Friday, August 10, 2012

Baked Oatmeal To-Go

I try to cook healthy things, I rarely use salt, I've fried things only a handful of times since moving to the land of fried foods the South... But I'm really good at sitting on the couch and assuming that the calories I do eat will just melt away like when I was younger. Reality check: Welcome to my 30's. And thus, we diet.

I will be removing my ass from the couch as well, but I know I can eat healthier. Since J will obviously be forced down this road with me, I have the challenge of finding healthy alternatives that don't include vegetables or things other than meat he will actually eat. Meals aren't really the difficult part of that challenge, it's the snacks and easy foods that we can take to work.

Breakfast during the week usually consists of a granola bar, which of course is loaded with sugar. That's why they're tasty. Mmmmmm sugar. While searching for alternatives I stumbled upon baked oatmeal. As a cupcake enthusiast, this was the perfect thing to cram into my muffin tins. It can be made with any topping you desire, and they're perfect for healthy-ish eating on the go. If you're not dieting, don't worry, I'll include suggestions on ways to load these up with sugar...

Baked Oatmeal To-Go


  • 2 eggs

  • 2 cups unsweetened applesauce

  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1 banana, mashed

  • 2 2/3 cups milk (or 2 cups milk, 2/3 cup cream)

  • 1/2 cup honey

  • + 1/4 cup packed brown sugar (optional)

  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon

  • 3 tsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1/4 cup flour

  • 5 cups rolled oats

  • Toppings (chocolate chips, cranberries, nuts, maple syrup, etc)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  • Grease 2 muffin pans, or use cupcake liners.

  • In a large bowl, whisk together all wet ingredients: eggs, applesauce, vanilla, banana, milk, and honey (and optional brown sugar). Thoroughly whisk in cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and flour. Stir in rolled oats until well-combined.
    Your batter will seem both watery and lumpy, this is okay.

  • Scoop batter into muffin pans, about 1/4 cup per well.
    Tip: Stir your bowl of batter after every few scoops. If you don't stir, the batter tends to separate and you risk having very watery batter left at the end.

  • Add your desired toppings.
    I used dried cranberries, pecans, and chocolate chips. I even made a few maple and brown sugar ones by covering the top of the oatmeal with maple syrup, then sprinkling with brown sugar. These are a little sticky, but taste awesome! Get creative. Fresh blueberries, walnuts, heck even M & M's, would be awesome.

  • Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

This recipe made 2 dozen little oatmeals. Store them in an airtight container or ziplock bag. If you don't live with a ravenous man in your home, you can store them in the fridge so that they will keep longer. I'm sure they could be frozen too, but I will never find out because like I said... ravenous man at home.

Monday, August 6, 2012

2012 Week 31/52

I'm proud of myself for blogging 3-4 times each month. However, I'm noticing a pattern... I enjoy posting fun little recipes, or other things that involve the use of photos. And generally, those things do not to reflect on my day-to-day life. If anyone popped onto my blog they would think that I bake a lot and am obsessed with my husband. Which are both totally true, but I swear my life involves more than that.

I briefly mentioned starting to do weekly updates in an effort to stick to a blogging schedule. We see how that turned out. I never even did one. However, now that after 11 months we're starting to settle into a routine down here, it is something that I feel I have time for and want to do. So, let's get on with it...

Monday July 30 - Sunday August 5

Our week started off just how anyone would want their own week to start: With someone jacking our debit card info and racking up charges at Babies R Us and the Lego Store. And in case you don't know, it freaking sucks. We are both very careful with our cards, especially J. Ironically, his was the info that was stolen. We're thinking a waitress swiped it a couple of weeks prior since that's the only time the card was out of his sight.

After far too many phone calls with the bank than what should be necessary, our account got credited for the false charges. I won't go into details about all of the BS, mainly because it still aggravates me, but I hope the thief enjoys watching their kid play with all of the crap they bought with our money because once they're in jail I'm pretty sure there won't be much time for family bonding.

Stealing is one of those things that I have a mental zero tolerance policy in place. There aren't many things I can say that about, but stealing is one of them. J and I work hard for our money and like to spend it on ourselves because, you know, we earned it. I'm sure if the thief put in half of the effort into a real job that they put into fraud, they could probably be quite successful. Under any circumstance, there is no reason to steal from people. Ever. I refuse to even argue the point because in no scenario will I say, "Okay, in that situation its okay to steal." In all the times I have needed money, never once did it cross my mind to steal it from someone. It's just not okay.

As if that wasn't bad enough, the thief had to pick the week that we started dieting and going to the gym. So my rage was fueled even more by hunger and muscle fatigue. Okay, perhaps that's an exaggeration... we all know I'm good at getting pissed off without any extra outside factors... but we did start trying to live healthier.

