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For the love of oats

September 29, 2009

I’ve never understood the oatmeal hate out there. I, for one, can’t get enough of the stuff. It’s wholesome, comforting, and right up there with nut butter as perfect running fuel. By food blog standards, my morning oats are pretty boring- just a standard blueberry/banana/raisin combo, with the occasional addition of raw nuts or, rarer still, a scoop of nut butter (I like to douse my oats in almond milk, and wet nut butter kind of skeeves me out).

I really like oatmeal cookies and granola bars, but so many of the store brands are full of added sugars and/or high fructose corn syrup. I was totally excited, then, to run across Kath‘s recipe for Oatmeal Snack Bars this morning. After lunch I headed into the kitchen and whipped up a batch. Changes- the original recipe calls for 3/4 cup dried fruit. All I had on hand were raisins and dates, so I used them. I was out of walnuts, so no nuts were harmed in the making of these bars. We are not big milk drinkers in this house- my milk options were almond milk or half and half (ew). I went with the former, and also subbed 1/2 a well-mashed banana for the egg, one of my favorite veganizing methods and a great way to add an extra kick of sweetness to baked goods. If you’ve never baked with ‘naners before, I recommend using them in recipes that wouln’t be ruined by banana flavor, because you can definitely taste them most of the time. I like bananas a lot so I use them with abandon.

oatmeal bars

I couldn’t resist snagging one hot out of the oven. They’re interesting- as Kath says, definitely more of a muffin texture. I think these would be great for breakfast with some greek yogurt on top and a drizzle of honey. I would definitely cut some of the salt if I made them again- the pieces with a lot of fruit in them have a nice sweet/salty contrast going on but otherwise I think they’d be too salty. That’s due to the fact that I used table salt instead of kosher salt, so it’s totally my own fault. And it won’t stop me from eating the hell out of the whole batch.

Up close and personal.

Up close and personal.

More foodie adventures

September 24, 2009

Tuesday afternoon’s trip to the farmer’s market was semisuccessful- Sam came home and we discovered that we are both a bit cash-poor for the time being, so we decided to just head over and check it out. Sam ran into a former student almost immediately; the guy was there helping out his sister, who sells Parisian-style macarons. We snagged a piece of gorgeous-looking and smelling tomato flatbread to have with dinner. It was a simple flat crust with crushed tomato, spices, and a sprinkle of parmesan. It didn’t last long once we got home, so regrettably there is no photographic evidence. I also bought a local zucchini for a buck to use for dinner.

We will definitely be back to the market- it was rainy so I think there were fewer vendors there than is typical, but there were several farm stands with local produce (I saw a lot of zucchini, yellow squash, pumpkins, eggplant, and okra), two people selling goat cheese and goat milk, organic grass-fed beef and vegetarian-fed chicken, local seafood, coffee, and a few artisan bakers. There was also a guy who staffed a mobile knife-sharpening operation. Genius! I also learned that the larger local farmer’s market, which takes place on Saturday mornings at a location a little further northwest (at Onion Creek in the Heights, for locals) is moving to this location, which is great news for me!

Tuesday dinner came from a recipe in the current issue of Runner’s World. There was a decent article on clean eating that advocated a lot of what healthy lifestyle and food bloggers already practice, i.e. whole foods, a mostly plant-based diet, healthy fats, meat as an occasional addition rather than the centerpiece of every meal, etc. The recipe was for “Cassoulet with lots of vegetables” and called for 1 pound of chicken, sausage, or beef, which I omitted in favor of additional cannelini beans and chickpeas. It ended up as a tomato-based veggie/white bean/pasta stew, as Sam requested a pasta addition to make it a little heartier. I added some whole wheat elbow macaroni and fusilli we had lying around, but I’m clearly really bad at eyeballing pasta portions because there ended up being a little too much for my taste.

I served mine over spinach and toasted a large pain au lait roll for Sam.

Sam's plate. His was more aesthetically pleasing.

Sam's plate. His was more aesthetically pleasing.

