Cocoa Roasted Butternut Squash + This Weeks Favorites

The first week of the New Year has opened with triumphant bang- I have high hopes for the upcoming days that will mesh together to mold 2015. Strange, typing that phrase on this document. 2015. It feels like a wind has settled right beneath my fingertips, a final goodbye to 2014.

At school particularly, It feels quite strange writing 2015 in the corner-tops of my papers, for even though I acknowledge in my head it is 2015, the idea hasn’t permeated my conscious thinking too effectively. Oh well, hopefully by October I will have the year straight in my mind ūüėČ

This Sunday was one for the running PR books. I ran my farthest distance yet, clocking in a 14.34 miles. Typing it makes is that much more real, and my heart dances thinking I ran over a half-marathon. In the past few weeks, while my pace has improved slightly along with my average mileage, the thing that has seen the most improvement is my¬†mental fortitude. I used to be unable to run far distances on a track, but on wonderful christmas cruise I breezed through 9 miles on the upper level track. I used to groan at the thought of running after school, but now I rush home so I can hit the road. Running truly does become an obsession after you get into it. I can’t picture my life without it anymore. I am enthralled¬†for the races that this year shall bring. I have a few that I am keeping my eye on at the moment, and am hoping to sign up soon ūüôā

This week was also a celebratory one for my taste buds. I whipped a butternut squash from my closet and performed some magic, and am pleased to share the final result!

Look at this beauty. Oh, it was gone so fast. I couldn't get enough of the rich taste!

Look at this beauty. Oh, it was gone so fast. I couldn’t get enough of the rich taste!

It was so easy too. First, I¬†cut the stem from the squash, cut it in half, and seeded it. Then, I heat the oven to “convection bake, 425F” and placed the halves in on a baking tin, face up, and let it bake for around 45 minutes. Before I put the halves in, I topped them with some cocoa powder, cinnamon, and stevia. Then, after I let it cool, I added peanut butter and coconut oil, and devoured it! Some melted dark chocolate on this would have been perfecttttt.

I need to buy more squash ASAP, I am down to the bare bones in my pantry….

I also created some quick and easy broccoli slaw. At Meijer this week, all of the broccoli slaw went on “managers special”, and was about $1 for a huge bag of the stuff. So, naturally, I bought four big bags. I made broccoli pasta with most of it (just broccoli slaw saut√©ed with garlic and spaghetti sauce- SO EASY AND YUMMY), but I had an idea to make some coleslaw after I saw something similar on pintrest.

This was easy as well (I love easy!). All I needed was 1.5 cups raw broccoli slaw, 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard, some spices (I threw in onion powder, paprika, and some pepper), as well a tablespoon of craisons (or raisons), and a tablespoon of sunflower seeds. So so so easy, and so delicious! Just mix and serve!

Yum! And so colorful!!

Yum! And so colorful!!

I also had the most delicious bowl of oatmeal ever. Lately I have been loving “flooding” my oatmeal, which is basically just splashing the piping hot oatmeal with a cool liquid. My favorite is juice- specifically carrot or pomegranate juice. (I could talk about carrot juice foreverrrr. I love love LOVE the stuff. Any yes, I am slightly orange!)

Sweet potato pomegranate oats, topped with a banana, peanut butter, and a splash of pomegranate juice. So wonderful, and so full of carbilicioius energy!

Sweet potato pomegranate oats, topped with a banana, peanut butter, and a splash of pomegranate juice. So wonderful, and so full of carbilicioius energy!

This week has been a great week so far! I am hoping for a strong finish, and not just to the week but for the year. Maybe that it looking ahead too far, but thinking in advance is one of my guilty pleasures ūüôā

How has your week been? Tell me below!! (I won’t bite!!)

Overnight Oatmeal… Lots of it

I love planning things ahead of time. One less thing to do later makes me happier now. The rush of pure relief that accompanies finishing a project, or list of things to do, is one of the best feelings in the world. I love accomplishing things, plain and simple.

That is one of the reasons I adore overnight oats. They allow me to get more things done in the morning, and save me stress later in the day. Or at least allow me to get that extra twenty minutes of sleep on crazy weekdays. Twenty minutes doesn’t sound like much, but trust me, it is. Twenty minutes is pure heaven on some mornings:)

Overnight oats can be easily made the night before a busy morning, or a couple of days in advance. And the directions are so wonderfully simple- just combine things in a jar and shake shake shake!! Even better than a jar is a “almost” empty peanut butter jar. Mmmmm peanut butter. Anybody else a total nut butter addict? I know I am!

