Hot Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal

For work I try and compile recipes that meet our patients needs that are a little out of the box.  Many of them have been receiving dialysis for years and have tried a lot of the options out there. I wanted to offer some high protein alternatives to meat and eggs, which can get tiring.  So I took to the food blogs, looking for high protein baked goods!

While there, I kept seeing coconut butter and I really wanted to try it out.  Basically it is like coconut oil but has some of the meat of the coconut mixed in so the consistency is thicker. It is solid at room temperature, while coconut oil is liquid. It has a nice creamy texture and is very rich so when you use it, you don’t need much.

I decided to buy some and give it a try!  It was about $11 so a bit of a grocery splurge, but you don’t need much so it will last.  I have been into oatmeal lately and decided to incorporate it into my breakfast

Hot Chocolate Oatmeal

Hot Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of oatmeal
  • 1 cup of milk or milk alternative
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp or packet of hot chocolate mix
  • 1 tbsp coconut butter
  • Coconut flakes for garnish

Instructions

  1. Cook oatmeal to package instructions either stovetop or in a microwave.
  2. Warm up the coconut butter by putting the jar in a pot or bowl of hot water. Let it sit and stir until liquid.
  3. Mix hot chocolate into oatmeal.
  4. Sprinkle chia seeds on oatmeal.
  5. Drizzle coconut butter and then sprinkle with coconut flakes.
  6. Enjoy!

If you want a lower sugar option, you can use regular cocoa powder but I find oatmeal needs a little sweetness for me.  The end result is super creamy, luxurious and satisfying breakfast.  The coconut butter adds some fat so it so it makes it a little heartier and it sticks with you pretty well.

Hot chocolate oatmeal 2

Ingredient Breakdown

Oatmeal – This whole grain is a great source of fiber with some additional protein.  It has also been shown to protect against heart disease, help manage blood sugar,  and lower cholesterol.

Chia Seeds – Another great source of fiber and protein with some added calcium.  They also aid in digestion, make you feel full and act as a prebiotic.

Coconut Butter – Creamy texture with fat to help with satiety.

This definitely sticks with you during the day and its a bit decadent without being totally indulgent.

How do you incorporate coconut butter into your diet?

Getting your Fruits and Vegetables Into your Daily Routine

So now that you know how many servings of fruits and vegetables you need each day, what now?  If you have a very low intake, it may seem like a huge change to meet the recommendations.  As with everything I recommend, lots of small changes can make a large challenge manageable.  Here are my favorite ways to add produce into your daily routine.

box-of-fruit-and-vegetablesPack your Lunch

This is probably my most used method of controlling what I eat.  When I do get too busy or just forget to bring lunch with me, I am reminded that my alternatives are so sub par.  At my job I can pretty much get a burger, sandwich, pizza or other equally less healthy option.  I can drive to the grocery store for the salad bar, but am inundated with mac and cheese, fried chicken, more pizza, and other high calorie options.  Not only is buying a lunch typically lead to more calories and end up costing more, but 90% of the options don’t include a full serving of fruit or vegetable (no that slice of tomato doesn’t count).  For some guidance, check out my previous post here.  Include 1 fruit and 1 vegetable and you are almost halfway there for the day!

Packed lunchKeep a Stash

Where ever you are, have a serving handy.  This means at work, at home or in your car.  One way to do this is to pick up a bag of apples, baby carrots and hummus or a basket of clementines and keep them in the work fridge.  When I need a snack or need to round out my lunch, I can just grab one.  Easy peas-y.  You can also use more portable options like individual applesauce or fruit cups/pouches as well as dried fruit like raisins or apricots and keep them in your car.  When  you hit a batch of traffic and the roadside fast food starts looking tempting, you will have a healthful option at your fingertips.  And honestly, it has been so cold in the New England area, that you could probably leave fresh produce in the car too (obviously not a year round option).  You also may want to keep a fruit basket on the counter at home.  It makes the fruit visible and appealing.

Fruit basket
This is basket we have at home. It prevents the bananas from getting squished and you can also monitor their ripeness if you buy them a little green.

Shift your Thinking

Traditionally, we think about building our meals around the protein source.  Chicken for dinner! Steak for dinner! Fish for dinner! There is so much emphasis on these foods that everything else seems secondary.  Try putting the focus on the vegetable and plan around that.  Decide that tonight you want cauliflower for dinner.  Pick a recipe and then select what goes best with it.  This will make sure the vegetable is never forgotten.  It will also make you more likely to try preparing your vegetables in an exciting way that will make them more appealing in the future.  For example you can make mashed cauliflower, cauliflower tots, curried cauliflower, Parmesan roasted cauliflower, buffalo cauliflower…you get the point.  they don’t just have to be steamed or boiled.  Make them exciting.

Pinterest is your friend when exploring new recipes.
Pinterest is your friend when exploring new recipes.

