Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

PumpkinOatmeal

It’s time for another installation of Brianna’s Pumpkin Spice Recipe Adventures.  I am thoroughly convinced that pumpkin spice is acceptable at any time of the day, but one of my favorite times to enjoy this fall flavor is in the morning. With pumpkin spice coffee, creamers, english muffins, bagels and cream cheese, it is obvious that we love pumpkin spice mornings.  There is also pumpkin spice oatmeal that can be found by Quaker and Trader Joes, but I decided that they both lack something that I want to have in my pumpkin spice products when possible: REAL pumpkin. Therefore, I took to the kitchen and created my own pumpkin spice oatmeal.  Super easy, Weight Watchers friendly, and you can modify it to suit your needs as you see fit.

The recipe is really more of a guideline to help you create the pumpkin spice oatmeal of your dreams.  Many of the ingredients can be modified to fit the flavor you are looking for.  I am a big fan of bulking up my food and making it as flavorful as I can, so I use quite a bit of the non-oatmeal ingredients, but you can do with this what you will

 

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Ingredients:

  • 1 packet of Quaker Lower sugar Maple Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal
  • 4 Tbsp Canned Pure Pumpkin
  • 2 Tsp (modify as you see fit) Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • an extra dash of cinnamon
  • 1/2 packet of Stevia sweetener

 

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Preparation is super easy:

  1. Make oatmeal as directed.  I used the smallest water setting on my Keurig.  You can use the hot water or microwave preparation.
  2. Stir oatmeal until blended
  3. Add pumpkin.  Stir until well mixed.  Your whole bowl will be a beautiful autumn looking orange color.
  4. Pumpkin Spice OatmealAdd pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and Stevia (all to taste) and stir again.
  5. *optional* Microwave your creation for 30 seconds or so to reheat it and thicken it a bit.
  6. Enjoy your delicious and healthy breakfast!

 

That’s it!  See, it’s really easy, just like my Pumpkin Spice Muffins.   Now a few things to note:

  • Pumpkin is an amazing way to bulk up your food for no extra Points.  I’m eating a vegetable as part of my breakfast! If you plug it into Recipe Builder, technically it adds 1 ppv when you add 4 Tbsp, but to be honest, I don’t count it because on it’s own in the tracker, a cup and a half still equals 0.  I choose to do it that way.  To each their own.
  • The oatmeal is really what determines the PPV of this meal.  If you want to use full sugar, or cooked oats, or whatever, be my guest.  I like to use the Quaker lower sugar or the Weight Watchers oatmeal (found in WW stores) because they’re only 3 Points plus and taste good.  Again, this comes down to personal preference
  • Don’t forget that you can add/subtract the pumpkin or any of the spices until the combination is to your liking.  It’s all about your flavor preferences.  This recipe happens to reflect mine.

There you have it my friends.  Now you have something else to look forward to when you wakeup in addition to your morning cup of coffee. 🙂  Enjoy!

 

Diet Friendly Betty Crocker Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Pumpkin Spice cookies

Thanks to a pumpkin spice themed gift from my aunt our pantry ended up being the proud owner of a Betty Crocker Pumpkin Spice Cookie Mix. As per usual, I took a look at the ingredients to see what I could substitute my lower calorie (and thus, lower Points Plus value) options for and decided this was another Betty Crocker mix worth experimenting with.

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As usual, the substitutions were 100% pure canned pumpkin instead of butter (removing 24 Points Plus from the batter), and an egg white instead of an egg (removing 2 more Points).

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So the recipe is as follows:

1 Package of Betty Crocker Pumpkin Spice Cookie Mix

1/2 Cup of canned pure pumpkin

1 egg white (this ends up being about 1/4 of a cup of the All Whites. I weigh mine and one egg is 46g

2 Tbsp Water

Preheat your oven to 375. Mix all ingredients.  Yield should be 18 regular cookies or 16 large ones.  I somehow got 19 large cookies..

Since I managed to yield the serving size on the package, I was able to calculate the Points Plus value of the cookies: 3 PPV for one (rather large) cookie.

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I will say this: They did come out much more cakey than chewy cookie style.  That’s the only problem with eliminating all of the fat in the recipe.  However, they did end up more like “muffin top” type treats, which Erik and I are finding satisfaction with anyway.  If I could do it again I would change one or two elements.  It’d be an experiment worth trying to see if either of these help:

  • Use a real egg, yolk and all, rather than the egg white
  • Go for a combination of butter and pumpkin, maybe using 1/4 cup of each to help balance things out a bit better.

