Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Berry Oatmeal Smoothie {+ Happy National Oatmeal Day!}

Happy National Oatmeal Day!

I'm a big fan of oatmeal, although I really don't eat it all that often. Kaydin and Tim and the oatmeal eaters in our household. When I learned of National Oatmeal Day coming up at the end of this month, I knew I wouldn't create and share a traditional cooked and warm oatmeal. 

I wanted to share my way of incorporating oats into my diet- in my berry smoothies!

When creating smoothie at home I also add a few extra little ingredients to make it even more nutritious. I store my grains and seeds in glass jars on my countertop for quick and easy accessibility. They're right there just waiting to be thrown in the blender cup.

After an address typo that was completely my fault, my Ninja Ultima was finally delivered yesterday! When communicating with the PR firm, I accidentally gave the wrong address. I'm sure the UPS man was confused when he went to the apartment complex next door to my office saying he had a delivery for Mollie. After a couple more weeks and gracious understanding from the PR firm my Ninja finally found me! And in perfect timing too, since I used it to blend my smoothie last night! 

I am already in love with my Ultima! Expect a full review coming in the next few weeks! ;)

We're definitely a smoothie-loving household. We've tried and loved many variations of fruit smoothies and adding oats is one of my favorites.

Berry Oatmeal Smoothie

1 cup Driscoll strawberries (I used a mix of frozen and fresh. You could use all fresh and then add some ice cubes)
1/2 cup skim milk or unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 1/2 tablespoons 
1 1/2 teaspoons flax seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons chia seeds
optional- add some of your favorite vanilla protein powder for more staying power.

*measurements above estimated. All ingredients measurements can be altered to your personal taste and consistency
**other berries could also be thrown into the mix

Add all ingredients to your blender and pulse about 15 times until everything is completely incorporated and smooth!

Disclosure: Driscoll provided me with coupons for product. No other compensation was provided for this post. All opinions are my own.

How will you be celebrating National Oatmeal Day?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

Happy Monday, friends! Another weekend passed by in the blink of an eye and here we are at the start of the week again! 

Friday night Kaydin and I started the Halloween festivities early and hit up Night Eyes at the Blank Park Zoo. We have gone in previous years but always during the day. Going at night added a whole different element to the event.

Saturday we headed two hours north for my cousin, Angie's, baby shower. She's having a girl, too, due in December! Kaydin was great helper during the festivities.

Our Sunday was unexpectedly packed full which led to my not getting anything accomplished like I'd hoped on Sunday. That led to it being a packed Monday night. It had me wishing I had this crockpot meal waiting for us after the work and school day.

I made these sandwiches a couple weeks ago. I've made buffalo chicken before but only added the hot sauce in the past. This time I bumped it up a notch and added some ranch dressing and blue cheese to the crockpot. It was a good choice. :) It gave the chicken that much more flavor and depth.

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breasts)
3/4 cup buffalo sauce
1/4 cup light ranch dressing
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese, plus extra for topping sandwich, if desired
Whole wheat buns

1. Place chicken in crockpot. Cook on low for about 5 hours.
2. Drain liquid. Shred chicken with two forks. Add buffalo sauce, ranch dressing, and blue cheese.
3. Cook on high for 1 hour or until heated through.
4. Place 1/2 cup chicken mixture on bun. Top with blue cheese, if desired.

This is the perfect meal for a busy weeknight when the last thing you want to do is come home and cook!

 It's definitely crockpot season. What's your favorite thing to make?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Weekend Happenings

It was another great weekend that passed far too quickly.

I headed down to the market early Saturday morning with Kristyn and Kaydin. Sadly, it was probably our last trip to the market for the year. The last downtown market is next weekend but we probably won't make it.

 So this weekend we indulged in our favorite market foods and brought home some local goodies.

Thankfully I did a quick Google search and found a restaurant in Des Moines that serves pupusas so I don't have to wait until next May for one. I will gladly have one of these again soon! If you live ih the Des Moines area make sure to stop by the Pupusa vendor on 3rd Street next May.

 Kaydin always requests a cream cheese danish from La Mie. This one did not disappoint; it was the best one I'd ever had! The filling was nice and thick.

We tried some samples at the fermented foods booth and could not leave without bringing home this garlic dill sauerkraut. So good! I've been eating with a spoon straight from the jar! I will definitely be stocking up on this next spring.

After strolling the market in the brisk morning air, we headed to Smokey Row Coffee House to warm our fingers.

After sipping our drinks and playing a couple games Kaydin made up on the spot, we headed back home.

Soon after we got the itch to learn new hobby so headed to Michael's to scoop up some new needles and thread. Knitting has been on my to-learn list for a couple years now and I finally found a partner to help me knock out this goal.

Although, knitting it not as easy as I thought it may be. I've perfected casting on, but getting the first stitch is kinda hard. I think it has to do with me being ambidextrous. I watch the videos and just get confused because I can't determine my dominate hand.

 Hopefully someday in the future I'll be making some scarves like these!

Saturday night was date night for Tim and I. I got us reservations at Cafe di Scala. Neither of us had been there before and the timing worked perfectly that we could also hit a movie, too, before picking Kaydin up from her play night at her gymnastics gym.

Their menu was full of delicious sounding appetizers. We settled on the zucchini and cheese cakes. These are so good and the garlic aioli it was served with made the dish.

 We both chose pasta for our main dish. The pastas there are all hand made so it was an easy choice!

After dinner we moved down the road to Fleur Cinema to catch Gravity. I really thought it would be better given all the hype and media attention. It definitely wasn't a bad movie but not one I would be buying the day it's released on blu-ray.

Sunday was spent running a few errands, cleaning, and getting ready for the week. A typical Sunday in our house.

