Overnight Oats

I can’t believe it has already been two weeks since moving back to Cleveland! I am officially done with 1 week of my Dietetic Internship (48 more to go!) and have been very busy. Hopefully this weekend I’ll have some time to write a full update on how it is going, but for now, I thought I would share one of my favorite breakfasts.

While oatmeal is definitely one of my go-to breakfasts in the morning, it isn’t easy to take on the go. Now that I am waking up early to get to work at the hospital, I need something that I can take with me in the car. The solution? Overnight oats!

It took some trial and error to get the recipe just right and a few tries before I got use to the texture, but now I love ‘em! I can throw all the ingredients in a jar at night, pop it in the fridge, and wa-lah – breakfast is ready to go when I wake up.

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All the ingredients for my recipe

If you aren’t familiar, overnight oats are made by putting raw, rolled oats in a jar with yogurt or milk. While the oats soak overnight, they absorb the moisture and soften up. The first time I tried making overnight oats, I was expecting them to taste and feel like cooked oat (which they don’t). They still kind of feel raw…like I said, it takes some getting use to.

Anyways, I love that you can make so many different flavors. My favorite is banana and cinnamon (see the recipe below), but I have done strawberry peanut butter, chocolate coconut, and pumpkin spice (the options are endless). Here is the step by step of what mine look like.

 

  1. oats       2. yogurt       3. banana       4. cinnamon     5. chia seeds      6. mix!

I like my overnight oats to be pretty thick so I don’t add any liquid but you can always put in a splash of milk, almond milk, or egg whites if you like it runnier. I also add chia seeds, which absorb moisture and give it a thicker, pudding texture. Again, you can add more and less chia seeds than I do to give it the texture you like. It might take a few tries but there is no wrong way.

Let me know what your favorite overnight oat mixtures are. I am always looking for new ones to try!

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P.S. I have found that the oats stay good for 3-4 days in the fridge so you can make a bunch of jars to have for the week (no excuses for not eating breakfast!)

Kodiak Cakes

Since school is out and I have plenty of time in the mornings to make a big breakfast, I thought I would share one of my favorite grocery finds: Kodiak cakes.

Kodiak Cakes is a company that makes all sorts of pancake & waffle mixes, dessert mixes, oatmeals and granolas. While I haven’t tried many of the products, the two pancakes and waffle mixes I have tried are delicious!Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 11.35.10 PM

The two I have tried are the Protein Packed Flapjack Mix and the Protein Packed Peanut Butter Flapjack Mix. Why Kodiak Cakes over the other pancake mixes?

  • The protein packed kind I buy has 14g of protein per serving!
  • The mix only has whole wheat grains (including whole grain wheat flour and whole grain oat flour).
  • I can read and pronounce every single ingredient in the mix (and there are only 7 of them).
  • There is no bleached white flour or artificial additives in the mix.
  • They only have 3g of sugar per serving.

In order to have a healthy and balanced meal, we need a mix of carbohydrates, protein, and fat at each meal. Because pancakes are typically all carbs, they can get a bad wrap for being too much like dessert for breakfast. That is why I love this protein packed mix. It takes care of the protein that is typically missing in pancakes.

Now, since Kodiak Cakes has our carb and protein needs covered, all we need is a little healthy fat. That’s where I turn to my beloved nut butter collection. Just drizzle some nut butter on your pancakes and you are good to go with a balanced breakfast.

Still aren’t convinced these pancakes can be healthy?

Lets take oatmeal, for example. Many times, the little instant packets of oatmeal have just as many (if not more) carbs than a serving of regular pancakes mix, with no fat or protein. We often make oatmeal out to be some much healthier than pancakes when really they have almost the exact same nutrients (almost all carbs).

I will say that oatmeal typically has more fiber than regular, white flour pancakes, but neither makes for a very balanced meal because there is no fat or protein. Now, oatmeal can be made into a balanced meal by added protein (egg whites or greek yogurt) and healthy fat (nut butter, flax seeds, chia seeds, almonds, etc.) just the same way that protein and fat can be added to pancakes.

My point is that we just have to be aware of what is in our food. Oatmeal may seem healthier than pancakes, but they are really quite similar. By adding protein and fat to either oatmeal or pancakes, you will have equally healthy and balanced meals.

