PWO Banana Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

First of all, let me just preface this post by saying that besides the fact that these are made with oats and raisins, they don’t taste that much like regular oatmeal raisin cookies.  I called them cookies because they look like cookies and you can grab them like cookies and they are made with the same base ingredients as oatmeal raisin cookies… but if you’re looking for sugary sweet oatmeal cookies, you might want to look elsewhere.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, if what you’re looking for is a delicious, healthy, nutrient-dense, grab-and-go snack, you’re in the right place.  And the PWO in the title stands for pre-workout because these are also perfect for that. 

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If you’re looking for a good pre-workout snack, it should break down like this:

  • Low levels of fat, as fat takes the longest to break down
  • Moderate levels of protein to increase the rate of protein synthesis and help decrease muscle breakdown
  • Good amount of carbs to increase glycogen stores and give you the energy to power through your workout

These “cookies” aren’t like eating regular cookies before you hit the gym, which will cause you to crash after the sugar wears off, but they will help fill up your energy tank and help give you the fuel to go move weight, run hard, swim fast, or dance wildly. 

Two of these cookies have about 25g carbs, 4g protein, and 3g fat.   The main sources of of the carbs – the oats and the bananas – are good clean, energy-packed sources.  The fat comes mainly from the eggs, and the little bit of honey and raisins give you some of the (natural) sugar that you need.  If you haven’t eaten in a while, you might need more than this ~135 calorie snack before you workout, but for someone like me who can’t eat a big meal right before I workout, this is the perfect source of fuel. 

I workout first thing in the morning, so these are great for me to grab and eat in the car on the way to the gym, without having to prepare anything when I first wake up.  This week, I’m also planning to try out a new gym after work, so these will be nice to have on hand so that I can get something in my stomach after work when dinner is still a while off.   

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Besides the fact that they’re healthy, they’re also super easy to make.  And of course, they’re delicious enough to eat anytime of the day… not just before your workout!

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups oats
  • 2 bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup raisins

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375*F.
  2. Pulse oats in a food processor until they become a flour (optional).
  3. Combine banana and eggs in food processor until blended.
  4. Mix oats with banana and egg mixture until combined.
  5. Add in honey and cinnamon and mix well.
  6. Stir in raisins.
  7. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.  (Note: these will not be sticky or doughy like normal cookies.  They’ll fall apart a little bit so just do your best to shape them into cookies.)
  8. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until golden brown. 

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What do you eat before you workout? 

A big meal, a snack, nothing? 

Do you worry about protein/fat/carbs?


Fill Me Up, Buttercup

On Tuesday morning, it was another really tough workout, and for the first time in a while, I honestly didn’t know if I was going to be able to finish it.  I started out with things that weren’t so familiar to me, making them all the more challenging, and then the seemingly not-so-bad workout nearly killed me.  50 push presses at 65# was heavy for me, and I felt like I had lead legs by the time I got to the burpees.  I had never done wall walks before, but by that point, I was pretty sure my arms were going to give out on me and I’d end up on my head.  It’s funny, but somewhere along the line, box jumps somehow became one of the easiest elements of a workout.  Who would’ve guessed?

  1. Warm-up and stretch
  2. Snatch:
    1. 1×3 55#, 1×5 75#, 1×5 85#
  3. 1 Clean + 3 Front Squats + 5 Deadlifts x5 @ 105#
  4. Workout:
    1. 50  Push presses @ 65#
    2. 40 Box jump overs
    3. 30 OH squats @ 65#
    4. 20 Burpees
    5. 10 Wall walks
  5. Core (4x):
    1. 25 Swiss ball sit ups
    2. 50 Weighted side bends
  6. Cool down

We are in the middle of a serious heat wave over here this week, so the last thing I wanted Tuesday morning was a hot breakfast.  Instead, I brought cold chicken with cucumbers and grapes, and it was the perfect meal. 

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For lunch, I had baked chicken, zucchini, and tomatoes with Italian spices and crushed red pepper, and I just about melted on the couch at home eating it during lunch!

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For dinner, I wanted to try to use the buttercup squash I bought this week, and I really had no idea what to do with it, but I just went for it.  I’m sure there’s a “right” way to do it, but at the same time, I really don’t think you can mess it up.

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That thing was hard to cut through, but very carefully, I managed to slice off a chunk to cook. 

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I scooped out the seeds and microwaved the pieces for five minutes before baking them in the oven.  I picked up some turkey tenderloins this week too, so one of those went in the oven right alongside the squash. 

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After about 30 minutes, I had my very own super simplified version of Thanksgiving dinner.  (My favorite holiday, by the way.)  I thought about topping the squash with honey or maple syrup, but I wanted to give it a shot on it’s own first.  I definitely think it would’ve been good that way, but it was still sweet by itself.  It wasn’t that much different in texture from butternut squash, but it did have a slightly different taste. 

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The only thing that was missing was cranberry sauce.  Cranberries are hard to find off-season, but some mashed up cranberries would be so good paired with this dish!  Imagine if I baked them right on top of the little squash boats?  Fill me up, buttercup!

After dinner, I got a serious craving for Larabars, but didn’t want to go out to the grocery store, so I decided to give the homemade ones a shot.  First, I mixed up some cashews and dates in the food processor, and next I did peanuts and dates. 

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I got the pieces good and small, and then scooped out the mixture, rolled it into balls, and flattened it into some sort of edible shape. 

DSC_0389 I didn’t know quite how much of each ingredient to use, so I’ll have to play with the amounts.  I’m thinking more dates would mean a stickier mixture, but I’m not sure if that’s actually what would work best or not. 

I threw them in the fridge for a while, and when I was ready to snack on one, I had it alongside some sliced strawberries and grapes. 

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They weren’t half bad for my first try; they tasted just like their Larabar counterparts, and I didn’t even have to leave my own kitchen!


Go Bananas!

I have been on a serious banana kick lately. 

For many years, I didn’t like bananas.  I think it was mostly a texture thing at first, but I didn’t like the actual fruit, I didn’t like banana flavored anything… it was no bananas at all for this girl.  When I started eating healthier though, bananas quickly became a regular item on my grocery list.  They’re cheap, easy to find, good on-the-go, and a great source of vitamins, nutrients, fiber, and potassium.

Bananas are also great for active people because they are a high-energy fruit that can help you power through your workout or replenish your blood sugar levels after physical activity, preventing dizziness and fatigue.  When you exercise, your muscles use glycogen – a type of carbohydrate – as fuel, but bananas provide your body with carbs to replenish the tank.  When you work out, you also lose a lot of potassium through your sweat, leading to cramping, but bananas can help bring your levels back to normal, decreasing discomfort. 

I guess these little guys are on to something!

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I feel like I can never have enough bananas so I pretty much buy a bundle of them every single week.  When I work out first thing in the morning and am not ready for a full breakfast right away, I usually have a banana right before or after I hit the gym.  If I don’t eat them before they are about to go bad, they get frozen to use in homemade sorbet or smoothies, or I use them to make pancakes, banana bread, cookies, muffins, and other baked goods.  I don’t think I’ve ever thrown one away!

Last week, I saw that someone on Instagram made Paleo-friendly banana scones, and I instantly wanted them.  It was right before my trip, and I had a couple of bananas to use up, so I figured I’d give it a try.

In the food processor, I threw 2 bananas, 1 egg, a couple tablespoons of almond flour, 1 tablespoon of coconut flour, a teaspoon of vanilla, and a bunch of cinnamon.  When it started to get a little thicker, I poured it in a bowl and stirred in a few chopped strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. 

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I was hoping they’d hold up a little better, but they were kind of soft, so I just went with it and plopped them on a cookie sheet. 

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After about 25 minutes in the oven at 375*F, they came out like soft little mounds of goodness.  I brought them on my trip with me and my coworker asked what they were called and I quickly spit out… ‘mookies?’

Cookies… muffins… I’m not sure what they should technically be called but they were certainly tasty! 

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(One thing I do know is that they were nothing like a scone.  But I am definitely making these ASAP. Holy YUM.) 

Over the weekend, I made another variation on my banana pancakes too: banana waffles.

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I used the usual ingredients – 1 banana, 2 eggs, cinnamon, and a bit of almond flour – but I threw the batter into my waffle maker instead of onto a griddle.  I topped them with strawberries, blueberries, and mini Enjoy Life chocolate chips, with maple syrup and bacon on the side. 

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It was quite the decadent meal for a Sunday morning and I enjoyed every bite of it. I don’t know what other banana treats will come out of my kitchen this week, but I’m sure there will be something!

Questions:

Do you like bananas?

What’s your favorite way to use/eat them?


Homemade Almond Butter

Want to know how to make your very own homemade almond butter?

It’s really simple.

Step 1: Buy some almonds. 

I like raw almonds, but you can buy them roasted (or flavored) or roast them yourself, if you want.

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Step 2: Put the almonds in your food processor. 

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Step 3: Process the almonds. 

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They’ll start to break apart – just keep going.  (And if your FP is little like mine and you don’t want to burn it out, shut it off every couple of minutes to give it a rest.)

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It might take a little while – but just keep going!  Eventually, the oils in the almonds will start to naturally turn it into butter; you don’t need to add a thing. 

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And after a little bit of mixing, voila!  Your very own homemade almond butter – no crazy added ingredients necessary.  (Remember this when you go to grab a jar of nut butter off the grocery store shelf and the ingredients list is anything more than one ingredient long.)

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The almond butter is delicious alone, but if you want to, some things you can add for fun are:

  • Coconut oil
  • Vanilla
  • Maple syrup
  • Honey
  • Cocoa powder
  • Chocolate chips (let’s face it, adding chocolate chips always makes things more fun)

I’m going to try homemade peanut and cashew butters next!  What kind of homemade nut butters are your favorite?


It’s Monday Already?

This weekend was a little bit backwards from how my weekends normally go – mostly because of the weather.  Saturday started off cloudy and rainy, and I had to go into work for a few hours in the morning, so I decided to get all my weekly chores out of the way right off the bat.

