Monday, August 4, 2014

Oatmeal Enthusiasts: Meet Marina!

Happy August! This month's Enthusiast has been a long-time follower of the blog. She already eats and photographs oatmeal every morning, so asking her to complete the Enthusiast challenge was no struggle for her. :) When I saw her delicious photos on Instagram, I was instantly sold!

Helloooo fellow oatmeal lovers!!

My name is Marina and I am beyond ecstatic to be this month’s featured Oatmeal Enthusiast! I discovered Lauren’s blog about two years ago and have fallen in love with oatmeal and breakfast in general. It will forever be my favorite meal of the day. Alright, here’s a little more about me!

I grew up in a household that preached eating your basic doses of vegetables, fruits, carbs, and occasional red meat. However, you would NEVER find cookies, chips, or candy in my house, and I was always amazed at my friend’s pantries compared to mine! Wait, you have Doritos?! WHOA. Also, I was never (and never will be) a meal-skipper, but it took me years to realize that the so-called “healthy” cereals I ate every morning were actually processed junk. Yes, Honey Bunches of Oats and Frosted Mini Wheats, I’m talking to you! Now that I think of it, I was usually hungry an hour after I ate breakfast and my energy levels were pretty low after a certain point in the day. Now as kids we learn to ignore this, eat a cookie, and move on, because everything is so much easier when you’re a kid! :) As I grew up, I realized what my goals were and decided I needed to get serious about my health if I wanted to become a stronger dancer, both physically and mentally. Oh I forgot to mention that, I’ve been dancing for 15 years and plan on doing it professionally!

Anyway, my journey to better nutrition really started the year before I got to college. Knowing that I would be in for some rigorous days, it was important to be fueling my dancing body properly. It’s not that I was out of shape or anything, I was just tired of not seeing results from all the hard work of dance. I wasn’t happy with my eating habits. While I still ate pretty healthy foods of course, I wasn’t really thinking about portion controls, snacking, or processed foods/sugars. I felt sluggish and knew I had to whip myself into shape. I used to run sparingly, but then I started running almost every day along with dancing and I immediately saw a change in my mood and health. I started by making smarter food choices, eating about 5 smaller portioned meals a day, (rather than 3 huge ones), and also stopped eating meat, except for seafood. I still love me some salmon! ;) All in all, I ended up losing about 12 pounds this year at school. Good for me, right?!

Not necessarily…I started to develop a problem…a really big one.

During my weight loss period, I cut my calorie intake drastically and started counting them like crazy. High numbers really scared me! Thinking this was normal, I noticed that my clothes were really loose and I could see my bones more than I ever have. I was also always tired and irritable, but I thought this was just from dancing all day long. I didn’t understand, I was eating just like everyone else! My problem was that I wasn’t eating enough calorie-dense foods to match my activity level. My food obsession took over my life and I became its slave. But wait, cue OATMEAL Stage Right!

Oatmeal has been the food that started my journey to health. Not only is it a nutritional powerhouse, but it was the only breakfast food that kept me full throughout the morning. The more I ate it, the better I felt all day. Personally, I’d take Apple Pie Oatmeal over boring cereal any day…Lauren, along with other bloggers, create recipes that showcase how oatmeal doesn’t have to be boring either!

Not convinced yet?! Here, let me help you out a bit by showing you what a typical week of breakfast is like for me:

Sunday: PB and “No J” Baked Oatmeal

All PB, no J! I used fresh grapes and blueberries instead of jelly and it was fantastic! Sunday oatmeal usually consists of whatever fruit I have left in the house before we do the weekly shopping. In this case, there were about 10 grapes left and a handful of blueberries so I made it work and I guess it was pretty good… ;)

Monday: Fudgy PB Banana Mocha Oatmeal

Because why not start off the week with the greatest oatmeal in the world, not to mention Lauren’s favorite oatmeal, with an addition of caffeine to jumpstart the morning… [TOA: I approve this addition!!]

Tuesday: Apple Baked Oatmeal with Almond Butter Espresso Frosting

When I saw this new recipe last week I knew I just had to try it!! Unfortunately my frosting didn’t spread as much as I thought, but next time maybe I’ll try it with peanut butter…

Wednesday: Banana Cream Pie Oatmeal

I’m so surprised how this one turned out! It was delicious! I loosely based it on Lauren’s Banana Cream Pie Overnight Oats but I added an egg white for some extra protein; couldn’t even taste it!

Thursday: Blueberry Muffin Baked Oatmeal

Okay, now this tastes EXACTLY like a blueberry muffin. There is no better feeling than your whole kitchen smelling like a bakery…not to mention the oatmeal really expands in the oven, so you’re basically getting a bigger muffin than the one at Starbucks without paying $3! This, my friends, is goodness. J

Friday: Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Yup, you read that right. Because it’s perfectly acceptable to eat Pumpkin Pie in July, or anytime for that matter…it’s my favorite Thanksgiving dessert!! Happy Fancy Fridays guys!

Saturday: Banana Oatmeal Protein Pancakes

Every Saturday, my traditional bowl of oatmeal takes the form of these delicious pancakes. I finally found the perfect recipe from Mind Body Green, you gotta check it out! The recipe is easily adaptable and will keep you full all morning long!!

There you have it! All in all, oatmeal fuels me, makes me very happy, and now I want to show everyone that it can make you happy too. J

Feel free to check out my new health blog, A Dancer’s Live-It, and for your daily oatmeal fix, check out my Instagram! A million thanks to Lauren for this amazing opportunity, she is such an inspiration!!

Be well,
Marina J

[Editor's Note: If you're interested in becoming my next Oatmeal Enthusiast, be sure to show your enthusiasm by tagging your oatmeal pictures with #oatmealartist on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook! Thank you for all your love and support!]
**You can also find hundreds of other oatmeal recipes (as well as tons of other meatless recipes) on my Pinterest account!  You can also like The Oatmeal Artist on Facebook. Thanks!


  1. Is there an actual oatmeal enthusiast challenge open for completion???

    1. Just take pictures of your oatmeal and post it on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #oatmealartist. I look through them frequently and find people that eat oatmeal often!


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