Happy July! I hope all my American readers had an excellent patriotic birthday and enjoyed some awesome guacamole . . . I know I did! I picked July’s Enthusiast a month and a half early. I found her pictures on Instagram and was immediately smitten. I couldn’t help but ask early!
Hey guys! My name is Taigen, I’m 20 years old and I live in Sydney, Australia. I grew up in rural New South Wales and was a real country bumpkin (I’m talking tom-boy who refused to wear shoes type) until my family made the move to the city when I was nine. I grew up very differently to my peers: riding horses, mustering sheep, fixing fences and building tepees took up most of my childhood. I am the youngest of three, with two older brothers. I’m currently in my final year of university and will soon be a qualified journalist! I have spent most of this year studying abroad in London, England, which was such an amazing experience! I got to travel all over the UK and Europe and even had my brother fly over to do some travelling with me. I returned to Australia in late May, just in time for my second winter of the year! Which isn’t as bad as you may think. Cold weather only means warm, hearty foods. And I don’t doubt everyone here is a foodie as I am. One food we love in particular – oatmeal!
I’ll start by admitting that, like some of Lauren’s dedicated readers, I am also ED recovered. I was never hospitalised or forced into recovery; instead I chose to recover on my own. I had a hard look at my lifestyle and saw that I was destroying mind and my body, all for the sake of feeling the useless satisfaction that came from seeing a certain number on the scales. I fell victim to orthorexia, which is an unhealthy obsession with being healthy by over-exercising and eating a super ‘clean’ diet. My weight dropped 12 kg (26lbs) in 6-8 months and kept going. I had always carried a little extra weight while I was growing up, so the contentment of finally seeing the scales drop only made me more obsessed with continuing.
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No matter what, I had oatmeal for breakfast every single day. In hindsight, breakfast was where my recovery started and still remains the place I can take solace whenever those thoughts return. Throughout falling victim to an eating disorder, recovering and now pursuing a passion for health, wellbeing and happiness, my oat recipes have changed at each phase respectively. In other words, and by my own verdict, they have only gotten better and better!
Last year I made a small but incremental change to my oats that drove me to start an Instagram account and get experimental with all kinds of flavours and combinations. I added zucchini. Yup, you read that right! I grated up raw zucchini and cooked it with my oats. On the 9th of March 2014, at around 6am, I had my very first, very hesitant, bowl of zoats! Since that day I haven’t gone back. They are my favourite discovery to date and I am always looking for new and inventive ways to have zoats, and to inspire others to try them as well!
I couldn’t tell you the last time I didn’t have some kind of oats for breakfast; even while travelling I still managed to source them out somewhere. I also can’t tell you how hard it was to choose just seven flavours to share with you! It racked my brain because I wanted them to be the flavours that I always go back to and love, without them being mundane or unexciting. But in the same way, I have so many flavours that I love and thoroughly enjoy only having once a month. So I mixed it up and went with my cravings each morning!
Monday: Vanilla Cappuccino Zoats with Cacao PB2 Sauce
Adding granulated coffee to my oats has been one of my most favourite things to do! I don’t drink coffee, I eat it, and it’s amazing. I use about 1 teaspoon of Nescafe Intense coffee granules. The vanilla flavouring comes from my protein powder and I use in it all of my recipes. I find vanilla is a great base flavour and sweetener. As for the cacao pb2, all I did was mix pb2 with raw cacao power and hot water – I say always use hot water because cacao mixes with hot water far easier than cold and the consistency it creates is just like melted chocolate!
Tuesday: Banana Caramel Zoats
The thing I love about healthy and mindful eating is that you get to learn how to create clean, guiltless versions of your favourite foods! Take, for instance, caramel. I made this by combining banana, cinnamon, vanilla and dried dates. A decadent, yet healthy, start to the day! You may also notice that I am a complete nut butter addict. I always have a lot of peanut butter on my oats! I only eat 100% pure nut butters (just nuts) that have real flavours (cacao, coconut etc.).
Wednesday: PB & J Zoats
This is one my favourites to make. My standard vanilla cinnamon zoats are the base topped with microwaved frozen berries and a mountain of peanut butter. The combination of berries and oats is genius! Not to mention the fact that having peanut butter and jelly for breakfast is pretty cool on its own.
Thursday: Cacao Brownie Zoats
So, I’m not a traditional chocolate person. I don’t eat blocks of Cadbury or Lindt, I actually find it far too sweet and can’t stomach it. But I LOVE cacao, I love its bitterness and dark flavour. Here we have three kinds of cacao… because my love is that real. To start there is cacao zoats, I added about 1 tablespoon, then there is cacao peanut butter (just cacao and peanuts!) and finally organic cacao nibs, which a basically the health food version of choc chips, to me they taste far better and are full of antioxidants. Yumm!
Friday: Spiced Pumpkin Pie Latte Zoats
This is a flavour that I don’t have very often. While I was in the UK I had access to canned pumpkin (which is freaking cool because we can’t get it in Australia) and I made it a lot, but at home it’s something I only enjoy every now and then. And I think you just can’t beat fresh steamed pumpkin! I topped it off with some peanut butter, banana and dried organic dates. Peeerfect!
Saturday: Hulk Zoats
This idea came from our very own Lauren! And she is genius for blending spinach with milk/water and cooking oats in it. It tastes phenomenal, looks ridiculously good and is super nutritious. It is now a staple in my breakfast rotation and I have her to thank for it!
Sunday: Carrot Cake Zoats
Finally it is the flavour that I have weekly, if not more often. Carrot cake zoats are one of my tope three flavours and for very good reason. Along with using cinnamon and nutmeg I also add about 1 teaspoon of blackstrap molasses, another brilliant tip I found here on The Oatmeal Artist. It adds an intense and earth flavour that makes the carrot cake flavour pop!
Finally, I just wanted to say a huge thank you to Lauren for asking me to be this months Oatmeal Enthusiast! It has been so much fun documenting every breakfast and planning out a weeks worth of oatmeal to share. I take so much pride in my oats so it has been an honour to share them and I hope you have all enjoyed them too! If you would like to check me out on Instagram – my name is @healthhappinesspeanutbutter ☺