Green Monster Pizza

IMG_2238So sometimes my eating habits look like a teenagers. I.e. one of my favorite foods is pizza. But I’m a future dietitian and with that comes a certain desire to change the world. And by that I mean change delicious food into more nutritious and still delicious food. Enter the Elzinga green veggie pizza. Last summer I worked for a cooking/gardening summer camp for kids where we taught kids, you guessed it, cooking and gardening. Every week we made at least 1 form of pizza (thank you Healthy Youth Program). That’s where I learned that broccoli and kale are perfect on pizza (and potatoes, but they don’t make an appearance here). That’s also where I learned the perfect easy recipe for pizza sauce.

Now I know that kale might seem a little too healthy (aka, not delicious) but I swear it gets super crispy and absolutely perfect. And I get that broccoli might not be the same as sausage and I’m not saying every pizza should have it, but it does offer a fun little crunch and tons of color. I swear this pizza is delicious. I swear my husband and I can eat almost 2 of them without a problem. Just give it a try. I promise you’ll like it.

IMG_2230 Green Monster Pizza

Pick you favorite whole wheat pizza crust

For the sauce:
1 eight oz. can no salt added tomato sauce
1 tbsp italian seasonings

Mix together. This makes sauce for two pizzas

For each pizza:
2 cups mozzarella cheese
2 cups chopped up kale
1 1/2 cups chopped up broccoli florets
Optional: green pepper cut in shreds
Optional: red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Divide pizza dough into half and sprinkle counter with flour. Roll out one half of your dough to fit your pan (I use a pizza pan but a cookie sheet would do just fine). If your crust is nonstick don’t spray, but if it’s not very nonstick spray the heck out of it. Place pizza dough on pan cook in oven for 5 minutes. Remove pizza from oven and add half of your sauce to each pizza (if making two) and apply to the outer edges of the crust. Add cheese evenly. After you’ve rinsed and chopped your veg add it to your pizza however you like. Bake pizza for 7-10 minutes or until crust is cooked through and cheese is melted (This varies with ovens). If you desire you can put the second batch of dough and sauce in the fridge for up to one week. You can also freeze the sauce if you aren’t using it anytime soon. I’ve never tried to the dough so I’m not sure on that one.

What other fun ingredients do you put on your pizza?

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Youtube Reviews: feel the burn

I’m really weak. I haven’t regularly exercised specific muscle groups consistently for, well, ever. So my muscles easily feel the burn. So if you’re ripped/shredded/etc. don’t judge me and don’t worry about the videos I’m about to share, they’re probably not for you. But if you’re like me and you’re just starting out and are trying to get a little definition in your guns/glutes/abs/quads then this might be helpful for you.

Today “feel the burn” youtube videos are up for review. I personally like short segment videos that I can pick and choose from; it’s my own version of choose-your-own-adventure. Let’s get to it!

#1: abs

This video is tough for me. But I love when the instructor keeps saying “you’re welcome”. It makes the video sassy, funny and makes the mood feel much lighter. And when my lower abs are screaming in pain, I like to say “thank you” and smile. It makes me feel better.

#2: Legs/Booty

I like popsugar fitness for some reason. I haven’t quite figured out why. I like the regular instructor, Anna Renderer, because, even though she’s ripped, I still feel like she struggles with the workouts too. I know she’s just a good actor but I still appreciate the sympathy. Also in this particular set the air chair squats make me burn like I could start a fire with my pain. But it hurts so good.

#3: arms

The tricep series in this video, when I really try and focus and squeeze my triceps, kills me. The after stretch always hurts, which I find funny. But I love it. And I find Sarah and her outdoor scenery quite delightful.

There are my top 3 “feel the burn” workouts for this week. Do you have any fun suggestions for next week?? I want to try more Barre or Pilates workouts. I LOVE those. But I haven’t found many 10 minute sets that I can do in a series. Harrumph. Princess whiner Rachel is experiencing a first world problem. 😉

T & T to being a better human: learn to control the social media monster

Growing up social media consisted of the following:
1) Instant Messaging
2) AOL, hotmail or juno slow-speed dial-up internet and email
3) landline cordless phones

Now we have:
1) Facebook
2) Twitter
3) Instagram
4) google +
5) blogs [wordpress, blogspot, tumblr, etc.]
6) pinterest
7) myspace
8) snapchat
9) linkedin
10) Skype, Facetime, and google hangout, etc.
11) youtube
12) vine
13) imessage, google chat, etc.
and so many more that I’m sure I’m missing.

