Chilly nights and mornings have officially begun to seep into the northeast with daylight savings time getting dark by 4:30 p.m.! My journey towards being pro-active about my health and well-being (which you can read about here) has now reached a point of adjustment to account for the inconveniences of fall and winter. One is to find creative ways to incorporate my cardio indoors – since I’m not equipped to power walk/run on the main road in the dark! The other is to review my food journal over the past few months to see if I can spot any repetitive patterns that, if adhered to, might put me into a plateau. This led me to some extensive research about ‘flexible dieting’ or ‘macro tracking’ which is not just about the number of calories you consume, but where they are derived from. The macronutrients.
On June 1st, 2016 – the day before my 54th birthday – I made the same decision which I had pretty much been making every year around this time. And that was to lose the extra 15-20 pounds I had been carrying around on my frame. And with diabetes being the hereditary culprit that sunk it’s claws into my grandparents, parents, sister and brother (almost), I didn’t want to begin the count-down as to when I was going to be it’s next victim.
No…..not going to happen.
Mid-way through September, I embarked on a quest to eat clean. Simply put – eating foods cooked and prepared in their cleanest form possible. Grilling and broiling instead of frying. Olive oil and vinegar instead of creamy bottled dressings. Fresh herbs and dry rubs for marinade instead of sauces and butters. Whole wheat and multi-grain instead of white flour. Pure honey over white sugar.
Okay, I think you get it.
I had been inspired quite a while ago after discovering Tosca Reno and her Eat Clean cookbooks. After experiencing frequent migraines, not working out as much and eating very sporadically (and, sometimes, not very wisely) I had decided to pull the books out of the cabinet, open my planner and begin listing foods I already had on hand, ones I needed to purchase and recipes that incorporated them all. One of the main proponents of Eat Clean is to eat every 2-3 hours which include 3 small meals and 2 snacks. Meals weren’t a problem, but finding interesting, satisfying and clean snacks was challenging as I found myself rotating the same ones over and over.
I began to search clean eating recipes on Pinterest and came across this recipe for these Oatmeal Peanut Butter cookies. After two attempts at making them and having them come out crumbly and dry as a bone, I decided to tweak it a bit, adding a few extra ingredients to turn it from a dessert into a healthy mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack. Here is my version:
- 1 cup uncooked oatmeal
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
- 2 tbsp ground flax seed
- 2-3 tbsp low fat-high protein granola
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt
- 1/2 cup liquid egg whites
- 1 cup peanut butter (or any natural nut butter)
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2-3 tbsp. of water
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325
Combine all dry ingredients (except the chocolate chips) in a large bowl and set aside.
Microwave the pea(nut) butter for around 20 seconds in a smaller bowl to soften it up (but so that it’s not heated up) a bit and make it more mixable. Add the egg whites, honey and vanilla and mix well. Add the dry ingredients a heaping tbsp. at a time until well blended. You may have to use your hands to smush the ingredients together as it will be very sticky. This is where the water comes in. Add a tbsp. at a time until mixture is a little less sticky. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a cookie scoop (or a tablespoon) scoop out enough of the mixture and form it into a patty a little smaller than the palm of your hand. Remember, we are making these to be a snack rather than a dessert so it needs to be a little larger than a cookie. Place them on the cookie sheet. They should not rise or spread out so don’t worry if you keep them close together in order to fit the entire batch on one sheet. This recipe should yield anywhere from 10-12, depending upon how you size them
Bake 10-12 minutes.
After cooling, I store in a small container or place in a quart-sized Zip-loc and place in my lunch bag so that I have them on hand for either my mid-morning or afternoon snack. I also grab one to take with me (along with my water bottle) when I have to be out of the house early on Saturday for appointments and errands to keep me satisfied and energized (and away from the temptation of coffee shop treats and fast food drive throughs!
Or, in my case, when you realize that the large tree in the front yard that your late father-in-law had planted AGES ago produced apples, your husband steals a sheet, climbs ladder into the tree and shakes it violently until apples fall to the ground for you to peel, core, seed, and boil into sugary, cinnamony oblivion!
Not sure which one of us had the harder part here, but it was well worth it!
What to make for supper?
Before I got on the stick by creating a supper plan every Sunday evening for the upcoming week, I would be pulling whatever protein we had out of the freezer and toss it in the sink to thaw as I rushed out of the door for the office every morning. Then at some point during the day when my mind had a chance to wander to cooking, I would frantically search Pinterest for something interesting to do with said protein, only to have to stop at the grocery store either on my lunch hour or the way home to purchase any ingredients I may not have.
Now that I have a plan for the week, I can take stock of what I have and figure out what I can do with what I already have on hand. Now, I know what I regularly keep as staples may not be what others do, but here’s a delicious example of what I made last night with everything I already had in freezer, fridge and pantry.Read More »
If you’re like me and work outside the home and are fortunate enough to have an office with a kitchen area, then you have a great resource to keep your energy and metabolism up during the day, keep unhealthy snacking to a minimum and save money by having not having to purchase your afternoon meal.
Bringing lunch is one option. A lot of us pack a sandwich, salad or leftovers from last night’s dinner in a Tupperware for our lunch the next day. But think about it – we’re (well, I am at least!) at the office 8-9 hours a day. And during stressful, busy times of the year ( much like I have) you’re going to need more than just a sandwich or a salad to fuel your body, keep your mind sharp and your metabolism revving all day, especially if you’re sitting for a good majority of it.Read More »