Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

As you know from this post I have a very chubby cat that eats pumpkin to curb her appetite. As a result I am left with a surplus of pumpkin! I baked with it, cooked with it and frankly am getting a little sick of the stuff. My lovely friend and Registered Dietician, Alex (check her out she is awesome) suggested I try incorporating pumpkin into my breakfast. I have been very happy with the results and I can only imagine that all the fiber in the pumpkin is doing its work to keep me feeling fuller longer as it is for my cat.

Like all delicious baked goods I love pumpkin pie. Of course I cannot eat it regularly because I would be as chubby as my kitty but this oatmeal has all the same flavors without the fat and sugar. Hope you enjoy (ps pumpkin is also great in greek or plain yogurt with spices too!)

This would also be a great time to note I love cows if you couldn't tell from the fine breakfast china!

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal:

1/4 cup Steel Cut Oats

1 cup water

1 tablespoon pumpkin

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

tiny pinch of ground cloves

(brown sugar or pure maple syrup if you like your oatmeal sweet)

I like to make my oatmeal the night before so its good and fluffy and cooks quickly the next morning. I start by boiling a cup of water and dropping the oatmeal in as soon as its boiling. Cover the pot and turn off the water immediately let the oats soak overnight.

In the morning turn the water on low heat and bring to a simmer. Let the oats simmer for about ten minutes until most of the water is evaporated (I usually let this happen while I am getting ready). Transfer to a bowl once the oatmeal is the consistency you like and add in the spices. I also like to add a sliced banana and some raisins to make my oatmeal a little heartier.

Homemade Granola Bars

Lots of chopping but it was definitely worth it!

I had never been a too into granola bars as a snack, they are often sweet enough for dessert and I prefer to eat the real thing when I want dessert – which is almost always. Granola bars just never seemed to do their job and I ended up eating lots of extra sugar without the same satisfaction. Then I discovered Larabars and realized how great snacks granola bars can make. One of the greatest things about Larabars is they do not have any artificial sweeteners added unfortunately I live on a pretty tight budget and Larabars which can be quite pricy don’t always make the cut.

I have been trying to make my own granola bars for quite some time. They have been too crunchy, too crumbly, and dry. I did my research read up on different things to bind the ingredients together but hadn’t had success – until now. I found a recipe on Eat Simply that looked intriguing. I hadn’t used egg before. I switched up some of the fruits based on what was available at my grocery store and the fact that I LOVE dried blueberries and I used a mixture of nuts to vary the flavors and because using all pecans would be more than my budget can handle. I have been imagining new combos of flavors for granola bars all day, can’t wait to make more!

Homemade Granola Bars – adapted from Eat Simply

1/3 cup flour (can be whole wheat)

1/8 tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup dried blueberries

1 cup dried apricots chopped

1 1/2 cups dried figs (I wanted to use dates but all the store had were figs) chopped

1/2 cup almonds chopped

1/2 cup walnuts chopped

1/2 cup pecans chopped

2 eggs

1/2 tspn vanilla

1 tbsp honey

*make sure that your dried fruit does not have added sugar and that the nuts you purchase are not salted.

preheat the over to 325 degrees

Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper.

Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl then add the chopped fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and vanilla for 2 minutes until light and frothy. Add egg mixture and honey to the fruit, nuts and dry ingredients.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes depending on your oven then let fully cool before cutting.

Cut as small as you would like – one of the best parts about making your own granola bars is you get to determine how big they are.

Have you made your own granola bars – what worked and what didn’t?

Granola bars before they were cut into bars!

Waldorf Chicken Salad with a Twist!

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My senior year of college I discovered I LOVE chicken salad. I am not sure what brought about this sudden adoration, maybe I had never even tried chicken salad before but suddenly I couldn’t get enough of the stuff. Then I discovered Waldorf Chicken Salad and I fell in love all over again.

At my first job after college there was a place around the corner from my office with the best Waldorf Chicken Salad ever. I made every excuse to go there: having a bad day guess I need some chicken salad, having a good day well I should treat myself to some chicken salad. I went through this reasoning regularly and my love for this dish was widely known. When I left that job they had an office goodbye party, you better believe there was lots of Waldorf Chicken Salad from my favorite spot. I am not sure which I was more upset about leaving the job that I loved or the regular access to such a great lunch.

Now I work at a job I absolutely love but there is no great chicken salad in the neighborhood so I am forced to make it myself. I have gotten pretty skilled in the art of Waldorf Chicken Salad but today decided to add a new spin – a waste friendly version. I swapped out the mayo for some greek yogurt and was pleasantly surprised. Except for the need to add a little extra salt it was hard to tell the difference. Tonight for dinner I will be indulging in a Chicken Salad Sandwich, tomorrow for lunch I will continue the streak by putting it over some baby spinach for a salad, in my book if it’s Waldorf Chicken Salad you can’t go wrong!

Waldorf Chicken Salad with a Twist:

1 1/2 cups cooked chicken chopped or shredded (I use chicken breast baked in the oven)

2 stalk celery chopped

1 Fuji apple chopped

1/2 cup plain greek yogurt

1/4 cup toasted walnuts

handful of dried cranberries (about 1/4 of a cup)

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Drizzle the lemon juice over the apples immediately after chopping. Combine all the chopped ingredients and add yogurt until the salad is as moist as you desire – you may not need the full half cup or you may want a little more. Everyone likes their chicken salad a certain way I like lots of cranberries and apple so feel free to adjust the amounts to get the right balance!