Last Sunday, Kaydin and I rigged up the bike rack and went to Raccoon River Park to ride the trails and play at the park. I'm sad that it's getting colder and we won't be able to do this much longer. We saw some pretty fall views while there, though!

What were you up to this weekend?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Healthy Living Summit 2013 recap

Grab a drink and a snack, dear readers. It's gonna be a long one!

(Picture from HLS Facebook page)

Alex and I started our journey Thursday morning. Tim dropped me off at her apartment and we got on the road headed north shortly after!

About four hours later we made it to Amanda's. We took a short walk to Chipotle for a quick late lunch to tide us over until our dinner mingle that I actually hosted. After lunch we went back to Amanda's house to indulge in this beauty! She made a smore's pie! Soo good!

Thursday night I helped plan and host a dinner mingle. Molly, a Minneapolis local, was a great source of information to help me choose what to do and where to go. I ultimately chose dinner at Chino Latino and drinks after at Sky Bar.

Chino was the perfect recommendation and place for us to land on. It's a big restaurant with a fun atmosphere that serves a wide variety of flavors and cuisines. It's also served family style. Perfect for us foodie bloggers! We split our table into groups and each group chose a few things to try. My group was super laid back and not picky. It didn't take us long at all to choose our dishes. And we chose perfectly! I loved everything that came to our table. 

(Pic from HLS Instagram)

After dinner we headed up to Sky Bar, a rooftop bar also in Uptown. It was actually a fairly chilly night (at least it was coming off of 90 degrees temps earlier in the week) so we had a drink or two, chatted and called  it a night. 

The next morning we met up at the hotel with reps from Wild Harvest for a tour of their headquarters. I really didn't know what to expect on a tour of an organic food company, but it was really fun! And informative.

There were three different sessions that we saw and were involved in. They all were really interesting but the recipe development one was really fun. 

Mainly because we got to sample these amazing turkey burgers! So full of flavor and included a tatziki sauce, one of my favorite flavors! It was easily at the top of my list of foods ate all weekend! I need to get on recreating it at home. 

Another area we visited was the sensory lab. We learned how Wild Harvest goes through their taste testing process and we got to be the taste testers this time! Can I get this for my real job? ;)

We also learned about product testing and how they make sure that the product on the shelf is always of the highest quality. It's really actually pretty fascinating the thought and processes that go into this part of a food company.

We were totally spoiled during our whole tour and were constantly tasting really great food! They had an awesome spread for us to snack on! 

Plus a bartender on hand to mix us up some yummy mock mojitos.

After we returned from our tour with Great Harvest, Amanda, Alex, and I ventured to the registration area to pick up our highly coveted SWAG BAG! This bag was no joke! It was packed to the brim with lots of fun goodies. It was so nicely packed that I opted to not mess with the tetris-like packing and wait til I got home to dump it out to further inspect the contents.

We had some spare time to grab some lunch before heading to the scheduled round table discussions. After hearing how the Hola Arepa food truck was a must-visit for an indescribably delicious sandwich-taco-type thing, we were sold!

This thing was legit! I loved it! I really need to do some research and see who sells arepas in the Des Moines area!

After enjoying lunch outside we headed back to the hotel meeting area for some round table discussions. I attended blogging 101 and met some new friends and fellow Iowa natives!

Friday night there were a few dinners mingles planned and I chose to join the group headed to the Townhall Brewery.

After a morning of eating and a late lunch, I wasn't feeling anything too heavy. I settled on this fresh hummus plate. Perfect choice for my last meal of the day.

The cocktail party was held at The Guthrie Theater, a beautiful venue right on the river. Photo booth, ice breaker trivia matching game, some drinks, great company, and a school bus to take us home?!? It was a pretty good night!

(Picture from Kelly)
Had to pull out our T-shirts from May and show our BLEND love with the HLS roomies!

Saturday morning started bright and early with a full breakfast with the best little biscuits I've ever had! Made with cheese and herbs, I'm still dreaming of those biscuits!

After breakfast, we dove right in to the presentations. There were many sessions throughout the day and I really learned a lot. It's always nice to talk blogs with people that understand and also know fr more than me on the technical side of things. It brings forth a renewed motivation and gets new ideas swirling. 
Our two fearless leaders and planners of HLS, Julie and Heather
Lauren, Cassie, and Gretchen
During lunch and time between sessions, we made our way through the vendor area. It was really great to connect with some new brands and learn about new products. The sponsors were beyond generous and I came home with lots of new foods to fill my cupboards.

It was also my first experience with Qwest bars! I was so excited to see them included in the Kona Kase that was a part of the bag!

This particular Saturday also happened to be the always highly anticipated Iowa vs. Iowa State game. I found some other Iowa State fans at the summit! I was happy to find more state fans than just myself to catch some of the game with. After all the presentations for the day Molly, Emily, Gabe and I headed to the hotel bar to catch the first half of the game before we headed to Crave for dinner.

This was a fun restaurant; one I would definitely visit more if I lived in Minneapolis. I loved that there was a really wide range of choices. The atmosphere was pretty fun, too. 

I had been on a beet and goat cheese kick lately so when I saw a salad on the menu featuring both of those ingredients, I knew I was sold. I loved it and the addition of the candied nuts was the perfect addition to send it over the top! After dinner at Crave we headed to Hell's Kitchen to meet up with some other HLS'ers for awhile.

Sunday morning was the last event of the weekend. A fun run about 2 miles or so from the hotel to the famous cherry and spoon sculpture, the perfect setting for a group pic.

After breakfast and a wonderful chair massage, we packed up bags and all of our swag! Let's just say Alex and I were really happy we were driving to make sure all our new goodies made it back to Iowa with us!

I'm happy and excited that HLS 2014 will again be within driving distance! You can bet I'll be there again next year! I see a big Iowa blogger road trip to Madison, WI next year!