Banana Oatmeal Cookies

banana choc chip cookies (4)These cookies are a.m.a.z.i.n.g.

banana choc chip cookiesThey are basically an oatmeal banana bread baked into cookie form. The original recipe is from Two Peas and Their Pod, who also just welcomed a new little man into their life. I made the first batch last night, following the original recipe except for adding 1 cup of chopped walnuts as well. They turned out delicious and I have eaten more than I’ll ever admit (I’m telling myself that Eli needs them for healthy breast milk).

However, once they cooled off and sat in the storage container they got super soft. The texture reminded me of banana bread, not a cookie. I decided to make a few changes to the recipe. First I wanted to make them healthier – so healthy they could pass as a breakfast cookie. Second, I wanted to see if I could improve the texture for storage purposes. The original recipe’s texture is still great, just not something that should be kept in the pantry for more than a day or two to since mold could start growing pretty quickly (yes, they are that moist).

The modified recipe was a success! The cookies are a little darker and the center was much more crumbly, but not too dry. The taste is great. The whole wheat flour adds some nuttiness and the coconut oil adds just a hint of coconut. I think it is safe to say that these will please anyone looking for a tasty treat while also being healthy enough to eat at breakfast.

 

banana coconut choc chip cookies2Banana Bread Breakfast Cookies
adapted from two peas and their pod

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil (room temp)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 large ripe banana (or 1 1/2 small bananas), mashed
  • 2 cups old fashion rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips or raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (not necessary, but helpful)
  2. In a small bowl, combined flour, salt, and baking soda. Mix well and sent aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the coconut oil and sugars by beating well on high. Add vanilla and egg and mix well. Lastly, add mashed banana and beat well.
  4. Add flour mixture to the banana mixture and mix well with a wooden spoon or spatula until just combined. Stir in oats and mix well. Add remaining ingredients and stir until well-distributed.
  5. Spray two large spoons with cooking spray and use them to scoop out 1.5 tbsp size drops of dough. Place about 1-2″ apart on the prepared baking sheets.
  6. Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.
  7. Let cookies cool for 2-3 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely before storing. Store in an air-tight container or freeze for later.

Elijah’s Nursery

I’ve posted before many times about DIY home projects we’ve done. I think this room was the most fun of all. Take a look at Elijah’s Wilderness Themed Nursery.

nursery - front

View from the doorway

right wall with books and painting

Wilderness wall with book shelves and “Elijah’s House” painting

decal, chair, toy chest

Nursing corner with the super comfy new chair

blanket ladder

Handmade blanket ladder with blankets and bears from our childhood. The clock was made by my grandpa. The cradle was made by my dad.

front-left view

View of the changing table/dresser my husband refinished. I made the mobile with birds. My husband and I made the hanging shelf (which we still need to decorate). The wooden items on the shelves my grandpa made.

left side (2)

Left side of the room.

mobile(2)

Bird Mobile I made for over the changing table.

right wall with decal

Decal with Elijah’s pictures, bird house, and handmade toy chest.

rocking chair

Rocking chair my J stripped and stained and I upholstered. It was intended to go in the corner of the nursery where the recliner is but after 1 night of feedings it was moved to the living room and we purchased the recliner.

shelf

Floating shelf my husband and I made. We still need to decorate this. We will use some of the handmade wood items from my grandpa.

Meet the newest addition to our family!

7.20.14Elijah James was born on July 17th at 6:13pm. He was 6 pounds 7 ounces and 18.75″ long.  He was 2 weeks early, but that was when he decided he was ready to come. My water broke at 9 am that morning, while I was at work. Note to all pregnant women – be sure to wear black pants to work when your due date is approaching!

The labor and deliver went smoothly. Honestly, I would do 10 deliveries over 1 pregnancy. I am positive that being physically fit played a role in this. Little Elijah did have a triple nuchal cord, which is very rare (0.5% of all births), but thankfully there were not complications from this after he was given some oxygen.

I’m nursing and was very lucky that my milk came in by day 2. He latched on his first attempt after birth, which is also very lucky. He’s a natural :) We went home after 36 hours and quickly began adjusting the new routine (well, lack there of).  Bailey didn’t realize there was a new addition, but Bandit noticed right away. The first day he was extremely jealous and gave us the cold shoulder. Then he realized if he warmed up to Elijah, he’d get more attention to. Now he sleeps under Elijah’s cradle and tries to sit on my lap when I nurse. I think they will become best buds in a few months.

During his first week home we had his newborn pictures taken. They turned out great. Feel free to take a look here.

He is now 2 weeks old and has been doing great. He had some issues with gas that made him extremely fussy. I thought he was in a lot of pain, but it turns out that he was likely just frustrated that he couldn’t get the gas out. He has been starting to do much better with this.

At his 2 week appointment he had already gained 1 pound from his birth weight! In case you aren’t familiar with baby weight gain goals here is a summary – all babies lose some weight in the hospital b/c the mom’s milk isn’t in yet. Elijah was down to 6 pounds 2 ounces at discharge. Two days later babies go in for a weight and color check (to see if they are jaundiced) with the goal of <10% total weight loss from birth. Our little eating machine had actually gained 1/2 ounce from his discharge weight, so he was on the right track. At the 2 week appointment the goal is to be back to birth weight. Elijah is already an overachiever and decided to gain not only 5 ounces, but an addition 16 ounces…in just 10 days. Needless to say I feel that all I am doing is nursing and changing dirty diapers, haha.

Surprisingly, I have been adjusting well to the lack of sleep. I get 1-2 hours at a time during the night. I usually get 3-4 of these naps in so it is  total of 5-6 hours per night. I usually am pretty awake all day but occasionally take a nap sometime after 3pm when I start to crash. So far so good, but I am sure this will start to wear on me. Let’s hope he is one of those magical babies that sleeps through the night after a month or two.

 

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I never had a chance to post my 3rd trimester bump pictures, so here they are:

week 28 (2)

Week 28

week 29 (3)

Week 29

Week 30 (1)

Week 30

week 31 (1)

Week 31

week 32 (1)

Week 32

week 33 (4)

Week 33

week 34 (1)

Week 34

Week 35 (3)

Week 35

week 36 (5)

Week 36

week 37(3)

Week 37 – mowing the lawn with the Reel Mower!

afterlight

Week 37.5

before baby (1)

Week 38

2nd Trimester Update

Second trimester has come and gone…2 weeks ago already! I have been busier than ever (hence the lack of posts), but have been feeling well. Around 20 weeks the nausea ended – yes! and then returned – no :( and then left for the most part – I’ll take it. Around week 20 we also found out that we will be having a little boy! We don’t have the name officially picked yet, but we have a few in mind. We are keeping them a secret and will decide once we see him.

During 2nd trimester I finished up my stent in family medicine, completed my internal medicine rotation, and started my general surgery rotation. I went from being 99% sure I’d do ob/gyn to considering family medicine to loving internal medicine. Right now I am pretty sure I’ll end up as a hospitalist after doing an internal medicine residency. However, there is still hope for family medicine – I have 4 weeks of family medicine coming up at the end of June, during which time I am hoping I’ll make my final decision. While I loved ob/gyn during the rotation, I think it was just the first rotation that got me excited about being a doctor and not actually what I want to do forever. I am in the middle of my surgery rotation and while it is fun and interesting, I don’t think I want to be a surgeon, so it has  made ob/gyn less of desire as well. But, things can change and we’ll see what the next few months bring. I have 4 weeks of surgery left (cardiothoracic and plastic surgery) followed by 4 weeks for family medicine and hopefully 2 weeks off before baby comes. In the next month I have 2 big clinical exams (i.e. standardized patients) and 2 big multiple choice exams (surgery shelf and step 2 CK board exam). I am not sure how I’ll do it, but I’ve realized not worrying about that part makes it much easier – it will all work out in the end and I’ll do what I need to do to get there. The best part – when baby comes I can spend all of my time with him :) and hopefully it will make the transition to parenthood a little easier.

