Thursday, July 31, 2014

Grape and Dark Chocolate Chunk Muesli

...Because chocolate chunks are just plain better than chocolate chips.

Although most of my favorite food blogs are vegan (or at least vegetarian), I take inspiration from all food lifestyles. I check FoodGawker at least twice every day and browse until I have viewed each new recipe, and I know the times of the day that the site is usually updated. It might be an addiction...

Ever since I "met" Haley from Cheap Recipe Blog, hers is one of the sites that I often find inspiration. Recently, she shared a cheap and easy entertaining idea of serving frozen grapes, dark chocolate, and wine for dessert. Um, I love all three of those things, so YES.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Nutty Pumpkin Berry Oatmeal, + Other Hacks for Banana Haters

Dear Banana Haters,

This post is for you. Although it may seem like we play for opposite teams (I'm all like, "BRING ON THE 'NANAS," and you're all, "UGH, I GAG!"), we're not all that different.

You see, as much as I love (and NEED) my daily banana(s), I also know what it's like to loathe an ingredient. Even before my transition to a herbivore lifestyle, I have never appreciated the taste of sour cream. I think it's pretty vile, in fact. If my favorite blog kept making oatmeal topped with sour cream, I would be pretty ticked.

Therefore, I have a solution. You have probably noticed by now that most of my favorite recipes contain banana. Not wanting you to miss out, I have compiled a list of hacks for all you banana haters...including one new recipe (pictured below--scroll to the bottom of this post for the recipe)!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Root Beer Float Overnight Oatmeal

I have so many recipe ideas. Unfortunately, some of them require obscure ingredients that I couldn't imagine myself using regularly (or, in the case of macadamia nuts, I can't afford to use them regularly!). This was my problem with root beer extract. Wouldn't it be cool to have a root beer float oatmeal? But what else could I possibly do with it?

Thus, I was pretty freakin' pleased when I perused my mom's baking cupboard and discovered root beer concentrate. You see, my mom's quite special. She may appear to be your standard accountant, but when she comes home, she transforms into a cake decorator. She used to just do average sheet cakes and basic wedding tier cakes, but when the cupcake trend blossomed, so did her repertoire.

She now pumps out all sorts of "hip" cupcakes: Oreo, dreamsicle, red velvet (of course), lemon, salted caramel, etc. If you've seen it on Pinterest, she's probably tried it. Anyway, sometime during her experiments, she must have done a root beer cupcake, and thanks to her, I can give you this recipe today.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

I'm hosting a giveaway!

Exciting announcement!!

My friends over at Country Choice Organic have developed and released a handful of new products. I had the honor of trying them out for you. ;)

I'm particularly excited about their gluten-free oats. Here's what Country Choice has to say about their two new gluten-free options:
Though oats don’t contain gluten, they are traditionally grown and processed in close proximity to wheat and other gluten containing grains. Producing GF oats takes extra care to ensure no cross contact with gluten containing grains. To answer consumer demand for gluten-free oats, Country Choice Organic is packing gluten free organic oats in traditional resealable canisters and pricing them to sell at a similar price as conventionally grown gluten free oats. With Country Choice Organic, consumers who prefer organic products, but need to avoid gluten, no longer need to be concerned about cross contact and the price will not be a barrier to consumption.  [TOA: Emphasis added by me.]
In other words, you can have gluten-free AND organic oats without shelling out more money. These canisters are available in old-fashioned (aka "rolled") and steel cut varieties. Although I do not have a gluten intolerance and cannot comment on that aspect of it, I can confirm that these oats act identical to their regular  (non-gluten-free) counterparts. I tested it out in the (upcoming) recipe pictured below!

The other new addition to the CCO line is flavored, single-serve packets of steel cut oats! Technically speaking, these are their quick-cook steel cut oats (my favorite!!), but in pouch form. They already came in a plain variety, but now they've added two flavors: Maple & Brown Sugar, and Apple Spice.

The pouches contain directions for how to prepare them in the microwave in five minutes...which was pretty darn helpful for me because I never really could figure that out. I can't tell you how many times I have had to clean out a messy microwave from cooking oatmeal that bubbled over! However, you can also prepare them in the traditional format on the stove.

