Archive for ‘Breakfast’

January 24, 2014

Perfect Steel Cut Oats

IMG_4631Steel cut oats and I have a love/hate relationship.  I absolutely love them whenever anybody cooks them but me.  For some reason, whenever I cook them they are gluey and pretty much subpar.  I have tried probably 5 recipes over the last 5 years and thought I would just give up and stick with my beloved oat bran.  Which, as a side note, I think everybody should try–it is faster to cook, has the same amount of protein, and has more fiber than steel cut oats.  But I digress…I have discovered that steel cut oats have a nutty flavor and a wonderful texture if cooked correctly.  Since all of my previous attempts involved a crock pot, I wanted to try something else.  I knew I wanted an overnight option because I would never find the time to cook them in the morning since they take roughly 30 minutes to cook.  Then I found this recipe at and my heart is all aflutter.  I am in love with this recipe!  You actually toast the steel cut oats in coconut oil before adding water!

I did, however, add a few ingredients that I think really add to this recipe.  I have a dear friend who grew up in Guyana and ate ‘porridge’ almost every day.  She was kind enough to let me try her recipe, and it was delicious.  She adds dried fruit.  That day she had dried apricots and raisins in her porridge.  It was wonderful!  I added those to this recipe as well, but you can add any dried fruit that sounds good to you.  Also, I toasted some nuts in just a little bit of maple syrup before serving.  This recipe makes a big batch, but it stays good for a week and is a great option for packing your breakfast for work.

2 cups steel cut oats
2 T coconut oil
5 cups water
1 t cinnamon
1-1.5 cups dried fruit (I added raisins and chopped dried apricots; other options are Craisins, dried apples, dried mango, currants, prunes, etc.)
1-2 cups milk

Nuts, maple syrup, and fresh fruit (optional)

Melt the coconut oil in a large pot or skillet that has a tight-fitting lid.  Once it has melted, add the steel cut oats and stir them around until they are toasted.  This will take a few minutes and they will look and smell, you guessed it, toasted.  As you are stirring, make sure to get the 5 cups of water ready to add.   That way you can quickly add the water when the oats are toasted to avoid having burning them.  Once you add the water, bring it all to a boil.  Then add the cinnamon and dried fruit.  Stir it all around.  Place the lid on the skillet or pot and leave until morning.  Turn off the heat. Your house will smell heavenly.

When you wake up in the morning, add 1-2 cups of milk as you warm the oats until they are the consistency you like.  Don’t be alarmed if the oats are stuck together as you pour in the milk.  Just break them up with a wooden spoon.  As you are warming the oats, you can toast some nuts (I prefer pecans or walnuts) in a skillet with a drizzle of maple syrup to coat them.  You can dump some directly on your perfect steel cut oats, and cool the rest on parchment paper.  Once they have cooled, put them in an airtight container and you will have them to serve on your oats for future breakfasts that week.  If you like, you can also add a little more milk, fresh berries of fruit, brown sugar, or more maple syrup.

December 5, 2013

Apricot Pecan Oat Bran

I came up with this recipe completely by accident.  I bought some unsweetened canned apricots for my baby that he did not care for.  Somehow, the opened can in the fridge inspired this breakfast recipe that I have now made 3 times.  It is good hot, cold, and even a few days old. My husband likes it when I send this for his breakfast at work.  I really feel that apricots and pecans were meant to be together; I’m just happy to be a part of uniting them into this romance of deliciousness.  (To learn more about the health benefits of Oat Bran, check out my post here.)

To Cook the Oat Bran:

1 can unsweetened apricot halves
¾ – 1 cup oat bran (depending if you like it soupy or firm)

Blend one can of apricots in your blender until smooth, pour in a microwave safe dish. Mix in the oat bran. Cook for 2 to 2 ½ minutes. Let it sit until it the pecans are ready to be mixed in.

To Make the Candied Pecans:photo

1 T butter
¾ cup chopped pecans
2 T brown sugar
1 T maple syrup

While the oat bran is cooking, get out a small non-stick skillet and heat to medium-high.  Warm the butter and the pecans until the nuts are coated.  Sprinkle on the brown sugar and maple syrup.  Mix until the liquid dissipates a bit.  You do not have to stir them all the time, but you do need to watch, because they can go from yummy to burned in just seconds. When they start to look coated and candied, pour them directly onto the cooked apricot oat bran.  Stir and enjoy.  If you will not be finishing this in one meal, you may want to store the pecans separately.  To do this, spread pecans on tin foil and cool. Then, store them in a container and you can sprinkle them on the oat bran before eating.  Separate storage will help keep them crunchy.


March 16, 2013

Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick’s Day

When my daughter was three, she attended this awesome preschool co-op in Seattle.  For Saint Patrick’s Day (on my day to help), we made Irish Soda Bread.  I had never tried soda bread before.  After trying it warm from the oven I thought I have got to make this again for Saint Patrick’s Day.  Two years later and I’m finally doing it.  What makes this recipe so special is the mix of two ingredients I had no idea I liked – caraway seeds and currants.  I’ll be making this again year after year as well as the St. Patrick’s Day Fruit Rainbow.Soda Bread

3 cups sifted unbleached flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons butter ( ½ stick), softened at room temperature

¾ cup currants

1 tablespoon caraway seeds

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Thoroughly mix together sifted flour, soda, baking powder, and salt.  Cut in soft butter, working it in with your fingers until it is evenly distributed and the texture is a bit like corn meal. Stir in currants and caraway seeds. Beat egg, buttermilk, and honey together in a small bowl. Add milk mixture to dry ingredients, stirring briefly only to moisten evenly.  Do not overmix.

