Back in the day, I used to work a 9-5 office job. The same rigid office schedule many of you are familiar with. Five days of work followed by two days off. During that period of time, I became accustomed to doing all of my week’s food preparations on Sundays. Three, four, five dishes would come out of my kitchen. It was my favourite day of the week :)
But then I moved to Toronto, got two jobs that have me working any of the seven days a week anywhere from 6am to 10pm. Suddenly, my neat little food ritual fell by the wayside. I found myself grabbing anything and everything that would settle my rumbling belly.
Well no more.
In those days, I made a batch of homemade protein bars every single week. Old readers will remember flavours like dark chocolate s’mores, PB&J and apple cinnamon. But lately I’ve been relying on store bought bars to fuel me through my day.
At the start of the month, I laid out four Simply Switches I’ll be making in the New Year. But it goes beyond just those four. I want to consciously make healthy switches all year! Starting with being a little more conscious of the processed snacks I put in my body.
I opted for a batch of my Maple Cinnamon Oat Bran Protein Bars. I like these because they’re baked and stable at room temperature.
I tweaked the original recipe a little because I apparently also have issues following even my own recipes.
I got this two-sided rubber scraper at the Foodbuzz Festival and LOVE it! One end is teeny-tiny and the perfect size for scraping out peanut butter jars. Butter knives never get it all.
The pivotal moment is when you add the water to the mix. I add it a quarter cup at a time, until the mixture is juuuust sticky enough to stick together. You’re better off stirring away and getting an arm workout in to get all the dry bits mixed up.
I add raisins for fun. But if you’re scared of raisins, you can add any dried fruit you fancy! I bet dates or coconut would be good too.
Maple Cinnamon Oat Bran Protein Bars:
- 2 cups oat bran
- 1 cup protein powder (anything but whey. Preferably unflavoured, can be vanilla, just add less sweetener)
- 2 tbsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup peanut butter
- 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup sugar free syrup (I do this to keep the sugar down, but you can omit and add 2 extra tbsp of maple syrup)
- 1/4 cup egg whites
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp raisins
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup water (it varies depending on the protein powder you use)
Mix together the oat bran, protein powder and cinnamon until combined. Add peanut butter, egg whites, syrups, vanilla extract. Slowly add water 1/4 cup at a time while stirring until mix is sticky but not goopy. Flatten into a square baking pan and bake at 350F for 25 minutes or edges are slightly browned.
They’re a little denser in calories (230), so you could always cut them down to 10 pieces for lighter bars. Each one of the eight bars also has 23g carbs, 5g fibre and 20g protein. They also make part of a great grab-n-go breakfast!
Feels nice to have homemade bars on hand again. Not to mention much cheaper! I may not be able to prepare all my food on Sundays anymore but it’s nice to know I’ll have snacks to power me through my next Sunday shift at the running store ;)
Question of the Day: What’s one healthy simple switch you’ve done lately? Share your Simply Switch here and you could win a really nice gift basket!
Mooooaaaan. That’s the noise I’ve been making all “Moanday” :P For the third week in a row, I had high hopes of making it to a Monday morning spin class. And for the third week in a row, I failed to go! I’m not very good about going to bed early Sunday nights, so the idea lost all appeal by the time I set my alarm last night. Oh well, the sleep and nice breakfast was well worth it!
I went through a period where I was buying a lot of stuff at the Bulk Barn. I thought it was awesome because I could scoop out just as much as I wanted and the price was right. But the more I did it, the more I realized the product quality sucked. Everything was stale, and the oats were a “bad cut” (you oatmeal snobs know what I’m talking about). I finally finished up my bag of bad bulk oat bran last week and went back to my Golden Box.
It’s like reuniting with an old lover. I made 1/2 cup custard style with a whole egg whisked in.
Topped with Bekah’s Coconut Chia Granola, cashew butter and molasses. Heaven.
Also bought yesterday was a $3 lunchbag! I’m quite proud of it. The top separates from the bottom, so I don’t have to lug the whole thing to lunch with me if I don’t need to.
Hiding in that bag was…
Yogurt mixed with vanilla protein powder and granola.
