Saturday, June 28, 2014

Black Forest PB and J Oatmeal

The frustrating part about moving is having such limited groceries. I'm trying not to purchase any excess food before moving day, which means I'm stuck making oatmeal solely from pantry items. Luckily for you AND me, this gave me a reason to finally share a recipe I've been hoarding recently.

It's easy for me to say that this oatmeal can be whipped up without making an extra trip to the store, but it would be delusional of me to think that everyone keeps chocolate nut butter and cherry jam on hand at all times. I do. ^_^ Thus, when I had no fresh fruit this morning, this was the perfect oatmeal to make.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Grape and Orange Marmalade Oatmeal

I must share a story with you.

This is my last day of school as a first-year teacher. On one of the days earlier this week, a student (whom I love, of course) brought goodies for the teachers. My colleague came into our workroom holding a bag of cookies and encouraged me to check out my mailbox because the student had left treats for each of us, along with personalized drawings for gift tags. Like every time a student brings gifts, I felt the same mixed feelings: flattered, but disappointed. Nine times out of ten, I end up giving away the non-vegan food item to a coworker (but appreciate the thought nevertheless).

I hustled to my mailbox anyway, eager to see the drawing this student left me. What did I find?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Stewed Fig and Apple Steel-Cut Oatmeal

Happy Tuesday! Happy last week of school for me! Happy birthday to my older brother, Christopher!

There are so many reasons to be happy this week. One of the reasons includes starting every morning with this oatmeal. The inspiration actually came from my dislike of the appearance of fresh figs. Why are they so unattractive? Thus, I thought to myself: maybe if I stew them or make a compote, I can enjoy the flavor of figs without the ugly appearance.

Well, it turns out that stewed figs are, in fact, uglier than a regular ol' fresh fig. Bummer.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Roasted Strawberry and Almond Butter Oatmeal + Getting Fit #6

Yay! Oatmeal! You love oatmeal! I love oatmeal! Let's roast some strawberries and be friends.

But first, let's check in with Crystal.

This is the sixth segment of my Getting Fit series. This series features my friend Crystal, a rockstar figure skater and fellow oatmeal lover. You can her blog, Confessions of Crystal, and check out her Instagram,@crystalchilcott.

TOA: Hello! How's the concussion?

Crystal: It's better now, but I'm at home in Pennsylvania and haven't skated or worked out. It's driving me crazy! How did the last two weeks go?

TOA: Great! I finally reached my goal of running 3 miles (twice!), and oddly enough, it was at my fastest pace yet! (~10 min/mile)

Crystal: That is wonderful! Has your energy level improved?

TOA: Not particularly. I've noticed I have more energy Saturday through Monday, but the rest of the week, I'm hopeless. I'm moving around my running schedule around to fit my "high energy" days and doing the bulk of it on weekends and early in the week (Mondays and Tuesdays). Last weekend, I went on a hike with a friend instead of my usual jog to switch things up!

Crystal: That's great! Changing things up can help maintain your motivation and desire to run. Did you try interval running?

TOA: I did! This past Sunday, I didn't feel like running at all, so I gave the intervals a shot. Every time I felt like walking, I started sprinting instead. Surprisingly, it worked! That night, I ran three miles again, and my whole body was exhausted afterwards. It was such a great workout.

Crystal: That's great! That's something you can always consider if you're tired or not motivated. How do your strength exercises feel?

TOA: I'll be honest: the last time I did three miles, I skipped them. My whole body was limp.  But on this past Wednesday night, I only ran 1.5 miles (it was sweltering hot), so I did them. They are my least favorite part of the routine haha.


As I reflect on the last few months, I am so proud of how far I have come. Do I love exercising? Nope. Still hate it. Have I skipped a routine along the way? Definitely. Did I once go an entire week without running? Sure did. HOWEVER...have I given up? NO. The past several weeks, I have run at least twice (usually three times) every week. And I'm up to THREE MILES, and that's with my super exhausted body right now. I can't wait to see what I accomplish once summer vacation starts and I'm no longer a walking zombie.

