How 'bout a Breakfast Banana Split?

Breakfast banana split cover shot labeled

I partnered with Stonyfield and Woodstock Foods for this recipe.  All opinions are my own.

Hey! Long time, no see!

I've been doing a lot more work for the Fit Bottomed World of healthy-living blogs, which is great. It's a combination of graphics, copy editing, writing and back-end stuff, so that's been keeping me busy (and apparently away from the blog). 

I've also been hitting the gym more frequently and staying up far too late watching MSNBC. 

Another thing I've been doing is working with my teenager on cleaning up his eating -- totally HIS decision. I have a post scheduled soon at Fit Bottomed Mamas that goes into more detail about that, but even though he has zero weight issues, he doesn't want to end up with one, so he's making cleaner choices for his meals and snacks.

Lately he's rediscovered yogurt, something he hadn't eaten since he was a toddler. Grabbing a cup of Greek yogurt for a quick breakfast or an evening snack is a good protein-rich choice, and he can choose from a variety of flavors.

He hasn't gone hardcore, like I have.

I pretty much stick to plain yogurt -- be it Greek, regular, nonfat or whole milk. I've been cutting back on my sugar intake and I can honestly say I like plain yogurt now, maybe with just a tiny drizzle of honey or sprinkle of stevia, depending on what I'm eating.

Breakfast banana split watermark
Breakfast banana split ingredients watermarkedI came up with this idea for a fun breakfast or even a dessert. It's a healthy twist on the classic banana split, which uses Stonyfield Grassfed plain yogurt and Woodstock's almond butter and Hiker's Harvest Mix trail, which is a blend of organic pumpkin seeds, raisins, apples and almonds with no added oils, salt or sugar. I added a little drizzle of honey.

I had this for breakfast right after my photo shoot, but I think the kid will enjoy it, too.

Breakfast Banana Split

  • 1 medium banana, peeled and split lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup Stonyfield Grassfed plain yogurt (or any other favorite yogurt)
  • 1 tablespoon natural almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons Woodstock Organic Hiker's Harvest Mix
  • Drizzle of honey

Top banana with yogurt, almond butter, trail mix and drizzle the whole thing with honey.

Makes 1 serving.

 


I have seen the future and it tastes like vegetables

(Yeah, I know I said "coming Monday" but my blog platform ate my post, so here it is on Wednesday!)

Hey, it's 2017! Happy New Year! Time to start anew and all that. I've had the same resolution since about the age of, oh, 10, and you can figure out what that is:

Crouching woman hidden scale

(Seriously, what is up with this "woman crouching on scale" stock photo pose? That is not how you weigh yourself, and if you can squat like that on a little scale, then honey, you don't need to worry about a number on the scale.)

Here's where I veer off and do something differently than I've been doing lo these many years.

  1. I unloaded a huge pile of diet books, sticking some on Amazon for sale and donating the rest to the library's used-book sale.
  2. Threw out all the pitches for big, corporate diet plans that came in the mail and the email.
  3. Left various diet-related Facebook groups. Don't want to have too many different plans fighting each other in my head. It's an ongoing issue for me.

So what DID I do?

Fitness planner

Bought a cool new fitness-themed planner. Michael's had a massive sale on them so I got this kit for around $14.

Made a doctor appointment with a new primary-care physician who seems -- at least on paper -- to be more focused on preventive care and weight loss.

Decided I was going to follow the advice of Dawn Jackson Blatner, a registered dietitian who just released a new book called The Superfood Swap. It's NOT a diet; instead it's a non-crazymaking plan to eat dishes you like, only much healthier versions of them. There's no points, no calorie counting, no macro obsessing -- just good, healthy food. 

And a big part of that good, healthy food is produce -- vegetables to be precise. I can eat fruit all day long, but it's vegetables that don't often find their way into certain meals, like breakfasts and snacks.

