Oats: Frugal, Filling & Fantastic

I’ve been eating a lot of oats lately. There’s something wholesome and delicious about a bowl of oats, and despite the summer heat, there are a myriad of ways to enjoy oats for breakfast or a snack, and even several ways to use oats without even eating them! But, Andrea, you say, there are so many different KINDS of oats on the market? WHICH ONE DO I CHOOSE?! Well, it depends on what you’re going to use them for. Here’s a quickie tutorial:


The Many Different Types of Oats by Kristine Duncan, via eatingrules.com

Groats – the whole oat that has been hulled, cleaned and toasted. Mostly found in health food stores or online. Require a long cooking time.


Steel-cut Oats/Irish Oats – groats that are cut into coarse pieces. Longer cooking time, great for crockpot recipes.

Scottish Oats – groats that are ground instead of cut. Keeps the nuttier flavor of groats or steel-cut/Irish oats, but cooks faster and has a creamier texture.

Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats – groats that are steamed and then rolled flat. Have a thick, creamy texture and cook much faster than any of the previous varieties. What your average person would think of as standard oatmeal. Great for baking and overnight oats, this is what I use as my standard for oats.

Quick-Cooking Oats – like Old-Fashioned but steamed longer and rolled thinner. Also great for baking, but they don’t maintain much texture when made as oatmeal.

Instant Oats – steamed even more and rolled even thinner than Quick-Cooking and then dehydrated. Usually comes in individual packs with added sugar, seasonings and preservatives.

Crave more information? Check out a more detailed description of each at Not Quite Amish Living.

As a Meal or Snack

I got a 32 oz. tub of old fashioned oats from Walmart for a mere $3.28. That’s 30 servings of oats or a mere 11 cents a serving! Cheap AND good for you AND delicious, with a little tweaking of course. My current favorite way to consume oats is soaking 1/2 cup old fashioned oats in 1/2 cup of unsweetened vanilla cashew milk, then topping it with a half ounce of raw walnuts and a half serving of grape-flavored craisins. It’s almost like homemade muesli, without all the fuss! Here are some of my other favorite ways to eat oats that aren’t just hot oatmeal:

Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies from Leelalicious
Healthy 5-Ingredient Flourless Banana Bread from The Baker Mama





Oatmeal Superfood Breakfast Bars from AHealthyLifeForMe

And one I haven’t yet tried but am itching to:

Vegan Carrot Cake Overnight Oats from Kara Lydon

Around the House



  • Apparently, oatmeal can be used like baking soda or coffee grounds to deodorize your fridge or freezer! (Hmm, I wonder if sprinkling some oatmeal inside some stinky shoes overnight would help, what do you think?)
  • You can clean up kitchen spills by sprinkling uncooked oatmeal and letting it sit for 10-15 minutes before sweeping it up.
  • You can apply cooked, cooled oatmeal to your face to treat acne or to use as a mask, or you can grind uncooked oatmeal in a coffee grinder to make colloidal oatmeal, mix it with lukewarm water and apply to your worst acne areas.
  • You can also use colloidal oatmeal mixed with baking soda as a dry shampoo. Apply to the scalp, let sit then brush out.
  • Add oatmeal to your bathwater to soothe skin that’s itchy from sunburn, poison ivy or chicken pox.
  • Clean cast iron pans. Using oatmeal and a little water will absorb grease and scrub off any stuck on food bits without damaging your pans.
  • You can even make your own oatmeal scrub and use it all over your body for soft, smooth skin.
From Meg O on the Go

What’s YOUR favorite way to use oatmeal? Let me know in the comments!



Why Going Meatless a Few Days a Week Works For Me

Author’s Note: None of this blog entry is devoted to any sort of moral argument over whether or not the animals are cared for in an ethical way. It is ONLY based on health benefits and environmental benefits. All people are different and we choose to eat differently, and I’m not arguing that everyone should eat semi-vegetarian, just that it’s an option and may be healthier.

I’m not really the type of girl who’s interested in labels. I’m not a flexitarian, a pescetarian, or a vegetarian, and I’m most certainly NOT vegan. I like meat a lot, and will eat even some of the meats that self-proclaimed “carnivores” won’t try. But I also love vegetables a heckuva lot more than some full-fledged vegetarians I know, so I don’t fit in that category either. I just love FOOD. But there are some definite benefits to having meatless meals at times, both to health and budget!

I work out six days a week, but only three of those days are weight training days. I prefer to eat lean meats on the days I work out harder, because the high levels of protein helps my muscles heal and keep me satiated. I generally prepare vegetarian meals on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays because those are lighter workout days, and I don’t need the protein as much. So what are the benefits of eating meatless a few days a week?


Veggies, legumes and whole grains are much less expensive per pound than meat. Don’t believe me? Just look at this massive haul of veggies I got for $28.75. Also, veggies, legumes and whole grains are chock full of fiber, and fiber helps you feel full! The price of ground beef alone has more than doubled in the last 10 years, and thus, I’ve been eating less and less beef over the years. I consider red meat “special occasion” food, and stick to less expensive white meats such as boneless skinless chicken breast and pork sirloin chops.

beef-prices-cotdReduced Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels

While dietary cholesterol may or may not affect blood cholesterol (it varies per person), eating a diet consisting of less animal products means you’re consuming less saturated fat, dietary cholesterol, and fat in general (assuming your vegetarian meals don’t consist entirely of french fries cooked in trans fat then covered in cheese). The soluble fiber in legumes, whole grains, and some fruits and veggies can also help lower LDL (bad) blood cholesterol.

Reduced Risk for Diabetes and Colorectal Cancer

Remember that fiber stuff I was spouting about earlier? Fiber helps clean out your digestive tract and keeps you regular, which in turn leads to a reduced risk for colorectal cancer. Who doesn’t want to avoid cancer? A 2008 Harvard Study suggests that we’re not 100% sure that red meat causes colorectal cancer, but that there are compounds known to be possible carcinogens in red meat, so reducing it definitely wouldn’t hurt. Processed meats (those containing nitrates and nitrites like lunchmeats and cured meats like sausages and hams) pose an even higher risk, so consume those only occasionally. The World Cancer Research Fund suggests that eating 500g (1.1 lbs) or less in cooked weight of red meat will help reduce your risk for colorectal cancer.

Helps Maintain a Healthy Weight

That fiber stuff again, plus the dense distribution of nutrients in non-meat sources of food, help keep you fuller longer, which helps you eat less in the long run! Vegetarian foods are more filling, less calorie dense and generally lower in fat. You can eat a higher volume of food if you eat leafy greens and veggies than if you eat just meat.

Better for the Environment?

This one is still being researched, but it may be true. Raising livestock is being shown to put a strain on the environment, due to runoff of biological material, overuse of water and the greenhouse gases produced directly by the animals. But a study by Carnegie Mellon University (as referenced by the Washington Post) suggests that some vegetables have a much higher impact on greenhouse gases than expected.


Meat and potatoes can get boring after a while! A lot of cultures around the world eat a mostly vegetarian diet, and this can be a great way to explore both reducing your meat intake and the flavors of other parts of the world. Even The Hubs, who proclaims that salad is “food that food eats”, loves a VEGAN recipe because of its Ethiopian warm spices.

So how do you ease yourself into a more flexitarian diet?

  • Start with eating meatless for just one day a week.
  • Half the amount of meat in a recipe and replace the other half with meaty veggies like mushrooms or eggplant
  • Experiment with spices: more flavor means you miss the meat less
  • Try a new meat substitute like seitan or tempeh
  • Simply eat a smaller portion of meat at dinner and replace it with cooked legumes
  • Treat veggies like meat: grill or broil them to add a little char, which makes them feel like a more primal food

What do you think? Do you prefer to eat less meat, or will you plan to eat less for  your health in the future? Let me know in the comments!







Review: The Polar H7 Heart Rate Monitor

In my quest to be more accurate with my food and fitness I’ve been investing in some new toys related directly to fitness. Recently I got an amazing deal on a pair of Bowflex Adjustable Dumbbells (which I friggin’ adore, btw) and after years of guesstimating my burn during my kettlebell workouts I decided it was time to invest in a heart rate monitor for a more accurate CICO (calories in, calories out) number. (NOTE: I was not asked to provide this review by anyone nor was I compensated, I’m just really, really happy with my purchase.)

20160720_071341Polar is a highly recommended brand, renowned for its accuracy, so I started looking there. I knew I wanted a heart rate monitor that didn’t have to be attached to a watch, because a) I hate wearing stuff on my wrists, and b) a watch would get in the way of some of my kettlebell moves. I was pleased to find the Polar H7 Bluetooth Heart Rate Sensor & Fitness Tracker. It connects through Bluetooth technology to an app on my cell phone (I have a Samsung Galaxy S5 but it will work with Android or iPhone).

The chest strap (I ordered the large) arrived and required hardly any assembly: I just had to snap the monitor to the chest strap using two metal snaps and it was ready to go! The strap itself is easy to adjust, although mine fit perfectly right out of the box. The only thing left for me to do was to download the Polar Beat app and connect the H7 to the app via Bluetooth. It was easy to find in the GooglePlay Store, and it was quickly downloaded and an account created. You’re asked a few simple questions like age, sex, height, weight and frequency of workouts, and BOOM, you’re ready to go! Once the chest strap was put on (it’s an elongated hook and eye clasp which is very easy to put on and stays snug) and the electrodes dampened, the app picked it up right away without any trouble at all.

Screenshot_2016-07-20-19-26-24I took some time to explore the app: there are dozens of activities you can track, some which use GPS connectivity (like running or cycling) and some that don’t (like strength and circuit training). I’ve used the app five times so far, twice for walking, once for a ladder-style kettlebell workout, once for Fitness Blender’s Tabata Kettlebell Workout and Abs and Obliques Workout – 45 Minute Kettlebell Training and once for Fitness Blender’s At Home Butt and Thigh Workout – Booty Sculpting Lower Body Strength Training. It worked great every time, as long as I made sure to wet the strap enough.

The Polar Beat App gives you tons of data. You can see your heart rate real time, the spikes and valleys, your total calorie burn, what zone your heart rate is in, your duration, your max heart rate, your average heart rate, and the % of your calorie burn that was in the fat burning zone. You can even enter notes about your workout and click an emoticon that describes how you feel.

I learned two very important things from just this short usage time: I don’t burn as many calories as I thought I did and my heart rate drops rapidly once intensity is lessened. The former is disappointing, but the latter is a GOOD thing:the faster your heart rate drops after the cessation of working out, the healthier your cardiovascular system is.

UntitledNot only can you track things on the Polar Beat App, Polar also gives you free access to Polar Flow, a much more detailed way to look at the big picture of your workouts. This is amazing to me! All of this data, this amazing, incredible data, available to me from a heart rate monitor that cost me less than $60. I’m seriously impressed so far, and I can’t wait to fill in my month with workouts! (I’m squeeing in my pants a little, people.)

polarflow2GLORIOUS DATA! I can see my heart rate in FIVE SECOND INCREMENTS! It’s insanity! What an amazing incentive to sweat!

The visual results of the above workout.

See? Do you own/use/love a heart rate monitor? Do you know any fun tricks I can use to explore my data? Tee hee, I’m such a nerd for this stuff! Let me know in the comments!


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