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Easy Weeknight Dinners with O Organics

25 Oct

Easy Weeknight Dinners with O Organics

Fall has befallen us! As the cooler weather sets in, our minds start migrating to warm, comforting foods that taste best when cooked at home.

Last week I had the chance to partner with O Organics on Palm Springs’ Desert Living show to bring you some super easy ways to make weeknight dinners in a snap.

 

 

Did you know that 60 years ago the typical American family dinnertime lasted 90 minutes. Fast forward to today where families spend 12 minutes eating their evening meal together!

Even though we have less time, we don’t have to compromise on taste, quality or health – and O Organics makes it incredibly easy to add organic items into everyday meals without a lot of time, money or effort.

In the Southern California area, O Organics is available at Albertsons and Vons. They feature more than 300 items for every occasion throughout the grocery store: from fresh fruits and vegetables, to wholesome dairy and meats, cereals, snacks and more.

Below are just a few of my favorite O Organics recipes. I love their ideas for making main courses in muffin tins. They’re perfect for portioning and you can batch cook ahead of time and freeze for fast weeknight meals.

And while you’re dabbling in dinner prep, it never hurts to sneak in a dessert and even throw together something for tomorrow’s breakfast. These German Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls are no-bake and a huge hit in my house. And O Organics PB&J Overnight Oats are so easy and delicious, I’m tempted to eat them before morning comes!

 

Muffin Tin Meatloaves by O Organics

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Ingredients

  • 1 O Organics egg
  • 1/2 cup O Organics salsa, plus more
  • 1 pound O Organics lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 9 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • In a medium bowl, add egg, salsa, chili powder and salt; whisking with a fork to combine. Stir in oats. Fold in ground beef gently until all ingredients are evenly incorporated into the beef.
  • Coat a muffin tin with nonstick spray. Divide ground beef mixture among 9 of the muffin tins, pressing the beef down slightly in the center.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, then remove and add a teaspoon of salsa to the center of each meatloaf, and top each with a tablespoon of cheddar cheese. Put meatloaves back into the oven for another 5 minutes, or until fully cooked.
  • Remove from oven and let cool 2-3 minutes, then remove mini meatloaves from muffin tin and serve!

 

3 Cheese Muffin Tin Pasta by O Organics

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked O Organics penne pasta
  • 3 O Organics eggs
  • 2 cups half-moon slices of zuchini
  • 2 cups shredded Colby-Jack cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta

Directions

  • In a medium bowl, whisk eggs for 1 minute. Stir in Colby Jack cheese and garlic powder. Add pasta and veggies, and stir to coat noodles in mixture. Add Parmesan, and stir again to coat fully.
  • In a 12-cound muffin tin sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, divide mixture equally among each muffin tin. Sprinkle the top of each with a teaspoon of crumbled feta.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes at 350 degrees F, until fully cooked through but not overdone. Remove and let cool 5 minutes. Remove pasta from muffin tins (if needed, take a butter knife along the edges to loosen the pasta – it should remove easily), and serve.

 

German Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup O Organics creamy or crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/3 cup pecan chips, toasted
  • 1/3 cup raw honey
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseeed

Directions

  • In a bowl, stir together peanut butter, oats, coconut, pecan chips, honey, cocoa powder and flaxseed. If mixture is too sticky, add another teaspoon or so of ground flaxseed until it reaches a good consistency.
  • Roll into balls about 2 tablespoons each. Top with extra coconut flakes. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

 

PB&J Overnight Oats

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon O Organics strawberry preserves
  • 2 tablespoons O Organics creamy or crunchy peanut butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup whole rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped apple
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup

Directions

  • In a small clear jar, spread strawberry preserves and 1 tablespoon of the peanut butter on the sides of the jar. In another cup, mix together oats, cinnamon, chia seeds, and almond milk. Pour oat mixture into clear jar. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
  • In the morning, top oats with chopped apple. Slightly warm maple syrup with 1 tablespoon peanut butter. Drizzle on top of apple and enjoy!

For the full Desert Living Easy Weeknight Dinners segment with O Organics, please click here.

Disclosure: I have a financial relationship with the products mentioned in this post; I was not paid to write this post but I was paid for the product mentions in the TV segment appearing in the post.

