Last month, I completed a self-imposed challenge in which I tried 20 recipes from the original Oh She Glows cookbook. Coincidentally, I’m back today for the virtual cookbook tour of Oh She Glows Every Day, Angela’s second cookbook.
Like the original, this follow-up book seeks to wow plant-based and omni eaters alike with wholesome and hearty meals. Angela’s ability to create soul-enriching and nourishing meals never ceases to amaze me, always bursting with invigorating fresh flavors. If you’re stuck in a frozen veggie burger stage, Oh She Glows Every Day has several enticing recipes that may convince you to swap your ketchup and frozen fries with some green onion and roasted chickpeas. I can’t wait to try The Best Shredded Kale Salad, Mocha Empower Glo Bars, Roasted Breakfast Hash, Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Coconut “Bacon,” and the Sweet Potato Casserole. And that’s just the beginning!
Much to my enthusiasm, I had to honor of trying out one of Angela’s recipes from this stellar book, these Strawberry Oat Crumble Bars with Strawberry-Vanilla Chia Seed Jam.
I’m not much of a baker, so this recipe was unlike anything I had ever made before, and I was not disappointed. The use of sunflower seeds gave a rich salty flavor that perfectly balanced the sweet jam. Considering it had three layers, I thought it was going to be difficult, but it actually was really simple. The top and bottom layers are actually the same mixture, and the food processor does 98% of the work.
And–even cooler–I got to sit down with Angela* to discuss my favorite topic: OATS.
*Okay, fine. We emailed. Still cool, though.
TOA: How did you initially discover a love for oatmeal?
AL: I was a late bloomer with oatmeal. I don’t think I tried making my first bowls of hot oats until I was 26 or 27 years old, and even then, I didn’t love the oatmeal that I made. Shortly after that I started making vegan overnight oats, and I was HOOKED. There was something about the cool, creamy oats that I just loved. Since then I’ve “warmed up” to hot oats, and basically oats in any shape or form!
TOA: What would you make to convert someone who claims to not like oatmeal?
AL: Well, first, I totally understand because I used to be that person too! I would suggest trying out many different preparations of oatmeal before ruling it out—baked, stovetop, overnight, etc. I have many rave-reviewed oatmeal recipes on my blog and in my books, so I would also refer them to those. For starters, they could try out my Maple-Cinnamon Apple & Pear Baked Oatmeal (The Oh She Glows Cookbook p. 39), Apple Pie Oatmeal (The Oh She Glows Cookbook p. 49), Carrot Cake Oatmeal, and The Fastest Sprouted Steel-Cut Oatmeal (Oh She Glows Every Day p. 37).
TOA: Carrot Cake Oatmeal was actually one of my first successful recipes for my own conversion!
What’s your go-to trick for making the creamiest oatmeal?
AL: A mashed, very ripe banana for sure. It’s such an easy, cheap, and effortless ingredient to have on hand. I would recommend The Fastest Sprouted Steel-Cut Oatmeal (Oh She Glows Every Day p. 37) for a “banana bread” bowl of hot oats, or my classic Vegan Overnight Oats recipe on the blog.
TOA: I agree. Despite the variety of recipes on my blog, my everyday breakfast always, always, includes banana! And I usually prefer stovetop oats. What is your favorite way to prepare them?
AL: With my mornings as busy as they are these days, overnight oats are my go-to. As I like to say, they’re a time-crunched person’s breakfast secret weapon! Our toddler, Adriana, is usually hungry right away when she wakes up—so I make her breakfast, respond to emails and write the day’s to-do list while feeding her (if I can!), and then scarf down my own breakfast before we head out for a morning walk. I love that I can prepare them quickly the night before and forget about them until morning…at which time I wake up to a creamy and delicious bowl of oats. Mind you, I love sitting down to a big bowl of hot oats when the weather is cooler. Nothing is more comforting! My two favourite hot oatmeal recipes are my Carrot Cake Oatmeal and Apple Pie Oatmeal. I would eat them 3 times a day if I could!
TOA: It sounds like Adriana and I have something in common. 😉
My readers know that I add peanut butter to just about every bowl of oatmeal–even if it doesn’t necessarily make sense with the recipe! What is your favorite ingredient to add to oatmeal?
AL: Chia seeds for their thickening powers and incredible nutritional profile. I always stir at least a tablespoon into my oats. Some people don’t love the texture of chia seeds when soaked (they become gel-like) so if that’s the case you can always sprinkle them on top of your oats, too.
TOA: I just got into chia seeds. I used to use them occasionally, but now I include them in every bowl–always soaked. I also like working with a quick-cooking version of steel-cut oats. What is your favorite cut of oat to work with?
AL: I looooove steel-cut oats…there’s just something about their delightful creaminess and chew! For a long time, though, I rarely used this cut of oat because it requires at least half an hour on the stovetop. I was so happy when I discovered that soaking the steel-cut oats overnight reduces cook time in the morning to just ten minutes! I share an oatmeal recipe using this method in Oh She Glows Every Day (The Fastest Sprouted Steel-Cut Oatmeal, p. 37), and honestly, I can’t get enough of it. Often people are shocked at how quick steel-cut oatmeal is to cook when prepared this way.
TOA: Sweet or savory?
AL: Sweet all the way, although I will admit that I do love a hearty bowl of savoury oats on occasion. There is a high-protein savoury oats option in my first cookbook, which incorporates red lentils for a fun boost.
TOA: Yes, I made that during my OSG cookbook challenge last month! Speaking of savory… Last week I accidentally added a bunch–and I mean a bunch–of chili powder to my oatmeal instead of cinnamon. What has been your biggest oatmeal fail? 🙂
AL: Oh man, I’ve been there before! Thankfully, I haven’t had too many oatmeal fails, but I do recall scorching the bottom of the pot one too many times when I was just starting out with stovetop experimentation.