So I don’t really like social media, personally. To me it is a necessary evil. The main reason I feel this way is because (full disclosure coming up) I care what other people think. In my brain I don’t think I do but when I expose myself to hundreds of other peoples thoughts and opinions, all of a sudden I start feeling really self-conscious about everything I’ve ever done on social media. I start to think that my pictures are clogging up someone’s newsfeed, or my thoughts are stupid and shouldn’t be expressed. And do you know why? Because there is a TON of negativity on these sites. People making fun of others for things they say, do, think, feel or in general express. It makes me feel like A) can’t we all just get along? and B) everyone must think I’m the worst.

Now if you can’t relate to this post at all and you feel like you have no trouble with social media, then I applaud you. I really do. But I am super sensitive to it. And if you are too then welcome, you’re not alone.

My problem with social media is that I feel like if I make one mistake or do one thing wrong I’ll be completely ostracized and made fun of. I’m sure I’m overreacting but it’s something I struggle with, daily. So I tend to avoid social media. Which is good for some and not an option for others. But I’m realizing, the older I get, that the more I avoid things that make me uncomfortable the less I’ll experience in life. It’s like choosing to be acted upon instead of choosing to act. So here are my tips and tricks to living and thriving with social media:

1) realize that opinions are opinions. Everyone’s got one and everyone loves to share theirs. This is a universal fact. People love to be heard (I write a blog, I’m definitely one of them). So yes, people might have opinions on what you share but it doesn’t change who you are or how much worth you have. Let them have their opinions and keep your own. And going along with that don’t let the number of likes or comments you get define who you are, because it really doesn’t.

2) give yourself a limit. It’s hard not to care what other people think when you’re constantly checking everything. Turn the notifications off on your phone. As a compromise, give yourself a half hour slot or so each day to check all your stuff.

3) use social media for its purpose. Social media connects us in a way that was unthought of and unheard of 20 years ago. We can stay in touch with people better than ever now. What’s my old college roommate up to today? I don’t know, let me check facebook- oh look, she’s got two kids and her husband’s working in North Carolina. Can’t find someone’s phone number to give them a call? message them somehow and get it. Or use skype, facetime or google hangouts to get a face to face chat going (I don’t think we understand how utterly cool that really is). What I’m saying is use these sites to stay connected to people-that’s really what they’re there for.

4) live real life. These days it seems as if most people believe that if you don’t take a picture of something and post it somewhere or status update constantly then you really aren’t living. Sometimes it can be really nice to just put the phone away and enjoy simply living. Whether it’s nature or spending quality fun time with someone you love; you don’t always need to document it and/or share it. Enjoying the moment for what it is can be completely freeing and usually brings more beauty into your life then if you constantly tweet away the moment. Here’s a few fun videos to illustrate my point:

5) ask someone you’re close to if you might have a problem. So this one is a little weird but it kind of goes along with those videos I just shared. Generally speaking we aren’t very good at assessing ourselves. Asking someone who is close to you, that you regularly spend time with, whether or not they think you are spending too much time doing social media might be a good way to evaluate yourself. I spend 90-95% of my free time with my husband. I value his opinion and if I’m ruining a moment because I’m letting something small and insignificant (a perfect picture or well-coined phrase) come between us, I would really like to know. It’s important that you don’t let your real relationships suffer because you’re living in a virtual world.

And remember that this blog post is an opinion too. The things I find fault with on these sites are my own insecurities. Other people might not have a problem and might not feel the need to change. But that’s not why either of us is here right now. So remember to think happy thoughts and just be yourself. You got this.

