WIAW #10: Food and Precious Free Time



This WIAW features a day of eats from something rare in my life lately (and promising to be for the next few months). Between last Wednesday’s final exam in one law school course, and tomorrow, when I start to prepare for grad ball, graduation, and bar exam prep, I’ve had free time to do whatever I wish. Meaning running, cooking up healthy and delicious eats all day (no snack packs on the go), and hitting a favorite spot for dinner out on a weeknight!


Pre-run snack: A PB&J Oatmeal Cake and an iced coffee. I got up early and let this bake while I started to get my bar review materials organized (oh joy, oh bliss!) I didn’t end up going for a run yesterday until a little later in the morning than usual, around 10am, so I had the time to eat and digest. I was glad I had a fairly substantial snack, because it was so beautiful outside I ended up turning my planned 5-miler into a gorgeous, easy-paced 8 miles!


PB&J Oatmeal Cake



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A Breakfast Is Born


First things first – my initial thought I wanted to share with all of you this Thursday was one of thrills and thanks! (Yes, I like alliteration.) Yesterday’s WIAW post meant the first day of the month was also the first day my blog received over 500 reads. It’s not why I blog, but I’m so happy that people are interested in what I have to say, and I welcome any input on what you might like to read in future. More recipes, or ramblings on life, just post in the comments below!

Now, here’s what I was thinking about yesterday when I drafted this, when a friend of mine joked that I ate more oats than anyone she knew and I should have gone to her alma mater because then I would have been a Quaker. Now, I’ve shared a lot of oat-based recipes with you, but I’m going to let everyone in on a little secret – for the first 18 years of my life, I had a major aversion to oatmeal. Crazy, right? I just had this thing about any “lumpy” foods (I loved mashed potatoes, but refused to eat them if I found even a single lump, when the fork was put down for good). Neither the color nor texture of oatmeal was visually appealing. The first time I tasted it, I was five years old and had a bowl foisted upon me by my well-meaning grandmother, who is not known for her cooking. It was lukewarm and grayish and pretty much the opposite of appetizing, and that was it. I ate oatmeal cookies, especially because even before my wheat allergy was diagnosed I had bad reactions to a lot of other baked goods, but no oatmeal.


A bowl of oats

A bowl of oats


And then I arrived in Oxford for my first year at university. The food served up in my college dining hall was mostly unappealing, as it seemed to operate on the principle of maximum calories for minimum cash – good for starving students, but not so good for a student with a sensitive stomach and lots of allergies. To make matters worse, there was a small refrigerator in the hall of my dorm, but no kitchen, and we weren’t allowed to have cooking appliances in our rooms (because of the risk of burning down a beautiful 500-year-old building, to be fair!) There was a microwave on the floor above mine but I didn’t discover it until the spring. So for the first two terms, I pretty much subsisted on yogurt, salads, cheese, fruit and veggies, and other food eaten cold, and unfortunately, more junk food (chips and crisps and chocolate) which played a role in distorting my eating habits. The saving grace of this time was my electric tea kettle – the one appliance permitted in every room in Oxford, because it was always time for tea. I could boil water, so I could make anything to which you added hot water, which meant soup, and yes, oatmeal.


Matriculation at Oxford with my dear friend Elli

Matriculation at Oxford with my dear friend Elli

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WIAW #4: From PB&J to Gourmet



Welcome to this week’s What I Ate Wednesday, hosted by Jenn at Peas and Crayons. This post features Monday’s eats. I think my PB&J cravings and insatiable appetite that day were the result of doing my first long run on Sunday since the NYC Half (I jogged to the start of the 10k, making it 8 miles and change). I’m always extra-hungry for a few days after one of those. In fact, after this morning’s November Project PR Day, I’m not sure my tummy is going to STOP growling! The sunrise was a beautiful way to usher in April…but now I need to make some breakfast to start my monthly eats off right. So without further ado…

Breakfast: I was really craving PB&J Monday morning. Before my run, I had a salted rice cake with a smear of Peanut Butter & Co Smooth Operator and some blueberry jam, topped with fresh blueberries. I did 5 miles in the sunshine in the park, just a nice and easy pace, and felt fabulous. Both my food and fitness for the wee hours seemed to be exactly what I needed. Then, when I got home, I mixed up a PB&J Oatmeal Cake and put it in the oven to bake while I showered and readied myself for the day. My stomach was already rumbling, so I had a peach Greek yogurt to tide me over. The oven timer couldn’t chime a moment too soon! I enjoyed my oatmeal cake with some more fresh blueberries and a crisp Pink Lady apple, and a mug of Green Mountain Wild Blueberry coffee. Scrump-diddly-umptious!











