Make Your Own: Instant Oatmeal Packets

Photo credit: Life as MOM

There is something very convenient about grabbing a flavored oatmeal packet in the morning and calling it “breakfast.”  My husband takes two or three to work each morning.  You should know, however, that traditional flavored instant oatmeal packets are loaded with sugar and artificial flavorings… a big no-no in my book.  Anyhow, with a husband that takes 2-3 every morning, this convenience can get costly.  Back in March, Life as MOM wrote up a post on her frugal Fridays about how to make your own at home and I decided to give them a try. I’m so glad I did! Since then, I’ve gotten MUCH more creative and made homemade, healthy versions of store-bought flavorings!

Her great tip on using fun snack sized bags has turned a “blah” pouch into a breakfast made for little boys and princesses!

Photo Credit: Life as MOM. TIP: You may want to make an assembly line style layout on your kitchen counter. This makes the process very quick and easy!


Brown Sugar Cinnamon Recipe:

(as written in Life as MOM)

What you’ll need for each bag

  • 1/4 cup instant oats
  • 1 tsp instant dry milk powder
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

To serve:

Empty contents of one packet and add 1/2cup of hot water.  Stir and let it sit for 5minutes and ENJOY!


You can say that I LOVE the convenience and the options this gives us! Here are some variations of the typical store bought flavors I’ve developed:

Peaches & Cream: oats, 3tsp milk powder, 1 TB dried peaches, 1/2 tsp brown sugar

Banana Nut Muffin: oats, 2tsp milk powder, 1TB dehydrated banana slices (crushed up), 1/8tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp brown sugar, 1tsp crushed walnuts

Strawberries & Cream: oats, 3tsp milk powder, 1TB dehydrated strawberries (crushed), 1/2tsp brown sugar

Apples & Cinnamon: oats, 1tsp milk powder, 2tsp brown sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 2TB dehydrated apples (cut in small pieces)

Cinnamon Raisin: oats, 1tsp milk powder, 2tsp raisins, 1/4tsp cinnamon, 2tsp brown sugar

Blueberry muffin: oats, 2tsp milk powder, 1TB blueberries, 1/2tsp brown sugar, pinch lemon zest







Rolled Elvis: A New Twist On PB&J (Great for kids!)

The stereotype of making lunch in a hurry is throwing a PB&J sandwich in the lunch bag along with a piece of fruit, snack and a drink.  Imagine little Timmy’s face when he sees that,  once again, he’s got a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Unfortunately, my kids don’t eat peanut butter,  but I do! I became addicted to that heavenly substance during my second pregnancy.  In order to not get bored, I make a variation of PB&J every morning.  One day, I was out of bread and all I had were whole wheat tortillas in the fridge.  That morning, the “rolled” Elvis was born.  The rolled Elvis is really easy to make; and this lighter version hits the spot without the bacon.


  • 1 Flour tortilla -regular or whole wheat-
  • 1TB Peanut butter or any other nut butter
  • 1 tsp honey or agave nectar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Banana



1.  Spread peanut butter on tortilla. Drizzle the honey or agave nectar and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Step 1


2.  Lay banana on center of tortilla.

Step 2


3. Enclose banana from one end of tortilla and roll it out (Think banana burrito). Cut it in half, then proceed to cut each half into slices.


Serve & Enjoy! **

Laura’s tips: You can use any type of tortilla (even Ezekiel brand).  If you are preparing this ahead of time and packing it in a lunch box, you may want to lay them on top of a damp paper towel.  You can substitute peanut butter for any kind of ‘nut’ butter.  Remember to add a wet wipe for your child to wipe their hands after they eat it. They might have sticky fingers! -But well worth it!

**Photo Credit: Weelicious


Spicy Corn Relish–As a Side or Dip!

It is spring everywhere. That means the sunscreen is being slathered on , margaritas are a mixin’ and people are cleaning off and prepping their grills.  Actually, in Arizona, we pretty much grill all year round, but don’t hate us because we have good weather. Just make this spicy corn relish and delight in the flavor. Serve it with a side of BBQ chicken,  serve it like I did with some flank steak, or  serve it with some grilled shrimp or swordfish! Heck–eat it out of the tupperware container the morning after you make it! What? I am the only one that does this? You guys are more civilized? Who cares, just make this side and make it soon. Here’s what you need:

6 ears of corn

1/2 red onion

1/4 cup green onions

2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, seeded and chopped

1/4 red bell pepper, chopped

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

splash of olive oil and red wine vinaigrette

salt and pepper to taste

Clean corn and brush with olive oil and salt, same with red onion. Toss on grill. Grill corn approximately 7 minutes each side and rotate until all of it is cooked and bits are charred. Grill onion face down for 10 minutes or so. Remove both from grill. Cut corn off the cob and dice the red onion. Mix both of these with the rest of the ingredients and let your taste buds have a party in your mouth. I love this dish because it is so versatile. You could add black beans, diced cucumbers, diced avocados….the possibilities are limitless.  The smokiness of the charred corn and onion carmelize a bit and rest nicely with the other flavors. Make this tonight! Serve with some Red Zin, if you want to accentuate the smokiness, serve with some Sauvignon Blanc, if you want to cut the spiciness. But for the love of all that is good, just serve it!

