Oatmeal starring Coach's Oats

Coach Knows Oats

You all know I’m an oatmeal fanatic, right? I construct my bowls of oatmeal with great ritual. I have a deep disdain for instant oatmeal, but love some slow-cooked whipped banana oatmeal (and by slow-cooked, I mean, it takes 6 minutes instead of 6 seconds).

I prefer good ol’ fashioned Quaker Oats. I’ve tried bargain brand oats. I’ve tried bulk bin oats. But I always end up back at Quaker.

When I read about Coach’s Oats over on Kath Eats, I was intrigued. These aren’t your typical rolled oats. They’re also not your typical steel cut oats (which are super delicious but tend to take too long for me to bother preparing them). Coach’s Oats are steel cut oats that have been cracked and toasted, which decreases the cooking time from 25 minutes to 5. That sounds right in my ballpark.

Coach's Oats

Coach's Oats

I rolled the dice and bought a box of 3 packages of Coach’s Oats from Kath’s Open Sky store. I decided to make pumpkin oatmeal with them (because, what else would I make, after a week of pumpkin-everything?!)

I resisted the urge to use my own tried and true oatmeal making rituals, and prepared the oats per the package instructions. I brought 2 cups of water to a boil. (OK, I lied – one modification: I should have boiled 3 cups of water, but I wanted to replace 1 cup of water with 1 cup of vanilla soymilk, so I just boiled the 2 cups of water). I added 1 cup of soymilk and 1 cup of oats, along with 2 sliced bananas, and cooked per the instructions.

Once done, I added my usual ground flaxseeds, and…

Organic Pumpkin

Organic Pumpkin

Pumpkin! (about half of a can). I stirred in a little cinnamon and a whole lot of pumpkin pie spice, and of course added my usual sliced strawberries and Justin’s Chocolate Almond Butter (a la Fancy Oatmeal).

Voila!

Oatmeal starring Coach's Oats

Oatmeal starring Coach's Oats

My friends, Coach knows his oats. This oatmeal had a great flavor and none of the mushy lack-of-texture that tends to happen with oatmeal. This is some great, great oatmeal! I have yet to find it in any of my local food stores (not even Whole Foods) – and it might be good enough to become the first item I actually request that a grocery store carry. We’ll see. For now, I have enough oatmeal to probably last me through the winter! You can get it online, though, straight from Coach’s Oats – and if you’re feeling noncommittal, a sample pack is only $1.75. (Two 48-oz bags are $9.50 at the time of this writing).

You see, while it’s good to have rituals, it’s also good to break out and try new things every once in a while. My oatmeal ritual got an unexpected upgrade!

4 corners oatmeal

Four Corners Oatmeal

How do you jazz up a gloomy, blustery day – one that comes on the tail of the first 70 degree day of the year?

With a fantastic bowl of oatmeal!

4 corners oatmeal

4 corners oatmeal

Four corners oatmeal, even!

Kiwi, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries, topped with Justin’s maple almond butter on a bed of whipped banana oatmeal. (I make my oatmeal based on Kath’s oatmeal). I swear there’s actually some oatmeal under there!

It’s supposed to warm back up into the 50’s tomorrow here in Chicago. What’s your go-to breakfast on a cold, blustery day?

Have a great one, everybody!

Fancy Oatmeal

It’s gonna be a hot one here in Chicago today. My boy Tom Skilling expects the heat index to reach 105 in my hometown south ‘burbs today, prompting heat advisories.

Then, why on earth would I slave over a stove to make hot oatmeal for breakfast?

It’s true; I haven’t had oatmeal since the chill of spring wore off. I’m not a fan of hot foods on hot days. But, it’s a chilly 68 degrees in my humble abode (the ComEd electric meter is zipping around, doing fly-by’s as my bill ticks upward), and I had an inkling that I was on to something with my morning inspiration.

As I pondered the oatmeal mix-in possibilities, my thoughts roamed to the pint of plump, red, juicy organic strawberries in my fridge. Then, it hit me: eat like the fancy people.

You’ve seen it – maybe even done it. You’ve seen people eating strawberries the fancy way, dipped in chocolate. What if I sliced up strawberries on top of my oatmeal, and served it with a blob of chocolate almond butter (Justin’s, of course)?

Fancy oatmeal was born, and I’m sure you might be imagining right now – it was the best bowl of oatmeal of my life.

fancy oatmeal

Ode to Oatmeal

I have grown incredibly fond of oatmeal since learning (via KERF) to make it from scratch on the stove. I can’t stand the instant stuff, but from scratch? It’s the bee’s knees.

Here’s a mix from last week, whereby I tore up one of the delicious sugar-n-spice muffins that I made from a GNOWFGLINS recipe and used it as the base and topping of the oatmeal:

Oatmeal with a muffin

And here’s this morning’s creation. I got a little wild and chopped up about 1/4 of an apple and threw it in there with the banana. Instead of brown sugar to sweeten it, I topped the oatmeal with a drizzle of real maple syrup. It was to die for!

Apple Banana Cinnamon Maple Oatmeal

And check out my new bowls! Aren’t they cool?!

The apple was a nice touch – gave me something to chew on. Good addition to the texture. And the maple syrup… well, I nearly licked the bowl clean. SO good!

This mix was:

1/3 cup oats
1/3 cup milk (I’m on a kick with Farmers’ Creamery VAT-pasteurized non-homogenized milk – so creamy!)
1/3 cup filtered water
pinch of salt
1 banana, sliced
1/4 apple, diced
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp Bob’s Red Mill ground flax seed meal
drizzle of pure maple syrup

I heart oatmeal :)

Oatmeal and a Good Cause

Get some new oatmeal mix-in recipes and help Quaker fight childhood hunger. For every “perfect day” you create on Quaker’s web site and share, Quaker will donate $1 to Share Our Strength, a national organization fighting childhood hunger. Go Create Your Day now!

