Banana Surplus

Here’s what my banana situation looked like last week:

Bananas

I knew I had to do something about it, because I couldn’t eat all those ripe bananas before they just turned to mush.

So I debated my options.

First, I thought I could make the banana peanut butter chocolate chip cookies I made in the fall because they’re delicious, and maybe bring them to work. But I’m actually on the verge of baking a few batches of cookies for a co-worker’s birthday next week, so more cookies just seemed excessive (did you notice that leaf that turned over in that sentence that I just wrote).  Then, I thought to myself, I could make banana bread and mail it to my grandparents (otherwise I would eat the whole loaf myself in one day). But I just sent them Valentines chocolate, so I don’t want them to get used to a care package every week. That’s a hard pace to keep up.

But then I remembered a post I saw either on Pinterest or a link from another blog about two ingredient cookies, just bananas and oats. It caught my eye, and I was curious to try it out. I love bananas, I love oats, what could go wrong? (By the way, even though I said I wasn’t going to make more cookies, these hardly count as full blown cookies.)

not the most photogenic

So anyway, I ran to the store to pick up some oats, and a couple mix-ins: walnuts, mini chocolate chips, and almond butter. I figured I needed to punch up the recipe a little because just bananas and oats could be a little bland.

The recipe is the easiest thing ever, and the results were solid but nothing revolutionary I must say. The cookies remind me of banana bread batter. Not bad, but not crave-worthy. None the less, a good, healthy snack to have on hand, and a nice use for those ripe bananas!

Here’s my adaptation of the recipe (I doubled it and added stuff):

Two Ingredient Cookies (sort of)

Adapted from: Foodlets, yields about 2 dozen small cookies (give or take, depending on how much batter you eat)

Ingredients

  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 2 scant cups of oats
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Mash up the bananas with a fork. Add the almond butter and combine. Add oats and other mix-ins and stir until combined.

3. Make one and a half inch balls of dough and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Press the balls down with a fork like you would with peanut butter cookies. They will not expand in the oven.

ready for the oven4. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes. Allow to cool completely. And enjoy!

out of the oven!

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Food Trends In My Kitchen: Blue Algae

So what’s healthier/weirder than having a spinach and protein smoothie for breakfast every morning? Having a spinach, protein, and blue-green algae smoothie for breakfast every morning…

blue-green algae

Now, when I say blue algae, I don’t mean that I’m putting anything that looks like algae in my smoothie. It actually comes in a powder form that is a deep greenish bluish color, and turns my smoothies a deeper green.

This addition was actually a tip that I got from my health coach Noel. Her initial intent was that I replace the spinach in my smoothie, because apparently raw spinach can be stressful on your digestive system. The blue-green algae would serve as an alternative vegetable, but I’m a little too attached to my spinach so I add both the spinach and the algae (who gets attached to spinach?).

My spinach smoothie without the algae, then with the algae

My spinach smoothie without the algae, then with the algae

Anywho, I’ve been dabbling with algae on and off for a couple months now. The label on the bottle says it will give me energy along with a laundry list of other benefits. I believe it’s considered a super food. I’m not quite sure if I’m experiencing any specific benefits that come directly from the algae yet because eat pretty healthy food in general, but I feel good about it!

Sadie’s Daily Breakfast Smoothie

  • 1 banana (brown spots=good)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp blue-green algae (I use this)
  • 1 scoop protein powder (I use this)
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 2 handfuls raw spinach
  • 3-4 ice cubes
  1. If you have a strong blender you can just add the ingredients and blend until smooth.
  2. I you have a wimpier blender (like me), start with the banana, algae, cinnamon, protein, and almond milk. Blend for about 15 seconds.
  3. Add spinach one handful at a time and blend until smooth. Finally add the ice cubes and blend until smooth (about 30 seconds or so).

(for some reason the order that you add the ingredients seems to affect the texture, so this is the best order I’ve come up with for myself)

Food Trends in My Kitchen: Chia Seeds

As you may or may not know, I am a rather picky eater. That was just the understatement of the century. I’m the pickiest eater I know. I’ll own it, I know it’s obnoxious and annoying and within my control. There are always improvements to be made.

Anywho, that tangent was supposed to bring us to the idea that I’m not the most receptive eater when it comes to new ingredients. This month, however, in the spirit of the new year, I’ve tried to incorporate a couple new/different foods into my regular routine. One of my new faves: chia seeds.

chia seeds

I know, I’m late to get on this bandwagon, but better late than never! I’ve dabbled with them previously, but I’m definitely starting to eat them on the regular these days.

