Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Canned pumpkin is amazing. I’m not trying to be basic white girl about it. I just love the nutritional content of pumpkin, and I love that I can stock up on it for cheap in the fall (and have pumpkin year round!). It’s so versatile! You can use it to replace oil in your baking (thereby dramatically reducing the calorie content!). You can make some bombass cookies with it (recipe will eventually be posted). It tastes good in cappuccinos (my husband makes us afternoon cappuccinos every day and he recently mastered the PSL <3). Then there’s pumpkin soups (like this heavenly one), pumpkin french toast, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin oatmeal.

Like this.

As I’m writing this post, my two-year-old is devouring her bowl of this. It’s good. Really freaking good.

You only need 1/2 cup of pumpkin in this recipe. I usually dump the contents of a can into a tupperware and store it in the fridge. Then I use what I need and store the rest. Just try to use it within the week. Waste not want not! 🙂

Also, the dates are what make this recipe. Don’t replace them with raisins. I mean, you can. It just won’t be as sweet or yummy.

Also–my last also, I swear!–some toasted pecans would taste AMAZING on top of this, and I would’ve added them if I weren’t currently out of pecans. 😥

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Serves 2 (double/triple recipe as needed, or refrigerate half for tomorrow’s breakfast if cooking for one)

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup of dried dates, chopped up
  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons of seeds (chia, hemp, flax, or a mix of all three)

Combine all ingredients in a pot except for the seeds. Bring to a boil, then stir and reduce heat until it’s simmering. Stir occasionally and cook down for a few minutes, until oats are cooked and most of the water is evaporated.

Ladle into bowls and sprinkle each with a tablespoon of seeds. Enjoy!

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French Fries

French fries are my downfall. They’ve always been a weakness for me. I just can’t seem to control myself when confronted with a plate of greasy, salty, crispy crunchy fries. Preferably dipped in copious amounts of mayo and ketchup.

The lame thing is, french fries can be healthy. They’re just potatoes, which–contrary to popular belief–are actually really good for you. (Potassium, fiber, vitamin C–all things your body needs, packaged up in a fat-free, sodium-free, cholesterol-free spud!) But fat-free, sodium-free, cholesterol-free isn’t how french fries are usually served. Think deep-fried, heavily salted deliciousness.

I tried for years to get the baked french fry thing down. I’d toss them in olive oil and sea salt and roast them. I’d have high expectation for those fries. But nearly every time they’d turn out soft and floppy. Tasty, but very un-french fry like. I eventually gave up on them and went back to deep frying them. That was not only super unhealthy, but it was also not successful either. Those french fries usually ended up soft, too.

Salvation came when, in an effort to reduce the oil in our diets, I tried baking them with no oil. No fat. Just spuds and seasoning, lined up on a cookie sheet. I had low expectations. “Roasting something with no oil? No way will this be good,” I figured.

But boy, was I wrong! No oil, it turns out, is the secret to crispy crunchy french fries! Not only have I figured out how to make crispy homemade french fries, I’ve also redeemed my downfall food. This is a side dish you can feel good about. No oil, no fat. Just wholesome potato goodness.

French Fries

Serves 1 (double and triple the recipe as needed, just add more spuds and more seasonings for each additional person)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large russet potato
  • salt, to taste
  • any seasonings you’d like, to taste (favorites of mine include ranch seasoning, chili powder+nutritional yeast, dried rosemary+garlic powder, dried oregano+dried basil+garlic powder+onion powder)

Preheat oven to 425. Spray a cookie sheet with just enough oil spray to keep the potatoes from sticking to the pan.

Thoroughly wash and dry the potato, but do not peel. Slice it into long, thick matchsticks. Toss with salt and seasonings. Arrange on prepared cookie sheet, making sure that they’re not piled on top of each other. Each french fry should be completely touching the bottom of the cookie sheet.

Place on the bottom rack in the oven and bake 15 minutes. By this point, the bottom of the fries should be golden brown and roasted. Flip them over with a spatula and bake 15 minutes more, until the other side is equally roasted. Flip them again and bake 5-10 minutes longer if you’d like them crispier/more browned.

Enjoy!

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Slow Cooker Refried Beans

This recipe is a goldmine. It’s insanely cheap and the possibilities it creates are endless. A few ways you can use up these beans:

  • enchiladas–mix them with some shredded cheese and roll it up in corn tortillas. arrange in a casserole dish and pour enchilada sauce all over.
  • bean&rice burritos–mix some up with some brown rice. put it in a big tortilla, along with some jalapenos and salsa. roll it up and toast it in a skillet.
  • tostadas–spread some on top of a fried (or baked…the point is to crisp it up) corn tortilla. add whatever other toppings you like: avocado, cheese, olives, taco sauce, salsa, etc.
  • beans&rice–no explanation needed for this one. just simple deliciousness.
  • refried bean tacos–use it as taco base (instead of ground meat) in hard or soft taco shells
  • taco pizza–use it instead of pizza sauce to make a taco pizza. pile on some cheddar cheese, olives, tomatoes, roasted corn, etc.
  • Mexican pizzas–get two crispy corn tortillas (either fried or baked), spread a layer of taco sauce and then the beans on both. Stack them up and put shredded cheese and diced tomatoes on the top layer. cook it under the broil for a few minutes, until cheese is bubbly.
  • side dish–to any Mexican food you like.

This also freezes very well. Most times, I’ll freeze half a batch once it’s done cooking and cooled off. Just spoon it into a freezer ziploc bag and lay it flat in the freezer. It’ll defrost super quick, making for easy weeknight dinners down the road.

Slow Cooker Refried Beans

Makes about 6-7 cups of cooked beans

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of dry pinto beans
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 5 cups of water

Place all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook on high for 5 to 6 hours or on low for 8 to 10 hours. You want them to get reallllllly soft.

Generously salt to taste once they’re done. Give them a good stir and then mash them up with a potato masher (or a fork, if you don’t have one of those). If it’s runnier than you’d like, let it sit on the counter with the lid off. It’ll thicken up if it’s left to sit at room temperature like that.

Have fun coming up with ways to use these up!

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Blueberry-Banana Oatmeal

This is my toddler’s favorite oatmeal. With pounds and pounds of blueberries stored away in our freezer, it gets made often.

If you use fresh blueberries instead of frozen, then gently stir them in once the oats are done cooking instead of adding them at the beginning.

Blueberry-Banana Oatmeal

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • 2 cups of frozen blueberries
  • 2 cups of water
  • dash of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons of seeds (either chia, flax, hemp, or a mix of all three)

Place all ingredients except the seeds into a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes or so, until most of the water is absorbed and it’s the consistency you like.

Pour the oatmeal into two bowls and sprinkle a tablespoon of seeds over each.

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Roasted Chickpeas

These crunchy chickpeas double as a snack and a garnish for salads and soups. Here they are in yesterday’s lunch:

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(Other all-stars in this gorgeous salad include: a plateful of spinach, 1/4 of a cucumber, 1/4 of an avocado, a couple tablespoons of diced red onion, and some drizzled green goddess dressing.)

You can season them anyway you want. For a curried soup, toss them with curry powder. For tomato soup, try them with basil and other Italian seasonings. My favorite is ranch seasoning. I’ve included the spices for that, but feel free to leave them out and season with whatever you desire.

Roasted Chickpeas

Makes ~2 cups of chickpeas

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried dill
  • salt to taste

Preheat oven to 450. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray.

Toss the chickpeas with oil and seasoning. Place them on the cookie sheet and arrange in a single layer.

Bake 30 minutes or so, until dried and browned. Shake the pan every ten minutes.

Done!

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Taco Pasta

Tacos+pasta=<3

But let me preface this by acknowledging that my noodles look a little…weird? I have a perfectly good explanation as to why my delicious pasta dish looks like this and it’s because…black bean noodles.

Yes. Noodles made from black bean flour. Black noodles=not amazing looking pasta. But it tastes amazing and the protein content of this pasta is totally worth it’s appearance. 🙂

Optional toppings for this include sour cream, guacamole, extra cheese, diced avocado or tomato, sliced green onion or jalapeno, spicy taco sauce.

Taco Pasta

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup of frozen corn kernels
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can of diced green chiles
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 12 oz of short pasta, like rotini, penne, or fusili (I used black bean pasta this time, but would normally use whole wheat)
  • 3 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of shredded cheese

Put the water in a large pot. Toss in onion and garlic and saute five minutes, until onion is translucent.

