I’ve been a busy little bee. In the dietetics world January through April is a stressful time – that is if you are applying for an internship or if you run an internship. I am not yet in the latter group so I am one of those poor souls vying for a spot and the means to afford said program. My spare hours are spent thinking about what my personal statement should be like and wondering what my letters of reference say. Granted it’s a lot of worrying for me and not a whole lot of production yet. Some of you aren’t surprised, I’m sure. But I do have drafts of all of my required documents and my transcripts have been requested. So I am not completely screwed – just at the point where the anxiety keeps you up at night. It’s a thrilling place to be, can’t you tell??
I have however been quite busy in the Feeding Bliss world – working on recipes, opening up a shop on Etsy and developing products to sell. There is only one product listed currently. That’s my granola. I feel confident enough in that recipe that I could put that up. Later today I will be posting a month’s worth of meal plans along with a shopping list. The items will be available in a monthly packet or a weekly packet. Keep your eyes peeled later today and I will be sending out another link to the shop with a complete product listing.
Last night was the first night on the meal plan. I have requested that they send me their photos of the meals they prepare so I can show all of you their successes – and hopefully encourage you to give them a shot. If you ever do try one of my recipes here, be sure to send me an email with a photo and any questions or comments to: FeedingBliss AT gmail DOT com I would LOVE to hear from you!!! You can also comment anywhere in the blog.
The first meal was Manhattan Chicken. I love this dish because it is a one-pot wonder. Insanely easy and beautiful! And for those of you Weight Watchers out there, it is a simply filling meal. Typically I serve this with a grain – either a nice whole grain bread or brown rice. Last night we opted for no grain and it was still delicious and filling.
Below is a photo of the dish made by one of my helpers 🙂 looks like she made hers with noodles on the side.
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 6 ounces spinach
- ¼ cup chicken broth
- 2 slices low-fat provolone cheese
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Salt & Pepper
- Heat a large pan (with cover) over medium-high heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- Season chicken with salt and pepper then add to pan. Cook chicken 4 minutes on each side.
- Add spinach, garlic and chicken stock to pan. Then place provolone slice on top of chicken.
- Cover pan and cook for 3-4 minutes until the spinach has wilted and the cheese has melted.
Okay people. I have done it! Finally after many attempts I have found the recipe (and successfully executed said recipe) for super crunchy and chunky granola. In past recipes I had problems with not enough clusters, basically my sauce wasn’t sticky enough so the pieces didn’t clump. The flavor has always been there but I was missing the secret ingredient. What is it you ask?! Well, it’s brown rice syrup. I know! I had no idea such a thing existed either. It is a life (granola) saver, let me tell you… I was so overjoyed when this batch came out of the oven. It was a big victory for me. This product is well worth the trip to Whole Foods to grab a jar, and while you are there you can also grab the yummy raw nuts and unsweetened shredded coconut. So are you ready for your new favorite, go-to granola recipe??
- 6 cups rolled oats
- 2 cups mixed raw nuts – I used sunflower seeds, walnuts and pecans but this is very flexible
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (optional but super yummy)
- 1 cup brown rice syrup
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- Dash salt
- 1 tablespoon chunky peanut butter, unsalted
- 1 cup dried fruit – I used cherries and blueberries
Heat oven to 325. On a large baking sheet toast oats approximately 5-10 minutes, stirring regularly. Add coconut and nuts to oats and toast an additional 5-10 minutes, again stirring regularly. Meanwhile combine brown sugar, rice syrup and peanut butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir well and cook until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. In a large bowl combine all ingredients – toasted dry ingredients and the slightly cooled syrup/sauce. Mix well to ensure all pieces are coated. Spoon mix on to parchment-lined cookie sheet and press flat. Bake for approximately 20 minutes stirring every 5-10 minutes to ensure all parts get good and crispy brown.
Here’s the bad news faithful readers… This makes a TON of granola (>8 cups or nearly 30 servings) but the standard serving size for granola is 1/4 cup and granola is pretty calorie (and point) dense 5 points plus per serving!! So self-restraint is necessary here.
If you don’t know where to start on the flavor/seasoning front I always go for what’s in my house. So this week it was sunflower seeds, walnuts, pecans, cherries and blueberries. Another favorite of my combos is apricots, dates and cranberries. I have also done one with cherries, soy nuts and walnuts with mini chocolate chips. You could also do one that is more fall-like with apples and cranberries and go a little heavier on the cinnamon and halve the salt. Really it’s up to you and what ingredients you have on hand.
As you probably know by now, Carver and I really like granola. Last week a friend suggested I try one of her favorite recipes, Homemade Cranberry Nut Granola. She mentioned that she makes a double batch so it will last her longer. My favorite recipe is from Ina Garten, found here. This new recipe comes from Giada, and I sort of joined the two for a bit of a happy medium.
Fruit & Nut Granola
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange 1c shredded coconut, 1/2c sunflower seeds and 1/2c chopped walnuts on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating and stirring halfway through cook time.