My perfect day included peanut butter and blackberries in my oatmeal… nom nom nom!

Real Food Challenge, Week 1

So, how many of you signed up for the Nourished Kitchen Real Food Challenge? Here are my experiences with the first week of the challenge.

The challenge for Day #1 was to clean out my cupboards, getting rid of all processed foods. I spent all of December 2009 and part of January 2010 doing just that (mostly because I couldn’t afford to throw away an entire kitchen of food all at once! All I used to eat was processed foods! Just call me, freezer-to-microwave-girl).

An interesting shift that occurred was in my refrigerator/freezer. Once upon a time, my freezer overfloweth with Lean Cuisines and frozen pizzas. My fridge looked like a bachelor’s fridge – a few cases of Diet Dr. Pepper, a gallon of milk, and occasionally, a tub of yogurt or a loaf of bread. The fridge was bare. Now, my refrigerator is teeming with food – mostly produce – and my freezer is pretty empty, except for some frozen vegetable purees and a variety of leftovers to tide me through the work week. (I cook for one, so I’ve always got leftovers!)

In going organic, I gave up my 8-10 can-a-day diet soda habit. It wasn’t a conscious decision, really – it just sort of happened. I’d look at the can sitting there on the counter, and think, “wow, a can of carbonated chemical water….” Who wants that?! It doesn’t even taste good. It took me an entire 9 months way back when to train my taste buds to drink diet pop instead of regular – I switched because at the quantities I was drinking, I was getting a full day’s worth of calories in soda with no nutritional value whatsoever (and a ton of sugar). Diet has zero calories – that’s gotta be good, right? Not so much. Early calculations indicate that I’ve offset the increased cost of organic groceries simply by cutting out the Diet Dr. Pepper.

One shift I’ve made that coincides with this week’s Real Food Challenge is to regular cheeses and yogurt. I used to buy fat free cheese and fat free or low fat yogurts, but the more I’m learning about how our bodies use foods and how various nutrients work in combination with each other, the chemicals and sweeteners used to replace the fats to make the products palatable to our taste buds are worse for us than the right combos of these animal fats in moderation. Enough with the chemicals, already!

Another new item to my kitchen world is old fashioned rolled oats. I discovered their splendor via KERF’s Tribute to Oatmeal, and I see oats popping up more and more in recipes that I’d like to try. Day #2 of the Real Food Challenge suggested trying Soaked Oatmeal or Baked Oats; both are on my list of things to do soon. This, coming from a girl who had tried every variety of instant oatmeal known to man, and turned her nose up at every one. Oatmeal is wonderfully delicious when you make it yourself from real food ingredients!

My first attempt at Day #3’s recommendation to soak whole grains to improve the nutrient profile and digestibility of them will be in the form of Buttermilk Oat Flour Biscuits. Stay tuned for the write-up! Soaking flour is so… simple – it just takes a little bit of planning!

For Day #4, I ordered a sourdough starter kit from Cultures for Health. I love fresh baked bread, and don’t use my bread machine nearly enough. I’d love to kick the habit of store-bought bread (even if it is organic!) and make my own regularly. Years ago, I used to make my own yogurt and absolutely loved both the process and the end result. That’s something I might have to try again. It sounds like keeping a sourdough starter alive is a lot like making your own yogurt… or caring for the friendship bread starters that come around every few Christmases.

Day #5 includes sprouting some grain. I need to actually get some grains if I want to sprout them, so I’ve tucked this item into my list of Things to Do.

I’m glad I’ve started this Real Food Challenge. I may not be able to convert completely to a traditional kitchen in a month’s time, but I am confident that I will be able to implement a significant number of healthy changes, learning a lot as I go. I will have a lot of catching up to do during Week 4, as I will be traveling throughout the entire Week 3 – but we’ll see what happens!

Good luck in your challenge!

EpicOrganic.net

Superman Breakfast

No new recipes today – alas, it’s back to work and I’m in for a long day. Before I go, though, I wanted to share what to me felt like a Superman breakfast (you know, the super hero?)

Continuing my love affair with oatmeal, I made up a batch of classic oatmeal (the cinnamon vanilla banana kind). Then, I tried a new food (#7 for the year, for those that are counting): Oikos, or Greek yogurt. I love yogurt, and Oikos is basically a richer, thicker yogurt with a higher protein content. I went with Stonyfield organic plain Oikos, and the ingredient list was lovely. One ingredient: organic nonfat milk. Ahhh, freedom from chemicals!

I needed a little bit of “sweet” in my yogurt, so I added a tablespoon of organic strawberry conserve (a whole-fruit version of a jam). The verdict: delicious – and packed with protein (15g in an 80-calorie cup!). Good eats!

With that, I was stuffed – and several hours later, I’m still going strong (though I am starting to think about lunch).

Have a great day! Here’s to a Superman breakfast!

Superman Breakfast - Oatmeal & Oikos(Note: it’s not really Sam’s water… I re-use my bottles and refill from the Pur water filter on my faucet).

An Oatmeal Newbie

I’m an oatmeal newbie. I’m a newbie to a lot of things I’ll try on this blog for your amusement, but oatmeal is something I’ve always felt like I should like, but didn’t. I’ve tried many varieties of instant oatmeal in the past: plain, flavored, fruity, nutty… you name it.

Then I came across a blog called Kath Eats Real Food, and upon reading her Tribute to Oatmeal and viewing her how-to video on making what she calls “the world’s greatest breakfast,” I decided to give oatmeal another day in court.

The verdict: