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Baked Oatmeal with Blackberries and Bananas

When I was a kid, I HATED oatmeal unless it was mixed with at least a quarter cup of packed brown sugar. My mom would scold, “Eat it! It’s good for you!” as I sat staring at the brown sludge congealing before my eyes. Yuck.

Now that I’m older and a little wiser, I’m constantly realizing how right Mom was back then. Oatmeal isn’t my favorite thing, but I’m willing to eat it for its benefits, like heart and – ahem – colon health. But, hey, oatmeal doesn’t have to be that boring sludge we know so well. I found and slightly adapted a recipe for baked oatmeal. It’s a great grab-and-go breakfast, and it would be perfect for feeding a brunch crowd.

Baked Oatmeal with Blackberries and Bananas

Modified from Skinny Taste

Serves 6

2 Medium Bananas, 1/2 inch slices

1 1/2 Cups Blackberries, or other seasonal berry

1/4 Cup Agave Nectar

1 Cup Quick Cooking Oats

1/4 Cup Chopped Walnuts, or slivered almonds

1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder

3/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon

1 Pinch of Salt

1 Cup Almond Milk

1 Egg

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In the bottom of a 8×8″ pan, lightly coated with non-stick cooking spray, arrange sliced bananas in a single layer. On top of the bananas, layer 3/4 cup berries, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, and 1 tbsp agave nectar. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, place 1 cup quick cooking oats, 1/8 cup nuts, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 pinch of salt, and stir to combine. In a separate medium bowl, place 3 tbsp agave nectar, 1 cup almond milk, 1 egg, and 1 tsp vanilla extract, and whisk to combine.

Layer the mixed dry ingredients over the baked fruit mixture in the pan. Then pour the mixed wet ingredients over the dry ingredient layer, making sure the dry ingredients are coated evenly. Layer 3/4 cup berries and 1/8 cup nuts on top.

Place the pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until set and golden brown. Best served warm from the oven but reheats well.

The Breakfast Bowl

Besides getting engaged three weeks ago, the breakfast bowl is the best thing that’s ever happened to us. We eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner at least three times a week and never get tired of it. It is so good. The only thing I don’t like about the breakfast bowl is it isn’t bottomless.


This meal started out as a hot cereal sweetened with dried cherries, brown sugar, and slivered almonds. But it was boring. So I overhauled the entire project to include my favorite savory breakfast items and The Breakfast Bowl was born. We buy Arrowhead Mills Hot Cereal in bulk with our Amazon Prime membership. I’m not kidding when I say we could feed an army with the hot cereal we have on hand right now. And yes, that is a value pack of MorningStar Farms Sausage Patties. You could toss any cheese you like into the mix, but to save a few calories we go for The Laughing Cow.


The Breakfast Bowl

Yields 1 bowl

1 serving of multigrain hot cereal (like the kind from Arrowhead Mills or Bob’s Red Mill), prepared according to box instructions

1 egg, fried in a lightly oiled nonstick pan

1 veggie sausage patty, prepared according to box instructions

1 wedge of The Laughing Cow Light Queso Fresco & Chipotle or Light Creamy Swiss

Hot sauce, salt, and pepper to taste

Optional topping: sliced avocado

Combine prepared hot cereal, fried egg, cooked veggie sausage, and cheese in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add a dash of hot sauce – like my favorite, Secret Aardvark Habanero Hot Sauce – and enjoy!

Smooth Operator

Smoothies have been rocking my mornings lately. Not only are they super tasty and versatile, but they’re a filling and low-calorie way to get in your recommended fruits and veggies. Below you’ll find my smoothie making dream team  and my favorite smoothie recipe.

Kikkerland Paper Straws – These colorful straws are biodegradable and make mornings a little more fun.

Oster 8-Speed Glass Blender – I’ve been using a Hamilton Beach hand-me-down to mix my smoothies, and I’m on the hunt for a replacement. You can spend lots of money to play “Will it Blend” at home, but this affordable blender gets great reviews.

Aladdin Insulated Tumbler with Straw – When you’re strapped for time, taking a smoothie on the road with you is so much more satisfying than that Luna Bar.

Purple People Eater Smoothie 

Yields 1 smoothie

1 banana

4-5 frozen strawberries

1/3-1/2 cup frozen blueberries

1/2 cup skim milk

1/4 cup fat free vanilla yogurt

Add milk and yogurt to the blender first. Then add frozen fruit and banana. You can vary the amount of frozen fruit to taste. The more blueberries you add, the more tart the flavor will be. Blend until smooth. Makes 1 large serving or two small servings to share. Enjoy!

The Greatest and Best Sandwich in the World… Tribute

Remember the movie Spanglish? Remember the part when Adam Sandler’s character, John Clasky, makes that glorious sandwich? Yeah, me either. I do remember hating that movie and, oddly, discussing the movie with guys who LOVED it. But a while back I stumbled across this post about a sandwich relating to the movie and knew I had to try it. Then I found it here, here, and on about a million other blogs, and let’s not forget the YouTube videos.

I’ve kept that sandwich on my radar for some day in the future after I’ve completed a workout worthy of such gluttony. Sadly, the days I work out that hard, I’m too tired to cook and end up down the street at Red Mill. So I decided to make this sandwich leaner and enjoy it on a moderate workout day. Since I started The Shred, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to stuff my face with The Greatest and Best Sandwich in the World… Tribute, and have done so twice in the past week. So, without further ado…

The Greatest and Best Sandwich in the World… Tribute 

Yields 1 sandwich

2 slices of turkey bacon

2 slices of low-fat/calorie, high fiber bread

1 slice of low-fat cheese (I use muenster or monterey jack)

1/2 of an avocado, mashed

Sliced tomato

1 egg

Salt and pepper to taste

Fry the turkey bacon in a medium pan over medium heat until thoroughly cooked. When it’s done, remove the pan from the heat and set the bacon aside. Save the bacon grease for frying the egg. Place the bread under a broiler to toast. Once it’s almost finished toasting, remove one slice of bread, add the cheese to the other slice, and continue toasting until the cheese is melted. Spread the mashed avocado on the other slice.

Add a little cooking spray or a small amount of butter to the pan used for frying the bacon and place the pan over medium high heat. Once the pan has heated up, fry the egg until done.

Once the egg is ready, assemble the sandwich by placing the tomato slices on top of the mashed avocado. Place the fried egg on top of the tomato and season with salt and pepper. I like to add a dash of hot sauce at this point too. Layer the bacon slices on top of the egg, and then top the bacon with the second slice of toast, cheese side down.


Better Than Mom’s King Ranch Chicken Casserole

Growing up, King Ranch Chicken Casserole was in the usual family dinner rotation. And I hated it. Imagine a bratty kid throwing tantrums on the kitchen floor, because her mother is preparing a wholesome meal that includes green chiles and onion. Not only that, but the offending ingredients are sandwiched between layers of cheese and tortillas, making them impossible to pick out. Aren’t casseroles the worst enemy of picky eaters? In hindsight, my mother had the patience of a saint.

The King of Casseroles - basically, a giant enchilada - about to go into the oven.

This casserole made regular appearances at Church of Christ potlucks, and the recipe was always tucked into family cookbooks – always including gloppy Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup, Ro-Tel tomatoes, and canned green chiles.

Dave and I whipped this up for dinner recently, using Homesick Texan’s recipe. She uses fresh vegetables and swaps the canned soup for her own sauce. To lighten the recipe, we used fat-free sour cream and low-fat cheese for the full fat versions. It all came together perfectly, and I’m happy to report my taste buds have evolved.

Best topped with avocado, cilantro, and a dollop of sour cream.

For the full recipe and a little history on King Ranch Chicken Casserole visit Homesick Texan. Happy eating!