Banana

Let’s Talk Oatmeal

When I first started reading blogs they talked a lot about something called “oats in a jar” and “overnight oats.” I admit, I didn’t get it. At all. But it seemed like all the rage on every blog.

Fast forward a few years…I recently bought some steel cut oatmeal and one morning, while Logan was fussy and not really making it easy for me to fix myself breakfast, I realized that the oatmeal I bought took 30 MINUTES to make! What?! I love oatmeal and I’ve tried all different kinds out there, but this was the first time trying this particular kind.

I was frustrated with myself that I bought something that was supposed to make my life a little easier–and ended up with something time consuming. Grrrr. I complained on Twitter and a few people suggested I do overnight oats. So I did some googling and found some recipes.

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This was the first recipe I tried.

Flax and blueberry vanilla overnight oats

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 1

Calories per serving: 295

Ingredients

  • ½ cup rolled oats OR quick oats
  • 2 /3 cup water
  • ½ cup lowfat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon flaxmeal
  • 1 baby pinch of salt
  • blueberries, pecans, brown sugar, and other goodies for topping

Instructions

  1. In an individual food storage container, add the ingredients in the order listed (except for toppings). Do not stir. Refrigerate overnight.
  2. In the morning, stir up the mixture; it should be thick and the oats should be completely soft. Add the toppings of your choice. Repeat forever.
  3. The different varieties of oats affect the texture, so if you like a thicker, chewier texture go for rolled oats and if you prefer something softer and creamier, go for quick cooking oats.
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=50083

I used the recipe as a jumping off point. I did:

1/2 cup of steel cut oats

2/3 cup water

1 tablespoon flaxmeal

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

pinch of salt

handful of frozen blueberries

Then I put it all in the fridge overnight and mixed it up in the morning. I topped the mixture with some slivered almonds and 1 teaspoon of brown sugar. Honestly probably didn’t need the brown sugar since the blueberries were sweet enough but since I used plain Greek yogurt instead of vanilla yogurt, I thought it might lack flavor. Next time I know it doesn’t need the sugar.

It was really tasty. I liked the flavors a lot. The blueberries were sweet enough that it make the dish delicious but not overly sweet. The texture was a little weird. The steel cut oats were really chewy. Not too chewy but chewier than I think regular oatmeal would be. But the upside to that, it wasn’t a bunch of mush like I think regular oatmeal would be. I was also worried that eating cold oatmeal would be gross. It wasn’t.

It was super easy and fast. It was easy to eat while taking care of the baby. It was easy to clean up and not a ton of calories. I liked the convenience of it. I like that I didn’t have to spend 30 minutes cooking the steel cut oats. I think it would be a good breakfast for mornings when I go back to work–either eating at home or taking to work with me to eat it after dropping Logan off at daycare.

I wanted to experiment though and see if I could find the perfect recipe or create my own. I found another recipe and decided to use it as a base to tweak what I did originally. Here is that recipe: OVERNIGHT STEEL CUT OATMEAL (PLUS MIX-IN IDEAS)  (Author: Lovely Little Kitchen.)

Attempt #2

I changed it up a little bit the second time. Here is what I did:

1/2 cup steel cut oats

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon flaxmeal

pinch of salt

1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1/4 cup water

handful of frozen blueberries

This time I mixed the liquid with the steel cut oats before adding the other ingredients. Let it sit overnight, mixed it all together and added some slivered almonds to the top for texture.

Verdict: I liked the texture a little better with more liquid and mixing it in before refrigerating it.

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Flavor was still great. I don’t know that I noticed a different flavor using almond milk. To save calories I may just stick with water.

Attempt #3

I realized that I was eating more than one serving. 1/4 cup of steel cut oats is actually a serving, not 1/2 cup like several recipes I saw used. The upside to eating more, I didn’t need a snack mid-morning. But I didn’t want that to become a habit. So this time I made a little bit less to make sure that I was eating one serving and keeping my calories in the right range.

I looked around for other recipes. This one sounded delicious to me.

1/4 cup steel cut oats

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

pinch of salt

1 tablespoon flaxmeal

1 tablespoon peanut butter

The above was 314 calories. Then I topped it with sliced banana and a little agave and slivered almonds the next day. That added around 125 calories more.

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Verdict: I think I figured out the right portions of everything! The oats were the perfect chewiness and everything tasted great. I will try this “recipe” with the blueberries. I liked the peanut butter and banana flavor–it was very rich, but it was also higher in calories and tasted a bit decadent. Peanut butter is just a little too much for me I think.

