An Ode to Oats

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I think it’s fair to say we all remember those variety packs of Quaker Instant Oatmeal. The Strawberries and Cream or Peaches and Cream would of course be devoured first and then no one would want to eat the Cinnamon and Spice flavor. Luckily, my taste buds evolved and I discovered the goodness of oats, without the artificial pieces of fruit, heaps of sugar and dinosaur eggs. If you think oatmeal is just a mushy substance that has to be dressed up with a ton of brown sugar and raisins, you are missing out.

What to look for: Instant oats are fine and dandy for baking, but since they are more processed they are more quickly digested. If you want the “stick to your ribs” factor, old fashioned, steel cut, or oat groats are the way to go. Last year, I got hooked on Bob’s Red Mill oat bran. It has more of a Cream of Wheat texture and a good option to mix it up.

Here are some of my favorite ways to eat them:

 Overnight Oats

 Cold oatmeal might sound weird but the Swiss have been doing it for ages. One of the best things I ate in Europe was having Muesli every morning when I was visiting our family friends in Switzerland. The last few summers, my husband and I made overnight oats in regular rotation.

strawberries and cream overnight (1)

For one serving:

½ cup old fashioned oats (or oat bran)

1 Tbs of Chia Seeds

½-3/4 cup of Unsweetened Almond Milk (I usually add more in the morning as the Chia seeds absorb a lot of it)

2 packets of NuNaturals Stevia (or 1 Tbs sweetener of choice)

Cinnamon to taste

Cover the bowl (or a Mason jar if you’re feeling Pinteresty) and put in the refrigerator over night. In the morning, go to town with mix-ins. My favorite time to eat overnight oats is when August hits and the peaches are at their peak. I mix ½ a diced peach, toasted almond slices and unsweetened coconut flakes. Other ideas to throw in: strawberries, blueberries, pecans, walnuts, bananas, diced up apple, or protein powder. You can even add 1 Tbs of cocoa powder and peanut butter each to the oats before you put them in the fridge at night if you’re craving Reeses.

Steel-cut Slow Cooker Oats

Steel-cut Oats take forever to cook (I’m talkin’ 30 minutes) Ain’t nobody got time for that, especially on a weekday morning. I take my small crock pot (you have to use a plastic liner, otherwise you’ll be scrubbing your crock pot for hours), add 1 cup of steel cut oats, 4 cups of water, a dash of salt, and cinnamon.  Add sweetener and toppings in the morning. This makes 4 servings – just throw the leftovers in the fridge and heat them up the next couple of mornings after with some almond milk.

Apple Pie Oatmeal

½ cup old fashioned oats

Dash of Cinnamon and Apple Pie Spice

¼ of a apple, peeled and chopped

2 Tbs of Sugar Free Maple Syrup (or sweetener of choice)

Handful of chopped, toasted pecans (optional)

Heat ¾-1 cup of water in a small sauce pan, add apples and cinnamon (or apple pie spice) until apples start to soften (about 2 minutes). Add oats and sweetener; cook until water is mostly absorbed. Top with toasted pecans.

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Start Me Up

I think by now most people know the benefits of strength training (increased metabolism, heart health, improved bone density, benefits for the brain – just to name a few) Thankfully women are starting to realize that they won’t look like a man if they pick up the dumbbells.

I’ve had about a dozen people ask how to get started with weight lifting. I am fortunate that my husband is certified to be a personal trainer and spent hours with me teaching me proper form and how to use weight room machines. The weight room can be an intimidating place between grunting meat heads, learning gym etiquette, and the endless amounts of machines. Plus, no one wants to be this person:

It’s extra intimidating when you don’t have a plan. I always am following a program; even if I don’t have a goal I’m working toward. I’m not going to have an effective workout if I just show up and wander around the weight room.  I can’t recommend Jamie Eason’s 12 Week Trainer enough.

  • It’s completely free
  • It has links to show proper form for every exercise
  • Meal plans that change every four weeks
  • The best feature might be that you don’t have to do any cardio for the first phase!
  • It really helped me understand how to structure working different muscle groups and I built a lot of lean muscle from this program.

If you aren’t ready to make the step into a program, group strength training classes are a good baby step. Group pump classes are what first got me interested and finally changed my mindset that I wouldn’t bulk up from lifting.

First Things First

I just need to get this out there – I hate the words ‘blog’ and ‘blogger.’ Fitness is just one of my many passions in life. Another is cooking; specifically coming up with healthy new recipes (mostly treats, many with sprinkles) because balance is essential in a healthy life.

I’ve tried my hand at distance running, triathlons, and most recently a bodybuilding competition. Lately I’ve had friends ask me a lot about nutrition, strength training, and competing. I certainly don’t consider myself an expert but I love to share information and encourage others on their road to health so it made perfect sense to put it all into a blog.

I’ll leave you first with my favorite protein shake recipe. (Adapted from Dashingdish.com)

Cake Batter Protein Shake

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  • 1 Scoop of Vanilla Protein
  • 2 Tbs Sugar Free Fat Free Vanilla Pudding Mix
  • 1/2 tsp Butter Extract
  • 1/2 tsp Almond Extract (Both extracts can be found in the baking aisle)
  • Pinch of Xantham Gum (Optional – it gives a milkshake consistency to any protein shake)
  • Rainbow Sprinkles

Directions: Blend with ice and 1 cup of water or unsweetened almond milk. Top with sprinkles!

Thanks for reading friends!

Rachel