Today: Streamlining my mornings.

I have partnered with belVita and Dannon to help promote the belVita and Dannon partnership.  I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program, which includes writing about the promotion and product.  However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

For the past (nearly) three months, my routine has been… welp… a total lack of routine.  It seems like the second I started to get comfortable, and Grace and I had fallen into a pattern of sorts, things changed.  She started eating more.  Or less.  She started sleeping more.  Or less.  Morning was the best time for us to get out for a walk or do a few errands.  And then afternoon became a better time for that.  Some days I’d be showered, dressed and out on the town (or more accurately, cruising around Southie with Grace in her stroller or baby carrier) by 8:30 AM.  Other days, I’d be in pajamas until 8:30… PM.

The sole constant:  We’ve been figuring it all out together.  Me, Nick, and Grace (and Clark, but let’s be serious… he’s a go with the flow little guy).  Becoming a parent has been challenging, exhausting, and at times, overwhelming.  It’s also been the single most amazing experience, and I know I am better for it.  The time we’ve had together these past few months, and all of those transitions from one non-routine to the next, have been so special, so sacred.

Tomorrow we make our next big transition, as I head back to work and Grace begins daycare.  In a perfect world, we could do it all and have it all.  We’d be together all day long, be attentive parents, and be productive while enjoying our fulfilling careers.  We’d achieve the perfect balance.  But the world isn’t perfect. (Duh, lady.)  I know I am lucky to have both a beautiful family and a career that challenges and excites me.  As anxious as I am about the changes to come, I know we made these choices for all the right reasons.  We are so lucky to have options.

Um… this post was supposed to be about breakfast.  Not feelings. (I’m sure I will have much more to say about being a workin’ mom once I have more than 15 seconds of experience as one.)

Back on task.  Breakfast.  Mornings.

While there are plenty of new challenges we’ll need to navigate in the coming days, weeks, and months, I am hoping that making a plan for how we start each day, and making an effort to streamline our mornings, will help.  I’ve never been much of a breakfast eater, much to the chagrin of my parents, my husband, people that I flip off in traffic, my primary care physician… you get the point.  Despite having good intentions, sitting down for a healthy meal at the start of the day always seemed to fall by the wayside when faced with a time crunch.  I can skip breakfast, but I can’t (in good conscience) skip walking the dog.  Or, like, bathing.  Having someone else depending on me in such a real way has been the ultimate game changer.  More than ever it’s clear: I need to take care of myself in order take care of other people.

BelVita and Dannon have partnered to get me (and my fellow Americans) to ditch the excuses and make time for a quick breakfast that boasts 12 grams of protein and nutritious, steady energy (…maybe we can have it all.  Just kidding.  Too soon.  Pass the Kleenex.).  I’ve been pairing Dannon Oikos 0% vanilla Greek yogurt with apple cinnamon Crunchy belVita Breakfast Biscuits, along with an apple, in the mornings.  The combination is delicious and convenient and is sure to become part of my workday routine (bonus: if when I forget a spoon for my yogurt, a biscuit is the perfect stand in).

Are you looking to streamline your mornings?  Laura Stack, “The Productivity Pro”, offers the following tips for getting the most of your morning:

  • Do as much as you can the night before.  Leave as little preparation as possible until the last minute — you’ll thank yourself in the morning.
  • Spend 20 minutes at the end of each day planning your to-do list.  When you download the next day’s activities beforehand, you can devote your morning to enjoyment rather than stress.
  • Be sure to start your morning with a delicious, balanced breakfast.  Together, the nutritious steady energy of belVita and 12 grams of protein in Dannon Oikos Green nonfat yogurt along with a piece of fruit will help you get more out of your morning.

Welp, my breakfast is set for tomorrow… our bags are packed… I guess we’re ready?

Also On Tap for Today:

How do you streamline your morning?  Favorite breakfast ideas for busy folks excuse makers?

Today: National Candy Corn Day… minus the cavities… and a Smari smoothie.

My fear of the dentist and avoidance of most Halloween candy are not unrelated (which is to say… they are related… like, blood related).  While I enjoy dessert every once in a while, I think I either broke my sweet tooth in the pool when I was ten (I will spare you the details), or it got extracted along with my other wisdom teeth when I was eighteen (that procedure resulted in lots of the aforementioned blood, two black eyes, and the discovery that Elizabeth + laughing gas = no laughing, just crying).

I think I probably enjoyed candy corn as a kid, but I also clearly took some sort of PSA about Halloween and dental health to heart.  These days I am grateful to work in a small office devoid of candy dishes and thankful to live in a neighborhood where trick-or-treaters are few and far between.  In fact, we have yet to buy any candy at all… perhaps we can give out bananas?  Or kitchen utensils?

In an effort to get in the holiday spirit while minding my canines, I whipped up a candy corn-esque parfait for breakfast this morning, using the Smari Icelandic yogurt that Designer Whey recently sent my… well, way.

This protein-packed cup was a fantastic breakfast.  I was running out the door in a tizzy this morning– nothing new– and wished the parfait was a bit more portable, though.  And less likely to spill all over my car.  And me.  So when I got home, I did a little experimenting with the blender and whipped up a commuter-friendly version.  While it lost its candy corn appeal, the smoothie tastes amazing and would be a great post-workout treat, too.

Happy Halloween… smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 serving Smari pure yogurt
  • 1 scoop Designer Whey vanilla almond protein powder
  • 1/2 cup Clementine pieces (or oranges)
  • 1/2 cup pineapple, cubed
  • A splash of unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 handful of ice cubes

(Super obvious) directions:

  1. Add ingredients to blender, beginning with liquid and ending with dry ingredients (powder).
  2. Pulse until you reach the desired consistency, and additional ice or almond milk as needed.
  3. Slurp through your favorite straw.

Smari is organic, gluten free and Kosher.  It’s low in sugar and high and protein (with more protein per serving than any other yogurt available in the US), and is available in four flavors (pure–not plain, vanilla, blueberry and strawberry) — all of which I found at my local Whole Foods Market (on sale for $1.69 per carton last week).  Icelandic yogurt is a bit thicker and creamier than its Greek counterpart, with a nice tang.  I’m looking forward to using it in a few more recipes and baking projects this week.

If you’d like to score your own free Icelandic yogurt (while wearing a paper Viking hat), check out Designer Whey’s current Facebook promotion.  To find Smari in your ‘hood, check here.

Disclaimer: I received complimentary cartons of Smari, courtesy of Designer Whey.  Opinions (and horror stories from the dentist) shared in this post are my own.  Duh.

Also On Tap for Today:

What is your favorite (portable or not) breakfast?

 

Today: Freedom Trail mix muffins.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I was strolling down Main Street in Charlestown when inspiration for the HLS Breakfast Showdown struck.  With the Freedom Trail at my feet, and a kitchen stocked with Wild Harvest goodies, I knew what I wanted to whip up.

Wild Harvest, Gold Sponsor of the 2012 Healthy Living Summit, sent this year’s participants ten of their favorite products, with the challenge to create a fun and healthy breakfast using three or more Wild Harvest ingredients.

Freedom Trail Mix Muffins

Dry ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup turbinado sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups trail mix (I used WILD HARVEST organic animal crackers, WILD HARVEST organic raisins, dried Cape Cod cranberries, peanuts, and miniature dark chocolate chips)

Wet ingredients:

  • 2 WILD HARVEST organic eggs
  • 1 cup WILD HARVEST organic apple sauce

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prep your muffin tins.  This recipe yields twelve regular sized muffins and 24 miniature muffins.
  2. Setting your trail mix aside, combine other dry ingredients and slowly incorporate wet ingredients.  Mix well.
  3. Add in trail mix and stir.  And try not to eat the batter.
  4. Fill each tin 2/3 full and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Why buy a pre-made trail mix when you can get creative and use what’s already in the pantry?  Dried fruit, nuts, and dark chocolate are sure bets.  I used Wild Harvest’s animal crackers as the base, and felt a bit badly breaking the head off an elephant and the butt off a bison.  Oh and yes, vegetarians do eat animal crackers.  Using apple sauce instead of butter or oil is a great way to keep your baked goods moist and light.  From a little idea on Main Street, these humble muffins hit the spot.

[Image source]

This little breakfast treats are perfect for a morning meal on the go, or for enjoying while sightseeing or strolling.  If you’re visiting Boston this summer, the Freedom Trail is not to be missed.  The 2.5 mile route covers sixteen historical sites and tells the story of the American Revolution.  Pack a snack.  Nerds like us shouldn’t have to choose between monuments and monumentally good muffins.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s On Tap for your weekend?

Today: Like the hippies do.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I am not especially pleasant when I am hungry.  It’s been a challenge to fill up while on an elimination diet, especially when some of my favorite sources of protein and fiber are off limits.

While whey protein isolate is on the okay, if you must list, the artificial sweeteners and other chemical brothers found in my protein powder of choice are very much on the don’t even think about it list.  My RD recommended hemp or rice protein, but I had no clue where to start.  Thanks to the magic of Twitter, I found myself on Hippie Butter‘s website.  And placed an order.  On 4/20.  (Sheer coincidence.)

After starting the morning like hippies do, I am feeling satisfied, energized, and not the least bit cranky.  Those happy people are on to something.