So I kicked off Tuesday with this:

Spinach eggs

Buried under all that spinach is a couple of eggs, which I plopped on top of a couple pieces of sprouted grain bread topped with avocado. That breakfast held me for hours.

I ended the day with this:

Open face arepa
 That's an open-faced arepa at a new place near us. It was hard to get all the veggies and chicken to stay on the arepa so I just mixed everything up like a big salad and put bits of it on the arepa. 

I started and ended my day with a load of veggies. And my afternoon snack was one of Dawn's "produce and protein" combos -- 2 clementines and a 100-calorie pack of unsalted almonds.

How many calories were in this meal? My day? Don't know. Dawn says to be "calorie conscious" instead of running that calorie or macro calculator in your head all day. What I did when looking at my dinner was focus on the two things that would be the most calorically dense -- the arepa and the shredded chicken. Around 110 for each thing. The rest was vegetables and a little extra for the Latin cole slaw. 

(Check out this article from Dawn on how to free yourself from obsessive calorie counting.)

When I do calorie count I get hung up on how many I have left at the end of the day and end up trying to make up for any shortfalls at night, even if I'm not hungry. By not tallying up the day and instead being conscious of the relative total at each meal and snack, I'm far less inclined to eat what I am "allotted."

I did get on the scale New Year's Day and found that even with the little tweaks I made to my eating last week, a couple pounds came off pretty easily. 

As for the gym, my IT band issue flared up last week, and I'm guessing it was from NON-use instead of overuse, so I've been focusing on core, glutes and legs to strengthen and stretch the area with a day of rest between each workout. I got the discomfort down to one little spot on my quad, so whatever I'm doing seems to be working.

So to sum it up, 2017 is:

  • Lots of vegetables, with "produce and protein" snacks.
  • More time at the gym.
  • Playing with stickers and pens at night in my planner instead of eating.

Pomegranate-yogurt muffins

Pomegranate muffin trio labeled
I partnered with Stonyfield and King Arthur for this recipe.  All opinions are my own.

I love pomegranates but am not a big fan of trying to bust them open and harvest the arils (those are the juicy, little gems inside). So I spend the extra money to buy cups of Pom Poms, especially when I've got a coupon.

They're great mixed into plain yogurt with just a drizzle of honey or maple syrup but I wanted to know whether I could bake with them. I had no idea what to expect. Would they burst open? Bleed all over the batter? Get hard and inedible? 

Happily, none of the above!

Muffins baking
I adapted one of my muffin recipes and added a cup of pomegranate arils to the batter and the result was great. The arils stay intact, don't sink to the bottom of the muffin and provide an interesting texture to the muffin with a mild tartness.

And they're really pretty.

LevoonsIn addition to the flour and the yogurt coupons, Stonyfield sent me a Silpat silicone baking mat (as you can see above, I'm all about baking in and on silicone) and a set of Levoons. The Levoons are very cool, in that they're self-leveling measuring spoons. Each spoon has a tiny scraper attached to it that levels off the spoon so that you don't need to grab a butter knife or even use two hands.

This recipe makes a dozen fairly large muffins with a cakelike texture. The muffin cups are filled nearly to the top with batter and they rise even higher than that. The batter looked a little thick so I added a little orange juice to thin it out. I couldn't really taste the juice, but orange and cranberry is a great combo and next time I may throw in some orange zest as well.

I used Stonyfield plain nonfat Greek yogurt for a boost of protein; you can always substitute regular yogurt or even whole milk varieties of either yogurt for some added richness. Each muffin is 145 calories, half a gram of fat and 5 grams of protein.

Broken muffin
Pomegranate-Yogurt Muffins

  • Ingredients2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup pomegranate arils

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and soda and salt. 

In a medium bowl, combine yogurt, egg, vanilla, orange juice and applesauce.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and mix just until it's combined -- don't overmix the batter or you'll end up with hockey pucks. Gently fold in the pomegranate arils.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tin; cups will be very full.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 12 muffins.


Tunes for Tuesday: Cult of Personality, by Living Colour

Oh, hi there! I haven't blogged much the past few weeks. I had a killer head cold, then my eyes went all wonky and I got one of them lasered (It's still a little hard to see the computer screen but I'm coming for you next month, left eye!), then I got caught up on writing and am working on other, much bigger "stuff," now it's Thanksgiving week. But this song keeps popping into my head, especially after what happened a few weeks ago.

image from kudo_detective_office.c.blog.so-net.ne.jp

 


Let's make muffins for science!

I don't really mention it much on my blog but my kid is in high school marching band and this is his senior year, which makes me #bandmom on steroids. 

marching band gauntlets drum major
My son, the drum major


This time of year is especially frenzied, what with football games, fundraisers, competitions and lighting a fire under the kid's butt to get the college applications going. 

I've also been stepping up my freelancing work and fighting a cold.

Which is to say, I haven't been blogging much.

I've been feuding with my beautiful new Withings Body Cardio scale because the poundage isn't budging no matter what I do, and that's been making me kinda frantic. But the one nice thing about the Body Cardio is that I can see even though the pounds aren't budging, my body fat is going down while my lean mass is going up. Still ...

So I made chocolate chip muffins.

Self-sabotaging, you say? Actually, these muffins are a nutritional experiment.

I had picked up a supermarket ladymag last month that featured a breathless cover line touting a muffin that "works like a tummy tuck!" 

Seriously, no. Muffins don't work like a tummy tuck.

But the story behind the muffin is pretty intriguing. 

 A University of Maryland School of Medicine study looked at a way to substitute animal-based saturated fats for plant-based unsaturated fats in muffins made for patients with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is the name for a cluster of symptoms that include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess abdominal obesity, and abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

The researchers made two batches of muffins -- one with monounsaturated fats (sunflower oil), the other with polyunsaturated (safflower oil) and had the study participants eat these muffins every day for 6 months, while also reducing their daily calories to make up for the calories in the muffins. 

The upshot: The PUFA muffin eaters lost more weight, had lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels, and increased dilation of blood vessels. Hooray! But one other effect piqued my interest even more. I'll quote it and then translate into normal speak.

A potential reason for the greater weight loss in PUFA than in MUFA subjects is suggested by greater increases in the anorexigenic hormone peptide YY after PUFA intake compared to MUFA or SFA.

Translation: the PUFA muffins triggered satiety compared with the other fats.

Want to try and decipher the entire study? Find it HERE.

Peptide YY, or PYY, is a gut hormone that may help regulate satiety. My guess is that my PYY hormone receptiveness is broken somehow from perhaps decades of dieting. Long story short -- I'm always hungry, but when I ate one of these tiny muffins at the end of a meal I felt a tangible switching on of my satiety, so much so that I was able to go 4 hours between meals yesterday.

So now I'm deep into research into what else can increase satiety. So far I've found that foods high in beta glucan also raise PYY. It's found in certain mushrooms, dates, oats and barley. 

Want the recipe? Here it is. It calls for brown sugar and regular sugar, but I substituted coconut sugar for both of them because that's all I've got in the house right now. I also used a 1-for-1 gluten-free flour instead of wheat flour. I figure it wasn't the sugar and flour but the oil in the recipe, so I wasn't worried about the substitutions.

University of Maryland Safflower Oil Muffins

  • 1 cup safflower oil Minimuffins
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup Egg Beaters
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts

Lightly coat two mini muffins pans with cooking spray or use mini muffin liners. (I used a silicone mini muffin pan and didn't use cooking spray or liners. The muffin batter has a lot of oil so nothing stuck.)

Mix all ingredients together.  Fill each muffin cup with 1 tablespoon batter.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until baked through.

Let cool. Makes approximately 48 mini muffins.

I only got 46 muffins out of the batter. What I did was after the muffins cooled, I put three muffins into individual sandwich bags and put those bags into two gallon-sized plastic bags, and everything went into the freezer. You end up with about two weeks' worth of muffins.