Tiny Recipes (so there’s time to blow your nose)

This has pretty much been my week:

Me: Where has this day gone?

Mom: Up in a pouf of snot.. :/

The “big night” was sitting on the couch with Mom and Jenny, watching politics, guzzling water and passing the tissue box. Aren’t you sorry you missed it?

There has been waaay to much NightQuil flowing around here!

This sickness, unfortunately, came right at the same time as my first week back in classes and my first week of work. So much for entering the new year with energy and enthusiasm! Here’s to 2013!

One thing I have been valuing lately, beside cough drops and lotioned tissues, is tiny recipes. Following @tinyrecipes is my latest Twitter obsession: entire recipes all in the short space of one tweet. It’s clever, fun, and uncomplicated for my swollen sinuses.

Not many of us have time to lug the cookbook off the shelf at every mealtime. Most days I’m lucky if lunch even makes it on to a plate. I need fast, simple, and healthy. Oh and immune-boosting, cold-fighting ingredients are always a plus.

Ready? Six quick and favorite recipes in 140 characters or less:

Humolsa:
1 mashed avocado + 1/3 c. hummus + 1/3 c. salsa
#scoopit

Egg-topped salad:
Pour 2-3 egg whites in a greased skillet, top with veggies of choice. Cook till egg is settled, flip and cook 2 min. Serve over hearty salad.

HLT:
Layer hummus, lettuce and tomato on a whole wheat roll. “Grill” both sides of sandwich on a greased frying pan until hummus is “melty”.

Pumpkin Green Monster:
Banana, pumpkin, milk, maple syrup, instant coffee, spinach, and cinnamon #pumpkinpieinaglass

Fruit “Roll-Ups”:
Spread almond butter on Whole wheat tortilla, sprinkle with cinnamon, and wrap around a whole banana. Cut into bite-sized slices.
#snackable #tastebudsofachild

Yogurt Parfait:
Top a Greek yogurt with a sliced banana, crumbed baked oatmeal or muffin or raw oats and sprinkle with cinnamon.
#instantbreakfast #tastesfancy

What are your favorite tiny recipes?

Oh, and got any cold-busting tips to share? I’ll pay in honey-lemon cough drops.

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Savoring Break: Cranberry Chai Baked Oatmeal

I am a huge fan of this thing called “break”.

Waking up without an alarm clock after eight hours of restful sleep. Thinking “What do I want to do today” instead of “How many items can I knock off of my gazillion lists before the day’s out?”

Having time to spend with friends and family so my sister tells me every single day: “You are so much nicer and happier now”. I had no idea what a monster school made out of me.

I may be over sugar and cookies, but I am not ready to say goodbye to the holiday spirit. No siree. I am going to savor every moment for as long as I can.

Days like yesterday. I puttered around half the morning before bundling up and heading out in the sub-freezing temperatures for a run. I kept my mind off my frostbitten nose by planning a warm, nutritious breakfast. Then I ran harder to get back home and into the kitchen.

My vision of Cranberry Chai Baked Oatmeal was whipped up and baking away quicker than the drive-through at Dunkin Donuts to cash in my brand spanking new gift card. Thank you, Aunt Robin. That large coffee was the perfect accompaniment to the delicious smells of winter spices and orange zest wafting from the oven.

Breakfast was everything I hoped for and much more. I “mmmed” at every bite and felt so good making two healthy decisions that morning. It was the perfect balance for spending the rest of the day with friends, sprawled on the couch and eating chocolate covered strawberries.

My free days are fleeing by and there won’t be many more days to drink in the joys of life, of family and friends. So right now, I’m just going to be thankful. And savor every delicious bite.

Chocolate-covered strawberries and oatmeal alike.

Cranberry Chai Baked Oatmeal~ serves one ~

Ingredients

  • 1/3 c. water
  • 1/3 c. vanilla almond milk
  • 1 Chai tea bag
  • 1/2 c. oats
  • 1/4 t. baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 T. ground flax
  • 1/2 banana, mashed*
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/3 c. chopped cranberries
  • orange zest
  • stevia to taste

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375 and spray a ramekin with cooking spray.
  • In a small saucepan, heat water and milk with tea bag until it simmers lightly. Remove from heat and allow tea bag to steep for a few minutes. Remove bag, squeezing to release flavor. Stir in remaining ingredients.
  • Pour batter into prepared ramekin and bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Serve with honey, maple syrup, or jam.

* The banana is to bind the batter together. If you’re not a banana fan, you can substitute either one whole egg or 1/4c. unsweetened applesauce.