Indian Chicken (You Can Make TONIGHT)

The title of this recipe can be a bit decieving in that although it uses some Indian themed spices, you could not be an Indian food devotee and still enjoy this dish. I have also heard versions of it called “Butter Chicken,” and although butter isn’t bad and I like chicken, I don’t think those really go together. Maybe butter and bread. Maybe butter and toast. Maybe butter with popcorn.  Maybe “I can’t believe it’s not butter.” Someone stop me…..I digress. My point is, get over the title and make this tonight! The kids will even love it. Here’s what you need:

4 pieces boneless skinless chicken breasts or a pack of chicken tenders

1 onion, diced

1 lime, juiced

1 t salt

5 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp ground Coriander

1/4 tsp Cardamom

1/2 tsp Cumin

1/4 cup butter

1 can (14.5 oz) Tomato Sauce

1 can (14.5 oz) Petite Diced Tomatoes

1 pint Half and Half or Whipping Cream

1 bunch Cilantro, chopped to taste

2 Cups Basmati Rice or White Rice

Here’s what to do!! Step one, open up a nice bottle of Sauvignon blanc. Oh wait, that’s me, sorry. Combine chicken, garlic, lime juice and all the spices in a ziplock and marinate for several hours or overnight. You won’t believe what these flavors do together. Also, if you don’t have Coriander and are shocked by the sticker price at the grocery store (as my sister was who called me up to gripe about it in the grocery line), you can probably get by without it. However, it is a good spice to have and lasts forever. Onward….Start the rice if you haven’t already made it. Get out the marinated chicken and get busy. Saute the onion in the butter until it is translucent and soft. Add chicken and cook 8-10 minutes or so. Add tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Cook for 25-30 minutes over medium to low heat with the lid. Add the whipping cream or half and half and cilantro just before serving. This dish is a bit spicy, but my kiddo’s loved it. You may want to only do half the cayenne, serve the littles, and then kick it up a notch for the bigs.

Enjoy! It’s a crowd pleaser. (Oh, and it really does pair well with a good Sav blanc, Brancott comes to mind!)

Why Runners Get Hooked

People are always amazed at how much I love to run. But it didn’t start as a love affair….it started more as a silly boyfriend you date solely because he has amazing eyes. There was only one thing I loved about running in college, and that was that it gave me a maximum workout in minimal time. Sometimes, I hated every step. I don’t remember any run being over five or so miles, and most were more like three. I have to admit, though–that even early on, there had to be that post-run endorphin thing that I got, perhaps even subliminally, because nothing else is going to get you out in the freezing sleet and snow in rural Ohio, even if it is a “good workout.” Although I was athletic in high school, running was never a part of the game.

Typical Ohio day...

Typical Ohio day...

My running started to evolve a bit as I ventured out to Arizona for graduate school. Suddenly, I was mapping new routes.

Typical Arizona day

Typical Arizona day

I found some new friends to run with, and I entered a 10k. Shortly thereafter, I entered a half-marathon, and some duathlons (running and biking), and then, finally in 2000, my first marathon. I still wouldn’t say I loved running, I wasn’t even sure I liked it. But I am a creature of habit. I thrive on discipline and routines, believing that these things actually allow me to be more spontaneous. In my masochistic mind, working hard makes the playing more fun, and then being spontaneous seems like a deserved reward.

My first marathon was everything it shouldn’t have been. Any normal person would have thrown in the towel. To start with, it was an inaugural race. This is a bad idea because the race directors have had no time to figure out what “works”. I will tell you what didn’t work….the route. It was on a rural course where we sometimes saw no one for miles. People got lost. They ran out of water. Farmers were cutting alfalfa. I had an asthma attack due to said alfalfa. Then I got rocks in my shoes and re-tied them too tightly. Then I felt my feet bleeding. Then I threw up. Then I shuffled, hot, tired, sweaty, and yes, triumphant through the finish line….about a half-hour later than my projected time. And yet,  I wanted to do it again.

I now have 8 marathons, 6 or 7 half-marathons, 2 ultras (longer than 26.2), 6 triathlons, 3 duathlons, a dozen or so other distances and 3 or so bike races under my belt. Marathons are my fave….ultras are even better….and trail ultras? Don’t even get me started.

I still don’t always love it. There are days that 4:30 am is just too stinking early. The hills seem to have gotten bigger overnight, every step feels like small tree trunks have been attached to my ankles, and I look at walkers and think, “Hey, walking seems nice….I can carry coffee if I walk.” However, more often than not, even on the days I think I will have a bad run, about half way in I remember why I do it. I remember why it is important to work hard, because hard work reaps benefits. The benefits for me are those days when I simply cherish the sound and cadence of my steps, when I can focus on praying without distraction, when I get to catch up with a girlfriend and no one is asking me for a snack, when I get to solve the oil crisis and the rest of the day seems to unfold before me, limitless with its’ possibilities. At times I am in awe of the beauty of the landscape before me, of the sun rising in the desert as I am alone on the trail, seemingly alone in the world; of the wind whipping my ponytail and the feeling of accomplishment I get when I put in 12 or 13 miles and most people have yet to rise. And don’t get me started on the endorphins. They are my Zoloft and my Prozac and my drug of choice….these indescribable little feelings that leave me smiling and content, even if I am spent.

So I would venture to say that this love affair has been a long time coming. But now, it is more like the boyfriend you love because he is good for you. He makes you feel better, he may not be perfect every day, but he will never turn on you. You love him for everything he does for you, not just one thing. He may not be easy to catch, but not much that is, is worth the chase.

How about you?  Are you an avid runner…or maybe you’re just getting started and you’re having trouble staying motivated.  I’d love to hear how you got started, your favorite race,  or any questions you might have.  Leave me a comment below!

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