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The Wren

Filtering by Category: Breakfast

Steel Cut Irish Oats Recipe

Renee Woodruff

I tend to switch back and forth between four different things for breakfast -- oatmeal, quinoa, greek yogurt or eggs. These choices are mainly for their health benefits, but also because there are so many variations one can make with each of these food items as a base. Today, my focus is on steel cut oats (I like John McCann's brand) with several additional ingredients to create an antioxidant, protein filled hearty breakfast that will keep you fueled throughout a busy morning.


  • 1/2 a cup of cooked steel cut oats


  • 1 Tbsp Walnuts 
  • 1 Tbsp Goji Berries
  • 1 Tsp Chia Seeds
  • 1 Tsp Shredded Coconut
  • 1 Tsp Dried Blueberries 
  • 1 Tsp Yellow Raisins
  • Several Shakes of Cinnamon
  • A drizzle of raw local honey

Yield: 2 Servings

As with any of my recipes, I only include the measurements for guidance. Add as much or as little of each ingredient as you like, and/or substitute your favorite or leave something out altogether if you don't like it. Experimentation is the key to a happy kitchen.

PS - if you aren't serving two, put the second serving in a glass storage container and refrigerate for another healthy breakfast tomorrow.


5 Tips to a Better Night of Sleep

Renee Woodruff

You've probably read hundreds of articles dedicated to the subject of sleep. Since we spend a huge chunk of our lives in a horizontal position, it rightfully deserves a lot of conversation. For reasons that have affected my family growing up, I'm addicted to feeling well rested -- so much so, that I've dedicated an entire section on my website to products that I've found help me "sleep like a baby."

Here are the top 5 recommendations that I would make to someone that is looking for a good night of sleep:

1. Exercise. Mental exhaustion is not the same as physical exhaustion. Do something active every single day even if it is just 25 squats and 25 push ups in the morning before going to work. Get a FitBit and make it a goal to hit 10,000 steps. Do yoga. Take a class at your gym. Go running with a buddy outside. Just do something to help wear your body down so that it is ready for sleep.

2. Don't Eat Too Late. Every time I have a late dinner and then try to fall asleep I'm just setting myself up for disaster. Try to eat dinner on the earlier side so that your body isn't working harder than it needs to when it comes time to get rest. In addition, it's good to give your digestive system a break. If you eat before 8pm and don't eat breakfast until 8am, you're giving your belly the much needed rest it deserves.

3. Shut Down ALL Screens. Don't expect to be able to fall asleep immediately after sending a text or getting those last minute emails done or, for that matter, while watching TV in bed (the worst!). Go old school and read a book in bed for at least fifteen minutes prior to sleep, preferably fiction to give your brain a chance to stop thinking about everything that happened that day or all of the things you need to accomplish tomorrow.

4. Pamper Yourself. Take a salt bath or a long shower. Deep condition your hair. Exfoliate. Shave. Oil yourself with coconut or sesame oil afterwards. And use lavender oil just before getting into bed to calm your nervous system. 

5. Meditate. If all else fails and you find you are having two or three inconsistent nights of sleep, consider adding a regular meditation practice into your routine. My next post will provide some tips on this as it deserves more discussion than just a paragraph. I've found this to be extremely beneficial in getting some serious shut-eye.


Superfood Sunshine Smoothie

Renee Woodruff

As you have probably discovered by now, I have a real obsession with my Vitamix, and I love creating new tasty smoothie concoctions.

The following recipe by, Love and Lemons, has quickly become a home-run smoothie in our house and has Dave's Stamp of Approval on it.  Every time I make this one, he always asks what it is because it seems to always turn out a little different every time. 

I'll link to her recipe below but here's my slightly altered version:

  • 2 bananas (frozen)
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup original Almond Breeze Almond Milk
  • Juice of 1 medium orange (squeeze fresh and keep frozen in ice cube trays, 4-5 cubes)
  • 2 tablespoons goji berries
  • 3/4 teaspoon grated ginger (I like it spicy!)
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds 

Yield: 2 Servings

Note: Sometimes mine looks more pink than orange depending on the OJ to goji berry ratio.

Smoothie Formula

Renee Woodruff

This is an excellent reference for any new or seasoned smoothie makers out there. I print things like this and hang them on the inside of my kitchen cabinets for easy access and inspiration. I stumbled upon this formula on Pinterest, which serves as a great discovery tool if you're looking for ways to mix up the ingredients you put in your smoothies.

3 Ways to Use Coconut Oil

Renee Woodruff

If you don't have a container of coconut oil in your bathroom or kitchen (or both!), use this blog as your inspiration to buy some. You've probably read one of the many articles that have been published about the benefits, but as a quick reminder here are a few:

  • Helps maintain a healthy heart
  • Fights infections (including conditions like candida)
  • Boosts immune system 
  • Improves digestion
  • Supports healthy skin and hair

Below are a few of the ways to consider using Coconut Oil:

1. Apply to your skin and hair.

Coconut oil is a great moisturizer for your skin. It's a more natural and affordable solution than many of the beauty products on the market today. I cover myself from head to toe in this delicious smelling oil. Note: I do not use on my face due to my current skin care regimen (wedding prep!) but I know plenty of people who do. 

2. Cook with it.

Coconut oil makes for a great cooking oil because it can withstand high heat. I use it for frying eggs, sautéing, or roasting. I now prefer the taste over olive oil (although we still have plenty of that in our house too). 

3. Eat it by the spoonful. Frequently. 

I also consume it raw by mixing it in my oatmeal and by adding it to my smoothies

Note: When purchasing coconut oil, make sure you buy organic, cold-pressed, unrefined coconut oil. There is great option in the Stay Beautiful Shop.