Aside from my baking, I'm a fairly healthy cook. I rarely use salt, I've fried things all of 5 times in my entire life, and I try to keep fatty foods to a minimum. Regardless, J and I both need to lose some weight. Not only that, and probably more importantly, we need to get in shape. I can't even remember the last time I exercised, so I've been taking that as a good indication of needing to hit the gym.

We survived a whole week of healthier dinners and lunches, and it turned out to even be cost-effective. We're not frequent fast food eaters, and our house isn't stocked with junk food, so it has been a little difficult to find places to cut calories. Lunch has always been a big obstacle and an open temptation to grab something quick. So I've been packing healthy lunches for both of us and I've actually been enjoying it.

I baked a large batch of individual-sized baked oatmeal for us to take to work, and stocked up on plenty of fruits and healthy snacks to get us through the day. While I am always looking for ideas for quick and healthy dinner recipes, I think our biggest challenge with that meal is portion control. At lunch its easy because you can only eat as much as what's in your bag. Dinner, however, can be a whole different animal. And that is where we're going to struggle for a while.

Coupled with the food changes, is adding exercise into our schedules. On J's late days I have time to get home from work, go to the gym, and have dinner ready around the time he walks in the door. Unfortunately, those days don't leave him any gym time. Our solution seems to be going to the gym together on his earlier days, and supplementing the other days with some other sort of activity. I can go to the gym alone and use the elliptical machine, or we can go for walks or bike rides in the evenings after dinner. I have a feeling that our home will eventually have its own elliptical, simply to provide a more convenient option than going to the gym just for that machine, but that's a down-the-road purchase. Our health-related purchase this time was this sweet bike for me:

J spotted it, then made fun of me for wanting it, then admitted that it really was the perfect bike for me: Matte black frame, pink wheels, zebra accents, and its one of those cute, retroish style bikes.

We went for our first bike ride together on Saturday evening and it was great. The park near our house has a bike path, plus the neighborhood we live in is fairly low-traffic. We're not doing the Tour De France or anything, but it was really nice to be out on our bikes. If Ranger was calm enough to come along it would be perfect, but I see that happening sometime between never and hell no.

Speaking of healthy cooking baking it was Jenn's 13th birthday on Thursday, so of course I was more than happy to bake something fun:

On Sunday we took our outdoor activities down to Galveston Island, for some beach time with our friends.

Side note: calling them "our friends" kind of doesn't do the whole relationship justice. They're like awesome family that isn't actually related to us. So I guess they're "framily?" Yeah, something like that. Regardless, they're Swiss, and they're awesome, and that's all I really need to say about that.

J and I love the beaches down here, and luckily our framily doesn't mind going with us. It's just such a different beach experience than the Jersey shore. In NJ going to the beach is like swimming in a cold, overcrowded pool full of douchebags. Plus, you have to pay for the whole lovely experience after sitting in traffic that is so bad that I'm pretty sure it is one of the levels of hell. Here in TX you just hop on the freeway, drive right up to the surf (for free), and set up your little beach camp for the day. You can even ride the waves without crashing into drunken teenagers having sex in the ocean. And yes, I have actually crashed into drunken teenagers having sex in the ocean. Stay classy, NJ.

Now I'm sure people will argue that NJ has a boardwalk with food, rides, and Snooki, but did y'all know that Galveston has a boardwalk too? It actually has a whole bunch of fun things to do that don't involve picking used condoms off of yourself after emerging from the water ...Seriously people, I can't make up these Jersey shore experiences. They happen. Frequently.

J and I find it so strange that people ask us, "So how did you like Galveston and our brown water?" Really? Who cares that the water is cloudy? Its warm and only possibly contaminated by an occassional oil spill clean! I've come to learn that people down here think that the Atlantic coast is full of sandy beaches and clear blue oceans. FYI: not so much. So if any Texans are reading this: Stop selling your beaches short! They are awesome and you should count yourselves as lucky for having such easy access to them all year long. Better yet, take a trip to Seaside Heights, NJ in July and let me know how you make out.

Anyway, we left the house under blue skies, then wound up driving through storms and this:

We even saw a waterspout off in the distance during our drive. J spotted it and I of course didn't believe him when he said there was a "tornado" until I saw it too. And technically, a waterspout isn't a tornado, but it was still pretty cool. The skies cleared along the coastline shortly after we arrived, and it turned out to be a beautiful day:

We relaxed, we swam, we stole the kids boogie boards when they weren't using them... it was a good time. Even Roxy enjoyed herself:

And of course Jenn and Hanna were more than happy to pose for photos, since I brought my DLSR along for the trip.

It was a really fun day, and now J and I totally need to buy boogie boards because we're big kids. We came home thoroughly exhausted, so we apparently got a good work out while we were there as well. So that's a bonus. And now its Monday, and the start of a new week. My hair is still a little salty, my face is sun-kissed, and I feel like we're really taking the right steps to get healthy. So one week down, and hopefully our changes will allow for many, many more of the same.