Chia seeds are a funny thing. I have thrown them into granola bar recipes in the past, and they came out quite well. I flipped on the TV while I was getting dressed for work the other day, and the first thing I saw was Dr. Oz telling me to put a tablespoon of chia seeds into water for a quick snack to satisfy hunger. I am always hungry so this intrigued me. Then later that same day, I saw a quick video on the internet about several super foods and their benefits, and chia seeds were first on the list because they help burn fat. Sign me up!

So that was a long way to say that I bought some chia seeds and have started adding them to my oatmeal, or putting them in water for a quick afternoon snack to hold me over to dinner. They get a slightly weird gelatinous texture when they are submerged in water, but they have no taste so you can add them to anything really. Since I’ve only started eating them regularly a couple weeks ago, so I can’t brag about any specific ways they have changed my life, but I’ll keep you posted!

Here’s the play by play of my oatmeal assembly:

Chia seeds on top, mixed in, then some almond butter and walnuts and it's a meal!

Chia seeds on top, mixed in, then some almond butter and walnuts and it’s a meal!

What new/different food has found it’s way into your pantry lately?

Goals for 2014

Last year I had a laundry list of goals in several different categories, and I think I did a pretty good job of achieving a lot of them. This year, however, I’m going to make a little simpler, and have a shorter list. Here goes:

1. Replace my morning mocha with tea. My office has a Flavia machine (similar to a Keurig), that I typically use once or twice daily to make myself a mocha (on this machine it’s really 1/3 hot chocolate and 2/3 coffee). I like that this is a free beverage option (rather than making regular Starbucks runs as with previous jobs), but I think tea would be a better alternative. I’m not ruling out the occasional fancy coffee drink, but making it more occasional is the goal.

2. Reduce my sugar intake on a regular basis. I know, I know, this is very vague, but it basically means I’m going to make an effort to curb my sweet tooth. Nothing bothers me more than when someone says, “you know, I’m not much for dessert, I’ve never really had a sweet tooth.” No one asked you, go sit in the corner. I typically only want sweet food, so my goal here is to stick to a less sweet routine, because I think it will make me crave sweet less often. Just like the mocha thing, I’m trying to break some habits.

3. Follow the stock market regularly. I find the stock market pretty fascinating and intimidating, and I check various stocks from time to time. This year I pick a few stocks I’m interested in, and I’m trying to check them on Yahoo Finance everyday. I’ve been very interested in the athletic apparel recently because I think Lululemon is in the process of taking a big hit from more cost friendly competitors like Athleta (part of the Gap group) and Under Armour. I want to watch that play out, so I’m following all of them, plus Nike and Adidas (it’s a two for one since they own Reebok), and Pepsi for good measure. I never felt too comfortable with finance class in business school, but with all the case studies we did, I learned it’s kind of fun to follow a few companies and watch their progress. Speaking of which, can we talk about Lulu’s December:Lulu

4. Be Better, Faster, Stronger. No specific fitness goals this year in terms of races I want to run or times I was to get. I just want to continue to be committed to my regular workouts, and continue to improve. I was going through a slower running phase last fall, so I’m hoping to snap out of that and pick up the pace. Plus I think if I put a little more effort/consistency into my weight workouts I could up my weights a little, and get stronger. And Pilates as much as possible, because I love it! When you’re stressed for time it’s hard to push the envelope at the gym, so hopefully I can make some time for that.

5. Blog more regularly. I went from blogging very regularly when Carrie and I started the blog, to being very sporadic this year, so hopefully I will find a new rhythm in the 2014! (and maybe Carrie will too, wink, wink, nudge, nudge)

Are you sticking to the typical resolutions this year, or did you pick something that’s more out of the box?

