A vote for oats

Oats, one of the many whole grains, can come in many different ways. Steel cut, irish, rolled, instant or bran.  My favorite is the rolled oats as they are easy to put in a bowl with some water and microwave every morning. However, when I have a little more time and forethought, steel cut oats are exceptional with some almonds, raisins, and blueberries.

(Going clockwise, from the left: Steel Cut Oats, Oat Bran, Quick Oats, and Rolled Oats)

Oats are nutrient dense source of manganese, selenium, tryptophan, fiber, B1, and some protein.In addition to being whole grains, oats have been linked to lowered cholesterol levels, valued antioxidants, and stabilization of blood sugars. Oats can be added to breads, eaten as breakfast or used as a binder in meatloafs (vegetarian or not).

This is a recipe that I make quite frequently, no matter the season, but it always seems especially appetizing in the fall. The combination of pumpkin, apples, walnuts, and cranberries, brought together with the flavor of vanilla and cinnamon is delectable.

It is perfect for a Sunday morning with a cup of coffee or tea and a good book.

Pumpkin Apple Cranberry Baked Oatmeal

(adapted from this version of this recipe)

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup wheat germ (omit for gluten free version)
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed (use 1/3 cup if using fresh cranberries)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (or 3/4 c. fresh)
  • 1 1/2 cups vanilla soy milk (or regular milk)
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. pumpkin puree
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup apple, chopped
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Spray an 8x8in baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, wheat germ, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and cranberries.  In a separate bowl, combine the soy milk, pumpkin puree, egg, and vanilla, whisking until the mixture is smooth.
Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, and stir to combine all of the ingredients.  Add the apple and combine with the wet oatmeal mixture.  Spread the oatmeal into the baking dish, and sprinkle with walnuts.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until the oatmeal has set and the top is golden. Serve warm, topped with additional soy milk, if desired.
How do you like your oatmeal? Do you prefer it made with milk or water? Any great variations I need to try?
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Oh Chocolate, how I love thee…

Let me count the ways.  I think you can put chocolate on or with just about anything and it would taste good.  Chocolate drizzled over strawberries?  Yes, please!  Chocolate cake? Can I have seconds? Chocolate Chip Banana Bread? drools… Chocolate and nuts? Just give me the recipe already! Chocolate and broccoli? Uh, maybe not anything.

These are by far my favorite cookie.  I just can’t get enough of them.  I mean, I love nuts as it is (the title of the blog has many meanings :)) but the combination of cocoa, chopped chocolate and nuts is simply divine!!  They are a little crunchy and a little soft, so they please everyone’s texture expectations.  Plus, we all need to please our sweet tooth every once in a while, so why not do it with something a little healthier and packed with nutrients?

Chocolate, derived from the cacao bean, is not only packed with antioxidants, but it is also filled with flavonoids, phenylethylamine, caffeine, fiber and other essential nutrients. Antioxidants reduce the risk of cancer by counteracting any free radicals in the body. Flavonoids have been shown to reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks through their anti-clotting benefits.  Phenylethylamine acts as an antidepressant and is similar to our own production of dopamine and adrenaline.  However, because of the amount of sugar and fat that is contained in chocolate, it is wise to watch your intake of this brown gold.  Dark chocolate is the better way to go, but should still be enjoyed in limited portions.

 

Triple Chocolate Cookies

Source: Ellie Krieger’s The Food You Crave  and FoodNetwork.com

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, optional
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped dark chocolate (2 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped milk chocolate (2 ounces)
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans, optional

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mash together the butter and sugars with a fork until well combined. Add the oil and egg and beat until creamy. Mix in the vanilla.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. Stir in the dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and the pecans and mix well. Using a tablespoon, scoop the batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool.