Banana Chocolate Walnut Baked Oatmeal

When it comes to entertaining guests for the weekend, feeding my coworkers during a Friday staff meeting, or preparing a yummy breakfast for a lazy Sunday morning at home, this baked oatmeal recipe is my new go-to.

It is easy as can be, requires ingredients that I almost always have on hand, and can be made ahead and just popped in the oven in the morning. Plus, with some simple modifications, it’s pretty darn healthy (minus the chocolate chips, but those are healthy for the soul 🙂 ). Does it get much better than that?

Through a bit of trial and error, I’ve made some healthy ingredient swaps to the original recipe from Inspired Taste and found something that works quite well. Of course, feel free to switch up the fruits, nuts, and other add-ins! Here’s my favorite version of this recipe to date:

What You’ll Need

  • 2 ripe bananas, peeled & sliced
  • 2 cups 100% whole grain oats
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (divided)
  • 1/2 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips (divided)
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tbsp Smart Balance or other butter substitute, melted
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Step by Step

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 7 x 11 baking dish with cooking spray. Layer banana slices on the bottom of prepared baking dish.

In a large bowl, mix together oats, brown sugar, orange zest, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, 1/4 cup walnuts, and 1/4 cup chocolate chips.

Pour oat mixture over top of banana slices, distributing evenly throughout the dish. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup walnuts and 1/4 cup chocolate chips on top of the oat mixture.

In a medium bowl, combine almond milk, egg, melted Smart Balance, and vanilla extract. Whisk until well blended.

Pour liquid mixture over the oats, trying to distribute as evenly as possible. Give the baking dish a little shake from side to side to help the liquid mixture soak through the oats and settle evenly.

Refrigerate overnight & bake in the morning, or pop it in the oven now! Bake at 375 for 35 to 40 minutes. For a little extra sweetness, sprinkle some brown sugar on top during the last few minutes of baking. Serve right out of the oven!

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Win a Gaiam Everything Fits Gym Bag!

As you, my lovely readers, already know, I am mildly obsessed with my Gaiam Everything Fits gym bag. If you aren’t already dying to get your hands on one, read all about its versatility and sheer amazingness (it’s a word) here.

Lucky for you, the fabulous people over at Gaiam have agreed to sponsor a sweepstakes to get you an Everything Fits bag (retail value of $60) of your very own!

Photo from gaiam.com

Intrigued? Just follow these super-easy steps: 

To enter: Simply answer the following question in the comments below.
What inspires you to keep up with your fitness regimen? Whether it be a mantra or quote, a special person in your life, a desired end result, or anything else under the sun, what keeps you running/spinning/dancing/lifting/yoga-ing? 

Optional: Head over to Instagram, follow @gaiam and @alwaysrunninglatte, and tag 3 friends you think may enjoy ARL in the giveaway post. Share the love!

Sweepstakes opens on Sunday, 4/19 and ends at midnight on Sunday, 4/26. A winner will be randomly selected on 4/27 and notified via email to determine bag color preference (violet, teal, or black) and obtain mailing address for prize shipment! Product paid for and shipped by Gaiam, Inc. (833 W South Boulder Rd. PO Box 3095, Boulder, CO 80307-3095). For additional sweepstakes fine print business, click here! 🙂

Good luck, and happy inspiring!

Training Epiphany: Making a Mental Shift

In all the training programs I’ve ever researched, they say that your long runs should be done at an easy pace. You’re building up distance, so what’s important is that you cover the mileage, not that you do so in a certain amount of time.

Of course this makes sense for your first race of any distance, and that’s exactly what I did when I trained for my first half and my first marathon. Long runs took as long as they needed to take, with walk and water breaks whenever my heart (or feet) desired.

Epiphany: training programs should note in the fine print that long runs are to be done at your easy pace when you’re training for a new, longer distance for the first time.

Having read this advice time and time again, for my first through fifth half marathons, I had this mental block that always told me I was allowed to go as slowly as I wanted during my long runs. Who doesn’t love that? A nice, leisurely 10 miles instead of the huffing-and-puffing kind. And there I was, wondering why in the world my finish times were only getting better by small increments. DUH. 

Just realizing that so many months of “newbie” training had my brain stuck on long runs = slow was enough to kick my training into high gear. I had to retrain my brain to see that long runs, now that I know my body can go the distance, shouldn’t be relaxing and comfortable and “get there when you can.” I should be breathing heavily and getting tired and pushing myself to the end. That’s how I’ll get better. Faster. Stronger (at least according to Daft Punk). And hopefully you will too. 🙂

Charlottesville Half Marathon: A Must-Run

Let me keep this simple. If you haven’t yet run the Charlottesville Half Marathon or Marathon, add it to your bucket list. ASAP.

Gun time 2:08:47; Chip time 2:07:55. A second-best, I’ll take it!

I ran this year’s Charlottesville Half Marathon on Saturday, my second time doing this race. Although it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that some of the bigger races do, this course will forever be one of my top-ranked. Here’s why. Continue reading

Gaiam Everything Fits Gym Bag Review

This Christmas, I set out to purchase a new gym bag as a gift to myself in exchange for resolving to go to yoga at least once per week (so far so good!). I had quite a hefty checklist in hunting down the perfect brand and style for my needs, and my research eventually led me to Gaiam’s Everything Fits bag. Let me tell you, it goes down as one of my favorite purchases in yogi history!

The Gaiam Everything Fits gym bag is worth every penny. It’s more affordable than a lot of other brands’ bags (i.e. Lululemon, Athleta, Nike, etc.), and it has all the features I was looking for, plus some. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Yoga mat straps on the bottom. This was my #1 must-have in the search for the perfect bag. I need a bag that can carry my mat, not just gym clothes, and fit my dual yogi/runner lifestyle. The elastic straps are adjustable to fit any size yoga mat, and you can just tuck them up on non-yoga days (unless you’re not OCD like me & the dangling straps don’t bother you 🙂 ).
  • Ventilated zipper compartment for smelly things. My #2 must-have. Running shoes, sweat-drenched towels and clothes after a hot yoga class- these things belong in here, separated from the main compartment where your not-so-smelly things go. Especially if you go straight from work to working out or vice versa, you need that dressy work outfit to be isolated from your sweaty sports bra. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! And for my fellow big-footed friends (we just have so much more to root down through in our tree poses- aren’t we lucky?), don’t fret: the ventilated compartment is spacious enough for my size 10 Asics.
  • Interior pockets for organizing. I like organizing, remember (see #1)? A teeny zippered pocket to stash bobby pins & hair ties so you’re never stuck using rubber bands or twist ties (which don’t work, btw). Stretchy side pockets for small shampoo, conditioner, and body wash bottles if you’re a commuter type like me. A big, stretchy pocket for your wallet, keys, iPhone, and other goodies. Done, done, and done.
  • Light as a feather! I’ve almost bought several different gym bags in store, only to realize that if they weigh that much with nothing but paper in them, then they’ll be WAY too heavy once I load them up with my Big Foot sneaks, filled water bottle, the works. Gaiam’s bag? Not the case! Super light and manageable.
  • Doesn’t look too gym bag-y. Since I often run and/or yoga before or after work, errands, or meeting up with friends, I didn’t want my gym bag to look too gym bag-y. This bag is perfectly subtle and classy looking, so I don’t look too ridiculous layering my Everything Fits with my Longchamp.
  • Perfect Size. Enter Goldilocks. I’ve had bags that are way too small to fit running shoes (unless that’s the only thing you plan on packing), and bags that are so huge they wouldn’t even be allowed as a carry-on. This bag is PERFECT for me. I can comfortably fit a water bottle, running shoes, an entire workout outfit, brush & toiletries for afterwards, my favorite yoga towel, plus my wallet/keys/phone and Kindle for pre-yoga down time. What more could a girl need? 

Sold? You can buy the Everything Fits on Gaiam’s website, here!