Sunday, April 15, 2012

A TON of Oatmeal Recipes!

I have always hated cooked oatmeal so I find it kind of ironic that I'm writing about oatmeal today.  Or that oatmeal has become such a HUGE part of my diet at all!  I had no idea it was possible to eat raw oatmeal until a few months ago, when my sister introduced me to their raw oatmeal that they eat every morning.  It turns out that while I hate cooked oatmeal, oats in general I absolutely love!  It's a good thing too because they're rich in iron, which is something I seem to be really needing these days.

Oats are not only high in iron, they also provide a solid amount of protein and fiber.  They can be ground into flour or used whole.  You can find them in quick cooking versions (these have lower nutritional value as they are more processed), long cooking (these are what we eat/use.  I think they taste better) or steel-cut oats, which are harder to chew but pack a real nutritional punch!  Oats help lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugar and are incredibly healthy for the heart.  Seriously, what's not to love about oatmeal? 

Except...when cooked, I seriously hate the texture.  It's either slimy or so thick I'd need a glass of milk for every spoonful.  And they're sooo bland.  The only way I could eat oatmeal was in the instant flavored packets.  But once I started learning about eating healthy, I discovered how unhealthy those packets were.  In fact, the sugar and salt levels in them completely negated all health benefits of the oats!  (And the "diet" versions are actually much worse that the regular.)  I can't tell you how glad I am to discover that raw oats not only taste great but are even healthier than the cooked version.  (Any food cooked over 104 degrees loses nutritional value.)

Is it any surprise that I have a TON of recipes to share?  Some I'll give you links, some I'll type below for you.  Sorry I don't have many pictures.  (There are some things I just have to let slide these days and photos of food is one of them.)

Serving Size:  1/3 cup = 1 serving of oatmeal.  If you're focusing on weight control, be sure you keep a measuring cup with your oats.  I used to just dump from the container the amount that looked good to me until I discovered it was more like 2 servings worth.

Recipe 1: Melissa's Raw Breakfast Oatmeal

I name this for my sister who shared the recipe with me.  I can't remember if she created it herself or found it somewhere.  What I'm sharing below is how I make it, which is a little different than she does.  Same great results though!

1/3 cup whole long-cooking oats
pinch of salt
couple shakes of cinnamon
approx 1 tsp pure maple syrup
handful of raisins or craisins
non-dairy milk (we use almond milk...also rice or soy are good options)

Mix ingredients and add as much milk as you desire.  Let sit for 5 min.  The longer they sit the softer the oats will be.  Remember this oatmeal will be cold!  It's a different experience and one I was hesitant to try, but once I did...absolutely loved it!!

Recipe 2: Tosca Reno's Oatmeal-on-the-Go

This recipe is from The Eat-Clean Diet Recharged by Tosca Reno.  She keeps the following ingredients in baggies and carries them with her.  If she's out and clean food isn't an option, she simply asks for a bowl, spoon and hot water, whips out her oatmeal, adds water and has a full meal.  My kids eat this several days a week.  2 of the 3 love it (pretty good stats for my family).

1/3 cup whole oats + a little of each of the following (no worries if you're missing one or two):
wheat germ
ground flax seed
sea salt
protein powder
bee pollen
raisins or craisins (although they do have sugar)
*peanut butter
*maple syrup or honey

The * foods are ones we add in addition to Tosca's recipe.  Add boiling water and wait 3-4 minutes before enjoying.

Recipe 3: "Crunchies" (aka Clean-Eating Granola)

·   2 cups of Oats
·   4 Tablespoons crushed raw walnuts (or other nut of choice)
·   2 Tablespoons all natural nut butter (any kind you like)
·   1 tsp pure vanilla
·   3 Tablespoons raw honey
·   3 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
·   1/2 c dark chocolate chips
·   a few Tablespoons flax seeds
·   1 tsp chia seeds
1.      Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
2.      Mix the oats, walnuts, flax seed and chia seeds in a mixing bowl.
3.      In a separate bowl add the nut butter, coconut oil, honey and vanilla. Heat in microwave in 20 second intervals until melted. Stir until nice and creamy.
4.      Slowly add the wet mixture to the oats and fold gently until all oats are covered and a bit moist. Fold in the chopped dark chocolate.
5.      Place a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Spread the oatmeal mixture on the parchment paper nice and flat. Bake for 12 minutes and then flip and move the oat mixture around, then cook for another 12 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheet for 30 minutes.
Makes approx 3 1/2 cups of granola.

Recipe 4: Tosca's Oatmeal Pancakes

This is our favorite pancake recipe, although I'll add one more at the bottom via link that is also fabulous.  The base recipe is Tosca's however I've changed a few things so if you find hers on-line, it looks similar but isn't exact.

• 2 1/2 cups dry rolled oats
• 4 whole eggs (or 6 egg whites)
• 1 cup milk of your choice
• 1 Tbsp ground flax seed
• 1 Tbsp Coconut oil
• 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• Coconut oil for cooking the pancakes
**Our favorite way to eat these is to leave out the cinnamon.  Add juice of 1 lemon + the grated rind of the lemon.  Add about a cup of blueberries.  YUM!!
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor (except blueberries if you're using those...add those at the end whole). Blend the mixture for 20 seconds. The resulting mixture should be smooth. Melt or pour 1 tbsp coconut oil into your frying pan. Heat over medium heat. Pour 1/4 cup of pancake mixture on the hot surface. Cook until the pancakes are dry and bubbly on the edges. Bubbles should appear on top, as well. Turn and brown the other side. (These take longer than normal pancakes to cook.)
  2. Always use pure maple syrup, never the cheap fake versions.  This is always your best option for both flavor and health.

