Chocolate & Strawberry Baked Oatmeal

A few months ago I was on a health kick and I was watching a lot of Jon Venus (a vegan YouTuber/body builder). I tried out one of his baked oatmeal recipes and tweaked it a bit to make it my own. You can see the video where me and the kiddos tried this here.

It’s such an appealing idea because it makes a TON of oatmeal that can feed me and all three kids for more than one meal. Thank goodness that body builders eat a lot! Their recipes fit my family size just perfect! One night I was wanting to make some for the week ahead and decided to play around with ingredients that I had on hand. What we created was a bit of delicious, making stuff up magic.

Chocolate and Strawberry Baked Oatmeal Pinterest Image

A small disclaimer… Jon’s measurements were in metric so I tried my best to do these measurements with what I had. However, I’m from Arkansas, raised in the South… We are chronic “eye-ballers” just throwing stuff together. Please don’t forget the value of tasting as you go. What can I say y’all? If you wanted a perfect recipe with perfect measurements you stumbled across the wrong gal. Give it a try! Tag me on social media if you do so I can see! Plus, I want you to share your favorite oatmeal and fruit combo in the comments below. Do you like peaches and almonds? Cranberry raisins and sunflower seeds? Sharing is caring my friend!

I have included a link to a few of my favorite ingredients that I love to use in these recipes below that I have tried and tested. Please feel free to check them out but please keep in mind:

*This post may contain affiliate/referral links. It is a way for this site to earn advertising fees by advertising or linking to certain products and/or services.*

Chocolate and Strawberry Baked Oatmeal

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Super Easy
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Ingredients:

  • 300 Grams of Rolled Oats
  • 600 Milliliters of Warm Water
  • 1 Small Bag of Frozen Strawberries
  • 1/2 Cup of Silk Dark Chocolate Almond Milk
  • 2 Scoops of Vega Chocolate Protein Powder
  • 1/2 to 1 Cup of Chocolate Chips (I typically use Enjoy Life.)
  • 1/4 Cup of Maple Syrup (Optional for added sweetness.)

 

Directions:

  1. Soak your oats for an hour ahead of time with the warm water and preheat your oven to 355F degrees.
  2. Add your soaked oats, almond milk, and protein in a bowl until well combined. The protein powder can be slightly clumpy so stir until smooth.
  3. Then, stir in any extras like chocolate chips. You really don’t need the maple syrup, but if you’re not used to less sweet plant based meals you may need to add a little sweetness.
  4. Pour into a deep casserole dish or baking pan.
  5. Insert the strawberries down into the oatmeal, slightly spaced apart. I used whole strawberries but feel free to slice them smaller if you like.
  6. Place the casserole dish in the middle of the oven rack for 45 minutes.
  7. Enjoy! You can eat this hot and warm straight out of the oven, but it also tastes great cold then next morning.

We Tried Homemade Toothpaste!

I sometimes feel sorry for my husband. I AM that wife and mom that will try all the “hippie” stuff to try and improve our health. It’s not limited to trying to get them to all eat vegetables… It crosses over into all places in our home. Whether it’s a household cleaner or making my own lotions and lip balm.. I’ve tried it all. Not always with success. Trying to make homemade toothpaste was my latest adventure. I was intimidated to say the least. The ingredients were pricey and strange but Lily Koi Hawaii assured me with the ease of her recipe that I could accomplish this.

Homemade Toothpaste Pinterest Image

Lily often inspires me to try new things. I feel like she’s my vegan spirit guide. If Lily can do it… I know I can do it. The only thing I didn’t do (because I can’t ever seem to follow recipes) I couldn’t find calcium carbonate. Yes… I know. Key ingredient but I wanted to try it to see if it was ordering and waiting on Amazon.

the ingredients for the homemade toothpaste (2)

The ingredients were pretty simple and easy to use. I just used a generic old tablespoon to measure by parts (instead of exact teaspoon/tablespoons and such). Lily stressed in her video, that you can find here, to add the water ever so slowly. The outcome was quite intimidating with it’s dark black hue but my boys got most excited.

the kids brushing their teeth

I wasn’t initially going to make this a family project but my kids thought it would be SO COOL if they got to brush their teeth with black toothpaste. To the bathroom we went with our paste in tow. I put a tiny amount on each toothbrush and explained clearly for them to not swallow it just like they aren’t supposed to swallow their normal toothpaste. We all began to brush, taking turns spitting and rinsing our toothbrushes off. The results?