I like the addition of the almonds–I think it adds texture that a dish like this needs (same with the blueberries). I’m glad I spent the time practicing and figuring out the right recipe for this. It will be a great option for breakfasts going forward, at least a few days a week.

Do you have an overnight oats recipe that you love? Link it here!

Mini Muffins

More zucchini…zucchini…zucchini! Everywhere! Recently Michael and I received a wedding gift from a very lovely friend who sadly can’t make it to the wedding. One of the items was a mini muffin baking pan. I was really excited to use it (and I was also doing some research on making some “dog” muffins that Bella can eat). But I had so much zucchini I decided to make some human muffins first and use up some zucchini. Here is the recipe:

Banana Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins (vegan)

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Serving Size: 1 muffin

Adapted From: http://www.averiecooks.com/2014/07/banana-zucchini-chocolate-chip-muffins.html

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted (vegetable or canola oil may be substituted)
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk (coconut, soy, rice, cow's milk may be substituted)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup ripe mashed bananas (about 2 small/medium bananas)
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded zucchini, measured loosely laid in cup (not packed in or squeezed; about 1 medium zucchini, I didn't peel it)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • pinch salt, optional and to taste
  • about 11 teaspoons mini semi-sweet chocolate chips divided, about 1 teaspoon for each muffin (regular-sized chips may be substituted)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a Non-Stick 12-Cup Regular Muffin Pan very well with floured cooking spray or grease and flour the pan; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, add the wet ingredients and whisk to combine.
  3. Add the bananas and whisk to combine.
  4. Before adding the zucchini, put it in a paper towel and squeeze tightly for about 10 seconds to remove some moisture. After squeezing, you should have about 3/4 cup of compacted shreds. Add zucchini to bowl and stir.
  5. Add the flour, baking powder, optional salt and stir until just combined; don't overmix.
  6. Using a large cookie scoop turn batter out into prepared pan. Each cavity should be filled to about 3/4 full, but not exceeding or batter could overflow.
  7. Sprinkle the top of each muffin generously with mini chocolate chips, about 1 teaspoon each.
  8. Bake at 350F for 12 minutes (for mini muffins) or until muffins are set, domed, golden, and a toothpick comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter.
  9. Allow muffins to cool in pan for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until they've firmed up and are cool enough to handle. It's normal for muffin tops to be flatten as they cool.
  10. Muffins will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=43945

I used the recipe as a base and adapted it. So the changes I made…

I used real milk (1%) instead of almond. I also used the Trader Joe’s gluten free flour. To make this a little healthier and reduce the amount of sugar,  I made another substitute. When you bake with Splenda it’s a 50-50 mix. For example, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, you use 1/2 cup of Splenda instead. For this recipe I halved the sugar and used splenda and I also included 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce. I probably could have skipped the Splenda/Sugar altogether honestly.

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I wanted to use the mini muffin tray, which was 24 mini muffins but I had a ton of extra batter after filling those so I did a few regular sized muffins as well. Because of that it kind of made the calorie count impossible to calculate but I’d say that the mini muffins are probably around 75 calories each and the regular muffins are around 100 calories, maybe a little less.

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These muffins were awesome! And addicting! And because they are so tiny, bitesize really, it’s easy to just keep popping them in your mouth. The muffins were definitely DIFFERENT than any I’ve ever done. They were very moist and gooey which I attribute to the addition of the applesauce. I think maybe using the melted coconut oil also did that. I’ve never baked with coconut oil before. It gave it a richer flavor I think. Each muffin had maybe 2-3 chocolate chips in it and so the chocolate flavor wasn’t overpowering at all. Just the perfect amount of sweetness.

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I would say that these tasted more like banana muffins than zucchini. Every once in awhile I’d get a bite of zucchini and really taste it but the most dominant flavor was the banana. These were great and I will make them again for parties. I ended up taking a bunch to my book club group and then I took some to a friend’s house the next day when Michael and I went over for dinner.

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The muffins were a hit at the book club. I really, really liked them, too. They had such a different texture than I’m used to with muffins but it was pleasant. I think this is a great “base” muffin recipe. You could make some really interesting alterations…like maybe shredded carrots instead of zucchini or maybe dried cranberries instead of chocolate chips. I think the mini muffins were too small for nuts, but maybe with bigger muffins it would work well. Depending on how you end up changing the ingredients in the recipe, these muffins could be dessert or could easily be a breakfast treat.

I’ve never baked with coconut oil before and I have to say, I kind of love it! Will definitely be using coconut oil instead of vegetable oil in more future baking experiments.