Here's what CCO has to say about them:
Country Choice Organic Single Serve Steel Cut Oats contain only organic, whole grain steel cut oats, a powerful source of fiber and protein. Every box includes eight single serve packets, each with 150 calories, four grams of protein and three grams of fiber. Apple Spice and Maple & Brown Sugar join Original flavor, creating a flavorful variety of oatmeal that can be cooked-up in just five minutes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and anything in between.
As you know, I am all about plain oats and making my own "flavor," but I will admit that I was impressed by the ingredients list on these puppies. I can pronounce and identify all of these ingredients! If you know anyone who is devoted to pre-flavored pouches of oats (*cough*MYMOTHER*cough*) that resembles more of a science project than actual food, maybe you could persuade them to make the switch to one of these!

Now for the announcement: to celebrate these new products, Country Choice Organic and I would love to give away one of each to YOU! This means there will be four "winners:" one will win a canister of gluten-free steel cut oats, another will win a canister of gluten-free old-fashioned oats, another will win a box of Maple & Brown Sugar steel cut oat pouches, etc.

To be sensitive toward those of you with a gluten intolerance/allergy, we are providing two separate "registries." One is for the gluten-free canisters, and the other is for the boxes of single-serve steel cut pouches (which are not certified gluten-free). You may register for both if you want. Each "task" that you complete (such as liking Country Choice Organic on Facebook) will increase your chances of being randomly selected.

Enter the Gluten-Free Giveaway Here!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter the Single-Serve Steel Cut Pouches Giveaway Here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

**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!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb Breakfast Cobbler

FINALLY I got my hands on some rhubarb. I thought the entire summer was going to slip away without me finding some. Would you believe my sister had some the entire time?

Considering how much I enjoyed my Blueberry Breakfast Cobbler, I decided to try something similar with my rhubarb. As you can see, the result was gorgeous.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Elvis Oatmeal Smoothie + Getting Fit #8

Yesterday on Facebook, I shared the post for Peach Pie Oatmeal Smoothie. As of today, that recipe is exactly one year old. I have not posted a single oatmeal smoothie recipe since! I'm not a huge smoothie person--although I'm not sure why. I've just never been one to crave a smoothie.

However, someone commented on the Peach Pie recipe, "Ever thought of coming up with more oatmeal smoothie recipes? This one was delicious :)"

Reading that comment gave me the motivation to finally make this recipe!

This is the eighth 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! I hope you are fine and dandy and your training for the collegiate championships is going well!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Lava Baked Oatmeal [Guest Post]

Hi guys it's me, @laura__kiss, again  :) You may remember me as I was the Oatmeal Enthusiast in March.

I was so happy and excited that so many people liked my guest post!

And I think Lauren liked it to ;) She asked me to send her and all her readers the recipe for the lava baked oatmeal, so here you go :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Cherry Almond Fudge Oatmeal

Since going to my parents' house a little over a week ago, I've been hooked on my Fudgy Banana & Peanut Butter Oatmeal. Every time that I've had to photograph a new recipe--like this one--I basically had to force myself to say "no" to my beloved favorite. This recipe was a little easier to swallow since it's still "fudgy," peanut butter?! The horror!

Luckily, I am satisfied with my decision as soon as I take the first bite!

I love cherry season. I think frozen cherries lack flavor, and dried cherries are tough and too chewy. Whenever I have fresh cherries to work with, I am a happy lady.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Elephant in the Room (My Blog + Its Role with ED)

After (finally) purchasing an iPhone and joining the Instagram community, I watched my follower count grow quickly. This should have been exciting for me, but instead I began to worry. I noticed a pattern immediately. At least half of my new followers used similar handles: most of them made references to "ana" (short for anorexia) or "recovery" (as in, recovering from an eating disorder). Similarly, when I searched the #oatmealartist hash tag, they were accompanied by ED-related handles and hash tags. Here is a glimpse of some of the pictures I frequently see:

Why did this worry me?

As someone who is awkwardly tall and thin, I have received my fair share of condescending weight comments and have always been self-conscious about it. Thus, when I started seeing all these Instagram followers, I freaked out. My thought process was as follows: Is my blog the new hangout for teenage girls with eating disorders? What does that say about my blog? About me? Do they think my blog is diet food? Do my friends and family think that my blog is diet food? Do my friends and family think I am eating oatmeal to diet?! Do my friends and family think *I* have an eating disorder!?