Such a celebration demands some fancy porridge. I've been meaning to top my oatmeal with roasted strawberries for ages, but I finally tried it. It's actually absurdly easy--just time-consuming.

Oh, and great news: I made this jar of almond butter last more than three days (because that happened once...). It's been a solid two weeks and I haven't finished yet. Yay?

Roasted Strawberry & Almond Butter Oatmeal

by The Oatmeal Artist
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 5 min
Ingredients (serves 1)
    For the Roasted Strawberries
    • 5 strawberries
    • 1/2 tsp maple syrup
    • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
    For the Oatmeal
    • 3/4 cup milk of choice, or water
    • 1/4 cup quick cook steel-cut oats (I use Country Choice Organic)
    • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract OR almond extract
    • 1/4 tsp cinnamon (omit if using almond extract)
    • 1-2 tbsp of almond butter
    • pinch of salt
    • sliced or slivered almonds for topping
    1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray an oven-safe ramekin with nonstick cooking spray.
    2. Hull and quarter strawberries.
    3. Toss with maple syrup and vanilla extract.
    4. Place in oven for about 20-25 minutes, until warm and juicy but still holding its shape. Set aside.
    5. Bring milk (I use 1/2 c almond milk and 1/4 c water) to a boil, add oats, and reduce heat to medium. (If you'd like to add a teaspoon of flax or chia seeds, do so now.)
    6. Once more of the liquid has absorbed, add extract of choice, optional cinnamon, and salt. Stir.
    7. When you're pleased with the consistency of the oatmeal, swirl in almond butter. I like to not mix it in completely because I like finding globs of it when I'm eating. :)
    8. Transfer to a bowl. Top with sliced/slivered almonds and roasted strawberries. Add a splash of your milk of choice and any other additional toppings (shredded coconut, nuts, etc.).
    Powered by Recipage

    **You can also find hundreds of other oatmeal recipes (as well as tons of other meatless recipes) on my Pinterest account!  You can also like The Oatmeal Artist on Facebook. Thanks!

    Thursday, June 19, 2014

    Salted (or not) Caramel Apple Oatmeal

    One week remains of my first year of teaching! Each year, as my life and career become increasingly more demanding, I worry about how my blog will fit into my schedule. This year, I consistently worked 70-80 hours a week, yet I somehow managed to squeeze in a few hours each weekend to manage this blog.

    ...So if you're wondering why I'm not so great at responding to blog comments anymore, that's why. I'm sorry! I read and appreciate all of them!

    Despite my long hours of classroom prep, I remained loyal to this blog. I think that's quite telling. No matter how stressful my life was, I made this blog a priority. Why? I enjoy it. Yes, it's a LOT of (more) work, but it's also gratifying and therapeutic.

    This recipe, like many others, has been stumping me for at least a year. How could I make a VEGAN caramel sauce? It's not that I didn't know how--there are tons of recipes out there. I just didn't feel like making it (see above re: 70-80 hours a week)!

    Tuesday, June 17, 2014

    Berry Blackout Oatmeal

    All of my favorite recipes just made a baby.

    It's Brownie Batter + Fudgy Banana & PB + Nutty 'Nana Berry. It's the best threesome ever, and their baby is a GODDESS. YOU MUST MAKE THIS NOW. Cocoa powder + banana is my favorite oatmeal base. Strawberries are my favorite fruit topping. Peanut butter is MY LIFE. And this is CHOCOLATE peanut butter, so it's obviously the best thing that's ever happened to me.

    Saturday, June 14, 2014

    Most Popular Recipes!

    I work in a data-based school, which means we are constantly collecting and analyzing data about our students' progress to guide our decisions to further their growth. Although I am not a fan of over-testing kids, the past two years have definitely converted me to a believer in the value of data.

