one onion and two teaspoons of olive oil on a cookie sheet, sprinkled with salt & paprika, and baked for 25 minutes at 425.  Does it get any simpler?  This poor cauliflower didn’t even have a chance on the dinner table.  It was quickly demolished by three hungry diners. 😉

Also on the menu for tonight was the last of the Runners World lentil taco’s, which I took out from the freezer last night.  It reheats well, and makes for a quick dinner.  I topped mine with lettuce, chopped tomatoes and a sprinkle of feta cheese. 

I have been on a role with reading lately, and I’m just starting a new book by the creator of Orangette, entitled “A Homemade Life.”  If the first two pages are any indicator of how the rest of the book will be, I’m in for a real treat. 😀

Question: Do you like to keep a strict schedule, a loose schedule, or do you like to plan as you go?  I like to keep a strict schedule when school is in full swing, but I’m more of a loose schedule kind of person.  I like to think that plans can change at a seconds notice if I need them to.  It keeps life interesting and flexible. 😀