Guys, I’m so excited about this week’s batch breakfast recipe: Elvis Oatmeal! This batch breakfast oatmeal recipe is truly the “king” of oatmeal preparations. If you hadn’t guessed from the title, it’s a delicious and mostly nutritious blend of oatmeal, bananas, bacon, and peanut butter (with a little brown sugar and salt to balance things out.)
Batch cooking is the only way I make sure I’m well fed during the workweek. Sunday I make something substantial, and Monday through Friday I work my way through it. I’ve been doing this for years, but for a while I didn’t have much variety. I’d eat oatmeal in the winter and yogurt in the summer.
But over the last year of so I’ve really gotten creative, often making something brand new each week. So I’m going to start blogging about it to share the ideas. Check back each week to see the latest recipe for making a batch breakfast. Keep reading to see how to make your batch breakfast of Elvis Oatmeal!
Batch Breakfast: Elvis Oatmeal
(makes 5-6 servings)
- 4 cups milk (or water, although milk adds more protein)
- 2 cups quick cook oatmeal
- 1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy or crunch–your choice)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar (adjust to taste)
- 1 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- 6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 3 bananas (I buy ones at varying degrees of ripeness so they taste good all week!)
- Bring milk (or water) to a boil.
- Add oatmeal. Stir occasionally until oatmeal is almost set–about 3 minutes.
- Stir in peanut butter, brown sugar, and salt. Adjust amounts as needed.
- Pour into a glass container. (I swear by this Pyrex set!) When oatmeal is cool, place in fridge.
When it’s time to eat:
Scoop a serving size out of the container. Add water or milk until it’s the consistency you want. Reheat it, then, before serving, top with half a banana and 1/5 of the bacon. (On Friday you get to eat the whole banana 🙂 I also like to add other nutritional extras–in this case cinnamon and peanuts.
Andrea Bemis, the blogger, farmer, cook, and photographer behind the blog Dishing Up the Dirt, released her first cookbook, also called, “Dishing Up the Dirt,” last month. But her love affair with food has been going on for many years.
I sat down with her to get the scoop.
Jessica Cassity: Your life is all about food these days. How did that start?
Andrea Bemis: “I hadn’t been much of a cook before moving to Hutchins Farm, which my in-laws run in Massachusetts. But spending my whole day focusing on growing food gave me license to explore in the kitchen. We were cultivating a ton of vegetables I’d never cooked before so there were some kitchen disasters at first, and I’d be lying if I said those never happen anymore. Still, just like with farming, over time I got a little better and and more comfortable. Taylor–my husband– actually started to look forward to the nights I made meals, and I was energized in the kitchen, even if I was beat after a long day of work.
JC: Why did you decide to start the Dishing Up the Dirt blog?
AB: I wanted to share my stories–and my meals–with my family back in Oregon, so I started the blog. Fast forward seven or so years… My new book is another glimpse into the life I share with my husband on our very own 6 acre farm in rural Oregon. Both share stories about love, community, farming, and most importantly, the recipes and food that we grow, eat and share around the table with family and friends.
JC: How do you come up with your recipes?
AB: Farming is not only physically demanding but it’s also monotonous. There could be 8 hours spent in the greenhouse seeding or 5 hours spent weeding beets. My mind naturally goes to food since we’re growing it. When I’m in the field I automatically start to think about what I can make with whatever it is I’m focusing on and that gives me lots of time to come up with food creations. Clearly, food is never far from my mind.
JC: How do you make the time to test out those recipes you dream up?
AB: Taylor and I have a good system worked out. The days can be 16 hours long because it’s just the two of us. I’ll often come in early to cook dinner and then we go back out and finish the evening chores. Even without the blog or book, the recipes have become really important to us. We want to keep our CSA customers inspired in the kitchen. Sometimes there will be beets in the box for multiple weeks which means they’re going to want new recipes.
JC: What’s your food philosophy?
AB: I cook very healthy food but that’s because it’s farm to table. Fresh food is nourishing because it’s from the earth. The meals I make are grown with love. Knowing my local community and knowing where our food comes from–the things we don’t produce ourself, like meat–makes mealtime a real celebration of food.
JC: What would you say to someone who wants to get into cooking, but hasn’t?
AB: I want people to enjoy the whole act of cooking. A lot of people are busy and to them, cooking is such a chore and such an afterthought. I want people to enjoy the whole process, to have a pleasant relationship with the meal they’re creating.
