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Filtering by Tag: oatmeal

too simple, continued


I've had so many comments and questions about the oatmeal pictured in my last entry, that I decided to go ahead and dedicate a quick post to it.  Many of you may not have been reading a few months ago when Bella Eats was more of a food diary than a space for sharing recipes.  I posted so many pictures of this breakfast during those first few food diary months that I'm surprised people didn't stop reading out of sheer boredom!  To those of you who have been reading for awhile, I'm sorry if this post looks familiar. oats 9 This oatmeal is one of my favorite daily breakfasts, so quick to make before work and hardy enough to keep me satisfied until lunch time. I was introduced to stove-top oats through the blog world - prior to reading Kath's and Heather's sites I was a pre-packaged instant oats kind of girl.  Not any more.  Stove-top oats are far superior in texture and flavor, and if you get old-fashioned rolled oats they only take 10 minutes to make.  They are worth the extra few minutes, I promise. OATS MERGE 1 Adding mashed banana to my oatmeal was something I learned from Kath, and I’ve never gone back.  I love the creaminess the banana gives the oats and never skip this step even if the toppings change.  Wheatberries are another Kath-inspired addition - I love their chewy texture.  When I’m eating oatmeal often (nearly every day during the cold months) I’ll make a pot full of wheatberries to use all week.  You buy them dried, in the bulk foods section, and boil them in water for about 20 minutes, depending on the texture you’re going for.  I like mine a little chewy, so 20 minutes is all it takes.  Drain them and store them in an airtight container in the fridge for 7-10 days.  And the figs - oh the figs - they are the best part.  Their tiny little seeds and sweet flavor add so much to each bite.  Love. oats 5 I've tried many different variations of mix-ins, from fresh fruit to chocolate chips to canned pumpkin, but I always come back to this combo.  What are your favorite oatmeal toppings?

Stovetop Oatmeal with Banana, Figs and Almond Butter


  • 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1 cup water, pinch of salt
  • 1/2 mashed banana
  • 1 tbsp soy milk
  • 1 tsp ground flax seeds
  • cinnamon to taste
  • 2 dried figs, chopped
  • 2 tbsp cooked wheatberries
  • 1-1/2 tbsp almond butter (crunchy peanut butter is delicious too, and adds another great texture)


  1. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil.  Add pinch of salt and 1/2 cup of rolled oats. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally.
  2. When the oats have absorbed most of the water, after 5-7 minutes, turn off the heat.  Add the mashed banana and splash of soy milk.  Stir.  Add the flax seeds and cinnamon, stir.
  3. Pour oats into bowl and top with chopped figs, wheatberries and almond butter.
  4. Stir everything up so that the almond butter swirls through the whole mix.
  5. Enjoy, and if you choose, comment after each bite about how delicious the texture is.  I do every time.
oats 7 For those of you who have stuck around since the early food diary days - Thank You! - I appreciate each and every one of you and love seeing comments pop up from familiar names as well as new readers.
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baked oatmeal


Its approaching 4 years since Brian and I packed up and moved to Virginia.  We came from North Carolina, but had only lived there for one year so were really still Floridians at heart.  Having spent the first 22 years of our lives in the Sunshine State we were new to the whole idea of seasons, or at least noticeable seasonal changes.  Each year I discover new subtleties in the transitions from one season to the next.  I'm getting good at knowing which flowers in my yard  will be first to wake from their winter slumber (snowbells) and which trees will show the first signs of life (plums).  I've even finally realized that just because the temperature reaches 70* one weekend in early March, it doesn't mean that we won't have snow two days later.  I know this, yet I'm still surprised each year. oatmeal-11 Even with all I've learned in the last four years, I’m still trying to get used to the radical temperature swings that Virginia sees when transitioning from Autumn to Winter and Winter to Spring.  Last weekend the highs were forecast to be in the mid-60's, perfect weather for getting seeds planted in the garden, yet when I woke up Sunday morning my bedside thermometer read 28*.  Since I knew what was to come later that day, I quickly called my walking buddy Christine (due any day now with her baby girl!!!) and rescheduled our stroll for the afternoon, when the weather would be more pleasant.  And then I crawled back in bed. oatmeal-2 Though it postponed my morning exercise, what this cold morning did afford me was longer snuggle time under the covers with Brian and our dogs, a large pot of coffee after finally making my way to the kitchen and the opportunity to make this recipe that I found at Seven Spoons some weeks earlier.  We all know that I love oatmeal (who doesn't? really?) so I was excited not only to discover Tara's lovely blog on Tastespotting, but to be introduced to it through a recipe that was so very perfect for me.  Oats, fresh fruit, almonds and pepitos and some of my favorite spices all baked together into a warm, satisfying breakfast...what's not to love? oatmeal-3 This dish was really delicious.  I substituted fresh strawberries for Tara’s frozen blueberries and added some orange zest because, well, I think everything is better with a bit of citrus.  There are endless possibilities of fruit and spice combinations, and I think you could even substitute some or all of the sugar for honey or maple syrup.  It would make for a great meal when you have a couple of  house guests but it also heats up exceptionally well the next day if you want to keep it all for yourself. oatmeal-5 Baked Oatmeal with Strawberries and Bananas original recipe from seven spoons Ingredients:
  • Softened butter for greasing the pan
  • 2 cups large flake rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup pepitas, lightly toasted
  • 2 teaspoons flax seeds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • zest from 1 medium orange
  • 2 cups milk (I used plain soymilk)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
  • 3 medium bananas, diced
  • 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
  • Coarse sugar, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Lightly grease the inside of a baking dish, 2-quart capacity.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the oats, almonds, brown sugar, pepitas, flax seeds, baking powder, orange zest, spices and salt. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, almost all of the butter (save about 1 teaspoon for drizzling over the finished dish), vanilla and maple syrup. Set aside.
  4. In the prepared baking dish, spread the diced bananas in an even layer, then scatter the strawberries over top. Pile the oat mixture to cover the fruit, but do not pack too tightly. Carefully pour the wet milk mixture over the oats.
  5. Drizzle over the reserved butter, sprinkle with coarse sugar, and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the oatmeal is puffed and set, with a golden brown top.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.
oatmeal-4 In the Blog World... Meghann is hosting another Blogger Bake Sale  to raise money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society!  Not only do I love Meghann because she is my cousin, but this girl is so incredibly inspirational.  I love reading about her accomplishments with running, fitness and healthy eating.  She's competed in many races and come up with some really great recipes.  Read about her first bake sale here - she raised $1320 for a great cause!!!  I'll be donating this and this, so be sure to check her blog on April 6th to place your bids!!!
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a difficult task