So, on to the pictures. At the start of 2nd trimester I thought I was HUGE. Then each week passed and I realized how much huger I was becoming. Looking back it  makes me laugh to see what I thought was “such a big bump” at the time. Take a look to see how much he has grown:

week 14 (5)

Week 14

week 15 (2)

Week 15

week 16 (3)

Week 16

week 17 - Copy

Week 17

week 18

Week 18 – Before we visited the ice caves!

Week 19

Week 19

week 20 (1)

Week 20 – It’s a boy!!

week 21 (6)

Week 21 – my first maternity outfit!

Week 22 (14)

Week 22 – Go Badgers!!

week 23 (3)

Week 23 – WMS Annual Meeting and Presidential Scholar Awards Banquet

Week 24 (2)

Week 24

Week 25 (9)

Week 25

week 26 (3)

Week 26 – Internal medicine shelf exam day

week 27 (7)

Week 27

Butternut Squash Pasta Bake

butternut squash pasta bake3

Oh, butternut squash – how I love you. As a kid I never was served butternut squash. While I became more adventurous the older I got, something about squash didn’t appeal to me (probably the texture – I hate mushy food). After hearing my dietetic friends rave about butternut squash this and butternut squash that, I figured I had to break down and give it a chance. How had I been missing out on this heavenly food for so long?!? I was in love instantly. Then I added sage to it and I was in heaven. Ever since I have been making squash dishes a regular occurrence in our house. Since I don’t like mushy foods, I usually use the squash as a sauce or a component of the meal, but don’t often eat it plain. Since I’ve fallen in love with squash, our garden is always full of winter squash and sage plants.

This dish is a simple way to throw together a delicious casserole. Using squash as the sauce cuts out the sodium and sugar often added to other pasta sauces. You don’t need to bake it in the oven unless you choose to put the cheese on to (and who doesn’t love cheese, right?).

butternut squash pasta bake2

Butternut Squash Pasta Bake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried whole grain pasta (8 ounces), prepare
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 cups cooked butternut squash*, cubed
  • Milk (amount needed will vary)
  • 1/8 cup dried sage or 1/4 cup fresh sage, diced
  • 1 package frozen spinach (10 ounces), thawed
  • 1/4 cup pepitas or other seeds
  • 4 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Saute the onion in olive oil. Add the vinegar and mix well. Continue to cook down to desired consistency. Set aside.
  3. In a food processor, place all of the squash. Pulse/process until desired consistency. Add milk to think the mixture if needed.
  4. Add the sage and pulse to mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add the spinach and pulse until combined. Add the onions and pulse until combined.
  6. Pour the sauce mixture over the pasta and mix well. Transfer to a the prepared dish.
  7. Top the dish with seeds and then shredded cheese.
  8. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

*Tip – preparing winter squash can be a pain. To save time, I dedicate 1 weekend day in the fall to prepare cups of squash. After they are cooked, I portion them into quart freezer bags, so they are ready to go when I need them. I usually portion 1/2 of the squash cubed and 1/2 of the squash already pureed or mashed up.

Sunday Food Prep

sunday food prep

Sundays are busy days at our house. J  cleans (could I be any luckier?!) while I cook up a storm in the kitchen. During rotations I just don’t have time to cook during the week. And if I do have time, I really don’t want to slave away in the kitchen after a 10-12 hour day. Here is an example of what we eat for the week:

Back Left – Salads

  • Fresh lettuce washed and chopped, ready to eat
  • Celery sticks, washed and trimmed
  • Cucumbers and Tomatoes, washed and diced, ready for salads

Front Left – snacks

Center - Breakfast and Lunch

  • Roasted mixed vegetables with wheat pasta and balsamic vinegar. Roasted veggies are so easy – just throw them in a large pan, toss with olive oil and spices, and roast at 425F for 30 minutes stirring every 10 minutes or so to prevent burning.
  • Egg Bakes - the easiest way to get a vegetable serving in before 7am

Back Right – Dinner

  • Crock pot chili, half for this week and for the freezer for a week when I don’t want to cook ;)

Front Right – Dessert

  • Black bean brownies, because pregnant women love chocolate and desserts…and since I’m a dietitian I will feel less guilty if I know they are full of nutritious black beans.