I followed it up with a combo that was nothing short of amazing. I’ve found since cutting back on artificial sweeteners and refined sugar that I can really taste natural sweetness. Fruit and root veggies taste great, and foods with added sugar are too sweet. That said, I have some Haagen-Dazs vanilla frozen yogurt in the freezer, and had a little of that with half a banana, a few chunks of 88% dark chocolate, and a smidge of almond butter. It was heavenly. It tasted like bananas foster, and I was satisfied with a small amount rather than wanting to finish off the container. Intuitive eating win!

Yum.

Yum.

Rainy Tuesday

September 22, 2009

It has been pouring rain all day. Definitely the kind of day that just makes you want to hole up inside and not do much of anything. I was up early (before my alarm, even!) and it wasn’t even light out yet. I kissed Sam goodbye and made some breakfast:

yum!

yum!

This was prior to drowning in 1/2 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk. I really like my oats cooked in water with the milk component on top, but a whole cup at once is just too much milk and dilutes the oaty goodness. I’ve taken to pouring on 1/2 c to start and taking the rest of my almond milk along with me to my command center (aka laptop on desk, where breakfast happens every day) and topping up the bowl as I go to maintain the proper milk-to-oat ratio.

This bowl featured a banana, some frozen bluebs, a few raisins, and stevia.

I’ve discovered that I have a serious bowl fetish. I think bowls are definitely my favorite food receptacle, and they have to be deep enough. Ceramic is best…I like my bowls to have a little heft.

Midmorning I busted into a Mac apple and hit up Whole Foods for some groceries. I got produce for dinner tonight (a veggie cassoulet) along with some other necessary items. Highlights included Larabars:

DSCN0895

At last, the coveted PBJ flavor….

I also got some raw cashews and oat groats to try making oatgurt! The groats are currently soaking in the fridge. I’m also interested to try eating them instead of rolled oats in the morning. I may be breakin out my forsaken crockpot and cooking them overnight…we’ll see.

Lunch was a salad featuring last night’s turkey burger leftovers, spinach, a carrot, zucchini, raw corn, a smattering of raisins and raw cashews, a squeeze of lime juice, and pepper. Alongside, I had a really delicious white nectarine. Not pictured is a plain Fage 0% with some more raisins.

This is my favorite meal bowl...big and yellow.

This is my favorite meal bowl...big and yellow.

Nectar(ine) of the gods

Now I’m planning on getting a little knitting in, and a run in a little while. Later this afternoon I’m planning to check out a weekly farmer’s market in my neighborhood. It’s on one of my frequent running routes so I see it every Tuesday but haven’t ever gone before. I’m looking forward to it!

Fall starts now, baby!

September 22, 2009

Oh fall, how I love you! Texas may not quite know what to do when the calendar turns to September, but that’s OK. I can pretend there’s a chill in the air. This week promises our first lows in the 60s, and I’m hoping I can motivate myself to get my lazy butt out of bed early enough to enjoy them on my runs.

I did spy one of my favorite signs of fall at the grocery store today, and I had to bring one home with me:

Love!

Love!

I love Macs. I went to college in Massachusetts and one of my fondest memories is of the gigantor bags of Macs we used to get at Stop ‘n Shop. The ones that make is down here are sadly not the best, and there are never very many of them, but they’re quintessential autumn to me. I spotted them out of the corner of my eye while on a post-work almond milk run and grabbed a couple for our fruit basket. They’re Sam’s favorite apple too so I’ll probably have to restock shortly.

Eats today were pretty standard Alix fare- breakfast was a bowl of Barbara’s Shredded Oats with Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla, blueberries, and a banana.

Work was pretty slammed- one of our interns didn’t come in so I had to help out with a massive mailing for our upcoming gala. I ate breakfast at 7 and didn’t break for lunch til almost 1, so suffice it to say that I was ready to gnaw off a limb. I knew my blood sugar had totally tanked when the gluesticks we were using to seal the envelopes ran out and I almost started crying. I made short work of lunch: an almond butter and honey sandwich on the last of the Ezekiel (only the 2 heels were left…I kind of love heels so I was a happy camper), Fage 0% with some golden raisins mixed in, a tiny pear, a nectarine, and some raw zucchini, yellow squash, and sugar snaps.

Later in the day I snacked on a Jazz apple and an Apple Pie Larabar. I have to say that I’m not the biggest fan of the cinnamony Lara flavors- I really didn’t like the GingerSnap bar I had recently and I thought it was the cloves, but after today I have to conclude that it’s the cinnamon. I think I’ll be sticking to the nutty, chocolatey, and non-spicy fruit flavors from now on.

Following work I destressed with a 5-mile recovery run. I took the iPhone along on this one to encourage a slower pace, but turns out I didn’t need the encouragement as my legs were pretty tired from yesterday’s 12-miler. After a planned cutback week 2 weeks ago and an unplanned cutback last week due to a virus, I’m ready to ramp the mileage back up again. This week calls for 65.

Dinner was a collaborative effort. Sam and I co-own a duplex with his college friend, Pencil. Pencil’s real name is also Sam, but his nickname is from his misspent youth when he allegedly weighed about 120 pounds. These days he’s considerably “healthier” but the name stuck. Anyway, Pencil knows his way around a kitchen, but not necessarily a healthy kitchen, so I had to tweak my meal a little bit. He grilled up some burgers for us: beef for himself and Sam, and turkey for moi. My turkey burger was awesomely good, and I even have a second one for lunch tomorrow. Score! I augmented the burger with some steamed veggies and baked sweet potato slices, and smeared some almost overripe avocado on top. Nom!

Din

Dessert was some 88% dark choc that I’ve been working on the past few days. It’s Endangered Species brand and it’s freaking awesome.

Choc

And now I’m headed to bed…tomorrow’s an off day so I’ll be up early and hopefully running at a decent hour. Why is it that I find it so much easier to get moving when I don’t have to?

Hi there interwebs!

September 9, 2009

Hello out there!

I’ve started this blog with multiple intentions. The first is to encourage myself to write. Writing was an old passion of mine. I say old not because it was that long ago, per se, but because I sort of feel as though the love of writing has been beaten (or maybe wrung is a better word) out of me over the years. There is always some satisfaction for me in writing under duress, but along with it comes plenty of hand-wringing and tooth-gnashing. I’m hoping to get back into the groove of writing regularly. Second- “they” say to write about what you know, what you love. My friends, I love food. Love it with a deep, abiding, warm and gooey love. My love of food has caused me a lot of angst over the years, and to a certain extent I’m still hashing out my apparent need to give what I eat some integral connection to who I am. While I’ll sit down to a burger and fries with all the relish of the ubiquitous American gourmand, I also really, really get a kick out of healthy food. Nothing is as deeply satisfying to me as sitting down to a meal largely composed of whole foods: vegetables, fruits, and grains; maybe a little meat or cheese.

I haven’t yet read Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food, but his “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants” mantra really resonates. I firmly believe vegetables, fruits and grains can play starring roles in our meals. When I cook at home, my mission is to create these roles for them while aiming to please a finicky, vegetable-suspicious husband. Recently we’ve looked at our expenses, budgets, and diets and noticed a disturbing trend: we eat out way, way too much. It’s too expensive and it’s just not healthy, especially at the restaurants my husband S. would drag me to (kicking and screaming, I might add…I swear he forced that fresh flour tortilla and queso down my throat, your honor). To remedy this, we’ve instituted a new policy. Over half our weekly dinners have to be at home. What this really means, since Sam doesn’t cook, is that I’m making at least 4 dinners a night. This is a great challenge, as it’s forcing me to think ahead, plan our meals, and shop in advance so I’m not having to scramble at the last minute or schlep to the grocery store after work (I hate that). It also means I get a little more control over what goes on our plates, which is awesome.

My other major passion in life is running. I’m currently training for my 4th marathon in January 2010. I’m bumping up my mileage and running more than ever before, so whatever goes on my plate has to fuel the engine, so to speak.

I hope this blog can be a place where I celebrate food and eating as well as hash out some of my issues with it and muse on society’s relationship with food at large. There’s tons of fodder for good discussion out there.

Hello world!

August 25, 2009

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