Posts Tagged ‘oatmeal’


So You’re Telling Me You Don’t Eat Breakfast?

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013 by Chloe

breakfast congo lineSorry if I’m coming off a little angry today, but I am. I’m really peeved off right now. I am ticked! I was just thinking about all the people that don’t eat breakfast. That really gets my goat. I just don’t understand it. Oh sure, it’s early. You probably have a tummy ache. You spent all night dreaming about running through a field, and now you woke up with a case of the Mondays on a Friday and you don’t want to eat now. Poor thing. Well, get over it! Breakfast rules. My love of breakfast is a three-parter:

  1. It’s good for you. How many dieticians and people that are smart have to tell you that breakfast is good for your body, mind and metabolism? HOW MANY?
  2. WHY WOULD YOU MAKE A CHOICE TO SKIP A MEAL? I wish there were more meals in the day, because I need more excuses to eat. Sadly, Taco Bell’s “Fourth Meal” has yet to be accepted amongst nutrition experts and society in general. The idea of skipping an opportunity to fill my stomach with nibbles is blasphemous and brings me to tears.
  3. The variety and options in breakfast foods is exciting and limitless. Eggs! Pancakes! Pastries! Fruit! Eek!

Dozen EggsBesides the nutritional advantages of breakfast, it’s also an excellent opportunity to flex your culinary muscles. Let’s start with some eggy flavas! One week gives you numerous opportunities to make a different egg dish each day. Just off the top of my head, here are some for each day of the week (links included!):

  1. Fried egg sandwich
  2. Breakfast burrito
  3. Omelette with fresh veggies
  4. Egg in a hole
  5. Hard boiled egg and toast
  6. Sassy Frittata
  7. Egg scramble w/ any ingredient you can find (challenge!)

Breakfast MealsThat was without me even trying! So you don’t like eggs?  First of all, get over that ya weirdo. Second of all, no problem-o! We’ve got tons of other options for all you ovophobics. Side note- did you know that Alfred Hitchcock had a fear of eggs?  Funny, huh?  Anynoodles, here are seven non-egg breakfast items that should whet any whistle!

  1. Biscuits and gravy
  2. Fancy French toast
  3. Pancakes w/ bananas and blueberries
  4. Waffles (Aug 24 was National Waffle Day!)
  5. Corned beef hash
  6. Apple cinnamon oatmeal
  7. Half a grapefruit (I’ve heard this is a thing?)

Granola SmileLook at all these options I’m giving you, and I haven’t even done any research on Pinterest yet. Please explain to me, all you breakfast-skippers, why on earth you would skip an opportunity to eat fresh fruit or a whole grain piece of toast with honey or a bagel and a schmear?! Geez Louise. Now I’m getting upset that I already had breakfast, because I want to eat it all over again just for the love of the game. So now you’re probably saying, “But Chloe, I have no time in the morning, I work SO EARLY and SO MUCH and I also pay TAXES!” Okay the last part is unrelated, but you know what I’m getting at with it. Okay, okay! Here we have some hand-holds and on-the-gos to appease your AM timing issues:

  1. English muffin with a slice of tomato
  2. Banana, apple or other hand fruit
  3. Granola bar
  4. Egg muffins
  5. Peanut butter pita
  6. Yogurt cup and almonds
  7. Breakfast smoothies

Look at that. Between egg, egg-free and on-the-go ideas, you have at least 21 (somewhat healthy) options for your breakfast today, tomorrow and all the days after that. And like I said, I didn’t even try that hard to come up with them. Ugh. I should really be a breakfast consulate or ambassador. So please, PLEASE stop making me angry and just eat your breakfast! You’ll be more awake, healthier and people will be jealous of your sassy morning meals.

What are your excuses for skipping breakfast?


Born and raised in Florida, Chloe Ditzel is a former class assistant at The Chopping Block, and would like to make it clear that she did not go to culinary school. She currently resides in Los Angeles, CA, and is discovering the culinary treasures of the west coast one delicious food truck at a time. Her biggest goal in life is to somehow combine the following three mediums: food, comedy & unicycles. Bon Appetite!