Easy Peasy Veggie Lentil Soup

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When I was about 23 or 24 I discovered that I adored lentil soup. Or I discovered that I really LOVED canned lentil soup (specifically Amy’s, it’s my favorite). Then about 2 years ago I tried making lentil soup in a crockpot, since they were all the rage. It bombed. It tasted like dirt, which I’ve realized is kind of not a good thing. So I chucked the whole lot of it and vowed to never try it again. But then I was perusing pinterest one day and found a supposedly easy lentil soup that used red lentils. Well I figured if it promised to be easy (and it did) then I would give it a go, but use the lentils I had on hand, because I’m not made of money. And the first time, it wasn’t bad. The lentils cooked (which really didn’t happen the first time) and the seasonings were okay. Granted I didn’t use broth, stock or bouillon (it’s verboten in my home) so it tasted a little weak, but still, not bad. But you can’t really put a “not bad” soup on a blog. Or at least you shouldn’t. So I tried it again but made a few modifications: I used my food processor to slay the vegetables instead of my knife, and oh my what a difference it made. The pulverized vegetables gave off so much more flavor then the diced ones did. PLUS I added more carrot and less onion, which might sound strange but it works for me. I also only add water which might sound gross but it actually doesn’t taste gross, so there’s that. But this time my husband and I tried a new stock:

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Check it out- unsalted chicken stock!! It has sooooo much less sodium in it that I appeased my salt-weary husband. Score!

And I changed up the recipe even more: I skipped the celery. Truthfully I’m sure the celery might make a bit of difference in terms of bulk and flavor BUT I hate buying celery because you have to buy the whole thing and I only want a few sticks. We never eat the rest. So it went out. And I might have used less onion. We only had like a quarter of an onion left so I used what we had. But all my recipes are choose-your-own-adventure based so really you can do whatever you like. But here’s my original recipe plus some suggested modifications. Adapted from here.

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Veggie Lentil Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large carrots, diced
2 large ribs celery, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 pound lentils
4 cups unsalted broth or water
2 – 3 more cups water
1 whole bay leaf
2 tablespoons lemon juice from 1/2 large lemon (optional)

In a food processor or blender chop your vegetables, all together- as small or big as you like. Heat a large pot and the oil on medium heat. Add the veggies and saute for a few minutes, occasionally stirring. Add the broth/water and extra water. Add the lentils and bay leaf and bring to a boil. When a boil is reached turn the heat down and cover. Let simmer until the lentils are cooked through and tender (can take anywhere from 20 – 40 minutes depending on the heat and how much you want the flavors to meld).

Take off the heat and if you want, add lemon juice. Take out the bay leaf, because they don’t taste good. Then enjoy.

Tip: This also makes a great freezer meal. Just ladle into a Ziploc container or baggie and store in the freezer until you find a day you really don’t feel like cooking and you really want a healthy meal.

And my husband, who doesn’t particularly care for soup (I don’t know how we ended up together sometimes), LOVES this soup. So, I win.

You Tube Reviews

So I hate going to gyms. I think the main reason is that I just prefer working outside in nature instead of the sweaty, smelly, peacocking confines of the gym. That’s just one theory. There are two other reasons I know I don’t like going to gym: 1) I hate having to get into my car and use my gas and time to actually arrive at and travel from the gym and 2) I don’t like paying for it. I’m a student right now so technically that last excuse isn’t valid because gym fees are included in my tuition,  so I can go to the gym anytime I want, but I never do. So what’s a girl to do if she wants a really good workout? Well I like to run and cycle and hike, but those are all primarily cardio activities. Now don’t get me wrong, cardio is super important for endurance and longevity; I get that. But I also know that the money maker is strength training. BUT I suck at figuring out what moves to do to get a good burn. So I end up just not doing anything. I’ve even tried using those exercise outlines you can find on pinterest, you know the ones I’m talking about:

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But I’ve found that I just get really bored and don’t stick to them. But recently I’ve begun trying to push my body a little farther and see how weak strong I am. So I’ve been searching for effective ways to feel the burn and stay motivated. My solution has been youtube workout videos. I know they’ve been around for years and I’m not the first one to discover them but I’m finally in a housing situation where I won’t bug anyone with my jumping and grunting (yes that’s what happens when people workout and they aren’t very good at it). Plus we have the Amazon Firestick so I can stream it right onto my TV in my living room where I have a bit more space, so it’s much more convenient than any bedroom I’ve lived in previously. And one thing I realllllllly like about these videos is that there are a ton of them and I can do tons of different exercises every day or do them in different ways every day. This means I’m not bored. Which means I’ll continue to do it. Which means I might actually start to see what my body is capable of. Huzzah!

