Thursday, June 30, 2011

Black Bean Brownies & the BEST Breakfasts!

Boy, do I have some guilt-free goodies for you!

In an effort to make up for my food-less and philosophical post from yesterday, I made sure to photograph all my lovely dishes before I completely inhaled them... I'm learning :)

Let's start off with Dinner: a beautiful mix of left overs and what ever I could come up with in my refridge - I'm heading back home for the fourth so my fresh food supply is dwindling.   Let's see what I came up with:

Pan-seared Garlic Scallops with Curried Baby Bok Choy & Non-Fried Veggie Bulgar
- 5 Scallops (I used ArcherFarms Freshly Caught Scallops)
- Garlic Salt
- Chicken Broth
- Minced Garlic 

In a saute pan, combine the broth and minced garlic and let it heat up before placing the scallops in.  You can cover the pan to steam them or just be patient and pan sear both sides.  Add the garlic salt and some pepper to top it off :) 

Ingredients: Baby Bok Choy, Chilli Sauce, and Red Thai Curry Sauce... 
Steam the Baby Bok Choy for 3 minutes and then add in the sauces - easy as pie and almost as delicious

Check out this post for my bulgar recipe!!! if you cant tell, I've eaten it for lunch and dinner for the past three days, if that's any indication on how AMAZING it is.

As I said in my last post, I've been crazyyy busy with work and training for my new job, so when my roommates wanted to head out to the city for a little can guess my response.  After dragging myself home from my strength training/cardio/free weights sesh at the gym, I called up my girl friend who came over with some gluten-free chocolate brownie mix and a chick flick!  HELLO PERFECT NIGHT!

Because we're girls, because it's that time of the month, and because we both share and intense love of chocolate, we decided to do a little taste test: her gluten-free brownies vs. a black bean brownie recipe i've been DYING to try out. 


I used Katie's recipe for Moist Fudgy Brownies over at Dashing Dish and I was beyond impressed.  By the way, guys, check out this girl's site for delicious recipes that are extremely healthy!  She also posts the nutritional info for those of us who can't completely let go of our calorie counting ways...

  • 1 can black beans (drained & rinsed)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup Splenda
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder (I used unsweetened)
  • 2 tbsp strong coffee (or 1 1 tsp instant coffee)
  • 1 tsp baking powder (add another tsp for more cakey brownies)
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil - I subbed in apple sauce instead
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
 Blend together all the ingredients, except the beans, and once they're all blended, add in the black beans and mix it up in your blender until it's smooth, creamy and delicious.  Pour into an 8 x 8 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  Cut into 16 pieces and enjoy (I ate 3 brownies...oops)

Mmmm.... I was seriously spoon the leftover mix from the blender into my mouth, it was so good

These brownies were super chocolate-y & I could really taste that mocha flavor from the instant coffee.  I wouldn't recommend substituing the apple sauce for oil.. it creates a weird texture that I wasn't ready for.  By the way, the extra fiber in these brownies from the can of black beans definitely helps your "system"... they should consider naming these bowel movement brownies (it just doesn't sound as appetizing).

So, after enjoying movies and brownies with my friend, I packed up my suitcase because I have a 9 am flight back to beautiful southern California!  Which means, early wake up.  This didn't stop me from having breakfast though.  Along with my typical bowl of blueberry oatmeal (that stuff is seriously addicting), I had something new:

I Can't Believe It's Not Fro-Yo
this has got to be the thickest smoothie I've ever had.  I've been experimenting with recipes that will give me that thick ice cream/fro yo texture so I can finally stop splurging on expensive frozen yogurt every day (sometimes twice a day!)

- Strawberry Creme Protein Powder
- Xanthum Gum for thickening
- 1 fresh Mango
- 5 ice cubes
- A little cream
- 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups of water
- any add ins or toppings: I topped with granola and honey almond cereal for a little crunch :) SO GOOD

oh and some chocolate syrup... duh

Alright guys, I'm about to board!  I'll keep you updated with all my foodie adventures from southern California babyyyy!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Skewed Perceptions & Mind Games

Hey fellow foodies!

