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Maple Bacon Walnut Oatmeal

First of all, I wanted to apologize again for falling off of the grid. My passion for food has not gone away, though I have had to make a few adjustments in my diet which I will get to shortly. Mostly, it’s been a time issue, but it’s been a bit more than that. Without going into gory details, let’s just say my cholesterol, blood pressure and weight have been far less than ideal and my doctors suggested some changes to not only help with those issues but to help with my lower back disc issues. So I did something I thought I may never do–I saw a nutritionist. Granted, I know a lot about food and maybe you do too. But you can always learn more about anything and you certainly should do that when it comes to food.

I thought that overall my diet was not horrible, until I started a diary and recognized that while I’m currently not drinking alcohol and mostly stick to coffee and carbonated water/seltzer, I was compensating by eating tons of empty calories. And even when I thought a light lunch of a baked potato and tomato soup was good, little did I know that it was a double whammy of bad–because of the carbs in the potato coupled with the sugar in the soup (more carbs)….but the thing my nutritionist pointed out about this lunch made a light bulb go off in my head. “You’re not eating enough protein,” she said. That lunch had zero protein (or maybe a negligent amount), and because of that it explained why I was often hungry an hour later.

When she started to plot out some good choices for me, it started to make sense. Would you consider a breakfast of cottage cheese and fruit, two slices of whole wheat toast each with a tablespoon of peanut butter, and a small glass of tomato juice part of a “diet?” Trust me, it’s not. That breakfast is filling as hell. Which of course means no mid morning blood sugar spike leading to pretzel or doughnut gorging. The plan is now to have 30 grams (or more) of protein AND up to 45 grams of carbs, with some vegetables–at breakfast, lunch and dinner. And to have 7-14 grams of protein plus 15 grams of carbs as a snack (example apple and cheese or greek yogurt and nuts or an orange and some jerky). The magic words I heard are that I CAN have carbs. I’m also allowed to have one treat per day–ice cream after dinner or cookies or jelly beans. If I have the treat during the day, I have no treat after dinner. It’s a fair trade and way of deal-making with myself.

Look, I know you don’t come here for health and nutrition advice. But I think it’s important enough that you should consider looking at your own eating habits, especially if you need to lose a few pounds (oh yeah, I lost 3 pounds this past week and I’m just starting) and are getting up there in age. So I’ll offer hints and suggestions where I can, starting with my breakfast this morning–Maple Bacon Walnut Oatmeal. Yes, I’m serious.

I told my wife the other day that I had a single serving of oatmeal (I like to make it from scratch, which only takes 10 minutes or so), with walnuts and maple syrup, and bacon on the side. She suggested taking it one step further and crumbling bacon on the oatmeal. That’s one of the many reasons I married her–she is simply brilliant (and hilarious, I may add). So I tried that this morning. I made the oats the same way (with a splash of half and half too) and crumbled two slices of bacon on top. As good as it sounds, this particular version was not a home run. The bacon was overpowering because it was all on top. But as I got deeper and had more spoonfuls of oats with bacon accents, it was, then, a home run. A touchdown. A three-pointer at the buzzer. You get the idea, sports fans. I also need to try this with bacon that crumbles better without burning quickly as I used today. You’ll notice that frosty glass of milk on the side. I have always had milk with my oatmeal, and now even more so since I need that extra protein to balance the carbs in the oats. But I like to also put the milk in the freezer before I cook the oats, making it ice cold in a frosty glass. It’s the little things, I tell you.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Product review: Element Bars

I realize that this blog is often geared toward recipes, reviews and ideas that are not exactly healthy. But we do include our share of healthy ideas, and truth be told, my gut is growing in inverse proportion to the inactivity I’ve endured following recent back surgery. And so I need to eat better, something that is always easier when it’s more convenient.

Well, there is a product that was pitched to me recently for this blog that is healthy, convenient, and tasty–and has the added bonus of being gluten free–Element Bars. Standard granola bars often have so much added sugar or other sweeteners that offset the health benefits. Protein bars have long lists of ingredients that you can’t pronounce and usually they have this weird aftertaste. And there has been another wave of bars–the all natural kind, and Element Bars fit that bill. But they take it a step further by allowing you to customize your bars.

Go to www.elementbars.com, and poke around. You can make your own bars based on whether you’d like them chewy, oaty, crispy, datey or fruit&nut. Those are the “core” parts of the bar, and from there you add whatever types of dried fruit, nuts, sweeteners (such as honey or maple syrup) and “boosts” such as whey, fiber or Omega-3. But you can also order pre-determined recipes, and some flavors I sampled were Datey Divine, PB Power, Almond Sunrise, Cherry Charge, Banana Repair, and Cherry Chocolate.

They were all delicious, and I’m not just saying that because they sent me product to try. But there was the added bonus of knowing I was eating something all natural and good for me–with good amounts of fiber or protein or both. I have to say though that I was really partial to the “Cherry Charge,” which had oats and whey crisps, as well as dried cherries and cashews. And maybe one of the best points here–I was running out the door twice recently and realized I had no time to make breakfast. I grabbed an Element Bar, ate one in the car and my hunger was curbed for a few hours. No joke. I guess when you give your body the nutrients it needs, you don’t get hungry. Imagine that!

Seriously though, for you folks that are health conscious, you won’t find a bar that tastes this good with this much nutrition. Or one that you can create on your own. Now that’s good marketing.

For more information, check out www.elementbars.com

Maple-y bacon breakfast sandwich

Psst, don’t tell your cardiologist about this one.

Last week, I saw Eggo French Toast Waffles, which are more of a waffle and less like French toast (the key is there is maple syrup baked in), in the freezer case at the grocery store. I thought our 4-year old would like these, so I picked them up. Then of course, I realized it’s bacon week and anything goes.

So this morning, I toasted two of these “waffles,” and scrambled some eggs. I cooked up two slices of thick cut bacon in the microwave. When the pillows of maple goodness were toasted, I put a slice of cheese down on one of them, then topped with the scrambled eggs and the bacon slices and put the other waffle on top. And there you have a breakfast sandwich that is every bit as tasty as it sounds, and looks (above).

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