After work, I headed straight to the gym to get in one more workout for the week.  Being at the Y on a Saturday morning between 9 and 11 is really not fun to me because of how crowded it gets, but luckily by the time I was finishing up, it was clearing out.

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Despite the crowds, I do love Saturday workouts because they often mean I can spend as long as I want in the gym.  I can move slower, spend more time on things I want to work on, and practically get as much in as I feel like with nothing pressing to rush off to.  That’s definitely how it went this weekend, and it was good to spend some extra time stretching and working on some new moves that I’ve been trying to master. 

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Here’s what my Saturday workout looked like:

  1. Warm-up + stretch
  2. Back squats:
    1. 12 @ 95#; 10 @ 105#; 8 @ 135#; 5 @ 155#
    2. 5×3: 185#; 155#; 135#; 105#; 95#
  3. 15×3 @ 35#:
    1. Shoulder press
    2. Upright rows
  4. Front squats: 5×5 @ 95#
  5. 1 Snatch + 5 Overhead squats x10 @ 55#
  6. Squat cleans: 5×5 @ 553
  7. Sumo deadlift high pulls: 5×5 @ 55#
  8. RDLs: 5×5 @ 55#
  9. Snatch drills

After my long workout, I headed home to clean my apartment and do my laundry, stopping for lunch in between.  I wanted Mexican, so I cooked up chicken and peppers in a pan on the stove with chili powder and cumin, and had some chips and salsa on the side.

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The rest of the day was spent shopping for new workout pants (found a pair at TJ Maxx) and running errands.  And while I was out… all I was thinking about was pizza.  I haven’t had pizza in quite a while, so I was thinking about stopping to pick one up, when the idea hit me: cauliflower crust pizza.  I’d been wanting to try it out for a while, and with some time to kill and a craving for pizza, it seemed like the perfect opportunity.  It came out absolutely wonderful too, so I’ll definitely be sharing the recipe later this week.

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I woke up early on Sunday and started the day off with a big batch of extra-green spinach banana pancakes with syrup, berries, and bacon.  I’m not quite sure what went wrong this time, but they all stuck to the pan and it was rather devastating.  Luckily they were still delicious (even if they weren’t that pretty), but I think it might be time to buy a new, non-burnt pan…

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After breakfast, I hurried off to meet up with a couple friends to hike Mt. Monadnock.  It was the absolute perfect day for a hike – sunny and warm but not brutally hot. 

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Apparently a lot of other people had the same idea as we did because the parking lot was packed, but luckily the trail didn’t feel crowded at all.  We took a trail I’d never done before, which seemed far less-traveled than the main one, and we only passed by a few other groups the entire time. 

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The clear skies made for picturesque views all around, and I took it all in from the top.  I’m severely directionally-challenged, but on a clear day, they say you can see Boston from the summit. 

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How lucky am I to live in such a beautiful place?!  (The correct answer would be: pretty dang lucky.)  I absolutely love it here. 

Once we made it back to the base, I headed home and spent a couple hours out lounging by the pool at my apartment.  It wasn’t quite warm enough for me to want to take a dip, but it was nice to get a little sun.

And the last stop of the day was the kitchen for some meal prep.  Since I did groceries on Friday, my fridge is absolutely filled to the brim with food… Chicken, steak, eggs, fruits, and veggies galore!

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This week, I decided to take the easy route and make one batch of meatloaf filling and turn it into two different types of meals.  Sometimes I make a meatloaf that lasts me practically an entire week, but I’m so sick of it after a few days that I’m shoving it in just to keep from wasting it. 

To avoid that, I combined a pound of ground turkey, two plum tomatoes, one green pepper, one egg, about 1/4 cup of almond flour, and a couple tablespoons of tomato paste (ingredients: tomatoes), to make the base.  Then, I put half of it into a loaf pan and topped it with bacon, and made half of it into meatballs.  I baked both in the oven, cooked up some green beans to go with the meatloaf, and peppers to go with the meatballs (I’ll probably add fresh spinach when I actually eat them), and voila – two very different meals. 

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I don’t usually add tomato paste to my meatloaf, but I tried it out for dinner last night, and I think it was a great choice.  I had it leftover from Saturday’s pizza, and it definitely gave the meatloaf an extra kick and made it nice and moist. 

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I also had quite a few bananas laying around, so I made a batch of banana bread muffins using three bananas, six eggs, about 1/3 cup (maybe?) of almond flour, a big tablespoon of coconut flower, a pinch of baking soda and baking powder, four teaspoons of coconut oil, and a crapload of cinnamon.  (I’m so precise, I know.)  Since the loaf pan was occupied with the meatloaf, I used my individual brownie pan, and they came out wonderful.  It made six pretty large muffins, which would be perfect for either breakfast or dessert!

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So between working and spending too much time at the gym and shopping and cooking and hiking and napping by the pool… this weekend certainly flew by.  Sometimes though – like in this case – that’s the sign of a really good weekend, so you won’t hear me complaining.  We’ve only got so many summer weekends to enjoy, and I think I’m off to a good start!

Questions:

What did you meal prep for this week?

What did you do this weekend?

Do you like hiking?


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