Wow, one week into my blogging adventure and I've already skipped two days of posts... looks like we're off to a good start, huh?  I've been especially busy this week due to my usual 9-5 job and an additional job training that is going on from 7-9 this week!  Good news: the new job is at my gym, so there's really no excuse for me to avoid the rows of exercise machines and equipment...

Have no fear, I will follow this post with an additional post that documents all the delicious (and decadent) food that I've been consuming recently, but first I want to address something that I think gets overlooked by everyone

Skewed perceptions.

Whether we eat and exercise to lose weight, to manage our weight, or just to enjoy, sometimes we get caught up in our own "little worlds" and we lose sight of, well, reality.  Let me give you an example so you don't think I sound like a complete nutcase - last night, I was sitting on my couch complaining to my roommate about the crazy amount of snacking I've been doing recently.  She asked me what I've been eating.  So I break out the list: a few almonds, some granola, a banana smoothie, some popcorn, a few bites of an apple.... blah blah.  She then looked at me like I was delusional (which maybe half of you are thinking right now).

I was feeling guilty for snacking on things that are, in honestly, extremely healthy!  It's not like I'm sitting there chowing down on cheetos and soft drinks, but none the less I'm feeling guilty - but why? 

When we get caught up in our own routines and our own "guidelines,"  we forget to check in with reality.  Compared with the rest of the world, working out 6 days a week is CRAZY GOOD! So why do we feel guilty for taking those days off to recover?  Compared to what everyone else is eating, frozen yogurt is a GREAT way to satisfy your sweet tooth in place of chocolate cakes, ice cream, and twinkies.  Compared to the majority of the nation, and probably the majority of your peers, you're probably at a healthy weight and a healthy BMI, so why do we freak out when the scale jumps up .3 pounds??  SERIOUSLY!

Our mind likes to trick us into making us feel bad...
and it needs a swift kick in the ass.

Guys, reality check time.  Put away the guilt cause we're all living healthy and active lifestyles.  If you catch yourself slipping into your own world, take a step back and look at the big picture, because it'll make you smile :)  you're amazing!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Abs & Back... and Blubber too!

Okay, why do all gyms feel the need to create cute names for the exercise classes that seriously kick your ass?!  Abs and Back sounds so innocent... until you're lying face down in a pool of your own sweat, trying not to cry in front of your fellow gym-goers.  Seriously, when did my abs turn to blubber and forget to send me a 14 day notice?  (even landlords who want to evict you are kinder, damn you abs)

But have no fear, I only sound like an extremely out of shape and angry girl, but in reality - I'm on a post work out/post ice cream high!  I love classes that leave me floored, literally on the floor guys.  I guess my abs need a little work...

Anyways, lets review the days eats, shall we??

I woke up.  Can anyone guess what I ate for the b-fast?!  Blueberry PIE Oatmeal :) 1) if you can't tell I'm a huge fan of oatmeal. 2) I'm obsessed with this blueberry concoction and 3) pie for breakfast?
Instead of using vanilla extract, I used coconut extract and it was life changing! I also sprinkled brown sugar and crumbled fat-free graham crackers on top - to resemble pie crust.  I promise to do a better job at taking a picture before I demolish my breakfast.. cause this is unbelievable.

work and lunch was pretty routine
Then I headed to the gym to do my ridiculous work out & then proceeded to making the most delicious dinner ever!!

Is anyone else drooling?
Meet my new loves: Pan-seared Thai Curry Tilapia, Garlic Salted Baby Bok Choy... and my pride and joy:
Non-Fried Veggie Basmati & Bulgar!!

- Cooked (leftover) Basmati rice and Bulgar
- Chopped cabbage
- Chopped Onions (I used red onion)
- Broccoli (frozen..guilty)
- Carrots
- Egg Whites
- Minced Garlic
- 1/4 to 1/2 cups of either veggie broth or chicken stock (I used chicken stock)
- Light Soy Sauce
- Salt and Peppaaa!

