Sunday, October 7, 2012

"Mounds" of Oatmeal

Lately, I have been craving oatmeal!  While part of this craving comes from the Fall weather that has finally settled in, it also happens to be one of the few things that sounds good and comes together quickly for an early breakfast. 

Early for me really does mean early.  Since I'm currently working both a full-time and part-time job, I’ve been getting up at 4:30 am to get in my workout before heading off to work. On the days I work both jobs, I don’t get home until after 9:30 and let’s be honest…a workout is certainly not going to happen then.

Since I am NOT a morning person, getting up this early is a huge feat for me.  Breakfast needs to be quick and painless, but also pretty filling since lunch seems to be happening later and later each day.

I find that oatmeal is a perfect combo of warmth (for cold mornings) and creaminess and is a perfect neutral pallet to spice up in any way that makes your little heart happy!  I have a multitude of flavors I want to share; I’ll do my best to spread them out and not overwhelm you with too many oatmeal recipes at once.

This recipe was originally designed for my husband.  He’s a fan of almost anything coconut and loves chocolate almost as much as I do.  It’s a creamy combo of coconut and dark chocolate that makes breakfast feel like dessert!

Side note:  typically rolled oats are cook at a ratio of 1 to 1 (oats to liquid).  However, I have found that an additional ½ cup of liquid increases the volume just enough to hold me over on super long days and creates a extra creamy texture.

Mounds (or Almond Joy) Oatmeal

½ cup rolled oats (make sure you use certified gluten-free oats if you need the gf factor)
¾ cup unsweetened coconut milk (I like the Trader Joe’s brand, but any of the brands that come in a carton will work.)
¾ water
2 tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut, divided
Sweetener to taste (I like mine with 1 packet of Splenda)
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon dark chocolate chips
OPTIONAL:  ½ tsp almond extract – to make an Almond Joy flavor

Combine oats, water, coconut milk, 1 tablespoon shredded coconut, sweetener and salt in a small saucepan.  Bring mixture to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10-12 minutes until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
 If using almond extract, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the extract.
Pour into a bow and top with the remaining 1 tablespoon shredded coconut and dark chocolate chips.

If you want to skip the stove-top all together, simple combine oats, water, coconut milk, 1 tablespoon shredded coconut, sweetener and salt in a microwave-safe bowl.  Make sure the bowl has plenty of room in it to accommodate the oatmeal mixture as it boils.
Microwave on high for 5-8 minutes, in 2-3 minute intervals, stirring in between.  If you are worried about bowl size, make sure you watch it carefully.  Spilled oatmeal in the microwave is not a fun mess to clean up, TRUST ME! J
If using almond extract, stir in once oatmeal is cooked to your liking.
Top with remaining 1 tablespoon shredded coconut and dark chocolate chips.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Healthy Gluten-Free Vegan Chai Spiced Banana Muffin/Bread

I didn't start out with the intention of creating a vegan treat.  It all just happened by coincidence.  But let me tell you...this coincidence is one deliciously yummy, dense, moist (yes, I went there) flavorful treat!

When I made Butternut Squash Chili last week (recipe coming soon), I want something carb-ish to go along side it.  However, I've never really been a fan of cornbread and I've recently wondered if I may have some issues with corn.  I remembered reading a blog post once upon a time that paired chili with banana muffins.  Realizing that I had massive quantities of ugly, brown bananas on my counter (and who wants a cold smoothie right now), muffins to go with the chili sounded like a match made in heaven.

I personally have a great love for fall spices.  I think they add a wonderful warmth and depth to many recipes.  If you aren't a fan of ginger and cloves, you can certainly leave them out and increase the amount of cinnamon.  If, like me, you love them, please try this recipe with them included. Even if you aren't sure, I'm betting you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Stash the extras in your frig and zap them in the microwave for a delicious and fast breakfast.  A smear of all-natural peanut butter or almond butter is an incredible accompaniment to them!

Healthy Vegan Chai Spiced Banana Muffin/Bread
1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
3/4 cup sorghum flour
3/4 tapioca starch
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp xanthum gum
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup agave or maple syrup OR 3/4 cup coconut sugar, palm sugar or brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup non-dairy "buttermilk" - 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut or almond milk plus 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
3 over-ripe bananas, mashed (mine equated to just about 1 1/3 cups.)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Pre-heat your oven to 330 degrees (after reading a couple other blogs on quick breads and muffins that recommended this oven temp, I tried it out and loved the results.  You can of course cook them at 325; however, you'll need to increase the time.)

In a glass measuring cup, combine the unsweetened non-dairy milk and vinegar.  Let this sit for at least 5 minutes to "curdle".

In a mixing bowl, combine all of your dry ingredients.  If you are using coconut, palm or brown sugar, add this in with the dry ingredients.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine all your wet ingredients.  Add in the "buttermilk" and then gently fold in the dry ingredients.  Be careful not to over mix the batter.  You want to mix just enough so that everything is incorporated.

Pour into either your prepared muffin tins or loaf pan.  Make sure that they are either lined or greased well.
Bake muffins for about 20 minutes and bread for at least 60-75 minutes.

I have made both of these multiple times and each time, the cooking time had varied.  I think it has something to do with the differentiating humidity out here.  Just watch your muffins/break carefully.  You want them to spring back when touched and a toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean.

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