Healthy and Easy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

I love blogs with beautiful photos of ridiculous things I might not ever make.  But truth be told, sometimes I want to see recipes I’ll actually make.

So recently, while I was brainstorming ideas for Peanut Butter & Co.’s Peanut Butter/Oat extravaganza, I decided to share a recipe I make all the time.

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I have an enormous sweet tooth.  I want to eat cake every single day.

No really.  Every. Single. Day.

But I also want to be healthy.  So sometimes I make compromises and find ways to tone down my sweet tooth and still be satisfied.

Peanut Butter + Oats + Banana is the perfect way to do it.  They’re not terribly sweet, but they do the job when I want a big fat cookie without all the extra fat and sugar.

Peanut Butter and Co. teamed up with Bob’s Red Mill to do what they are calling #Oatober.  I love both oats and peanut butter, so I couldn’t help but participate.

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I seriously made these cookies every other week in some variation or another.  Today I’m sharing an oatmeal, raisin, date inspired cookie, but I’m thinking I’ll try a pumpkin version later this month.

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Healthy and Easy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Peanut Butter
2 cups of oats, blended in a food processor
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chocolate chips
5 dates, chopped

Pre-heat oven to 350F.  Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  You’ll get a thick dough.  Form dough into balls and flatten slightly to form a cookie shape.

Lay cookies on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Bake 15 minutes or until golden on the bottoms.  Allow to cool and serve!

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That’s it.  They’re super easy and perfect with a cup of tea.  I really do make them all the time.  Sometimes I omit the chocolate chips.  Sometimes I do raisins.  I also tried making this with Peanut Butter and Co’s new Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter and they were all sorts of awesome!

What’s your favorite Peanut Butter/Oat Combo?

 

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Slow Cooker Chicken Adobo

You know those days where you don’t feel like cooking and it’s too hot to turn on the oven to roast some chicken and vegetables?  This is your meal for those days.

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It’s super, SUPER easy and  tasty.  As a bonus, it’s pretty healthy too.  It might be a little bit high on salt but you’re not really drinking the sauce, just spoon a bit on your spaghetti squash (or rice #carbs4life) and you’re good to go.

I think I’ve only had traditional Filipino Chicken Adobo at a restaurant once.  I remember it being delicious and tangy.  As is true with most countries in South East Asia, the Philippines has awesome food and I’d love to visit.

In the meantime, make this dish for an easy weeknight meal while you daydream about being in a far off land.

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Slow Cooker Chicken Adobo

8 pieces of bone-in chicken (I used drum sticks)
3/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 shallot, sliced
3 bay leaves

Place all ingredients in a slow cooker.  Cook on high 4-5 hours.

Serve with spaghetti squash and green beans (or serve on rice, because I’m pretty sure that’s how it’s normally served).

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If you’re wanting to make this paleo, you can probably substitute coconut aminos for the soy sauce and you’re good to go.

I had this for dinner and leftovers for lunch.  All sorts of goodness.

Totally unrelated to this recipe, I have a mini poll…

Would you be interested in seeing workouts on here?

Let me know in the comments (Yay! I love work outs! Bring ’em on! OR Umm no thanks, more cake, please).

 

 

 

Flourless Peanut Butter Brownies

I’ve generally been of the opinion that if you want dessert, just eat dessert.  But recently, I’ve been interested in trying out healthier dessert options, because it sounds sort of fun.  So to get started on that track I turned to Pinterest.

I can’t really take credit for this recipe.  I made a few changes to the original but for the most part, I need to give credit where credit is due (aka thanks Skinny Taste).  I’m still learning the ropes of healthy baking (which I used to do all the time, but apparently have completely forgotten), so I’m relying on some awesome recipes out there.

Now that I’ve tried a few successful ones, I can start experimenting with my own concoctions.

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Sometimes when I look at healthy recipes, I worry the finished product is going to be gross.  Don’t lie. I know you worry about this too.