Cooking the egg whites
- Saute the onions with non-stick spray (add water if they start to get stuck to the pan), add in the garlic, cabbage, carrots, and broccoli.  Cook for about 5 minutes, until the veggies start to soften.  Add in the broth and the rice/bulgar.  Clear a little pocket so you can add the egg whites and cook them in the pan.  Stir it all up, add soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste! SO DELICIOUS!  Guys, try this recipe.  Its healthy. Its amazing. Its addicting.

I proceeded to my next course: DESSERT. Here comes the rolling list -
- Banana and cocoa smoothie
- Home-made Curried Peanut Ice Cream - from our favorite spot
- Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Pancake
Getting bundled up to get some ice cream!
that's all I swear!!

So, is it safe to say that my blubbery tummy is sore and happy because it's filled with yummy food and even yummier desserts?  DUH

Good day and good night my friends :) I'll see you tomorrow with more stories !

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Forget Stair Master, Call Me the Hill Monster!

Sorry for not posting anything yesterday!! To catch you up, this is going to have to be one long post because I had one crazy, fun-filled weekend :)

Let's start with yesterday (and the title of my post)
I basically woke up with a food hangover - you know the feeling, 100% bloated and less than 100% beautiful. So after my regular bowl of blueberry muffin oats, I headed out to run my favorite path through all these gorgeous neighborhoods and cute shop areas... & I ended up running my first 7 miler!! I came back exhausted and starrrrvving and I made a delicious Southwestern Chicken Salad and my new favorite snacky: a Low-Cal Laughing Cow Pizza Sandwich

Southwestern Chicken Salad
Ingredients: Romaine lettuce (chopped), Low-fat Feta, Sweet Peas, Tomatoes, Chopped onion, Walden Farms Chipotle Ranch! Opt: Black Beans

Low-Cal Laughing Cow Pizza Sandwich
- Two slices of 45 calorie Sara Lee bread
- 1 wedge of light garlic and herb laughing cow
- A smidge of pizza sauce
- Reduced fat grated Parmesan

Instructions: Toast in oven or toaster, smear the laughing cow on both slices, and top with pizza sauce and grated parm!! ENJOY for 130 calories

Then, I got ready for my HOUSEWARMING party!!!! I'd go into details, but let's just say it was filled with home made apple pie, store bough apple pie, home made raspberry buttermilk cupcakes, hummus, pita chips, salsa, and way too many tortilla chips.... OOOPS!!
And the home made apple pie was what I like to call Paula Dean style: butter topped with butter.

Fast forward to TODAY: SF Gay Pride Parade!!!
I headed to the city to actually march in the parade and show my support for the LGBT community.  It was beyond fun & all the energy and excitement can be contagious.  Before I knew it, I was waving wildly and skipping around... in a tutu and fishnets.  (do you need picture proof??)

Guys, you would be so proud: instead of pigging out on pizza and parade food, I packed a hummus, lentil and bulgar wrap, a zone bar, and a pudding cup :) YUMMMY & guilt free!

Don't judge me for this next statement... but word for the wise - pee before you start marching, otherwise your options are slim.  It's either the port-o-potties or the side of a very important government building.  And let's just say the line for the potties was a little too long for my liking.

Anyways, after thoroughly enjoying my very first LGBT parade, I basically passed out in a dehydrated coma for an hour, then woke up with an overwhelming desire to make another Low-Cal Laughing Cow Pizza and start cooking my dinner.  I made vegetarian (vegan, actually) stroganoff, using this girls recipe - props chocolate-covered katie! This girl comes up with the best desserts, check it out!

I did make a few adjustments, mostly due to my ingredient options.  In place of wine, I used vodka and chicken broth and in place of paprika, i blended cumin, cayenne pepper and onion powder.  SO DELICIOUS! Source.

Before I sat down for dinner, I got a sudden desire to work up an appetite, so I laced up my shoes and decided to do a little exploring/experimenting on some new trails.  Guys, I don't know where all my energy came from (especially after that 7 miler yesterday) but I decided to try all those hidden paths that are uphill, both ways, for miles.. and I LOVED IT!  Hills are my new passion.  Hence the new nick name - Hill Monster. Not only did I try out all these undiscovered running routes, I even experimented a little with my playlist - I brought back classics like Ignition, Suga Suga, Shake Ya Tailfeather...