Anyway, there is a basic recipe that I find myself coming back to again and again. I take this recipe, add and subtract ingredients, and flavor it to my own needs. It had taken quite a bit of experimentation to find the perfect combination, but I FINALLY figured out the correct ratio!

Basic Overnight Oats

Ingredients:

¬Ĺ Cup Rolled Oatmeal

1/3 Cup Liquid (anything but water, I usually use unsweetened almond milk)

¬ľ Cup Greek Yogurt (Try multiple flavors for lots of fun!)

1 Tablespoon Raisons

¬Ĺ Tablespoon Chia Seeds

¬Ĺ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Optional Add-Ins (Add according to personal wants)

Seeds/Nuts, Honey, Chopped Dried Fruit, Flax Seed, Certain Fruits (Bananas, apples, and pomegranates work wonderfully, but certain fruits- namely berries- turn nasty and sour after being left overnight),Cocoa Powder, Peanut Butter, Jelly, Protein Powder,Cooked Zucchini, Grated Carrot, Cooked Sweet Potato, The options are endless!!

And now for a gallery of delicious things:

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In a kind-of-not-really empty jar of cinnamon peanut butter, I threw together the basic recipe plus some pomegranate seeds, cocoa powder, and cocoa nibs. Perfect!!

Oh boy, this one is a bit of a throwback! Back in the summer, when blackberries were actually affordable, I made some vanilla overnight oats, and then topped them with mashed blackberries and warmed banana slices. And peanut butter. Always peanut butter.

Oh boy, this one is a bit of a throwback! Back in the summer, when blackberries were actually affordable, I made some vanilla overnight oats, and then topped them with mashed blackberries and warmed banana slices. And peanut butter. Always peanut butter.

Coffee lovers unite! This one was a bit on the liquidy side (I was still experimenting), but I wasn't complaining, especially since it was peppermint coffeee flavored. With raisons. And cocoa nibs. And later- peanut butter!

Coffee lovers unite! This one was a bit on the liquidy side (I was still experimenting), but I wasn’t complaining, especially since it was peppermint coffeee flavored. With raisons. And cocoa nibs. And later- peanut butter!

Bad photo you say?? Well I agree, but in truth there is not such thing as a bad photo when oatmeal is involved. You know it is true! Dark chocolate banana overnight oatmeal, topped with more banana and, of course, peanut butter!

Bad photo you say?? Well I agree, but in truth there is not such thing as a bad photo when oatmeal is involved. You know it’s true! Dark chocolate banana overnight oatmeal, topped with more banana and, of course, peanut butter!

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I wish Justin’s almond butter wasn’t so darn expensive. Otherwise, I would bathe in this stuff. Liquid gold, I tell you. Liquid gold! This was overnight hazelnut oatmeal, topped with some whey sauce, and walnuts.

One of my more creative feats regarding overnight oats- watermelon pumpkin overnight oatmeal! The recipe still needs to be perfected now that I am thinking of it.....

One of my more creative feats regarding overnight oats- watermelon pumpkin overnight oatmeal! The recipe still needs to be perfected now that I am thinking of it…..

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KREMA IS MAGNIFICENT! One ingredient only: Peanuts. Talk about stellar!!! This beaut was overnight cranberry zoats!

Orangesickle overnight oatmeal. The lighting makes it look kind of alienly. In a good way, of course. This alieny pot was pretty delicious!

Orangesickle overnight oatmeal. The lighting makes it look kind of alienly. In a good way, of course. This alieny pot was pretty delicious!

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Peanut Butter Jars for dayssssss! This was a nearly empty jar of Naturally More pb, filled with overnight coconut oats. Side note- peanut butter and coconut is HEAVENLY.

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One of the many many reasons I love trader joes is their almond butter. It is low in price, low in added sugars and chemicals, and HIGH in flavor. Almond buttahhhh for days. Anyways, this was banana cream pie overnight oats. I later added some strawberries and more almond butter!

And we come to the last jar I have saved. Mango banana overnight oats. The best just might be last in this case. The pureed mango and banana made for a marvelous taste that made my taste buds soar. Plus the peanut butter went extremely well with the dish:)!