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My Protein Packed Kodiak Cakes with banana slices and cashew butter

I happen to love mixing up my typical morning oatmeal with a big plate of pancakes every now and then so I always turn to my Protein Packed Kodiak Cakes for a balanced breakfast.

Want more info on Kodiak Cakes? http://www.kodiakcakes.com/

Back To School: Senior Year

Happy hump day! It has been a while since my last post, so here is a little life update. Monday marked the first day of classes for this semester…well for most people. I, somehow, got lucky enough to only have classes on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s this semester! It might should like I have quite the relaxed semester, but don’t worry. I will be keeping busy with my senior capstone project, an independent study literature review research paper, applying to grad school/Dietetic Internships, and my new student research position at the Cleveland Clinic. My research job doesn’t start until next week, but I am super excited to explore the research side of nutrition. I will be working with patients who have Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension, teaching them how to comply to a Mediterranean diet, and doing some data collection.

Yesterday was my first official day of class so I got to meet all my professors and read several pages of daunting syllabi with all my assignments and exams to look forward to…NOT. My classes this semester are Community Nutrition, Child Nutrition, and Guided Study in Nutrition Practice. While the first day isn’t a great indicator, my favorite class so far is Guided Study. I am going to learn how to talk to patients, ask relevant questions, and figure out how to come up with a proper nutrition diagnoses and action plans based on the patients needs. This class is bringing my Registered Dietitian goals to life; it showed me that the information and skills I am learning will actually be relevant to my job in the future (who knew? J).

On another note, back to school means back to meal planning and packing lunches. I made my meal plan and prepped my meals over the weekend before I got busy with classes, but I am going to have to get back into the groove. I have to remember to be thorough in my planning because popping over to the grocery store is not as easy on campus as it is living at home (learned that the hard way after I forgot eggs this weekend). This week my typical oatmeal is on tap for breakfast, quinoa with ground turkey and sweet potato for lunch, and veggies burgers (recipe coming soon) with guac for dinner.

Since I haven’t been at school since last December because of my study abroad trip, I forgot about all of the free food around campus that can be so tempting! Free donuts if I join the Chess Club, a mini cupcake if I sign up for the Math Club, and even free candy for walking past the Student Dietetic Association table (this one has never made sense to me, haha). I will definitely be arming myself with lots of healthy snacks tomorrow (including apples, string cheese, trail mix, and Skinny Pop) to keep me satiated and to have a healthy alternative when walking past the sugary bribes on the way to class.

I hope to try out some new recipes this weekend and learn some fun nutrition facts in my classes to share next week!

A Sugary Surpise

And just like that, another semester in the books. With this semester behind me, it just got real that I will be living in a different country in one month, and I’m SO EXCITED. Of course I am going to miss family and friends back home (It is crazy to think that the next time I step foot on campus will be in August!), but I can’t wait to see where my study abroad journey takes me (literally and figuratively).

Anyways, during finals week, it is pretty common for college students to pretend calories don’t matter and 5 cookies will make hours of studying and three-hour exams seem a little better. Ironically, as a nutrition major, while you are chowing down Hershey Kisses and Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups at the library, I’m sitting one table over trying to memorize all of the things that sugar is doing to your body.

Sugar is a tricky topic and always gets a bad wrap. Most people think anything with sugar is bad, but if I were to ask you, which is better: a Snicker’s bar or a cup of Cherry Chobani Greek Yogurt, you would probably say the yogurt is better. Guess what? The yogurt actually has more sugar than the snickers! How about Quaker Raisin Oatmeal or a Krispy Kreme doughnut? The oatmeal has more sugar!

Now, I am not saying to go out and eat candy and doughnuts instead of yogurt and oatmeal. The sugar in the candy is added sugar whereas the sugar in yogurt in natural lactose. Both types raise blood glucose and insulin levels (read more here), but natural sugar is more easily recognized by the body to be metabolized. Plus, yogurt and oatmeal are full of other nutrients that desserts don’t have.

This is just some food for thought. Just because something contains sugar doesn’t mean it is bad; it is the type of sugar that is more important.

Key words to look for one a food label which indicate added sugar: maltose, dextrose, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, (anything else ending in –ose), cane juice, maltodextrin, syrup, malt, nectar, sorbitol, and too many more to name!

Note: Ingredients on a food label are listed in order by weight. If a product has added sugar, make sure it is one of the last ingredients rather than the first.