These do satisfy my pumpkin flavored sweet tooth, so for that I am grateful.  They’re also the right consistency to warm up un the microwave before eating (and then maybe putting some Pumpkin Spice ice cream with them.. Yum!!).

What are your favorite fall treats to diet down?  Have you tried anything similar to this, or something even better? Let me know in a comment below!

Happy munching!

September 2013: Favorite Things and Other Things

I can’t even believe that September had come to a close already!  With the postings of my weekly “Friday 5” I don’t know how much “life stuff” there is to discuss, but lets recap, and I do have some favorites this month (happy day!)

 

Work: The music school has opened up 2 additional days for me to teach.  I originally started with Mondays and Thursdays and quite quickly they threw Wednesday in the mix, and as of a few days ago we agreed to open up my Tuesdays as well.  The Tuesday lessons will take a little bit to get moving because it requires another teacher potentially moving her studio, but the initial planning is out there, which means I can be teaching up to 4 full nights a week.  Good news for my bank account, good news for keeping me busy while Erik is so busy, bad news for actually wanting to do things before 9pm on weeknights.  Oh well, you win some, you lose some, and this is definitely a win.

 

Wedding planning is still in full swing.  The end of October I fly home for my bridal shower and bachelorette party, we purchases Erik’s wedding ring, and I’m starting to look into the smaller details now while RSVP cards show up on a daily basis.  I would say more, but the 4th of October means a wedding post is coming (3 months!)

 

Life at home gets very stressful for us both and that makes it very easy for us to get aggressive and defensive with each other.  Despite all of the stress in the air, we still manage to be in love and looking forward to the wedding.  Once we moved to NC people kept asking us “so, are you still engaged” because it’s the first time we’ve lived in the same state.  While sometimes the stress gets to us, we both are good at trying to take care of each other emotionally when the other is on the verge of breaking down.  Ultimately we rest peacefully knowing that we’re actually surviving the hell of the first half of year one MBA and all that implies and we’re looking forward to just being married and allowing that at home dynamic to change.  If we can survive this period of stressed out chaos, we can survive anything…and we know we’ll survive with flying colors.

 

And now, some favorites things!

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Trader Joe’s Rainbow Macaroons ($4.99 for box of 12)

I am completely obsessed with these delicious cookies!  You might be thinking that $5 for a dozen seems like a steep price, but have you looked for these cookies in bakeries (aka the only other place you can find them)??  They’re $2+ a piece!! Now, they’re good cookies, but that means I’d be paying almost $25 for my box of 12.  So, thanks to TJ’s this is a bargain box for the best cookies around.  They have the light, crisp outside with the soft chewiness as soon as you bite into it.  The flavors in this box are great!  You get 2 of each flavor (espresso, salted caramel, cassias (i think?), raspberry, pistachio, and orange) and they’re simply delicious.  Want to know the best part?  1 point each!! OR 14 Points Plus if you choose to binge on the entire box! Those stats are beyond amazing.  Go to Trader Joe’s and get a box of these right now!  Actually, get two…then send one to me 🙂

 

Pitch Perfect

I FINALLY saw Pitch Perfect.  It was amazing.  The music in this movie was fantastic and listening to it left me very emotionally satisfied.  Being someone who did musical groups my entire life, this was a great way to satisfy the itch of not currently being in one.  A capella music is one of my all time favorite types of music, and that’s all Pitch Perfect consisted of.  If you like music at all and enjoy a good laugh, please go rent this DVD.  It made my voice and my heart sing.

 

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Pumpkin Flavored ANYTHING

I’ve been on a HUGE pumpkin and pumpkin spice kick this month, and I anticipate that flowing right into October as well.  This is just one photo of a few of the pumpkin things I have gotten my hands on (you’ll notice this is clearly a Trader Joe’s haul) but the list goes on, and I intend on finding more.  Tell me what I need to be on the lookout for this season or try making this season.  I’m all ears.  Comment below and make my pumpkin flavored (and scented) day even better!

 

That’s about all I’ve got to wrap up this month.  Look for many more posts come October, as one of my goals is to really get my act together with this blogging business.  I hope everyone had a great September.  See you tomorrow with a post about what’s up this next month! Until then, be happy, my friends.

