Cocoa Oats + Recipe Votes

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Things have been surprisingly busy even though I’m not currently teach or attending Zumba classes.

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I made oatmeal the other day for the first time in possibly a couple weeks and I think I had forgotten how good it was. Yuuuuuum!

This bowl was cooked stove-top with the following:

  • rolled oats
  • 1/2 water
  • 1/2 vanilla soy milk
  • unsweetened cocoa powder
  • chia seeds

And then these went on top:

  • sliced almonds
  • coconut flakes
  • cacao nibs

Side note – I’m kind of looking forward to fall already – especially pumpkin oatmeal! I know I can eat pumpkin oatmeal any time of year, but I really think it tastes best when the weather is on the chilly side and the trees outside are golden and red.

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Earlier this week, I met up with friends Brittney (and Clyde), Katie, and Jennifer at Yoforia.

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I was sad to see my latest favorite, banana, wasn’t available, but I happily filled my cup up with 2 other faves – tart plain and tart pomegranate. I added lots of fruit on top – kiwi, strawberries, mango, plus coconut flakes and of course mochi.

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It was so fun catching up with everyone. I felt like I hadn’t seen them in forever!

I even got to start chatting with Katie about our epic road trip to HLS. That’s right…we’re driving there! HLS or bust!

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Clyde was totally the center of attention…

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…with us and with lots of strangers. Can you blame everyone for wanting to see him – just look at that adorable face! :)

***

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And I wanted to share preview photos of the 2 recipes I’ll be posting next, thanks to your Facebook votes.

First up, we have a warm farro salad (with tomatoes, spinach, and shiitake mushrooms)

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And then an easy turkey skillet dinner. Nommmmmm!

I’m hoping to post at least one, but hopefully both of these later today.

***

Speaking of voting on recipes. Which recipe would you like to see next? I’ve created a poll so you can vote. All of these recipes have been photographed, tested, and are ready for sharing!

Which recipe should I post next?

  • Cookies 'N Cream Rice Krispies (44%, 21 Votes)
  • Easy Summer Squash Soup (25%, 12 Votes)
  • Crispy Almond Oven-Fried Chicken (25%, 12 Votes)
  • Goji Berry Green Monster Smoothie (6%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 48

Loading ... Loading ...

Voting ends Tuesday night!

Thanks for voting guys! :)

Mind Your Time

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I got to enjoy more of that amazing Roasted Honey Cinnamon Wink Almond Butter on Tuesday.

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I drizzled it over a simple bowl of oats with chia seeds, bananas, and almond slices.

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Omg…heaven in a bowl! This combo is so fantastic!

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I also got my hair did.

I’ve been visiting Jason at Salon 42 since before he started Salon 42…maybe for 6 or 7 years now? Jason used to work for a local salon, but ventured off a few years ago to start his very own salon. He is a master of not only color, but the cut, too. I think he can pretty much do anything with hair. I’ve even gotten a lot of the local bloggers to see him now.

When I first saw Jason, I was having some serious layer issues. As in the person before him cut all these crazy layers into my hair, and it was looking really weird. My hair is thick and needs layers, but I was afraid of them after having the bizarre hair-do from before. So, he ended up cutting layers under my top layer of hair so my hair was thinned just right, but it all looked like one length. Fantastic! Now, I let him cut layers into my hair anyways, because I know he won’t do weird things with them. lol

I really should have gotten a hair cut a few months ago, but I’ve been procrastinating. Oops. I knew my hair was getting way too long when my pony tail started hitting me in the face at Zumba because it was so darn long! The ponytail-smack hasn’t really happened to me since I was a figure skater in high school doing mad tricks on the ice.

Jason took off a couple inches, but in the photo it probably looks the same. That’s the crazy thing about long hair. No one really notices when you get your hair cut because it’s so long, it’s hard to tell the difference.

Anywho, if YOU live in the Charlotte area and want a cut/style/color/whatever from THE most amazing and best stylist in Charlotte, then go see Jason. If it’s your first visit, you can tell him I sent you for a special first-visit discount. It’s a good one, too! Just tell them Diana from The Chic Life sent you. Kay? ;) You can call Salon 42 at 704-375-6234.

***

Time Management Talk

Ok, time for some time management talk. :)

Anti-Snooze Tips

I know you guys are probably over the snooze button, but I did want to add one last set of tips.

Here are some tricks to help get over the snooze button:

  • Move the alarm clock to somewhere you’ll have to get up to turn it off. If you’re standing up, it’s easier to stay out of bed.
  • Get one of those crazy-moving alarm clocks. I like this one because it’s TCL blue. ;)
  • Force yourself, no matter how groggy or sleepy you are, to at least sit up in bed when the alarm goes off. If you’re sitting up, you’re one step closer to getting out of the bed. Once you’re sitting, force yourself to stand and start getting ready.
  • Bribe yourself with fresh, hot coffee. Maybe get a special coffee so it’s like a treat when you finally get out of bed?