I’m going to make this tomorrow morning so I can feel okay about my last hurrah, snacking all night and ringing in the New Year. It’s all about balance, folks.

Good Food Doesn’t Last

Meet my new favorite snack.

Only, we aren’t currently friends because he’s all gone. He came for a day and then was gone without even a proper goodbye.

How rude.

Many good things don’t last forever.

Lately every time our family is all together — eating around the dinner table, or watching movies in the living room, Dad has been thanking God because “we won’t all be together much longer.” What are you saying, Dad? Who’s going anywhere? 

But it’s true. Time rolls on and the present realities become memories of the past. I’m no longer a cowlicked seven year old spending whole afternoons with my nose in the American Girl series or broadcasting radio shows with my sisters. My little sister drives away — by herself — to her first college class and I realize we’re never going back to the forts under the stairs

As I’m typing this at the kitchen (surrounded by textbooks I should be reading), I look outside the window to streaming snowflakes creating a winter wonderland where yesterday was an autumn watercolor. The vibrant colors of October are fading fast even though I’ve hardly savored them enough.

It doesn’t mean that new good things will never come. They will, but they will be different. So I want to learn to cherish the blessings I enjoy right now.  I want to have a perspective of eternity, redeeming the time so none of it goes to waste. In this swiftly moving life of gain and loss, I’ve found stability in securing myself on the one thing I know will last forever: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you” (Jeremiah 31:3). The unshakable love of God is my rock and gives me hope in forever.

Anyway, back to this snack mix. It is really good, especially considering it was born out of a runaway thought that could have easily flopped. My goal was to create a portable mix of crunchy salty “power-foods” that rival the flavor of one of my snack vices favorites, Chex Mix, which never stands a chance with me.

You will never find this at the grocery store bagged alongside the Lays and Fritos. But that doesn’t really mean anything, right? It’s deliciousness is really evidenced to Mom and I crowding around the pan, burning fingers and tongues as we inhaled half a batch. Bet you can’t eat just one chickpea.

Move over, Chex. You never saw this one coming.

Good-for-you Snack Mix

Ingredients

  • Three medium carrots
  • 1 medium potato
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 t. olive oil
  • 1 t. sea salt
  • 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 bag of natural popcorn, popped
  • 3/4 c. almonds
  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 t. soy sauce
  • 1/2 t. garlic powder

Directions

  • Make Veggie Chips: Prepare oven to 400F. With a sharp knife, slice carrots, potato, and zucchini into very thin slices (about 1/8 inch). Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle oil over top and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake about 1 hour or until crispy, flipping halfway through.
  • Roast chickpeas on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray in a 400F oven for about 20 minutes, or until toasted. Don’t let them get too crisp, as they will be baked more later.
  • Reduce heat to 250F. Add veggie chips, chickpeas, popcorn, and almonds to a large casserole dish. In a medium saucepan, melt butter and stir in remaining seasonings. Pour into dish and stir so everything is evenly coated.
  • Bake 45 minutes – 1 hour until dry, stirring every 15 minutes. Let cool completely before storing in air-tight containers.

This is a packable snackable if I’ve ever seen one. That is if it survives the cooling process. No matter how you eat it, just be sure to savor every bite. It most certainly will not last long.

It’s Beginning to Taste Like Fall

Something is happening.

The other morning, instead of daily iced coffee routine, I woke up craving steaming green tea. I had to search deep behind stacks and stacks of mugs to find one big enough.

Another strange thing. It is no surprise that whenever Mom goes anywhere, she almost always manages to drive by a farm stand and almost comes home with a big bag of fresh produce. But the surprise came when she pulled a big butternut squash out of the bag and declared, “It’s time you make butternut apple soup again.” Which I haven’t done yet because butternut squash are far more pretty to look at then to cut.

And then there are all this packages that kept appearing on our front step and now there is a mountain of textbooks stacked in the middle of my bedroom floor. I’m scared to go near it, lest there be an avalanche, so I’m considering sleeping on the couch until it melts.

Oh, and the past couple days when I’ve stepped outside for my early morning runs, I have been shocked by a cool breeze. Where did that come from? And why do I still sweat like it’s 90 degrees?

So the hot tea, butternut squashes, textbooks, and breezy mornings have brought me to a conclusion: The seasons are a-changing. Opening my calendar to September 1 this morning confirmed my suspicions. Autumn is coming.

There’s an excitement that creeps over me at this time of year, just as shades of red and orange creep into summer’s green leaves. There is something about the crisp air, the evening glow, campfires and woolly sweaters that makes my heart so glad. And it reminds me of the faithfulness of God, shown in the way the seasons cycle and the earth is renewed every year. “He did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17).

