Oatmeal Contest and The Great No-Sandwich Challenge

Hi everyone!

I hope yall are enjoying your Sunday… is absolutely gorgeous here—about 65 degrees and not a cloud in the sky! I love days like this! Being a Floridian though, I am a bit chilly so I’m warming up right now with a mug of my new Celestial Seasonings “Sleigh Ride Sugar Cookie” tea 🙂 Yum!

I worked all morning on my oatmeal recipe for the Quaker “Top This” Oatmeal Bowl Contest. Kath has mentioned this on her blog as well—but when we were up in Chicago, we were asked to enter the Top This contest on creating a whole new bowl of oatmeal! It has to be less than 400 calories and must contain the “heart healthy” portion of oats–3/4 cup dry! Definitely a challenge. Anyways, I think I have my recipe done and I will be making it for breakfast tomorrow. Sorry I can’t reveal it yet! If I win it will be published in Dave Grotto’s new book out in February and even if I don’t win, I will still share the recipe when Quaker does pick the winner around December 5th. But guess what else I would win——-a trip to Breckenridge, CO to go skiing for 3 nights!!!!!!! The pressure is ON!

On my way to church I snacked on my true love: a luna tea cake:


SO glad I picked up a few of these in Chicago….I’ve missed them!!!! I just love the super chewy texture!

After church, I had a whole wheat pita with almond butter and jam and some grapes while I made my way to the grocery store….



Here are the goods:




I stocked up some seasonal produce, especially spaghetti & butternut squash! As well as my precious honeycrisp apples. They are expensive but WORTH IT!!! 🙂

And I found DATES!!!!!!


I haven’t had one of these since I was in school! I ate one in the car on the way home from the store, I was so excited!

Now I shall introduce the “Great No Sandwich Challenge”! I’ve been thinking lately that I have gotten myself into a boring sandwich rut. I eat sandwiches basically every single day because they are so easy to pack for work but…..there are so many more options out there! So, every day this week I will try to think of a new portable lunch other than a sandwich to pack. Anyone want to participate with me?! Pitas don’t count! Anyone have ideas???

I’m off to make split pea soup from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan! When I moved over here to take this job in September, Dreena’s cookbook was the only one I packed! All my other cookbooks are safely stowed away at home waiting for me next month. I picked this one to take with me here because it is my favorite and all the meals are delicious, healthy and easy to make. I haven’t made the split pea soup yet but I’m excited to try it–I’m sure it won’t let me down!

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  • Oh She Glows
    November 16, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    I am in a sandwich rut too! This is a great idea 😀
    I will get the wheels turning…

  • Jenny
    November 16, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    Okay, you have to go with me on this, but my favorite lunch is a breakfast sandwich. I basically take two kashi waffles (i love the strawberry ones) and i heat them up until they’re extra toasty. Then i basically smear on some high quality, all natural strawberry-rhubarb jam on one waffle (Sarabeth’s or the Barefoot Contessa Jams) and put on two slices of extra lean turkey bacon. I top it with the 2nd waffle and VOILA!!! . . . . the most delicious sandwich I have ever made. It has this sweet, savory thing going on and it is so GOOD!!!! I round out the meal with some pom juice, kashi crackers, and a delicious autumn apple. And i bet it would taste great with any jam you put on the waffle. I’ve actually tried the sandwich with some apple jam and it is FABULOUS!!!

    Trust me Jenna . . . you gotta try it =)

  • andrunwithit
    November 16, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    So I see that you bought some sweet potatoes… YUMMY.
    I think you should eat them for lunch!! Cube them up and put them into a microwaveable container with enough soy/regular milk (my favorite is Silk unsweetened, but I’m sure vanilla would be great!) to cover them up, then throw in raisins and cinnamon and bring a baggie of some crunchy/sweet cereal to put on top. Once you want to eat them, microwave them (covered) for 5-10 mins (it’ll depend on the oven) until they’re soft and squishy and hot and YUMMY. Sprinkle cereal/other toppings on top. It’s a really warming, filling and satisfying meal… which also tastes like dessert… 🙂 So that’s my suggestion!
    P.S. Thanks for doing such a great job with your blog!! You have a healthy attitude about food & life, and I really admire that!

  • andrunwithit
    November 16, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    p.s. sub the dates for raisins and it will taste waaaaay more amazing 🙂

  • Fancy
    November 16, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    I am ALWAYS looking for some new lunch ideas…I tend to eat a lot of sandwiches as well. They really are just the easiest thing to pack! I am so excited to hear what everyone else suggests and to get some new ideas!

    On a side note, I see a coconut cream pie larabar in that picture. I still have 2 left that you have sent me and I am saving them for a very special occasion. Little wrapped pieces of heaven, those coconut larabars. Little wrapped pieces of heaven.

  • Jess
    November 16, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    Great luck with the oatmeal challenge- you’re so creative that I’m sure you’ll have no problem. For sandwiches I Love a mixture of babaganoosh, turkey and artichoke hearts; sometimes with a bit of mustard. Lately I’ve been having them on Arnold’s Double Protein because I won some from Tina and it’s AMAZING- don’t know what I’ll do when I run out- start making it available in California!! Haha.

  • Jess
    November 16, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    p.s. what do you use the puffed rice cereal for? Messes? I find it’s not actually hardy enough to hold me over as just cereal…

  • ashley (sweet & natural)
    November 16, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    Try a sweet potato, black bean and cheese sandwich! I love that combo and I bet it would taste even better between two slices of toasted bread. 🙂

  • caroline
    November 16, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    Hi! Im in SFL and enjoying this glorious “cool” sunday as well! Isn’t it great?? Im a sandwich slave too.. looking forward to your results 🙂
    -Caroline f.

  • Runeatrepeat
    November 16, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    I’m from SoCal and 65 degrees is pretty cool for me too. I wish it was always 78 with a warm Santa Ana breeze…

  • jenna
    November 16, 2008 at 1:30 pm


    When I was little I used to be addicted to them but haven’t bought them in years until today. I just had a peach chobani with a half cup of them in it for a pre-gym snack! They definitely would not hold me over with milk for cereal in the morning, but I like to top yogurt or cottage cheese with them!

  • Andrea
    November 16, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    When I’m in a rut, and a rush, I make a frozen lima bean, corn and red pepper salad. 1.5 cups lima beans, .75 cups corn microwaved to thaw. Add about 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (or cucumber is good too!) and mix. Make a quick dressing with a bit of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and dijon mustard. Its sooo filling and sticks with me for hours!

  • Moran
    November 16, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Hi Jenna, I wanted to ask what do you do with the puffed rice you buy? Do you use it instead of cereals/oats?
    I would also love some ideas regarding portable lunches!

  • Samantha
    November 16, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    Jenna- Great idea for the lunch challenge!

    To make you feel a bit better about all those sandwiches, I have gotten great ideas from you! My fav sandwich idea I got from your blog is the simple turkey/hummus. Its so good and super fast to prepare.

  • Matt
    November 16, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    do you buy that whipped cottage cheese at publix?

  • jenna
    November 16, 2008 at 1:49 pm


    See my above comment for the puffed rice 🙂


    Yep! I love it!!

  • Serena
    November 16, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    okay, here’s my lunch suggestion (cribbed from Clean Eating Magazine – does anyone else read it? I just found it and picked up an issue and it’s great!) I saw you bought chickpeas but there may be some other ingredients here you don’t currently have. Anyway…
    “Curried Cocunut Chickpeas”
    serves 2 179 calories 5 g fat 6 g fiber 7.5 g protein per serving
    1 cup napa cabbage sliced
    1/2 cup onion diced
    1/2 cup red bell pepper diced
    1/2 cup light coconut milk
    1 tsp minced garlic
    1 tsp minched ginger
    1 tsp curry powder
    3/4 cup chickpeas
    1 Tbsp chopped basil
    S + P to taste
    saute cabbage, onion, garlic, ginger, pepper (wilting down cabbage before adding other ingredients). Add 1 Tbsp coconut milk if you need moisture. Then add remaining coconut milk, chickpeas, S + P. Cook until warmed through, then sprinkle chopped basil on top before serving.

  • Sally
    November 16, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    I bring lunches to work everyday but I try to avoid grains so I never pack sandwiches. What I like to do is make a big batch of something on Sunday and then pack it for lunch all week. I especially like to use a slow cooker for this – do you (or does Betty) have one? They make it really easy to make delicious meals. This week I am making chicken provencale – chicken with herbs and tomatoes and olives. Each day I will put it on top of some spinach that will then wilt in the microwave when I heat it up at work. Last week I made some sweet-and-spicy pork and broccoli and the week before that I made a spicy peanut chicken dish. Some weekends I’m not in the mood or don’t have time to make meals for the week and for those weeks I usually do something simple, like salmon salad (canned salmon, yogurt, mustard) on greens. And I always pack a nice apple to have on the side! I love honeycrisps but right now I am really enjoying cameo apples – they were on sale for $2 less per pound than the honeycrisps!