Every time you Eat is an Opportunity

Each meal, each snack has the potential to get a serving in.  If you shoot to have a fruit or vegetable every time you eat, even if you don’t always succeed, you are making great progress.  Add berries to your morning yogurt or include spinach and mushrooms with your eggs.  Homemade kale chips or a bunch of grapes make a great snack.  Having a salad with both fruit and vegetables can be a satisfying lunch as an entree or side.  Experiment with fun vegetable recipes for dinner and have some cherries with a dollop of whipped cream for dessert.

Try adopting 1 or 2 changes at a time and see how it can be so easy to have all your fruit and vegetable servings if you pay attention to your intake and have a little planning.

How do you make sure you eat enough of the good stuff? Favorite recipes welcome!

Back in time for the New Year

I’m baaaaaacck!  So it has in fact been a very long time since my last post.  This past year has been incredibly busy so blogging took a back seat.  Well as the new year approaches and everyone starts thinking about ways to improve themselves, I decided to get back to blogging.  I really missed the outlet of writing and I find doing posts keeps me sharp and current on different nutrition and fitness trends/research.  So look forward to more frequent posts in 2015!

To tide you over, here is a little bit about my life in the past year:

I bought a house!

2014-06-06 06.08.25 2014-06-06 06.08.12 2014-06-06 06.07.42 2014-06-06 06.07.04   2014-05-06 08.38.54And I got married! All wedding photos were taken by Robyn Blasi Photography.  We are currently her featured wedding so go to her website to check out more photos.

we-53 we-62 we-131we-398 we-193 we-199  we-400 we-442 we-456  we-464 we-484(1)  we-488  we-661 we-680 we-709 we-720 we-787 we-837 we-861Enjoy the pictures and stay tuned for more health and fitness posts from The Baier Necessities!!!

Fabletics Outline and Review

There is a relatively new company out there for women’s athletic apparel. Fabletics was founded in part by actress Kate Hudson.  I had seen advertisements on Facebook and around the web and finally, after hearing good things, tried it out and made an order.  Below is how the website works and my review of the products I purchased.

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So when you first go to the website, it doesn’t seem like there is a lot of selection.  The key is to sign up for an account.  When you do, it will ask you your sport preferences (yoga vs running vs swimming) as well as other factors that matter when choosing gear (outside vs inside, conservative vs showy).  From there, the site generates outfits for you, showing much more merchandise.  You can then purchase an outfit or individual items.  There is also the option of becoming a VIP Member.

The VIP Membership is something I signed up for without really understanding what it was, but it worked out in the end.  When you initially sign up, you get your first outfit at an incredible discount – between $25 and $30 for 2-3 pieces.  I saw that and just went for it.  Here are the details:

  • Fabletics will generate new outfits for you on the 1st of the month
  • The VIP prices are much lower than that of a regular user.  It appears to be about 30% cheaper.
  • You have until the 10th of the month to either purchase an outfit or decline.  If you do nothing, Fabletics will automatically charge your account $50.  But that money doesn’t go away, you can use it for future purchases.  What is nice about this is that you have the option of declining a purchase every month with no penalty.  And if you do forget, the charge can go towards something useful.

I didn’t really understand the details at first.  I started kicking myself when I saw they could charge me, but then I realized that the policy was actually very reasonable.  And if I don’t think I can consistently remember to skip a month, its easy to downgrade to a regular membership.

Other perks!

  • When you make a purchase, you earn points
  • When you review items, you earn points
  • If a friend you invite joins, you earn points
  • All these points can add up to free outfits!

This helps foster a community on the website and ensures that all the products have a TON of feedback regarding sizing, quality, style reviews and other important info that is so helpful when purchasing online.  And the points don’t expire for 2 years, so no rush.

Now that I’m done with the paper work, lets get on the clothes (obviously what you’re really here for).  I really liked a lot of the outfits.  The one I chose included a tank, sports bra and capris.  I ended up choosing different colors for all of the items – I was very happy to have the option to do so.  To test out the outfit, I took a Zumba class.

Rio Run Capri – Black and White

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To begin, I LOVE these pants.  The material is so soft, it feels nicer than a pair of Athleta pants I own.  They stretch well and most importantly, stay put! There was no riding up and I didn’t feel worried about the material stretching thin/tearing during squats.  Running up the side is a mesh strip for ventilation.  I was mildly concerned that modesty would be an issue, but the black is still very discrete.

One thing I will note is that the length is not a true capri, more like a knicker length.  It comes right below the knee and has some piping on the edge.  This could be a turn off for some but I got used to it and now don’t mind.

Doon Sports Bra – Salt and Pepper

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Unfortunately, this item wasn’t a winner.  I realize now that I should have ordered a size down from my normal, but even then I don’t think that it would provide the medium support it promised.  Very soft, but no support.  It does have a nice mesh back for ventilation.

To its credit, the grey is really nice.  It has enough black in it to give an intense, military-esc image.

