Improving My Body Image (+Caramelized Banana Oatmeal)

Losing weight for a healthier body and lifestyle is common medical advice. By age 18 I was nearly 200 lbs. My parents worried about my weight, but I felt pretty good about myself. I started exercising my freshman year of college with my best friend. I remember walking around in sweatpants and a sports bra, thinking I looked really good.

I’m not 100% sure what happened. By the time I got to my goal weight, it became exhausting to step on the scale. I weighed myself daily, panicking at the slightest gain- I’m talking 1-2 pounds. I would call Boyfriend in tears, terrified of gaining all of the weight back.

My biggest goals for myself this year are self-care and self-love. I’ve been working harder in the gym, strengthening my body and accepting the changes that come with building muscle. Today I am about ten pounds heavier. I’m not 100% sure since I haven’t weighed myself very consistently. My pants size hasn’t really changed. I’ve noticed changes in curves, but more than anything, I can lift more, I can run longer. I feel healthier and I’m not torturing myself for enjoying certain foods.

The diet mentality tends to label foods as “good” and “bad.” An Instagram account previously called #nutribollocks has been phenomenal in combating shame. I focus more on honoring my hunger and respecting my fullness. Granted, there is still a balance in what I’m eating.

On Sundays I get to sleep in a little before Boyfriend comes home and we go the gym. After the gym we may grocery shop. I’ll cook us a large breakfast to help us recover from the work-out. Some mornings Boyfriend prefers to sleep in, so I get a quiet morning to myself. This happened last Sunday, so I decided to try a warm oatmeal recipe for the cold morning. Oatmeal is a healthy breakfast choice with lots of fiber. Overnight oats are classic, but sometimes I like to cook old-fashioned stove top oats. Since I prefer sweet oatmeal, these caramelized bananas (with coconut oil instead of butter) offer sweetness without going overboard!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 3 bananas, sliced
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • sprinkle of cinnamon
  • dash of vanilla
  • sea salt, chocolate chips, and other desired toppings

Instructions:

1) Heat 2 cups of milk in a pot until it boils. Add 1 cup oats and cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover and remove from heat. Let sit about another 5 minutes.


2) Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the maple syrup, cinnamon, and vanilla, and let it bubble until foamy.

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3) Add bananas and simmer for a few minutes on each side until soft and plump.

4) Remove from heat. Stir half of bananas into oatmeal, and reserve the other half for topping

I chose not to stir in the bananas for myself, but I assume this makes a creamier texture. I did not pour the remaining syrup into my oatmeal either; I’m pretty sure it would be too sweet if I did.

Add some chocolate chips and it’s done!

Final Thoughts: This surprisingly did not take as long as I thought it would! It may not be a work day breakfast, but it was certainly quick. I’ve never cooked anything with coconut oil, so I was quite surprised that I didn’t get an underlying coconut flavor. I’m assuming the other flavorings masked the coconut (or perhaps I need new coconut oil). This was a sweet and warm, healthy start to my week.

5 Ingredient Strawberry Breakfast Pastries

When I first started cooking I began listening to the advice of the pro chefs. There’s a general disdain for products like pie crusts or processed cheese. I made my own pastry crusts, my own chicken broth, and tried to make everything from scratch. Naturally this led to several #foodiefails .

One day while watching Jacques Pepin’s cooking show on TV, I saw that he was using Sara Lee pound cake from the freezer section. He was cooking with his granddaughter. They made a lovely fruit compote from scratch to go with it. Since then I’ve questioned my prejudice toward more convenient options, especially when you’re just getting started in your cooking journey.

I will never shut up about how amazing recipes with less than 10 ingredients are for beginners. There’s less prep, fewer preps, and lower cost. Everything about these recipes is easier, and often you don’t sacrifice flavor. Puff pastry is available in the frozen food aisle. It is incredibly difficult and time consuming to make from scratch.  On a particularly productive Sunday morning, I bought some pre-prepared puff pastry for these strawberry breakfast pastries. It’s almost like making homemade toaster strudels.

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp strawberry jam
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1 large egg
  • powdered sugar (optional)

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silipat (re-usable silicon baking covers for pans).

2. Cut the puff pastry into 6 rectangles by following the folds in the dough. First, cut the sheet into 3 long rectangles, then cut each rectangle in half.

3. Transfer the pastries to the baking sheet, about 1 inch apart.

4. Lightly score a 1/2 inch border around the edge of the dough. Prick the center of the pastry with a fork.

Scoring means lightly marking the dough with a knife.
5. In a small bowl, stir together the cream cheese and strawberry jam. Place a dollop of the cream cheese mixture in the centers of the pastry and spread it. Top with slices of strawberry.

 

Make sure your cream cheese is close to room temperature or else the cream cheese and jam will not mix easily and consistently.

6. Whisk together the egg with 1 Tbsp of water. Brush the edges of the pastry with the egg wash. Bake for 15-17 minutes, until golden and puffed.

 

I think it might be easier to put on the egg wash before the cream cheese. Also, I didn’t use all of the egg wash.

