I’ve wanted to be my own boss for as long as I can remember. My plan, when I finished up graduate school three plus years ago, was to open a private practice and continue blogging on the side. Before I had the chance to make that happen though, I was offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance and accepted the rather big job of being the nutrition expert for the world’s largest nutrition app.
Working at MyFitnessPal has been nothing short of a dream come true — and with blogging, freelance writing and recipe projects sprinkled in, I even managed to build a pretty good side hustle that’s satisfied the creative foodie in me.
Things change though — family priorities, job dynamics, professional aspirations — and since becoming a mama nine months ago, I’ve given a lot of thought to how I spend my time, what I want to devote my energy to, what matters and what doesn’t. Ultimately I decided I wanted two things: to be able to spend more time with our little guy and to do more of what I love — blogging, writing, recipe development, food photography, consulting. I guess I realized life is just too short and babies grow up way too fast.
Luckily, my husband was on board. Phew! I thought it was going to be hard to convince him but, as it turns out, all it took was a bottle of rosé and a big bowl of this butternut squash carbonara. So, a few months ago we started putting together a plan to make this crazy dream of mine a reality.
But that’s not all.
We also bought a home! A beautiful new home.
Because that’s the logical thing to do when you decide to quit your full-time job and start your own business, no?
No, I suppose not. But as weird as it sounds, for us it made sense — for a lot of reasons. As much as we love San Francisco, city living with a baby has been wearing on us. The increase in crime, the busy streets, the cost of housing (and childcare!), the lack of parking, the trash trucks outside our apartment at 4AM every Monday — it’s left us wanting more space for Noah to
run crawl around, more fresh air, more peace and quiet — easier living overall. Knowing I’d soon be able to work from anywhere and that the hubs could also work remotely, we threw some darts at the map and decided beautiful Bend, Oregon was where we wanted to be.
In addition to wrapping things up at work, starting my own freelance business and buying a home, we’re moving in two weeks. Actually, less than two weeks. Even I’m still trying to process that one but our lease is up at the end of the month so I suppose it’s happening one way or another.
Needless to say our apartment is a hot mess and our heads about to explode but we couldn’t be more excited about what’s to come!
And there will be lots more to come.
Over the past two weeks I’ve probably eaten about 30 of these adorably, delicious mini carrot cake bran muffins. Recipe testing…. It’s a tough job but somebody has to do it around here!
As it turns out, little Noah, who’s now 9 months (!!!), is turning out to be quite a good little taste tester himself. He may not be able to give verbal critiques just yet but, let me tell you, his body language is spot on.
Admittedly, I got a little heavy handed with the molasses on the first batch. One taste and well, Noah looked me square in the face and did a full body shiver. If he had arm hair I’m pretty sure it also would have been standing straight up. I tried not to laugh about the fact that I just completely disgusted my own child but it was just too cute. Needless to say I went back to the mixing bowl to try again.
How was the second batch you want to know? That one got two enthusiastic arms up from my little pint-sized judge in the black Ikea high chair. I consider that a victory after round one’s
hysterical disappointing results.
What I love about these muffins, besides that they are seriously delicious and now have the perfect balance of molasses, is how nutritious they are. Thanks to whole grains, like hearty oat bran soaked in milk, just four of these mini muffins provide 7 grams of quality protein and 6 grams of fiber. Add an 8-ounce glass of milk to wash them down and you’ve got a great breakfast or snack with a solid 15 grams of protein. With 9 essential nutrients in each 8-ounce glass, milk is a delicious, simple and wholesome way to give kids natural, high-quality protein, plus other important nutrients they need like calcium and potassium.
It’s important for kids (and their busy parents!) to get protein at every meal — especially breakfast, since it keeps us feeling satisfied. Having a glass of milk with breakfast does wonders for keeping the mid-morning hungries at bay and helps everyone stay focused, which is especially important this time of year as summer vacations come to an end, parents return to work and the kiddos head back to school.
Mornings feeling a little rushed these days? Silly question, I know. Throw a few of these little guys into a plastic baggie, pour some milk in spill-proof cup and you’ve got a nutritious breakfast to take on the go.
If you’re looking for a nutritious, make-ahead breakfast or snack that both kids and their busy parents will love, these mini carrot cake bran muffins are the way to go. I’m willing to bet your kids will also give them two enthusiastic arms up!
Makes: 32 mini muffins (8, 4-piece servings)
Nonstick coconut oil cooking spray
1 1/2 cups oat bran
1 cup 2% milk
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots (from about 2-3 large, peeled)
1/2 cup raisins
Pair each serving with an 8-ounce glass of milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly coat all 24 cups of a mini muffin pan with a bit of nonstick coconut oil cooking spray.
In a small bowl, combine oat bran and 1 cup milk. Stir well and set aside to allow the bran to absorb the milk. In another bowl, combine whole wheat flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and whisk to combine.
In a third large bowl, whisk together egg, coconut oil, and vanilla extract just until combined, then stir in molasses, honey and brown sugar. Add both the bran and flour mixtures and stir until just incorporated. Lastly, fold in the shredded carrots and raisins.
Using a 1 1/2 tablespoon scoop, divide the batter into the oiled muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 11-13 minutes. Cool in the pan for a few minutes before carefully transferring to a wire rack. Repeat with any remaining batter.
Serve muffins with remaining 8-ounce glass of milk and enjoy! Remaining muffins can be stored in an airtight container on the counter for up to 4 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Muffins can also be frozen and defrosted for a quick breakfast or snack in the future.
A special thanks to the National Milk Life Campaign for sponsoring this delicious recipe. For more nutritious recipes, head on over to MilkLife.com or connect with them on social via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
So, these popsicles might just be my new favorite summer treat — even though it’s July and actually feels nothing like summer in San Francisco. For those of you not in the Bay area who are absolutely sweltering from the summertime heat and humidity I’m going to apologize in advance — because what I’m about to tell you might make you sweat even more.
When I wrote this post I was sitting in my apartment eating a popsicle… WITH THE HEAT ON.
I kid you not. It was a chilly 65 degrees in the house every morning last week. First, I threw on a sweatshirt. Then, dug out my slippers. You’d think after three years in this city I’d be used to the fact that summer = wind + fog here in San Francisco but clearly, I’m not. The heat was a last resort — but necessary, and worth every eye-roll my husband shot my way last week.
But let’s get back to these popsicles, because I averaged two a day last week and know they don’t last long. Featuring pureed strawberries and blueberries and two creamy vanilla layers with a sweet granola top, these popsicles are made with just a handful of real ingredients — including wholesome milk, a staple you always have at home in your fridge.
Many people may not realize this but milk is one of the original farm-to-table foods! Always having milk on-hand makes it such a simple ingredient to incorporate into your favorite recipes, smoothies, or to simply enjoy by the glass with snacks and meals.
They take a little bit of time to make but really, they’re super simple. The key is freezing the pops until firm after adding each layer. If you don’t you’ll probably end up with pink and purple tie-dye popsicles — though I’m sure they’d still taste delicious.
For nice clean lines I highly recommend using a small syringe to transfer the milk-yogurt mixture and purees into the mold. You mommas out there, you probably have at least a few of these in your medicine cabinet! If you’re cool with a more rustic look, carefully pouring the liquid into the mold works, too.
These patriotic pops will make a cool, nutritious treat to enjoy while you watch the biggest sporting match-up of the summer — even if you have to have the heat on.
Makes 10 (2.5-ounce) popsicles
1/2 cup granola
2 teaspoons brown rice syrup
3/4 cup reduced fat milk
6 ounces fat free vanilla Greek yogurt
1 cup whole strawberries, tops removed
1 1/4 cup blueberries, divided
4 tablespoons water (optional)
Place granola and brown rice syrup in a small bowl and stir well until combined. Press approximately 3/4 tablespoon granola into each popsicle mold using the end of a wooden spoon. Granola should be packed tightly into the bottom of the mold.
In another small bowl, stir together milk and yogurt and set aside.
Using a small food processor or high-powered blender, puree the strawberries until smooth. Stir in a little bit of water into each puree so they are pourable, about 2 tablespoons, more if necessary.
Set aside 30 smaller blueberries and puree the remainder. Again, add water as needed to make it pourable.
For the cleanest lines between layers, use a small syringe, like an infant medicine syringe. If you’ll be pouring the milk and yogurt and purees into the mold, transfer each into small measuring cups with spouts. Store milk and yogurt mixture and purees in the refrigerator when not being used.
To layer the pops, start by pouring, piping or syringing 1 tablespoon (15mL) milk and yogurt mixture into each mold, covering the granola layer. Pouring will give you a more imperfect look whereas a syringe will make for cleaner lines between layers. Put the mold in the freezer and freeze until firm, at least one hour.
Next, layer 1 tablespoon strawberry puree on top of the frozen yogurt layer. Cover the top of the mold with foil, insert the popsicle sticks and freeze again until solid. Remove the foil, add another layer of yogurt and freeze again.
For the final layer, add 1 tablespoon blueberry puree and 3 blueberries to each mold. Freeze until solid. Keep the popsicles in the mold until ready to eat. Run each mold under lukewarm water for ~10 seconds to loosen and remove popsicles. Pops can be made 1 day in advance.
Thanks to the National Milk Life Campaign for sponsoring this delicious post. For more nutritious recipes, head on over to MilkLife.com or connect with them on social via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram!