We All Have Issues…

Aka, How to Amp Up Your Overnight Oats Game.

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I kind of feel like I should be crowned the Overnight Oats Prophet because everywhere I go, I bring the wisdom of the O.O. with me (thus far, the oats frenzy has reached friends and family in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, California, Hawaii, Illinois and Colorado). I really can’t overstate how delicious and easy they are, so I won’t bother (if you’re curious, you can just re-live my poetic dissertation on the delicious union of oats and almond milk/original recipe here). The best part is that with so many converts, I’ve started getting some great feedback (for example, this morning my gym buddy R asked how to overcome her texture issues with the oats – this one’s for you, R!). So I’ll take a moment here, and try to enlighten the masses on how to work through your own overnight oat issues. πŸ˜›

Issue: Texture (i.e. they are too mushy)

Solution(s):

1. Adjust your milk to oat ratio. Decrease the amount of milk you add, and play around with it until you get it right. I add a little less than a 1:1 ratio, and that works for me. You may need to change your container, because all of the oats should be at least partially submerged or they won’t uptake any of the milk and they won’t soften at all.

2. Add seeds/nuts/”hard stuff” for crunch. I add pumpkin seeds and coconut flakes (at least 1 T or more, each) frequently, but you can add a multitude of different things depending on your taste/personal preference: sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, walnuts, almonds (slices, slivers, pieces, whole!), crunchy peanut butter, any nuts (pecan, cashew, brazil), chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, roasted edamame, pieces of dark chocolate, dried fruit (apples, mangoes, banana chips, coconut, apricot – you name it!). What the hell, you can even throw some trail mix on there!

3. Use thick-cut oats. The thick ones absorb less milk and tend to stay firmer. In my experience, they don’t form that sticky, mushier texture oatmeal, each oat stays separate and definitely gives you a different texture. You can combine this with less milk for an even firmer texture oat. I use Bob’s Red Mill brand, and they are stellar.

Issue: You’re bored.

Solution(s):

1. Don’t feel limited by my suggestions. Berries are going out of season in New England, so I’ve added things like roasted squash, roasted/steamed pumpkin, cranberry compote. Apples and bananas are usually always around in the grocery store, so they are a great staple. Add them fresh, or jazz them up. You can make a batch of sauteed apples on the stove and keep the leftovers in the fridge to add to your oats each day:

Sauteed Apples

Ingredients
  • 1-2 Tbsp soy butter (like Earth Balance)
  • 4 large tart apples – peeled (if you feel like it, I leave them on sometimes), cored and diced
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup brown or coconut sugar (you can use less, like 1/4 cup, if you’d like)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Directions
  1. In a large skillet or saucepan, melt soy butter over medium heat; add diced apples. Cook, stirring constantly, until apples are almost tender, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  2. Dissolve cornstarch in water; add to skillet. Stir in brown sugar and cinnamon. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and serve warm.
  3. Leftovers can be placed into an airtight container and used all week.

Live on the wild side, try mixing it up. Add whatever is in your fridge (I added the roasted pumpkin from my Roasted Pumpkin and Beet un-salad recipe that had thyme, salt and pepper on it and it was AMAZING).

2. Try savory oats! Add steamed broccoli, zucchini, tomato, sauteed veggies, tofu – whatever sounds good to you. Don’t forget – you can always microwave it to warm it up if eating cold broccoli in the morning is not really your thing.

3. Do a mini-variation. I alternate using different nut butters and different combinations of fruit everyday, so that I get excited about my version of the day. There are like 3000 kinds of nut butters out there, and I have at least 10 different ones in my pantry (yes, I have issues too). Try a new one! If you don’t like it, who cares – there are plenty other ones out there you can try (You can get rid of unloved nut butters by incorporating into other recipes to mask the taste: adding it to a smoothie, or using it in baked goods. Or just give it to your bestie, maybe they will show it some love). You can also buy small sampler/squeeze packets of some brands of nut butter (like my fave Justin’s Almond Butter) if you want to give it a whirl.

Issue: You’re kind of over the oats part.

Solution(s):

Fear not! Along with the 3000 varieties of nut butters, there are just as many grain variations. Besides oats, you can make overnight quinoa, brown rice, chia seeds, rolled rye, rolled barley, rolled spelt – you can combine them together, eat them separate – whatever. I’ve seen lots of great combos available for purchase like quinoa, hemp and buckwheat at crunchy places like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. You can even do overnight granola with your favorite kind! Don’t be afraid to try new things, that’s what life is all about. πŸ˜€

Aaah, issues resolved! That feels better, doesn’t it? I hope you enjoy this new beginning, and the endless possibilities that lay on the horizon for your next Overnight Oats adventure. Let me know your fave combos in the comments! πŸ˜›

Let the Oats be with you,

L.