Lunch: An assortment of snacks to get me through a long afternoon of class and internship. As regular readers know, I tend to eat a lot of little things strung together during the day, bookended by a big breakfast and dinner, because I’m often on the go and dislike feeling weighed down (as I snack, my backpack gets lighter!) OR hungry (because for me, hungry = hangry). This day featured a salad of greens, cabbage, and carrots, with smoked sockeye salmon and feta cheese, topped with Annie’s honey mustard vinaigrette as my ‘lunch’ entree. I ate this with a side of baby carrots around 12:30. I ate the muffin around 2pm before leaving school for Lincoln Center, and had the apple and pretzels around 4pm while at my internship. Then I had a pre-dinner snack when I got home around 6pm and had to wait a bit for dinner as I was going out to eat with a friend. To tide me over for the hour, I had the yogurt – banana cream, with some kettle corn and blueberries crumbled in. 



My pack of snacks for the day





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PB&J Baked Oatmeal Cake

I love peanut butter and jelly. And unlike most Americans, I’ve had to defend that love vociferously. When I was at university in Oxford, I remember one of the first weird looks I ever got for being a Yankee was when I was talking about how much I loved PB&J as a kid, and how even with a wheat allergy, I’d try to eat it on rice cakes or in oatmeal or simply spooned straight from the jar. At first, I thought the confusion was simple; in England, jelly is used most often to refer to the mint jelly eaten with lamb, or what we call Jell-O. They call fruit jam or preserves, well, jam or preserves – which we also use. But even that sounded a bit strange to my friends. After months, I coaxed a few into trying the combination on their morning toast, and they were hooked…but in the process I found myself in a position that would become all too familiar over the next few years, that of the explainer and defender of American food. I even wrote an article about it on my American Tongue blog at the student newspaper, Cherwell. Which was odd, considering I definitely did not eat the typical ‘American diet’ they’d heard horrors of! There are some things about American food I’ll never be able to explain, but PB&J is not one of them.

That said, this delicious little cake is a new twist on an old favorite – a peanut butter baked oatmeal cake with a smear of blueberry jam on top. Warm and comforting on this chilly winter morning, it’s a wonderful way to start the day. Try it paired with a mug of blueberry coffee and some fresh blueberries on the side, and see for yourself!



1/2 cup gluten-free rolled oats

1-2 Tbsp peanut butter (I used Peanut Butter & Co Smooth Operator)

Peanut butter oatmeal cake with a delicious crust...

Peanut butter oatmeal cake with a delicious crust…

1/4 cup applesauce

1/4 cup milk of choice (I used So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk)

1 Tbsp Greek yogurt (I recommend using 2% or full fat for the creaminess)

1 Tbsp blueberry preserves (you can also use raspberry or your favorite flavor)

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp brown sugar

Pinch salt

For ramekin: 1 tsp butter (can substitute olive oil or cooking spray)



1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

...topped with preserves for a PB&J treat!

…topped with preserves for a PB&J treat!

2. Combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl, then add in wet ingredients and mix well.

3. Melt butter in 1-cup (8 ounce) ramekin to coat inner surface. (You can also use olive oil or cooking spray, but I found that butter worked really well in this recipe to give the cake a yummy buttery crust).

4. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes, then set oven to high broil for an additional 5 minutes.

5. Use a knife to carefully pry the edges of the cake from the ramekin (easy as long as it was greased well!) and flip upside down into a dish.

6. Top with blueberry preserves. Enjoy!



What’s your favorite way to enjoy PB&J? Did you ever find yourself trying to explain how awesome it is to people who have never heard of putting them together?



© 2015 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.

Welcome to WIAW!

So now that I’ve been at this blogging thing for a few months, I’ve learned a lot more about the whole universe of writers out there sharing their thoughts and lives. It’s provided me with so much inspiration, and made me feel like part of another community, which is awesome. In the spirit of many of my favorites, I’ve decided to post a ‘What I Ate Wednesday’ on the first Wednesday of every month. This definitely makes me feel like I’m more integrated into the blogging community, but it’s also important to me because while I post many of my recipes here, what I eat on a daily basis obviously includes so much more – and I think it’s totally possible to eat for both health and happiness! Part of my growing love for cooking is experimenting with new foods, and figuring out ways around my allergies when trying different dishes. But there are some standbys I can’t live without (apples, Greek yogurt, eggs, baby carrots) that you’ll probably see in every future WIAW post. So without further ado, this is a little look at how I lived and ate yesterday!


