Slow Cooker Cheesy Pepper Steak

This isn’t the first time I’ve made this. I didn’t like how it turned out last time so I ended up doing things a little different.

It’s not that the original recipe wasn’t good, it was. I just don’t like using bouillon cubes instead of beef broth. And then having to take all the stuff out of the slow cooker to make the gravy wasn’t my thing.

Then I started wondering why rice was made separately. I mean, you put it on top of the rice with the gravy. Why not put the rice in the slow cooker to absorb the extra juices? Then you can mix it all up and just serve it out of one pot instead of dirtying a rice cooker, a bowl, and a crockpot.

I’m all about simplifying things. That or I’m really lazy. Probably more the latter. Sometimes, questions pop up and you end up saying fuck it, I’m doing it my way.

And then I added cheese on top. Who doesn’t like cheese? Cheese is the most amazing food ever created. Ok, more like one of the most because ice cream is pretty amazing and so are smoothies.

One of Mumika’s “friends” (it’s a woman I can’t stand and her very existence frustrates me) conned us into going to one of those Juice Plus meetings. I had been dodging them for 3 years and all she said was, “Hey, want free food?” The college student in was all over it.

Mumika and I get there and I realized immediately what I had walked into. I guess it wouldn’t have been so bad if a clinical nutritionist was doing the powerpoint but it was a nurse. And I’m all like shouldn’t you be taking people’s blood or something and not telling me what I should or shouldn’t eat? She was telling the people there how meat is the devil and cheese is the son of the devil and we can get the same amount of protein and calcium from broccoli and other fruits and vegetables. Well that’s just Ludacris. And because I felt that way when the Q&A came up, asked questions. I’m that person you don’t want in a Q&A panel because I will literally ask you the one question you don’t know that I already know the answer to and then school you on what you just presented making you feel like a complete buffoon.

Yeah, she didn’t like me too much. She didn’t like Mumika either because Mumika started chiming in. Mumika’s friend was absolutely mortified.

Sorry, but you do not tell me that if I want a better life I need to cut out cheese. I can’t do it. I can’t cut out soda, pasta, or corn. I’m that person that loves all the bad things health freaks ban from their diet and happily divulges into it. Why? Because after two near death experiences, who the hell cares what you eat. You can eat whatever you want as long as it’s in moderation. Why have strict diets if on your deathbed you look at you’re grandchild and say, “Man, I really should have eaten more corn, ice cream, and bacon while I could.” I seriously can’t live without cheese. I’m diabetic, there are not carbs in cheese. And there’s protein! It’s the perfect snack when I don’t feel like fucking up my numbers. And I always feel that way. Always.

Stupid nurse telling me to give up cheese to reach optimum health. Um, yeah, that want is long gone sister, I gots the diabetes now. And no, it’s not the kind I can reverse with exercise and eating right. If it was, I wouldn’t have this evil condition.

the first time I made it

the first time I made it

Slow Cooker Cheesy Pepper Steak

2 pounds beef sirloin, cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon Garlic powder
1/4 cup beef broth
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup onion, sliced
1 14.5 ounce can stewed tomatoes, do not drain
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 large green bell pepper, sliced
1 large red bell pepper, sliced
1 1/2 cups of rice
1 1/2 cups of cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions

Spray slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray.

Place beef on bottom of crock pot and season with garlic powder.

Mix cornstarch into beef broth until it is dissolved and pour on top of the meat.

Stir in onion, stewed tomatoes, soy sauce, sugar, and salt.

Cook on High for 4 hours

For the last 30 minutes of cooking, add the sliced peppers and rice and mix until well combined.

When the cooking time is done, turn the slow cooker to warm and add the melting cheese.

Makes 10. Calories: 220, Carbohydrates: 15 grams, Sugar: 4 grams, Fiber: 1 gram, Protein: 19 grams. 

So much better.

That, and if you can put everything in one pot, why not actually do it? Isn’t this what the slow cooker/crockpot meals were designed for anyway? Dump, crank of high, ignore it for like 4 hours, and then before you know it dinner is hot and ready.