Mini Fridges, Microwaves, and Maid Service

My obligatory first day of school photo.

My obligatory first day of school photo.

Day 1 of junior year… check! After a long 8-hour day on campus, I am finally back to my hotel. No, that is not a typo; I am living in a hotel. My on-campus apartment building is brand new and isn’t ready for me to move in yet, so in the mean time I’m living in a hotel. It is a strange feeling walking into a hotel all sweaty from the mile walk back and having the bellhop ask you if you need help carrying your backpack to your room (I must have looked like I was struggling!).

I’m enjoying the 24-hour fitness center along with the clean towels and lotion samples that are left in the bathroom everyday. But, with all the nice hotel amenities come the not so good parts. Can you guess my biggest complaint? The food situation! Three weeks in a hotel means three weeks without the kitchen that I should have in my apartment. I feel like I’m back in my freshman dorm with just a mini fridge and a microwave minus the dining hall.

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The hotel mini kitchen.

Of course there are tons of restaurants to choose from, but I’m not a fan of eating at a restaurant for 63 meals in a row. Thankfully, I have friends with kitchens and spent yesterday afternoon cooking a bunch of meals to stock my mini fridge for the week. Aside from that, here are some healthy snacks I have discovered you have with just a fridge and a microwave:

Fresh Fruits Vegetables
Apples, bell pepper, carrots, celery, and oranges all last about a week so they are great to have on hand for a quick snack or to grab when you are on your way to class. Adding peanut butter or hummus to your fruits or veggies can make an even more nutritious snack.

Cooked Vegetables
Zucchini, broccoli, and edamame can all be kept in the fridge and cooked in the microwave. Click the names below to find out how to cook them.
Steamed zucchini
Steamed broccoli
Edamame 

Other Options
If you have access to a kitchen or can get them from the dining hall, hard-boiled eggs are a great snack with lots of protein.
Popcorn is also a good microwavable snack if you choose one with light butter and salt.
Yogurt and Oatmeal are not only good for breakfast, but also as an afternoon snack with some berries or granola. Check out my post about my obsession with oatmeal here.

Stay tuned for more of my hotel adventures and healthy microwave meals!

My New Oatmeal Obsession

I have always struggled to eat a good breakfast. I’m simply don’t really like to eat a lot in the morning. Most of high school I went without breakfast or just grabbed some fruit for the car ride. While fruit is not a bad option, I always found myself hungry after an hour or two and was starving by the time lunch came around.

I recently got very frustrated with this vicious cycle on not wanting to eat breakfast and then being hungry all morning. I thought there had to be something that was healthy, quick, and filling.

I tried yogurt, eggs, and granola bars but nothing really made me feel great or kept me full. The only thing I hadn’t tried: Oatmeal.

Unless it was in a cookie, oatmeal always kind of freaked me out. The mushy texture reminded me of baby food and was very unappetizing, but I decided I would give it another try.

I went to the grocery store and stared at the shelf of a zillion oatmeal choices reading every box to see what would be the best choice. I wanted something that had little sugar and wasn’t highly processed. I found Better Oats Oat Revolution Steel Cut Instant Oatmeal with Flax (I got the Maple and Brown Sugar variety) to be a good option. It only had 5 ingredients and had added flax for and extra fiber and Omega-3 boost.

Oatmeal Pic

The next morning was the big taste test. I had no expectations and almost had to force the first mushy spoonful into my mouth. Much to my surprise, it was not nearly as bad as I had expected. In fact, I wanted another spoonful. It wasn’t too flavorful so for someone like me who doesn’t like to eat in the morning, it was great. That day was the first in many years that I went to work/school without my stomach rumbling at 10:00am, and I was actually shocked that I didn’t feel the need to inhale as much as I could during lunch.

Since that day a few weeks ago, oatmeal has been my breakfast pretty much every day. I am definitely looking forward to be able to sit through my morning classes at school without counting down the minutes until lunch.

Overall:

  • I am now obsessed with oatmeal!
  • Make sure you buy instant oats so they are quick and easy to make
  • When choosing an oatmeal, make sure it has minimal sugar (Quaker Dinosaur Eggs and many other brands are loaded with sugar)
  • Add fruit or spices to make your oatmeal more flavorful
  • Add flax (if it’s not already included) for extra fiber to keep you full