So now that I watch TONS of youtube exercise videos I figured other people might like to know what’s good and what’s not worth their time. **Disclaimer: I only have limited equipment (two 8 lb hand weights, two 3 lb hand weights, an exercise ball, a yoga mat, a resistance band, a jump rope, a foam roller, and a yoga block) so I’m mostly doing body weight, or low weight exercises. Also I’m not usually focused on cardio or fat burn since I get those elsewhere, my main focus is on strength training so the majority of videos I will review are just those.

Here we go:

Okay so I know I just gave this big long disclaimer but I’m violating one of those right now by first reviewing a yoga series I really like. Sue me.

Yoga with Adriene– I first found this series by a youtube search for easy yoga. I was a newbie (still am) and was looking for something fun that also wasn’t hard. I think fate had everything to do with clicking on this video. I really like the way Adriene does yoga. She has a natural ease with the flow of yoga and it’s like having your best friend teach you, she’s super personable. And she made me feel like even though I was a beginner I could still follow along. Plus her 30 days of Yoga series was perfect for me starting out. I have a boredom problem (don’t we all?) and I knew that having the same routine daily would kill me. But having something different for a straight 30 days (okay I haven’t finished it, I only do about 3-4 days per week because of my schedule and I’ve been more focused on strength lately) is super helpful for my boredom problem. I also really like this series because I think it’s good for mental health. I am a natural born stress case and my fall term in school just about killed me last year. So when it was time to start winter term this year I knew something had to change. Starting the 30 day yoga challenge was exactly what I needed to get my stress levels down to a more appropriate and manageable level. I give Yoga with Adriene a 5 star rating 🙂

This was the first video I started with. Then I progressed to the 30 day challenge. You can also find her website here.

Tales of granola bars and woe…err….joy

Story time: Remember when I told the story of the PB and how the peanuts were cheaper in one part of Walmart than in another? Here’s a quick reminder. All read up? Good.

So now for another story. I tend to eat on the go when school is in session and sometimes this means no cereal for me. Thus I pack lots of granola bars to make it through my morning (and sometimes afternoon if I’m really behind). So I chose Kashi’s pumpkin flax granola bars. I picked them for two reasons: One they had more fiber than most generic granola bars, 2) they were fairly cheap. So I bought two boxes. And I had no problem with them. Except when week 10 rolled around and I was so busy they were practically the only thing I was eating. They got real old real fast. So when we went on our weekly grocery shopping adventure I decided to look around and see if I could find something with the same amount of fiber around the same price point. And I did. And they’re really good. Not like eating a candy bar good, but I’m not really going for that kind of good.

Photo Mar 26, 12 09 11 PMAnd while I don’t generally shop organic, I also don’t avoid buying anything because it’s organic. Plus these babies have chocolate chips. And…wait for it…LESS SUGAR. The whole bar only has 4 grams of sugar (1 tsp) while the Kashi had 10 (2.5 tsp’s). And yes I don’t get two bars in one but I’m so okay with that, cuz I get chocolate.

Also another thing I like about this granola bar is that I can eat half of it before a run and not feel like trash during the run. That’s amazing for me. I never eat within two hours of running because if I do I get cramps and my run will suck. But I ate half of one the other day and my run went better than usual. And I did it again later that week. I highly endorse these bars. (in case you care: this post is not sponsored at all)

T & T to being a better human: think happy thoughts

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When my parents moved back to California I was bitter. Plain and simple. My life was over. Or so I thought. And acted. I was an unhappy camper no matter the weather. All in all I was a depressing mess. And if I could go back I would tell myself to look for the good in everything.

There is quite a bit in this world that is hard. And that hurts. Disrespect, bullying, apathy, cynicism, narcissism, sarcasm, angst, irony, loneliness, selfishness, despair, anger, and cruelty have become commonplace and expected. But it doesn’t have to be like that! Maybe we can’t change the world with positive thoughts but we can definitely change our own world with our own happy thoughts. And maybe we can change the world of someone we know who struggles with hurt.