After 5.8 miles in 50 minutes, I was ready for dinner, dessert (a nanner and vanilla smoothie), dessert (my favorite granola and some dates), dessert (and some leftover brownie bites)...
Great weekend!!!!!! Great memories :)

Question of the day:
- How do you experiment with your workouts?  Do you like to shake it up and tackle those hills for an extra challenge?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Exploring and Eating... x10

WOW! I am writing this post, reclined on my couch because I am honestly too stuffed to move.  You know that moment when you're content, maybe slightly too full but still a happy camper? I passed that point about 4 hours ago after my first dinner, then we went on to eat 2 other full meals AND 3 other desserts. Let's rewind a bit before you completely judge me...

I started off my morning with a little pumpkin pie oat meal :) sounds delicious right?  I was so excited to eat it that I didn't stop to breate until my spoon touched the bottom of the bowl.  But using my never-ending bowl of oats recipe, I added a heaping spoonful of pureed pumpkin (Libby's), ground nutmeg, cinnamon, sweetener, almond milk, a little ground ginger and some vanilla extract.  Yummy yummy!

No, that's not me because I'm obviously still alive
Then I decided to start the day off right with a run, some lifting, and a pilates class - my first evaaa!  It was a really good class and my abs are nice a sore.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with pilates, it's a nice mix of yoga and stretching and strength training, focusing on the core.
Source & more info on strength training with pilates.

I took a nap and then mixed up a nice Chopped Asian Chicken Salad using my very handy and very new George Foreman (thanks, Mom!).  After a frantic call to my dad - I forgot to defrost my chicken before grilling it - my salad actually turned out pretty nicely.

- Romaine lettuce & chopped cabbage
- Sweet peas (edamame would be amazing)
- Chopped onion
- 1/2 a grilled Teriyaki chicken breast
- 1/4 cup of fiber one cereal (for the crunch)
- Handful of cherry tomatoes
- my own asian dressing. Made of teriyaki sauce, vinegar, sweetener, salt and pepper.

Delicious, it was.  After an unplanned phone call from one of my fellow foodie friends, I headed out to a nearby town to explore, shop & eat... of course.  The highlights included Williams & Sonoma, Sur La Table, Crate & Barrel, Barnes & Noble (for cookbooks), Nordstroms (for the shoes, duh) and Starbucks! 

Of course, we had to stop at the sushi place we've been dying to try! And I got an amazing California Roll & a Spicy Tuna roll topped with Seaweed Salad!

THEN for dessert: frozen yogurt topped with everything but the kitchen sink!  Sounds like a good meal, yeah?  This was only the beginning...

To give you a better idea of exactly how much we ate today, there are no pictures because my camera literally ran out of batteries from snapping away during the first two courses.  Here's the running list of meals:

- this new organically delicious ice cream place in our town! (I got chocolate & cookies and cream which was orgasmic)
- a fig and goat cheese pizza topped with fresh arugula
- a warm cacao cake served with coffee ice cream and topped with salted caramel sauce
- a pork con mole tamale wrapped in a corn husk
- a summer tamale filled with squash, beans, cheese, and mushrooms
- a potatoe and corn papas (fritter) with a chile cream sauce
- flan.

that's it, I promise!!!
I immediately hobbled to the car and called my mom to tell her everything I ate and basically said my last goodbyes, in case my stomach burst from over consumption.  As full as I am.. let me just say that I thoroughly enjoyed every single bite of food that entered my mouth!! No regrets from this foodie, except that I wish I had taken pictures for you!!!!! sorry guys.

Let me go digest a bit more and reflect on today's deliciousness... tomorrow is another day.  Which means I get to rest, relax, and repeat :)  Good night everyone!!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hunting for Chia

Hey guys!

Although today is technically a Thursday, it's my unofficial start of the weekend [I only work Mon-Wed!!] so I took advantage of all my spare time and decided to head out for an early run.  I was up at 6, enjoying my blueberry muffin oatmeal! Then I was out the door.