Starbucks’ New Stuff Roundup

27 May

Starbucks’ New Stuff Roundup

“It’s time to start thinking of Starbucks for great food”.

Or so says the promo material for the new La Boulange line of “artisanal pastries” being offered at the ubiquitous coffee shop.

La Boulange Bakery is a San Francisco institution that has been serving up “fantastic brunches and healthful lunches” in the Bay Area since the 1990s. You may have never been to La Boulange, but if you’ve been to a Starbucks in the past month, you’ve no doubt been bombarded with the advertising blitz featuring the new line of pastries.

Why did Starbucks partner with La Boulange? Well, it certainly wasn’t to improve your health! According to the company’s FAQs, somehow, “Through this great partnership, we are able to make your Starbucks experience more welcoming and satisfying than ever.”

Provided that you consider white flour, butter, and copious amounts of sugar and salt welcoming and satisfying ingredients, you’ll be stoked on these new options clogging your coffee wait pastry case.

To be fair – Starbucks isn’t claiming any of these products are even remotely healthy; but it is somewhat distressing to see that not-a-one is even on the cusp of being a nutritious pick:

  • The average La Boulange pastry at Starbucks contains 7 grams of saturated fat, roughly 1/3 of your daily max. If a pastry represents 1/3 of your daily food intake, that’s fine, but let’s be honest – it doesn’t.
  • The only offering with 3 g fiber or more per serving is the Wheat Spinach Savory Square (4 g fiber/square), but it tops out at 13 g saturated fat and almost 600 mg sodium, which kind of negates the fiber factor here.
  • When taken to task on the high fat/high calorie nature of French pastries, the Starbucks site cites a, “Variety of options – from more indulgent treats to lighter bites with as few as 170 calories”. Problem is, there’s only ONE sub-200 calorie pastry (out of 28 items), and that’s the notoriously light Flourless Chewy Chocolate Cookie. The rest of the treats set you back an average of 330 calories, roughly double the “lighter bite” line.

If you’re looking for a better bet at Starbucks, stick to the old standbys:

The bottom line: if you’re REALLY wondering why French women don’t get fat, it’s because they probably don’t eat at Starbucks.

Gold Medal Fueling Tips of the Olympic Athletes

7 Feb

Gold Medal Fueling Tips of the Olympic Athletes

The Winter Olympics are upon us.

And although we can’t all perform at the level the athletes do, at least we can try to eat like them!

Here are some Gold Medal Fueling Tips of the Olympic Athletes:

Healthy & Hydrated

  • The risk of dehydration increases at temperature extremes. Dehydration can hamper performance.
  • Fluid doesn’t just come from drinks – about 20% of your fluid comes from foods too.
  • Food that have more than 90% water by weight include cucumbers, radishes, tomatoes, green bell peppers, cauliflower, watermelon, spinach, strawberry, grapefruits and baby carrots.
  • The facts: No other female American alpine skier has won more medals than Julia Mancuso. She swears by coconut water as a base for her morning smoothies.

Pre-Race Fuel

  • If you’re gearing up to work out, the Olympic athletes know – a breakfast packed with protein and carbohydrate fuels a great day.
  • Carbs are key for pre-performance. Stock up on foods like fruits and whole grains for good sugars your body wants and needs.
  • Simple breakfast ideas for early morning workouts include a whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter and jelly, oatmeal made with milk and fresh fruit, or nonfat plain yogurt topped with granola.
  • The facts: Moguls star Hannah Kearney, who is defending her Gold medal, combines nonfat Greek Yogurt with all natural granola for her protein & fiber-packed breakfast.

Recover Right

  • Wondering what to eat after you work out? Olympic athletes know that recovery snacks are important – preferably if consumed within the first 15 minutes following completion of a workout.
  • Nutrition scientists agree, portable post-workout snacks that contain a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrate:protein are optimal for recovery.
  • The facts: Speed skater JR Celski fuels his recovery with shakes, and a trip to the sauna.

Shake it Up!

