Although I often resort to Instagram to find my Enthusiasts (so many beautiful pictures to choose from!!), I occasionally stumble upon other readers and oatmeal lovers that I simply must invite into the Enthusiast club. Such is the case with Wendy. This “traveling vegan” was constantly commenting on my posts and tweeting my recipes on Twitter. Not only was she a BA vegan traveler, but she liked my recipes! She did a great guest post this summer, but I always knew I wanted to invite her back to be an Oatmeal Enthusiast. So here we go . . .
Hello fellow oatmeal lovers! My name is Wendy Werneth, and I’m thrilled to be back here at the Oatmeal Artist. And this time with the extra honour of being chosen by Lauren as the Oatmeal Enthusiast of the Month! If you caught my guest post “How to Make Oatmeal Anywhere” back in June, then you already know that I love to travel. I mean, I really love to travel. When you add it all up, I’ve spent about five years on the road and have so far visited nearly 100 countries.
My love affair with oatmeal is more recent and really only flourished in the last year or so. It was part of a general interest in healthier eating, which ultimately led me to adopt a vegan lifestyle. I was hesitant to make that leap at first because I thought being vegan would make travel difficult, but it hasn’t! In fact the truth is, it has made travel even more fun.
I love seeking out naturally vegan foods wherever I go, and it really gives me the chance to delve deep into the local cuisine and food culture of the places I visit. Eager to show the rest of the world how wonderfully fulfilling vegan travel can be, I started my own blog, The Nomadic Vegan, where you can follow my adventures and get insider tips on the best vegan dining experiences around the world. If you have any questions about travel as a vegan, please get in touch, I’d love to help!
I have to admit that when it comes to oatmeal I’m generally not as adventurous as I am in my travels – I usually just make one of Lauren’s recipes for my daily bowl of oats. For my week as Oatmeal Enthusiast though, I thought it would be fun to make recipes highlighting some of the countries I’ve travelled to, using ingredients typically used in those countries’ cuisines.
So pack your bags, because we’re about to take off on a whirlwind tour of oatmeal around the world!
Monday: Italian Oatmeal
This savoury bowl of steel-cut oats flavoured with tomato paste is chock full of some of my favourite Mediterranean ingredients: artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, cherry tomatoes and black olives, with pine nuts sprinkled on top. It’s like a gourmet pizza in a bowl!
Tuesday: Chinese Oatmeal
While oatmeal is not commonly eaten in China, congee – a type of porridge made from rice cooked that’s been cooked for a long time in lots of water – is a favourite breakfast item. It comes in a variety of flavours, both sweet and savoury, but a popular version is made with adzuki beans, which are known simply as red beans (红豆) in Chinese. While you might think a porridge made with beans would be savoury, you would be mistaken. In East Asia, adzuki beans are usually served sweet and find their way into a variety of desserts. Even ice cream! I made this oatmeal with soy milk (also a common breakfast item in China) and a can of sweetened adzukis, along with some lychees.
Wednesday: Indonesian Oatmeal
Indonesia abounds with exotic fruits, so there were many different possibilities for this oatmeal. The fruit that I associate most strongly with Indonesia is durian – a large, spiky fruit with a creamy flesh that is highly prized by the locals, despite its stench. Only problem is, I find durian kind of gross. Plus, it costs about 15 dollars per kilo where I live. And did I mention it stinks to high heaven?
So instead I chose jackfruit, an even larger, though less spiky fruit that also grows on the islands of the archipelago. Vegan and vegetarian readers might know jackfruit in its canned, unripe form, which has a very stringy, meaty texture and makes a great stand-in for meat in vegan versions of BBQ pulled pork sandwiches and other dishes. The canned stuff doesn’t taste like much by itself, but it’s great at soaking up the flavours of a marinade. The fresh fruit, on the other hand, is actually quite sweet. Its taste is similar to cantaloupe, but it has a more rubbery texture.
I spiced this oatmeal with cloves, because if there’s one smell I associate with Indonesia (besides stinky durian!) it’s the clove cigarettes that every male over the age of 16 seems to smoke. I chose coconut milk as the cooking liquid and topped it with coconut shavings, because I also have fond memories of drinking fresh coconut water straight out of a coconut that had just been opened by a rice farmer with his machete. And also peanuts, because satay.
Thursday: Uzbek Oatmeal
I’ve named this oatmeal after Uzbekistan, but really it could represent any of the ‘Stans in Central Asia, which I will always associate with melons. The fruit is thought to have originated in the region more than 2,000 years ago. In any case, it is now an integral part of the culture and is consumed stewed, candied or dried. Or fresh when in season of course! Happily, my travels through the region did coincide with melon season, which meant that these wonderfully fragrant fruits were being hawked on every street corner. For this oatmeal I used a galia melon, which has a taste similar to cantaloupe but is yellowish-green in colour. I topped it with golden raisins, walnuts and (soy) yogurt, all of which conjure up images in my mind of blue-tiled domes and wide open plains scattered with yurts.
Friday: Peruvian Oatmeal
The main staples of the traditional Incan diet were corn, potatoes and quinoa. It seemed only natural, then, that I would find a way to incorporate all three of them into this oatmeal. As the base I made a porridge that was a mix of oats and quinoa by following Lauren’s recipe for Banana Oat-Quinoa Porridge. For the potato I used sweet potato, because we all know how wonderful sweet potatoes are in oatmeal. And finally, for the corn I used a variety called choclo, which has large, white kernels and is especially popular in Peru. Oh, and since one superfood just wasn’t enough, I also threw in a bit of lúcuma powder, as the fruit is widely used in Peru to flavour juices, shakes and ice cream.
Saturday: Down Under Oatmeal
Sorry, bad joke.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned by being married to an Australian, it’s that folks in Australia are very particular about their mangoes. Those grown anywhere else just don’t seem to measure up to the juicy, golden lusciousness of an Australian mango. Unfortunately these aren’t available where I live, but I made do with one from Brazil and also added in a banana for good measure. I then topped the whole thing with passion fruit – something I remember my mother-in-law doing every time she served us fruit salad during our visit.
Sunday: Malian Oatmeal
I’ll be honest: travel in Mali (and the rest of West Africa) is tough going, with relatively few rewards. Oftentimes, what got me through those long, bumpy, sweltering bus rides was the anticipation of arriving in the next village, where I knew there would be a gang of women and young girls pushing their hands through the bus window to sell me a plastic bag filled with frozen ginger juice or bissap. Ginger juice is self-explanatory, but unless you’ve been to West Africa you’ve probably never heard of bissap. It’s a type of hibiscus flower that grows in the region, and apparently it does have an English name – roselle. Whatever. It will always be bissap to me. It’s used to make a dark purple-coloured infusion that is drunk chilled (or even better, frozen).
For this oatmeal, I decided to combine the two flavours by using bissap as the cooking liquid and topping the oatmeal with dried, candied ginger. I also added in two other locally-grown fruits – mangoes and pineapple. Seen as expensive, exotic treats in the West, they sell for pennies in Mali and are one of the rare luxuries available to travellers in the country.
I hope you enjoyed this oatmeal-themed world tour! I’m really grateful to Lauren for the chance to share my love of oatmeal (and travel!) with all of you. If you’d like to know more about how to enjoy travel as a vegan, you can download my free ebook, “8 Steps for Fun and Easy Vegan Travel“. Happy travels!