Blueberry Muffin Over-sized Oats
-1/2 cup of oats (I use Old-fashioned)
- 1/2 a cup of non-dairy milk (almond!)
- 1 1/2 cups of water
- Handful on blueberries
- 2 sweetener packets
- a tsp of vanilla extract

I used the Never-Ending Oatmeal method & thoroughly enjoyed :)

After hitting my favorite running route, I decided to make a pit stop at our local health food store in search of Bulgur, Oats, Bananas (gotta have the oats&nanners!) and Chia.  Of course I couldn't navigate the confusing aisles, so I asked the butcher [probably not the best choice] where I could find Chia seeds.  After a quick consultation with his fellow butchers, they decided to find the store manager and ask the man himself.  I waited patiently next to the pork and sausage... way too early in the morning for raw meat... and then I saw the group of men returning to give me the news.  The store manager look embarrassed but he told me that, unfortunately, few stores still carried chia pets, but they're really easy to make myself.  He then proceeded to ask if I needed help finding everything I would need to make my own chia pet... oh lord.

I was really trying not to laugh because the guys were so helpful (err sort of?) but I explained the obvious difference between chia seeds and chia pets.  HAHAHAHA they left and came back with what I needed:  

Then I walked home, past a few parks filled with summer camps, made myself a Nanner Smoothie and sat down to reflect on how dorky I must have looked asking for a "chia pet" and began planning lunch... we'll be in touch :) after I cook up something delicious!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

& This Little Foodie Went to the Market...

Happy Hump Day!! [It's Wednesday]

I know I'm all about finding the balance in life, but today the scales were definitely tipped in favor of my food side :) and there are absolutely no complaints here!  I started off my morning with a bowl of blueberry muffin over-sized oats (I promise I'll post the recipe asap) and then prepared some delicious leftovers (some of my I can't believe it's Vegan Shepherds' Pie!... recipe will be up shortly) and headed to work.  After food gawking/answering phone calls/placing the calls on hold so they would stop interrupting my food porn session [only kidding, I'm not that obsessed] ... it was time for lunch!  Today, my coworker and I headed to the Farmers' Market near our office and I went to town on all that fresh produce.  My coworker actually had to help me carry some bags - don't judge, pounds of squash and cherries can add up!

Happy Casey & her Swiss Chard
How gorgeous are all of these colors?  I ended up with some kale, baby bak choy, kabocha squash, ranier and red cherries, onions, mushrooms, and I scored some free radishes for being so friendly with the produce guy :) you gotta do what you gotta do, right?

Then we headed to our favorite hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese place and grabbed my favorite dessert: red bean tapioca with sweet coconut milk!  I need to find a recipe for that because the Vietnamese restaurant owners have started to recognize me and can match my order to my face.. oops.

Work work work.. then I headed home to go for a 5 mile run/walk/hike before getting started on dinner.  I used last night's Lavash technique to make a delicious tofu and bean barbeque calzone and some sugar-coated eggplant as a lovely side dish.  Guys, if you're not a fan of eggplant, that is about to change!!  I needed to use up some leftover eggplant and for some reason my sweet tooth has been out of control sooo that combination led to my newest love: Grilled Maple Syrup Eggplant.  Don't cringe, it was like eating dessert for dinner (which I know every adult secretly wishes they could do).

Candied Eggplant
- Eggplant (I used half of one)
- 1/4 cup of No Sugar Added Maple Syrup (35 calories)
- Non-stick Cooking Spray

- Slice your eggplant into round patties, about 1/2 inch thick and coat with maple syrup.  Let that soak for about 5 minutes and then place on the grill OR - if you're using a George Foreman grill - coat the grill with non-stick spray and place the eggplant onto the griddle.  Cook for about 10-15 minutes and then enjoyyy.  It's like veggies and maple syrup pancakes had a love child.

After enjoying that hugeeely satisfying meal, my sweet tooth demanded something, um, sweet so I made a Nanner Smoothie with a fresh banana, tapioca pudding cup, almond milk, and ice cubes.  Check me out ! Including a post with the words oat AND nanner... maybe now it's a little obvious how I came up with my creative blog title.