Vanilla, hemp and cinnamon protein shake

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp hemp seed protein powder
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tbsp organic cinnamon

(Extremely obvious and likely unnecessary) Directions:

  1. In a large glass or shaker cup, combine hemp protein and almond milk.
  2. Stir until liquid and powder are incorporated.
  3. Add cinnamon, and stir.
  4. Shake can also be served over ice, and makes a great post-workout drink.

While the hemp seed protein powder is dense, it is not at all chalky.  I imagine it would mix well with frozen berries, citrus, and any number of smoothie or shake add-ins, as the powder itself has a very mild taste.  I much prefer it to other flavored powders.

I am looking forward to continuing to experiment with my happy little hemp seeds (I bet Bob Ross would have loved this stuff).  Hippy Butter has a number of other interesting products, too, including hemp coffee and skin care.  Like everything else that is good in this world (namely sparkling wine and stinky cheese), hemp powder should be kept refrigerated.

[Yoga Journal, June 2012]

With a few minutes to spare before the morning craze set in, I continued to embrace my inner hippy with a quick meditation.  One of my favorite aspects of yoga is the emphasis on setting your intention for your practice, or your day.  There’s nothing like a healthy dose of perspective, gratitude, and hope to keep you on track.

Now, if only my peace moccasins matched today’s outfit.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your favorite way to start the day off right?

Today: Totally jamming. {a chia giveaway}

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]If I know anything about chia, it’s these two things:

  • Without it, there would be many a bald chia pet.
  • Those little seeds pack some major punch.

After doing some research Googling, I can’t help but wonder why we don’t sprinkle chia onto everything we eat.  The benefits seem to be endless.  Sure, they may get stuck in between our two front teeth right before meetings (why didn’t anyone tell me?), but those mighty little seeds serve as an excellent plant-based source of fiber, protein, Omega 3 and antioxidants.  Chia is a gluten-free whole grain that can be eaten raw, and incorporated into virtually every meal.  The Chia Company’s website boasts a variety of chia recipes, including drinks, soups, baked goods and desserts.  Like flax seed, chia seed can be used as an egg substitute.  It can be sprinkled onto Greek yogurt, salads, and soups or baked into your favorite granola recipe (I’ll share mine later this week).

While breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, it’s also my least favorite.  I find I am always rushing out the door on weekdays, and then rushing back in the door because I’ve forgotten my lunch, my keys, and 13 other things.  The last thing on my mind  is a nutrient-rich, tasty breakfast.  The weekends, however, provide the perfect time to up the ante a bit, and put a little thought into my morning meal.  On Sunday, I surveyed the contents of our cabinets and fridge, while ripping open a bag of white chia seeds (I advise caution, unless you like decorating with super foods).  With a quart of raspberries and a few blood oranges left at the end of the week, Bob Marley played in the background, inspiration struck and I knew it was time to jam.

Raspberry, blood orange and chia seed jam

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of raspberries, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2 medium blood orange, peeled
  • 1/2 cup of chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 packet of Truvia

Directions:

  • Puree the raspberries and blood orange in a food processor, or crush with a fork.
  • Mix in chia and water, and stir until all ingredients are incorporated.
  • Add 1 packet of Truvia, or a natural sweetener of your choice (honey, agave nectar).
  • Allow the jam to thicken, by storing covered in the refrigerator for several hours.
  • Enjoy as a topping for oatmeal, or a spread for toast, bagels or waffles.

This recipe yielded two small jars worth of jam, perfect for a week’s worth of breakfasts.

I feel a bit like Oprah today, not because I am gagillionaire, but because I am giving away not one, not two, but six packages of Australian grown chia from The Chia Company, courtesy of the nice people at GNC.  You get some black and white chia sheets, and you get some black and white chia seeds, and you get some black and white chia seeds!

That’s right.  Six of you will receive tw0 10-serving bags of chia (one bag of black chia seeds, one bag of white chia seeds).  This giveaway will close at 6 PM on Friday, February 24th. I will announce six randomly-selected winners shortly thereafter.  To enter, please leave a comment below.  For an additional entry, please feel free to tweet the following, and leave a second comment… so that I don’t space out and miss your tweet:

Want to win @TheChiaCompany chia from @GNCLiveWell and @ElizabethEv? #livewellnow #fitfluential http://wp.me/pySBS-1qO

Full disclosureGNC is the exclusive retailer of The Chia Co. products in the United States.  As a FitFluential Ambassador, I received complimentary product from GNC, but I was not compensated for this post, nor for hosting this giveaway.  I enjoy this product and I think you will too. :)

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your favorite way to give your meals a nutritional boost?  Are you a chia fan?