I suffered silently with these thoughts for months until I collaborated with Charlotte, May's Oatmeal Enthusiast. She wrote:
I have struggled with an eating disorder for 8 long years, but it got very bad in 2011. My anorexia took over my life, and I was no longer able to enjoy food. I found Lauren’s blog in 2012, and even though I was still very much in denial and did not want to get better at all, there was something about those delicious looking oatmeal recipes that caught my attention! I suddenly had an interest in food again, which was both scary and exciting. I started experimenting with my breakfasts, and although I was too afraid to follow the actual recipes, it was still a step in the right direction. 

I went inpatient for 4 months in the summer of 2012, and as I was getting better all I could think about was going home and finally be able to try all of the recipes on The Oatmeal Artist’s blog. Unfortunately I had a very bad relapse, but even through that relapse I continued to eat oatmeal almost every single morning, and that was without a doubt one of the reasons I made it through. Today I consider myself recovered, and Lauren’s blog has definitely helped me get to where I am now.
 I heard similar narratives from many other young ladies, all with the same point: my blog helped them recover, not fuel the disorder. I then recognized that the Instagram handles I was seeing all discussed recovery; these were victims of EDs who were using online communities to overcome their tough relationships with food.

I recently read this article on Buzzfeed called "Teenage Girls are Using Instagram to Fix their Relationships with Food." By the title alone, this article struck a chord with me. Considering that the majority of the pictures tagged #oatmealartist on Instagram also contain hashtags like #EDrecovery, I have personally witnessed this trend. The article states:
“I think sometimes that people (me included) get so caught up on having what some might regard as the perfect and healthy diet, that they forget that it is also very important to have a healthy mentality towards food and not be obsessive,” wrote 15-year-old Tina, who recently shared a bowl of oatmeal cooked with artfully displayed raspberries, banana, sesame seeds, cacao nibs, medjool dates, and homemade chocolate almond butter to her 45,000 followers.
[...] Aside from purported health benefits — less bloating, more energy, clearer skin, etc. — popular users said the practice was therapeutic, not just because it helped suppress the urge to diet but because it made eating fun instead of traumatic.

Several months ago, somebody left a comment on one of my posts stating that they used my recipes during the peak of their eating disorder, and was wondering what my role was in fueling eating disorders. My initial reaction was horror, and then anger. To suggest that my recipes caused her eating disorder was infuriating to me. The comment bummed me out for days, until I responded with some almost-cordial-but-mostly-snippy comment about how my blog does not need to play any role at all.

Any health-focused blog could obviously become a haven for someone looking to restrict calories, but that’s not what my blog is about. Never does my blog discuss limiting calories, trying to lose weight, or dieting. That has never been my focus. I create recipes that I believe are nutritious, filling, and delicious; what someone chooses to do with those recipes is out of my control. Am I to blame if someone cooks their oatmeal in water instead of almond milk and omits the peanut butter?

Furthermore, you will not find calorie counts on my blog. This was a choice I made from the beginning. I believe focusing on calories creates feelings of guilt or stress that should never be associated with food. Food is fuel! This is the vibe I try to create on my blog, to empower us to make healthy choices not as a “diet,” but as a way to nourish us physically, mentally, and spiritually in a world where we are constantly bombarded with options that are making us sick.

Anyway, I've been avoiding the “ED recovery” community because I did not want my blog associated with eating disorders in any way, mostly stemming from my own self-consciousness. However, after seeing the role my blog has played in so many girls’ recoveries, I have realized I should no longer ignore this community out of fear of what others would say. If my goal as a blogger is to alter people’s perceptions of food, then my vision aligns with theirs. May my oatmeal bring them nourishment and recovery.

Instead of posting a recipe today, I would like to share with you four Instagram users whom I personally follow, who are winning  (or have won) the fight against an ED, and who post gorgeous food pictures almost daily. Most of them are vegan because vegans are the best. ;)

Please check out these ladies, and feel free to share your story below in the comments!

**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, July 10, 2014

Blueberry Breakfast Cobbler

This. This recipe is summer vacation to me.

Not summer, but summer vacation. As in, "I'm not working 80 hours a week, so I can experiment with recipes that I imagined a year ago but never had the energy to actually create."

This is actually just a super simple baked oatmeal atop a sea of blueberries. Don't be freaked out by the cast iron skillet; you could make this in any ramekin.

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