Tag Archives: steel cut oats

What To Eat When You Can’t Eat: Breakfast on The First Day of Fasting

Since today is the first day of the 19 day Baha’i fast, I thought it might be interesting for you guys to see how I fuel up for breakfast on a typical fasting day.

For 19 days, Baha’i’s do not eat or drink from sunrise to sunset. Since I started fasting at the age of 15, I’ve had countless people ask me questions about how I survive without eating and drinking for the majority of the day.

Here’s the thing: while some days are definitely easier than others, it’s not that big of a deal to abstain from eating and drinking. Our bodies are trained to process food during certain periods of the day. However, when you think about it, the only reason we’re trained to eat three meals per day is because of worker meal plans during the Industrial Revolution. It’s actually better to eat several small meals throughout the day. Therefore, if we’re just reworking meal plans, it’s not that big of a deal to fill your body up before the day begins and then eat again at the end of the day. Of course, fasting is not encouraged if you suffer from any health ailments which affect your eating patterns (diabetes, heart disease, etc.) However, if you are in good physical condition (and not, you know, pregnant), you are expected to participate in the fast.

Most importantly, fasting is a period of spiritual purification. I’ve heard incredible stories of Baha’is putting their faith before physical food, and those stories keep me plowing on (even when my “friends” think it’s cool to eat huge lunches right in front of me.)

Anyway, it’s really important to fuel up properly if you intend to go without eating all day. While it’s great to eat a large breakfast as preparation, your large breakfast should be composed of items which won’t make you hungry throughout the day. For example, I try not to eat especially salty items (like a big bowl of grits ) because they mean I will be VERY hungry again by 11am. I like to eat a good amount of protein and fiber-rich items. This morning I sprung out of bed (at 5:45am) and started making a complex breakfast for my first day. Here’s what I made:

322011 022

Egg Whites with 1/2 oz low-fat cheddar (2 WWpoints+)

Steel Cut Oats topped with 1 tbsp brown sugar and a chopped banana (4 WWpoints+)

Green Monster containing 1/2 cup Silk Dark Chocolate Almond Milk, 1 banana, 1/2 cup spinach, 1/2 orange, 1 scoop boku ( 3 wwpoints+)

1/2 orange (0 wwpoints+)

Of course, the variable here is Time. I always manage to eat especially slow whenever it’s important to eat quickly. The other factor is Water. Literally, I CHUG water up until the sun rises. The pace of water consumption definitely slows down my eating. Therefore, I only managed to get down a few sips of my green monster before the sun was fully in the sky. To be honest, while I absolutely hate to waste food, I wasn’t too broken up about it- this was the first time I’ve ever put chocolate almond milk in my monster and I wasn’t a fan. It was also the first time I’ve used frozen spinach in my monster, and it was a bit too cold and the texture was off.

Today is a pretty busy day- there’s a 1776 morning matinee, and I’m working in the afternoon. Tonight’s dinner will be day 3 of the macaroni and cheese bowl (Don’t worry, it’s the WW friendly day Smile), and I’m going to start posting recipes from the first two days of the macaroni bowl this evening. Yeah, I’m pretty excited about today. Smile

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The Couch to 5k Challenge: You Woke Up At WHAT time?!

As I mentioned earlier, I have been on a metaphorical ‘roll’ today. I don’t usually need to wake up quite so early, but when my alarm started blaring at 5am, I rolled out of bed without a hint of reluctance (ok, maybe there was a hint. Actually, it was more like a generous dash of reluctance). Anyway, today was the first day of my Couch to 5k Challenge adventure, and I wanted to make sure I had my game face on before I hit the gym.

First day verdict? I’m not going to lie: I still don’t like running….yet. In general, I find that when I’m running I can’t find a good point of focus- my mind is zooming around and I start to think ‘I can’t believe I’m running/how long have I been running/how much longer do I need to do this/etc’. I think I’ve spent the last 23 years translating these th0ughts as “I don’t have the right body type for running and I suck at this”. However, after my experience this morning, I just think I get bored really easily and this tendency to get bored results in self-deprecating thoughts. All in all, the run wasn’t so bad. I was definitely breaking a sweat, and I think there are few things which feel better than breaking a sweat from effort that you want to exert (as opposed to breaking a sweat from standing in the sun wearing all black- that definitely doesn’t feel good). At this point, I think I just need to work on distracting myself from the task at hand. Getting inside my own head and thinking crazy thoughts is becoming my Achilles heel.