We all frankly have tartar build up issues. I usually try to brush my kids teeth for them and floss for them every so often. My teeth are insanely sensitive and so I often use a sensitive teeth toothpaste and I often have plaque build up regardless of what I use. As I sit here writing I can honestly tell you… This worked. My kids even did this themselves and their teeth are MUCH improved. I keep swishing my tongue over my teeth to feel how immaculately clean they are. I can’t attest to how much more white they appear but they do feel incredible. Incredible enough that I had to write about it today. Enough that I found a container with a lid so that I might keep this in my bathroom to use.

the kids with toothpaste

I am so happy that I decided to try this. It was really fun to do it with my kids as well. We all agreed that this version is not very tasty but it did do an awesome job at getting our teeth very clean. Thank you Lily for your experimentation and sharing. This family greatly appreciates it.

Chocolate Chip & Banana Sheet Pancakes

Have you ever been scrolling through Facebook and happen upon a great looking recipe video? I get a ton of great ideas and inspiration from a lot of the Tasty Vegetarian videos that often have plant-based recipes. But… It seems like I can’t ever find a link for the full recipe! That’s okay though, because here at my house we just make stuff up.

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I had happened upon some kid friendly breakfast posts and I’m not even sure that the initial recipe I watched was vegan. My youngest boy is actually allergic to eggs so I’ve been doing egg free dishes for a long, long time. I decided to use a flax egg in this recipe but there are several options on the market for egg replacers. You can also find charts on Google to help you decide which one is most beneficial to the type of recipe you’re doing. I also made this gluten free by using some gluten free Bisquick mix. You can follow the instructions on any old box of pancake mix or make you’re own if you like but I thought it turned out pretty awesome sans the gluten.

I will have a video up on my YouTube channel for all of my visual learning friends if you’d like to check that out you can find it here.

Chocolate Chip & Banana Sheet Pancake Pinterest Image

This dish will surely become a Sunday morning favorite at our house. If you try it out be sure to tag me on social media (especially instagram) at @workhardeatkind so that I can cheer you on. Y’all should know by now I will break out those pom poms any time for you guys!

See how easy it is below and most of all I hope you and your family enjoy.

Chocolate Chip & Banana Sheet Pancakes

  • Servings: 5 to 6
  • Difficulty: Moderate
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Cross Section of Chocolate Chip Banana Sheet Pancake

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups of Gluten Free Bisquick
  • 2 Cups of Dark Chocolate Almond Milk
  • 4 Tablespoons of Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Flax Egg (1 Tbsp Flax Meal to 3 Tbsp Water)
  • 2 Ripe Bananas, Sliced
  • A Ridiculously Delicious Amount of Chocolate Chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. Add one tablespoon of flax meal to a small bowl with three tablespoons of water. Stir gently and then place in the refrigerator to firm up for about five minutes.
  3. Add all of the other ingredients to a large mixing bowl. When the flax egg is ready you can add it at the end. Stir until well combined.
  4. Line a deep baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Pour the pancake batter over the parchment paper and spread it evenly.
  6. Add the sliced banana’s across the pan then add the chocolate chips.
  7. Press everything down lightly to make sure everything is in the batter.
  8. Place in the oven for 20 minutes. You may check often after about 15 minutes to make sure due to oven variability.
  9. Slice and enjoy.