Blueberry Pie Pancakes (and a whole lot of other choices):

Energy Bites (my kids call them chocolate balls):

Clean-Eating Muffin Cookies:

Alrighty...there are actually SO many oatmeal recipes I keep coming across that I'll have to do another blog with more of them.  Here's my most recent one and a current favorite.  It was so good when I made one batch (and ate straight from the bowl) that I had to make a 2nd batch while the ingredients were still out.  It uses oatmeal flour.  I just put raw oats into a mini food processor and a few seconds later have flour!  I do sift it before adding to the bowl.

No Bake Peanut-Butter Pretzel Bars  (leave pretzels out to make them GF)

You can probably tell from these recipes that I also love peanut butter! 

All of this reminds me that I have to bring a casserole for my MOPS group this next Wed.  Guess what I'm bringing...OATMEAL CASSEROLE!  (A recipe all the moms love, and one I'll have to share next time because I actually have to locate the recipe :-).

Enjoy and please share your feedback: which you tried and what you thought.

**Note on oats...they are gluten free naturally however Quaker Oats are processed in a plant where other wheat products are processed.  There is a high chance there will be cross-contamination.  Try Bob's Red Mill for truly GF oats.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

ReVisiting my WHY

April is officially upon us and with April come Allergies.  Everyone around me is so miserable.  Usually I'm right there with you all!  I've had allergies my entire life and this time of year I'm usually sick sick sick.  Realizing that, for the first time, I'm not suffering with the masses, I've started to reflect upon April 2011 and how I was feeling... and what has changed.

Miserable!  Last April I couldn't breathe.  I went to my family doctor who sent me to an Asthma specialist, who then sent me to an Allergy specialist.  I visited them all 2-3x.  Everyone had to do their own testing and blood work.  I was being tested for Lupus, among other diseases.  I was given a pneumonia shot that you can only receive 2x in your lifetime, so they could check my immunities.  I had Atopic Dermatitis and my skin was always itchy.  I felt miserable, I hated sitting hours in each of the offices only to leave with no help or hope. I hated being poked and prodded. And the final conclusion... Out of all the specialists I visited, not one could figure out what was wrong with me.  The only thing of value I left with was this advice: "Try losing weight and eating healthier."

At this point I'd already been doing Weight Watchers for 2 months so I thought I was on the right track.  But I stumbled upon Clean Eating and Raw/Vegan eating and the combo of these has literally changed my life!  My skin cleared up.  I've been able to stop using the special expensive lotion and use a good but less expensive brand.  I could stop with the inhalers and asthma meds (which I was using even though they said I didn't have asthma).  I lost 40 lbs, started exercising/running and felt great about myself for the first time in a looong time.  I've not been back to the doctor in a year and it feels so fabulous! 

What has made this difference?  Cutting out all processed foods, fried foods, fast foods and drinks other than coffee, tea & water.  Cutting out sugar.  Decreasing my dairy intake.  Eating a lot of raw foods and whole foods.  Adding Grapefruit Seed Extract and Bee Pollen to my diet.  And drinking water...a lot of water!  (Check out Tosca Reno's book The Eat-Clean Diet Recharged)

I'm glad to be reviewing my life a year ago because it's easy to grow complacent, to forget my WHY, to slip back into old ways of eating and to think it doesn't matter anymore.  But it does matter.  I need to stay diligent so I can stay healthy.  After all, my WHY is optimal not get any of the diseases that I see my friends falling to around me.

So this is a "happy anniversary" of health to me.  I still need to lose those final pesky 10 lbs.  BUT I'm happy that I've stayed consistent weight-wise instead of the usual roller-coaster.  It's also exciting that I've not been sick with allergies at all this year.  I do take Zyrtec every morning and Benadryl every afternoon because of the atopic dermatitis (I'm afraid to stop!), and I know that helps with the allergies too.  (Last year those meds didn't even touch the allergy problems I was having.) Taking bee pollen most days has really helped with the allergies this year. 

In my last post a few weeks ago I included a recipe that I wasn't sure how to name.  After making 4 batches of it and going through it all in 1-2 days each, I've concluded that "Energy Bites" really are the best title.  Those little nutritious balls really pack a punch!  They keep you feeling full and give more energy than a cup of coffee.  And they taste great!  The other day my husband was asking my kids what they had for breakfast.  I heard my 5 year old say, "We had chocolate balls, Dad.  With some healthy stuff in them too."  With what other way of eating could I feed my kids "chocolate balls" for breakfast and not have to feel guilty?  In case you missed that post, here's the link to it and the recipe:  click here.

As this is the beginning of our Easter weekend, I wish you all a wonderful holiday and I encourage you to stay away from the jelly beans, the Peeps (blech...seriously the WORST food you could ever ever ever eat!!) and all the other chocolate covered eggs and bunnies out there.  Choose healthy eating...and choose a healthy life!