I was very proud of myself for not quitting, even though there were a couple of moments when I wanted to start walking a little sooner, or lower the treadmill speed. I kept my breathing relatively in check, and when I was struggling to focus, I just tried to train my thoughts on my breathing. And actually, simply thinking about the constant passing of air through your own lungs is pretty therapeutic. With that as my guiding light (and Missy Elliott providing the soundtrack, natch), I think I might actually look forward to Friday morning.

Before bed last night, I threw together my version of Danica’s Crockpot Steel Cut Oats, only I scaled down the recipe a little. The original recipe creates a giant pot of steel cut oats- Because I doubted both the capacity of my crockpot AND how many containers of steel cut oats I wanted to parcel out into my freezer, I decided to make two cups of oats instead of the original three.

steel cut oatmeal

This was a great decision- when I checked the pot this morning, it was packed to the brim with steaming oats and peaches (I didn’t have any blueberries on hand so I omitted them- personally, I’m not a big fan of blueberries. If they are not in liquid form I’m kind of weirded out by the texture.)

I really enjoyed the oats. Cooking them overnight insures that they are cooked thoroughly, and you don’t end up with any chunks of undercooked grain. I added a teaspoon of both Smart Balance and brown sugar to my serving of oats, and the whole bowl was still only 4 WWpoints+ .

I also ate two egg whites (1 WWpoints+), and I drank a giant Green Monster.

1192011 Breakfast 022

My mom turned me on to green monsters over a year ago, and I can personally swear by the health benefits. Some people claim to be really turned off by the texture, but what’s really happening is just a case of old-fashioned food color prejudice. It’s a tale as old as time- we’ve been taught from childhood that green comes in a solid, usually leafy, form. You don’t DRINK green. But let me ask you two questions:

(Imagine me dressed as Billy Mays. Go ahead, I dare you.)

Do you like the taste of fruit juice?

Do you like cold, delicious, fruity smoothies?

Then you, my friend, are about to become a member of the Church of the Green Monster! Yes, there are vegetables in your drink- lots of them, in fact. But guess what? YOU CAN’T TASTE THEM AT ALL. Do you know why? Because you can’t TASTE a color- Ok, I’m starting to channel Billy Mays a little too much and now I’m not making sense. What I’m trying to say is that just because a certain vegetable (say, spinach) has a very dominant color, it does not have a more dominant flavor than say, apples. So if you put the flavor of apples and spinach in a blender, you’re going to have a really delicious glass of green apple juice in no time.

The great thing about a Green Monster is that everyone has a different way of preparing theirs. Some people like to make something akin to a smoothie, and they’ll add a dairy product (yogurt, milk, etc). Some people are looking for a specific mix of vitamins, and so they’ll choose fruits and veggies based on what they need on a given day. There are two secrets to my green monster:

jack lalanne juicer

(Source)

boku

Since I don’t have a super blender (feel free to buy me a vitamix anytime you feel like it), my juicer is basically the best thing since sliced bread. A couple of years ago, my mom inherited a Champion juicer– that meant I got to inherit her JACK LALANNE POWER JUICER.

Y’all, Jack Lalanne is a beast- the guy is almost 100 years old, and he does one armed push-ups on the regular. He claims that juicing is basically the elixir of life. I’m not going to lie, and maybe I’ve been drinking the Jack Lalanne kool-aid, but I think he’s right (actually, it would probably be the Jack Lalanne radish and beet juice- dontchathink?) The Jack Lalanne juicer is so strong that you can put an entire orange in the shoot, and it will juice it whole. Did you hear me?

AN ENTIRE ORANGE.

Anyway, if you want really fresh and smooth Green Monsters and you have a lackluster blender, an excellent juicer is really helpful. I didn’t say this juicer was cheap (let me be clear- I DEFINITELY DIDN’T SAY THAT), but it’s worth every penny.

My second secret weapon to the best Green Monster is Boku Superfood. Boku contains way too many excellent ingredients to list them all here (including spirulina), but just know that even one scoop in your daily monster will quadruple your vitamin intake. Plus, a scoop of Boku is only 1 WWpoints+.

Today’s Green Monster consisted of the juice from 3 apples, 1 orange, and 1 pear, blended with 2 big handfuls of spinach and a scoop of boku. I meant to juice some carrots and a couple of celery stalks, but I got so caught up in the “I’m on such a great schedule this morning!” mood that I forgot to throw them in the juicer. Whatever- since fruit and most vegetables have a ZERO WWpoints+ value, the entire GIANT Green Monster only equaled 1 WWpoints+. Yeah, that’s right. You definitely need to get into this.

full breakfast 1192011

Anyway, my entire breakfast totaled up to only 6 WWpoints+, and I don’t know about you, but that’s a number I feel really good about.

Also, OH MY GOD, I can’t believe I mentioned blueberries and I didn’t talk about this video. After watching this clip, you will never think about blueberries the same way again*.

