Kale and crimini fried rice

A friend posted a link to this recipe after raving about it. Being a kale and mushroom lover I thought I’d give it a shot. I was short a few ingredients, so I had to adapt it a bit.


  • 3/4 pound of kale, thinly sliced(I didn’t remove the stems, you can)
  • 8 oz of crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 2 teaspoons amino acids or soy sauce
  • sesame seeds, optional

In a large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add in kale and mushrooms and saute for 5-8 minutes, stirring often. You want the vegetables softened and tender.

Season with salt.

Add in garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir constantly until fragrant but not browned.

Add rice and cook another 2 minutes.

Add soy sauce and cook another 30 seconds.

Top with sesame seeds if desired and serve.

This meal is hearty enough to serve on its own or you can cut down on the portion size and serve it as a side. Think of the vitamins, mineral and antioxidants you are getting from the kale and mushrooms! Yumm.

Baked oatmeal

I’m home sick again today. I thought I had nipped this in the bud when I came home from work sick last week. I am not someone to sleep during the day, but I found myself napping on Saturday, sleeping most of the afternoon on Sunday and slept until 1pm today. Yikes. I’m hoping it’s not mono.

Even worse is that I have tons of great fresh produce right now that I don’t have an appetite for. I did decide that I was tired of soup and noodles and that I needed to eat food with vitamins and antioxidants even if it didn’t sound appetizing. So this is what I had today for lunch. If kale, tomatoes and zucchini won’t help to make me healthy, what will?


We also have 3 bananas that are quickly becoming over ripe. So I decided that I need to do something with them. I pinned this recipe from Pinterest over a month ago and finally decided to make it. If I’m not feeling well, it’s the perfect time to make a batch of breakfast that will be good for a week. A little work now allows for laziness for the rest of the week.

* 1 cup gluten free thick cut oats
* 1/4 cup chopped almonds, divided
* 2 tablespoons ground flax
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* pinch of salt
* 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
* 1 cup coconut milk, unsweetened
* 1 large egg, lightly beaten
* 2 tablespoons butter or earth balance, melted and slightly cooled
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 2-3 ripe bananas, sliced
* 1 1/2 cups frozen or fresh berries of choice

Preheat oven to 375F.

Lightly grease 2 quart baking dish.

In a mixing bowl, combine oats, 1/2 of almonds, flax, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup, milk, egg, butter, and vanilla.

Make a single layer of banana slices in the bottom of the dish.

Top with one cup of berries.

Top with dry mixture.

Pour liquid mixture over the top.


Top with remaining almonds and other 1/2 cup of berries.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until top is browned and oats are set.

Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving. Eat leftovers cold or reheat throughout the week.


This is absolutely delightful and easy. I cut back on the recommended amount of maple syrup from the original recipe as I wanted it more like oatmeal than a dessert. I’m glad I did as I think it would have been too sweet, otherwise. This is the perfect recipe if you are having people over for brunch or to impress overnight guests.

Week highlights

It’s been a wacky week here at Spatoola. I woke up not feeling well on Monday and got worse as the day progressed. I ended up leaving work at noon and spent a solid 10 hours on the couch until I moved to my bed. Intermittently spooning chicken wonton soup in my mouth from a local noodle shop.

I woke up feeling slightly better on Tuesday and returned to work. Unfortunately I missed a group work night at the community garden. With the heat, rain and illness I didn’t make it up to my garden until last night.

In the past week, my zucchini plant has tripled in size. It now takes up the back third of my plot and has suffocated my pea plants. It is well out of the boundaries of my plot and is starting to climb the fence of the tennis court!


My mystery plant that I bought unmarked on clearance has revealed itself to be a jalapeño pepper plant.


And my multicolored pepper plant has some good starts. I wonder which color this one will turn?


After work tonight I headed to the local farmers market. I had myself a very farmers market dinner. I love fresh, local food. So much more flavorful than produce at the grocery store. Oh, and some ripe tomatoes from my garden.


And in other exciting news…Whole Foods now has $3 wine! Feeling the pressure from Trader Joe’s?


Now onto one more day of work and a very exciting weekend. It’s the Big Ten 5k/10k which my parents are coming in town for. We will be representing in our Iowa dry fit shirts. On Iowa, Go Hawks!

Healthy chocolate cupcakes

Take 2!

So I made the apple cinnamon muffins using pure pumpkin instead of the ingredients on the box. Since the pumpkin was so detectable in them I was dying to know if the chocolate actually hid the pumpkin.

So I bought a box of Jiffy devil’s food chocolate cake mix. I mixed a can of pumpkin with it. Then added some ground flax, chia seeds and a tablespoon of coconut butter for my health.

The pumpkin I used this time was a different brand than last time and seemed more wet. Also, I was worried that the flax and chia would absorb some of the moisture so I added 2 tablespoons of water to the mix. I did this not realizing that the Jiffy box mix was probably half the size of a box of regular cake mix.

So, my batter was runnier than last time. They also took twice as much time to bake as the box suggested. But they turned out amazing. So good.

I even put one on top of “ice cream” for Brian. He was in sinful tasting health food Heaven.

I can’t wait to keep trying out different combinations of flavors!

Detox spa water

I am not sure why this is called detoxifying or spa water. I saw it as a pin on Pinterest and thought it sounded tasty. It’s flavorful and a great variation to regular water.

Take an apple of choice(I have made this with gala and granny smith and both are tasty).

Core it and slice it into thin slices. Place that and one cinnamon stick into the bottom of a pitcher.

Fill the pitcher 1/2 to 2/3 full of ice.