Turn onto lightly floured board and briefly kneed just to form smooth dough.  (You may have to press a bit to get it to feel ‘smooth’ and distribute the moisture.) Shape into a high, round ball. Place on buttered baking sheet. Slash vertically and horizontally about 4 inches long and ½ inch deep. (Don’t go too deep.)

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45-55 minutes.  Cool for about 20 minutes before slicing.

The Greyston Bakery Cookbook

September 28, 2011

Oat Bran & Yogurt – So Happy Together

We have all heard of oatmeal and steel cut oats, but how many of you have tried oat bran?  It is actually my favorite hot cereal.  Oat bran is the outermost layer of the whole oat kernel.  It is a whole food containing protein, healthy fat, minerals, vitamins, and soluble fiber.  Fiber promotes weight loss by helping you feel full longer, stabilizing blood sugar, and facilitating healthy digestion.  A neat fact about oat bran is that in 1997 it was the first food the FDA registered as a cholesterol-reducing food.  This is due to its ability to bind to blood cholesterol and flush it from the body.  Oat bran can be eaten raw (e.g. in place of breadcrumbs, in granola, etc.), or cooked.

My favorite way to eat oat bran is for breakfast.  It is super easy to make in the microwave.  I actually do not follow the directions of how much water to oat bran because I think it makes it too soupy.  I’ve gotten to the point that I just eyeball the water and oat bran I put in.  But I would follow the directions for the first time, and maybe add more oat bran if you like it thicker.  I put the water and oat bran in a Pyrex dish, cover but do not seal, cook for 3 minutes, and let it sit for 2 minutes.  Sometimes I do this first thing in the morning.  It is sitting in the microwave at just the right temperature when I get it out.  My favorite way to eat it is with yogurt, especially lemon yogurt.  I just love it!  Also, I add any fresh fruit I have on hand.  Another great thing to add would be some nuts, but I think that would be pushing my luck with my kids.  I say we average this breakfast about two to three days a week, and I feel like it gets the girls that much better prepared for a morning of school and preschool.

(A quick word about yogurt:  So much of it is junk that contains WAY too much sugar.  A good goal is to make sure that it has less than 19 grams of sugar, which is still pretty high, but most brands contain 25+ grams of sugar.  One teaspoon of sugar is equal to four grams of sugar, so really watch out on so called ‘healthy’ yogurt; always check how much sugar it has because some brands might as well be ice cream.  I split one container between the girls.  Some experts suggest buying plain yogurt and mixing it with fruit.  I keep trying to like this, but I just can’t.  It really does lack that spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down.  You may also want to try looking at Greek yogurt.  The sugar is typically lower and the protein is higher.  I usually go to the health food section of the store and purchase whichever brand is on sale.  It can be kind of expensive, which is another reason why we split the yogurt between us.)   

August 27, 2011

Super Healthy, Feel Like a Good Mom CUPCAKES or PANCAKES!

Ready to feel good about what your kids are eating AND be the best Mom around? Check out this recipe. You can make it as pancakes or cupcakes, but I think I prefer the cupcakes.

* Set the oven to 350 degrees

Blend the following ratio (I do the ratio below times 6, but I have a big blender)

* 2 eggs (you can do 2 egg whites for every egg if you prefer)
* 1/2 cup cottage cheese
* 1/2 cup oatmeal (dry)
* Cinnamon to taste (I like to add a lot)

Pour into muffin cupcake liners in a muffin pan; fill it a little more than half-way, it will not rise very much. Cook 15-20+ minutes; it is hard to cook them too long. You want to make sure they are really cooked in the center. Sometimes I let my batter sit a little and then cook them.

The magic touch, the “spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down,” is to frost it. I use Nutella, however any frosting will do. Your children might like these plain, so try that first. But if it requires the frosting, who cares? Your children are eating cottage cheese, eggs, and oatmeal and they like it! They will also think you are pretty awesome for giving them cupcakes as a snack. (But between you and me, there is so much nutrition in this cupcake that it will not send their blood sugar skyrocketing like a normal cupcake would.) You can freeze these without frosting and frost them when they thaw. I like to bring a few out at a time and really spice up breakfast or snack time.

August 23, 2011

Green Drinks

I have been making green drinks almost daily since 2008.  I really believe in them, and think they are probably the easiest and tastiest way to put essential greens into your diet.  There are about one million ways to make a green drink, but I keep coming back to this simple recipe.

* 1-2 cups of water

* Spinach lightly packed to the top of the blender (you can also add a mix of spinach and another green like chard, kale, beet greens, etc.)

* 0-2 packets Truvia (a natural sweetener, I don’t believe in artificial sweeteners, but if this freaks you out, add a “spoonful of sugar” or honey, or just more Orange Juice). I make these a bit sweet so my kids will drink them.

* 1/6 of a can of Orange Juice Concentrate (I like the kind with Calcium)

* Blend until it looks creamy green.

* Add 1-3 cups of frozen fruit. The more you add the thicker and colder it will be, kind of like a shake. (I would add a lot if you are just starting to introduce this to your kids. You want them to really like the taste. Later, you can add less fruit and more greens as the family gets use to the taste. We like blueberries, strawberries, peaches, pineapple, grapes, etc.).

Blend and enjoy!  You can also sneak in a few things that you find hard to add to your diet that can easily be covered up by the green drink’s flavor.  For example, I often put in ground flaxseed. You will find that green drinks can be quite tasty and a real pick me up.  Be sure to wash your blender out quickly as well as the cup & straw.  It is a real pain to wash out later.

Green Drinks are the best way I know to “help the medicine go down.”