It’s my birthday month, everyone!! Hooray for February. Recently I was browsing #oatmealartist photos on Instagram, and I came across some bright, lovely aerial shots from a user that I had not seen before. I was instantly in love with her shots and couldn’t wait to ask her if she’d be February’s Enthusiast!
Hello, everyone—from oatmeal lovers to those who have yet to see the light!
I’m Queena, hailing all the way from the Philippines, who is in love with music, art (I wouldn’t call myself artistic though—I’m more of a viewer) and literature. With just one semester left, I’m about to graduate with a degree in secondary education, majoring in special education. After a year of work experience, I’ll be entering law school. I know my bachelor’s degree doesn’t really match with being a lawyer, but to be one has always been a dream, yet I wanted to spend college dealing with kids and people in general, to do something that would help me get out of my shell before I bury myself in thick, massive books on constitution. Basically, I just wanted to make the most out of everything. And I guess that’s already a sneak peek into the kind of person I am.
I have to admit, I wasn’t very athletic in the past. I didn’t care about physical activity except for the good ol’ games Filipino children typically played on the streets. Later on, in high school, I stopped playing with neighbors; I focused on academics and reading for pleasure. It was also during this time that I discovered all sorts of stereotypes through the Internet, and from this, I learned that I was, for all a label’s worth, an introvert. I lived up to that since I enjoyed the quiet and being on my own anyway, but I still belonged in a circle of friends, except that when I got in university, it was literally a whole new world. I saw all kinds of people there, and that was when I became too self-conscious, constantly thinking that I’ll never be as attractive as that girl across the cafeteria, and wondering when I, too, will have someone walk me to class and make after-school plans with me. Along with the heavy academic load came the realization of all my flaws, particularly how I have always been a chubby girl. I then remembered all the times I was teased about my baby fats and my round cheeks—I guess I just didn’t care at the time—and without even any preparation or notice, I started to go on a diet. What type, you ask? Starvation diet.
To read more about Queena’s struggle with an ED, click here (TRIGGER WARNING).
Then leading to the last quarter of 2014, through Pinterest, I was introduced to Lauren’s blog. I was amazed. I didn’t know that you could do all this stuff to the oats I only used to drench in water! At first, I kept it to myself, without taking it to Instagram (@queenamarticio), even though I ate a different, beautiful bowl every single morning (and sometimes even for dinner!). I think it was because I did not want to tamper my identity as a foodie, deceived by the thought that being one meant trying out every restaurant in the city. But then, December came and so did the the traditional Misa de Gallo that transpired on the nine days before Christmas, and I “monitored” my attendance by posting a photo of a different oatmeal recipe everyday. To my surprise, friends whom I feared would criticize me for being obsessed with healthy eating actually said that they would love to have breakfast with me! (My niece once slept over just so I could make oatcakes for her.) I also recently became fond of yoga, and it was beautiful. I learned to listen to my body, and I got back to healthy eating. On the 23rd of December, I took it up a notch by going vegetarian (lacto – ovo), inspired, of course, by the likes of Lauren and other people over the Internet as well as a couple of people I recently made friends with, which made me believe it was possible in a country like ours. What I like about it, as opposed to all the other restrictive diets I tried (i.e., 3-day military diet, 7-day fruit, veggie, chicken and turkey diet, juicing, etc.) was that I could still eat food I liked such as pasta and fancy desserts sans the carb coma and sugar rush.
On the first day of the new year, seriously, I woke up feeling good in my own skin, which I haven’t done in a long time, and I attribute it to the lifestyle I have chosen, among others. So far, so good. Although my family is not 100% okay with vegetarianism because aside from the fact that the Philippines is not exactly a haven for people like me (excluding a few select specialty places that I love, which include vegetarian / vegan restaurants and a really accessible grocery), they think it’s my way of going back to my underweight self. Also, I read an article on the science of simplicity, explaining why successful people such as Steve Jobs didn’t spend that much time with supposedly simple decisions like what to wear and eat. But I am glad about my choices, and honestly, I have learned in this crazy and long process of finding myself that it doesn’t matter what other people say about you, as long as you’re happy. Good thing my mom and my grandmother would choose that over my self-starvation in the past, so yes, I cling to them for support. With that, here’s my week of oats for you! Everything’s from Lauren’s blog since I intend to try everything I can from there before I start experimenting on my own. It’s a long way to go, what with her gazillion ideas, but so what? Each and every bowl is always wonderfully delicious.
Day 1: Tropical Oatmeal
Living in a tropical country has its perks—we are famous for our sweet mangoes! I used to prefer Lauren’s dessert-like oatmeals, but now they’re in a tie with all the others just like this refreshing bowl! Every time it says coconut milk in the recipe, I use coconut water. I’ll probably get my hands on coconut flakes right after I finish this pack of desiccated coconut.
It’s been a while since I ate pistachios! I love nuts, all sorts of them. I have them in salads, I have them in desserts, and now, I have them in my oatmeal—with one of my favorite fruits, kiwi! Aside from forming into a beautifully green bowl, I thought today’s breakfast to be deliciously filling, and I found more reason to love green apples.
Day 3: Grape and Dark Chocolate Chunk Muesli
This is my favorite among the muesli recipes because really, why not? It has a fruit, it has a nut, and it has dark chocolate! Need I say more? Oh, yes, I had it with almond milk. This was one of the two recipes during the week that I have already tried before, and I think there’s no question as to why I would have it over and over again.
Day 4: Coconut Sweet Potato Oatmeal
Sweet potato has always been close to my heart. It was my go-to when I started steering away from refined carbs like white rice, which is what all Filipinos love. (To entice customers, one of the common tactics among food industries here is unlimited rice.) Coconut butter, meanwhile, is something I only became acquainted with on my journey to a healthy lifestyle. Talk about all the possibilities (and deliciousness!) caring about your body provides you with!
Day 5: Banana, Pineapple and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal
Hear ye, I am your comrade in the banana-loving community. And it’s substitution time again! I used chopped dark chocolate instead of chips in this oatmeal, like I always do when a recipe calls for it. (I actually first got the idea from the Grape and Dark Chocolate Chunk Muesli.) Issue of access, as always—I’m not sure where to get vegan chocolate chips, so I just use sugar-free dark 70% dark chocolate. Sadly, this is the reason why I can’t make anything that needs white chocolate chips; I have yet to find a healthy version of that.
Day 6: Dark Chocolate and Grapefruit Oatmeal
This is the other recipe for the week that I have tried before. I had grapefruit on hand, and this was my favorite on the blog (I’m still learning to like ginger *cue: Grapefruit Coconut Oatmeal*). The only thing is, I really want to try Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder. It looks more chocolatey based on the photos, and I really love bitter, obviously. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed this oatmeal—yes, even though I had it as overnight oats not more than a week ago.
Day 7: Banana Chocolate Chip Oatcakes
Of course, what’s a lifetime of oatmeal (or should I say, oatcakes) without peanut butter? Before I started with this lifestyle, I used cheddar cheese, cheese spread, cream cheese and the like on toast. I’m not condemning anyone who loves that, but why is it only now that I learned peanut butter is heaven in edible form? Why?? It’s now a pantry staple, and for today’s breakfast, I had it with the other half of the banana I used on Day 5. Yay, what a great way to end the week, right? Right??
All in all, I’m just so grateful. It’s been a struggle, but look at where I am now. For some reason, I’m feeling more confident than ever, and I’m sure it’s due to the fact that finally, I’m not stuck with depriving myself so that I’d feel accepted. Aside from that, it’s so nice to think that while I eat what I want, I’m lessening my carbon footprint and doing something good for animals as well. I learned to value what really matters. Win-win.
So long, and thank you so much! xo
Want to be my next Enthusiast? Tag your photos on Instagram and Twitter with #oatmealartist.