Fill with water. Refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes. The longer it sits, the more flavorful it will be.

Open face tofu sammy

This was actually yesterday’s lunch.

I’ve really been focused on eating more healthy on a consistent basis. Even though it looks like I ate like total crap this past weekend in the Dells, we didn’t. We didn’t have any snacks, except for on the drive home and we had left overs at every meal, which we used for another meal. We often paired our leftovers with a side salad or another fruit or vegetable to make them healthier and more filling.

I was really wanting a sandwich yesterday. I spread a little jalapeno hummus on bread and cut off a hunk of tofu. I had a small tomato from my garden to put on it and some avocado. I realized that I was going to have left over tomato and that it was going to be a really thick sandwich. So, I cut the slice of tofu in half and decided to make it an open-faced sandwich. The benefits of the open-faced sandwich is that you can have double the healthy toppings without the extra calories of an additional slice of bread. That’s what I call a “win, win” situation. I also had a large side of detox slaw.

Tips for running in the heat

I’m no fitness guru or expert on the subject, but I do go out for multiple runs a week. They aren’t always fast. They aren’t always long, but I try to get out there to move my legs and challenge my body. It’s even a bit more challenging when the temperatures are in the high 90s with heat indexes over 100. We’ve seen our share of these days in Chicago this summer.

If you are training for a race, it is not always easy to take the day off. So what to do if you must get that run in?

1) Take your run inside. I know, I know it summer. You shouldn’t have to run on the dreaded treadmill.

If you must run outside:

1) Wear moisture wicking fabrics. And wear as little clothing as possible. Think tank tops and shorts…I’m not telling you to go out indecently exposed. Oh, and make sure it’s light-colored and loose-fitting.

2) Take water with you. And hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. I have a handheld amphipod that I fill with ice then water. The cooler temperature against my palm actually helps to cool my whole body. Which actually allows me to run longer.

3) Take walking breaks. This will actually allow you to run longer by helping to cool you down and restore your energy.And run slower than your usual pace. In my case, this would probably be called walking. HA!

4 Wear a visor! Huh? Did you know that you can waste 3 percent of your total energy output on squinting? Just think if you could add 3% to  your run by wearing a visor and not squinting. Visors also help you to keep sweat from rolling down your face and into your eyes. Unless you have eyebrows like Frida Kahlo eyebrows and don’t need help with that.A visor also allows heat to escape your head where a hat can trap it in.

5) Run earlier in the morning or later in the evening to take advantage of cooler temps.

6) Use your head. If you start feeling light-headed or confused, stop.

Wisconsin Dells

Thursday night was the start of my 3 day weekend in which I ran a Bastille Day 8k. Boy, was it hot and humid. Due to a lack of rain, the gravel lakefront trails were dry and kicking up a lot of dust as thousands of people trampled them. The day before the race, runners received an email saying that they were preparing for the hot weather and adding in extra water and cooling stations. I’m not exactly sure what they were referring to as there were zero cooling stations and 2 water tables on the 5 mile course and the first station was out of water. Whoops. After sweating gallons and standing in the gear check line for an hour after the race to get my belongings back, I was happy to be waving my flag and heading to air conditioning.

Friday morning, we got up early with the intentions of making it to our weekend destination of the Wisconsin Dells by noon. Our plan was derailed when we happened upon a bad accident and sat still on the expressway for 2 hours.

Once we got there, we took full advantage of the water parks and partook in a lot of good food. Like Moosejaw pizza and their sampler of house made micro brews.

Brian even got to play a few arcade games:

We stopped by the gas station to pick up some Spotted Cow and Brian was tempted by the snacks, but we just stuck to beer.

We started Saturday off on the right foot, fueling ourselves with massive piles of pancakes from Mr. Pancake:

Saturday night we treated ourselves to a classic Wisconsin supper club and feasted on salad, steaks, and the standard bread basket, always served with real butter. And cooled off by enjoying a smooth gin and tonic.

Our drive home went faster by munching on sausage and cheese curds from the Mousehouse and washing down our tasty snacks with some Sprecher root beer.

While it may look like all we did was eat, we burnt off plenty of calories conquering 3 water parks in one weekend. A highly successful and glutenous weekend.

Summer salad trio

When I went home for a few days at the beginning of the summer, it was my mission to get my parents off of their boring daily lunches. They usually eat a turkey sandwich and chips or fruit and vegetables for lunch. Every. day. So. Boring.

So while I was home I made giant salads for all of us to dig into at lunch time. Super easy, mostly healthy and super delicious.

Faux Cobb Salad:

Start with a big bed of lettuce of choice. I made it a little healthier by substituting sautéed mushrooms for the traditional bacon.Then I added chopped hard-boiled egg, the sautéed mushrooms, diced tomato, diced grilled chicken, avocado and bleu cheese. It was a big hit with my parents.

Another day, I did an Iowa version of the taco salad:

I started out with a big bowl of lettuce, added lean ground beef cooked in taco seasoning, fresh corn, black beans, diced tomato, shredded cheese, avocado, and red onion. Ready for the special Iowa ingredient? Black olives. No where outside of Iowa have I ever been served black olives on a taco salad. Then I added a few chips to the edge to give a little crunch, but much healthier than an entire tortilla shell.

The final salad was a bit more random. Very similar to the faux cobb salad but I also added sautéed asparagus and black olives and left off the chicken.

So there you have 3 easy salads to make when you don’t want to be firing up the oven on a hot summer day. It’s an easy way to get in a few servings of vegetables, too. These salads are so flavorful you don’t need much, if any, salad dressing. Keep it simple and light.