    This is true of my blog as well. I love studying page views, "favorites" and "repins," and Instagram trends. Considering how frequently people tell me they enjoy my blog but don't know where to start, this post might help you decide what to try first! :)

    Most Favorited on FoodGawker 

    I had to list these first, considering how honored I am every single time one of my recipes is published here. Whenever a post is "successful" here, it's the dairy-free icing on the vegan cake. According to my observations, the FoodGawker community will gravitate to the most aesthetically pleasing or "fanciest" recipes, as opposed to healthy or easy. Here are my most favorited recipes on FoodGawker:

    5. Salted Brownie Baked Oatmeal: Revisited - Favorited 180 times

    4. Bananas Foster Oatmeal - Favorited 183 times

    3. Apple Pie Steel Cut Oatmeal - Favorited 211 times

    2. Elvis Oatcake Stack - Favorited 239 times

    1. Choco-Banana Oatcakes with PB Mousse - Favorited 284 times

    Most Repinned on Pinterest

    Frustratingly, I cannot track every single time something is repinned on Pinterest from other people's pins; I can only track when people repin MY pins. Thus, this data was taken from my own Pinterest board, The Oatmeal Artist. Compared to FoodGawkers, Pinners are less picky about aesthetics and more interested in EASE and CHOCOLATE. :) Here are my top five most repinned recipes on Pinterest:

    5. Brownie Batter Oatmeal - Repinned 320 times

    4. Tiramisu Overnight Oatmeal Repinned 327 times

    3. Cookie Dough Overnight Oatmeal - Repinned 343 times

    2. Chocolate Banana Overnight Oatmeal - Repinned 410 times

    1. Peanut Butter & Banana Baked Oatmeal - Repinned 872 times

    Coming soon... Most Liked on Facebook!

    **You can also find hundreds of other oatmeal recipes (as well as tons of other meatless recipes) on my Pinterest account!  You can also like The Oatmeal Artist on Facebook. Thanks!

    Thursday, June 12, 2014

    Double Berry Baked Oatmeal with Lemon Curd

    As summer approaches (just a couple weeks away!), everyone is craving lighter and brighter recipes. One of my favorite parts of summer is all the produce, especially the berries.

    I really do challenge myself to develop non-banana recipes, just to balance things out on here. This recipe uses mashed raspberries instead of my usual mashed banana, and the blueberries are delightful because they burst and bubble in the oven.

    The lemon curd is optional, but it definitely adds to the summery brightness of the recipe and makes the serving a little larger.

    Tuesday, June 10, 2014

    Apricot Cherry Overnight Oatmeal

    I achieved the impossible: I snapped an attractive photo of overnight oatmeal! What is it about overnight oats that make them so UN-photogenic? I think that's one of the reasons why I don't like posting overnight recipes. I always feel like I'm setting myself up for failure. I loathe putting up a post with sub-par photos (yet I do it all the time).

    Confession time: this was the first fresh apricot I've ever eaten. Ha! I've had many a dried apricot, but never fresh. I bought one last year to make an oatmeal recipe with, but I waited a day too long and it turned rotten before I could cut into it. Dang...I hate wasting food!

    I know many of you have requested for bigger helpings of overnight oatmeal, so I think you'll appreciate this one. It's massive! Having an entire fruit diced into it adds so much bulk.

    Saturday, June 7, 2014

    Getting Fit #5 + Orange Marmalade and Almond Oatmeal

    For the first time in several weeks, I have a recipe to share with you on a Saturday! Woohoo!

    But first, let's check in with Crystal.

    This is the fourth segment of my Getting Fit series. This series features my friend Crystal, a rockstar figure skater and fellow oatmeal lover. You can her blog, Confessions of Crystal, and check out her Instagram,@crystalchilcott.

    TOA: Hi Crystal! How is your summer going?

    Crystal: Hi Lauren! It finally feels like summer here in Colorado. I unfortunately sustained a concussion on Saturday so I haven't been able to skate, but I've enjoyed having time to read a copious amount! How are you? 

    TOA: I'm okay. I've been feeling chronically fatigued lately; I experienced the same thing around this time last year. It seems like no matter what time I go to bed, I wake up exhausted. It makes staying active difficult! 