The reality is we need to adjust our expectations.  Most of the time, a recipe that includes no butter and sugar and calls itself dessert will NOT be the same as a traditional dessert recipe.  So if you’re looking to make these brownies and expecting the gooey, chewy deliciousness of Ghiradelli Box Mix, you will be disappointed.

(Side note: These Caramel Pretzel Brownies will not disappoint)

These Flourless Peanut Butter Brownies are tasty, but let’s be real.  They’re not like those awesome and chewy box mix brownies.  The texture is more spongey. That said, they’re pretty great considering they are completely flourless and low in sugar.   If you’re wondering about the nutrition for 1 piece (and I cut this into 12 pieces), each serving is under 100 calories and has 5g of protein and 9g of sugar.

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I found this idea of using powdered peanut butter instead of flour and thought it was perfect since Peanut Butter & Co. sent me some of their new Mighty Nut Powdered Peanut Butter to try.   Why hadn’t I thought of that before?  I’ll definitely be giving this a try again and making new recipes with powdered peanut butter.

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Flourless Peanut Butter Brownies

adapted from Skinny Taste

1 egg
1 egg white
1 cup chocolate powdered peanut butter (I used Chocolate Mighty Nut)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp coffee (or water)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 325F.  Grease and line a 9×9 inch square pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat together egg and egg white.  Add powdered peanut butter, cocoa powder, baking and start to mix in.  Add water, maple syrup and vanilla extract and mix until combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Spread batter into prepared pan.  The batter will be thick, mine didn’t actually fill the whole 9×9 inch pan, but it worked.

Bake 25 minutes.  Allow to cool completely and cut into 12 squares.  Serve and enjoy!

FlourlessPBBrownies1I was pretty surprised at how tasty these were.  I’m not sure if it’s because it was the first dessert I had in about a week or if they really were good.  I’m going to give some to some friends later to see if they think they’re awesome too.  Remember, it’s all about expectations right?

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The other expectation is that you enjoy these while binge-watching House of Cards on Netflix.  I finally got around to season 3 and destroyed it this weekend while Jesse was away backpacking.

How was your weekend? Do you love healthy desserts or prefer to stick to regular ones in moderation?

 

 

 

 

Healthier Banana Coffee Cake with Maple Oat Topping

A quick cake for when you need something a little bit on the healthier side.

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I had a rough morning a few days ago.  Then I gave myself a pep talk and remembered that being healthy is something I have to consciously do everyday. For me, being normal means eating three meals a day, focusing on eating a lot of vegetables and protein and NOT eating 3 slices of cake after lunch.   Pretty simple right?

The reality is I’m always going to want dessert, and eating dessert is ok in moderation. Eating a donut, chips and ice cream all in the same day (aka this past Sunday) is a little too much for me .  There is definitely a balance.

Somedays I want to embrace it and make real, delicious desserts, because I love baking.  But then other days, I want to make healthier alternatives with a little more consideration for the ingredients, like this cake:

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It’s lower in sugar than traditional cake and gluten-free (if that matters to you).  It only uses whole oats so you don’t have to worry about processed flours.

Healthier Banana Coffee Cake with Maple Oat Topping

1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup rolled oats, ground*
1/2 cup almond flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 medium ripe  bananas, mashed
1/2 tbsp powdered sugar (optional, for dusting)

For Topping:

1/4 oats
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp maple syrup

Pre-heat oven to 350F.  Grease 6 inch baking pan (I used a springform pan).

In a bowl, mix together oil, maple syrup, egg and vanilla.  Set aside.

If you haven’t done so already, grind your oats in the food processor (or blender like a vitamix). *use gluten-free oats if you’re gluten intolerant

Add dry ingredients to oil mixture.  Stir to combine.  Lastly, fold in the mashed banana.

In a small bowl combine ingredients for topping.

Pour batter into baking pan, sprinkle oat topping on top and bake for 30-40 minutes or until cooked through (I think might took about 40 minutes).