As a young and angsty teen who thought the world was against her, there was one person who was able to chip away at my cynical facade and pull out the real and happy me. He was a youth leader in my church and he always had a smile on his face. Whenever he saw me he would ask me, sincerely, how I was doing. And since he wasn’t related to me and really didn’t know me at all, this blew my mind. I would find myself opening up and chatting with this man. I didn’t tell him my feelings of loneliness or woe but just talking to someone who was happy helped me to see the happy in the world and focus on it.

So how do we think happy thoughts when maybe our world is spiraling downward or maybe we see all that isn’t so great? that is a very good question.

1) Be grateful. No matter who you are or where you come from there is always a blessing or two to be found. A warm bed to sleep in. A full belly. A chance at education. A good job. A happy family. A strong body. Start a list in your head or on paper and keep it going till you can’t stop. Gratitude breeds happiness. That’s a fact.

2) Do something kind for someone else, just for the heck of it. Do the dishes for your family or roommate. Bring flowers to a neighbor. Open the door for a stranger. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. There is nothing that will help you understand how much good there is in the world like service. Being a part of something good and honest and true also breeds happiness.

3) Stop judging. I know the lady that sits behind you in church can’t sing. I know the Jones’s kids aren’t that well-behaved. I know your neighbor can’t afford his car. I know that that one guy at work is a know-it-all (and apparently I am too). But I also know that you have your own flaws and you make your own mistakes and that you don’t want people judging you for those anymore than they want you judging them for theirs. So give that guy that cut you off the benefit of the doubt- maybe he really didn’t see you, or maybe he’s late for something. There are millions of reasons why people are the way they are and do the things they do and you judging them doesn’t stop them and it doesn’t make you happy. So stop.

4) Smile. I always struggle when in my women’s church meeting people say that the best way to cheer someone up is to smile. I actually don’t believe that at all. But I do believe that smiling cheers you up. I do a yoga series from youtube and every once in a while the instructor reminds me to smile. And I gotta say, it helps. Sometimes the stretches are a little strenuous and just smiling through it and realizing that in the end it will benefit me is helpful. So when life gives you lemons and you want to pucker, take a minute to smile.

5) Be genuine. When you are genuine it means that you actually care about someone other than you. When you ask how they are doing, you want to know. When you ask if they need something, nothing will stop you from assisting them in any way you can. And by being genuine you are focusing on problems other than your own. With that comes peace and happiness. With that comes perspective and clarity about what is really important in life: helping each other. We’re a social society for a reason, it brings us happiness. So when you’re around others, genuinely take interest in their lives and notice the happiness build.

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The best advice I can give my former self and any that are struggling today is to look for the good in the world. I’m not saying that life isn’t hard and we should only think rainbows and butterflies, but I do know that always focusing on the bad won’t get you anywhere good. So whenever you can: think happy thoughts and try and lift those around you with your happiness.

T & T to being a better human: buy a bicycle (and use it)

One of my favorite things about living where I do is that I live so close to so much. I’m right across the street from Trader Joe’s, right down the street from Safeway, 2 miles from campus, and within a mile of my church. Yet I have the tendency to want to drive everywhere. My husband bought me a fun bicycle when we were engaged and I try to use it often but there really is no reason not to use it more frequently.

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Exercise works wonders on the brain and body. And it doesn’t have to be intense stuff either (though, if you’re up for it that’s wonderful). Simply using your bicycle to get you around to the library, grocery store, neighbors house, church, or out and about is not only fun and active but it saves you gas and helps the environment. It’s a totally economical way of travel.

I realize bicycle riding to every destination isn’t a possibility for many. I get that not everyone can commute on a bicycle to work or school, but if you can: do.

Here’s a few simple suggestions to get yourself on a bicycle:

1) buy a bike. Craigslist is usually an awesome resource for bicycles. I bought my first bike, Byrdie (a trek mountain bike that we upgraded with hybrid tires) on Craigslist and she served me for more than 5 years. Plus she was only $65. You don’t have to get anything fancy, but get something reliable. And if you don’t know what reliable bikes looks like, do some research. There are tons of awesome bike fans out there who are more than happy to show you around the world of bicycles (my husband is one of them). Your local bike shop is also a great resource to ask for advice. They usually know their stuff and if you get the right place they will try to help you find the best option, not just the most expensive bike they sell.

2) Buy a helmet and wear it. I think people believe that helmets look dorky, but who cares? They are there for safety. I see cyclists all over my town not wearing helmets and you know what else I see lots of? crashes. It’s not smart and it’s not safe.