At first I was scared the rice wasn’t going to cook. Then I left it alone while on warm, and all of the sudden the rice was ready.

And like I said before, cheese makes everything better.

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Broccoli Casserole

I’ll be honest, I’m not one for casseroles vegetables. I feel like it gets away from the purity of the vegetable. I usually sauté my vegetables. But I’m willing to try anything and this homemade sauce is what intrigued me in the first place.

Every vegetable casserole either uses white sauce or cream of mushroom soup. As I diabetic, I can’t do that. But this one, this one is different.

And there’s cheese in it. It’s essentially broccoli and cheese but with a mushroomy white sauce.

The recipe did call for Ritz crackers, but I hate those. Why are they in everything?!?!? So disgusting. Why can’t you use regular bloody bread crumbs instead of stupid Ritz crackers? So, I changed it.

broccolicasserole

Broccoli Casserole

16 oz of broccoli florets
8 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 medium yellow onion chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
5 tablespoons flour
4 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded and divided
1/2 cup panko crumbs

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to boil, add the broccoli and boil until broccoli is fork tender

Drain the broccoli in a colander and set aside.

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter.

Add mushrooms and onions, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms release liquid and it has all evaporated.

Put mushroom and onions in a bowl and set aside.

Melt the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter in the skillet.

Add the flour and stir until the mixture starts to brown.

Slowly begin to add the milk to the skillet, stirring constantly.

Cook until the mixture begins to thicken.

Add one-third of the shredded cheese and stir until completely melted.

Remove from the heat and stir in the reserved onions and mushrooms.

Add salt and pepper.

Place the broccoli in 9X13 baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.

Sprinkle with another one-third of the shredded cheese on top of the broccoli.

Pour the sauce over the broccoli and then sprinkle with the remaining third of the shredded cheese over it.

Sprinkle the panko crumbs evenly over the top of the casserole.

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 16. Calories: 144, Carbohydrates: 11 grams, Sugar: 4 grams, Fiber: 2 grams, Protein: 5 grams.

I heart this. I heart the mushroom onion cheese white sauce. And I love the panko crumb topping. I love how all of these amazing flavors boost and elevate the broccoli.

This is definitely not your Mom’s casserole. I feel like it’s a more modern twist on an old tradition.

Picky eaters beware, you will not be able to stop yourself from wanting seconds.

Yes, this is a rather tedious process. But as the broccoli, is cooking, you can literally make the sauce. So, tedious yes, time consuming no. And it taste amazing so it’s well worth your time and effort.

I never knew a broccoli casserole could taste so good.

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

I had egg whites left over from a previous recipe and strawberries that were going to go bad.

Strawberry shortcake cup cakes, it is!

One minor problem….I couldn’t find my damn muffin tin. It took me a eek to find the damn thing. a WEEK!!!!! Where was it? In a laptop messenger bag in my closet. How it got there is beyond me. This is why the house needs to be done, so that I can put stuff where it should be and not have to take a week of searching to find it.

Seriously!

The original plan was angel food cake cupcakes with a strawberry inside and vanilla buttercream frosting with a strawberry glaze drizzle. Very gourmet. Very bright, and pretty, and nice. But that didn’t happen.

The damn egg whites wouldn’t create strong peaks. I don’t know why. I blame this house and the humidity. So, I had to improvise.

This actually tastes like a strawberry shortcake. Add the whipped cream frosting and it’s perfect.

Who doesn’t like non messy, portable strawberry shortcakes.

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Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 egg whites
2 1/2 Tablespoons warm water
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
16 strawberry halves

whipped cream frosting

Directions:

Mix half of the sugar, flour and salt in a medium bowl.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together egg whites, water, cream of tartar and extract until well combined.

With mixer, whip mixture while slowly adding remaining sugar until fluffy.

Slowly add the flour mixture over top of egg white mixture and fold in with a rubber spatula until well combined.