Allow to cool.  Dust with powdered sugar if you’d like (optional).

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This turned out great, but doesn’t any type of banana cake/bread always turn out amazing? I think next time I’d try reducing the maple syrup some more.

If you’re curious about the nutrition information on this, here it is:

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This does not include the topping and each serving is 1/8th of the cake (a small ish piece).

Not the best and not the worst.  I guess that’s what it’s about overall, right?  Balance.

 

 

Let’s Do Lunch

Lunch has always been the most boring meal of the day for me.  In school, it was something I quickly grabbed between classes while trying to catch up on last minute reading for a discussion section later that day.

Then work started and lunch was a little more fun.  I almost always packed my lunch and ate it with a few others who did the same for about 20 minutes, then back to work.

Now that I work at home, I’m trying to make sure lunch is more fun (hey, a lady needs something spice up her day).  Have you noticed that lately, we’ve all been so preoccupied with brunch that we’ve forgotten about lunch?

Let’s do lunch.

The Meal

Let’s keep the meal healthy and balanced.  Last week, I had some fish with sauteed squash.  It was all sorts of tasty.

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Today, I had tuna.

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Tuna sounds not exciting, and I have no idea how to make it look good. But when you throw it on a salad with some barley, it’s a winner.

Tuna is seriously underrated.

Now that food is set, let’s chat…

The Discussion Topics

In the World:

Aziz Ansari is hilarious and wrote a book.  Here’s a bit about it in Time.

FIFA is still being nuts, but the Women’s World Cup just started! Why can’t we be as excited about this World Cup as the regular one?

Vegetables!

 

Let’s talk about GMO foods for a minute… Fear or fact?  “The anti-G.M.O. movement, I’m afraid, risks throwing the baby out with the bathwater. What is needed is a dispassionate look at what G.M.O.s mean and their actual and potential good, not just a fear of harmful possibilities.”  <– Agreed!

In MY World:

I walked past Tartine Bakery twice this weekend and didn’t eat a croissant. Who am I?

Instead, I ate pupusas at Balompie Cafe in San Francisco, and they were all sorts of tasty.

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I hiked at Tennessee Valley in Marin yesterday and forgot to bring sunscreen.  Fail. I’m sunburnt.   But that aside, I hung out with my friend Emily for the first time in years.  She’s awesome. We talked about how much we love having girl friends.  I’m a girl girl, and I’m cool with that.

 

Do you tend to have friends of the same or opposite sex?  And more importantly… What did you have for lunch?

 

Salad Spring Rolls

One of my favorite things about living in Orange County was the plethora of Vietnamese restaurants.

Fun Fact: Orange County, CA has the largest Vietnamese population in the US.  

And because of that we were blessed with delicious (and inexpensive) restaurants.

Over the last four years, I’ve become obsessed with the Vietnamese Spring Rolls.  It’s almost a rule that I must order them any time I go to a Vietnamese restaurant.

I’m sure there have to be amazing Vietnamese restaurants here in the Bay Area, and I will do my best to discover them, but in the meantime, I’m going to keep the memory alive with some spring roll inspiration.

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These aren’t really Vietnamese spring rolls.  They don’t include rice noodles or shrimp or pork.  They’re just vegetables, which is why I call them salad spring rolls.  Despite not being like the tasty ones I get at restaurants, this has become my new favorite way to eat salad.

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They pretty quick, easy and tasty.  The other wonderful thing is you can make them with whatever you have on hand.

Here are some suggestions for filling your spring rolls:

Thai Basil
Lettuce
Cucumber
Carrots
Red Bell Pepper
Bean Sprouts

For Dipping Sauce:

1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1-2 tbsp peanut butter, natural
1-2 tbsp sriracha
1-2 tbsp water

To assemble, cut your vegetables into match tickets (i.e. carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers) and wash your lettuce and thai basil.   You’ll need to get rice paper.  You can probably find it at any Asian grocery store (or on Amazon).