The Chopping Block Classics: Revolutionized

Monday, July 23rd, 2012 by Cassandra

Tonight’s dinner was Fried Chicken, Potato Salad and Apple Pie. I know you must think I have fallen off of the healthy eating bandwagon, but I assure you my friends this is NOT the case.  I recently attended one of our cooking classes where The Chopping Block teamed up with Revolution Training Centers to come up with a menu that took me back to childhood picnics and comfort food. But it was even better, because it was done minus most of the calories and fat.

How is this possible? Well triple kudos to Chef John, who not only did an excellent job of preparing these meals but is living the example that if you make slight changes to your favorite but not so healthy dishes, results happen.  John has lost 33lbs in the last three months, so it is definitely a concept worth trying.

Now let’s talk about the best part: the food. The chicken was boneless, skinless breast that was oven baked with buttermilk, coconut oil and wheat germ.  I suggest adding a small amount of egg white to this recipe, if you like a crispier crust so that you don’t let it spend too much time in the broiler and dry your chicken out.

The potato salad base was made with Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise.  This slight change along with green beans and fresh herbs added texture as well as flavor and made for a wonderful presentation.

The apple pie was created with an oatmeal crust that was so tasty I will use it for all of my baking situations from this point forward.  The pie was also made in individual cupcake size servings to help with caloric content.

When you add these three dishes together, you have a healthy meal that is bound to put a smile on your face and make your stomach just as happy. I’ve included the recipes below, so enjoy and feel free to leave a comment on how tasty the experience was for you if you make the dishes on your own.  

Revolutionized Fried Chicken Breasts

Yield:  Four 4 once servings

Active Time: 50 minutes

Start to Finish:  3 Hours


Four 4 ounce chicken breasts, boneless and skinless, trimmed

½ cup low fat buttermilk

½ cup wheat germ

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 teaspoon salt

Pepper to taste

  1.  Place chicken breasts in shallow baking dish and cover with buttermilk.  Marinate for two hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Season the chicken breast and then dredge in the wheat germ.
  4. Line a casserole dish or baking sheet with foil and drizzle with ½ tablespoon of the coconut oil.  Arrange breaded breasts on top of oiled foil and bake for 10 minutes.
  5. Flip the chicken and melt the remaining ½ tablespoon of coconut oil onto the pan to be soaked in by the chicken breasts.  Broil for 5-10 minutes to finish browning.


New Potatoes and French Green Bean Salad

Yield:  Fifteen ½ cup servings

Active Time:  20 minutes

Start to finish:  40 minutes


1 ½ pound new potatoes

1 pound green beans

1 cup fat free Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

¼ tablespoon sea salt

2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

Pepper to taste

  1. Wash new potatoes thoroughly and wash green beans snapping off “vine” end.
  2. Place potatoes in a saucepot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.
  3. Remove potatoes when a knife is easily inserted.  They should be firm but cooked (al dente) about 15 to 20 minutes.  Let them cool.
  4. Blanch the green beans in boiling water.  Remove beans when they are firm but cooked (al dente) about 2-4 minutes.  Cool the beans in an ice bath to immediately stop them from cooking.
  5. Once potatoes and beans are cool, cut each into bite size pieces.  Place vegetables in a clean, dry bowl.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, Dijon mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and dill.  Mix thoroughly and pour over the potato and bean mixture.
  7. Mix gently enough to coat all of the potatoes and beans.


Individual Apple Pies with Oatmeal Crust

Yield: 12 mini pies

Active Time: 30 minutes

Start to finish: 1 hour


1 ½ pounds Granny Smith apples

Juice of ½ lemon

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup sugar

2 tablespoons cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

For the crust:

½ cup all-purpose flour

1 ½ cup old fashioned oats

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup melted light butter

  1. Peel and core apples.  Slice into 1-inch pieces.  Toss in lemon juice.  Add flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  3. Combine flour, outs, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon in a bowl.  Mix with melted butter until all ingredients are moistened.
  4. Spoon evenly into muffin tins coated with baking spray.  Press onto bottom and up the sides of each cup.
  5. Spoon apple mixture evenly into each cup and sprinkle with additional cinnamon if desired.
  6. Bake for 35 minutes and then allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from muffin tin.  Allow an additional 5 to 10 minutes to allow tartlet to become firm.

Cassandra Watkiss joined The Chopping Block in August 2011 as a part of the HR and Accounting team, and lives on the south side of Chicago with her husband Marcus and her cat Misty. Cassandra loves to eat, read and travel and does all three as often as she can. Cassandra is beginning to find a love for exercise to balance off her love for food and is looking forward to all of the awesome classes that TCB has to offer to diversify her cooking skills.


A No Bake Solution

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012 by Amanda

What is a very pregnant woman with a sweet tooth to make on 100 plus degree-day?  No bake cookies, of course!  It wasn’t until my husband got home from work that I realized not many people know what a no bake cookie is.  We had them frequently growing up in northern Michigan, so I figured everyone had them.

No bake cookies are basically just chocolate peanut butter oatmeal cookies prepared on the stovetop.  No turning the oven on in this hot weather, but I do realize that they don’t sound like the most summery food.  Keep in mind I am nine months pregnant at this point and not much I want to eat makes sense.

I found a traditional recipe on the Food Network website but added a pinch of sea salt since all of my ingredients were salt free.  Also, I found instead of using the wax paper, my mini muffin tin worked great for perfect little cookies.  After consuming several (or almost all) of my blast from the past, I started thinking of all the different things that could be added to this simple recipe. They would be great with coconut, other nuts, dried fruit, but no, I am not suggesting pickles!  If you have any childhood favorites or easy heat wave meals, I would love to for you to share them here.

Amanda Aristeo is originally from Traverse City, Michigan and has lived in Chicago for the past 7 years. After the birth of her son, Mario, she left her position at the Chicago City Clerk’s Office to dedicate herself to her family and pursue a part-time career in a field she is passionate about: food. Remembering how much she enjoyed attending classes at The Chopping Block, she applied at Lincoln Square and now works as a Class Assistant and Retail Associate. When Amanda isn’t creating meatless meals for her family, she is busy attending aquababies, Tiny Tots or spending time with her wonderful husband.


12 Nutrition Swaps for 2012

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 by Dawn

It’s a New Year and plenty of us are resolving to lose weight, exercise more and eat less. I’d like to propose a resolution makeover… don’t just aim to eat less and deprive yourself, instead upgrade what you are currently eating to give your body the wholesome, energizing foods it needs. Below are 12 small diet swaps you can do that will add up to a big payoff for weight loss and optimal health.

Swap 1: Breadcrumbs to Seeds

How To: Opt for sesame seeds, chopped pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds instead of breadcrumbs to coat chicken and fish.

Healthy Payoff: Get the crunch you crave but with more healthy fat, fiber and protein.


Swap 2: Brown Rice to Cauliflower Rice

How To: Pulse fresh cauliflower in a food processor until it resembles rice. Steam or sautéed it and enjoy it how you would use brown rice.

Healthy Payoff: Yes brown rice is healthy, but cauliflower rice has only 30 calories per 1/2 cup versus brown rice’s 110 calories. Plus the cauliflower version has 50% more fiber.


Swap 3: Spaghetti Noodles to Zucchini Ribbons

How To: Using a vegetable peeler or spiralizer (about $30), make zucchini resemble spaghetti strands.

Healthy Payoff: A cup of zucchini pasta has 6 times fewer calories than cooked whole grain pasta (28 versus 174 calories per cup) and meets 1/2 your day’s vitamin C requirements.


Swap 4: Romaine to Kale

How To: Chop kale into small 1-2” pieces and massage in a healthy salad dressing (using your hands). The chopping and hand massage tenderize the raw kale and make it a great salad base.

