Dreamy Creamy Oatmeal

Serves 4

Sometimes there’s nothing better than a warm bowl of oatmeal in the morning.  There are a million different way to dress up oatmeal, but this is an easy and delicious way.  It’s also one of my favorite.

Steel cut oats are superior in that they are more “whole” or less processed than quicker cooking rolled oats.  Oats are incredible blood sugar stabilizers.  They are a good source of complex carbs and soluble fiber and do well to lower cholesterol, regulate the thyroid and soothe the digestive system.  My sister, who is studying to become an herbalist, would be proud of this next tidbit of oat info :  oats are the one adaptogen grain, which means they improve resistance to stress and support a healthy state of balance.  (See Rebecca Wood’s, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia for more info.)

Oh, and regular organic milk works beautifully in this recipe, too.

You’ll need:

1 C steel cut oats, soaked overnight in 2 cups water and 1 T lemon juice

1 C coconut milk

¼ C dried fruit, raisins or cranberries or cherries or blueberries, etc

1 T ground flaxseeds or chia seeds

1-2 T maple syrup

¼ t ground cinnamon

1/4 t ground cardamom

1/8 t fresh nutmeg

1 t vanilla extract (optional)

¼ C chopped nuts, walnuts or pecans or almonds or pistachios

a handful of pepitas

To make:

1.  Place oats with soaking water, coconut milk, dried fruit and spices in a small sauce pan, bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer partially covered until oats are tender and oatmeal looks creamy, about 20-30min.

2.  When oatmeal is creamy, stir in flaxseeds or chia seeds and vanilla if using.

3. Dress each serving individually, placing ½ cup of oatmeal in a bowl and top with nuts, a dash of cinnamon and 1t maple syrup.

4. Enjoy!

Note:  For variations, use fresh fruit such as bananas or berries instead of dried fruit.  Add 1T almond or cashew butter.  There are no limits to how you can play with oatmeal!

Energy Bars (from March 6, 2012)

I’ve received so many requests for these energy bars that I figured it was high time I post the recipe!  This recipe is adapted from Rebecca Katz’s in “The Cancer Fighting Kitchen”.  I started making them for a client because they really are the perfect snack for waiting around and during chemo treatments.  But, it turns out that they’re a perfect snack for everyone!  My husband, a marathoner, swears by them and has me make a batch before every race.  I snacked on these throughout my pregnancy (awesome to stave off that 1st trimester nausea) and they even made it into the delivery room with me.  These are also great for kids…they love them!
These pack a nutritional punch.  Dates are natural energy boosters with loads of potassium and dietary fiber.  Dried apricots are rich in beta-carotene, an anti-oxidant vital for the healthy growth of bones, skin, hair, teeth and eyes.  They are also high in calcium and magnesium. Almonds and walnuts (nuts in general, really) are a great source of protein and are high in essential fatty acids and vitamin E.
Now, let’s get to that recipe!
You’ll need:

1 cup raw walnuts
1 cup whole almonds
2T Oat flour
2T Quinoa flour
2T finely ground flax seeds
¼ t sea salt
1/8t baking powder
1/8t baking soda
½ C rolled oats*
½ C pitted Medjool dates, quartered
½ C dried cherries
1C unsulfured dried apricots, quartered
¼ C semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 large organic egg
¼ C maple syrup
1t vanilla extract
To make:

(Prep bakeware:  In an 8” or 9” square pan, place two sheets of parchment paper perpendicular to each other and long enough to make “handles”.)
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees and spread nuts on a baking sheet with lined with parchment paper.  Toast in oven for 7-10 minutes until they smell nutty and are slightly browned.  Take good care in this step since nuts are notorious for burning easily!
2. Combine the flours, flax seeds, salt, baking powder, baking soda and oats and process in a food processor for 5 seconds. Add the nuts and process for another 5-10 seconds until they are coarsely chopped.  Add the oats and dried fruit and process until all is well mixed together.  Transfer mixture to a bowl.
3.In another bowl, beat egg and whisk in maple syrup and vanilla extract.  Add to nut mixture and combine well, breaking up any really solid parts.  Using your hands is the best way to do this!  Then add chocolate chips.
4. Spread and press mixture evenly in baking pan.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Try not to over bake or the bars will come out dry.  Let cool completely and cut into desired shape.  (I usually cut them into chunky, chewy squaresJ)
5. Enjoy!
*If you use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oats, this recipe is completely Gluten-Free.  If gluten is not an issue then any rolled oats are OK and you can even substitute the flours for ¼ C spelt flour.