The more you do it, as with anything, the easier it becomes. If you do it enough, eventually you’ll learn to love the process.
About 5 years ago I left my dream job at Prevention magazine to move to Portland, OR. It was a good choice, but I’m thrilled to be heading back to Prevention–TODAY!–to talk snacks. I’m filming a handful of video segments and also taking over their Facebook live stream at noon, EDT. Tune in today to watch me bust some of the top snacking myths!!!
I’m a pretty good cook.
That’s a lot more than I could say 10 years ago, when I was living in New York and eating most meals in restaurants. But about seven years ago I got curious about cooking, so I ripped a bunch of recipes out of magazines, set a vague cooking goal for myself, and went for it.
I’m going to be honest here—at first it wasn’t very fun. My sister—who makes award-winning candy for a living—was super encouraging, but even the best cheerleading wasn’t enough to get me to chop an onion any faster. (I once timed myself and it took several minutes.)
Of course, with practice I got better. During the first year, the vocabulary became more familiar—I finally knew the difference between chopping and dicing, baking and broiling. Over the next couple of years I polished my skills and even learned to improvise a bit. I was whipping up good food regularly, and I was enjoying it. I’d turn on music or a podcast and just lose myself in the process.
But there was still something that felt out of reach: Hosting a kick-ass dinner party.
That’s the whole reason I decided to learn how to cook all those years ago: Not so I could feed myself amazing food—so I could open up my home to friends and family and have them all over for a dinner to remember.
I had this vision of myself as the carefree host, dishing up second helpings while procuring the perfect playlist.
So a couple of years ago I started to invite people over. At first I was nervous about what these people—my friends!—would think about my cooking, or my playlist, or the way my placemats and my napkins didn’t quite match.
But I powered through, inviting people over more often, and in time I realized that none of those things on their own make for a memorable night. The food and the atmosphere are just the backdrop. The joy of the event come from the conversation, the laughter, and the connection.
These days I still get a little nervous before my first guest arrives. But I remind myself that I’ve spent years practicing for this, and that no one’s really there for the food anyway!
That said, I’m glad that I stuck with my cooking goal and have seen it through, even if it took the better part of a decade to get there. It’s nice to know that my kick-ass dinner parties include good food and that I can keep myself nourished and well-fed. My vision changed over time–from perfect to perfectly relaxed–but having an end accomplishment in sight really helped me stay on track, and know when I’d reached it!
Sometimes I have an internal struggle between wanting to go to the gym to work out and not wanting to leave the house. (I live in rainy Portland, OR, after all!) But you can work out without the gym. You can get in a good fitness session without even picking up any workout equipment!
Take tonight for example. I’m a devout member of Classpass. I love trying new workouts and varying my routine. Lately, I’ve been doing bootcamp once a week, hot yoga once or twice a week, barre once or twice a week, and maybe a Pilates class too.
But tonight there were no classes I wanted to go to. Even the gyms near me were offering random workouts. So I dug deep in my memory and remembered that not only do I know a ton of moves I can do on my own–I’ve literally interviewed hundreds of fitness pros about the best ways to work out without the gym!
I googled Jessica Cassity + Real Simple and unearthed this treasure–a workout from my friend Michele Olson, PhD, a big-time fitness professor and fitness DVD star. Boom!
Fun, right? And such a good reminder that some of the best moves to do are the same ones we learned in gym class many, many years ago.
Not only do you not need gym equipment to do this workout, you really don’t even need to change into gym clothes. (At least I didn’t!)
Try this workout the next time you–like me–would rather hunker down than hit the gym! It only takes about 10 minutes, and you’ll feel so much better after you finish!
You can erase any splurge with a diet or fitness fix. I just downed a Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte! Now what?
Let’s do the math: A moderate fitness class can burn off the 380 calories in a Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte. So could diet changes, such as skipping dessert after dinner or ordering a salad for lunch instead of fried chicken.
Like it or not, weight loss is all about trade offs! (I break down the equation for weight loss in my free weight loss plan “Erase 100 Extra Calories.”)
The good news is that I started off my morning with a hot yoga class–60 minutes of exercise that burned off about the same number of calories as contained in the Pumpkin Spice Latte. (Totally worth it!)
But that places me at an equal balance of calories in and calories out. To keep losing, I need to keep the calories I eat lower than the calories I burn off.
