Wellness Wednesday: Why I'm not over Overnight Oats

I realize that the concept of overnight oats was a huge Pinterest phenomenon and is not quite as hip as it once was, however, I was late to the party and I really can’t get enough. Also, if I like something, I will eat it; plain and simple. My love is in two parts - the ease of making and the countless variation options. I love breakfast, I have never ‘forgotten’ to eat it (or any meal for that matter) and I like that this option is cold without being cereal. I actually love it in the afternoon as well since it can be almost dessert-like and is a much healthier snack choice, with much more sustenance, than whatever else I might reach for at 3:30! Here is my basic recipe, and what I added this time around to kick it up a notch.

Overnight Oats // Serves One

½ cup regular rolled oats

½ cup milk of your choice, dairy or non

Dash of vanilla

Cinnamon to taste - I like a lot!!

1 spoonful plain greek yogurt, optional, but adds great texture

Topping ideas:

1 tsp brown sugar, maple syrup or honey

Fruit

Raw shelled hempseed

Chopped almonds or pecans

Chia seeds

Bee pollen

More cinnamon {duh.}

Stir together all non-topping ingredients in a jar or bowl (if you are using brown sugar to sweeten, add it here to allow it to dissolve), cover, and let sit in the fridge overnight or 6-8 hours. When you are ready to eat it, stir it up to make sure the milk and cinnamon are evenly distributed. From here, if you like OG oatmeal you can add your honey or syrup, if using, and just eat it up! This time around, I used frozen-from-summer mixed berries, thawed, honey that is harvested in my hometown, hempseed, and bee pollen.

Overnight Oats

If you have never tried some of these toppings, give them a shot as they are great for your overall health and for keeping you satiated. Hempseed contains 10g of protein & 3g Omega-3s per serving and it adds a nutty type crunch to the oats without using nuts! Bee pollen is a natural energizer, rich in protein, aids in digestion and is good for the immune system, plus the golden color looks super pretty when sprinkled over your dish. Chia seeds are full of antioxidants and have 11g fiber & 4g protein per serving, but if you have a hard time with the seed texture, you can add it to the overnight process but you may need to add a little more liquid as they like to soak it right up and make a jelly-like texture.

All in all, I love this as a healthy choice any time of day, and sometimes get a craving right as I fall asleep and will actually trudge back to the kitchen to take no more than a minute to mix it up, then head back to bed knowing that I am waking up to a great meal choice! Give this a shot once or twice a week; using a mason jar keeps it portable to take to work for you and making it the night before allows for extra time in the morning, whether it's to get the kids out the door or to just have more. time. in. the. morning.

With a full heart and an empty plate,


Katie

Wellness Wednesday {vegan}: My First A-tempeh

I never spent a lot of time experimenting with protein alternatives in the kitchen, but when my sister and I were baking and she was out of yogurt, we used pureed silken tofu instead, and that started a conversation about her favorite ways to use it. Tofu is something I had seen a lot of but tempeh was completely foreign to me. I picked up a ‘multi-grain’ type package at the store and stuck it in my fridge until inspiration struck. That inspiration, not surprisingly, came in my bon appetit magazine with a recipe for vinaigrette which I adapted slightly to come up with this hearty grain-based salad.

Grilled Veggie & Tempeh Salad w. Toasted Spice Vinaigrette // Serves 3-4

1 c quinoa or your favorite grain (barley or farro perhaps?)

2 c vegetable broth

1 medium zucchini

½ red onion or 1 small

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1 pkg tempeh (I used multi-grain)

Olive oil

Baby spinach (optional)

Toasted Spice Vinaigrette:

1 tsp coriander seed

1 tsp cumin seed

1 tsp dill seed

¼ c olive oil

2 T white wine vinegar

1 tsp dijon mustard

Kosher salt & fresh cracked pepper

To make the vinaigrette, begin by toasting your spices. In a small, dry, skillet, toast the coriander, cumin, and dill seeds over medium heat until the color richens and you can smell their delightful scent, shaking the pan every so often. Transfer to a mortar and pestle to crush them; it does not need to be a fine powder, but small enough that the flavor distributes well.

Toasted Spices

In a small bowl, whisk together the spices, vinegar, and mustard. Pour oil in at a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly, to emulsify the dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Slice tempeh into 8-10 pieces and place in a shallow dish. Add just enough of the vinaigrette to lightly coat and allow the flavors to soak in; set aside.

Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer to remove any of the bitter outside before cooking. I have tried cooking it without rinsing and I much prefer the flavor when rinsed, in case you were wondering (like I always did) if it really mattered! At this point you can cook your quinoa however you please, this is how I go about it: transfer rinsed quinoa to a medium saucepan, add 2 cups of vegetable broth, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and set a timer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a grill pan over medium high to start cooking the veggies. Coat the tomatoes in a little olive oil, then throw them on, tossing occasionally, until they are charred in spots and starting to pop open. Remove from pan and transfer to a plate. Slice the zucchini, lengthwise, flip it on the flat side, the slice lengthwise again to create ¼ inch strips and add them to the grill. It’s a personal preference how you like them cooked so just pull them off when they look good to you, and repeat with thinly-wedged red onions.

Once your timer goes off, remove pan from heat and allow quinoa to rest for another 5 minutes. Give the grill pan a light spray if needed, then add the tempeh strips and cook until heated through, turning once. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and transfer it to your serving bowl. Give the vinaigrette a quick whisk and drizzle some over the quinoa, stir to incorporate and then taste for seasoning - you may need to add a bit of salt here. Arrange the grilled vegetables and tempeh on top, add a little more dressing, some fresh-cracked pepper, and then serve over baby spinach with remaining vinaigrette alongside the meal.

Tempeh Bowl

I really enjoyed this meal. Really and truly. Much more than any tofu dish I have had. I think it’s the texture - I like the sturdier texture of tempeh as a replacement for meat. For someone who never eats meat, it may not matter as much, but it did for me! My husband did not touch this meal; I made him a hot dog with all the fixings. He likes what he likes and I love him for that. Even if you are not ready to make your first a-tempeh with meat alternatives, at least try the salad and vinaigrette, and don't you dare skip the toasting step - it makes all the difference in the depth of flavor.

With a full heart and an empty plate,

Katie

Wellness Wednesday {raw}: Energy Bars

Energy Bars

After spending ten days with my sister in Vancouver, I was inspired to stretch my culinary muscles and experiment with more raw & vegan recipes. It blew my mind that she had an entire 'cook'book dedicated to raw desserts! In the last year or so, I have focused a lot on my health, starting with checking my portion sizes, alcohol consumption, sweet eating, and all around movement in my life. Since moving to California, it's been so easy to eat tons of great vegetables and fruit and incorporate them into our diet new ways too! I can't say that I'll ever give up baking with butter or eating cheese, bread & bacon, but I love the idea of enjoying those things 20% of the time, with the remaining 80% making healthy, well-rounded choices with new and interesting twists! I pulled from a few recipes I found, using what I had on hand, to give these energy bars a go.

Energy Bars} Raw, Vegan, Dairy & Gluten Free // Makes 16

1 c raw almonds, divided

5 T chia seeds, divided

1/3 ground flaxseed

4 T cacao nibs, divided

1/2 c + 2 T raw sunflower seeds, divided

1 tsp cinnamon

1 c pitted Medjool dates 

1/2 c raisins 

6 T raw applesauce

1/4 c raw shredded coconut

2 T raw sesame seeds

5 T raw hulled hemp hearts

Line an 8 x 8" dish with parchment paper and allow some to hang off the side for easy removal. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse 3/4 c of the almonds, 3 T chia seeds, ground flaxseed, 3 T cacao nibs, 1/2 c sunflower seeds, and cinnamon. Run until the mixture is fine; add dates, raisins, and applesauce. Process until it comes together in a sticky dough, scraping the sides as needed.  Transfer almond mixture to a bowl. Chop remaining almonds and add them, along with the remaining ingredients, to the mixture; stir to combine well. Press into prepared pan and freeze for at least an hour. 

Pull the parchment to remove the whole square and place on a cutting board. Cut into 16 equal pieces and store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer. These are sweet, chewy, delicious, & filling! These would make a great little mid-afternoon treat to power through until dinner, or a pre-workout snack in the morning to get you going!

Stacked Energy Bars

Try swapping in a different nut for the almonds or adding some pepitas or pistachios for color (when I started this, I thought I had pepitas, but  no luck - next time!) Create & enjoy!

With a full heart and an empty plate,

Katie

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