Place a strawberry half in each paper liner.

Pour batter over strawberry halve until the cupcake liner is nearly full.

Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes.

Let the cupcake cool completes before frosting.

Makes 16. PER CUPCAKE. Calories: 29, Carbohydrates: 5 grams, Sugar: 2 grams, Protein: 2 grams.

WITH FROSTING. Calories: 105, Carbohydrates: 12 grams, Sugar: 8 grams, Protein: 2 grams.

I like how there’s barely any sugar or flour in it. It’s almost on the border of being gluten free but isn’t. And without frosting it’s only 29 calories. 29! They even taste amazing without the frosting.

The strawberry in the middle is a delightful surprise as well as how moist these cupcakes are. They are almost like sponge cake. Take one bite of the whole thing, and it’s like eating strawberry shortcakes.

The best thing about this is portion control. Want some strawberry shortcake but aren’t willing to sacrifice carbs or calories, make these. Cupcakes are essentially portion controlled slices of cake and other desserts to keep you from eating the whole thing. And they are literally the perfect slice, not to small that you get another slice and not too big that you feel like an ugly fat slob as you devour the whole slice.

If you add too much frosting that the whole portion control flies out the window. Why would people put twice the amount of frosting as there is cake is completely beyond me. Less is more. Frosting to add flavor, sweetness, compliment the cake, not to overthrow it and cause a sugar coma.

Essentially Cool Whip

I know you’ve watched the commercials, woman at a diner or in the grocery store gets some pie and the waitress or person giving our samples ask if she wants cream or oil. Cream is the reddi-whip, oil is the cool whip. It’s a marketing ploy designed for you to have an epiphany about what’s in your food. DO you want to give your kids cream, or do you want to give them oil? No one’s going to pick oil. No one.

But, I’ve noticed that cool whip is in a lot of these icebox pie recipes. And I really need pure ingredients not bloody oil.

Cool whip’s ingredients – WATER, HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OIL (COCONUT & PALM KERNEL OILS), HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, CORN SYRUP, SKIM MILK, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF LIGHT CREAM, SODIUM CASEINATE, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, XANTHAN AND GUAR GUMS, POLYSORBATE 60, SORBITAN MONOSTEARATE, SODIUM POLYPHOSPHATE, BETA CAROTENE (COLOR). CONTAINS: MILK.

I really don’t want to put that in my body. I mean, there’s TWO CORN SYRUPS in it!!!!!

While I was preparing to make my strawberry shortcake cupcakes, it occurred to me that I could make cool whip by using cream. Duh Michelle. Geez. Get on the ball weirdo.

So for all the people worried about eating oil, here is your solution.

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Homemade Cool Whip

1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sugar

Directions

Place all the ingredients in the cold bowl and beat with a mixer until stiff peaks are about to form.

Makes about 2 cups. PER 2 TABLESPOONS. Calories: 58, Carbohydrates: 2 gram, Sugar: 2 grams.

This tastes just like cool whip except a little more creamier. It looks just like cool whip. It can be stored in a airtight container just like cool whip.

If you want it to be more of a frosting, beat it until stiff peaks form. Great alternative to buttercream of vanilla frosting in a canister for cakes and cupcakes.

Because I was making a strawberry shortcake cupcake, I decided to keep it in it’s cool whip form.

This homemade cool whip can be a great substitute for anything that has cool whip listed as an ingredient and it literally takes 5 minute to whip up.

I think I like this better though. And it will go great with my cupcakes.

Scrambled eggs

I hate scrambled eggs. I blame my mom. She would scramble an egg and then cook it in the microwave. It always tasted nasty. But my dad, my dad cooked it the European way and it was always creamy. I loved it when he cooked scrambled eggs. But then he died when I was 8, so I had to learn how to make them myself.

I rarely eat scrambled eggs. Rarely. But when miss my dad, I end up making them and they bring back awesome memories.
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Scrambled Eggs

4 eggs
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter

Directions

Melt butter in a saucepan under medium heat.

