The Planning Principle (plus bonus cake!)

24 Jul

I call him the mouse that ran up the clock. He says good morning to all!

Yesterday, as I threw the last of my apple butter bars into my work bag it occurred to me that the evening ahead would call for copious amounts of baking in order to replenish my protein meal/snack supply.

After a fruitful trip to Harris Teeter, I was armed with the necessary ingredients and a few new things to experiment with. Dinner was first on the chopping block, and because I had plans for baking later I decided to keep it simple. Let me tell you, this is the best tortilla pizza yet. I’m calling it “Summer Pizza” because I honestly believe it’s at its prime when made with herbs and tomatoes picked straight from the garden.

I began by dicing up the first roma tomato from my vine and added fresh basil, fresh parsley, one diced baby bella mushroom, a teaspoon of olive oil, pinch of kosher salt, a grind of black pepper, dash of onion powder, and about a tablespoon and a half of my homemade marinara sauce. After mixing it all together, I let it sit on the counter for about 20 minutes to let all of the flavors come together. It smelled heavenly as I spooned it onto a multi-grain tortilla which I then topped with 1/4 cup of shredded part-skim mozzarella and a few small dollops of fat free ricotta. After ten minutes in a 425 degree oven, I was treated to one very delicious 200 calorie pizza. Yum!

Close-up for texture!


My plan for the evening was to make a batch of banana-nut protein muffins and a protein apple cake that I would cut into bars. While considering this, it reminded me of another important lesson that’s been drilled into me at this point: Plan Ahead.

When Joe and I had to stop in Breezewood for a bite to eat on our way to Pittsburgh (after being stuck in traffic all afternoon), we had a myriad of fast food options. While I don’t eat fast food very often, there is the occasional stop while traveling or night when I don’t feel like cooking or actively going out to dinner. I prepare myself by researching nutrition information on restaurant’s websites and making a list of the best options available. For instance, Wendy’s chili, or half of an oven roasted Twister wrap with no pepper-mayo from KFC. It’s surprising how well you can eat at most places if you simply plan ahead. If I’m invited to dinner somewhere that I can’t find something that fits my diet, I generally resolve to choose the healthiest option and eat only half of it. But I decide that in advance, because if I don’t then I continue eating because “it tastes good” and not because I’m hungry.

I apply the same planning principle to my everyday meals. I know how many calories I want to have during the workday and plan 2 meals and 2 snacks accordingly. My evening consists of another meal and snack with a total daily calorie count somewhere between 1,000-1,200 and a daily protein intake of 65-80 grams.

After doing some calculations, I knew that the banana-nut muffins would yield 8 decent sized muffins at 151 calories, 6 grams of fat, 12 grams of carbohydrates, and 8 grams of protein. They would be good for a filling snack. The apple cake would yield 6 bars at170 calories, 10 grams of fat, 15 grams of carbohydrates, and 10 grams of protein. Those would make a good breakfast or dessert treat with some protein ice cream.

The banana nut protein muffins were a delicious success (I just had one for a snack). You can find the original recipe at Shelly’s blog. The changes I made were to use a regular muffin tin, two tablespoons of SF caramel syrup and 1 tablespoon of SF vanilla syrup, replace one of the tablespoons of almond butter with a tablespoon of apple butter, and make a batch of 8 larger muffins (instead of 24 small ones). Because the muffins are larger, I also extended the cooking time to 18 minutes, or until the tops spring back when poked with a finger.

Then it was onto the apple cake. During my Harris Teeter excursion, I came across an apple type I hadn’t seen before, labeled as “Sweet Jazzy Apples.” Yes, yes it’s probably a marketing term for some apple I’ve already had, but I decided to give them a taste test anyway so I’d know if they’d make good applesauce for canning season in the fall. Anyway, you came here for apple cake, so here’s the recipe and method:

Neen’s Apple Cake Bars

1/4 cup almond flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup soy flour
1 scoop Nitro vanilla protein
pinch of salt
cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp spiced apple preserves (I use homemade—if you buy, try to find all fruit preserves)
1 tbsp SF caramel syrup
1/2 apple, sliced
2 tbsp almond butter
1 egg
2 tbsp no sugar added apple butter
1/2 graham cracker’s worth of crumbs

Set your oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk almond flour, half of the rolled oats, soy flour, half of the protein powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add the syrup and preserves and mix until combined. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the almond butter with the egg until smooth.

Combine the two mixtures and then add the other half of the protein powder and the other half of the oats. The batter will be very sticky, so oil whatever you’ll be using to spread it in the pan. I just spray my hands with non-stick spray.

Line a loaf pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper. If using aluminum foil, be sure to spray it with non-stick cooking spray. Spread the batter evenly in the pan and then top with apple slices. Spread the apple butter over the apple slices, creating an even glaze.

Bake the cake for 20 minutes and then sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs over the top. Bake 5 more minutes and then remove from the oven.

After the cake cools, remove it from the pan (this is where the parchment/foil really comes in handy) and cut into 6 bars.

Wrapped in plastic, they’ll keep on the counter for 4-5 days. For longer storage, keep them in the fridge for up to two weeks.

In light of what I’ve shared about planning ahead, here is my food plan for the day:

Breakfast: 3/4 Luna Chocolate Pecan Pie protein bar (it was very good—a bit sweet for my taste)
Morning snack: Banana nut protein muffin
Lunch: Deli turkey, fresh tomato, and a sprinkle of cheddar cheese wrapped in a large lettuce leaf.
Afternoon snack: Apple protein cake bar
Dinner: Thin cut loin pork chops, lightly breaded and sautéed hot and fast in olive oil.
Evening snack: NSA fudgesicle or a protein bar

I also plan to buy my books for school and beginning my research for the fantasy football draft (I’ve been slacking big-time).

If you have a plan or goal for anything today, (work, food, school, exercise…etc.) share it in the comments section! It’s worth giving some thought to, because sometimes a plan is the only motivation needed to get things done. Ciao for now, friends!

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