Add black beans, corn, tomatoes, green chiles, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, pasta, and the broth. Stir to combine and gently push the pasta under the liquid with your cooking utensil. Place a lid on the pot and bring it up to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, lower the heat to medium-low and let it cook for 10 minutes or so, until the pasta is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. Stir it occasionally while it’s cooking, particularly towards the end, to keep it from sticking to the pot.

Remove from heat and stir in the cheese.

Top with desired toppings and enjoy!

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Chocolate Covered Banana Oatmeal

The keys to a good oatmeal, for me, are:

  1. tastes good
  2. as low in refined sugar as possible
  3. substantial and hearty

I love PB&J Oatmeal, and it’s my go-to breakfast when I know I’m going for a long run. All that extra sugar from the jelly keeps me happily chugging when the miles start to feel long.

But. I don’t run every day. And I certainly don’t do long runs every day. So, I don’t always need that extra boost. Because of that, chocolate covered banana is my go-to oatmeal recipe. This is the one I make almost daily.

Chocolate Covered Banana Oatmeal

Serves 2 (refrigerate half for tomorrow if cooking for one, or double as needed if cooking for more than two)

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • a dash of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of seeds (either flax, chia, hemp, or a mix of all three)
  • 2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter, divided (the only ingredient listed on the back of the jar should be peanuts)
  • Another banana, sliced into thin rounds

Mash the banana in a pot and add the oats, water, cocoa powder, and salt. Stir to combine and then bring to a boil. Give it another stir and then lower the heat to medium. Let it bubble and cook down for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.

Once it’s to the consistency you like, turn off the stove and stir in the seeds. Divide the oatmeal into two bowls. Place a 1 tablespoon dollop of peanut butter into each bowl and then arrange half of the banana slices around the peanut butter in each bowl.

Serve and enjoy. ❤

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A few ??s you might have:

  • Aren’t bananas really sugary, though? Aren’t they too carb-y? Let me preface this by letting you know I get really aggravated when people talk crap about bananas, like they’re the spawn of Satan or something. No one ever became overweight or got diabetes from eating a banana-sweetened oatmeal for breakfast. There is nothing wrong with bananas. Yes, they have sugar. Yes, they have carbs. They also contain fiber, tons of potassium, and are a good source of vitamin b-6, vitamin c, and magnesium. The fiber slows your body’s digestion of the banana, giving it more time to use it as fuel instead of immediately storing it as fat. Compare it, for instance, to a coke. A coke contains no fiber. When you drink a coke, it is almost immediately digested and stored as fat. There is nothing in it to slow that digestion–no fat, no protein, no fiber. Unlike bananas. Bananas will digest slower and they’re chock full of goodness that your body needs and craves. So stop worrying about bananas.
  • Why the seeds? It’s in the other oatmeal recipe, and it’s in this one. Are they an integral part of the recipe? Can I leave them out if I don’t have them/don’t feel like buying them? I mean, they’re not integral to the structure of the oatmeal. So in that regard, yes, you can technically leave them out. But they’re really freaking good for you, are a good source of omega-3, and they provide some more plant-based protein alongside the peanut butter. They’ll help keep you full until lunchtime (because you more than likely don’t need a mid-morning snack). At home (where we eat 95% of our meals…the rest being eaten at family or friend’s homes), my family very, very rarely eats meat. We also eat minimal amounts of dairy. Because of that, I like to add in plant-based protein where I can.
  • How is this sweet enough? Do your kids eat this? The less sugar you eat, the less sugar you crave and the sweeter foods will taste because your tolerance for it gets lowered. It’s like alcohol. If you don’t drink much, one glass of wine might make you tipsy. But if you’re an avid drinker, you can handle an entire bottle. I would encourage anyone to cut down on their sugar consumption (including fake sugar). As for my kids, the short answer is yes and no. My four year old and my two year old love oatmeal. My six year old isn’t much of a breakfast/morning person. She grumbles/whines when I make oatmeal, but she does the same with virtually anything else I try to serve for breakfast. I make oatmeal nearly every weekday, and my six year old typically does not eat it. Her typical breakfast is a plain piece of whole wheat toast and a banana/apple/other piece of fruit.