Two muffins to start the morning

Two muffins to start the morning

Pre-run breakfast: A good little cautionary tale is how I ran my first half marathon last year without eating beforehand and taking in about 5 sips of water, then basically threw a temper tantrum when my parents and I went to JG Melon for brunch about an hour after finishing and there was a wait to be seated, so was taken to the diner up the street and not only ordered like an impatient kindergartner, but ate a plate of sweet potato fries bigger than my face and was promptly sick. Sad face. I’ve realized that anything more than a 10k for me requires a little fuel in the tank. I hate gels and goo, and I’m allergic to many bars, but I can stomach one of my little muffins, a perfect mix of protein and carbs. This time, it was two Banana-Maple-Oat Muffins.



Rudi's GF spinach wrap with white Cheddar, turkey, and scrambled eggs

Rudi’s GF spinach wrap with white Cheddar, turkey, and scrambled eggs

Post-run brunch: My schedule is a little strange because I’m a law student – I have class in odd blocks of time and fit running, reading, working at my internship, blogging, and other daily activities around those hours. So on Tuesdays, for example, I end up eating lots of little meals and snacks. I had a wrap with turkey, eggs, and Cheddar cheese with some cucumber slices, with a chaser of cottage cheese with some blueberries, for a post-run refuel before I headed to school. Oh, and about two bottles of water and a cup of coffee to rehydrate. (I hydrate more than pretty much anyone else I know, but hey, whatever works!) 


School and internship snacks: I had class from 11am-3pm, so I had a yogurt with GF apple cinnamon cereal, a Braeburn apple, and another muffin. Then, I was at my internship from 3:30-6pm, and I had a bag of baby carrots and one of those little to-go packs of hummus, along with a second yogurt. Honestly, my snacks are pretty repetitive – they have to be small and sturdy enough to throw in my backpack, and it’s hard to bring more than one thing that needs an ice pack. I’ve started freezing yogurts and using those as the ice for other foods if I want to bring a real lunch, but then I have to wait for them to thaw to eat them, which is sort of unpredictable! I also drank about four bottles of water and a bottle of Propel.

2% Greek yogurt with apple cinnamon O's

2% Greek yogurt with apple cinnamon O’s

I poked that little hole in the top of the muffin to pack in some peanut butter before wrapping it up to take along!

I poked that little hole in the top of the muffin to pack in some peanut butter before wrapping it up to take along!










A bowl of Veggie Quinoa 'Pagodas' with chicken, cheese and more veggies

A bowl of Veggie Quinoa ‘Pagodas’ with chicken, cheese and more veggies

Dinner: I was home early enough to whip up a home-cooked meal, so I went for one of my big bowls. I just bought a box of Ancient Harvest quinoa pasta on sale and tried it for the first time as a base – it was pretty good. I never really ate a lot of pasta as a kid, except for mac and cheese, because I didn’t like tomatoes or tomato sauce (luckily I’ve reformed!) and I’m allergic to pesto. But I’m starting to try it more often. I topped it with chopped grilled chicken breast, the 365 brand of mirepoix (basically peas, carrots, corn, and green beans) and a bunch of Parmesan cheese. With another bottle or two of water, of course.



My peanut butter cup sundae with sprinkles

My peanut butter cup sundae with sprinkles


Dessert: I love ice cream, even in winter, so as my own way of telling the snow it was time to go away, I made myself a little sundae – peanut butter cup ice cream with a little extra peanut butter and some chocolate chips, plus my favorite allergy-free rainbow sprinkles tossed in for good measure. I also had another apple, Pink Lady this time. And a cup of apple cinnamon spice decaf tea.





I really like salted rice cakes as a delivery vehicle for PB + J - something about that sweet n' salty combo!

I really like salted rice cakes as a delivery vehicle for PB + J – something about that sweet n’ salty combo!

Evening snack: some rice cakes with peanut butter and raspberry jam. Nothing fancy! And, admittedly, yet another apple. Empire, if you’re wondering. I’ll be perfectly honest, I eat far more apples than the one a day your doctor recommends – easily two or three a day in fall and winter. It’s a little less in the warmer months, when peaches and berries are in season and added to the mix, but even then, apples are just so easy to grab and go, or to slice up and enjoy with a little peanut butter. They go well with both sweet and savory foods, and to be totally honest, I don’t feel like I’m done with meals without finishing off an apple at the end sometimes.




So there you have it! 6 ‘eating times’ in a day, with food in a variety of shapes and sizes. I pretty much eat within the 8am-to-8pm range, so it’s every couple of hours. And I enjoy every bite!


So I refill that water bottle about 10x a day...and altogether this gets me through 24 hours!

So I refill that water bottle about 10x a day…and altogether this gets me through 24 hours!






© 2015 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.