Hey there, Pumpkin!

by Jenn (eating bender) on September 17, 2008

Today turned out to be much more of a wake up call than I thought it would be, as I began to get serious about the job search and tweaking my resume to look good based on the employer. What started as a simple question from Bobby about places I’ve contacted turned into a gigantic search, brainstorm and NERVOUSNESS on my part! Eek – I haven’t even had an interview yet and I’m already anxious!

Just breathe…



Now would be one of those times that I regret the fact that I’ve never done yoga 😉 Better fix that ASAP! Any tips on what type of yoga is best for stress relief?


I started out my morning with the usual mug of Coffee Cocoa. It fit the bill yet again!

But the main event this morning was completely inspired by yesterday’s post from Miss VeggieGirl. I used her recipe to make PumpkinBananaAlmond Butter oatmeal! Many of us knew this already, but this girl is a GENIUS in the kitchen :) I have never tried pumpkin in my oats before today. I was turned off by the fear of it having a bland taste – but she completely proved me wrong!!

I used almost the exact same ingredients as she did with minor substitutions based on what I had available to me at my house:

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 sliced large banana
  • 2 tbsp. Barney Butter


I also tried the method of stirring the almond butter directly into the oats instead of putting it on a spoon. I added a little extra to the top just in case I couldn’t taste it, but the flavor was definitely present throughout. These oats had a delicious variety of ingredients, with the banana slices providing the extra sweetness factor I needed to get over my fear of the bland pumpkin. Again – genius!!!


That breakfast really “pump”ed me up (groan!) and motivated me to bake something new. I thought about trying another round of ‘Pump’ It Up Muffins, but didn’t have all of the ingredients on hand, so I had to improvise.

I ended up deciding that coconut needed to be involved somehow.

Ingredients (makes 12 mini muffins):

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. ground flax
  • 1 tbsp. Smart Balance margarine
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp. shredded sweetened coconut
  • Water (if needed)



Preheat the oven to 350*

Combine the first eight ingredients in a bowl. If the mixture is too dry, add a little water to give it a more liquid consistency. I probably added about 2 tbsp. of water to help it along.

Portion out the muffin mix evenly into twelve muffin cups greased with cooking spray. Add three chocolate chips to the center of each muffin and sprinkle each cup with shredded coconut.

Bake at 350* for 12-15 minutes, or until the muffins are firm and a toothpick comes out clean.

Remove from muffin pan and place on a cooling rack.

Serve and enjoy!

Nutrition Information (per muffin):

  • 66 calories
  • 1g fat
  • 12g carbohydrates
  • 1g fiber
  • 1g protein


I had my family test out the mini muffins, and they really enjoyed them! Of course, I also had to try one out for myself…

These are such a great fall treat, and from past experience with pumpkin muffins, they taste their best when heated up in the microwave for 15-20 seconds and then topped with nut butter!


I was feeling really tired later in the morning – so much so that I feel asleep! By the time I woke up, it was already 2:00 – oops 😳 I wasn’t hungry for a big lunch after sleeping half of my day away, so I snacked on various things throughout the afternoon. First, there was a plate of sliced deli turkey and ham. I spread a Laughing Cow cheese wedge among the slices and rolled them into “wraps” – yum!

And a little while later, as I began the painful exciting process of searching for the next step in the rest of my life (insert dramatic music here), I had 1/2 cup of lowfat cottage cheese topped with 1/2 tbsp. Barney Butter. A familiar combination, no? I told you I was a creature of habit!


Look! It’s the star of the show!

I was so excited when Papa Bender brought this home! I’d never seen swiss chard before – it’s so PRETTY! I love the vibrant colors!

The swiss chard was boiled down to next-to-nothingness and topped with feta. It’s very much like spinach, in my opinion. “V. good,” as HangryPants would say.

On the side, I had a small piece of swordfish topped with Smart Balance margarine, garlic, paprika and crushed red pepper.

PLUS some pieces of rotisserie chicken. It’s so convenient that grocery stores have these ready to pick up and serve immediately. They’re always perfectly cooked.

I ended up bringing out the barbecue sauce. It was calling to me from the fridge 😉 Here is everything all together – one big happy family for my mouth!