And we come to the last jar I have saved. (Certainly not the last jar I have eaten, however!)  Mango banana overnight oats. The best just might be last in this case. The pureed mango and banana made for a marvelous taste that made my tongue dance. Plus the peanut butter went extremely well with the dish:)!

Cranberry Peppermint Bark Oatmeal

I love the determination that accompanies a new year. The resolutions that pile one on top of another as people determine exactly who they want to be when the new year comes crashing by. 2015 is no exception, and I have witnessed people left and right pinpoint the reinventions that will lead them into a new year, a new change, a new them.

Perhaps even more exciting than the prospect of potential changes is the achievement of those goals as the year passes by. Not all dreams will be realized, I am realistic in that sense. I know that many people will make goals that will sit unfulfilled in a sad little wish tucked away in a drawer. But those few that rise above the failures prove to me that anything is possible. “Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you will land among the stars” -Anonymous

I have a few goals for myself this year- goals that make me nervous, anxious, maybe a little fearful. Goals that make me excited and ready to change. I am ambitious and I am proud of that fact. I have always been rather fond of sticking to my hopes and aspirations, and 2015 shall be no exception.

But let us venture back into the realm of the present. Today I perfected a recipe that had been in the works for a while now. It must be a sign, for such perfection to happen on the last day of 2014. After I took the first bite I knew that this was recipe that had to be shared. It includes some winter essentials, pomegranate and cranberry bits that add delectable bursts of flavor. The baking of the oatmeal adds an effect of a celebration. And the ever-present shredded zucchini adds some nutrition without stealing any decadence.

This was definitely a good breakfast to end 2014. As sad as it is to acknowledge that this year is coming to a close, for it has most definitely been a fantastic one, I am extremely excited to reach toward a new year, a new change, and a new me.

Cranberry Peppermint Bark Oatmeal with Pomegranate Arils

Ingredients
1/2 cup rolled oatmeal
1/2 cup shredded zucchini
1/4 cup fresh cranberries
1/4 cup pomegranate arils
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 egg white
1 tbs coconut flour
4 squares chopped dark chocolate, or a handful of chocolate chips
Handful of nut of choice (I used pistachio)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

Directions

1) Preheat the oven to 375F
2) Cook the shredded zucchini in the microwave with a splash of water for two minutes and thirty seconds.
3) Remove from the microwave and add all of the wet ingredients. Stir well, and then add all of the dry ingredients.
4) Grease a oven safe ramekin or bowl, and pour the batter inside. It should be thick but not dry or clumpy.
5) Bake for 25-30 minutes, until desired consistency is reached.
6) Remove from the oven, and top with pomegranate seeds, more chocolate, a dash of cocoa powder, or even some crushed peppermint if that is what you choose. Devour!!

Adorned with extra pomegranate seeds, this oatmeal bowl quickly stole my heart!

Adorned with extra pomegranate seeds, this oatmeal bowl quickly stole my heart!

New Running Shoes + Post Run Fuel

I guess I am claiming my woman card here and saying it- I love my new shoes. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my old shoes, but they needed to be upgraded desperately. The past 500 miles had been rough on them, and they were giving my IT Band some major troubles. So, my parents gifted me with a beautiful new pair for Christmas (Thanks Mom and Dad!)

I loved my old new balance sneakers, but the treads on the bottom edges of both feet were completely worn away- and the foam sole was fading fast. I haven't thrown them away yet though, old shoes die hard!

I loved my old new balance sneakers, but the treads on the bottom edges of both feet were completely worn away- and the foam sole was fading fast. I haven’t thrown them away yet though, old shoes die hard!

Today I had a nice run in my new ASICS, and breezed through my favorite route, dropping thirty seconds from my average pace. Morale of the story: Buy new shoes if yours are falling apart, a runner needs her shoes!

After the quick seven miler, I fueled up with a cute product I found at Meijer last week. Called “Coco Wheats”, this product was easy to make, delicious, and customizable. Basically, the box¬†contains ground wheat and cocoa that you cook in the microwave for an instant bowl of warm porridge. The texture is similar to oatmeal, but more chewy. It cooks faster than roller oats, so¬†in a hurry, it is extremely practical!

Look how cute this box is!

Look how cute this box is!

