Monday, December 24, 2012

Sour Cherry and Apple Oatmeal

Most days I'm cooking for one, so it's particularly fun for me when I get to cook for others. Especially when those 'others' happen to be my three favorite people in the world: my mom, dad and sister.

I'm back in Istanbul on winter break from school and it's been nothing short of amazing. I miss this city a whole lot when I'm away, and being a student on winter break is so much fun. No responsibilities! I wake up, workout and get to do what I want all day. Catch up on reading, hang out with friends and most importantly, cook. 

I have cooked every single day since I got here and twice with my sister, which is my favorite. Cooking with someone who knows their way around the kitchen is blissful; we move in sync with each other, chatting and reaching for things, chopping, and managing to stay out of each other's way. She's the best. 

I have a bunch of recipes to share with you guys, but a friend requested the recipe for the oatmeal I made for the family this morning. Oatmeal has become a favorite of mine. It's infinitely customizable and keeps me full for hours. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble keeps you full for a long time, and takes a while to digest, while insoluble is the kind that speeds up your 'movements', if you catch my drift. They are both good, and it's best to consume a mix of both kinds. Oats are soluble, which is why they keep you full for so long. 

Lastly, I recently learned that sour cherries are great for decreasing inflammation. Inflammation is really problematic in the body. It was one of the symptoms of almost every single disease we learned about in my diet assessment and planning class this semester.

On to the recipe!

Sour Cherry and Apple Oatmeal
Serves 4
2 cups oats, rolled (not instant, or steel cut; they have different cooking times)
2 cups oat milk (or any non dairy milk will do)
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup sour cherries, fresh or frozen
1 large apple, diced
1/4 cup dried cranberries or dried fruit of choice
1 tbsp wheat germ
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
(Optional, 1/2 cup water can be added depending on desired consistency) 

1. Place the walnuts in a pan and toast lightly over a low flame. Make sure not to burn them. They are 'ready' when the smell of the walnuts toasting wafts through the air. 

2. Add the non-dairy milk, chopped apples, cherries, cranberries, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Bring to a boil, and then let simmer for a few minutes until the apples become tender. It is up to you how long you simmer the apples; the longer you simmer, the softer the apples will be. 

3. Add the oats and wheat germ and simmer over a low flame until all the milk is absorbed. Then taste. If the oats are not as creamy or soft as you like, add the optional water (I did). If you prefer your oats with a little bite, you can serve as soon as the milk is absorbed. Make sure to be stirring over a low flame; you don't want to burn your oats! 

Easy peasy. And thanks for reading and commenting, Elyse! You made my day.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Key to Eating Healthy during Finals: Plan Ahead!

I have finals next week, which means my days are spent at the library cramming and if I'm lucky, I get some time at the gym in the evening and maybe get to watch one of my favorite shows, too. 

I'm definitely a food person; while I'm eating my breakfast, I'm thinking of what I want to cook for lunch, and while I'm eating lunch, I'm thinking about dinner. It's a curse and a blessing at the same time. I have a friend who forgets to eat! She is gorgeous and very slender and it completely boggles my mind because I am always thinking about food. You'll never find me in front of the fridge at 10pm, starving without any food. I tend to plan ahead, and here's why you should too. 

When you plan your meals ahead of time, they usually end up being healthier. It really doesn't take much. Choose one day a week to buy some groceries. Make it quick (it's best to go with a list). Maybe decide on a dish or two you want to make with those groceries so you don't end up coming home with brown rice, eggs and apples and hitting up Seamless again. 

Know what works best for you. I know that I study best during the day and that I'm pretty useless at night. That's why I love to take the time in the evenings to prep my veggies and maybe make a dish for the upcoming hectic week. 

Tonight I made orzo, sautéed some eggplant with mushrooms in marinara sauce, chopped carrots and celery, washed grapes and prepared a salad dressing. I went a little overboard but I was having fun. All in all it probably took me 45 minutes? 

This means I can take a healthy lunch to the library tomorrow, which will help me power through my studying. It also means I won't opt for a less healthy option. 

This morning I made an extra large batch of tofu scramble to last me a few days. 

This is my number one tip for friends who come to me trying to lose some weight or get in shape- you need to plan ahead! One of my best girlfriends came to me a few months ago wanting to get in shape and we've been working together ever since. I taught her some easy dishes, encouraged her to drink more water and with these simple changes, she's lost weight and feels better than ever. 

In the words of my favorite Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels, 'If you fail to plan, you plan to fail'. Cheesy but true. 

PS: I could not be more excited for the newest season of Biggest Loser which will feature teens for the first time ever! Can't wait to see them get in shape and change their lives. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Lentil Walnut Loaf

This lentil walnut loaf I made from Angela's blog, Oh She Glows, is delicious and very healthy. It takes a while to put together but it's worth it. I can't wait to have some leftovers for lunch! And my trusty recipe-taster girlfriend S agreed that it's a hit. If you're looking for a beautiful and impressive vegan main course to bring along to a potluck this holiday season, this one is definitely it.

I modified the recipe only very slightly by
* removing the olive oil and using vegetable broth instead
* and subbing the glaze for store-bought barbecue sauce as I didn't have apple butter.
For the recipe just head here.

I also calculated the nutrition content for one serving. The loaf makes 8 thick slices.

Nutrition Information
1 slice
Calories: 258 kcal
Total fat: 9.0 g
Sat. fat: 1.1g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 441mg
Total carbs: 36g
Fiber: 11g
Protein: 12.3g
Calcium: 7.5%
Iron 19%

Notice the 12g protein for a slice- for all you out there who still ask vegetarians, 'where do you get your protein from?'. I did a little research online and traditional beef meatloaf has about:
215 calories
14g fat
5.4g sat. fat
70g cholesterol
20g protein
0 fiber

So not only is traditional meatloaf giving you a whopping serving of cholesterol and saturated fat, but it isn't giving you any fiber, which is crucial for maintaining your weight, keeping you full and proper digestion.

This goes great with a side salad or sautéed kale and loads of extra barbecue sauce. My favorite is 'Bone Suckin' Sauce' from Whole Foods.

* Had to add, insanely better the next day! Seriously, yum. 

My awesome followers!