But there were a couple of other goodies that absolutely must be mentioned. My dad also brought home some more corn on the cob – yay!

And finally, the most AMAZING chardonnay – it’s called Rombauer Vineyards, and I kid you not – it was the best wine I have ever tasted. Period. It had so many delicious flavors. I had a second glass after this one!

My goal this year at school is to go to a wine tasting. I know some of you are wine fans and some are not. For those of you that are – what are some of your favorites? It can be red, white, etc. – and cheap but good wine is even better! Papa and Mama Bender call themselves cheap wine connoisseurs!

Well, that about wraps it up in my neck of the woods!

Have a happy Hump Day :mrgreen:

1 Nicole September 17, 2008 at 2:29 am

Pumpkin muffins do taste their best after heated up in the microwave! Yum.

Nicole ~ Why yes, yes they do! Yum-o!

2 Megan September 17, 2008 at 5:25 am

So much pumpkin yumminess! Your oatmeal looks fabulous and those muffins look delicious! Great pics!

Thanks for posting about swiss chard. It is funny because I saw those red stalks yesterday at the store and wondered what it was (no sign) and I got my answer within hours!

Megan ~ Thank you! And I’m glad that I could help out with the swiss chard :)

3 Heather @ Hangry Pants September 17, 2008 at 5:43 am

I am sorry you’re stressed about your job search. I can guarantee you, you’re ahead of many college seniors because you’re at least thinking about it! I am glad, however, that you’re considering yoga. I think there is a yoga for everyone, so maybe you could try out a few different types of classes before you go back to school. If not, I am sure there are lots of great studios in Chicago. I personally like the flow of vinyassa style, but that’s just my former dancer self coming through me thinks.

Heather @ Hangry Pants ~ Thank you :) I can’t wait to try out yoga when I get back to school!

4 Fit Bottomed Girls September 17, 2008 at 6:48 am

Pumpkin yumminess! I’d recommend hatha yoga for stress relief. And generally anything Rodney Yee does I like. :)

Fit Bottomed Girls ~ Thank you for the tips! I’ll look into Rodney Yee. I remember your review of him on your blog!

5 Christie I. September 17, 2008 at 7:10 am

Thanks for the muffin recipe, it looks great!

As for the yoga, my preferred style is vinyasa but for a deep instense relaxing session, I go to yin. I would suggest finding a studio near you if you have never practiced before so that you can ensure proper alignment which is key in yoga. I practiced in a studio for a year before taking my practice home. There are a ton of DVD’s out there.

Christie I ~
You’re welcome! Thank YOU for the yoga tips! I will definitely do it at a studio first because I don’t want to hurt myself!

6 ChocolateCoveredVegan September 17, 2008 at 7:13 am

The mini muffins are super-cute! I’m taking down the recipe.

CCV ~ Yay! Let me know if you try them!

7 VeggieGirl September 17, 2008 at 7:29 am

Don’t stress, my friend!!! All WILL work out for the best with your job search – just give it some time.

I JUST started getting into yoga, so that I could incorporate more stretching into my daily routine, before and after dance practices – I recommend the DVDs from Sara Ivanhoe (she specializes in Vinyasa and all other routines; and even incorporates strength-training!).

Aww, I’m SOOOO elated that you liked the oatmeal combination!! Yay!! And HOORAY FOR NNOOOOTTTTTTT LEAVING THE NUT-BUTTER ON THE SPOON, AND MIXING IT INTO THE OATMEAL!!!! Seriously, I hate the “nut-butter on the spoon” craze, haha 😉

You’ve done it again, with those pumpkin muffins – a true winning recipe!!!


VeggieGirl ~ Thank you so so much for the oatmeal recipe! I’ve heard good things about Sara Ivanhoe – I will definitely check into some of her DVDs!

8 Kristie September 17, 2008 at 7:44 am

Good luck with the job search! I’m sure it’ll turn out just fine, don’t worry! I understand how frustrating a process it is though, I really hate job searching…

Another cute mug! Yay! Time for me to get some new mugs. They make the morning look so much more exciting.

And that OATMEAL. So much pumpkin oatmeal around recently. I can’t believe I haven’t jumped into this yet. Although not yet during this new fall season.