3) Buy some other helpful essentials. I know it seems like you have to spend a lot of money on this, but it is an investment. There are some things you definitely need if you want to actually use your bike to go places (like a bike lock- I like the u-lock. Also a good bike light is essential if you travel in the dark). Other things might help you out more too (like a bike basket or panniers if you want to carry stuff. Or a mirror if you have trouble turning to look behind you. Or fenders if it’s rainy where you live and you don’t want a streak of mud up your bum.) but they aren’t necessary (a backpack works great to carry stuff, and training yourself to look correctly is pretty important. And fenders are only important if you ride in the rain.). Figure out what you personally need and make it work for you.

4) Learn the rules of the road. Each area is different in their acceptance of cyclists. Some towns are built for bikes (like where I live) and other towns are freaked out by them (like most of America). Be a good cyclist and learn what is and is not acceptable. And learn your hand signals.They are super easy and many people use them, so I promise you’re not alone when you correctly inform those behind you what you are doing. Plus the safer you are on your bicycle and the more you use it, the more the rest of America won’t be freaked out by cyclists. so much.

5) Go explore. There’s a whole world out there waiting for you! Go see how far you can go. Go check out some local neighborhoods. Encourage your friends to get bicycles and go riding together. It’s a great form of exercise and a great way to explore and get to know people. Plus it’s easy on your joints, if that’s a concern for you.

Loaded Oaty Oatmeal cookies

So I found ants in my spare dresser this morning. Which is a really weird place to find ants, I might add. I found the source of the problem (it was a makeup drawer with a sticky spot so I’m guessing that was some sort of perfume remnant- whatever it was the ants loved it) and hopefully took care of it, but it’s still gross and creepy. When I first moved to Oregon I lived with my sister and her family in Eugene and that winter/spring there were ants in our kitchen. Then the next winter/spring I was living with a friend of mine in a new house and we got ants in our kitchen as well. They are so icky and I always get the creepy crawly’s whenever I know they’re in my house. I have had one too many run-ins with the little buggers and it’s getting real old real quick. I never knew Oregon was so anty. Grrrr!!

Now on to the point of this post: cookies. Really really good, somewhat healthy (just stare at the applesauce, oats and lack of salt in these babies and not the sugar content), loaded with goodness (chocolate, cranberries, walnuts, coconut, basically it’s a choose your own adventure recipe) oatmeal cookies.

I love oatmeal cookies. They are possibly my favorite kind of cookie. But I don’t like when you eat an oatmeal cookie and you can’t tell that it has oatmeal in it. The oats are one of my favorite parts. So the other day I searched to find the perfect oaty oatmeal chocolate chip cookie and I found one that I liked and I adapted it to my preferences and I like it even more. It uses home ground oat flour, which with the new toy is lots of fun.

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Here’s my version:

Loaded Oaty Oatmeal cookies:
1 cup applesauce
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs well beaten
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups oats
4 cups oat flour (5 cups of oats ground to dust in your food processor or you can buy oat flour)
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp corn starch
1/2 cup chocolate chips (up to 2 cups if it’s your only add-in)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)
1/2 cup coconut (we use the kind without added sugar, but it’s not a requirement) (optional)
1/2 cup walnuts (optional)

Cream applesauce and sugars. Add the beaten eggs and vanilla and mix together. In a separate bowl combine oats, oat flour, baking soda and corn starch, mix thoroughly. Add the dry mixture to the wet and combine well. Put your add-ins in. You can refrigerate your dough for 24 hours but I didn’t and they turned out fantastic, so choose your own adventure.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a sticky non-stick pan like I do, feel free to Pam it up. If your pan is for reals non-stick then don’t worry about it. Add medium sized scoops of dough to your cookie sheet (this varies by person, neither you nor I will care what size they really are). Bake for 10-12 minutes or until tops get golden-ish. They might be doughy so test your first batch and adjust accordingly. Eat immediately or whenever you feel like it. I always recommend a cold glass of milk to go with.

And in case you’re worried that these are dense or not flavorful or too healthy to be good- fear not. They are amazing and moist and delicious. Plus you can always add whatever mix-ins make you feel good, which is always fun.