Friday 5: September 27, 2013

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Happy Friday my friends!  Fall is starting to actually feel like it’s in the air, keeping the mornings crisp, the nights cool and allowing me to pick up a hot latte without feeling totally ridiculous (like in the 95 degree heat of summer).    I’ve always loved the changing of seasons, even in the winter, at least for a week or two.  New seasons offer new beginnings and exciting seasonal traditions to make the little things in life (like the first Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte of fall) fill hearts with happiness.  I find this happens the most in the fall and winter months.    Enjoy the changes that autumn brings.   Be happy.

and now for your regularly scheduled program: the Friday 5

TV Shows are Back!

Speaking of regularly scheduled programming, TV shows are starting to come back in full swing.  As I’m sitting here typing I am streaming HuluPlus on my Apple TV watching last night’s season premiere of Glee.  Last night I got home from teaching just in time to turn on the Grey’s Anatomy premiere..never mind the fact I didn’t watch any of last season except the finale..  Sunday starts Once Upon a Time, and the show Erik and I have sort of watched together (and by together we mean wait until we both have had time to watch it and discuss.)Bones, has been back for a couple of weeks now.  Even though it is a rare occasion that I am actually home to watch new episodes of anything when it is actually airing, I feel like it’s a special treat to have a handful of shows I can tackle when I have time throughout the week.  Biggest Loser (can’t wait for that to start!) keeps me inspired and motivated, while other shows help me escape from reality for a whole 40 something minutes (because even on Hulu you’re stuck with commercials).  Whatever the case may be, one of the joys of fall for me is having my TV shows come back.  On this years to watch list: Biggest Loser, Bones, Grey’s (if I can keep up), Glee, and that new Michael J Fox show.  I loved him in my favorite trilogy (Back to the Future) and applaud him for being bold enough to star in a show while his Parkinson’s is in full swing.  Mad props for McFly.

Pumpkin Spice Madness

I seem to have made it an unspoken challenge to try anything pumpkin spice flavored that I can get my hands on this fall.  Currently sitting in my apartment I have:

  • Pepperidge Farms Pumpkin Spice Loaf
  • Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin cheesecake cookies
  • Cans of pure pumpkin
  • Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin Spice Coffee
  • International Delights coffee creamer
  • An array of Pumpkin scented soaps and candles from Bath and Body Works

I’ve also had a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice latte, and thanks to the cupcakes our main office got us for resident appreciation week, I had an epic Pumpkin Spice cupcake from GiGi’s cupcakes (pictured above).

I’m still waiting to get my hands on a few things if I can find them:

  • Thomas’s Pumpkin Spice Bagel thins (if they made them this season) or bagels
  • Planters Pumpkin Spice Almonds
  • Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice granola
  • Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice nonfat Greek Yogurt
  • Pumpkin Spice M&Ms

I can’t seem to find the nuts, bagels, or M&Ms anywhere.  What are some pumpkin Spice flavored things htat I’m missing?  lease share your favorites, as I’d love to try them.

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Plant Nanny

I treated myself to a silly little $0.99 app yesterday called Plant Nanny.  It’s a cute little health and wellness app that encourages you to drink water.  Based on your weight and activity level it decides how many ounces of water you should have in a day, and then when you drink, you water your plant.  I guess the plant will grow if you give it the water it needs and will wither if you don’t.  You can pick your cup sizes and it tracks your water intake.  I only drink out of my water bottle so I fill my “cup” for the plant once I’ve had a full bottle.  It’s a bit dorky, yes, but I’ve been lacking in the water intake lately, so this will just help make sure I’m on track.  You can find Plant Nanny on the App Store.

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Bad News, Boofie

Boofie is what we call one of our dogs ( “our” dogs are the dogs at home in IL. My babies that I still claim even though I’m not there anymore).  Why Boofie?  Well, simple really.  I tend to start calling animals things and their nicknames stick. His actual name is Rufus, then Kristina (in an effort to be cute) started nicknaming him Roofie..yeah, I couldn’t call a dog roofie, so I simply changed one letter and started calling him Boofie.  Anyway, Boofie stuck.  This week Kristina found out that Rufus has Lymphoma…cancer.  This is sad for us all, but especially for Kristina, as he is her dog and has been a support for her through some tough physical and emotional times.  She’s heartbroken, and I’m sad about it.  I always joke that he’s a devil dog (because he really is a jerk sometimes), but he’s one of my babies and I still love him.  According to my mom there were two treatment options: Steroids to kind of ease things and give him a few months to live, or chemo which has an 80% chance of remissions and would probably get 3+ more years on this Earth.  Call us crazy, but he starts chemo next week.  He’s family, so mom said the chemo can be given a try.  If it doesn’t work then who knows, but for now please add Rufus to your prayers for healing.