Those mini muffins look deelish too, I’ll definitely be keeping the recipe!

And as always, your meals look scrumptious. I’ve never tried swiss chard! Putting feta on anythig convinces me though. Mmmm.

Kristie ~ Mugs really do make me feel happy to be awake, haha. Definitely try the pumpkin oatmeal!! And yes, putting feta on anything makes a huge difference :)

9 ChocolateCoveredVegan September 17, 2008 at 7:47 am

Oh, and ponzu sauce tastes kinda like a sweet soy sauce… I dunno how to describe it, but it’s reeeeaally good!

CCV ~ Ooh, thank you!

10 Melissa S. September 17, 2008 at 8:05 am

I hear you about the stress w/ jobs and stuff…i’m currently going through the same thing right now and i seriously could have pulled my hair out over it yesterday. arg. but we’ll work through it and be find…inhale…exhale…and i do yoga when i’m stressed…i just have a beginners DVD…so i would start w/ that!

and love that you tried hte pumpkin oatmeal…i’m still afraid to because i’m really not a fan of pumpkin…but everyone’s looks sooooooo good! and your muffins look awesome too!

and seriously, can your dad come be my personal chef? think he could do all vegetarian? LOL.

have a great wednesday and don’t let the job hunting/interviewing/resume writing get the best of you…you’ll do great no matter what; i know it!

Melissa S. ~
Aw, thank you for easing my mind. Oh, and I really am not a fan of plain pumpkin either, so I was pleasantly surprised! And I’ll check with my dad and see what he thinks 😉

11 Christie September 17, 2008 at 8:57 am

That swiss chard looks great. I always contimplate buying it but never do… so maybe NOW i will… and I love the pumpkin muffins with the coconut.. those would even be great broken up and put in chobani!

Christie ~ Mm, they definitely would taste great in the Chobani!

12 Sarah September 17, 2008 at 9:02 am

Ok lots to say:

1) I know it’s SO stressful searching for jobs, working on resumes, etc etc. But try not to stress out! You still have plenty of time and remember that nothing is permanent. If you get a job and decide you don’t like it, it’s not the end of the world. Plus you are so smart and qualified that I’m sure you’ll find a great fit.
2) There are so many types of yoga and they all have different relaxing qualities. I like ashtanga because it is the same sequence of postures each class so I really just get lost in the order and zone out on life and focus on my breathing. It is HARD though and very physically demanding. If you’ve never done yoga before it probably WON’T be a relaxing experience, haha. If you want something really low key, try restorative yoga or just a yoga basics class if you want to get a good stretch and relax too.
3) I LOVE pumpkin oatmeal—add some maple syrup to it next time, you’ll love it!
4) I am a huge wine fan, but I definitely prefer red to white. My favorite American wines are Cabernet Sauvignons and for imported wines I LOVE Chianti (from Italy). Mmmm. You can definitely find some really good bottles for around $10—just check out the store and see what the specials are.

Have a great day Jenn!

Sarah ~ You are wonderful! Thank you for your advice on anything and everything!!

13 ttfn300 September 17, 2008 at 9:58 am

so much pumpkin goodness :) I’m loving those ideas!! and that swiss chard looks good, too. I’ve never boiled it, but it looks like it retained it’s gorgeous color!

ttfn300 ~
It definitely retained its color and tasted wonderful!

14 HeatherBakes September 17, 2008 at 10:49 am

Ahhh- so much pumpkin!!! Love it! Those mini muffins look amazing.

I’m all about the cheap wine. Are there vineyards near your school? Most small wineries will have a wide range of price points- we had one near my school in VA and they had great, resonable wines :)

HeatherBakes ~
Thank you! I don’t think we have any vineyards near school, but there are definitely wine tastings!

15 Grounded Fitness September 17, 2008 at 11:23 am

blech, wine. ive never liked it and i never will.

those muffins look delish. I WANT.

Kelly Turner

Kelly ~ Haha, thanks for your honesty :)

16 Natalie September 17, 2008 at 11:53 am

Those muffins look awesome! What a good idea :)

Natalie ~ Thanks!

17 jenngirl September 17, 2008 at 2:14 pm

Namaste yoga is amazing for relaxation! It’s my favorite thing to do to wind down from stress, definitely try it Jenn!

You and VeggieGirl have inspired me to try pumpkin in my oatmeal, I vow to do it this weekend! :)

My favorite red wines are Shiraz or Cabernet/Merlot blends. Whites include Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc (the boy introduced me to this one) 😉

Happy Hump Day!

jenngirl ~ Thanks for the yoga and wine tips! I can’t wait to see what you think of pumpkin oatmeal!

18 Fitzalan September 17, 2008 at 3:31 pm

I am definitely a wine connoisseur. I would recommend just go start drinking wines with an open mind. And go tasting…it is so much fun (and informative!) I have learned that I really like certain wines that I never would have tried and I also have learned that points and price do not always mean if you’ll like (or dislike) a particular wine. Just try as much out as you can and you’ll start to get a feel for what you like.

And I am so jealous—fish two nights in a row???! I wish I could go home for the summer still and have home cooked meals!!


Fitzalan ~ Thank you so much for the wine advice!

19 Erica September 17, 2008 at 6:47 pm

Your morning oats look soooo creamy and delicious! I need to buy some pumpkin this weekend!

Don’t stress about the job stuff, one step at a time! My advice is apply apply apply, take every interview you get and treat it like it is the one! The more interview practice you get, the more natural you become in interviews! Enjoy, remember- you’re a wonderful person! Speak slowly and take time to pause to gather yourself!

Those muffins look adorable and yummy too!

Sorry I can’t help on the wine front…I’m a beer girl :)

Erica ~ Thank you for the job advice, it really helps! And I like a good beer, too :)

20 hangrypants September 17, 2008 at 7:48 pm

P.S. good use of the “v.” Fun, right?

hangrypants ~ Hell yes!

21 fitnessista September 17, 2008 at 8:25 pm

job searching can definitely be stressful (i’ve had my share of job anxiety from moving to a small town where there are NO jobs) but i having a good feeling that everything will fall into place and work out perfectly 😀
it would be very difficult for me to tear away from papa bender’s amazing cooking to go back to school! i love that he uses different ingredients– i’ve never had swiss chard but definitely want to try it now. your family is fortunate to be exposed to such a wide variety of ingredients.. growing up, ALL i ate was mexican food!
DELICIOUS muffins, friend! i have all of the ingredients, except for the chocolate chips.. i’ll have to pick some up because i don’t think it would be the same without them 😀
as far as wine goes, i’m kind of a red wine fanatic but not very sophisticated on the subject because if it’s red, i like it 😀 usually i’ll just go to world market and buy a few bottles of red wine with cool labels. il bastardo and angry housewife are some fun ones 😀
have a great night!!!

fitnessista ~ Thanks for the job reassurance :) And the wine advice! I have a World Market near campus, and I’ve actually tried il bastardo and liked it! Thanks for the reminder!

22 Erin September 17, 2008 at 9:37 pm

I’m V. impressed with your baking skills Jenn! Next time you and Veggie Girl get together ya’ll could have a baking party!

All your “pump” puns had me rollin, girl! I love that we share the same cornball sense of humor.

I’m surprised you hadn’t tried the pumpkin in the oats yet! Being the saavy oatmealer that you are, I was sure you’d have tried it by now. I love it too. So orange, so fall…mmm. I like to add pumpkin pie spice to it too if I’m feelin’ frisky!

I have to admit, though, that my fave piece of food f/ today was definitely the swordfish. I love its texture.

Good luck with the job search! Keep us “post”ed (zing)!

Erin ~ Hehe, thanks :) I always appreciate your jokes! Ooh, I should pick up some pumpkin pie spice for next time!

23 Kath September 22, 2008 at 10:01 am

Those mini muffins look awesome!! Esp. with the choco chips in them :)

24 Anne K. May 20, 2009 at 8:23 am

Hey Jenn!

I just wanted to let you know I made these muffins last night (http://harpingonfitness.blogspot.com/2009/05/yummy-pumpkin-muffins.html). They were really good, and my family loved them– especially my dad! Thanks for the recipe 😀


25 Jenn (eating bender) May 20, 2009 at 9:40 am

Anne K. ~ Yay! This makes me so happy :) Thanks for letting me know – I am so glad that you enjoyed them.

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