Ok, ready for more?

Mind Your Time

If you have Time Management issues, then I suggest working on being aware of time. Do you own a watch? If you don’t get one. If you do, make sure you actually use it. I find my time management goes most off course when I’m not paying attention to what time it is or how long I’m spending doing something. Instead of getting ready in the morning at your leisure, try getting ready in an hour (or however long you need). Try to set a deadline and meet it. Same thing for lunch or any other activity where your time seems to slip away from you.

Things to focus on:

  • Pay attention to what time it is. Is it 3pm? 11:30pm?
  • Try to set time limits on activities. Blog until you’re done? Try blogging for 30 minutes…or an hour. Make up your own time limit based on what you’re doing and how long you want to spend on that activity.

Do you mind your time? How? What parts of watching your time do you struggle with, if any?

Hooking Hubby on Oatmeal

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I loved reading everyone’s guesses on yesterday’s tease-post! You guys are so creative. If you’re my Facebook friend, then you already knew what flavor of nut butter I made. But if you aren’t yet (though I think you should be), then read on for more dets…

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After my morning coffee, I still wanted a pick-me-up, so I whipped up a quick matcha green tea latte using rice milk for my “creamer.”

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I did another TCL noodle stir fry for lunch.

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Though noodles are typically my staple, I was almost out of udon. So, I did a mix of udon and green tea noodles. Nom! Also in the mix – edamame and broccoli. I just used soy sauce, pasta water, and drop of sesame oil for my sauce.

You can check out this recipe for basic cooking directions for a noodle stir fry.

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Now…on to more yummy goodness. Did you guess my new nut butter creation correctly?

I was inspired by the whipped cinnamon honey that I’ve been enjoying so much lately that I decided to make cinnamon-honey nut butter. But not just any cinnamon-honey nut butter. I made…

Honey Roasted Cinnamon Wink Almond Butter!

I’ll be posting a recipe tomorrow in case any one wants to try it.

Ooh and one cool thing about it – it’s a Not So Sweet recipe! Yeaaaaaa!

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After making my new almond butter, I did what any “normal” girl would do.

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I whipped up a batch of simple rolled oats cooked in rice milk to be my canvas for my nut butter “paint.”

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This new nut butter was a definite winner.

Hubby was going crazy for it! He wanted to eat ALL of it! I ended up only eating about 3/4 of my oats because I was having it for a pre-work-out snack, and didn’t want to eat too much before Zumba. I offered him the rest of my oats (which he almost always turns down), but he excitedly accepted them and quickly found the almond butter jar to add more on top. He happily slurped up my leftovers and in a jiffy!

Perhaps this is how I can hook hubby on oatmeal? Hmm…

***

I taught a small but mighty Zumba class on Thursday. ;)

My favorite songs were:

  • Chillin
  • Rompe
  • Battlefield

And two of my participants showed me a dance they choreographed all on their own. It was pretty awesome. I only wish I had taped it to share with you all! Those girls have skillz!

***

I took Friday off from work to take care of stuff at home. The day FLEW right by, but I got a lot done. I guess I not only took the day off from work, but I sort of took it off from blogging, too. Whoops, ya’ll. Good thing I took so many photos on Thursday!

***

I’m off to pack. I’m visiting my fam first thing tomorrow morning. And rumor has it I will be picking up more of those amazing rye bagels while I’m in town! ;)

***

Have you gotten your SO to enjoy something they previously didn’t? What was it and how did you do it?

Eat In Month 2011 Recap

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Happy Monday friends!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and an even better start to your week!

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I stayed up a bit too late blogging after our super fun Super-Dance-Bowl party, so this morning was rough.

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Nothing a little coffee and some oatmeal can’t fix, though.

And I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who likes bananas on top of my oats.

Today was a loooong day at work. I got in around 8:45pm but didn’t leave until just before 7pm! Luckily, I at least took a real lunch break today (as in I didn’t eat at my desk…hooray!). I’m going to work on getting away from my desk during the day more. I think it’s healthy to try to balance your work day.

Two fortunate things happened on my way home:

  • I made it through almost every stoplight! That never happens. I feel like I usually catch them. lol
  • Hubby was ready to make dinner at home as soon as I got back.

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Hubby started us with a side salad with organic romaine hearts, cherry tomatoes, celery, bell pepper, and sprouts. I used sundried tomato vinaigrette on top.

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And for the main event – breaded chicken parmesan and tomato basil soup. Plus some buttered whole wheat toast that I was simply too exhausted to photograph. After staring blankly like a zombie for awhile eating a balanced meal, I was feeling much better.