Recipe Notes:

I listed the ingredients I used and so my outcome is based on these ingredients. I am sure that the outcome could differ if you use eggs, or use regular wheat based flour so be sure to keep an eye on the oven time if you do change things up. You can always stick a tooth pick in it like a cake to test for doneness.

I also think parchment paper was a big helper in the success of this recipe. Please don’t skip out on it if you can help it. It is typically pretty expensive but I found that the roll I bought from Brandless is only $3 and lasts an exceptionally long time. 

Sesame Seed Free Hummus

Sesame Seed Free Hummus Pinterest Image

 

Were you a little confused by the title? Did you know that tahini, the key ingredient in hummus, is actually a sesame seed paste? Congratulations if you did! I know you guys are so smart and educated on food. Unfortunately for me, sesame seed is my highest plant based food allergy. On the other hand, I’ve learned how to modify several of my favorite recipes to be sesame seed free.

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There are many ways you can add flavor to hummus, but this is by far our favorite. I find it very interesting that even my kids love hummus. Any time I have kalamata olives in the fridge I’m trying to fight the kids off of them before I can make the hummus! Chickpeas are the main component when it comes to hummus and it just so happens to be a great source of plant based protein! Half a cup of chickpeas (or garbanzo beans) has 6 grams of protein!

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The best of all is that it takes relatively no time at all. You add most of your ingredients to a blender and then mince up some olives. Other options to pack this full of flavor could be sun dried tomatoes, garlic, or some roasted red pepper. Never let food restrictions slow you down from enjoying food. When that list of foods that you can’t eat turns into a pile of woe and despair, get in that kitchen! Experiment and find ways to enjoy food. After all, if you have followed me long enough… You know what’s coming up next…

julia child quote

I hope you enjoy this recipe! The recipe itself is gluten free so feel free to enjoy it with cucumbers, gluten free crackers, or if you’re not exclusively gluten free you can use pita chips. Be sure to tag me @workhardeatkind if you give it a try!

Sesame Seed Free Hummus

  • Servings: 2 to 3 Cups
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients:

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  • 2 Cans of Chickpeas
  • 2 Tablespoons Raw Sunflower Seed Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Strained Olive Brine (optional)
  • 5-6 ounces of Silken Tofu
  • 2 Garlic Cloves (Roasted is a great option!)
  • Salt to taste.

Add in’s:

  • Diced Kalamata Olives
  • Roasted Red Pepper
  • Roasted Garlic
  • Caramelized Onions

 

Directions:

  1. Add all of the ingredients into a sturdy food processor or blender. This mix is quite thick.
  2. Turn off the food processor scrape down the sides to make sure that everything is well incorporated.
  3. If the mixture is too thick add water a tablespoon at a time until the desired thickness.
  4. You can store this in the fridge for up until 7 days in the refrigerator.
  5. Enjoy!

 

Fried Tofu Pockets

Tofu. A word that strikes fear in even the most open minded consumer. I have sat down with many people asking me questions such as, “What in the world is tofu!?” The list goes on from there, but people are generally confused about how to cook, prepare, or eat tofu. Quite frankly, tofu is one of my favorite foods and I love to cook with it all of the time. My family, however, hasn’t always been as enthusiastic as me when it comes to tofu.

Fried Tofu Pocket Pinterest Image

I’ve thrown tofu in soups, in fried rice, and even breaded it to turn it into nuggets. My vegan quiche has silken and firm tofu in it to replicate that soft egg like texture. I’ve scrambled and even marinated it like feta cheese. My kids are okay with it. They’re not exclusively vegan, but thankfully they are generally great eaters when it comes to most vegetables. My husband on the other hand is practically a lacto-carnivore meaning his basic food groups are cheese and meat.

There have been many a snarled face, or a skipped meal from my husband due to his texture issues and his plain disdain for vegetables. I love him dearly regardless.

