Monday, February 27, 2012

Overnight Oatmeal

Everyone in my family loves oatmeal.  I love oats not only for their taste and nutritional value, but because it is very satisfying to start my family off with this kind of "stick to your ribs" breakfast.  It's soothing to my mama-ness.

Today's breakfast was Overnight Honey Apple Oatmeal.  We have a big clan, so I need to make a lot.  It's easy to cut back if you wish, but you can also just halve it, refrigerate it and eat it through the week.  (Just pour on a bit of milk or almond milk (etc) and heat in the microwave about 60 seconds, stir and enjoy!)

Overnight Honey Apple Oatmeal
serves 10
1 box McCann's Steel-Cut Irish Oats (or approximately 2.5 cups)
9-1/2 cups water
1/4 cup local honey
2/3 cup low-fat milk
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 oz. dried apples (or a handful of raisins or chopped dried figs)
Honey to drizzle
Yogurt, if desired

Stir the first five ingredients together in a crock-pot; then lay the apples on top.  They'll float to the top anyway, so I save a step and just put them there.  In the morning when they're soft and fluffy, you can cut them up easily if you wish.

Set the crock-pot on low and cook for 9  to 10 hours. 
A serving is about 1 cup; place in serving bowls ans drizzle with honey or maple syrup.  Serve with yogurt or milk as desired.  Refrigerate leftovers.

Options:  If your family can tolerate milk, it's very nice to sub in milk for half the water.  Or if you can afford the luxury, you can use 2/3 cup half-and-half instead of the 2/3 cup milk, that's even nicer.  You can also pour on a bit of light cream at serving time.

Note:  If you haven't ever had steel-cut oats, they look a lot different both raw and cooked.  Try to be open-minded about the experience!

Other oatmeal recipes we love:  Baked Oatmeal, Dr. Bircher's Museli
(we halve the white sugar in the baked oatmeal but otherwise it's perfect)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday! Tips, Tricks and Inspiration

I have been reading a lot of studies lately that show that Omega 3 and Omega 6 are not only good for heart health and fighting cancer, but play a large role in brain health as well.   So clearly I have been actively working to include more of these foods in my diet (need all the help I can get), but it is a lot of information to digest.  I made a short list of foods I enjoy that are high in these foods so I can remember to incorporate them regularly.  If you need some tips on getting in those Omega 3's, their "mystery" is unraveled here. 

So it turns out that if your teen wants to lose weight, you should probably butt out! The trick to teen weight loss seems to be "going it alone."  A handful of studies have shown that teens who took charge of their own weight loss were mores successful than those "helped" by their mothers.  Given teens' need to individuate, it makes sense.  [I'm sorry I lost the link on this one but when I find it, I'll come back and add it here.]

We all know my Friday title is a bit of wordplay, right?  There really are no tricks to lasting weight loss. But we don't want to be tricked, either.  So I bring you what we've all been waiting for, at last!  What you eat doesn't matter as much as caloric intake;  Here is a study to prove the obvious!  It makes sense to me that certain styles of weight loss will be easier for certain personalities and body types.  Pick the type of eating plan you think you can stick with for life, eat less than you do now, and while you're at it, make some choices to enhance your long-term health.

Are you having trouble getting that water in each day?  Here is some inspiration in and a couple of more good reasons to drink that water:  It turns out that dehydration can affect your energy level and your mood as well.  Try getting in a larger quantity of water next time you're feeling low and see if it helps.   Check out the article for more information.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Head is Spinning (and other thoughts)

I read a lot of health blogs.  A lot.  I don't read "diet" blogs, but lots of stuff about healthy, sane weight loss, healthy food, and mostly about the current research.  It's the research that got my head spinning this time, along with the blog "Dances with Fat."