Add milk and crack the eggs into it.

Whisk eggs until the liquid from the milk is absorbed.

Makes 3. Calories: 205, Carbohydrates: 2 grams, Sugar: 1 gram, Protein: 9 grams.

It’s rich. It’s creamy. It’s buttery. Its perfect.

Add some buttered toast to put it on top of and some bacon and you have a nice breakfast.

 

Greek Tortellini Salad

In what seemed nearly a lifetime ago, I was in a wedding. I’m not going to talk about what happened at the wedding, because well, what’s done is done and that’s life and I took the bridezilla out of my life. A person can only take so much from another person before their sanity starts bailing.

At her wedding, which was in the afternoon, she decided on doing finger food instead of feeding the guests. There was red punch in a room away from the food, crackers, cold cut meats and cheese cubes, and sandwiches which were more like two slices of bread with some cheese, a glob of mayo and meat cut into fourths. There was also a tortellini salad like thing which was pretty much tortellini drenched in Italian dressing with tomatoes and olives. And I think that was it. I don’t remember much because I was hiding under a tent away from the reception trying to calm down from realizing I was a toy and a fool….. until the damn event planner got me and forced me to make my “maid of honor” speech even though the bride had decided the day before to bestow that role onto someone else. (Oh, look, I did write about it!).

The food was so pitiful, I had to go eat somewhere because I was starving. I hadn’t eaten a thing all day until the reception. And even that spread was lackluster. It was so sad. It made me sad looking at it. If your going to have a wedding between 2 and 3PM, please have the decency to feed people correctly, especially when it’s hot and muggy outside and the ceremony is outdoors. Maybe that’s why I picked a 4PM time for my wedding. I wanted to make sure they got a good meal in before many of them made their long 4 – 5 hour trips home.

I used to love cold tortellini salad, but for the most part it reminds me of that wedding.

Moral of the story – If you don’t want to be maid of honor, do not feel obligated to say yes. No is a perfectly accepted answer. I really should have said no.

And then I created this Greek Tortellini Salad, and all is right in the world.

I loved my Greek Pasta Salad. But there was something missing.

Tortellini!

So I revamped it. And even though there aren’t any avocadoes or walnuts, it still came out amazing!

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Greek Tortellini Salad

1 20 ounce package cheese tortellini
1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 large cucumber, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup Greek vinaigrette
4 thinly slices chicken breasts

Directions

Cook tortellini based on package instructions.

While tortellini is cooking, pan fry chicken until it’s cooked and slice it into chunks.

Place the tortellini and chicken into a large bowl.

Add the tomatoes, cucumber, olives, red onion, and feta cheese.

Pour Greek vinaigrette over the salad and mix into it until well combined.

Makes 12. Calories: 248, Carbohydrates: 24 grams, Sugar: 1 gram, Fiber: 1 gram, Protein: 17 grams.

It’s yummy. Bryan kept asking for more. What was supposed to last one day only lasted a day.

This would be great for a picnic.

Corn Saute

What’s better than corn or bacon? Corn with bacon and sautéed onions. And red peppers.

Originally there was some paprika but I couldn’t find it even though I know we have some somewhere. There was also supposed to be a jalapeno pepper, but I really didn’t feel like having a kick of heat today.

So If you want some heat, just add a chopped deseeded jalapeno pepper in it and you’re go to go.

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Corn Sauté
4 slices of bacon
5 ears of corn kernels removed from the cob
1/2 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

Directions

Cook bacon in a skillet under medium heat until crunchy.

Place bacon on top of some paper towels to absorb extra fat and then crumble the bacon with your hands.

Sauté corn, red peppers, and onions in the bacon drippings.

When vegetables are tender, add bacon and mix until well combined.

Cook for two more minutes.

Makes 8. Calories: 75, Carbohydrates: 12 grams, Sugar: 2 grams, Fiber: 2 gram, Protein: 3 grams.

I absolutely loved this. Bryan, however, did not. Turns out you don’t mess with corn. I think it was the red peppers he was against.

If you don’t like red peppers, don’t include them. It’ll still taste amazing.

I would eat the whole skillet filled with the corn if I could. But I can’t and the little non-diabetic girl inside me is all, “Come on Michelle, you know you want to.” She’s evil like that. She tries to entice me with cookies and cake and milkshakes. Most of the time I can say no, but every now and then I have to give in. Chocolate covered strawberry milkshakes was the last time I ceded to her evil evil ways.

I still love this though.

Intensely Dark Flourless Brownies

In January, I saw an old friend from my college days. I was surprised to hear he had a gluten allergy and took gluten out of his life. It made desserts near impossible unless it was crème brulee or something. Luckily, the high class Mexican Cuisine restaurant we were at understood this whole gluten free phenomenon and he was able to eat a chocolate torte.

I remember the last time I tried something gluten free, it was a cake box mix (before my diabetic days) and it was the most horrible tasting thing I had ever tried. Absolute flop.

So what is a gluten free diet? Good question. A gluten free diet is a diet where people do not eat anything with gluten in it. Aka, a diet with no protein grains like wheat, rye, barley, bulghur (Mumika would die). No more white bread, or wheat bread, or cake, cookies, brownies. Or rather, the good food that your parents were raised on that somehow this new generation of people have developed a sensitivity to.

As a diabetic, one would think I would be all over this. But I’m not. There are things I’m willing to sacrifice and things I am not willing to sacrifice. I pick my battles, this is not one of them.

But I did come across this flourless brownie recipe and if I’m going to maybe consider going to the dark side of where all health food freaks live (where believe or not, I once did live), I might as well start with a brownie.

Of course I couldn’t let the recipe stand as is. I changed it. How? I had a 92% dark chocolate bar lying about and well, I just had to put it in it. And I couldn’t find the normal cocoa, so dark chocolate cocoa it is.

I heart dark chocolate.

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Intensely Dark Flourless Brownies

1 stick butter
3 squares of 92% dark chocolate (I used Lindt)
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder

Directions

Melt the butter in the microwave.

Break the chocolate bar into little bits over the hot melted butter and stir.

Add the sugar and stir.

Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring to mix each of them into the batter.

Stir in the vanilla extract.

Gently stir in the cocoa powder, so there won’t be any lumps.

Once the cocoa is full combined with the batter, stop stirring. It will be thicker than usual.

Spread the batter in a 9X9 baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake at 350 for 20 – 25 minutes or until the edges pull away from the sides a bit.

Makes 10. Calories: 170, Carbohydrates: 14 grams, Sugar: 11 grams, Fiber: 2 grams, Protein: 3 grams.

This is the most moistest brownie I have ever eaten. Instead of using a whole bar, I used 3 squares because that’s all I had. And it still worked!

It’s ooey and gooey and absolutely perfect. All other brownies are blown out of the water. Flour? Who the hell needs flour. Well at least not in brownie form.

You know what that means. It means now I have to try other flourless deserts.

 

Chicken and Rice

A few weeks ago, Bryan asked me to make chicken and rice. He’s not one to put in a request so I had to make it.

One minor problem. I don’t know how to make it.

When I asked him how to make it, he shrugged. I’ve seen his mom make it a few times, had an idea of what the process was but other than that, I had no clue. All Bryan tells me is you make your own broth and then put the rice in it.

Yeah. Thanks sweetie. Usually I don’t freak out about this but the thing about it is Bryan comes from a Southern Comfort food background. I don’t. I don’t know what this cuisine entails. And this is one of his favorite childhood meals. So now it has to come out like his mother’s version or better. Great. No pressure whatsoever.

When I wrote about this on facebook Mumika totally missed the mark and was all, make it Puerto Rican style. That’s not the point Mumika. I know how to cook arroz con pollo. That’s not the hard part.

So I did some research and called my mother inlaw. The one time I call and she’s not home. I go by her house, it’s unlocked, the TV is on mute, the truck is in the driveway but she’s no where to be found.

