This banana baked oatmeal is an easy yet decadent breakfast or brunch recipe. Prepare it on a Sunday to have for breakfast throughout the week, or serve it warm from the oven for Mother’s Day brunch this weekend! This recipe is vegan, gluten free, and naturally sweetened with banana and applesauce, so it’s perfect for a crowd that has dietary restrictions.
Oatmeal is my all-time favorite breakfast. I love it because it’s very inexpensive, easy to prepare, and there are endless flavor combinations, so it never gets boring. Oatmeal has plenty of fiber to keep us full, and is a good source of soluble fiber in the form of beta-glucan. Soluble fiber is especially important to have in our diets because it may help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, therefore reducing the risk of heart disease.
I eat oatmeal for breakfast several times per week, but can you believe this is my first time making a baked oatmeal recipe? Now that I’ve done it, I don’t know what I was waiting for. This recipe is incredibly simple, uses common ingredients you probably have in your pantry, and tastes amazing. The flavor reminds me of banana bread, but has a heartier texture thanks to the old fashioned oats.
This banana baked oatmeal recipe is great because all you need is one bowl to make it happen. After creating a flax egg in a mixing bowl, just add the other ingredients in the order listed. Stir together, pour into your baking dish, and into the oven it goes! It will definitely be added to my regular meal prep rotation, especially for busy weeks when we need breakfast on the go.
A Few Recipe Notes
While I haven’t tested other types of oats with this recipe, I definitely suggest using old fashioned rolled oats. Their chewy texture holds up well when baked.
I used a flax egg to keep this recipe vegan. You can substitute ground chia for ground flax, or one whole egg if you are not vegan!
For the bananas, the riper, the better! Ripe bananas are much sweeter, and this eliminates the need for added sugar in this recipe.
A modern and more nutritious take on the classic cheese quesadilla. This recipe calls for sprouted grain wraps, goat cheese and lots of vegetables for lots of nourishing ingredients in every bite.
This quesadilla might be my new favorite lunch to whip up when I am home. This meal feels decadent and even a little bit fancy, but it is loaded with good-for-you ingredients! Goat cheese is one of the top three best cheeses in my opinion (right up there with brie and fresh mozzarella). I almost always have it served cold in a salad or spread on a cracker, but after making this recipe, warm goat cheese is where it’s at!
In addition to goat cheese, this quesadilla packs in lots of vegetables. The combination of sweet caramelized onion, mushrooms and spinach will give you about one full serving of veggies per quesadilla. That’s just about the easiest way to get you closer to your five a day!
I used Angelic Bakehouse sprouted 7-grain wraps instead of traditional flour tortillas for this quesadilla to make this recipe even more nutritious. These wraps are made with sprouted grains, which may be easier for many people to digest! Sprouting a grain also increases the levels of B vitamins including folate, fiber and amino acids. Sprouted grains also have a reduced glycemic index than non-sprouted grains. This means that sprouted grains cause a slower, more stable rise in blood sugar after consuming them. I absolutely love the nutty taste and texture of these wraps, and they become perfectly soft yet crispy when griddled in the skillet!
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This recipe is easily customizable, as different cheeses and vegetables would pair well with these wraps.
This lettuce-free salad is still full of green goodness, thanks to one of my favorite vegetables. Broccoli is the crunchy base for this delicious salad, and it’s the perfect vehicle for a creamy Thai peanut dressing!
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – peanut sauce makes everything better. I’m always looking for new ways to add it to my meals. This salad was inspired by the Raw Broccoli salad I had at one I had at one of my favorite NYC restaurants, Emily. My sister and I dined there on one of my last nights living in the city and shared a meal. I left the restaurant equally as excited about their broccoli salad as I was their pizza!
This broccoli salad includes dried cherries and peanuts, just like at Emily. I also added edamame for an added boost of plant-based protein! Everything is coated in the creamiest blanket of peanut dressing. This dish is also a great meal prep recipe. It’s quick and easy to make, and it holds up well in the fridge for a few days.
Broccoli and Cruciferous Vegetables
Broccoli just might be my all-time favorite vegetable. One reason I love it is because it holds onto sauces and dressings so well. It also has so many health benefits! Broccoli is part of the cruciferous vegetable family, which also includes kale, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. Cruciferous vegetables are rich in fiber, so they help keep us full. They are also excellent sources of many vitamins and minerals, including folate, and vitamins A, C, and K. Cruciferous vegetables also contain phytonutrients called glucosinolates. These compounds have antioxidant effects, lowering inflammation in our bodies. Glucosinolates have been associated with preventing certain types of cancer. I strive to include 1-2 cruciferous vegetables in my diet each week!
A Few Recipe Notes
Blanching broccoli keeps it crunchy and crisp, while bringing out the vibrant green color we love to see.
Dry your blanched broccoli very well so the sauce coats everything evenly – don’t skip this step!
Other dried fruit, such as raisins, cranberries, or chopped dates, would work well to replace dried cherries.
Hi guys! Today, I want to share something deeply personal in this post. I’ve written a little bit about my mental health struggle in Instagram posts over the past year, but I wanted to share a more complete look at my story. For me, one of the greatest comforts in this journey is hearing from others who have had similar experiences, because it makes me realize I am not alone. If my story helps just one person feel this way, then the purpose of me writing this will have been served a million times over. As a disclaimer, I am not a medical doctor or mental health practitioner, and this blog post is in no way meant to diagnose or formally treat any mental health issues. I’m just sharing my story, and I’ve included things that have worked for me personally.
My mental health struggle began long before I even recognized it for what it was. In September of 2017, I was entering my last semester of coursework in graduate school in New York. I was also about to take the RD exam, and my boyfriend, Ben, had moved from New York to Boston one month before. I felt myself drifting from close friends because of busy schedules. For the three years prior, my schedule was jam packed with a rigorous full time course load, a part time job, volunteering, studying like crazy, and dietetic internship rotations, all while maintaining some semblance of a social life. As a stark contrast, I was only taking two classes during my final semester. While this left me ample time to study and work on Instagram projects, it also meant I was spending a lot of time alone. There were definitely days when I didn’t speak a single word to another human. As an introvert, this sounds blissful on paper, but even introverts need human contact and conversation to feel whole.
During this time, I remember telling my boyfriend and mom that I was feeling lonely and down on multiple occasions. I started to be more proactive about making plans with friends, and set up some dinners, workout classes and lunch dates. Even still, I couldn’t shake that feeling of loneliness. I just brushed it off as a passing phase due to this transitional period in my life.
Towards the end of the semester, I applied for a few jobs in New York City. I took a hospital job, because I had enjoyed clinical nutrition much more than I expected during my internship. I started right after Thanksgiving of 2017, and was thrown right into working. It was overwhelming and challenging, but it felt good to be around people, and some of my friends who I worked with were super helpful. I started working on cardiac and psychiatric units, which were both rewarding, but I knew I didn’t want to be there forever.
In February, a position to be the RD on the Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) unit opened up, and I volunteered because I had loved working with oncology patients during my internship. These patients are extremely sick with leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma or other cancers. Many of them were here after multiple relapses. While a transplant can absolutely save lives, the potential, and not uncommon, complications can be deadly. The RD on the BMT unit is highly involved. I was expected to attend rounds with the doctors as much as possible, which meant visiting with each patient on the unit, hearing their story, current status and complications from the doctors, and giving my input when needed. I changed my whole schedule around – I previously went in at 9 AM after a morning workout, but now got in at 7:30 to make rounds. This was not an issue for me though, as I was truly excited to help these patients. The first few weeks were a whirlwind. I learned so much, met the team, and started to work with these very sick people. It was extremely rewarding, and I wanted so much to help them.
I knew it was going to be difficult when I had a bad dream about a patient during one of my first weeks on the unit. I woke up sobbing in the morning, woke Ben up, and couldn’t stop crying. I felt so much pain, fear and sadness in that moment, as if I were taking on the feelings I perceived this patient was having. I felt hopeful, though, because I loved connecting with these patients. I considered my empathy a strength in this environment, and I would be able to handle it with a little adjustment in time.
My Breaking Point
I was able to maintain this hopeful mindset for a few months, but it became obvious to me in March that I was struggling. I couldn’t leave work at work – I was constantly worrying about the patients. As I learned more about the severity of these types of cancers, getting diagnosed with them myself became my worst nightmare. Slowly, then quite rapidly, things took a turn for the worse. Certain words and phrases I read in the medical charts began to trigger a deep anxiety. I started incessantly feeling my body for swollen lymph nodes and abnormalities, convincing myself that I had symptoms of these cancers. I even went to a doctor, who reassured me that nothing was wrong, but after one day of relief, I was back to completely believing I was sick. My friends and boyfriend would say, “You’re so healthy! You eat so well and exercise every day”, but this didn’t matter to me. The scariest part of these cancers is they can happen to any person, at any age. I started thinking, “Why not me?” I could not think of anything else from the moment I woke up each day.
Some of the other signs that something was wrong were; crying multiple times a day, inability to concentrate, loss of appetite, and waking up in the middle of every night with a heavy sense or worry, dread and/or panic. For about 2 weeks, I don’t even know how I got myself to work. My mind was completely filled with fears for my own health. I couldn’t finish my meals, had no interest or energy to grocery shop and meal prep and ate cereal for dinner. (Those who know me will tell you this is NOT ordinary for me – I never take home leftovers and a bowl of cereal is like a snack for me). I felt scared to be alone with my thoughts, so I would spend the workday on my friend’s unit writing notes with her, even spending one night at her apartment, and called my mom and boyfriend frequently. My parents came to New York for the weekend, postponing their trip down to Martha’s Vineyard. I will forever be grateful for all of this, and for my amazing support system at this time. When I had to be alone, I would just watch Friends and mindless television for hours, trying to numb my thoughts.
Making A Plan and Exploring Treatment
Relief started to come slowly when I talked out a plan with my parents, and I decided to leave New York and my job three weeks earlier than I had planned before moving to Boston. I also began seeing a therapist once a week. This provided a little temporary relief, but the therapist I was seeing just was not the right fit. The doctor I had seen had given me a prescription for an SSRI, but I was opposed to medication at that point, and wanted to heal naturally. In my own head, I felt that taking medication somehow was something I should be ashamed about, as if there was something wrong with me. I decided not to try the SSRI and convinced myself I would be able to heal without medication. Besides, I was leaving New York in a month and would be in a better environment, so I figured it was largely situational. I finished out another month or so at the hospital, where I was luckily able to be removed from BMT unit service and provide floating coverage for the remainder of my time there.
Healing Looks Different for Everybody
Before moving to Boston, I went to Martha’s Vineyard to be with my family and take some time to rest and work on my mental health. I thought that being in my favorite place with my support system would turn things around, but I was still struggling. I had difficulty falling asleep, couldn’t sleep through the night, couldn’t sit still, and just felt an overlying sense of fear, anxiety and lack of control. During this time, I had been speaking to Ben’s aunt, a psychiatrist, on the phone once a week. She was encouraging me to try an SSRI, and I finally decided it was the right thing to do. I now knew my anxiety/depression was not purely situational, because it continued to manifest itself while I was safe in my favorite place in the world. I finally gave up the thoughts that needing medication somehow makes me weak. There was nothing wrong with me, I just needed help to feel better. I started taking a low dose of my SSRI, knowing it can take several weeks to feel an effect.
Fast forward about 3 weeks - Ben and I had moved to Boston, and I felt like a veil had been lifted. My mood and my sleep were both improving. But, I still felt an overlying sense of panic about my health and general bad things happening to me. At the recommendation of my new doctor, I began taking the full dose of my SSRI. Within the next 3-4 weeks, I was finally feeling normal again. My irrational health fears significantly decreased, I was sleeping much better, and my mood was much improved. I even began experiencing some unexpected, yet welcome, “side effects” of taking an SSRI. I had a greater desire to be more social, felt more comfortable in social situations, and felt more easygoing. As I continued on my SSRI regimen, this all improved even more.
Letting Go of Stigma
From where I am today, having been taking my SSRI for more than 6 months, I can honestly say it was one of the best choices I have ever made for myself. Being considered an “influencer” in the wellness community, I got caught up in what I thought I should be doing to manage my anxiety/depression. I thought I should be healing the natural way, though therapy, meditation, deep breathing, proper diet and exercise. I feel sad for myself looking back to these thought processes. Anxiety/depression is a serious mental health disorder that cannot be taken lightly. I cannot stress enough how important it was to get the proper help I needed, and for me, that is in the form of medication. If you are in a similar position and non-medical remedies aren’t helping, I encourage you to explore medication options with your practitioner. There is no shame in needing medication to manage your mental health, and it truly can improve your quality of life.
My mental health journey and recovery from this period are far from over. Things are definitely not perfect, but they are consistently better. Right now, I am confident that medication is necessary for me to manage my mental health, but I’m not sure if one, five or ten years from now, that will be the case. Of course, I would love to reach a point where I no longer need it, but I will never push myself to go off without the proper consideration and guidance from my practitioners. Since last spring in the hospital, I have had a few periods of health anxiety. These periods really put me out of commission, because the fears take over my thoughts to the point where I can’t focus on anything else. This is something I want to work on through therapy, perhaps with a CBT specialist. I’ve been dragging my feet on finding a therapist since moving to Boston, but I’m using May as Mental Health Awareness month to motivate myself to do so.
I’ve been blessed to have an incredibly supportive group of people who help me every day, and I appreciate them so much more after experiencing this struggle. For anyone else reading today that struggles with mental health disorders, please know that you are not alone. There is help, you can feel better than this, and things will improve. Mental health disorders are so much more common than we think, and there needs to be more open discussion regarding mental health to get rid of the stigma attached. Thank you for listening to my story. If reading this helps just one person, I will feel like this post served its purpose.
If you are struggling, here are some resources to look at now. I encourage you to contact your doctor, tell somebody you trust, and voice your struggle. Help is available and it makes all the difference.
This meal size salad features healthy homemade versions of not one, but two, of your favorite summertime sauces! Homemade barbecue sauce with clean ingredients and sweetened with manuka honey, plus a dairy free homemade Caesar dressing. Don’t be intimidated, this recipe is actually super easy to make. Perfect for the rising temps!
Did you guys know May is National Barbecue Month? I’m celebrating with this easy, healthy and delicious barbecue salmon. With the slowly rising temperatures in Boston, I can’t wait to spend time outdoors with friends and grill up all my favorite seasonal foods. My favorite simple summertime meal is grilled salmon with a yummy sauce, grilled vegetables and a side salad. Caesar salad just screams summer to me, so this was the perfect pairing for barbecue salmon.
Most store-bought barbecue sauces contain preservatives, food additives and excess added sugar. One of the leading brands has high fructose corn syrup listed as the first ingredient, followed by four other types of sugar in the ingredient list, totaling 16 g of sugar in a 2 tbsp serving. This barbecue sauce recipe contains less sugar and real, whole food ingredients that taste good and will make you feel good.
Manuka Honey Benefits
Pacific Resources International (PRI) makes an amazing manuka honey that I used in this barbecue sauce recipe. Manuka honey differs from regular honey because it contains methylglyoxal, giving it much higher and more effective antibacterial properties. The FDA has even approved many manuka honey containing products as effective for wound healing. When taken orally, manuka honey’s antibacterial properties may promote good oral health and help soothe a sore throat. The methylglyoxal also withstands higher temperatures, up to 150 degrees F, than regular honey, so the antibacterial properties are not destroyed at lower temperatures like regular honey. Pacific Resources International sources high quality manuka honey from New Zealand and Australia. They work directly with the beekeepers and cool process their products to retain all the natural properties of the raw honey.
New Zealand Sea Salt
I also used PRI Fine Sea Salt from New Zealand in this recipe. Recent research has revealed that sea salt from our oceans is contaminated with microplastics. Horrifying, I know! Sea Salt from New Zealand has largely been protected from this contamination as it is sourced from very clean waters. Some of PRI’s sea salts are BioGro certified in New Zealand, which means the salt is rigorously tested for pollutants and contaminants before hitting the shelves.
The manuka honey is stirred into this barbecue sauce once it has cooled to preserve its antibacterial properties. This sauce is so easy to make – just combine everything in a saucepan and stir! The dairy free Caesar salad dressing is just as easy. Combine a few simple ingredients in a blender, and you are rewarded with a super creamy, tangy and authentic Caesar dressing. Topped with barbecue salmon and crunchy croutons, this balanced meal is packed with satisfying summer flavor.
Two homemade sauces are super simple to whip up – healthy BBQ sauce and dairy free Caesar dressing! Served with seared salmon, this meal sized salad is perfect for summertime.