 

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Show Me Something Beautiful

In the midst of the stressful chaos that seems to be our lives right now I am trying to do my best to stop and notice the beauty of God’s creation when I can.  Taking just a few seconds to look at the sky when the clouds and the sun look particularly glorious (I took that picture walking back from the gym), or smiling at the dogs that I see around the apartment complex, or noticing the tiny little moments of awesome really helps to make the day better, if only for a second.  Despite all of the chaos in everyone’s lives it is important to take at least a second to notice God’s glory around you and thank him for it.  I try to remind myself of this daily.  Don’t take your blessings for granted (it’s really hard sometimes, trust me, I know).   Pray to have your heart and eyes opened to the beauty in this world, today and every day.

 

 

Happy Friday!

The Curse of the Black Mold & The Friday 5

The first edition of what I’m going to call my “Friday 5”- 5 thoughts of the week.  Here we go:

The Curse of the Black Mold

Every few days I look in my toilet and see these black streaks that inevitably creep on back despite the toilet’s cleaning a few days before.  The mold here is unlike anything I’ve experienced before.  I actually asked the admin at the music school I work at if this mysterious black toilet ring was normal or if Erik and I were just dirty people and we didn’t realize it.  Thankfully, she explained that for some reason the mold down here likes to take over our world, and she wasn’t kidding.  Every few days I have to wash my cup in the bathroom (you can literally see the curse forming on the bottom), and the once a week I wash the toilet isn’t nearly enough, but any more often feels like a waste of toilet cleaner. And yes, I have one of those toilet tablet things in there too.   I even have to wash the faucets because the mold will actually grow and disrupt water flow in the sink.  Horrifying, disgusting, and now apparently a regular part of my life….

 

 

Bauble Bar Buried Baubles

A recent discovery of mine is Bauble Bar’s Buried Baubles.  Pictured above is the necklace I got today for $10 (and free shipping, always free shipping).  I also have a really cute sparkle cuff coming for the same price.. Oh and by the way, the necklace is usually $28 and the cuff was $30.  Yeah, got them both for $10 each.  Thank you Bauble Bar for helping me expand my accessory collection.  They also have a points plan, meaning for every dollar you spend you get a point (yes, you get points for the buried baubles), and 100 points makes $10 off a purchase.  I love loyalty programs.  Visit Bauble Bar, create an account and get your hands on some buried baubles.

 

Wedding Invitations 

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Pictured above is the box of lovely wedding invitations I got in the mail yesterday thanks to a good friend from church back in Des Plaines, Pam, who has known me as long as I can remember.  I now have the daunting task of getting these babies out in the mail.  With most of the envelope labeling done, I just have to add RSVP envelopes and registry cards (custom made, super cute, should be here in a few days) to each one, get postage and send them on their merry way.  Everything else for the wedding has seemed so simple that this task actually makes me go “wow, this is actually happening!”  A stressful task, but I’m super excited to get these invitations out of my apartment and into the hands of our guests.

It’s Pumpkin Season!!!

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My favorite part of fall is the world turns into a pumpkin flavored world.  The first pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks is an event celebrated by coffee drinkers everywhere.  Okay..maybe not everywhere, but I know many people make it an event, even if it’s one no one else knows about.  My world turns into a pumpkin heaven.  Pumpkin spice coffee creamer, sweet cinnamon pumpkin shower gel, and pumpkin candles takes the edge off of the fact the world is going to get colder soon.

Which brings me to my #5

Summer in September

The last few days it has either passed 90 degrees or gotten quite  close.  While I know the temperatures are still high in many places, once September rolls around I start to dread the inevitable approach of winter.  Yesterday, as I was discussing how cold it was in my studio (and how that made dressing difficult since it was freezing inside and boiling outside) with one of my students, I asked her mother how long it would be until it actually cooled down enough to be considered fall weather.  Her answer: November! Apparently they’ve had Halloweens that were over 80 degrees down here.  Apparently I have to deal with the warmth sticking around for a while longer, and those of you who know me are well aware that this is a happy thing for me 🙂