Here's the thing.  The Dances with Fat theme is that it is possible to be fit and fat.  I agree with that, probably because I am fit and fat.  She writes a lot of inspiring stuff too -- like this video about not waiting to lose weight to be happy.  That said, she alwo believes there is no point in even attempting to lose weight because she believes it won't work.  Obviously, I don't agree with that.  Recently, Dances with Fat reviewed a study that seems to show there is no point in losing weight.  Many of the health blogs I read see it differently.

I've drawn my own conclusions about the study which has garnered a lot of press.  The author focused on extreme weight loss methods and not the kind of weight loss that comes about from slow and permanent change.  There are some issues with her methods.  I think I've effectively demonstrated that for me, this weight loss is hard to achieve, but I still believe it is in fact possible and would be beneficial for my long term health. For me the takeaway from this study is that it is very important once I lose the weight, to keep it off.  It is a life-long commitment.

It has all left my head spinning though, so I am noting it here! I am interested in hearing what you think of this.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Crock Pot Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

I like good old fashioned meatballs.  I do not like the fat.  Here is my two-day recipe for meatballs and sauce.  Don't be scared; it takes two days so you can skim the fat.  The work is short.

Ground beef, extra lean (about 1.5 pounds)
1 pound extra lean pork
1 pound white meat ground turkey 
Turkey Italian Sausage (about 1.5 pounds)
2 teaspoons oregano
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup grated parmesan
1 tsp. garlic powder
3 eggs
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Beat the eggs a little in a large bowl.  Add everything else.  Gently use your hands to thoroughly mix it all together. Now get some friends (I use handy children) and start rolling the meatballs.  Again, be gentle or they will be tough.  You can make any size; I like them slightly smaller than a ping pong ball.  As you make them, place them on a tray covered with foil or wax paper.  Pile them high, they're going in the crockpot anyway!

In a 6 quart crockpot, place:
28 oz. petite diced tomatoes
28 oz. tomato sauce
4 cloves of garlic, crushed.

Place the meatballs into this sauce.  They will be piled higher than the sauce; no problem.  Cook on low for 6 hours.  When they are done, take the lid off and let them cool 30 minutes or so.  Take out as many meatballs as you want for dinner tomorrow to refrigerate, and place the rest in freezer containers.  (They should be cool enough to touch before you put them in the freezer).

Ladle the sauce into a glass bowl or large measuring cup, cover and refrigerate overnight.

About 30 minutes before serving time, skim the fat off the top of the sauce and discard.  Place the remaining sauce into a large pot.  Add:

2-28 oz cans tomato sauce
1/2 cup red wine

Bring to a boil over medium heat, and gently return the meatballs to the pan to heat.  Cook 20 minutes, reducing heat to "simmer" when the pot returns to a boil.

Meanwhile, finely chop:
3 Tablespoons fresh basil

Stir in the basil when the cooking time is up and remove from heat.  Decant about 2/3 of the sauce into your freezer containers, depending on "saucy" you like your pasta.  Freeze remaining sauce once cooled.

[I will add the photo tomorrow!]

Friday, February 3, 2012

Rainy Friday - Tips, Tricks and Inspiration!

Happy Friday!  I've missed a few of these installations lately because of hot dates with my hubby but on this rainy evening pre my Color Run 5k tomorrow, I am here to share some of the week's reading with you.

Here's a tip:  go for at least 5 days a week following health guidelines;  I was shocked to learn that most Americans have only 7 days a year where the meet the MyPlate guidelines.  So many of us are obese or overweight, and it is really sobering news to me.  Oh and did I mention that those who did manage to meet the guidelines usually ate more than 3 meals to get there? 

I think the big wake-up call is that MyPlate is a very simple concept and yet, people don't do it.  It is not enough to say "I'll eat moderately"; we need to put intention and action into it. 

 On a similar vein, let's not let ourselves be tricked by diet gimmicks.  Here 8 diet "rumors" are  unraveled.

Finally, for your weekend enjoyment, here is a little Bento inspiration - a cute piece from the BBC.

Now you should be all set for a fun and fit