Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Cookie

by Tuesday, February 19, 2013
I am not a big breakfast person. Wait...check that. I love bacon and eggs and big weekend breakfasts. But regular daily breakfasts I often feel at a loss. I prefer salty breakfasts, and if I have sweet I prefer it be fast and not too sweet. So it is strange that I have been eating a s'mores Luna Bar each morning for the most part. It's fast, easy, has some sugars and protein to get me through until lunch. But it is SO SWEET. Ugh. And it just doesn't feel's not really.

I have been searching for a simple recipe for some breakfast bars or cookies I can make ahead of time, limits the refined sugars, satisfies the morning tummy grumbles, and gives a little energy boost. I have found a LOT of recipes with similar ingredients, but I improvised my own based on what I wanted (no added sugar), and what I had on hand.

I very happily had home-made applesauce in the fridge (no sugar added, so sweet and delicious!), but sadly only had sweetened coconut. I would prefer not sweetened myself. You could easily add more peanut butter if you wanted more of that flavor, and/or could replace it with any nut butter of your choice! Vegans: you can skip the egg. Many recipes do! It does bind the cookies a little better, which is why I chose to use one for my recipe.

2 ripe bananas mashed
1.5 cup quick oats
1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 Tbsp peanut butter (nor nut butter of choice)
2 Tbsp coconut (sweet or unsweetened, as you like)
1 egg

IF I had them, I would add raisins or dried cranberries, and/or some crushed nuts. I have also seen this done with some protein powder, which sounds like a good idea but I don't have such things on hand.

Pre-heat oven to 350.

Mash banana up well, add oats, apple sauce and cinnamon and blend. Add peanut butter and blend. Finally add coconut and egg and blend one last time. (I did the blending in a few steps as it felt easier to get a good consistent distribution of the ingredients).

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Spoon scoops of the mixture onto sheet--you can make small cookies or large. If spooning large scoops, flatten a bit to make sure the center gets cooked well.

Bake for 25 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack. Store in airtight container in the fridge.

Southwest Chicken Chili

by Monday, February 11, 2013
Shay's Southwest Chicken Chili  
I created this recipe on the fly for dinner tonight when I needed to use up some chicken breasts we had on hand. I tend to always have onion, garlic, sour cream, and canned white beans around. The avocado I had leftover from another meal we had recently which I was happy to use up, and for me was real icing on the cake. A really delicious addition.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large white onion diced*
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder (I am a spice wimp, add more if you like it hot!)
1 tsp oregano or marjoram
3 minced garlic cloves
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1" pieces
1/3 cup salsa of choice (I like medium heat Chunky Newman's Own)
2 cans white beans/Navy beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup chicken or veg. broth sour cream cheddar or other favorite cheese(s), shredded

divide out 1/4 of onion, mince
1 tsp dried cilantro
1 avocado diced
 Mix together above three ingredients in bowl and set aside  

Heat olive oil over medium heat, add onion, cumin, and chili powder to pan and cook for 3 minutes
Add garlic and chicken, cook 5-7 minutes until chicken is no longer pink
Meanwhile, take 1/2 cup of the white beans and chicken or veg broth and blend together with immersion blender, blender, or food processor
Add blended beans and salsa to pan with chicken, onion, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer 8 minutes until chicken is done cooking.
Add rest of the beans, simmer, to heat through for 2-3 minutes
Spoon into bowls, add a dollop of sour cream, top with cheese.
Add avocado mix if you like.

Coconut Oil Continues to Rock

by Thursday, February 07, 2013
Hey CocoNUTS, here's my brief update:
Been using coconut oil as a cleanser and moisturizer for about three weeks now. It is the ONLY thing I have been using. As in I do not use any other cleanser, moisturizer, toner, makeup remover, NOTHING. Just coconut oil before I go to bed or when I shower.

I massage a nickel-sized dollop into my skin on my face and neck, including eyes and lashes to remove waterproof mascara, eyeliner, shadow, etc.  I use a hot towel pressed to my face for about 15 seconds, then use the towel to thoroughly but gently wipe my entire face, taking special care to get around my nose and hairline, where the oil could easily accumulate if I am not diligent. All my makeup comes off, face feels clean and soft. Sometimes I have a little bit of eyeliner still right in my lashes, but an extra swipe or two of the towel removes it. I have had no breakouts and the ones I had have cleared up without any dark spots. Wait, not fully true. I got a little pimple near my left temple in the first week, but it went away and I have had none since.

I don't moisturize before putting on makeup. One day my face felt a little "muddy" so I did a quick "wash" with my coconut oil and it was fine. But that was one day in three weeks. I also did one day with my foundation primer, which I had not been using so I had a "controlled experiment", but found it didn't make much difference so I didn't use it again. As in my makeup looked great and lasted great without it. Sidenote: my makeup has SPF properties. If it did not, I would still moisturize with an oil-free SPF product, but I can skip that step.

I have also been using it as a cleanser/moisturizer for my upper arms, where I get breakouts and red bumps. To be clear, I did my left arm for two weeks with it, and used my usual soap on my right arm, to compare the results. My left arm started clearing up and having less spottiness within a week. Finally this week I am using it on both arms because it seems to be working and I want my right arm improving as my left has.

One more week and my skin will have gone through a nearly two complete cycles and one complete hormonal cycle. Assuming it continues as it has for the past few weeks, I will throw out the last of my Proactiv once and for all.

Anyone else been experimenting? How is it going for you?

Reversal of a Policy - Men in Class

by Wednesday, February 06, 2013
So I recently made an announcement regarding the change in my "no men" policy for my bellydance classes. The announcement was thus:

"I am finally opening my regular classes officially to all genders next session. If you want to know the story of why I made my classes women only in my early years of teaching until now, I am more than willing to tell you why. But even given very good reason, it has never sat entirely well with me to exclude men from my classes. 
I decided the day that our beloved John Compton passed that it was time to let the past be the past and move forward with my heart. I have had many male dancers who have inspired me during my dance life, and it has become impossible to imagine that I could continue to keep eager, willing, and potentially wicked-talented men--perhaps a future John Compton!--from coming to my classes and share in the joy that is bellydance.

To any men who may have been hurt or offended by my policy in the past, I apologize for ever making you feel unwelcome or under-valued in the dance world. As I said, I am willing to explain why it is that the policy came to be--it wasn't always my policy, but one that grew out of specific experiences in my early years teaching and was a choice that was right for me at the time. But as of now, that policy is overturned.

I welcome your thoughts or questions should you have any. As always, my door is open. 

When the Roots run Deep, the tree grows mighty."
I did get some initial queries as to why my policy was put in place in the first place, and I am happy to share my experience for those who are curious.

I initially did not limit my classes to women only. I was very pleased and even proud that I was opening my doors to all genders--something which at the time most studios I knew of did not do, and was nearly unheard of in tribal/ATS studios, a style which was considered the domain of "female empowerment".  So I was a bit of an odd-one-out with my open door policy (another outlier was my mentor Paulette Rees-Denis of Gypsy Caravan, from whom I took my largest dose of inspiration in my formative dance years). Within my first couple of years teaching, however,  I had two incidents with male students who made me ultimately decide to limit my classes to women only.


On this blog I share my personal posts about cooking and knitting, travel and other musings; while I will blog about dance-specific topics over on the Deep Roots Dance blog:

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