Hope you had a great weekend! So today’s post is a mix of good and bad…food that is. It seemed that everything I did this weekend involved meeting up with old friends and very good food. So I’m going to share with you some of my favorite eats from this past weekend as well as an incredible chocolate chip cookie recipe and a healthy cheesy bruschetta recipe . So don’t worry, you won’t be left empty-handed!
Saturday morning Lara and I met up with some friends at Urth Caffe in Santa Monica. LA is blessed to have four Urth Caffe locations with one in each of the following areas: Beverly Hills, Downtown, West Hollywood and Santa Monica. It’s one of my favorite spots for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I had an egg white omelet with veggies (not too exciting I know, but very good) and one of their famous tea lattes, the Diving Spice Chai (non-fat milk of course). Besides having an extensive menu of incredibly fresh food and to-die-for desserts, Urth Caffe is known for its fine tea selection and organic coffee (this means it’s 100% chemical free). And they add cute little designs to their specialty coffee and tea drinks (we got turkey and leaf designs)…I’m still amazed every time I’m there!
After breakfast I went over to my friend Lindsey’s house to do some baking. I met Lindsey last year in New York when I was traveling back and forth between LA and NYC for the Institute for Integrative Nutrition classes I was taking. There were very few people from LA so I was so happy when I met her. We clicked instantly! She’s done some amazing things including recently launching a gluten-free baking company called XO Baking Co.(I’ll talk more about XO Baking CO. in a future post when I have a chance to use and showcase her mixes!)
We initially planned to bake something healthy (like gluten-free granola bars), but our baking agenda quickly changed once I found out Lindsey had been experimenting with a gluten-free oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe. We opted to go with the cookies in lieu of the bars (chocolate in any recipe pretty much always comes out on top). So we started baking. Well, actually, Lindsey started baking. I pretty much stared at her and talked her ear off the entire time while watching the Notre Dame game (btw, ND won). I love baking, but when I’m around a baking expert I’ll let the expert take over! Here’s the finished product…
They were so so good. My three favorite parts about this Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie is 1) the chocolate (that’s a no-brainer), 2) the heartiness of the oatmeal, and 3) it’s gluten-free!
I was quite proud of myself…I only had 1 and 1/2 cookies! (That almost never happens when I bake) And Lindsey did not let me go empty-handed–she sent me home with a bag of fresh cookies and two of her mixes from her baking line (her GF Banana Bread and her GF all-purpose flour). I’m so excited to make the Banana Bread–it’s one of my favorites of all time (I’m still amazed it’s gluten free). Stay tuned for an upcoming post on XO Baking Co.–the mixes will be available on Amazon.com any day now and they’ll also soon be available in select Southern CA Whole Foods locations too! (Congrats Lindsey!!!)
On Sunday Lara and I went to a jewelry party at the parents’ house of one of our closest childhood friends, Natalie. We’ve been
friends with Natalie since kindergarten, but since she moved up north to Washington with her husband, we don’t get to see her that often. She brought her 9-month old daughter Charlotte so everyone could meet her. Charlotte was the cutest baby. She had tons of personality; every time someone passed by she would wave. It was so cute! Here’s me with baby Charlotte…
Navigating Holiday Parties
I knew there would be lots of goodies at the party so prior to arriving I made sure I wasn’t starving. And I also told myself that I would be choosy about my food choices. I find it easier to limit my intake if I remind myself prior to going into a holiday party situation that I don’t need to try everything or have seconds. So, how did I manage? Very well I’d say. There were many tasty snacks, but I didn’t feel the need to try them all.
There was one appetizer that stood out–a Cheesy Bruschetta. Here’s a picture. I knew this bruschetta wasn’t healthy, but making it a healthier appetizer wouldn’t be hard. So here’s the changes I would make: swap the white bread for whole wheat, ditch the mayo, and put less cheese (my choice would be a sliver of fontina cheese). With these simple changes, you can make this Cheesy Bruschetta a low calorie and low fat appetizer!
How to make a lower calorie and lower fat Cheesy Bruschetta…
Slice whole-wheat baguette into thin slices and place on pan. Brush bruschetta on top of slice (I use Trader Joe’s bruschetta, but you can use any kind) and then top the slices with a small square of fontina cheese. Bake the Cheesy Bruschetta at 400 degrees for 10 minutes and voila! You have a quick and easy Healthy Cheesy Bruschetta appetizer that’s low in calories and low in fat!
Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
The other goodie that caught my eye at the party was a plate of Chocolate Chip Cookies that Natalie made from scratch. I waited until the end of the party to try one so that I didn’t feel the need to have another one before we left. I was glad I waited too because they were amazing! I was so impressed that I asked Natalie for the recipe and she graciously gave it to me. So thanks to Natalie I’m going to share it with you!
Ingredients (makes 60 cookies)
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups oatmeal powder (put oatmeal in a blender to make powder)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
12 oz. chocolate chips
4 oz. chocolate bar, grated (optional)
1 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional–I prefer no nuts)
Cream together butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. Slowly add dry ingredients.
The oatmeal powder is made by putting small amounts of oatmeal into a bender until powdered. Measure first, then blend. Once oatmeal is powdered, add into mixture.
Add chocolate chips. Also add the grated chocolate bar and chopped nuts if you want these in your cookies.
Next time I bake these cookies I’m going to try making them healthier by swapping the butter for applesauce and reducing the sugar. I’ll let you know how it goes!
And last but not least, Lara and I went to an Aerial Yoga Class at OC Pole Fitness last night. It was one of the hardest workouts I’ve tried in a while and it was also a very fun (and funny) experience. I’ll be reviewing the workout in tomorrow’s Wednesday Workout post so stay tuned!