Tofu Pockets with Side Dishes

One night I just had a wild thought and decided to ask my husband to try the recipe I’m sharing today. What was the star of the dish? Tofu pockets! These handy little triangles are fried bean curd that have been marinated and packaged. You open each piece and stuff a bit of rice in it. Then, you top it with various seasonings and voila! Simple enough.

Seasoned and Fried Soybean Curd Package

I handed him one on a plate across the table and anxiously awaited. My heart was racing and I was hoping he wouldn’t run out the back door and spit it out off the side of the back porch. He slowly chewed and I was surprised when I saw him begin to swallow the food. I timidly asked him what he thought. Prolonging my torture he replied, “I might need to try one more. Just to be sure.”

Kids Plates with Tofu Pockets and Cucumber Kimchi

I prepare him with a few more pieces and send the plate across the table once more. I ask again if he likes it and to my surprise… He did! He said it was flavorful, the rice was a good texture, and he liked the hint of sweetness from the dipping sauce. The biggest compliment from my husband is when he asks if he can eat what’s left on the platter!

My husband ate tofu, and he liked it! Now, this dish has been solidified as a family favorite. Every time I visit Little Rock I have to pick some of these tofu pockets up from the local Asian grocery store. Last night, in fact, I pulled out the package from my refrigerator to the cheers of my children. It’s nice to be able to find a delicious meal that satisfies everyone in the house at the same time.

Even better, Korean side dishes can change up this meal every time. Whether you’re doing some braised potato, some cold cucumber soup, or some homemade fresh cucumber kimchi, you can change it up and make it unique each time. Don’t be afraid to try things a little out of the box, you might just find your next family favorite.

Fried Tofu Pockets

  • Servings: 5 to 6
  • Difficulty: Moderate
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Kids Plates with Tofu Pockets and Cucumber KimchiIngredients:

Fried Tofu Pockets

  • White Short Grain Rice
  • Fried & Seasoned Soybean Curd (Seasonings are included in the package.)

Dipping Sauce:

  • 1/4 Cup Tamari (Soy Sauce or Coconut Aminos are also great.)
  • 1 Tablespoon of Liquid Sweetener like Bee Free Honee (Rice Syrup or Regular Honey works too.)
  • 1/2 to 1 Teaspoon of Rice Vinegar
  • 1 Diced Green Onion

Instructions:

  1. Cook your rice as instructed on the package. I typically find rice that can cook in about 20 minutes and use a 1 cup of rice to 1 1/2 cups of water.
  2. Add two packets of seasoning vinegar (we omit the lemon sauce) and set the rice aside and allow it to cool enough to be handled.
  3. While the rice is cooking you can prepare other side dishes and the dipping sauce.
  4. For the dipping sauce, simply add all of the ingredients in a small bowl and mix.
  5. When you’re ready to prepare your fried tofu pockets, place about a tablespoon of rice in each pocket and place it on a platter.
  6. Enjoy a few pieces with a splash of dipping sauce, some seasoning mix with sesame seeds, dried carrot, and leek.
  7. Some great side dish recommendations are cold cucumber soup, green onion pancake, kimchi, braised potatoes, and many more.

It’s Been a Rough Week

28471199_10156308125367386_107290412636456175_nI really try hard not to complain or to go on and on about the various trials and tribulations in my life. I feel like it’s negative to do so and some how is burdensome to others if I complain or talk about the challenges in my life.

But, my mission here with my blog is to talk about the tough things. To find a way to work hard and eat kind. To be kind to myself. I feel like this blog post is to get this out and to say, I can get through this. Mostly, I just hope if when you compare your struggle to mine, and you find them strikingly similar that you’ll keep going and follow along. We just have to live one day at a time. So here we go. Here’s the tale about my rough week.


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This week I went to the doctor’s office for the first time in over a year. I can typically manage most colds/flus and bumps or bruises myself without the attention of a medical professional. But over the last several weeks I had been breaking out in blisters on the right side of my arm and abdomen.

