I already told you about my glorious Saturday of trail running and hitting the pool (seriously, it was 83 degrees – why not?!). However, despite the amazingly warm weather, I then switched over to fall mode for the rest of the weekend, and spent Saturday night at a low-key pumpkin beer fest held at Hops and Pie. I sampled over 20 pumpkin beers, in between slices of some awesome sausage-and-pineapple pizza (seriously, their pizza has ranked on TripAdvisor’s list of 50 pizza places worth traveling for). So basically, the perfect way to eat back everything I had burned that morning. No regrets! (Okay, except for some late-night food that gave me a mild case of food poisoning… yuck.)
Sunday, while it was still beautiful and summer-like, I had more pumpkin-related plans. A few friends (including Brooke) and I met up at Big Choice Brewing to try their freshly-made pumpkin porter (which had not been at the festival the night before) and carve pumpkins into jack o’lanterns. Yippee! I brought my pumpkin from the pumpkin haul last week, and I was excited to get another day’s fun out of it.
Okay, so, poll time: have you ever carved a jack o’lantern? I told my friends that I hadn’t, causing them to tease me like crazy, until I pointed out that I just didn’t remember doing it as a kid – and several of them realized they didn’t either. I remember when I was too little to safely use a knife that I would draw the design on and then one of my parents would carve it for me, but while I know at some point I aged up, I don’t remember ever getting to carve the pumpkin myself. (Also, I never had a jack o’lantern in my NYC apartment since… where would I put it? And it would probably attract bugs.) I was nervous about the skill level that might be required, and since I wanted to enter my jack o’lantern into my apartment complex’s contest this week, I decided to go for something that was clever (or at least, whoever originated the idea was clever; I just copied it off the internets) but simple. Can you tell which one is mine?
My friend Caitlin won the contest with her awesome version of Jack from The Nightmare Before Christmas (to the left of mine). It’s kind of hard to see in this picture, but she totally nailed it and everyone knew exactly what it was. As a reward, she won six free pints of beer! So our group retired to the lounge upstairs to play board games, eat (free) popcorn, and start making a dent in those free pints. I didn’t have a ton, since my stomach still wasn’t very settled, but it was great to hang out with friends and enjoy the afternoon 🙂
This morning, though, after a weekend of pizza, pumpkin beer, popcorn, the aforementioned food poisoning, and just general unhealthiness… I really wanted a healthy breakfast to go with my great night’s sleep and get myself back on track. I’ve posted a lot of pumpkin recipes lately, but another squash that’s majorly in season right now is zucchini. While you might think of it as a summer squash, it grows so rampantly and is so abundant in the fall that there’s a lot of debate over whether it’s a summer or fall veggie (or fruit, since it has seeds).
Due to its abundance, all the grocery stores in my area keep putting zucchini on sale for ridiculously cheap prices like 50 cents a pound, and I’m thrilled – I love the stuff! I was thinking of using some of my stockpile to make zucchini bread, but since I love warm bowls of oatmeal, I decided to instead try a zucchini bread-inspired oatmeal… with some banana and chocolate chips to make it extra yummy. This makes a pretty huge bowl of oatmeal, but only clocks in at 260 calories (yes, even with the chocolate chips) – so I can feel great about starting my day with it! Hope you love it too 🙂
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Zucchini Chocolate Banana Bread Oatmeal
- 1/3 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 whole banana (mashed)
- 1/2 whole zucchini (grated finely)
- 2 whole egg whites (beaten until fluffy)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp mini chocolate chips
- Using a medium saucepan, heat 2/3 cup water until boiling, then add your oats. Don't put the lid on and make sure to frequently check on your oatmeal and give it a stir so it doesn't boil over.
- Once the oats have absorbed that initial 2/3 cup of water, add another 1/3 cup of water. They can actually still absorb a little bit more water (to be even more voluminous) if you add it in two batches like this!
- While the oats are cooking, put your banana into a bowl and mash it with a fork. When the oats have absorbed that second batch of water, add the mashed banana, vanilla, and cinnamon. The banana will caramelize as it cooks, maximizing the sweetness without requiring any added sugar! Just stir frequently to make sure the banana doesn't burn.
- Grate your zucchini directly into the pot using a microplane, so its as fine as possible. If you aren't too keen on the color green being in your finished bowl, you can peel the squash first so that it doesn't add any color.
- While the mixture is heating up again, separate two egg whites from their yolks and beat in a bowl until very frothy. Bonus: arm workout included in your breakfast making!
- Once your oatmeal starts to bubble, pour your frothy egg whites in and mix thoroughly. If you're cooking at medium to medium-high heat, it should only take a minute or two for your egg whites to cook - you'll want to be stirring pretty constantly this whole time to prevent clumping. If you've done it right, the egg whites will easily incorporate to the rest of the mixture, resulting in a thick, puffy, cloud-like consistency. No lumps at all!
- Finally, pour into a bowl and top with a little bit more cinnamon plus a few chocolate chips. I like to use the mini ones so they melt faster and spread through the oatmeal! If you wanted to make this healthier, you could substitute cocoa powder or even go without... but who doesn't want a bit of chocolate to start their day? 🙂