"Our challenges may be new.  The instruments with which we meet them may be new.  But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old.  These things are true.  They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history.  What is demanded then is a return to these truths.  What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task."

- President Barack Obama, Inaugural Speech, 01.20.2009

What an inspiring day for Americans and for the world.  I am so in awe of our new President and so excited by the hope that was palpable in the air today.  The above quote was my favorite segment of President Obama's beautiful speech.  It really got me thinking about hard work, courage, difficult tasks and giving our all to achieve them.  It made me think of this amazing community that I am part of, and the goals we set for ourselves and tackle each and every day.  Not only have I witnessed fellow bloggers pursue and achieve personal health and fitness goals, I've seen them take those personal goals and turn them into quests to contribute to the greater good.  From HangryPants' December Food Drive to benefit the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, to Kath's Thanksgiving Challenge to benefit Heifer International,  to Meghann's recent commitment to raise $3900 for Team in Training.  We can all make a difference in the world in our own small ways, by taking on our own difficult tasks and giving our all to achieve them.   The character of this blogging community is strong and good, and I am so proud to be a part of it.

My own personal fitness goal has been proving itself to be very difficult for me lately.  I haven't learned to love running yet, or at least I haven't learned to love running in the extreme cold we've been experiencing.  But I keep getting out on the road, and I keep logging my miles.  I admit, a good part of the reason I am still training is because I started this blog, told you all that I would run this race, and now I feel committed.  Thank you for keeping me accountable.  If it wasn't for you I probably would have quit last week, when the cold did keep me inside and forced me to take a week off from training.  But I got back out there on Saturday, and I got back out there tonight.  It was cold, I was close to miserable, but I logged 3-1/4 miles because I was thinking about President Obama's speech, about the difficult task that was going to be so satisfying to my spirit when I cross the finish line of the 10-Miler on April 4th.  And I was thinking about you all, and how supportive you've been, and how happy you'll be for me when I report about finishing my race.  And I also thought about the great comments I've received from many of you, telling me that you feel the same way that I do about running, and that reading my story has inspired you to train for a race.  Those comments humble me and make me realize that maybe I'm contributing a little something to the greater good as well.  So I'll keep running, keep training, and will complete this difficult task.  And hopefully, somewhere along the way, I'll learn to love running as well.

Thanks for reading my ramblings!  :)  On to food...

Breakfast:  apple + dried cherry oats.  I decided to switch it up a bit, add a little variety to my breakfast and my blog.  But I have to say, I missed my mashed banana and my nut butter...  I also ate the rest of the apple that didn't fit in my bowl. 090120-b1 This bowl contained:
  • 1 cup water, pinch of salt, 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1/4 tsp vanilla and a sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 2 heaping tbsp of unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup of dried cherries
  • 1 tsp ground flax seeds
  • 1/4 of an apple, chopped
  • 1 tbsp slivered almonds
Its been awhile since I've posted specific directions for my morning oats and I had a couple of inquiries about it yesterday, so here's a bit more of an explanation. I use old-fashioned rolled oats, and cook them on the stovetop.  They only take about 10 minutes total, so I put them on while I'm making coffee and lunch, then sit down to eat them while downloading pictures to my computer.
  1. Bring 1 cup of water and a pinch of salt to a boil on the stovetop.
  2. Add 1/2 cup of rolled oats and stir.  Reduce heat to medium and cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. When most of the liquid has been absorbed, turn off heat but leave oats on burner.  This is when I typically add my mashed banana (highly makes the texture perfectly creamy and sweetens without adding any sugar).  I also add a 1/4 tsp of vanilla and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
  4. Once the banana, cinnamon and vanilla are mixed in I remove the oats from the heat, pour into my bowl and add the toppings.
I've never tried making them ahead of time, but I think that would work better with steel cut oats.  Anybody have any thoughts / suggestions on making oatmeal in a larger batch for the whole week? 090120-b2 The hubb and I joined some friends and co-workers for lunch today to watch inauguration festivities.  There was a huge pan of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and baked beans, and it was all oh. so. good.  I was a bad healthy foodie at lunchtime.  :) Lunch:  two fried chicken drumsticks, some delectable baked beans and mashed potatoes.  And, of course, there were cookies.  I split one with my hubb.  :) 090120-l1 Dinner:  a large [much needed] salad and some Amy's Veggie Lentil soup.  After my frigid run, I just wanted something warm, satisfying and low-effort.  :) 090120-d1 And another 1/2 a cookie... 090120-d2 And now I think I'm off to a hot bath with my book.  I may finally finish it!  Its been wonderful, but my book list is a mile long and I'm ready to move on to the next read.  Good night!
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the way food should taste


