Randy lay there like a slug…

… it was his only defense.

Ha!! My brothers and I used to laugh hysterically whenever we watched this holiday classic – A Christmas Story.┬á

Ralphie: http://www.flickr.com/photos/66044164@N00/2074273454

So, just because it’s the holidays and I’m feeling nostalgic, here’s a shout out to my bros Steve (aka the Cone) and John Boy. Here’s to watching a few holiday movies while sipping on soda, eating potato chips, and begging mom for 5 more minutes of TV time. Ahh…those were the good old days. Well, have they really changed that much? ­čśë

Holiday Movies We Loved As Kids (and still do!)

  • A Christmas Story
  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
  • Home Alone
  • Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
  • Miracle on 34th Street
  • Charlie Brown Christmas
  • Mickey’s Christmas Carol

Now, I throw it to you….What holiday movies did you most enjoy watching as a kid?

Ta for now, because I really need to get my rear end in gear and STUDY!!

Time To Make The Granola

If you’re old enough to remember the old Dunkin Donuts commercial, you will get the reference in my title ­čśë Hope this isn’t dating me – I was VERY young when I heard/saw this on television!

So anyway, late last night, I got the urge to make a little homemade granola. I’ve never tried Mix My Granola or other mail-order brands because I’m a little skeptical about their convenience and cost-effectiveness for my budget (why would I want to get addicted to something that I have to wait for in the mail?) And, I usually don’t buy store-bought brands because they are typically loaded with sugar, fat (aka calories) and inevitably contain something that I don’t like (raisins).

12.1 homemade granola 2

That’s not to say that I will never try Mix My Granola (heard great things about it) or something similar, but all of these reasons made want to try making my own granola at home. And so the Running With Cake granola was born!

Running With Cake- Sweet and Crunchy Granola

  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar (more or less depending how much sugar you want)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp either honey or maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups plain oats (not the quick kind)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup of chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, etc.)
  • Dried fruit (optional)

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Mix the first four ingredients (through the vanilla) in a microwave safe dish (I use a glass measuring cup) and microwave for about 1 minute or until sugar dissolves. Combine oats with nuts. Then combine dry ingredients with the warmed liquid mixture. Spread the oat mixture on a cookie sheet and bake until golden brown, 50-55 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately scrape the granola into a bowl. Add dried fruit and mix well. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 3 cups of granola.

And so, you will start with this…

12.1 Granola 1

And end up with this!

12.1 homemade granola 1

12.1 homemade granola 3

Totally yummo! It’s also super versatile – you can add just about any nuts or dried fruit that you want, and even omit the honey/maple syrup if you’re trying to watch calories.┬á

Try it in yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, and on ice cream, you won’t regret it!

What I May or May Not Have Eaten Today

Let’s play a game – It’s called, What did Jennifer eat today?

1) Breakfast = Oatmeal with walnuts or Kashi?

Answer…

If you chose Kashi you would be correct! I enjoyed a nice size bowl of Cheerios topped with a little bit of Kashi Go Lean Crunch. This was a super energizing breakfast after another hard and sweaty run on the treadmill. I keep pointing out that it was sweaty because, for some reason, it is exceptionally HOT in our basement. You think it would be cold down there – after all, it’s a basement in Chicago!

12.1 Kashi Go Lean

2) Lunch – A small salad or a bowl of minestrone soup?

Answer…

And the salad is the winner!! Around 1:10 PM, I was contemplating what I would have for lunch. Because I did not bring my lunch, it was very obvious that I needed to actually leave my cube to get something to eat. Then, I realized that we had an all staff meeting at 1:30 PM – oh s–t!! I ran out of the building so fast all you could see was my hair flying in the wind. First, I headed right across the street to Go Roma – super convenient I thought. Until I saw the line! My God people, it was nearly 1:30 PM, why haven’t you eaten lunch yet – I thought – not out loud of course. So, I made a side trip a few doors down to a local deli where I threw together a quick and health salad…

12.1 Salad with egg

Although, I walked back into the building JUST as the meeting was starting, so I threw the greens in the fridge and didn’t eat them until around 2:30. I was starving by this time, but a crisis was averted.

3) Dinner – Leftover chicken and dumpling soup or peanut butter and jelly?

Answer…

Yes, I was so lazy┬átired tonight that I didn’t even feel like warming up soup. So, it was a PBJ kind of night…

12.1 Peanut butter and jelly 2

It was rather tasty and looked kind of fancy – as fancy as PBJ can get – on my sparkly placemat from Crate and Barrel.

4) Dessert – Ice cream or chocolate chip cookies?

Answer…

Ding, ding, ding – you are correct if you guessed ice cream – Edy’s Slow-churned Butter Pecan ice cream to be exact. I swear this had lower calories for the simple reason that they added fewer pecans. They were definitely few and far between in this quart, if you know what I mean. You might as well just call it butter ice cream, with a few pecans. Maybe I’ll have better luck at the end of the quart. I will be happy to find out ­čśë

12.1 Edy's butter pecan 2

5) But, the real question is what did I eat today that I did NOT take a photo of:

a. Starbucks mocha frap

b. Chocolate log cookies

c. M&M’s

d. All of the above

I am embarrassed to admit it, but answer D is correct. I was a junk food eating machine today. I guess that’s what happens when you only eat a bowl of cereal and a small salad all day. Blah! I guess I really am human like everyone else.

Well friends, I’m off to study!

Where Are All The Healthy Vending Machine Snacks?

As I walked into our staff lounge this morning to fill up my water bottle, I happened to glance in the vending machine to see if it magically had anything new to offer. But no – it was the same old chips, candy, cookies, bear claws, etc. And we wonder why Americans are so fat!!! Why can’t vending machines in the workplace actually stock healthy food for a change?

Although I eat breakfast every day and typically bring my own snacks, sometimes I’m forced to head to the vending machine to avoid significant hunger pangs. And, it’s during these rare times where I wish I had healthier selections of food to choose from.

Dr. Kracker

If I had my way, the vending machine in my office would:

  • a) Have┬áindividual hot/cold sections that kept foods super fresh, and
  • b) Be restocked every few days or at least once a week to ensure freshness.

I would also make sure the machine was stocked with all of my healthy favorites like…

Jennifer’s Top 11 Healthy Vending Machine Snacks (in my dreams!)

  1. Fresh Granola with walnuts and almonds
  2. Nonfat Greek Yogurt
  3. Mexican snack pack of fresh guacamole, salsa, and tortilla chips
  4. Fresh pears and apples
  5. Hummus and baby carrots
  6. Tillamook white cheddar cheese and whole grain crackers
  7. All-natural creamy peanut butter
  8. Old-fashioned oats (not the instant kind)
  9. Dr. Kracker flatbreads
  10. Low-cal popcorn
  11. Tazo Awake Tea

Come ON people, how hard can it be???

So, if you had your way, what healthy snacks would you include in your office’s or school’s vending machine?