TOA: Haven’t we all. 🙂 From one oat lover to another, what do you think should be the recipe(s) from OSG Every Day that I should try next?
AL: If you haven’t tried them already, my Tropical Overnight Oats (p. 57) offer a playful twist on vegan overnight oats that I think you’ll really enjoy. Instead of using straight non-dairy milk, the recipe blends together light coconut milk, banana, and dates for its liquid base. The result is a decadent, energizing, and ultra-creamy bowl of oats that it’s hard not to fall in love with. Let me know if you try it out!
TOA: Yaaaaaas, I love tropical-themed oats! Which recipe are you most proud of in the entire book (oats or otherwise)?
AL: That’s a tough one, but I think I would say The Ultimate Flourless Brownies recipe (p. 199). That recipe took me well over two dozen trials to get just right, and it’s honestly such an amazing brownie! I’m so proud that I was able to make accessible for so many different allergies as it’s vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, oil-free, and soy-free, and there’s even a nut-free option too!
TOA: You must be some type of wizard. 🙂 My favorite recipe from your first cookbook was the Luxurious Tomato-Basil Pasta. My boyfriend and I died over it. Which pasta recipe from OSG Every Day would you recommend I try first?
AL: Oh we love that recipe in this house too! I’m so happy you enjoy it so much. My recipe testers loved my Fusilli Lentil-Mushroom Bolognese from Oh She Glows Every Day (p. 161). Not only is it so comforting, hearty, and delicious, but it’s protein-packed, nutritious, and can be made in 30 minutes or less. Another must-try is my Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta (p. 185).
These delicious anytime bars are vegan, lunchbox-friendly, gluten-free, and made with a refined sugar-free strawberry-vanilla chia seed jam.
What you'll need:
- 3 1/2 cups (875 mL/about 17 ounces/475 g) frozen strawberries
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) pure maple syrup
- Dash of salt
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) chia seeds
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) fresh lemon juice
- 2 vanilla beans (split lengthwise and seeds scraped out) or 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) pure vanilla bean powder.
- 1 1/4 cups (300 mL) Strawberry-Vanilla Chia Seed Jam (see page 44, or above) or store-bought jam
- 1 cup (250 mL) hulled sunflower seeds
- 3 cups (750 mL) gluten-free rolled oats
- 1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon (1.5 mL) fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) virgin coconut oil
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) pure maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons (45 mL) brown rice syrup
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) Homemade Sunflower Seed Butter (page 79), or store-bought
How to make it:
- In a medium pot, stir together the berries, maple syrup, and salt until combined. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the berries have softened (they will release a lot of liquid during this time).
- Reduce the heat to medium and carefully mash the berries with a potato masher until mostly smooth. The jam will still look very watery at this point, but this is normal!
- Add the chia seeds and stir until combined. Simmer over low-medium heat, stirring frequently (reducing heat if necessary to avoid sticking) for 8 to 15 minutes more, until a lot of the liquid has cooked off and the mixture has thickened slightly.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, vanilla bean powder, and lemon juice (if using). Transfer the mixture to a bowl and refrigerate, uncovered, until cool, at least a couple of hours. For quicker cooling, pop the jam into the freezer, uncovered, for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. The chia seed jam will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. It also freezes well for 1 to 2 months.
- If desired, roast the sunflower seeds: Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Spread the seeds over a large rimmed baking sheet in an even layer. Roast for 9 to 12 minutes, until lightly golden in some spots. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Increase the oven temperature to 350°F (180°C). Line a 9-inch (2.5 L) square pan (or an 8-inch/2 L pan for a slightly thicker bar) with parchment paper, leaving some overhang, which will make it easy to lift out the bars later.
- In a food processor, combine the sunflower seeds, oats, and salt and process until you have a coarse flour.
- In a small pot, melt the oil over low heat. Remove from the heat and whisk in the maple syrup, brown rice syrup, and sunflower seed butter until combined. Pour the wet mixture on top of the oat mixture in the food processor and process until the mixture comes together, 10 to 15 seconds. The dough should feel quite heavy and oily, and there shouldn’t be any dry patches. If there are, process for 5 seconds more. If for some reason it’s still too dry, try adding water, a teaspoon (5 mL) at a time, and processing again until it comes together.
- Set aside 1¼ cups (300 mL) of the oat mixture for the topping. Crumble the remaining oat mixture over the base of the prepared pan in an even layer. Starting at the center, push down with your fingers (you can lightly wet them if they stick) to spread out and pack down the crust. Press the dough down tightly. Even out the edges with your fingertips. Prick the crust with the tines of a fork 9 times to allow steam to escape.
- Prebake the crust for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. (If the crust puffed up while baking, gently press down on it to release the air.) Spread the jam in an even layer over the crust. Crumble the reserved 1¼ cups (300 mL) oat mixture evenly over the jam.
- Bake, uncovered, for 14 to 18 minutes more, until the topping is lightly firm to the touch. The topping will not turn golden in color; it will remain the same shade as it was before baking. Let cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 45 to 60 minutes, then transfer the pan to the freezer for 30 minutes until completely cool. Lift out the slab and slice it into squares or bars. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for several days, or wrapped up and stored in the freezer for 4 to 5 weeks.
Just an FYI:
Tip: If you have a food processor with less than an 11-cup (2.6 L) capacity, you might need to process the crust in two batches and then stir it all together in a large bowl before measuring. Reprinted from Oh She Glows Every Day by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2016, Glo Bakery Corporation. Photographs copyright © 2016 by Ashley McLaughlin.