Turns out I have shingles. Yeah. At 30. The doctor said it’s most likely caused by an extreme amount of stress. I am motivated to make several changes in life and I’m trying to set myself up for success. I have been trying to de-stress and relax but the rest of my week made it rather challenging.


I had an interview this week for a job that would be potentially less stressful than the current position I’m in. I was beyond excited and things were moving so fast. I thought I rocked the first interview because they called me back for a second (peer) interview later that same afternoon. Sadly, I wasn’t chosen and received an email the next morning saying that they decided to keep searching.

I think the worst part of interviews is not getting any feedback so that you can learn from your mistakes or weak points. I keep thinking, maybe it’s for the best. Maybe there’s something out there that’s a better fit.

The people were absolutely lovely to meet. In the end, I was really grateful to find such nice people. Even though I didn’t get the opportunity to work with them, I’m trying to hold on to the positives of knowing there are some great people working in that place.


 

I knew with my diagnosis that it was probably a wise idea to try to up my vegan maximum this week. I chose some tofu tacos from Tacos 4 Life and a Chipotle salad for lunch this week. There’s just something about tacos that makes me feel better spiritually. I’m considering making my own version of these tacos because everybody needs some tofu tacos in their life every once in a while.

Choosing to eat wisely when you’re going through a tough time is, in a way, a form of being kind to yourself. It’s easy to binge out and eat a ton of junk food or down two pints of So Delicious Dark Chocolate Truffle Cashew Milk Ice Cream. I won’t say it’s better to not do that, but I feel like it’s kinder to look in the mirror and say… “We’re struggling right now but it’ll get better. Here’s how I’m going to help you.” Instead of wallowing in the depression, anxiety ridden pit of despair.


28796157_10156308125082386_8601572221880757725_n I received a “hate comment” on my YouTube channel trailer. I find, most often, that when I leave comments on bigger YouTuber’s channels that the trolls wander over to my channel to try and inflict their venom upon my considerably smaller channel.

However, it was very silly and I laughed considerably. After all the things I had been going through this week a silly (bad attempt) hate comment was just not something that could get me down at this point. So I chose to write back in humor. Humor has been my saving grace as of late. I slipped in the mud the other day and laughed. I nearly fell out of my chair at work yesterday, and chose to laugh. It’s these tiny little moments when we chose to laugh instead of despair that we change the pathways in our minds to seek the positivity and sunshine in life.


28468192_10156308125127386_3807296039453148368_nThe toughest part of this week was that the 1st of March is my Aunt Linda’s birthday. She passed away several years ago but I was very close to her. When I worked in the same town as she lived I would go eat lunch with her almost every single work day.

I miss her like crazy and I still cry on occasion because I wish I could just call her up or go visit her. I know she’d have a ton of old Southern wisdom and she’d lay it down in a way that I understood. There are many people who have given me advice in life but nobody does it better than her. I miss her singing and her goofy jokes. I miss watching her cook. But, I am so very thankful that she was a big part of my life for so long.


 

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To end on a positive note, because it’s really hard for me to sit here and write about all the tough things I went through…

I joined a new social media platform called Vero. If any of you have it you can follow me there and I’ll try to follow back. I’m still learning about it and all of the capabilities but the biggest bonus is that there is NO algorithm!

What does this mean? It’s not like Facebook and Instagram that make you pay to get your followers to see your posts, or hide people in your personal Facebook feed if you don’t interact with them as often.

I’m super excited to try this out. I also plan to be working on a small project to hopefully offer you guys in the near future.

 

 


If you’ve stuck around to this point, thank you for taking the time to get to know a little about my week. We all have bad things happen. We all have tough weeks. It’s how we bounce back that truly matters. Be kind to yourself even if you’re struggling. Go for a walk, eat some good food, talk to your friends, journal, write, draw, paint. There’s so many wonderful things to do to heal your spirit after a tough week.

Go work hard, and eat kind.

Comment below your favorite way to be kind to yourself after a tough day/week/moment.