* I realize this makes the video sound like it’s going to show something gross about blueberries. It’s definitely not. This video is….well, just watch the video.

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Say it Ain’t SNOW: A Recap of New Purchases, and Why Corporate Farming is Destroying My Judgement

Today I was reminded of one of the side effects of living in a world dominated by corporate food manufacturing: it’s very easy to forget that weather directly affects farming opportunities. I mean, when you can buy peaches and strawberries in the middle of December, why the hell would anyone be thinking about the fact that those items are out of season and didn’t come from a farm nearby?

(It’s probably because we live in the Matrix. Or America. You know, semantics.)

Therefore, if there’s been an unusual amount of snow and ice in your area, there will be a very meager selection of produce at your local farmer’s market.

Let me make this a little more simple:

This:

(Source)

+This:

(Source)

=

Whatever, I’ll hit up the market later in the week. Anyway, while I was at home with my parentals and little bro, my mom and I went on a mother/daughter grocery shopping expedition and I found steel cut oats at ALDI:

Um, what? I had difficulty finding a selection of steel cut oats at Harris-Teeter, and there’s a giant display at ALDI for half the typical price? I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth, but that strikes me as slightly amusing. Now, these oats are quick cooking, so I don’t know how they will compare to these oats:

I’ll be sure to let you guys know how the taste testing goes down with these two items. Whole Foods versus Aldi– this ought to be very interesting.

Also, my mom hooked me up with a new kind of tahini:

I’m pretty excited to try it- Mama Bear got it for a great price using amazon.com, but some of the reviews say it’s kind of bitter. Do you eat tahini? Do you have a favorite way of preparing it? I, for one, am about to embark on a series of hummus experimental adventures.

Also, when I arrived home in Cancer City, guess what was waiting for me?

And Yes, I did pose these photos on top of my record player.

🙂 🙂 🙂 I love new purchases, especially when they come in the form of an Eat Smart Precision Pro Kitchen Scale and an Omron GoSmart Pocket Pedometer.

Because I’m Jessamyn and I have the patience of a two year-old, OF COURSE I had to immediately start weighing everything in my kitchen using my lovely new scale. I won’t bore you with all my testing, but I was very impressed with the scale’s accuracy and ESPECIALLY the great convenience of the tare function. By using the tare button, I can easily place a plate/bowl on the scale and zero out its weight before measuring my actual food. There’s no silly math involved at ALL. It’s a REVELATION, y’all.

Plus, doesn’t it look so pretty next to my coffeemaker? Now my kitchen is semi-color coordinated.

(Ok, I’m making an ass of myself.)

I’d have taken more photographs of my pedometer, but I immediately adjusted all the settings, clipped it to my shirt, and walked around my kitchen like an idiot for ten minutes. Things I’ve learned so far? Apparently I have a very short stride, and walk too slowly. I’m sure more lessons will be learned as soon as I start walking and acting like a normal person again. Ok, that’s probably asking a bit too much- everyone knows I’m nowhere near normal.

How was your Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day? Did you act more or less silly than I did?

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FINALLY: The Wait Is OVER!

It’s been a pretty busy weekend here at Jessamyn’s house. For starters, I FINALLY received my loan refund check. Do you know what that means?

 

Yeah, that’s right: A FRIDGE (and pantry) FULL OF FOOD! The days of Jessamyn subsisting on pantry scraps are over (until I am desperately awaiting my refund check in the spring- the life of a full-time graduate student is ROUGH, y’all).

Also, I bought Udi’s Gluten Free Bread for the first time, and I’m unnaturally excited to try it.

Other big developments?

Yeah, That's Right: I photographed my sneaks on my kitchen counter. Haters Gonna Hate.

Thanks to Mama and Papa Stanley, I finally have new running sneakers! Honestly, I think part of why my mom was so quick to contribute to the sneaker cause is because she’s been tired of seeing me loaf about in the same pair of kangaroo jogging shoes for the last five (seriously, Jessamyn, five?) years. Somehow, though I never buy shoes for exercising, my regular shoe collection grows steadily every month and my old pair of sneaks grow dingier with every cycle. This is a trend I am determined to end (well, not the purchasing of new pumps, boots, and flats. I might have a new health resolve, but I’m still a Fatshionista).

It’s a happy day in Jessamyn’s house. 🙂

Tonight I’m heading to the afore mentioned parental units house so we can break bread together while I mooch off their washing machine. Also, in case you’ve been living under a rock, the Golden Globe Awards are tonight (8pm EST, NBC) and since my mom and I are amateur movie buffs, this is basically a holiday for us. Plus, I don’t own a television set so even if I wanted to sit at home and cheer for my favorite shows and films alone, I couldn’t. I could go into my anti-television ownership philosophy (which has very little do with televisions and more to do with furniture feng shui), but I’ll spare you for the time being.

