Breakfast Is Important! (But You Know This)

When I was a kid, I loved oatmeal, apparently. Somewhere between my earliest memories and the next time I ate oatmeal, though, something happened. For the last 15 years, I’ve been unable to stomach the healthy, quick, and easy breakfast option, and it’s taken its toll. Every time I see oatmeal, and read the articles touting its well-known and bountiful health benefits, I got very sad.

Then, I discovered an oatmeal called Oat Revolution. It is single-serve packets with the measuring utility built-into the packet for the water, and it’s simply microwave and eat. It was simple, it was cheap, and I decided to give oatmeal one more try.

I still don’t like it… But it doesn’t make me gag anymore, which is a bonus. I just need to add a granola on top to give it a texture other than “mush.” It’ll be added to my “quick and easy breakfast” list, since I’m making an effort lately to eat something—anything—before I leave for work nowadays. Here are some of my quick and easy breakfasts, just little things so you don’t walk out the door hungry:

  • Scrambled egg (In the microwave!) on toast: Take a bowl and spray it with a little bit of cook spray. Scramble a single egg into the bottom, and add any herbs or spices you prefer in your eggs. Microwave it for 45 seconds, then check to make sure it’s cooked. Most microwaves will finish cooking the egg within a minute, so experiment with yours to find the right time. While that’s going, make a slice of toast, and butter it. After the egg is done, slide the egg out of the bowl onto the toast, and maybe top with cheese, salsa, or whatever else suits your fancy (My roommate likes ketchup). You can eat this easily on your way to the car, and it gives you a bit of carbs, a bit of protein, and depending on the bread you pick, some fiber and whole grains as well! Think-cut and Texas-style toast works well for breads, but English muffins, bagels, and rolls are all good substitutes.
  • Oatmeal: The oatmeal I mentioned above isn’t the only instant oatmeal out there. Oatmeal and a banana or an apple will give you the energy to make it through if you have to walk out the door with only five minutes to eat something. If you have more time, you can dress it up in a hundred different ways, with fruit, milk, jams/jelly, and so on, but the basics will give you a good boost on an empty stomach.
  • Bananas!: A banana has a ton of vital nutirents, plus fiber to help fill you up. If you work out in the morning, grab a banana to help you through it. They’re cheap and easy, and if they start to go brown, you can peel them, freeze them, and use them in smoothies! When I lived in Japan, bananas were just about the only fruit I could afford, so I got used to eating them frequently, and I came to love the little yellow energy boost.
  • Granola Bar and Peanut Butter: Another quick carb-and-protien morning combo is granola bars (I like the Nature Valley crunchy Honey and Oat ones) with peanut butter on top. You can sprinkle some cinnamon on the peanut butter, or some dried fruit, like cherries, blueberries, cranberries or raisins. A sliced banana is also awesome on top, and the whole think only takes a minute and a half to put together. This one is also perfect for eating on your way out the door.
  • Bowl of Cereal: The old standby, a bowl of cereal, can be eaten in bites between putting on your shirt and putting on your shoes. There are plenty of healthy, ineexpensive options. Look at the store brands, and bargain brands like Malt-o-Meal, whose cereals are often almost identical to the expensive, brand-name ones. Compare labels and find what you’re looking for, then top it with skim milk, almond or soy milk. Unless you drink the milk afterwards, you don’t really notice the difference!

These are only a tiny, tiny few of the hundreds of thousands of options for the all-important breakfast, but they are probably some of the most common, and easiest morning meals. Don’t miss the most important meal of the day just because you’re in a rush!

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A Little Pampering Goes A Long Way

I’m all about the luxurious life. Unfortunately, my wallet isn’t. So I’ve gotten along with ways to pamper myself without spending oodles of money. Sometimes, it’s little extravagances, like caving to my Starbucks cravings, or buying a fuzzy new pair of socks, but usually it’s more along the lines of a hot cup of tea and some cheesy Harry Potter fanfiction by candlelight. (Don’t judge me!)

A few months ago, at the beginning of Spring, the thrift store I visit on an almost weekly basis had an extra sale on robes. I picked up a gorgeous white sweatshirt-material knee-length zip-up hooded mess of comfy for three bucks, and that has become my default “Aaaaaahhhhhh” robe. Our apartment isn’t terribly fancy, and most of our candle holders are from the dollar store or thrift shops (there are a blessed ton of them in the area), but lighting them all up, pulling out my actual teapot, and nibbling on some shortbread cookies while reading blasphemous romances online is an unmatched luxury.

When you’ve not got much to go on, it’s the little things that count:

  1. Have a special kind of tea (or coffee, or hot cocoa, or whatever) that you ONLY drink when you’re feeling hedonistic and decadent. My luxury tea of choice is an organic white tea and peppermint blend that I picked up for two dollars at a Big Lots. Since I usually just drink a Lipton or Bigelow green tea, it feels utterly extravagant, regardless of the original price.
  2. Splurge on cookies once in a while. Again, my BFF Big Lots had a sale the other day, and the Pepperidge Farms Pirouette cookies–the long, round wafer sticks with creme inside–were $2 for a canister. Normally, they’re in the realm of $5-$6, so I felt quite giddy picking them up and taking them home to hoard for a few weeks, nibbling on one or two a day with my morning coffee, or my evening tea.
  3. Take a half hour to be lazy sometime. just utterly lazy. Eat something, and just leave the plate somewhere for a bit. Flop on your bed and stare at the clock for five minutes before rolling over and doing something pointless. Play Tetris or Flood-It on your phone. You can tidy back up and everything once your half hour of lazy is finished.
  4. Take a cup of plain, instant oatmeal, put it in a blender or food processor until it’s just dust. Then, draw a bath, pour the oatmeal in, and take a soothing, relaxing bath, with candles and music–the whole shebang. (Men, too! You can be pampered just as well as us ladies.)
  5. Pick a night, and make an appointment with yourself to cook an extravagant three-course meal. Make a soup and salad, a main dish, a few sides, and a dessert. The best part about doing this as a single person, or just as a couple, is the leftovers! Mix and match the soup and sides later, or the main dish and salad, or soup and dessert…! Take it with you to work for lunch, or have “Fancy Dinner Part II” the next evening.

I hope there’s something here that strikes your fancy. Let me know what other things you do to feel rich in today’s economy, I’m always looking for new things to try!

Cooking with my Roommate

Becca and I became roommates when, after a year in our respective pit-of-doom rooms we called living situations at the time, we both got fed up and decided we would work well living together. Obviously, I had some reservations about living with a friend. They say that nothing ruins a friendship like living together, or road trips. Well. We haven’t gone on a road trip, but living together hasn’t seemed that bad so far, and it’s been almost three months, and while we’ve had days where we can’t talk to one another for fear of blowing something up, we haven’t killed each other yet.

Mostly because, if I killed her, I’d lose my own personal chef.

I truly mean this, too. So far, in the two-months-and-some-change we have shared a kitchen, refrigerator, and and sink, she has made: a fantastic ratatouille (twice!), Eggplant Parmesan, a magnificent dinner with curried chicken and apple-vinegar kale, numerous decadent salads, omelets, cinnamon rolls from scratch, fresh bread from scratch, oodles of delicious sandwiches, smoothies, and more. She says her specialty is baking, though, and admittedly her cheesecake is utterly to DIE for. Whenever Becca cooks, I know I’m gonna get something healthy, and I know she’s going to spend half her time plating the dish, then describing it to me. Eating dinner with her makes me feel like I’m a judge on Iron Chef, it’s amazing! :D

A Picture of Becca's Cheesecake

Finished and plated cheesecake, photographed for a project Becca had at school.