  • Julz
    November 16, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    I looove to mix chickpeas, cottage cheese, steamed spinach (frozen, chopped works too!) Broccoli, baby carrots, Tomato Basil Tofu (West Soy Brand, I think) and some ketchup drizzled on top! AMAZING, filling, and SO deliciously satisfying!

  • VeggieGirl
    November 16, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    FRESH MEDJOOL DATES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND LARABARS!!!!!! **swoons**

    **sandwich idea = PB-Date

  • Andrea
    November 16, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    No-Sandwich idea:
    A piece of chicken, turkey or salmon with brown rice and steamed veggies. Pre-cook, then just heat up at work! I like to pair this lunch with a piece of fruit or yogurt with pb to round out the meal!

  • AshleyH
    November 16, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    I am so excited that you are going to do this challenge I was totally in a sandwich rut too and now I have been told by my dietitian to stop eating wheat and I have been at a loss on what to pack!!

  • BethT
    November 16, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Jenna, is the oatmeal contest only among those of you who went to the weekend in Chicago? If so, you’ve got good odds of winning!

  • Coley
    November 16, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    This is the most simple recipe and can be eaten hot or cold! I don’t have it with me, but it’s orzo pasta, wilted spinach, red bell pepers, turkey sausage, olive oil, salt and peppper to taste. You can add the spicy sausage and really heat it up, thats my favorite:) I love it because it packs well, and its filling enough to be a meal in itself.

  • emily
    November 16, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    I’m a big fan of bringing Greek yogurt with sliced fruit for lunch. Or museli.

  • Nicole
    November 16, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    What a great challenge! I may give it a go!

  • Teenage Veg head
    November 16, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    oh i love the coconut cream larabar 🙂 SO GOOD!
    whats the difference between extra firm tofu and firm tofu? i usually just get firm tofu but is there a difference or is it just a preference? thanks!

  • jenna
    November 16, 2008 at 3:41 pm


    Yep—it’s only open to us 15 food bloggers…….I sort of feel like the pressure is on since I went to culinary school but really, the other girls (and guy!) are very creative with oats whereas I tend to stick with basic things. We’ll see!

    Teenage Veg Head,

    Extra firm is just even MORE firm. It doesn’t really crumble or fall apart.

  • Erin
    November 16, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    I don’t like sandwiches very much, so I always end up bringing salads or wraps to work with me. Do you need some ideas?

  • Victoria
    November 16, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Nearly everyday I have soup for lunch. Just because I’m always cold and like something warm for lunch and cooking a big pot of soup is just so convenient to eat throughout the week. Also, I LOVE that sugar cookie tea! Seasonal teas are one of my favorite things about the holidays!

  • Dave Grotto, RD
    November 16, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Hi Jenna:

    A ever so slight correction. My manuscript has to be turned in by February 1st so most likely, the book won’t be ready for prime time until the end of ’09’.

    Keep on cookin’!!

  • Little Black Dress
    November 16, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Jenna, I totally feel you on the “what’s better than a sandwich” option. Sometimes I like to pack a big salad with all the fixings (protein included) and have a delicious carb on the side, like a piece of baguette or whole wheat crackers.

    Another fabulous option could be to do a big batch of a whole grain (bulgur, brown rice, whatever), and at work mix it up with cooked veggies and beans.

    Good luck!

  • Kim
    November 16, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    My favorite lunch -and if you just wrap it up its portable and really quick. I have three kids under 5 and I make this lunch everyday (I am so boring)
    a fried egg over a Garden Veggie Veggie Patty. YUM. And I have one vanilla Oikos and 1/4 cup of Bare Naked Fit (DELISH lunch) keeps me full until dinner.

  • lyss
    November 16, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    Bake a spaghetti squash and bring leftovers!
    Make an omelet the night before and reheat it in the microwave for lunch.
    Frozen shrimp and veggies- bring them in a Ziploc Steam Bag- 5 minutes or so in the microwave and you have a super healthy, easy lunch.
    Lettuce wraps: Fill big romaine lettuce leaves with your favorite fillings: chicken salad, veggies, cheese, tuna, hummus, etc.

    Those are some of my favorites. I hardly ever bring sandwiches for lunch, so you can check out my blog for other ideas:

  • claire
    November 16, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    I like to brings salads. Some of my favorite are turkey with mushrooms, hummus, and apples (all on the salad) and a Mexican version with beans, salsa, sour cream (or Greek yogurt would work), and apples or oranges. However, something I discovered during my on call month is spaghetti squash with goat cheese and roasted veggies. Just put it in a microwaveable dish, heat, and enjoy. The melted goat cheese is SOOOO good and creamy!

  • seelivelee (for the love of peanut butter)
    November 16, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    thanks for that breakfast cookie recipe below, it just looks so good! I would probably add 1/2 c. oats too. Thank you very much!!

  • Anita
    November 16, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    You are so lucky to have found that Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride tea… I’ve been looking for it all over the place, and can’t find it! I hope it hits my grocery store soon! !!!

    Unfortunately, I don’t think I will be much help to you in getting you out on your sandwich rut, because I bring the same sandwich to work every day- PB&J- I don’t know how, but I never get tired of it!

    How about sweet potatoes and black beans or chili? All easy to pack and prepare, and oh-so-very tasty! 🙂

  • K
    November 16, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    I loooove seeing grocery pics and your’s is no exception! For a lunch idea what about stir-fry? I always think those taste better the next day anyway so you could make it the night before and reheat at work.

  • Kristie
    November 16, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    I have a big container of Medjool dates sitting in the cupboard right now. It makes me very very happy. Medjool dates are simply amazing.

    I usually bring big mixed salads for lunch. I throw into them whatever I have sitting in the fridge, including leftover roasted veggies or chickpeas or tofu etc etc.
    I also like bringing other leftovers on their own sometimes, such as SQUASH. I could eat squash every day.

  • Cara
    November 16, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    I tend to just pack leftovers. Some of my favorite are black beans and rice w/ onions, garlic, bell peppers, jalapenos, corn, tomatoes and whatever other veggies you prefer. I sometimes top it w/ reduced fat mozzarella. Sometimes I even eat it with a few tortilla chips.

    Other ideas: leftover pasta w/ tons of veggies. chili. mac n cheese with tomatoes, cilantro, onions, garlic, and avocado on top.

    I can’t wait to see more comments from everyone else!

    Thanks for bringing up the topic. I am trying to plan my lunches for the week right now. 🙂

  • Shelby
    November 16, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    I’ve made that Split Pea soup multiple times in the last week and trust me, it will not let you down!!! It is phenomenal!

  • Megan
    November 16, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    I love that tea! The Holiday Celestial Teas are so yummy!
    I can’t wait to see your oatmeal recipe!

  • Mara
    November 16, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    I pack bento boxes of leftovers and cut up fruits and veggies for lunches. They work great, and they’re CUTE!

  • Kath
    November 16, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    Can’t wait to see what you came up with for the contest. Wouldn’t it be funny if we did the same ingredients!?

  • Joy
    November 16, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    i’m also in a sandwich rut.. people have good ideas! that tea sounds delicious.

    i know you (used to?) eat the pure protein bars. i like them but try to avoid sugar alcohol, have you ever tried the clif ‘builder’ bars? they seem like the natural alternative to PP (only downside is extra calories)

  • Joy
    November 16, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    oh and that was a question by the way 😉 i’ve never tried them!

  • BeeElle
    November 17, 2008 at 6:48 am

    Man 65 degrees! It is a high of 35 here in Chicago today and my heat is broken! The repair guy is supposed to come today – I hope he hurries!

  • Catherine
    November 17, 2008 at 9:50 am

    I am so on board with the no-sandwich challenge!! Can’t wait to start cookin!

  • Sonia
    November 17, 2008 at 1:03 pm


    I generally take a wide variety of stuff for lunch. I make vegetable burgers over the weekend or just buy some morning star ones. Top these with boiled garbanzo, potatoes (for carbs), carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, green peppers, some salt, pepper, a pinch of garam masala (makes all the difference) and lemon. Crunch a few crackers for more fun and add just before you dig in. Another idea is to take pasta salad and some soup. Sometimes I carry hummus and pita chips and veggies. I will love to see your new lunches.