And look at these ingredients! Yes, I do acknowledge that some artificial flavoring is used, but this is DEFINITELY a much cleaner product that instant oatmeal, which con taints a slew of nasty chemicals and sweeteners on a list a mile long.

And look at these ingredients! Yes, I do acknowledge that some artificial flavoring is used, but this is DEFINITELY a much cleaner product that instant oatmeal, which containts a slew of nasty chemicals and sweeteners on a list a mile long.

After my run, I was chilly and in need of a warm filling bowl for my tummy. I cooked three tablespoons of the Coco Wheat with a cup of almond milk for about 3.5 minutes, stopping to stir every 20 seconds or so. I then stirred in 1/3 a cup of egg whites (make sure you stir thoroughly and fast, to avoid egg chunks, YUCK!), a handful of raspberries, a tablespoon of peanut butter, and some more almond milk. After thirty more seconds in the microwave, another good stir, and a few extra raspberries, the Coco Wheats were ready to eat!

This was delicious!

This was delicious!

You could make something similar with quick oats, oat bran, plain wheat bran, coconut flour, the options are endless! You would just have to add some cocoa powder!

What are some of your favorite post-workout munchies?

New Blog + Zucchini Oatmeal Bread

Hello! Thanks for taking a look at my blog!

I am Abby, an avid runner with a passion for nutrition and healthy cooking. And peanut butter:) I decided it was time to create a blog to share some of my adventures on the trail and in the kitchen, considering I already follow (more like stalk) a couple of healthy living blogs, and have entertained the idea for about six months. I am really excited to begin sharing my journey with you, starting with this recipe for Zucchini Bread I whipped up yesterday!

Ahhh zucchini. I can never seem to spell it correctly. But I throw the delectable vegetable in nearly everything I eat. Oatmeal, soups, veggie pastas, cakes, muffins, breads. Nothing is safe from some shredded zucchini. The best part is that I can seldom taste it, and even if I do, it tastes pretty delicious. If you don’t like to shred it, consider blending it and using it like you would applesauce or mashed banana; as a fantastic oil replacement. It is surprisingly moist and is a great replacement. Admittedly, it isn’t as good as some applesauce or banana, but hey, it works!

Back to the bread. This stuff is addicting. I made five mini-loaves yesterday afternoon and have eaten four. Filling, moist, dense, and packed full of vegetables! It even has some protein! One mini-loaf has ten grams of protein, and it would be more if you choose to add some protein powder!

In my recipe, I choose to make the bread extremely dense. If you would like a fluffier bread, reduce to applesauce to one cup, and increase the whole wheat four to one and a half cups. Whip the eggs until they are slightly fluffy before you add them to the batter, and add a bit more milk if it feels too dry. Also, I usually add some raisons or walnuts to my bread.

This recipe is fantastic to use as a base, so feel free to add, remove, or tweak any of the directions or ingredients below!

Zucchini Oatmeal Bread

Ingredients:

2-3 cups shredded zucchini, depending on your tastes
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1 cup whole wheat flour*
1 cup oat flour* (read directions if you have none!)
1 cup stevia, coconut sugar, or sugar of choice*
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda*
1 tsp baking powder*
3 eggs
1/4 cup almond milk
1 tsp cinnamon*
1/2 tsp nutmeg*
1/2 tsp salt*
Pinch of Cream of Tartar and Nutmeg*

Directions:

If you have no oat flour, blend a cup of raw rolled or quick oats to make some easily. Then, mix all of the dry ingredients (marked with an asterisk) in a large mixing bowl. Next, blend all wet ingredients until fluffy, excluding the zucchini. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, and then mix in the shredded zucchini. Pour the batter into some greased mini-loaf tins. Alternately, you could use regular loaf pans. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes, or longer if you use a regular loaf pan. Check the loaves before you remove them from the oven, a toothpick inserted in the loaves should come out clean.

Make sure you taste the batter before you pop it into the oven! Feel free to add walnuts, raisons, or coconut oil for added yummy points!

Zucchini Oatmeal Bread in its most glorious form- with cranberry sauce (from Trader Joes) and yogurt on the side. Served up with some fresh raspberries and apple slices. An absolutely perfect snack!!

Zucchini Oatmeal Bread in its most glorious form- with cranberry sauce (from Trader Joes) and yogurt on the side. Served up with some fresh raspberries and apple slices. An absolutely perfect snack!!