Transfer to a large bowl and let cool. Add in 3c rolled oats, 1c chopped roasted almonds and 1/2t salt, mix well.
Meanwhile heat 1c unsweetened cranberry juice with 5T Splenda brown sugar with 2/3c brown sugar, 1/2c maple syrup, 3T honey and 3t cinnamon; cook until sugar is dissolved.
Carefully mix the liquid with the dry ingredients – I would add the liquid in portions, you don’t want too much liquid in the mix. Split the granola between two sheet pans (lined with parchment paper) and press evenly into pan. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating halfway through cook time.
Dice 1c apricot halves and measure out 1c dried cranberries.
When the granola has finished the 20 minutes, remove pans from oven and add 1/2c of each fruit to each pan; mix well to combine. Press down evenly and return to oven at 325 degrees. Bake granola for an additional 20 minutes, rotating halfway through cook time. Let cool about 10 minutes on pan before placing in containers. I put half in an air tight glass container (shown above) and the other in a gallon-size freezer bag, and popped it in the freezer. This makes 50 servings, 2T per serving. Points Plus: 3.
BONUS: TRAIL MIX RECIPE
While I was waiting for the granola to finish I used some ingredients I had lying around to make a trail mix. Carver is a big trail mix fan, but the pre-made options are not the healthiest option and they’re expensive… Especially if it is eaten more than 1 serving at a time, as usually happens in our house. I basically made 5 individual containers which will last a few days, on Wednesday I will put together a few more. You will need: 20 banana chips, 5t mini chocolate chips, 5t sunflower seeds, 10t dried cranberries, 5t chopped walnuts, and 10 apricot halves. Points Plus: 4, Serves 5
How is it two whole days can pass by so fast? I am amazed… both at how quickly the time passed and at how productive I was. I completed 90% of my reading for the upcoming week, transferred over notes from 2 lectures, answered several emails, made some soup (potato leek), cookies (chocolate chip) and a delish surf and turf dinner. Recipes/photos to follow.
With the first full week of classes ahead I wanted to be sure and remind myself of the basics. I know when I get stressed these are what go out the window. For me the basics are eating well, sleeping, exercising and staying on top of projects (work/school/personal). It is inevitable that certain items take priority from time to time, but I want to have a sense of balance and not feel like I am shifting from one issue to another. One piece is the ‘Good Health Guidelines’ per Weight Watchers, for my specific needs. These items are pretty standard, agreed upon norms in the nutrition world. The other piece is a personal note- getting myself into a morning and evening routine that is productive. I don’t ever remember a time when I had a morning/evening routine – maybe when I was a kid… but again not that I remember. I feel these are the times of day that set the tone and I want to be at my best.
So here are my ‘guidelines’
Good Health Guidelines (Daily)
- Fruits & Veggies: 5 servings
- Lean Protein: 1-2 servings
- Non/Low- Fat Dairy: 2 servings
- Whole grains: whenever possible
- Liquids: 6 cups
- Healthy Oils: 2 teaspoons (pp:2)
- Multivitamin: 1
- Be Active: 30 minutes
- Watch Sodium & Sugar – don’t worry about a specific amount
I am going to check in each day about my progress with these items and hopefully build a lasting routine of it. I will include a photo of my planner of the next day and then in the evening I will rank my day and show how many of my guidelines I met.
Planner for 1/24
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast 2c old-fashioned rolled oats, 1 1/2 cup nuts (I used almonds and soy nuts), 1/2c wheat germ and 5T coconut for 15 minutes – stirring every 5 minutes to ensure equal browning. In the meantime, combine1/2c honey, 2T brown sugar, 1oz butter, 2t vanilla extract and 1/2 t salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved. Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees. Immediately add the oat mixture to the liquid mixture, add 6 1/2 oz dried fruit (I used dates and cranberries) and 1/2c chocolate chips, and stir to combine. Turn mixture out into the prepared baking dish and press down, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish and place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week. Serves 16. Points Plus: 6.
** I often have problems with granola bar recipes because they don’t stay as bars. I end up getting half of them to stay in the desired shape, the other half of the batch will become granola clusters. In that case I just use 1/4c as a serving size.
Leek and Potato Soup
Chop 3c leeks (cleaned), 3c baking potatoes (cleaned). Combine chopped vegetables with 3c chicken broth and 3c water and 1 1/2t salt– bring to a boil in a 3-qt sauce pan. Cover partially and simmer 20-30 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Correct Seasoning. Serve as is, or puree. Top each portion with 1T ff sour cream if desired. Serves 6. Points Plus: 2
Surf & Turf Dinner
Roast 4oz shellfish with 2t olive oil, 1/2t salt, 1/4t pepper for 8 minutes at 375 – Shrimp should be pink and opaque. Broil one 8oz flank steak topped with 2t olive oil, 1/2t salt, 1/4t pepper for 10-12 minutes for medium rare. Serve with 1 large sweet potato (baked) or two small,1 serving packaged salad with oil and vinegar dressing. Serves 2. Points Plus: 8