Anyways, my tummy is full so that means I'm off to plan my next meal/snack on unnecessary assorted food items... I'll see you all manana !

Breaking the silence

Hello All!
   Well, this is officially my first post on a new blog (I abandoned my other website... for good reason, nobody wants to read pages about my boring life if it doesn't involve yummy food and recipes, right?)!  I'll keep this short and sweet so we can get to the good stuff - our very first recipe posts.  Welcome to Oats & Nanners, let our culinary adventures (and probable misadventures) begin!
   So, today started off like most days - with a huge bowl of never-ending oatmeal!  My night time routine generally goes as follows: think about what I want for dinner, make dinner, devour eat my dinner like a civil person, start planning the next meal (breakfast).  Last night, I was dying to use up some of my fresh mangoes, because there was a sale at Whole Foods so obviously I had to buy 5 more than I really needed.  I decided on a fruity mango and blueberry bowl of oatmeal - perfect for a fruity filling summer meal! 

  Mango/Blueberry Never-ending Bowl of Oatmeal
-       ½ a cup of oats (I use old-fashioned oats)
-       1 and ½ cups of water
-       ½ cup of almond milk (or soy milk, or even real milk)
-       2 packets of sweetener

Any add-ins of your choice: I always add in cinnamon! I’ve also used blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, mangos (for the healthy fruit options) and of course I’ve been sinful and I’ve added cocoa powder, peanut butter (or any nut butter of your choice), tons of yummy nuts (walnuts, pecans, even pistachios!) and some No Sugar Added Maple Syrup. Guys, you really can’t go wrong here.
Throw your oats, water, choice of milk, and sweeteners into a pot and heat in on medium on the stovetop (how easy, right?).  When the oats start getting puffy, add in any of your “add-ins,” healthy or not!  After about 5-7 minutes, the oats should be getting pretty and puffy, you can turn off the stove and let the oats sit for another 5 minutes to soak up all the access liquid.  This is where the magic happens! The oats will soak up liquid and BAM, you’re left with a huge bowl of oatmeal that will satisfy any hungry breakfast, snack, or dessert cravings.

So, after that hearty meal, obviously I was ready to head off to my 9-5 job in the city!  Usually that involves the typical research, work, food blogging, food gawking, finding excuses to walk near the candy dish in the office, making myself look like I'm working, then home!

After enjoying the delays of public transportation, I decided I should probably run BEFORE I sit down and pig out (check it out - balancing food and fitness!) So I embarked on a surprisingly enjoyable 6 miler around my beautiful bubble of a town.  I was blasting some country music and soaking in the sun while thinking about the 100 different recipes I wanted to try.  Unfortunately, running on an empty stomach (bad, Casey) left me 1) starving 2) too impatient to cook anything culinarily challenging... oops.  I settled for some good old fashioned comfort food: Chicken Pot Pie.  Healthy version - duh. 

Chicken-less Pot Pie for the Lazy Girl
-       1 piece of Lavash bread (120 calorie wrap/flat bread)
-       1 bag of broccoli and cheddar microwave steamers
-       ½ a cup of cream of celery
-       Chopped onion
-       Optional: meat (I used soy crumbles cause I love them)

     Microwave the brocolli and cheddar according to directions.  Heat up and meat and onions in a skillet and then move to a separate bowl.  In a pan (with edges), place the Lavash bread down and pour in the brocolli cheddar and add the onion and meat. Fold over the Lavash (in half).  I poured a little less than a ¼ cup of water on top because lavash bread will soak up the water and turn almost noodle like! On top, add the cream of celery and any cheese toppings.  SOOO GOOOD! It tastes like chicken pot pie and chili mac combined.  And it’s huge. Enjoy!!

Bonus Tip: you can use this Lavash technique to make tons of dishes (ex: top with salsa for a Mexican flavor, or pasta sauce for an Italian lasagna/calzone)

This dinner actually satisfied my starving stomach... besides the separate stomach for dessert.  I'll share my the recipe that quenched my chocolate cravings tomorrow!! I'm off to bed so I can rest and repeat tomorrow :) Night everyone