L On-the-GO! Packing Essentials, Part Deux.

Just arrived at Logan Airport in Boston, wearing my fave travel outfit: yoga leggings and a sweater dress (super comf, but you don't look like a slob in yoga pants - win!)

Just arrived at Logan Airport in Boston, wearing my fave travel outfit: yoga leggings and a sweater dress with wedge booties (super comf, but you don’t look like a slob in yoga pants – win!)

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Travel Essentials!! Clockwise, from bottom left: Small tote, cardigan, two blouses, sweatshirt, shirt dress, trousers, pencil skirt, t-shirts, long sleeve shirt, tights, socks, headbands, shorts, jeans, sports bras, crops, tank tops, sneaks, dressy flats, casual flats, miscellaneous essentials, extra snacks and Advil.

Well, I’m successfully entrenched in my hotel room before the evening work activities begin, so here we go. My brain is a little warm and fuzzy from the celebratory beverage/altitude, so bear with me! πŸ˜€

The name of the game here is “multi-purpose” – I don’t bring anything that can’t be used in more that one way. It has to be functional, mix-and-match, comfortable and flattering; AND layer-able, because it’s warm in Colorado this time of year (low 70s) but cools down at night (high 40s). I’ll be gone for two work days and three fun days. I’m planning on running/hitting the hotel gym at least three times while I’m here. Here’s what I packed!

My Carry-on Luggage Contains:

  • Two “nice” work outfits: a black pencil skirt, fitted cropped trousers – both in black for unlimited pairing options (the Minnie pants from J. Crew to be exact, also a great pair of pants that fees like you’re cheating because they are stretchy, comfy and super flattering) and two short sleeve blouses, one patterned, one solid white lacey-ish – can be mixed and matched for going out in the evening
  • One solid colored cardigan – super multi-purpose
  • A shirt dress (can be paired with leggings or tights, and the cardigan can layer on top)
  • A zip-up sweatshirt (for casual wear, and an extra layer in case it gets really chilly)
  • One pair of jeans (I always pack my favorite pair, so in that case you feel super cute and comfy at all times. My sister always harps on me with the excessive amounts of jeans I pack, and this time I’m really trying to keep my luggage paired down. I’m a little denim-obsessed – you should see the avalanche of jeans that fall on me every time I open my closet – so choosing one pair was hard. I picked a casual, not-so-distressed medium wash skinny jean)
  • Three t-shirts (black, white and medium blue; good for layering and casual wear)
  • One long sleeve running shirt (that is cute enough to wear in real life)
  • Two pairs of shorts (one for running, one for casual wear – it’s going up to 80F on Saturday!)
  • Tights/nylons – nude and black
  • One pair of crops (casual wear, being comfy after work, running in cool mornings)
  • Four stretchy tank tops (working out, casual wear, extra layers)
  • Shoes: sneakers, casual flats and dressy flats
  • Extra snacks! Instant oatmeal, extra protein bars
  • Longchamp small tote bag (I use this as my purse)
  • Miscellaneous: extra Advil, two sports bras, two headbands, the usual suspects for undergarments…

As I mentioned in my previous post, I always have a hard time packing (no matter how many times I do it, it always seems annoying and I’m waiting for iRobot to put out a relative of the Roomba that will do this for you, like on the Jetsons). I always end up dragging my feet and packing in a stressful huff in the eleventh hour (as I did last night). I always love it when people share their travel essentials because it gives me good ideas of how I can mix and match my wardrobe to fit my own needs. I travel frequently for work, and I generally tack on a “fun” weekend to the end of my trip. I’ve definitely improved in my packing skills to get everything I need in carry-on bags only. The most difficult part is the self-edit: “do I REALLY need three pairs of jeans/four dresses/sixteen pairs of shoes?” Oh ALSO, if you’re super observant, you may notice the miscellaneous items are packed in ziploc bags – a trait I inherited from my mom, that it totally freaks me out to think that someone (ahem, a TSA agent if I’m randomly selected for a bag search) may handle my undergarments, or my snacks may spontaneously combust during travel and stain all my clothes. Thus, I always pack “sensitive items” in ziplocs – just a weird quirk, and a life hack. That way, you’ve always got extra bags just in case! Like a girl scout, always prepared. πŸ˜‰

I hope this helps you in your future travels!

From the Wild West with Love,

L

PS: My pre-flight breakfast was super yummy, so I thought I’d share:

Overnight oats with pumpkin, blackberries, raspberries, almond butter, pepitas, coconut flakes, a ton of cinnamon and a drizzle of honey. Mmmmmmmmm!