7. Remove the pastries from the oven. Dust with powdered sugar over the pastries if desired.

 

The best way to deal with powdered sugar is to use a sieve. Pour it in, then lightly tap the sieve over the pastry. It spreads a light layer with less mess.

 

Final Thoughts: These were a lovely sweet treat that I would consider serving for brunch or breakfast with friends or family. The best part is they look so fancy! They may not taste like the most incredible pastry in the world, but I was still impressed with the results. I would recommend these be eaten within a few hours of being baked.

Eggs Three Ways

Enough reviews and lists! Let’s get cooking!

Many of us eat breakfast at home. We make some toast or a bowl of cereal, something low effort. Some of us may head to Starbucks for a coffee and a morning coffee, just to avoid stepping foot in the kitchen.

Breakfast is supposed to be simple, a daily ritual that most people partake in. Breakfast can also be special. On Sundays, we get brunch. We pay for the food someone else made us. On Valentine’s Day or anniversaries, people make their significant others breakfast-in-bed. Mothers make their kids big breakfasts before important tests or sports games.

It seemed like a good idea to start with breakfast. We start our days with breakfast, so maybe we should start learning to cook breakfast first.

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Scrambled Eggs

Scrambled eggs are pretty hard to mess up. It’s the easiest way to cook eggs.

You will need:

  • A few Tablespoons of butter
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • A frying pan & spatula

1) Break the desired amount of eggs into a bowl. Whisk with a fork to break the yolks. Keep stirring until you get a fairly consistent yellow color.

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Add some salt and pepper now or after they’re cooked. It’s up to you. I tend to flavor both so I get enough flavor.

2) If you want, add a few splashes of milk. You can add 2-3 Tbsp if you’d prefer a specific measurement.

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This supposedly helps make the eggs more fluffy. It’s how I’ve always eaten them, so that’s how I’ll be cooking them. Of course, you can omit the milk. The eggs will cook the same way.

3) Heat a skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Once it’s warm, add a few Tablespoons of butter. Melt the butter in the pan.

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4) Pour the egg mixture into the pan. Let it sit for a minute. When it starts to solidify at the edges, gently push the eggs around the pan with a spatula.

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5) Continue pushing the eggs as they cook. Cook until the eggs are the desired consistency.

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The consistency depends on how much moisture is left in the eggs. If you can press down with a spatula, you should see some Eggs scrambled hard have less moisture. Master these and maybe we can try them the way Gordon Ramsey makes his scrambled eggs!

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Fried Eggs

These are “sunny side up” eggs or eggs “over easy.” You will need:

  • A few Tbsp of butter
  • Eggs
  • Skillet with a lid & spatula

1) Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add 2-3 Tbsp of butter.

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Medium heat is a pretty important detail. My heat was cranked a little too high, so I ended up with burnt edges and browned butter.

2) When the butter stops foaming, crack an egg into the pan.

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It’s a habit for most people to crack an egg against a bowl or pan. Most chefs and recipes that I’ve seen recommend using a flat surface like a table or counter.

3) Cook for about 4 minutes. You can put a lid on the pan to help set the white quickly.

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Bonus: Over-Easy

Over-easy eggs are a type of fried eggs. Most recipes recommend flipping a fried egg with the yolk down. I’ve read something that makes it less dangerous and more accessible for those of us afraid to flip an egg.

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The technique is apparently called “blasting.” Use a spoon to scoop some of the hot butter from the pan onto the yolk.

Poached Eggs

This may be the most complicated technique for some people, but it is my favorite. I’ve posted a live video on my Instagram. For me, it’s easier than frying eggs, but I guess that’s up to personal preference. You will need:

  • A pot of water
  • Eggs
  • Small glass bowls

1) Crack an egg into a small bowl, preferably glass. Be careful not to break the yolk.

2) Bring a saucepan of water to a light boil. You can add a small splash of vinegar to the water if you’d like; it’s an old Julia Child trick.

3) As soon as the water boils, lower the heat to low or simmer. Stir the water gently to create a swirl.

4) Take the bowl of egg and gently lower the egg into the water while the water is swirling.

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You’ll want to get as close to the water as possible to avoid splashing or breaking the yolk. I find dipping the glass bowl into the water makes it easiest. The glass won’t break either.

The swirling will help the egg white wrap around the yolk.

5) Let the egg cook for 4-6 minutes at the low heat.

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You may need to experiment with time. Less time means a runnier yolk.

6) Use a slotted spoon to remove the eggs from the after once they’re done.

You can put them on a towel or paper towel to help them dry. If you use a paper towel, the white may take on the shape from the texture of the paper.

7) Enjoy!

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Eggs may not be a complete breakfast, but it’s a start! Serve some eggs on top of some toast for a small meal for one. If you’re cooking for two or more, try microwaving some bacon. If you’re feeling confident, fry or bake some bacon instead. I can post instructions for cooking bacon if any one is interested.

How did your eggs turn out? Do you have any helpful tips? Post your progress, questions, and comments below!