Last night the hubb and I indulged ourselves with a decadent dinner at a local French tapas restaurant, Zinc.  We'd never been before, but heard from a friend that their food was delicious and we should really try it out.  We weren't disappointed.  We ordered 4 small dishes to share, along with 2 desserts (we were at a French restaurant...who can resist?!?).  The first to come out was a roasted beet salad.  Beautiful roasted beets tossed with gorgonzola and red onion in a tasty French vinaegrette over baby mesclun greens.  Delicious for sure, but easy enough to replicate at home.  Second up was the Endive Gratin, perfectly ripe endives smothered in a bechamel sauce and baked.  Good in concept, not remarkable in reality.  Third, Grouper with a Lemon Caper Beurre  Thats all I have to say about that.  And forth, Croque Madame.  At this point in the meal I almost melted under the table.  Yum.  For dessert, a Lavender Crème Brûlée and a Poached Pear filled with Mascarpone and smothered with Chocolate Sauce. Does anybody else hear angel's singing?!?  Both desserts were delicious, and I was excited to try the crème brûlée because I've been thinking about incorporating lavender into some of my baked goods.  It was lovely and subtle...just like lavender.  :)   Our personal favorite was absolutely the Croque Madame.  While thoroughly enjoying his cheesey, eggy, hammy, doughy dish, the hubb looked at me and said "why don't we cook like this at home more often?".  To which I replied "because its not very good for you, all the cheese, cream etc."  to which he nodded and said "yes but, its the way food should taste!".  :)   I woke up this morning still on a high from our decadent meal and feeling inspired to make crêpes for breakfast.   090118-b1 I received this little crêpe pan, along with a crêpe-making lesson, from my stepfather for Christmas many years ago.  Surprisingly, it hadn't been used in a few years and I decided that this was the morning to take it out of retirement. 090118-b2 Crêpes are really quite easy to make and can be filled with either savory or sweet combinations.  We chose sweet this morning.  I'm inspired now to make one of my dinner crêpe recipes soon though...  I used this Alton Brown recipe for the batter. Breakfast: 2 french crêpes filled with PB & Co Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter and beautiful sliced strawberries. 090118-b4 090118-b5 After my lovely french breakfast I went to my favorite Vinyasa Yoga class at Studio 206.  Class was fabulous as usual, and I left feeling all gushy and dreamy.  :) Lunch:  the last of the leftover roasted squash + potatoes on bulgur, along with 3 Back to Nature Multigrain Flax flatbread crackers. 090118-l1 The Back To Nature crackers are REALLY tasty...this was my first time trying them and I'll be buying them again. For dinner tonight we went over to our friend Amy's house where she had whipped up a fabulous pot roast.  We brought some homemade veggie soup (similar to this post) that my hubb made along with some hearty oat biscuits that I made.  At the end of the evening we traded leftovers so that we'll all have some variety instead of eating the same thing for days.  It worked out quite well! Dinner:  1 small bowl of pot roast, 1 small bowl of veggie soup, 2 hearty oat biscuits. 090118-d3 I used Erica's recipe for the hearty oat biscuits, but made a few modifications. Hearty Oat Biscuits Ingredients:
  • 2 cups of rolled oats
  • 2 cups of white whole wheat flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • I'll add 1/2 tsp salt next time too
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cups soymilk
  1. Preheat oven to 450*.
  2. Grind oats in food processor.  Add the flour and baking powder and pulse for 10 seconds.
  3. In separate bowl, dissolve the honey in the vegetable oil.  Add the milk and whisk to combine.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet and stir with a fork until a soft dough forms.
  5. Drop biscuits on a greased cookie sheet.  You should get 8-10 palm-sized biscuits.
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes.
090118-d2 090118-d1 This recipe is really great and so fast to whip up.  Like I mentioned above, next time I will add a bit of salt.  I also think that adding rosemary or chives would be really tasty, and maybe a bit of sharp cheese.   Alrighty, I'm exhausted and have to work tomorrow.  :(  So sad.  I hope you all had a fabulous weekend!
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