4 salmon filets
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
4 heads romaine lettuce, chopped
2 cups croutons
Homemade Barbecue Sauce
½ cup tomato paste
1/3 cup apple sauce
½ cup water
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce or tamari
1 tbsp honey mustard
½ tsp salt
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp molasses
2 tbsp Pacific Resources International manuka honey
Dairy Free Homemade Caesar Dressing
¾ cup cashews, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes up to overnight
½ cup water
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce or tamari
1 tbsp olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Season salmon with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet on medium heat. Add salmon filets, skin side up, to the skillet. Cook for 3-5 minutes until salmon starts to brown, then move into the oven to finish cooking for 6-10 minutes.
While salmon is in the oven, prepare barbecue sauce. Combine all ingredients except manuka honey in a medium saucepan on medium heat, stirring until everything is combined. Remove from heat, then stir in manuka honey.
To prepare the dressing, add all ingredients to a high powered blender or food processor and blend on high until creamy.
Remove salmon from oven and flip to skin side down. Brush a generous serving of barbecue sauce over each filet.
Toss chopped romaine with Caesar dressing and distribute evenly into 4 large salad bowls. Top each bowl with croutons and a salmon filet.
Keywords: homemade barbecue sauce, healthy barbecue sauce, salmon, homemade caesar dressing, dairy free caesar dressing
These easy tacos are filled with vegetables and packed with flavor. The smokiness of the mushrooms contrasts so nicely with the sweet and spicy mango avocado salsa and creamy tahini lime dressing! Put these on the menu for your next Taco Tuesday.
Tacos are one of our favorite easy meals. We make them a few times every month, each time switching up the ingredients and toppings. Tacos are also an ideal meal to serve to a big group. You can include so many different easy sides and toppings, so each person is able to customize their meal based on taste and dietary restrictions.
I usually make tacos with fish or shrimp, but I wanted to experiment with a vegan version! Choosing Portobello mushrooms as the base was a great move, because they have a meaty texture that contrasts well with other toppings. Seasoned with garlic, spices and chipotle in adobo sauce, these mushrooms have a smoky and slightly spicy flavor you will want in all your tacos going forward.
The mango avocado salsa is the perfect juxtaposition to the mushrooms. Just combine super sweet mango, creamy avocado, tomatoes, black beans, cilantro, salt, lime juice and jalapeno in a bowl! This salsa is delicious on its own and would also be amazing served with fish.
To round everything out, I made a super simple tahini lime sauce. Drizzle this on for a creamy and zesty addition to your tacos. It cuts some of the heat and is a wonderful alternative to sour cream.
A Few Recipe Notes
Adjust the amount of chipotle pepper based on your tolerance for spicy foods. I prefer less spicy foods, so I used one seeded small pepper. Keep the seeds in and add more peppers for extra spice.
Heating the corn tortillas directly on the flame of your gas stove gives them a smoky flavor and a nice char. If you do not have a gas stove, heat them using dry heat in a skillet without oil rather than in the microwave to preserve their flavor and texture.
Mango could easily be swapped for pineapple or papaya in the mango avocado salsa.
These zucchini brownies are super rich, chocolatey and fudgy. Even the staunchest vegetable hater will love these treats filled with good-for-you ingredients! This recipe is so easy and bakes up in less than 30 minutes.
It’s been a while since I posted a dessert recipe, so these are long overdue! Is there anything better than freshly baked brownies? Cookies are definitely high on my list, but when you’re craving chocolate, brownies cannot be beat. Growing up, brownies were one dessert my mom didn’t usually make from scratch. Instead, we always had the Ghirardelli boxed brownie mix. This mix actually makes super fudgy and moist brownies, so that is what I have grown to love. Cakey brownies just don’t do it for me!
When I was making this recipe, I knew these brownies had to come out super fudgy, so I limited the almond flour to just ¼ cup. While I was in the process of creating a healthier brownie, I decided to add zucchini for extra nutrients! I love the texture and moisture that zucchini adds to baked goods, and knew it’s mild flavor would not take away from the chocolatey goodness I was looking for.
A Few Recipe Notes
Your almond butter should be smooth and runny, with no other ingredients besides almonds. I used Coscto’s Kirkland Signature brand. You can also sub any other natural creamy nut butter for similar results.
If your almond butter contains salt, you may omit the salt in this recipe.
I used a microplane to grate the zucchini. This makes extremely light and fluffy shreds, which blend really nicely into the brownies.
These zucchini brownies are approved by multiple taste testers, so I am confident you can serve these to just about anyone and they will be asking for more!
I prefer slightly underdone brownies, but if you prefer cakey, bake until toothpick comes out completely clean.