Overnight oats with roasted pumpkin, blackberries, raspberries, almond butter, pepitas, coconut flakes, a ton of cinnamon and a drizzle of honey. So. Freakin’. Good. I’m going to miss having this for breakfast everyday!

L On-the-Go! Packing Essentials, Part One.

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What’s in my (Lululemon) bag: laptop, sunnies, scarf, sanitizing wipes, hand sanitizer, Advil, inhaler, gum, headphones, snacks, wallet, gum, chapstick, business cards, book, iPad mini and liquids

I hate packing. I really do. There’s no rational reason behind it because in the grand scheme of things, it’s really not a big deal. I’m heading to Colorado for work/fun and here I’ll share my packing essentials. Due to all the luggage fees, I tend to stuff all the things I need into two carry-on bags. My “purse” or “under the seat” item contains all my immediate essentials for the plane ride. Here’s what I bring!

My “Under the Seat” Carry-on Contains:

  • Laptop/wireless mouse
  • Headphones
  • Sunnies (for the “please don’t talk to me” nap time)
  • Advil (in case of too many bubbles)
  • Wet ones sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer – thanks to my sister, I now carry these in my bag everywhere! I immediately wipe down the surfaces that I touch on the plane (tray table, arm rests, etc) so I will not get sick! Thanks J for turning me into a germ-a-phobe, too.
  • Vinyasa scarf (the best purchase from Lulu ever! I use it as a scarf, obv, but you can unsnap it and use it as a blanket, towel, shawl, etc – the options are endless and it’s come in handy many times over)
  • Gum (for a mouth refresh)
  • Snacks (a must! As a veg, I am always afraid of my protein options so I bring lots of granola/energy bars that are high in the prots: Builder’s bar, bare naked granola bar, Kind bar)
  • Book (this one is about cadaver research so it’s sure to be a deterrent to any chatty seat mates)
  • iPad mini (for the boredom)
  • Liquids, wallet, business cards (self-explanatory)
  • Water bottle! (Not pictured, but I literally bring a refillable water bottle EVERYWHERE)

This airport wifi is a little wonky, so stay tuned for part deux: the roller bag carry-on. πŸ˜‰

42 Seconds

Sweat was dripping down my face and my elbows were getting rug burns as I desperately pulled myself forward. Grunting, I thought, “This will all be worth it in 7 days. This will all be worth it in 7 days.” Pain seared down my legs. I squeezed my eyes shut and heaved my body forward one last time.

I was having a special moment with my foam roller.

Why so sore you ask? Well, as you can see from the countdown on my blog, my first half marathon is in 6 days. I’ve been pushing myself extra hard at the gym and on my training runs, trying to get those legs in tip-top shape so I can run my heart out for those 13.1 miles. Yesterday was a big day for me. I had been getting jittery and nervous last week as I watched those countdown numbers slowly tick down, and I promised myself I would crank out one last “long” (for me) practice run to convince myself I could do it. I set my sights on 10 miles. 10 miles, I could do it, no big deal. I woke up yesterday feeling good, made myself an amazing breakfast, my Autumn-themed overnight oats:

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L’s Autumn Overnight Oats with banana, cranberry compote, blueberries, delicata squash and almond butter; topped with pumpkin seeds, cinnamon and a swirl of maple syrup.

You can find my recipe for overnight oats here: Overnight Oats. This time, I topped my oats with blueberries, banana, almond butter, leftover roasted delicata squash, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, a little maple syrup and a quick cranberry compote. I had leftover cranberries from another recipe and whipped this up:

Quick Cranberry Compote
Ingredients

1 cup of fresh cranberries

1 – 2 Tbsp raw coconut sugar

Directions: Combine ingredients in a small saucepan and place over medium-high heat, and cook about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until berries start to pop but are still whole. Transfer to a bowl to cool; serve.

Optional: A splash of orange juice and zest of a quarter of an orange, but I had neither on hand. You can also increase the sugar to 1/2 cup if you want something sweeter, I really like the tartness of the cranberries with the other fruits in my oats, so I kept the sugar minimal.

The delicata squash I roasted for a snack on Saturday and put the leftover in the fridge. I scooped out about half of my leftover squash for the oats. (All I did was cut the squash in half length-wise, scoop the seeds out and lightly brush some melted soy butter over the inside. Roast at 450F for ~30 minutes for delicious, soft and creamy delicata squash. Easy peasy).

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Roasted Delicata Squash

Anywho, after I chomped that down and did a little tidying up, my “Booyah!” attitude was flagging. The little voice of doubt in my head started up.

– I don’t want to do this.

– You HAVE to do this, it’s the last Sunday before your race.

(etc, etc…I’ll spare you my 20 minute internal monologue – you get the idea)

I laced my sneakers up, picked a good song to start out, and pushed myself out the front door. It was crisp and sunny, and the fall colors were really amping up their game. You got this, I said.

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Dude, my shoelaces match the leaves.

I had one of those runs where you surprise yourself, when the choppy robot-lady voice from the Nike+ app interrupts your song: One mile completed. Average pace: nine minutes and fifteen seconds. As I racked up my miles, my pace did not deviate. I couldn’t believe it. It’s only a matter of time before my pace slows down to “normal,” or so I thought.

Five miles. Average pace: nine minutes and twenty-one seconds. (I then ate my mocha energy gel).

My legs were under protest, but I kept going. One foot in front of the other. Up, down. Up, down. I said all of my mantras to myself. I made up new ones. I hummed along to my music. Don’t slow down, I said.

Ten miles. Average pace: nine minutes and twenty seconds.

Let’s make it 11 miles. One more mile, you can do this, I said.

Robot lady: Eleven miles…I ripped off my headphones. I did it! BOO-freaking-YAH!

In the end, I shaved off 42 seconds from my mile split time. 42 seconds: half a minute, plus 12 seconds. I have not had that much of a jump in my speed since I started running consistently. I am walking like I just got off a horse today, and thinking about foam rolling my legs again tonight makes me cringe, but who the hell cares. 42 seconds!! Hells yeah!

Moral of today’s story: Get out there and do it. You might not want to, but you always have the potential to surprise yourself. πŸ™‚

Happy Monday/Columbus Day!

– L (who today, has no legs).

πŸ˜›

L’s Overnight Oats (aka My Breakfast Erryday)

Good Morning All!

Every morning, I get out of the gym, sling my overstuffed gym bag into my trunk and start thinking about what lies ahead for my day. After all those burpees, planks, squats, spin class, whatever my morning workout consists of, my mind is (usually) laser-focused on my to-do list. Except first: breakfast. Getting up at 5 am everyday, by the time I’m walking to my car in the parking garage at 7:15, my stomach is in revolt: “Food. Now. Like, right now. Or ten minutes ago. Feed meeeeee.” I know I’m not alone, because as the ladies’ locker room fills up after morning class, everyone has the same thought: after that workout, we are all freakin’ starving. Daaamn!

After attempting distraction by filling my stomach with coffee on my commute to work, I allow myself to start getting *a little* excited about my impending breakfast. As soon as my rear is parked at my desk, I wrench the lid off my mason jar filled with delicious goodness, dump it into a bowl and do not speak, think, or answer my phone until it is all in my belly. Mmmmm! Don’t judge me, but the moment that first bite is swallowed is the best part of my morning. For reals. Yum.

I’ve made overnight oats my (weekday) breakfast every day for the past several months (and never been tired of it, either!). I’ve gotten my sister, brother-in-law and three of my closest friends totally hooked on it. It’s always filling, it’s always delicious, and it’s always exciting. You can literally put anything on top. Anything. The best part? It takes less than five minutes to make it the night before. Seriously people, this is legit.

L's Overnight Oats

L’s Overnight Oats

L’s Overnight Oats

Let me tell you how I make it. All you’ll need is:

  • 16 oz mason jar/any container approximately that size
  • your favorite nut butter
  • rolled oats
  • milk of some variety (almond, soy, dairy – you name it)
  • cinnamon
  • toppings
Step 1: Take a big ol’scoop (~1 tbsp) of nut butter and put it in the bottom of your jar. I use Justin’s Maple Almond Butter because it is literally the best.
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Noms. Almond butter.

Step 2: Put 1/2 cup of rolled oats and (a little less than) 1/2 cup of almond milk (I use unsweetened vanilla almond milk here) on top of your nut butter.
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Add oats and almond milk

Step 3: Dump some cinnamon on top (the amount is up to you, but I really like cinnamon). Stir the cinnamon in.
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Sprinkle on some cinnamon for flavor

Step 4: Time for toppings: throw some fruit in there. Blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are my current favorites.
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Add your fave berries
Step 5: Top it off with nuts, seeds, whatever. I use pumpkin seeds and flaked coconut for some crunchy texture in there.
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Top it all off with nuts, seeds, coconut flakes – whatever!

Step 6: You’re done! Put it in the fridge and go relax. In the morning you’ll have a delicious breakfast πŸ™‚

I’m not kidding when I say it’s that easy. And it’s sooooooooo good for you! You’ve got a very nutritious and filling breakfast to start your day off. The possibilities are endless as well, so you can put whatever is in your pantry/fridge as toppings and make it your very own.

I hope you all enjoy it! And have a great day today. It’s hump day! Woohoo!

– L.