I’ll also get to spend some quality time with my little brother- have I mentioned he’s starting Weight Watchers with me? I’m so excited to start this journey with him, and I’ll give more information about our effort later.

AND tomorrow, I’m planning to visit the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market on my way home from J-Town- I can barely contain my excitement. Fruits, vegetables, pumpkin butter? IAMSOEXCITED!

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Oats and Quinoa and Grocery Stores: OH MY!

As I write this entry, I’m sitting in the deli/mini grocery/coffeeshop my girlfriend works in, and I’m reminded of how lucky I am to have a store so close to my apartment which sells bulk spices and grains.

Wait a minute, let me back up and give a little free publicity: the store of which I’m speaking is called Washington Perk , and it’s fulfilling a serious grocery shortage in the Winston-Salem, NC area.

Ok, I’ll be more specific- yes, there are tons of grocery stores in W-S. Harris Teeter and Food Lion pretty much dominate the grocery options, though many people also utilize other big name chains (Costco, Wal-Mart, etc.) In my immediate neighborhood, we have a very substantial Spanish-speaking population and are lucky enough to have a Compare Foods Supermarket. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Compare Foods specializes in items which are specific to Latin cuisine. There’s a great Spanish bakery, vast crates of bulk beans, as well as an extensive butcher and deli. There’s also a multitude of options in food categories which are typically sparse or bare in your typical “American” grocer- where else can you find ten different kinds of Mexican hot chocolate? Also, on the scale of “expensive grocery stores”, CF ranks on the very low end of the spectrum.

However, Compare Foods is not a great source for organic produce (or any other organic item), and it can be cost in-effective to shop for items which are not prominent ingredients in Latin food culture. For example, though cheese is used in different types of dishes, traditional cheese (cheddar, etc.) produced “for” American cookery is EXTREMELY expensive. This is very similar to Super G Mart, a store in my hometown of Greensboro, NC, which specializes in Asian cookery. Super G Mart’s produce and meat selections are an unbeatable price/quality equation. However, I’ve seen packages of cheese costing nearly $7.

Of the available stores, there are very few which are locally owned. There are also very few which offer a large selection of local and/or organic products. And in my actual neighborhood, there are absolutely no coffee shops, and very few restaurants. This is where Washington Perk comes in. The Perk is locally owned, and features fair trade coffee, a small (but growing!) selection of locally produced dairy and produce, as well as a number of organic grocery options. There’s also a fairly inexpensive deli, and the aforementioned bulk spices and grains.

These are all very important features because one of the only other organic grocers in town is Whole Foods Market, and it’s not near my apartment AT ALL (though, for the record, I’m a fan of Whole Foods and everything for which they stand.)

Wow. Um, ok. Shall we get back to the point of this entry? 🙂

Anyway, there are a number of foods which I want to endeavor to make part of my regular diet during the next few months. Several of these foods hold nutrients and vitamins which I’m definitely not getting enough of, and I think they will help provoke my urge to create new recipes and meal ideas. Here are three with which I can’t wait to get more familiar:

(Photo Credit: Stacey Boyer)

Steel cut oats

My father has sworn by steel cut oats for a number of years, but I’ve always been turned off by how long it takes for them to become soft and chewy, as opposed to tough chunks which get stuck in your teeth leading to a morning of being called ‘oatmeal mouth’. I’m also turned off by the price, but most foods which are actually good for the human body tend to fall outside of my budget. I’m coming to the conclusion that instead of choosing unhealthy options because of the price, I need to re-work my entire food budget.

Danica of Danica’s Daily has a great recipe featuring steel cut oats which I am extremely psyched to try.

(Photo Credit: Stephanie of Noshtopia)

Quinoa

Quinoa is the new love of my epicureal life. I can’t believe I’ve let my food discrimination keep me away from this delicious delicacy for so long! The texture is an excellent substitute for rice or couscous, and it is unbelievably versatile. It can be savory, sweet, salty, or all three and more!

(All these exclamation points are making me feel like Billy Mays. (!))

(Photo Credit: Benefits of Spirulina)

Spirulina

I’ve been reading a lot about the positive health benefits of adding spirulina into one’s diet. Spirulina is a complete protein, and contains all essential amino acids. It’s stronger than the average plant protein, and it’s rich in a host of vitamins and minerals. Of course, the color and flavor can both be rather off-putting, but I get the impression that spirulina powder can be painlessly added to food and drinks.

What about you? What foods/recipes are you excited to try out this year?

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