But I also know that with summer’s end comes the end of other things as well. Like baking. Let me tell you, I took every opportunity to bake this summer because I knew they would soon be no more. Now, the afternoons I’m not in classes must be devoted to studying. Now, instead of dusting myself in flour from head to toe, I’m spilling chemicals in Biochemistry lab (please, don’t comment. I’m an absolute klutz in the lab). Now, I’m not pursuing cookbooks on a lawn chair, I’m bent over Plato and Locke. In bed. With the covers pulled up to my chin.

During my last week of freedom, I decided to devote my last baking project to making something that would welcome the new season with open arms, to embody everything I loved about fall.

Well hello there, beautiful. I think I can handle you.

Please make this. On a autumn school night, this banana apple bread will keep you warm company, especially if paired with a mammoth mug of hot tea. I promise it will give you happy thoughts during lab disasters and strength to tackle The Leviathan.

And it’s easy enough to whip on a weekend or in between study sessions (shh, I won’t tell).

It’s-Almost-Fall Apple Banana Bread

  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • ½ c. rolled oats
  • 2 T. flax seed meal
  • ½ t. baking soda
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • ¼ t. salt
  • ½ t. cinnamon
  • 3 ripe bananas mashed (about 1 ½ c.)
  • ¼  c. honey
  • ¼ c. natural peanut butter
  • ¼ c. unsweetened applesauce
  • ¼ t. vanilla
  • 1 medium apple, sliced.

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 8-inch cake pan or 8×4 loaf pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, flax, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
  • In a separate bowl, blend mashed banana, honey, peanut butter, applesauce and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Add liquids to dry ingredients and stir just until combined.
  • Pour batter into pan and smooth top with a spoon. Arrange apple slices on top, only overlapping slightly.Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Fall I welcome you with open arms. And open mouth.
In bed with the covers pulled up to my chin.

Energy Slurp

The past few days have been c.r.a.z.y. You might say I’ve been running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off, but really? All the chickens keep their heads around here.

With VBS this past week, it’s felt like a week of Sunday mornings. Every morning, the alarm went off while the sun’s just waking, I grumbled and groaned, and stumbled my way downstairs.  And then here was that Wednesday morning when Elizabeth and I squeezed in a nine-mile run before VBS. Yeah, I don’t even like to think about that wake-up call.

I don’t mind getting up at early, but getting up and out of the house at an early hour is a whole other story. Rushed morning take all the pleasure out of the daybreak hours.

My favorite kind of morning is when I tiptoe downstairs just as the sun is rising. I make myself a cup of green tea and nestle into the couch to spend some time reading God’s Word and journaling verses and prayers. Then I patter my way to the kitchen to make breakfast. It’s my favorite meal of the day that I plan as I’m drifting off to sleep and wake up eager to eat. The best mornings usually begin with a satisfying and nutritious breakfast, like blueberry oatmeal, banana pancakes or cereal-yogurt-fruit parfaits.

My Bible reading suffered this past week. For the five minutes I sat down, my fingers were busy braiding my hair and my eyes were darting to the clock. And I’d shut my Bible scarcely remembering what I had just read, feeling like I zoomed up to a gas tank and pulled away still running on empty. “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).

Breakfast also suffered this past week. Some mornings I was lucky to snatch a bowl of cereal or English muffin for the car. I don’t even remember what  I ate on Wednesday morning before our run. All I know is the kitchen was dark, my fingers smelled like peanut butter and I found a mysterious chocolate stain on my shirt around mile three. And I’m not thinking about it.

But if my mornings are going to be early and rushed, if I am going to spend half my day in a class of fifteen energetic, streamer flinging, ball bouncing, water splashing children, I’m going to need spiritual strength, renewed by a daily dose of God’s Word. “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90:14).I’m also going to need energy. Preferably in the form of caffeine. And if that energy and breakfast could come together in one bowl in five minutes, then I say, why not? I’ll slurp while you drive.

Strawberry Mocha Energizing Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. almond milk (or any milk)
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 c. frozen strawberries
  • 1 T. instant coffee
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 2-4 ice cubes (add as needed)
  • 1 t. cinnamon

Instructions: Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender. Add ice cubes to thicken. I ate this in a bowl topped with puffed kamut and cinnamon and “iced” with a drizzle of maple syrup.

So now it’s Saturday night. The crazy week has come to a close and I feel like my head has been restored. But wait, tomorrow is Sunday morning. I think I’ll plan ahead by setting out my Bible and blender on the kitchen table. Strawberry-pink stains swirls on a brown dress totally goes, right?