    Crystal: Does exercise give you an energy boost? 

    TOA: Not particularly. On weekends and Mondays, kind of. Once I get further into the week, I just trudge through my routine and feel dead from beginning to end. 

    Crystal: Hmm, do you think a change in routine might help? 

    TOA: Maybe. What are you thinking? 

    Crystal: Perhaps you could try doing strength before running to change it up a bit or doing intervals. If you did intervals you would lightly jog for a minute and then sprint for thirty seconds. Sometimes that makes my cardio a bit more interesting. 

    TOA: Hmm that could work. I like how it's less monotonous than just plain long-distance jogging. However, I'm pleased to report that I've completed a 2.6 mile run a few times since we talked last! 

    Crystal: That's great! It is awesome that you're making progress even when you're not feeling your best energy-wise. Would you be willing to try the intervals at least once next week to see how you like them? 

    TOA: Definitely. Besides that, should I follow the same routine? 

    Crystal: Is your strength routine still challenging but not impossible? 

    TOA: That's the perfect way to describe it. Usually during the second set, I feel like there's no way I'll be able to complete all three, but then I can do it and it doesn't kill me—ha!

    Crystal: Great! I see no reason to change it then.

    TOA: Thanks! Say, I have a question for you. When you're doing hardcore training, what do you eat for breakfast?

    Crystal:I almost always have oatmeal and matcha green tea, sometimes together! I almost never repeat bowls of oatmeal and either use one of your recipes or top it with whatever fruits, nuts, or nut butters I have on hand.

    TOA: Do you eat before working out, or after?

    Crystal: Always before. If I don't eat beforehand I don't think I could make it through a workout or skating session!

    TOA: I'm the same way! However, I know many people that wait until after working out because they complain it makes them sick to eat before. That's crazy to me! I'm ravenous in the morning. Similar to me, you're a vegetarian. Do you use any "protein shakes" or anything of that nature?

    Crystal: I don't understand breakfast-skippers either! I'm a believer in getting all my nutrients through whole foods and using as little supplements as possible. On exceptionally hard workout days or on days when I feel I need more protein, I sometimes use SunWarrior protein and add it to a smoothie in my NutriBullet. I like that brand because it is from all plant-based sources and has none of the sketchy additives like most protein powders. I also sometimes eat Luna protein bars or Lara Alt bars.

    TOA: YAY! I agree. I see no reason to buy protein powders myself. That's what peanut butter is for.

    Crystal: Oh, yes, peanut butter is definitely my favorite protein source! It is much more fun to eat peanut butter than drink an unappealing, chemical-ridden, pre-packaged protein shake!

    TOA: I agree! Do you eat any differently on days that you work out vs. days that you don't? (Or do you work out every day, haha?)

    Crystal: Sunday is my only off day. I'm hungrier on days that I work out so I usually have an extra snack. I like to eat smaller meals five to six times a day, balanced with protein, grains, and fruits and veggies. I find I have the most energy this way whether I work out or not.


    Like Crystal, I can handle eating breakfast before a workout. Often, I will eat something somewhat lighter, go for a run, and then come home for round two...because two breakfasts are better than one.

    Thursday, June 5, 2014

    Five Recipes for National Gingerbread Day!

    Happy National Gingerbread Day!

    You know what's odd? Celebrating gingerbread in June. I don't know about you, but I associate it with winter and Christmas. This seems like some sort of bizarre conspiracy.

    Nevertheless, I was delighted to see that I actually do have several gingerbread recipes to share on this occasion, so without further ado, here are five gingerbread recipes to celebrate this (strangely scheduled) holiday!

    Have you tried any of these yet? Which is your favorite?

    Tuesday, June 3, 2014

    Carrot Halwa Steel Cut Oatmeal

    I sometimes receive requests from readers for a particular recipe. Many times, they are ideas that I have already considered but just haven't figured out how to make yet. Sometimes, they are recipes that I immediately set off to create and appear on the blog within days. And then there are ideas like this one, for which I only have one response: "I don't know what that is and have no idea how I would make it."