Great, I guess I’m on my own.

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Chicken and Rice

4 Chicken Breasts
enough water to completely cover the chicken
1 stalk celery, rough chopped
1 large sweet onion, diced
2 teaspoon pepper, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons salt, divided
2 tablespoons of Italian seasoning
3 cups long grain white rice
1 cup water

Directions

In a large stock pot, dump everything except the rice, 1 teaspoon of pepper and 1 tablespoon of salt into it and simmer for 2 hours.

Once simmering is complete, turn heat off and shred chicken using two forks inside the stock pot.

Add the one cup of water, the rest of the salt and pepper, and rice to the stock pot.

Stir.

Put heat on medium and cook for 15 minutes or until rice is cooked.

Makes 15. Calories: 217, Carbohydrates: 31 grams, Fiber: 1 gram, Protein: 17 grams.

It came out pretty close to his mother’s version.

Maybe next time, it’ll come out better.

“Very close. You might want to put more water in it.” Bryan tells me.

Whatever Bryan. It tastes good. That’s all that matters.

I did burn the bottom of the rice, but that’s because I nearly fainted with all this simmering and didn’t get to it in time. Gas stoves in no A/C houses produces a lot of heat. But I’ll keep the extra water in mind the next time I make it.

Not bad for my first time.

The best part about this is that technically, you could use this recipe to make your own broth. And you can shred the chicken, freeze, and use it for chicken salad, King Ranch Chicken, and Chicken Puffs.

Maybe I should start doing that. Can by own chicken broth, instead of paying 60 cents for it. Maybe. The shredded chicken would really come in handy.

Slow Cooker Blueberry Banana Bread Oatmeal

Remember when McDonald’s first started making oatmeal. I do. About a month into it, they introduced the blueberry banana bread oatmeal. The commercials had this old black lady talking to a white girl in her 20s and at the end of the commercial the older woman says, “Oh, there’s blueberries.”

That oatmeal was amazing. Change your life and how you view oatmeal amazing. And in a blink of the eye, it was gone. Back to the fruit and maple oatmeal I went.

I’ve been hoping McDonalds would bring it back, but no such luck. Oh well, I’ll just have to make my own.

Ok, it was more like, the bananas I bought a few days ago turned yellow on me faster that I thought. I blame this house and lack of A/C. The heat ripens everything so fast, it’s not even funny. I didn’t feel like making banana bread with these now brown spotted bananas. What can I make? What do I have in the house?

*Boom* Blueberry Banana Bread Oatmeal. I need to get rid of this oatmeal anyway. I thought I would like the HEB brand of old fashioned oats, but it’s not the same Quaker so I’m a little frustrated by it. I keep getting this burned plastic taste whenever I microwave it.

So I went searching and all I found was steel cut oats and overnight nonsense.

I decided to create my own version instead. How hard could it be?

It wasn’t.

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Blueberry Banana Bread Oatmeal

2 cup milk
1 cup water
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups old fashioned oatmeal
3 medium mashed ripe bananas
90 blueberries

Directions

Mash the bananas, set aside.

In slow cooker, dump all ingredients (except blueberries), stir until well combined and cook on LOW for a little under 2 hours.

Right before serving, dump blueberries in and stir blueberries are evenly dispersed throughout the oatmeal.

Makes 8. Calories: 150, Carbohydrates: 32 grams, Sugar: 16 grams, Fiber: 3 grams, Protein: 5 grams. 

I love making up recipes. I love this. It smelled like banana bread while it was cooking. And it tastes like banana bread.

You got the creaminess of the oatmeal. The sweetness of the bananas. The cinnamon and brown sugar makes the awesome caramelization of the bananas which ends up enhancing the flavor overall. And then there’s the tartness and acidity of the blueberries which balances everything.

What I really liked was actually seeing chunks of banana in my oatmeal. None of this pureed crap that I saw on other blogs. I want to see what I’m eating, not just taste it.