Healthy Payoff: Kale provides more vitamin A, C, E, K and iron than romaine.


Swap 5: Chicken to Beans

How To: For every 1 ounce of chicken in a recipe, swap in 1/4 cup of canned beans that have been rinsed & drained (this removes 40% of the sodium).

Healthy Payoff: Beans provide more fiber, folate (B vitamin) and 3X more iron.


Swap 6: Lasagna Noodles to Eggplant Slices

How To: With a knife or mandolin, slice eggplant lengthwise into 1/4″ slices to resemble lasagna noodles. Use in place of some or all of the noodles in your favorite recipe.

Healthy Payoff: Each noodle swap saves you about 50 calories (16 calories per eggplant slice vs 64 calories per noodle). Plus you get more heart healthy potassium and 3 more fiber with the eggplant version.


Swap 7: Pretzels to Nuts

How To: Keep 1-ounce portioned bags of your favorite nuts in your purse, briefcase, office drawer and glove compartment. What’s 1 ounce?? Answer: 23 almonds, 14 walnut halves, 19 pecan halves, 49 pistachios, 18 cashews or 28 peanuts.

Healthy Payoff: Get a crunchy, savory snack with more protein, healthy fat and fiber.


Swap 8: Whole Grain Bread to Sprouted Whole Grain Bread

How To: Usually you’ll find sprouted bread (and English muffins) in the frozen section of the grocery store. Most grocers have it, so ask if you can’t find it.

Healthy Payoff: Your body can absorb more minerals such as iron and zinc from sprouted breads. Plus sprouted varieties may be easier to digest & cause less bloat.


Swap 9: Whipped Topping to 2% Greek Yogurt

How To: With a fork, stir Greek yogurt until creamy. Use a dollop on French toast, mixed berries or pie in place of whipped topping. Note: The 2% yogurt variety is worth the extra calories for a creamier texture and less acidic taste than fat-free versions. Plus milk fat contains ‘CLA’ – a healthy compound that may promote fat-burning & muscle building for exercisers.

Healthy Payoff: These are about the same number of calories, but the yogurt has 3 times more protein, about 30 times more calcium and also contains good bacteria to promote healthy digestion and immunity.


Swap 10: Oil to Nut/Seed Butter (for Salad Dressing)

How To: Instead of oil, use natural peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower seed butter or tahini (sesame seed paste) as the base of your salad dressings. Note: Below is a quick recipe for Lemon-Tahini Dressing.

Healthy Payoff: A dressing using nuts & seed butters contains healthy fats (just like an oil-based dressing), but you’ll get extra fiber and minerals such as copper, calcium, magnesium and iron.

Lemon-Tahini Dressing (makes about 1 cup)

10 Tablespoons water

5 Tablespoons tahini

4 Tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1 teaspoon honey

1 clove garlic, minced

Sea salt and pepper, to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon each)


Swap 11: High Fiber Cold Cereal to Oatmeal

How To: Instead of pouring a bowl of cold cereal, make 1/2 cup rolled oats with 1 cup water (or your favorite milk) in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. Or consider making a big batch of steel-cut oats in the crockpot & freeze it in individual portions.

Healthy Payoff: Even though the healthy cold cereal you eat may be high in fiber, it is “dry” and contains only 2% water whereas a bowl of oatmeal is a whopping 84% water. What does this mean? More water = more fullness & appetite control through the morning and even into the afternoon.


Swap 12: Butter to Avocado

How To: When you are baking, substitute some or all of the butter with pureed avocado. It may tint your baked goods a subtle green color, but it won’t impact the flavor. Note: Start out swapping only 1/3 of the butter and increase gradually until over time you find the perfect swap amount for your recipe.

Healthy Payoff: One tablespoon of avocado puree has 75% fewer calories than butter (23 versus 100 calories) and contains healthier fat, fiber, folate (B vitamin), vitamin K, vitamin C and potassium.


Now get swapping!


Wishing you a happy & healthy 2012,


For more healthy tips & nourishing recipes throughout the year, please visit my website:

Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, CSSD, LDN is the resident nutrition expert at The Chopping Block and teaches healthy cooking classes every month. She also works with the Chicago Cubs, USA Today, NBC Chicago and national magazines. In her cooking classes and her book, The Flexitarian Diet, she shows people how to eat a more plant-based diet without giving up meat. Words of wisdom: Be good to your body and it will be good to you.


Festive Dates

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011 by Amanda

It is that time of year when dates, the fruit, not what most people do on a Saturday night start showing up on our tables.  Sadly, most Americans only think of them as part of traditional holiday bread but dates have much more to offer.  When dried they are sugary, dense, and moist morsels perfect for savory or sweet treats.

If you are looking for a simple but elegant appetizer, I highly recommend Bacon Wrapped Dates.  This combo of sweet and savory is a favorite among students at The Chopping Block.  The best part is how quick and easy they are to prepare.  Just wrap each date with about a third of a stripe of bacon and bake at 375° for about ten minutes.  If you really want to “dress” them up just add some Cream of Balsamic and thinly sliced scallions.  You can also stuff the dates with goat cheese, nuts, etc.

When dates are dried they are mainly sugar so they are a perfect natural sweetener.   I have used them to sweeten my son’s oatmeal or make “healthy” cookies.  Another great use for dates is to add it to a tomato sauce to help balance the acidity.  I learned this tip in one of our classes.

The most delicious date recipe and one of my top winter desserts is The Chopping Block’s Sticky Toffee Pudding.  We had a cupcake version in this month’s Cupcake Boot Camp: Festive Holiday Recipes and this recipe will be part of January’s Winter Warming Dinner Party class.  It is such a holiday treat that I feel now is the perfect time to share it:

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Yield: 16-20 servings

Active time: 30 minutes

Start to finish: 1 hour, 20 minutes


For the cake:

12 ounces dates, pitted and roughly chopped

2 1/2 cups water

2 teaspoons baking soda

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 stick softened butter, cut into pieces

1 2/3 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract


For the butterscotch sauce:

2 1/4 cups light brown sugar

7 tablespoons butter

1 cup half & half

1 teaspoon brandy

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


1 cup heavy cream, whipped to medium peaks, for garnish


1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 13 x 9 inch baking pan and cover the bottom with parchment. Butter the parchment and set aside.

2. Combine the dates and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and gradually stir in the baking soda (mixture will foam up). Set aside.

3. Combine the flour and baking powder in a bowl.

4. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and whip with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the sugar to the butter and cream until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, and mix until combined. Mix in vanilla.

5. Add about 1/3 of the flour mixture and 1/3 of the dates and water, and mix until combined. Repeat until all the flour mixture and the dates are

incorporated into the batter.

6. Pour into the prepared pan and bake about 40 minutes, or until firm and set in the center. Allow to cool in the pan.

7. Once cool, invert onto a sheet tray and peel off the parchment paper.

8. To prepare the butterscotch sauce, combine the brown sugar, butter, half and half and brandy in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Continue to boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

9. When ready to serve pudding, preheat the oven to 400°.

10. Pour the sauce evenly over the top of the cake. Bake until the sauce is bubbly and the cake is heated through, about 5 minutes.

11. Cut into squares and serve with a dollop of the whipped heavy cream.

Amanda Aristeo is originally from Traverse City, Michigan and has lived in Chicago for the past 7 years. After the birth of her son, Mario, she left her position at the Chicago City Clerk’s Office to dedicate herself to her family and pursue a part-time career in a field she is passionate about: food. Remembering how much she enjoyed attending classes at The Chopping Block, she applied at Lincoln Square and now works as a Class Assistant and Retail Associate. When Amanda isn’t creating meatless meals for her family, she is busy attending aquababies, Tiny Tots or spending time with her wonderful husband.