Homemade protein bar. I used just chocolate protein powder on this batch and it actually made it taste more bland! Next week I will spice it up a bit ;)
Had a good day at work today, despite being in a daze for most of it. Have to work tonight too, filming a lecture for the website. So dinner was quick! Good thing I had leftovers ;)
Bean and vegetable chili. Chili leftovers rock my socks. So does turkey. I don’t know how I was a vegetarian for so long when I’m clearly a heartless carnivore :P
I figured it’s pretty much safe to assume that everyone’s gym is crowded these days. I thought it would be fun to compile a list of some helpful tips to beat (or tolerate) the crowds.
1. Stay away during peak times. This is the most obvious one. Everyone goes to the gym at 5pm. If there’s a way you can sneak it in elsewhere – do it! Friday nights and weekend afternoons are some of my favourite times to workout because it’s always abandoned there.
2. Try new machines. Good luck getting a treadmill or elliptical this time of year. Instead of throwing a hissy fit, try something new! Churn out some sprints on the stationary bike, work your arms on the rowing machine, or even (yes) climb onto the dreaded stairmaster. It’s your chance to step out of your comfort zone.
3. Hit up the weight room. New years resolution-ers tend to stick to the cardio equipment. Gym newbies are a little more apprehensive of free weights, so you’ll likely be in there with all the usual suspects. Perfect excuse to incorporate more strength training into your routine ;)
4. Take turns. Forget what I just said – sometimes the weight area is packed! I’ve gotten into the habit of asking people who are obviously doing alternating sets if they mind I use their machine or weights while they’re on their other set. Just because weight lifters are big and scary looking, doesn’t mean they’re not polite and sensible too :)
5. Be a hog. Okay, forget that polite thing I just mentioned too :P If I see a window to grab popular machines or weights, I grab them and hog them for all their worth. I was once the most hated person in the gym by hogging the 10, 20, and 25 lb dumbbells for 30 minutes.
6. Get there early. Exercise classes fill up fast in the New Year! I know getting there is sometimes hard enough, but make the extra effort to get there 10-15 minutes earlier. You can take the extra time to do a slower warm-up, which will boost your performance while you’re at it.
7. Be flexible. Don’t ditch your workout just because you can’t get your favourite treadmill, second last from the water fountain. And do not kick someone off your favourite spin bike! (yes, I’ve heard of both of these things happening before) Now is a perfect time to practice going with the flow.
8. Keep your cool. Don’t let the newbie incorrectly hogging the squat rack ruin your workout. There are worse things in life than having to sub out a set, or opt for a different machine. Remember, we go to the gym to relieve stress, not instigate it!
Question of the Day: How do you deal with busy gyms?
- Dark chocolate M&Ms are a wonderful addition to my Best Bowl of Oats Ever
- Workouts are only has good as the effort you put in. Especially Monday morning step classes.
- Calorie counting is okay every once in a while to make sure I’m not falling back into old bad habits.
- Amazing Grass does not make for an amazing meal replacement, but it does make for an amazing post-workout snack.
- I need to eat more healthy fats.
- Honesty is always the best policy.
- It makes no sense to work in a field you don’t love, when the field you do love is right in front of you
- I still have a lot to learn.
- The people I’ve met through blogging are amazing. You have all made my life so much richer. Every hour put into blogging has been worth it.
- I need to install food photography lighting in my kitchen.
- Chocolate whey protein powder is not a great addition to baked goods.
- If I’m not happy, I’m the only person who can fix it. Sometimes the solution is quite simple, other times it takes a little more work.
- Peanut butter tastes awesome in everything.
- Peanut butter hummus is also a wonderful addition to a turkey pita
- I will never, ever tire of pitas and carrot sticks for lunch.
- I thrive on the energy of other people. This is hard to do when I’m not surrounded by other people.
- Life is very, very long. If all goes well, I should have the opportunity to follow many dreams, and not just one.
- “Salary” does not mean more money than “wage.”
- Almond butter makes for a tasty salad dressing when mixed with sesame oil, Bragg’s, agave and lime juice.
- Tofu and chicken taste awesome together. I’m still a carnivore with the soul of a vegetarian.
- Eating does not have to be complicated. Just simple foods eaten when hungry, with an occasional piece of sumthin’ to make my tastebuds happy.
- I need to stop being who people expect me to be, and start being who I want to be.
Question of the Day: What did you learn this month?