The Summer Salad

As you might have picked up, I recently moved to the DC area. I’m living in Arlington and working in the city. This is definitely a big change for me because I’ve never spent an extended period of time in the DC area. Everyday I’m learning new things about the area, but I wanted to share my favorite thing so far: the salads. I know this is a little random and perhaps unexciting to many people, but this is a luxury I have not experienced yet.
When I say salads, I mean the several great salad fast food places they have here like Chop’t and Sweet Green. I realize that these places are pretty common in metropolitan areas these days, but they’re relatively new to me. Having lived in Williamsburg, central Connecticut, and Lewisburg, PA in the last three years, I didn’t really get exposed to the trendiest new restaurant chains.
So last summer I raved about the Whole Foods salad bar, but this takes salads to a new level. For those unfamiliar with these places, it’s not like they’re re-inventing the fast food wheel, they’re just doing it with salad. The restaurants typically have about eight or so salads on their menu. They are usually a combination of traditional options like a version of a Ceaser, something kind of Greek, a southwestern option, etc. And then you have the option to make your own where you can pick a certain number of veggies, protein, crunchy things; whatever you want.
I typically go with different options depending on the specific restaurant. For example, Sweet Green is a little more earthy/organic and I love the “Spicy Sabzi” which is a combination of kale and spinach, spicy quinoa, spicy broccoli, bean sprouts, carrots, basil, roasted tofu, and I substitute dried cranberries because I don’t like the beets. And the dressing is Siracha and a carrot vinaigrette. Don’t you just feel healthier reading that description!Sweet Green
The Sweet Green is near my apartment (and conveniently on my walk back from the gym), but Chop’t is in the city just a few blocks from my office. I usually get the “Vegetarian Powerhouse” when I’m at Chop’t. It includes spinach and romaine, edemame, broccoli, carrots, sunflower seeds, walnuts, dried cranberries, apples, and a “spa” balsamic vinaigrette.chopt
Plus the closet food option to my office, Devon and Blakely, has a great make your own salad option that is perfect for grabbing a quick lunch at work. The make your own option is always a little stressful for me because I never know what to choose, but I usually go with spinach, red onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, edemame, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, and a balsamic vinaigrette. Pretty basic, lots of veggies and a little crunch.
So basically, I have turned into a rabbit here in DC and I’m loving it. I’m trying to find some moderation because it’s not always the most economical option, and I kind of wonder if I will burn out on salads. But right now, things are lean and green.
What are your go-to Summer meals? Do you like ordering from the menu or are you a make-your-own fan?

6 Month Check In

It’s July already! Where did the time go? Since we’re just over halfway through 2013, I thought it would be a good time to check in with my New Year’s Resolutions. I’m feeling good about my progress so far:

Personal Goals

  • Graduate with my MBA – CHECK
  • Find a great full-time job- CHECK (I start today)
  • Make at least one international trip- CHECK (Milan and London)
  • Read more books (like maybe 10 for the year)- working on it, but off pace

Fitness Goals

  • Run another half marathon- CHECK (Colonial Half Marathon)
  • Push myself to run faster- I’ve been going up and down in pace, but I’m definitely faster than last year
  • Lead a successful Yorktown Victory Run (I’m the race director)- CHECK
  • Learn the Pilates Reformer- CHECK (I love it)
  • Add more variety to my fitness routine- CHECK (I’ve tried both yoga and Crossfit and hopefully I can make them regular parts of my routine)
  • Continue to make weight loss progress, and continue to stabalize my nutrional routine- I think I’m making baby steps with this (I’ve gone up and down a little because of some vacations, etc)  but I think having a full time job will help me stabilize my routine further

Cooking Goals

  • Make a successful challah bread- nope
  • Broaden my savory dish repertoire- a little bit
  • Try at least 3 new techniques like making marshmallows or risotto, or cooking with a new ingredient like tofu- CHECK on the marshmallows, and I made vegetarian dumplings with my mom
  • Cook more dinners at home rather than using places like Panera as my dinner option too often- CHECK, lately I’ve only been eating dinner out maybe twice a week tops, otherwise I make my own dinner

And let’s see how accurate my horoscope for 2013 from Yahoo was:

2013 brings you sweeping change and intensity, Virgo. The biggest transformation takes place in the realm of the mind. Communication, correspondence and courses of new study carry great importance. Saturn, the cosmic taskmaster, is spending a good chunk of time in the sector of your chart ruling the mental realms and communication. If you’re not already a powerful public speaker, teacher or writer, get ready to discover your latent potential to sway the masses with your power of speech! You’re also hungry for knowledge in 2013, and will want to strengthen your skill set and beef up your resume with even more knowledge than you possess naturally.

I can’t say this is word for word accurate, but I think it corresponds well to my transition from grad school to a new promising job. I love horoscopes!

So the moral of the story is that I need to make Challah bread, continue to improve with my weight management goals, and hit the books hard. I think I can do that in six months!

I Heart Keenwah

Earlier this week, my best friend in the world sent me a very thoughtful care package because she knew I was having a crazy stressful week. It was the perfect package, there were snacks and great tee shirt.  The shirt is not only cool looking, but the proceeds help benefit the relief efforts for Hurricane Sandy damages in New Jersey.  I’ve worn it twice this week already, isn’t it cool:renewNJ

Among a few of the snacks that she sent was something called I Heart Keenwah. She knows that I’m into health foodie/granola type stuff, so this was little granola bar type squares with quinoa rather than oats.  There are a few great things that I noticed about this snack.  First, they taste great.  She sent me the cranberry cashew flavor: fabulous.  But then I noticed the ingredient list.  It was comprised of a list of things I could pronounce.  While there were a couple uber healthy ingredients like quinoa flakes and almond oil, there were no chemicals.  It kind of blew me away.  I didn’t realize something packaged in such a normal, mainstream way, could be so natural. If you see things in the health aisle at your grocery store, give them a try!Keenwah

What’s your favorite healthy snack?