Try these 2 post-workout shake recipes for that optimal 4:1 carb: protein recovery ratio that works to replenish glycogen stores while repairing damage to muscle tissue:

  • Peanut Butter Banana Blend Smoothie: 1 cup nonfat milk, 1.5 frozen bananas, 1 tablespoon peanut butter, & 4-5 ice cubes (335 calories, 56 g carbohydrate, 14 g protein)
  • Mango Recovery Shake: 15 pieces frozen mango chunks, 3/4 cup nonfat yogurt, 3/4 cup orange juice, & 4-5 ice cubes (270 calories, 54 g carbohydrate, 13 g protein)

For more nutrition tips of Olympic proportions, check out my KUSI Good Morning San Diego segment from earlier this week.

National Oatmeal Day – It’s OAT of This World!

29 Oct

National Oatmeal Day – It’s OAT of This World!

Today is National Oatmeal Day. Did you know that 80% of American households have oatmeal stashed away somewhere in their kitchen?

Well, it’s time to dust off the old breakfast standby – and try out these tips to boost your breakfast with oatmeal:

Pitch the Packet

You don’t need packet oatmeal with its added sugar and shrunken portions of oats! Instead, sweeten your quick cooking oats the way nature intended…with real fruit.

Combine 1/2 cup dry quick cooking oats, 1 cup nonfat milk and 1 cup raspberries. Microwave for 1.5-2 minutes or until liquid is absorbed…and enjoy!

A 1-cup serving of raspberries adds an additional 7 grams of dietary fiber, for just 50 calories (not to mention almost half your day’s worth of vitamin C). Berries make a great addition to oatmeal – and their high fiber content helps you stay fuller for longer.

Learn more about the benefits of berries from Driscoll’s here.

Overnight Your Oats

Steel cut oats have a nutty flavor, but they take a longer time than rolled oats to cook. Why not cut your time a ton by making overnight oats?

Combine 1/3 cup steel cut oats, 1/2 cup unsweetened almond or soymilk, 1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt, 1/2 cup sliced strawberries, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 tablespoons chia seed in a mason jar or bowl. Cover, refrigerate for 6-8 hours and enjoy in the morning.

You can also use your slow cooker with a ratio of 3 cups fluid to 1 cup steel cut oats for 6-8 hours overnight. Wake up to healthy, hearty, steel cut oats – all prepared with minimal effort.

Drinkable Oatmeal

In too much of a rush to prepare oatmeal in the am? Then think about drinking your oatmeal.

Sneaky Pete’s All Natural Oatmeal Beverage is an innovative new oatmeal drink that allows you to get your oats to go. With 3 grams of oat fiber and just 40 calories per bottle, these drinks are goodness in a glass.

Sneaky Pete’s are available in 5 delicious flavors that offer a crisp, delicious and nutritious alternative to traditional oatmeal.

To learn more about sprucing up your oatmeal, check out my OAT of this World! TV segment from Channel 6 Wake Up San Diego today on the same topic.

Pelletized Fiber: Coming to Your Cereal Soon

26 Sep

Pelletized Fiber: Coming to Your Cereal Soon

General Mills announced recently that it has filed a patent on a technique to pelletize fiber and calcium for use in ready-to-eat (RTE) breakfast cereals.

The process will use a gelatinized starch to coalesce calcium and fiber for the purpose of supplementing processed cereals. Mmmm…

Is this a big deal? Well…General Mills thinks so. The company is notorious for boasting “with whole grain first ingredient” on its high sugar cereals.

One of the best examples is Cinnamon Toast Crunch – a clearly less-than healthy breakfast option with whole grain monikers splattered across its front-of-packaging propaganda:

 

 

The problem is, with so much sugar (…CTC’s more bashful 2nd ingredient…) you end up with a super small serving size and less dietary fiber per serving than you’d get with other truly whole grain cereal options.

What’s more, the “value added” benefit of a souped-up fiber and calcium supplement means that GM can sell their processed and packaged concoctions to you at more of a markup. After all, you’re getting more fiber and calcium along with your sugar and salt – but you bet you’re also going to pay more for it!

If you’re looking for a better breakfast cereal bet – it’s always best to make your own:

  • Start with 1/2 cup dry oats (quick-cooking, old-fashioned, or steel-cut will do)
  • Cook oats with 1 cup of milk (or calcium-fortified milk alternative if you don’t do dairy)
  • Now add 1 cup of berries (fresh or frozen, with no added sugar)

VoilĂ !

You just got 8 grams of fiber plus 33% of your day’s calcium. And all without having to eat any pellets.