Red, White Bean & Blue

                          *****Happy 4th of July!!!*****

I hope everyone has a healthy, happy, and safe holiday!

As for me, Mike and I are planning to enjoy our day off from work with a walk and a picnic (though with this heat, we’ll most likely be having a picnic dinner, instead of lunch!)  Not only am I really looking forward to our day ahead, our plans are also an effortless way towards meeting some new goals that I set for myself!

My goals for the next 8 weeks:

Although I’ve always focused on eating healthy and exercising, I’m willing to admit that my consistency could use a bit of work.  I was tracking my food January through March and seeing great results, but I got too comfortable, stopped tracking, and all the little snacks & nibbles started to add up again. My workouts are even less consistent.  Sometimes I’m active 5 days in a row – other times I’m lucky to squeeze in two workouts a week.

Inspired by Laura, Andrea, Katie and so many other fabulous healthy lifestyle bloggers, I decided to officially set some goals for myself.  I wanted to start immediately, so I started on June 25th and will be tracking my progress for 8 weeks, ending August 19th.  While there are many healthy habits I’m working hard at (like packing my breakfasts & lunches for work each day, drinking 2 mugs of green tea a day, and limiting coffee to just an occasional treat),  I decided to keep my goals simple by tracking just 3 things that I think will have a huge impact.

  1. Going to Bed on Time (11pm weeknights, 12am Fri & Sat)
    • I am not one of those people who can function fine on just a few hours of sleep.  I need 8 hours every night.  Any less than that and I get preettyyy cranky! Not to mention the fact that a lack of sleep makes me lazy.  And incredibly hungry. I think of it like this – if I don’t sleep enough, then my body is craving energy.  Since a nap at the office isn’t an option, my body craves the energy from food.  And it’s not all in my head either – research shows that a lack of sleep impacts the hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin.  Even with this knowledge, I still tend to stay up too late – and I’m determined to do better!
  2. Tracking my Food 5 days a week
    • I use MyFitnessPal.com as my food diary and highly recommend this site.  It’s completely FREE and I love that the mobile apps allows me to track my food via my iPhone when I’m out and about.  MyFitnessPal also links into my Fitbit (pedometer) and automatically adjusts my calorie targets based on my activity.  The more I move, the more I get to eat! 
  3. Doing something active 5 days a week
    • I kept this goal loose so I have no excuses, no matter how busy I get or how hot it gets outside.  20 minutes or more of any kind of activity counts.  Walking, Running, Yoga, Riding my Bike, going to the gym, etc.
 
I made myself a nifty tracker and hung it up above the Kitchen Calendar, an obvious spot so I don’t lose sight of my goals.
 
So far, I’m 9 days in and going strong!  I don’t plan on posting weekly updates, but thought I’d share how Week 1 went:
 
Sleep: Went to bed on time 6 out of 7 nights (86% of goal).  Friday night was so much fun though, it was worth the slip-up.
Tracked Food:  6.5 out of 5 days (130% of goal).  Nearly perfect, again except for Friday night :-)
Activity: 5 out of 5 (100% of goal).  Mike and I took a long walk one night, I did yoga twice, and ran twice, including a 4 mile running history tour!
 
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Now, let’s get back to the Red, White, and Blue!  I’ve been packing my breakfast for work (along with my lunch) nearly every day since January.  As a holiday treat, I wanted to share my new favorite breakfast recipe: an Almond, White Bean, and Oat Parfait that’s Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free and Fruit-Sweetened.  
 
This recipe came about because I looooove breakfast parfaits.  I’ve made countless variations of parfaits with Silken Tofu
 
  
 
…but many of my favorite lunches and dinners are also made from Tofu.  Considering the importance of moderation, I try not to eat Tofu – or anything else – twice in the same day.  So, for days when I find myself craving an Eggless Salad Sandwich, I knew I needed a different kind of breakfast parfait.
 
 
 
Since I tried and loved Dessert Hummus, I decided to do some experimenting with Beans for Breakfast, and I’m really happy with how it turned out! In addition to White Beans and Oats, I also included Almonds for some healthy fats.  According to the latest issue of Eating Well Magazine, study participants given a higher-fat breakfast ate less at their next meal than those who ate a calorically equal, but lower-fat, breakfast.
 
I then added in banana for sweetness, cinnamon, vanilla, and almond extracts for a flavor boost, and a creamy, fluffy breakfast was born.  The texture is hard to describe –  It’s fluffier than yogurt, and slightly gritty like ricotta.  It makes a great contrast for the fruit.  And best of all, the protein, fiber, and healthy fats in this bowl keep me going strong all morning.
  
 
Almond, White Bean, & Oat Parfaits (serves 4)
  • 1/2 cup almonds – soaked in water for at least 1 hour, up to overnight, then drained
  • 1 15oz can White Beans of choice, rinsed and drained (Cannelini and Great Northern work well)
  • 1 cup unsweetened Almond Milk (or your favorite non-dairy milk)
  • 1 small banana, broken into pieces
  • 1/2 cup Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
  • 1 teaspoon of Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract (or vanilla extract)
  • 4 cups of your favorite diced fruits (strawberries, blueberries, peaches, etc…)
First, add almonds to food processor and process until they resemble coarse crumbs.
 
Next, add Beans, Almond Milk, Banana, Oats, Cinnamon, and Extracts and blend until smooth and creamy.  Add more Almond Milk to achieve desired thickness.
 
 
Divide evenly into 4 bowls, and top with fruit.
 
 
Approximate Nutrition Facts per serving, without fruit (as per MyFitnessPal.com):
345 calories, 14g Fat, 1g Saturated Fat, 43g Carbs, 13g Fiber, 8g Sugar, 15g Protein
 
I’m looking forward to making many more variations of this bowl!  Last week, I topped it with Peaches & Strawberries (delicious!), and soon I’m planning to try making a version with Peanuts, Adzuki Beans, and Cocoa.  The possibilities are endless!
 
I’d love to hear from you!
 
What are your fitness & health goals?
 
Have you ever had a sweet beans?