Here are the other ways I’m going to erase 100 calories:
- Walk for 30 minutes over lunch (100 calories)
- Drink lots of water, especially before meals, when it will reduce my appetite (100 calories)
- Stand up for 2 hours while I work (100 calories)
- Make my dinner a little bit smaller than usual (100 calories)
Right there’s an extra 400 calories I’m going to erase from my day. Crazy to think that if I’d done the a.m. yoga and NOT had the PSL I would have a deficit of around 800 calories!
I’m a full 6 weeks into coaching myself to meditate and it really does feel like I’m getting the hang of it. I’m no longer forgetting to do it–I regularly meditate when I wake up and/or before my first client of the day. What’s more, I’m fitting in mindful breaths at other points of the day too, such as when I’m starting to feel stressed or even when I simply have a few extra moments on my hand. (As in, I’m choosing to focus on my breath instead of on my phone’s Facebook app.)
I find myself actually craving the clarity and calm.
I’ve also found that I’m being a little more flexible with myself, including in the setting of this goal. Watch the video to see what I mean. (Apologies for the shaky camera–I went out of town without my tripod!)
With every life change there’s a tipping point, when this new action or thought starts to feel a little more routine and a little more worthwhile. That happened for me this week. I have a feeling it may be a long time before meditation becomes automatic, or something I crave. But for now it feels like something I truly benefit from, which is enough to get me going.
So far in this coaching process I’ve identified what I wanted to gain–a deeper connection to myself and my clients–as well as how I wanted to feel (grounded). I knew from the start meditation was the way to get these things, and I’ve been experimenting with the best times and ways to do it. (So far I’m into Headspace and 10% Happier–both have free introductory trials!)
Five weeks and a lot of soul-searching in, I’m finally at the part of the process most people want to start with: Setting a goal. Watch this video to see the goal I’ve chosen for myself.
If you found a genie in a lamp, one of your wishes would be for better sleep. How do I know this? Everyone I know is tired. And, more than 90,000 people have liked an article I wrote called, “Tired all the time? Try these natural energy boosters.”
Pretty much everyone wants to sleep better.
The best tip for being more energized is to set a regular, somewhat early bedtime. While the other tips are designed to help you bounce back when you feel depleted, getting better sleep offers a lasting way to feel more energized.
I’ve gotten a good handle on my sleep, thank in large part to an interview I did with Stuart Fun Quan, a doctor of sleep science at Harvard’s Medical School. Here are some of the habits I’ve set for myself which could help you, too, get better sleep.
- Create a bedtime ritual. You know how parents put little kids through the same sequence each night? It helps them mentally and physically prepare for bed. It can also help you sleep better. My calming routine includes comfy pajamas, low light, and quiet time while reading in bed. (Yes, I am turning into my parents. And you should too.)
- Shut down the electronics. Did you notice that my better sleep bedtime routine doesn’t include “check email” or “watch Law and Order”? You have the whole day to get amped up and stimulated. Make that last hour or so of your day have a different tempo than the rest (one that’s free of the light from TVs and phones, which can mess up your natural rhythms).
- Drink mindfully. I’m not saying that you can’t or shouldn’t drink caffeine and alcohol, but do take note of how each affect your sleep and respond accordingly. For better sleep, my current motto is “One glass of wine is fine.”
- Keep it cool and quiet. I’ve interviewed a handful of sleep docs over the years, and they always say a cool and quiet bedroom produces the better sleep. (As in, you really need a sleep cave.) Kids, snoring partners, and heat waves can make this hard to achieve but do give it your best shot!
Being a coach and being a journalist are a lot alike–curiosity is a requirement. (Read: The better questions I ask, the better answers I get.) This past week–smack in the middle of the Olympics–I got an assignment about “Nailing It” in competition. I spoke with a sports psychologist and my colleague–who was down in Rio!–spoke with a trio of Olympic athletes, including Simone Biles. (Woohoo!)
The resulting piece about “Nailing it in Competition” describes what it feels like to be in the zone (cool and calm), what an athlete is thinking when this happens (most likely nothing), and what it takes to get there (LOTS of practice!).
Sure, these were Olympic athletes talking about how they gave the games in Rio their absolute best effort, but the main message they share can really apply to anyone, and any goal. It takes practice to get something right. Doing is the first step toward winning. And sure, it won’t always work, or be easy, but if you practice enough you will eventually nail it.