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Wet your rice paper by dipping it in water for about 3 seconds and you’re ready to go (do one at a time, don’t wet them all at once, because they’re very sticky).  I have a rice paper water bowl, but it’s not essential, and shallow dish to submerge the paper in will work.

Then you can start assembling your spring rolls.   Place some of the vegetables toward the bottom of the circle, like such:

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Fold the right and left sides toward the center, then the shorter side up and roll to cover.  I couldn’t take photos of this process because it requires two hands and I only have two, unfortunately (or fortunately).  But this blog has an awesome tutorial!  Check it out!  

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Once your spring rolls are rolled and ready, make your quick dipping sauce.   Combine hoisin, peanut butter, sriracha in a bowl.  Start with 1 tbsp of each, taste it and adjust to your liking.

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You don’t have to use this dipping sauce, you can also mix fish sauce with water, a bit of sugar and chili garlic sauce and dip!  Or since these are salad rolls, feel free to dip in your favorite salad dressing.  We’re not being authentic here, so anything goes.

But seriously, this hand-held salad options is awesome.  I served it with some mustard rubbed chicken and it was a hit (to Jesse and me, that is, but I think we have ok taste).  I think this is my new favorite summer meal.

What’s your favorite salad or summer meal?

Getting Back on the Healthy Train and Starting Crossfit Again

I live and die by schedules.  I love checklists, to-dos and deadlines.

I love to know exactly what I have to done and when it has to be done.  In work, that’s great.  I get things done quickly.  In life, it means when my schedule gets thrown off, I have a hard time maintaining sanity.

Moving to the Bay Area has really thrown off my schedule.  It used to be I’d wake up at 5:30, be at the gym by 6am (or out for a run), be at work by 8:15.  My morning schedule was great.  I was used to it.  I was so productive.  Exercising in the morning makes me feel great.

Then the past few months happened.  We went to Mexico and Guatemala, we moved and got settled and all that went away, especially because I work remotely while I look for a new job up here.

Moving is hard.  It’s hard to get used to a new place and get your bearings.

So while all that was happening, I basically ate terribly and didn’t exercise.

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(Please see my Instagram for more details)

But all that said, it’s finally all coming together. But it’s not magic, it takes work (and contrary to what other blogs like to tell you, getting healthy is not always fun).

I’m figuring out my schedule.  I also found a new Crossfit.  I’ve been 3 times so far and let me be perfectly honest with you, going to a new crossfit is scary.  You’re not sure what to expect, because every box is different, and people are different.

I think I’ve lucked out, because everyone has been extremely nice.  But it’s still scary, and I miss my old box with my set of friends and coaches that I like.

I had to make myself go this morning.  I was dreading it, because I was scared.  But once I got there and did the workout, I had a great time (p.s. my back squat 1 rep max has gone down by 22lbs, I’ve got work to do).

The key for me to stick with it is to just make myself do it.  I don’t have my running buddy anymore, so I need to find other ways to make it work.  My solution: Nike it.

Then there’s eating healthy.  I’ve struggled, because cheese and cake are delicious.

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So just like how I have to force myself to exercise, I currently have to force myself to eat well.  I’m trying, because I pretty much want to eat Chinese food and cake for every meal.  I cleaned out my fridge and left only non-processed foods and made normal meals for myself trying to balance protein and carbs.

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Healthy and colorful meals can be awesome.  They just take some getting used to, because I’m convinced your palate changes after eating a certain way for a few weeks.  Being healthy is important and let’s be honest, sometimes it’s not fun and you just want to eat cake (I can’t be alone in this sentiment).

There’s a time for cake, but right now, it’s time for vegetables.  And let’s not forget, I’m getting married next year, now is not the time to start gaining weight.  I’m also not into crash diets, so probably a good idea to just maintain my weight for the next year (or lifetime?).

Do you have any tips for getting healthy after being off-track for a while?