Thursday, June 30, 2016

Recipe: Baked Oatmeal Cups

I've made two batches of these incredibly yummy Baked Oatmeal Cups for my co-workers this week. My picky 14 year-old liked them, too!  So I had to take a minute to share this easy recipe with you.

Baked Oatmeal Cup with Cranberries
Baked Oatmeal Cups
Makes 16

2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1-1/2 cups milk (I used 1%)
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 T ground cinnamon
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 tsp baking powder
Toppings of your choice - fruit (fresh or dried), chocolate chips, nuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Line muffin tins with liners (don't skip this step!)
3.  Combine the eggs, oil and brown sugar until sugar is dissolved
4. Add the applesauce, milk, vanilla, salt and cinnamon.  Stir till combined.
5. Stir in the oats and baking powder.
6. Fill each muffin tin with 1/4 cup of oat mixture.
7. Top with your favorite toppings.  Lightly press the topping into the mixture with a spoon.  (I used dried cranberries, chocolate chips, fresh banana and left some plain.)
8. Bake for 30 minutes.
9. Serve warm or store in an air tight container.  These can also be frozen to grab on busy mornings!

Besides this great recipe, I have to share why I made them.  My AWESOME team at Community LIFE (an adult day health center in Pittsburgh, PA serving low-income frail elderly who are medically eligible to be in a nursing home, but desire to live in the community - recently received the Inaugural Quality Leaders' Award for Excellence in Quality Improvement for our UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) Prevention Project.  Part of our Project includes serving cranberry juice to our Participants every morning, so when I brought in some breakfast treats to celebrate I wanted them to have cranberries.  I enjoy cooking for my Team and especially like to share healthy dishes for them to try.
Community LIFE's Loving Hearts Team with our
Award and Cranberry Juice!
These are easy to bake, easy to grab for a breakfast on the go and easy to share with others!  ENJOY!

Recipe adapted from's To Go Baked Oatmeal

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Balance is a Big Picture Word

"Mom, are you going to the gym tonight?" my son asked me one day last week.

"No.  I'm going to hang out with your dad.  It's only my second day back at work since his surgery," I answered

"What's happened to you?  You haven't gone in a couple of weeks!"

What happened?  Today has happened.  Life has happened.

I have spent a lot of time over the past several years agonizing over finding balance in my life. Finding balance in how I spend my time so that I am able to fit everything in that needs to be there. The list of responsibilities and activities that are classified as "needing to be there" goes on and on and on and on . . .

I have driven myself crazy trying to fit everything in to my day.  I have gotten up early and I've stayed up late.  I have created and edited To Do List after To Do List.  I have asked friends to hold me accountable so that I am not tempted to miss something,  I have called ahead to my family so that as I slow down in front of my house they are ready to sprint out the door and hurl their bodies into the car. I have written out schedules and then re-arranged them ten times in one day.

I wear a bracelet that signifies balance in the hopes of having a visual reminder of my quest to find balance.  I have re-listened to a sermon about Elizabeth's journey of finding balance (  I have cried.  I have felt guilty.  I have driven myself crazy.

The list of ways that I tried to find balance is longer than the list of activities that I'm attempting to balance!

Over the next couple of nights as I laid on the couch drifting in and out of a light sleep waiting for the alarm to prompt my husband to take his medication (He got his tonsils out.  Sounds like a simple procedure, but at 42 - not so much!), my mind raced.  Was there a problem?  I hadn't exercised consistently in a few weeks.  There were several things that I hadn't done recently.  Everything had been focused on prepping for my husband's surgery and then his recovery.  Before that we were wrapping up the school year and prior to that was Tennis Season.  Life has been a little hectic.  There was zero balance! I was quickly returning to the mess that had been my life six years ago.

At some point in the midst of my mind's exhausted haze I had a moment of clarity.  Yes - life is hectic.  But NO - I am NOT a mess.

How is that possible?

It's possible because my focus has not changed.  I am still focused on making healthy choices when it comes to handling my stress, eating, time management and my family.  My plan has not changed - I still want to be healthy.  I still want my family to be healthy.

When life is hectic, my stress level sky rockets.  So I'm pretty stressed out right now.  But I'm handling it in a healthy way.  I'm making wise choices.

The lessons I've learned: 

1) I will never be able to find balance every single day.  It will even be difficult to maintain perfect balance in a week's time.  That's because balance is a big picture word.  With all of the roles that I fill right now in this stage of my life, there are always going to be people or activities or responsibilities that require more of my attention.  That doesn't mean that I'm giving up on the other roles.  One of them will come back to the forefront in a few days or next week.


For these past couple of weeks, my husband has been my main concern.  Our children stayed with my parents.  I took several days off of work.  All of the meals that I planned were bland and soft so that he could swallow them.  My roles of wife and caregiving spouse were in that #1 spot.  Yet, I maintained my focus on being healthy.  I reached out to my support system when I found myself eating more chocolate pudding than my husband.  Their series of funny texts kept me out of the fridge!

This weekend, my role of Tennis Booster President was in that #1 spot as the Team volunteered at our community's summer festival.  I spent the entire weekend at the park operating the Crazy Colors Game Booth.  I stayed on track by packing my meals and treating myself to a small bag of Kettle corn.

Starting Monday life calms down for a little bit.  My meals are planned and prepped.  I'll be back in the gym.

In two weeks when we start three weeks of various camps for the kids a touch of chaos will return.

But overall - Balance.

2) Balance requires maintaining my focus.

My niece maintaining her focus on the balance beam.
I picture my 8 year-old niece on the balance beam.  She focuses on a spot on the beam to keep her balanced.  At times she may lean over to the right.  And then she may lean far to the left causing her one foot to come off the beam.  But by maintaining her focus she is able to re-gain her balance.  She may fall off now and then, but she jumps right back up on that balance beam!

Life may pull me to the right and then pull me to the left, but by maintaining my focus of making healthy choices even amongst life's most stressful or busiest moments, I can stay on that balance beam of life.


In a nutshell: Instead of worrying about fitting everything in TODAY (work, the healthiest of meals, exercise, my kids' getting to exercise, spending time with my husband, volunteer responsibilities and on and on . . .) I will take a step back and look at life through a wider lens.  How have the past few weeks looked?  Have I maintained my focus amidst life's chaos?  I will look at the big picture.