By way of introduction my name is Cathy and in looking over your past featured bloggers I must say I’m a bit older than quite possibly all of them – I’ve been married over 30 years and have two grown daughters. I am also a life-long Michiganian and lived through many long snowy frigid winters (and I am NOT a fan of cold weather by the way!) where you would think I would have gotten on board with something as yummy as oatmeal quite some time ago. Of course I have known about oatmeal all my life – I cooked bowls of it for my family, baked plenty of cookies and apple crisps with it – but just never got into eating it myself (& growing up I was much more of a Cream of Wheat gal). Thus I am much ashamed to say that it just wasn’t my thing back then. I remember one time when my husband brought home this ginormous two-pack of oats (it was from Cost-Co, right?) and I felt just like Estelle Costanza – “What am I going to do with all this paella?”. Then suddenly the light went on! It was just over two years ago – March of 2013 to be exact. So I am most definitely a late bloomer when it comes to getting on board the oatmeal train but now I am 110% ON BOARD!!!! Let this be a lesson to any possible naysayers out there 😉
I currently work as a weight loss leader & counselor and have been in this field for just over 10 years. About fifteen years ago I lost 35 pounds and have kept it off. However, in springtime of two years ago my co-workers and I decided to have a little in-house contest to see how much weight we could lose over an eight week time period. I was very happy to lose “those last 10 lbs.” over those two months but I had a very serious personal goal during that time in addition to the weight loss & that was to give up my long-standing sugar addiction. (With cookies being my own personal worst offender!!)That being said I do still use a little bit of mini chocolate chips in some of my recipes (Hey – what can I say I’m a female) but now I get my sweet fix from fruits and while I never thought I would be able to say this a few years ago – believe it or not – I do not miss or crave it at all!! You know how you always hear how it takes three weeks to formulate a habit? Well a while ago I read an article that said it can take anywhere up to some 260 DAYS or so – that’s more like 8 to 9 months but I’m living proof it can be done!
Prior to “discovering” oatmeal I had been eating frosted shredded wheat for my breakfast for many years and still feeling ravenously hungry a very short time after eating it . It was time to TAKE ACTION!!! Having been a recipe hoarder for several decades I turned my attention to both the Internet and Pinterest and came up with my first three beloved oats recipes – I’ll call those my “Triple Crown” of oats dishes that got me off to a very good start on my current oatmeal addiction. These three include: Banana Oat Cups, Oatmeal Casserole and Summer Porridge (also known by several different names, probably the most common being Overnight Oats). I am not trying to plagiarize anyone here because I definitely want to give credit where credit is due – I have not created any of these recipes on my own, however I have found them from so many different sources that I really don’t know exactly where they all originated from. That being said, after I read about the overnight oats recipe the woman who posted it said she had never expected the response she got to this recipe – she said some 600+ people commented on it! After seeing that I figured she must REALLY be on to something and I started on my merry oatmeal way!
With giving up refined & processed sugars I have to say how totally amazed & pleasantly surprised I am by the fact that one of the top most crucial ingredients involved in so many oats recipes is the smushed banana!! It works amazingly well as both a natural sweetener and excellent binder to hold everything together. The first time I made the banana oat cup recipe I really had to hold myself back from not eating the whole darn dish in one sitting!! The other thing I have discovered and am so very pleased with is the fact that with my busy work schedule all these dishes freeze beautifully – meaning I can cook up several batches of different dishes when I do have a little extra time to spend in my kitchen & then I am good to go for a week (or more !!)without having to spend time cooking every single day.
I am also a very firm believer that oats are most definitely not just a breakfast time food – my recipes here will show you that I enjoy my oats all throughout the entire day. Let’s begin then with the very first part of my ‘triple crown’ of oats goodness: the banana oat cup.
And now that I have called it ‘the cup’ I always cook it in an 8×8 pan & just cut them into bars. These are good either hot or cold and also for an on-the-go treat if you are running out the door and don’t have the time to sit & enjoy them. The thing that is a little different with this dish is that you whip the oats in a blender for about 10 seconds so it gives it a much smoother texture for the finished product.
Part 2 of my ‘triple crown’ is Oats Casserole.
I will never forget the first time I made this dish – about the last five minutes of cooking I had the most delightful wafting fragrance going on in my kitchen & all I could think was “my house smells just like a bed & breakfast!!!” When I took this little gem out of my oven I just had to breathe DEEP!!! Good thing the only one watching me was my Derby dog because I’m sure anyone else would think I was crazy but I have been eating this for over two years now & have yet to tire of it!! (This is an 8×8 pan that makes six portions of total YUM!!!)
Part 3 of my ‘triple crown’ is my other love-of-my-life oats dish known as summer porridge, a.k.a. overnight oats.
When I first found this recipe I had NEVER heard of it a ANYWHERE and just like anything else, now I see it all the time & absolutely everywhere! ( I guess it’s like when you buy a certain color car & you suddenly notice there are a plethora of people driving cars in your exact same color, correct?) The first time I stirred all the simple magic ingredients (with no cooking involved) together I thought to myself ” How is this going to be tomorrow morning?” Well NOT to worry for any of you who may be unfamiliar with it. The recipe says it can be served either hot or cold & honestly I’m so in love with O.O. Cold I have never even once attempted to warm it up!! I guess I should try it warm at least once just to say I tried it that way but I’m sticking to the old ” If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” line here & that’s my story!
The special ingredient in this dish is the lemon zest which gives it just a fantastic light flavor!
Proof that I really do eat my oats all day long is in my next three items: I got this recipe from my sister who lives in Florida. Their official name is “no bake energy balls” but she made them for us when we were visiting her & it was getting to be rather late in the evening. Well she misspoke as she was offering me one and said “would you like to try a no energy ball?” After we got done laughing about them I tried one & discovered a whole new way of oats deliciousness! So now their unofficial name around my house is ‘no energy’ balls.
However if you are making these late and do not feel like taking the time to roll them into cute little round balls, they taste equally as delicious just pressed into a pan & cut into squares.
As I mentioned earlier, in my previous sugar addiction I suffered from for so many years, cookies were at the TOTAL top of my list. So when I discovered this recipe ( and it comes in many varied forms, all basically the same & yet many extra optional add-in choices) this my dream-come-true answer to having my cookies and yet avoiding all the extra white and/or brown sugars that used to be found in my cookies.
Again, the smushed banana provides the secret key ingredient. Sometimes I bake them into actual cookie shapes but doing it as a bar cookie works equally as well and these too can be frozen for an on-the-go treat for all ages.
This last one is from a blog where I actually wrote down the author – It is Chocolate Covered Katie and people always seem to laugh & find this name rather funny but she had to call it something, right?
It’s known as “Boatmeal” and I make it either with or without cocoa powder depending on how my chocolate mood hits me. Anyhow, it’s delicious either way and another very portable version of oats you can take with you wherever you go. I always bake this recipe in a pie plate which explains why my pieces look like this but after I took the pic I couldn’t help but notice that it looks somewhat like the symbol in a nuclear power plant…??
A highlight of my year last year was when I discovered that October 29th is N.O.D.!!! Yes, you guessed it – National Oatmeal Day!! My younger daughter came over earlier that day and helped me with the cooking. Pretty much everything we prepared (except for the salad) was totally OATS!! There were 10 of us total together to celebrate the day & a good time was had by all! I scoured the Internet and it was so much fun planning out the menu-we had an herbed oatmeal scone for our appetizer, a chicken vegetable pot-pie with an oatmeal crust topping, and piping hot oatmeal bread. One friend brought an oatmeal mushroom risotto side dish and I even found an oatmeal beer! Another friend had a drink one night at the bar called “the oatmeal cookie” so she brought the ingredients for that & made shots for everyone for our dessert – way to end our fun celebration! This friend also really got in on the oatmeal spirit by starting our meal off with not one but two “pop quizzes”. The first one was 10 questions about oatmeal in general and the next one was 10 questions about me & my obsessive love of oats! The door prizes were,of course, you guessed it – two large cartons of oats! Another friend brought me a hostess gift of oatmeal soap & oatmeal scrub so everyone got in the spirit! As I was getting everything ready for that evening I got a few quizzical raised eyebrows from my hubby as if to say ‘how are you going to pull this one off?’ However I am happy to report plans are already in the works for the second annual N.O.D party for this coming fall.
Just in the way of a small cooking tip – a lot of recipes say you can substitute plain applesauce in place of the banana and although I do use that in place of the brown sugar in my Oats Casserole dish (and it works just fine) in most cases I definitely prefer the banana. I have also discovered a type of cinnamon known as ‘Saigon cinnamon’. I don’t know if that’s where it really comes from but I do recommend it because I have found it to have a much more cinnamon-y flavor than just the regular kind. To wrap this all up, as much as I dearly love all kinds of fruits in my oats I do see myself moving forward and branching out in further ways and new recipes like at my party. I plan to make your red lentil recipe very soon and also try your zucchini with oats recipe too! Well Lauren I just wanted to let you know how much I have enjoyed being your featured artist for the month and also to sincerely commend you for all your delicious recipes and all the good work you put into your fantastic blog – please keep up the excellent job!!
P.S. I just had to let you know that I feel that I have been completely exonerated just over a week ago. Over the past two+ years I have been teased, ribbed, picked on, etc. by many people over my extreme oats fanaticism – however, my husband just recently participated in his first Iron Man Triathalon in Texas. On the morning of the 140 mile event of swimming, bicycling and then running a marathon, guess what he was instructed to eat at 3:00 AM???? Drum-roll here please – TA DA!!!!! Oatmeal & a banana!!!! I loved it!!