    Considering I've only eaten Indian food four times in my life, my knowledge of Indian cuisine is minimal. I have never eaten "Indian dessert" and have absolutely zero concept of what it's like or what it should taste like. Thus, when a reader begged me to create a halwa recipe, I had to reject her, claiming that I had no idea what it was or what it should taste like.

    Monday, June 2, 2014

    Oatmeal Enthusiasts: Meet Taylor!

    Sometimes I worry that people will see my Instagram handle (@oatmealartist) and be concerned about my strange interests. Thankfully, I'm not alone. It amuses me to see other people on Instagram with oatmeal-related usernames. For example, this month's enthusiast is Taylor, but I met her as "thehealthyoatmealer." We are not alone, oatmeal lovers! Keep spreading the love.

    Heeeeellllllloooooo fellow oatmealers!!!

    My name is Taylor and as you can see, Lauren has asked me to be the Oatmeal Enthusiast for June!!! After reading the comment on Instagram asking me to be June’s Oatmeal Enthusiast, I started jumping around, dancing crazily, and screaming “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh!!!!”, which earned me a few “She finally went over the edge.” stares from the rest of my family. Ah well, getting to write this post definitely makes up for the whispering and the tentative suggestions that I had gone crazy. :0)

    Now here’s a bit about me. I am a 14 year old health nut, yogi, runner, newbie martial artist, and wow, here’s something you definitely couldn’t have guessed (Sarcasm people, sarcasm.): I absolutely adore (a.k.a I am obsessed.) oatmeal. I even made up a name for us oatmeal lovers….oatmealers! We have to be called something right?

    Anyways, when I was younger, I would skip breakfast because there was nothing that I was really interested in eating, never mind that it was said to be the most important meal of the day. Eventually, I started eating those brands of sugary cereal (Ew.) that most little kids happen to love. When I tried oatmeal on a whim for the first time, I must admit, I thought it was gnarly (I know, I have no idea what was wrong with me either.), so I went back to my boring bowl of sadness.

    I tried oatmeal again when I went to Ireland with my family and the first thought that went through my mind was “Nope, still gross.”. I’m not really sure why I decided to try oatmeal again after that, seeing as how I had had two bad experiences with it, but boy am I glad that I did! I guess third time’s the charm because when I tried oatmeal for the third time (this bowl with apples, cinnamon, walnuts, and raisins) I actually enjoyed it, and oatmeal permanently became part of my morning routine. I had the same thing every morning, sometimes with a little dollop of peanut butter and I was pretty happy with it, but I was getting bored and wanted to try something new. I did a little research, and soon enough I stumbled across a treasure chest of exotic and delicious looking oatmeal recipes...which happens to be the website you are currently reading this post on.

    I could not believe my eyeballs. A whole website dedicated to oatmeal! I spent hours combing through every oatmeal recipe that was documented, and soon I had written down a handful in a little notebook to try out ASAP. Ever since that fateful day, I have had oatmeal every morning (and sometimes for dinner!), but I try not to eat the same recipe twice. Unless of course it happens to be uber delicious. Then it gets an exception. Of course, with my oatmeal obsession I have found quite a few other websites that feature a lot of oatmeal, and I definitely use those recipes too (Sometimes I even make my own!), but this blog in particular has a special place in my heart for being the place that started me on oatmeal. :0) Before I begin I’d just like to say thank you one more time to Lauren for giving me this wonderful opportunity to express my love for such an amazing, versatile breakfast food.

    Now enough boring fluff! On to the main attraction…...oatmeal!

    Sunday Oats:

    Blueberry Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal with coconut and peanut butter. I can only have baked oatmeal and weekends because of school, so this was definitely a treat. Sadly, even on weekends I’m usually too lazy to make baked oatmeal, but after this recipe, I’m going to have to motivate myself to make them more often! Just look at those baked bananas!!!

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