I caught a couple episodes of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. Have you seen it? I think it’s my new favorite TV show! If there are any No Reservations marathons coming up, you let me know, kay? ;) I think a day spent eating yummy snacks and watching No Reservations sounds like a pretty awesome day to me.

***

Eat In Month Recap

So, Eat In Month 2011 officially ended a week ago, and I’m feeling pretty relieved. Just like last time, I think it was a great experience, and I learned some lessons, but I prefer to live my life sans rules. I prefer guidelines.

So what did I learn? Well, there were some things I remembered from the 2010 challenge and some new ideas from 2011.

I learned that inside and outside of a challenge month:

  • A well-stocked pantry will encourage eating in, on a regular night or when you’re in need of a quick fix meal.
  • You can get a lot of satisfaction by pushing past your fatigue/laziness/whatever when you feel like taking the easy way out by preparing something tasty at home.
  • Meals IN don’t have to be perfect or gourmet – sometimes the simplest ones are best.
  • Sometimes it’s about making a better choice, not the perfect choice. While I think you should always eat whole foods as much as possible, if your choice is fast food versus some healthi-ER but not from scratch food at home, go with the latter.
  • You shouldn’t “not eat out” for the sake of it, if you’re in a situation where you need food and wouldn’t be able to eat in. For example, say you’re on a road trip. Now, if you can…definitely plan ahead and pack food ahead of time to enjoy later. But if you meant to pack food in the morning but spilled your entire container of oatmeal in the kitchen thereby making you late because you had to use your food-packing time to clean up rolled oats, by all means, eat something out! Don’t starve yourself!
  • Don’t skip social events just because you “can’t eat out.” You can always go after dinner and just have a drink. Or, if you’re not doing the challenge, go out to eat! Live a little.
  • Of course, you can very easily enjoy social events in the comforts of your home. Have a pot luck. Host a game night. Put on a movie marathon. Enjoy the company of your friends and eat in, too.
  • You don’t have to go out to eat to celebrate a birthday or other special event. Try cooking a special meal at home. Hubby and I celebrate in all the time, like how we celebrated his January birthday dinner IN during the month of the challenge.
  • Keep healthy snacks at work so you aren’t tempted to buy snacks out. It’s usually healthier and more cost-effective.

Check out this awesome recap by Brie Fit (click). Did you write a review? Let me know and I’ll link it up. ;)

***

And because I haven’t shared a good quote in awhile, this one seems somewhat fitting at the moment:

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.
~Helen Keller

***

Did you participate in Eat In Month? What did you learn?

Carob Cherry Oatmeal + Busy Signs

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Have you tried carob oatmeal yet?!

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Do itttttt! It’s divine! If you’re getting sick of oatmeal, add a teaspoon of ground carob to your oats and it will give your bowl of oats a whole new flavor!

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Today, I made Carob-Cherry Oatmeal. Nom!

I’ve had a couple requests for how to cook oatmeal, so I’m going to break it down today. :)

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Carob-Cherry Oatmeal

For 2 people who like small oatmeal portions

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk or non-dairy milk
  • 2 tsp carob powder (ground)
  • 1 tbsp agave syrup (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp chia seeds, optional
  • 6 seeded and halved cherries
  • sprinkle of sliced almonds, optional

Directions:

  1. Combine oats, water, milk, chia seeds, carob powder and agave in a small pot over medium low heat.
  2. Heat mixture till thickened to your preference, careful to not boil, stirring occasionally.
  3. Serve in bowls and add cherries on top with any additional toppings you want.
  4. Enjoy!

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Lunch was super weak. I was planning to go to the grocery store first thing this morning, but instead of being off, I had to work! :( I scrounged around in the freezer to come up with this: a TJ’s soy “corn dog”, a corn muffin (re-baked from a frozen batch), and peas.

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For a snack, I had a micro-baked sweet potato with a dab of real butter and a wee bit of brown sugar.

Then, it was time for ZUMBA! I was super tired in class today. I think it’s because I was stressed about work today and not doing a great job of hydrating. Doh! I downed a coconut water pretty fast near the beginning of class and was actually feeling more energized towards the end of the class than the beginning. Guess that stuff really works!

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Hubby cooked dinner tonight – a little concoction of his own. Bulgogi over brown rice.

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For dessert, we had cookies we got from our neighbor! Woohoo! Our first neighborly perk. :)

Wow, it’s been so long since I’ve had a day off with nothing major to do. I have a million things I could be doing, but I’m just not sure where to start! I feel like I’ve waited so long to have a free day of my very own. Normally, I feel like I rush from one to-do to another, barely accomplishing the must-dos (work, eat, sleep, Zumba, blog) in a day. Now that I have a free day, I’m so excited! I just have so many ideas I’ve wanted to execute and fun things I’ve wanted to do for so long that I want to do ALL of them! I am trying to get organized, though. I actually have a to-do list I’ve started and am hoping to share tomorrow.

In the meantime, here’s a funny little list that I put together about being busy all the time.

Top 5 Signs You’re Too Busy

  1. Your email inbox has more than 1000 unread emails (ok, maybe closer to 5000…yikes!)
  2. You’ve waited 2 years to buy a laptop so you don’t have to rely on your desktop and can work away from home. You got your laptop 2 weeks ago. You haven’t had the chance to even crack open the box.
  3. You find yourself blogging half asleep after midnight because it’s the only time you can do it.
  4. Your clean laundry sits in piles on your couch because you haven’t had time to fold it yet.
  5. Your significant other asks when they can see you again…and you live with them.

Reader question #1: What’s your sign you’re too busy?

Reader question #2: What do you like to do with your days off from work?

Homemade-Better Oats + Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

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Two work days down…only one to go before I get to enjoy some vacation time! Yay!

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Breakfast this morning was extra yummy thanks to two homemade ingredients.

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homemade almond butter

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and homemade granola.

I know it seems like a lot for so many homemade things to be in my eats, and two years ago I would have scoffed at myself like…really…WHO makes their own almond butter. But, I do. And it’s easy. You could do it too…promise.

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The almond butter and granola made the oats over the top.

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By the way, the chic-turquoise spoon really helped breakfast taste better, too. hehe

In today’s bowl of oatmeal:

  • extra-thick oats
  • milk
  • water
  • chia seeds
  • cocoa powder
  • banana
  • chocolate chips
  • coconut flakes
  • homemade granola
  • homemade almond butter

Nom!

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In other news, Bailey has figured out a new trick.

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He has mastered the art of finding the coziest, plushest, and most comfortable spot on any resting area. Note his body stretched across two pillows and one blanket. Nice, dog…nice.

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Hubby picked up Which Wich for lunch for us, but I added some cooked veg to complete our meal – steamed cabbage and baby carrots.

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Pickles.

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Plus a WW chicken sandwich, BBQ sandwich, lettuce, pepperoncini.

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The boys are liking the new couch.

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Oh and I have a new dough ball flavor for you!

Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

Inspired by Annie the Baker

*Be sure to check out the original – chocolate chip dough balls – click for recipe*

*Update – I’ve made a new variation – Butterscotch Oatmeal Dough Balls! Click for the recipe*

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 stick butter, softened/room-temp
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 egg (or flaxseed-egg)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup toffee chips (I used Heath)
  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix sugars and butter till creamy. (I used a handheld mixer, but you could probably just use a whisk). Add egg and vanilla and mix till combined.
  4. Mix wet into the dry. Note: it will appear there is not enough liquid for the amount of dry ingredients, but continue mixing. It will form into a dough, it will just be a firm dough. See tips above for combining. Careful to not overmix.
  5. Gently fold toffee and chocolate chips into the dough, without overmixing.
  6. Refrigerate dough for at least 20 minutes before using a small sorbet scoop to scoop out dough into small mounds. Roll each mound into a ball and spread evenly on a baking sheet, leaving roughly 2-3 inches between each ball.
  7. Bake balls for 10-14 minutes, depending on how set you want your centers. If you use egg, and you’re paranoid like me, you can use a meat thermometer to ensure the centers of the balls are at least 160 degrees F, which many web sites say is the safe temp to eat eggs.
  8. Let your dough balls rest on the baking sheet to cool at least 5-10 minutes.
  9. Enjoy!

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Oh yes! Another tasty dough ball flavor comin atcha! Booyah!

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I brought a couple dough balls to Zumba tonight. Gina and Jane thoroughly enjoyed them. :)

Btw, zumba class was awesome! I’m now on 3 days in a row! I’m not teaching this week, but I do still go to classes of other instructors. I helped lead Aaja Soniye and Alright. Alright is one of my new faves. It’s a hot Pitbull track and I highly recommend downloading it because it’s F-U-N!!! I just wish I could show you our dance to the song.

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On my way home from class, I swung by Pasta & Provisions to get some fresh spaghetti.

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Oh and some of their famous rosemary foccacia.

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Hubby and I did a simple spaghetti dinner tonight.

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Is anything better than fresh pasta?

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Maybe dough balls? ;)

One more work day and it’s turkey time! I’m also looking forward to spending some time with family and hopefully picking up some of my unfinished crochet and knitting projects. I’m oh-so-good at starting them and not-so-good at finishing them. lol

Are you traveling for Thanksgiving? Where are you going or how far away from home?

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