 

 

Black Bean and Corn Soup

2013-08-24 05.20.10

During the summer CSA we got a TON of sweet corn. I  mean a ton – 12 ears per week. That is way too much for 2 people to safely eat. My routine was to roast all 12 ears in the oven the night we got them. I would save the number of ears I thought we could eat in the week and then remove the corn from the others. By the end of the summer, despite eating corn like it was going out of style, we still ended up with 3 gallon freezer bags filled with corn.

When fall rolled around I decided it was time to start making a dent in the corn. Over the summer we also inherited a few gallons of tomatoes from my dad’s farm and a decent amount of hot peppers from our own garden (probably the only fruitful plants in our garden). What better to make with all of these items in the fall than soup! Pair that with a bag of dry black beans and you have a simple, nutritious, and filling meal.

2013-08-24 05.21.42

While you can use canned black beans (be sure to drain and rinse!), I chose to use dry beans since that is what I had on hand. It is best to prepare these separate and in advance. If you don’t, you run the risk of excessive gas in your soup (and subsequently in you). You can remove the gas by soaking them in water the night before you use them. You can then add these soaked beans to your soup directly. If you do this, they may be firmer than you are used to, so another option is to cook them fully before adding them to the soup. If you like to cook them in the crock pot before using them, here is a great resource. What I did was soak an entire bag overnight, cook them in the crockpot (per the link above), and then used only what I needed for the recipe. The rest I put in a freezer bag and stored in the freezer until I needed them again.

2013-08-24 06.23.04

Crock-pot Black Bean and Corn Soup

Ingredients
These are all estimates, as I don’t measure when I am putting things into the crock-pot for soup

  • 2 cups of corn (I used sweet corn but regular would do as well)
  • 6 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 2-3 cups cooked/canned black beans
  • 1/4 cup diced hot pepper (less if you don’t like spice)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 cloves of garlic, diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Additional options – ground beef/turkey, shredded chicken, shredded zucchini, diced green peppers

Directions

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in the slow cooker
  2. Add water to desired consistency (soupy vs stewy)
  3. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4-6 hours.

C-Sections and Future Obesity Risk

A new study published last week found some interesting results – children born via c-section are 26% more likely to be overweight and 22% more likely to be obese.  Numerous media outlets reported on the story (here, here, and here). This is not a cause and effect relationship, so if you had a c-section PLEASE don’t worry that you have doomed your child to be overweight or obese. There are many factors that may be the cause of this and the authors even admit the link could be due to confounding variables.

While the rate of elective c-sections is up to almost 33% of all births, only 2.5% of these are because the mom requested a c-section. The others are due to medical factors or inpatient providers. One medical reason that jumps to mind immediately is a large baby. Many of the c-sections I assisted with on my rotation were because the baby wouldn’t fit. Big babies have been shown to have an increased risk of childhood overweight and obesity. For some reason the researchers did not control for birth weight.

I don’t plan to start scaring my patients by telling them that if they have a c-section their child will be overweight or obese. I honestly think that the findings we are seeing are more closely linked to other variables. The birthing process provides many benefits to mom and baby and it is difficult to know what role is plays in future obesity risk.

Crock Pot Chicken Masala

Back in 2007 I spent a month in India for a “HIV/AIDS and public health challenges” volunteer experience. It was absolutely amazing. We were completely immersed in the culture, which scared the crap out of me at first. I flew alone – for the first time alone and the first time ever on a plane for more than 3 hours. It was a 26 hour non-stop flight. I arrived at the Delhi airport, surrounded by a language I had never heard before (Hindi). My ride was no where to be found and I had no idea how to figure out how to contact him/her. Thankfully a half hour later I found them. And they didn’t speak English. They were employees of the NGO that my non-profit was affiliated with. They weren’t dressed very nice, but were nice to me. I couldn’t help but feel a little skeptical about the situation. Before we left the airport I tried to call my parents and J to let them know I arrived safely. My phone disconnected me 3 times and they were, of course, worried something happened to me. Thankfully it stayed connected long enough to hear I was OK and that they should call J to tell him I was safe. I then went with the two Indian men I had just met to an old van. Yes, one of those creepy vans without side windows. They loaded my luggage up for me and I sat alone in the backseat without a seat belt (because they don’t use those in India). I was honestly so scared that I might not make it through the night, but I knew I had to trust that everything would be fine. The ride was an experience I will never forget. It was my first glimpse into the chaos of Delhi driving. When we were at stop lights, children and women begged at our car (just like you may have seen on Slumdog Millionaire). I had never seen anything like this. We finally drove down a dark ally, my heart racing, and arrived at my hostel. The hostel keeper didn’t speak English, of course, and my two other travel partners hadn’t arrived yet, of course. The women at the hostel were very nice and helped me get settled into the room we (the 3 girls) would share. I was so scared and had no idea what was going to happen next. After I fell asleep there was a loud pounding at the door – it was my travel partners (but my mind went to the worst possible scenario, of course).

Taj

After that moment the trip improved greatly. One of the girls spoke Hindi, which made all the difference. Our experience was amazing. We were immersed into India. Working and living in conditions similar to those of the lower-middle class of India (which would be poor in the US). We worked with homeless children, men dying of HIV/AIDS who were disowned from their families, young boys who were already addicted to drugs, amputees who lost limbs from drug use, women who had been abused, and so many more amazing people. This was an experience I will never forget. I went from being scared to death of a country to not wanting to leave. I still hope to go back someday and experience India all over again.

loving her new glasses

A woman in Old Delhi who just was fitted for these new glasses

teaching English in the village

Teaching English in a Village

india-child in slums

A young boy in the slums of old Delhi

nutrition classes for eye healt

Nutrition classes in the slums of Old Delhi for eye health

 

During our time there we ate a lot of traditional Indian food. We usually ate whatever was prepared for the people we were serving, so there was tons of dal with rice and nann. We often ate with our hands. The food was absolutely delicious. I ate the best mango I have ever had in my life  - so ripe I could peel it with my hands. I fell in love with paneer and kheer (and probably put on a few pound because of it). Occasionally we’d venture out and eat at a local restaurant, which was always amazing. I only made the mistake of getting something too spicy once the entire month, was a pretty good success. 

thewhole group

Since being home, I have tried to make Indian dishes occasionally. The cumin, chai, cinnamon, and masala spices bring back memories instantly. A friend of mine made us Chicken Tikka Masala when I stayed with her in Madison a few months ago. It was so easy and SO delicious. I made this for J a few weeks ago and he loved it too. I served it with the very Indian side dish of green beans, haha, but it needed a vegetable! If I were doing it again I would add raisins to give it a touch of sweetness.

chicken masala

Slow-Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
(unfortunately I don’t know the source of this recipe)

Ingredients

  • 1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 24-oz chicken breast or thighs (1.5 pounds)
  • 1/2 English cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup basmati or long-grain rice
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream (or plain non-fat yogurt if you want a non-fat option)

Directions

  1. In a 4 or 6qt slow cooker, combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, tomato paste, and masala. Place the chicken on top, cover, and cook on low for 7-8 hours (or high for 3-4 hours).
  2. In a small bowl, toss the cucumber and cilantro with lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Prepare the rice before serving.
  4. Just before serving, stir the cream into the masala. Serve over rice with cucumber relish.