Oula Tank – Ultra Lemon

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This tank is great.  Similar fabric to the pants in the sense that it is really soft and comfy.  It has a loose fit, great for running, dance, and cycling.  May be troublesome for anything where you fold or go upside down like yoga.  The ultra lemon color is more green than yellow, and very bright.  Both of those are pluses in my book! Nothing fancy about this one, just a good quality, solid tank.


 

Overall, I was very happy with my purchases, especially for the price.  I received an entire outfit for less than those Athleta pants I was talking about – and even those were on sale!  Everything was shipped quickly and I even received some sample hair products with my purchase.

If you are an active person or looking for motivation to become one, go ahead and sign up. There is really no risk.  Just know that the extra discount ($25 outfit) is only valid for the first 24 hours after making an account, so be ready to pounce!

If you are interested, use this link: http://www.fabletics.com/invite/47466393/

***Disclaimer: If you sign up as a VIP member using this link and make a purchase, I will receive points for referring a friend.

If I make any future purchases, I’ll be sure to review them again (in a much shorter post!).

What is your favorite source for cute, affordable, athletic apparel?

RDN in Action!

So you may have noticed a bit of radio silence lately.  At first, I started working a couple of jobs in seasonal positions  – one retail, one at a gym.  Between those two, my free time was cut down significantly so I kept putting off blogging.  Then the holiday season was in full swing and life just got in the way.  But my very valid excuse for these past 2 weeks is that I officially started my very first job as a registered dietitian!

anchorman-teamjumpIt has been a long time coming and I cannot express how thrilled I am!  I am the new Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for the Mid-Fairfield AIDS Project in Norwalk.  There, I work with clients one-on-one in counseling sessions.  Being HIV+ has some specific nutrition concerns (I’ll get into those another time), but clients have some concerns that are common in the general public.  Some people want to lose weight, shop on a budget or even just eat a more well-rounded diet.

2014-01-09 17.19.24

It is so wonderful to actually be practicing in this field that I have been working for so long to be a part of.  Over the past 2 weeks, much of my days have been spent getting oriented with policies, computer systems, fellow staff and just general daily operations.  During this time though, I have started to see clients!  I may have been a bit shaky at first but I really feel that I am coming into my own and developing a successful strategy that is all my own.

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More to come later on as things progress!

 

What was your first career job?

 

Off to Italy!

My family and I are leaving today for a vacation to Italy, Greece, Turkey and Croatia! I am so incredibly excited to see these countries and to also visit my sister Rachel who lives in France and is meeting us there.  I will be gone for the next 2 weeks, returning on August 10th so I wont be posting till then.

But so much has happened in my life, that when I get back, you can expect:

  • Studying Strategies for the RD Exam
  • Engagement Party Festivities
  • My Birthday
  • Vacation Recaps!!!

I plan on taking an obscene amount of photos so get ready for some history, art, beaches and more!

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Arrivederci, αντίο, veda and zbogom!

Veggies at Breakfast Time – Zucchini Bread

In honor of National Nutrition Month, I chose a special topic – eating vegetables at breakfast.  Frequently, I feel that vegetables get overlooked in the morning and people tend to gravitate towards fruit.  For varieties’ sake, I sought out ways to add different veggies into your morning routine.  My first solution: Zucchini Bread.  Before this, I had actually never tried zucchini bread, so this was a big experiment.  Here is how I made it:


Zucchini Bread

IngredientsZucchini Ingredients
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

2 cups of zucchini works out to be about one large zucchini.  Its relatively soft, so it was very easy to grate quickly.

Direction
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease two 8 x 4 pans.  You can also use 8 x 8 pans for a shallower bread that is sized more like a brownie. 
  2. Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, oil, vanilla and sugar.
  4. Add the dry mixture, slowly mixing it in.  Beat well.
  5. Stir in zucchini and walnuts if desired (Alternative: sprinkle walnuts on top before baking)
  6. Pour into pans and bake for 40-60 minutes.  Allow to cool for 20 minutes for cutting.

Zucchini Bread CollageZucchini Bread Collage 2


This recipe turned out so well!  It was so moist and flavorful and the nuts gave it a great texture.  You definitely can not tell that there is zucchini in it so I would stay it is a ‘”stealth health” success.  I could see kids really liking this, so if you have a picky eater on your hands, you now have one more tool to get in all their servings of fruits and vegetables. 

Nutritional Facts: Servings 24, Calories: 255, Fat: 13.2, Sodium 180mg, Carbohydrate: 32.3g, Fiber: 1.1g, Protein: 3.3g, Vitamin E: 10.3%, Folate: 9.8%, Magnanese: 17.6%

Take a slice of this as breakfast on the go or have it as a side.  It is calorie dense, so it could be a full breakfast.  If you want to pump up the nutrition, sub in some whole wheat flour, reduce the sugar and add more zucchini.  Because this is baking, I wouldn’t make any drastic shifts but tweaks here and there can definitely improve the nutrition content.

More recipes to come this week. Enjoy!

How do you work vegetables into your day?