My First Overnight

[Oats, that is.]

Perusing some new and some of my old favorite vegan blogs yesterday, I ran across an idea.  Overnight oats.  Never heard of them?  Do a search on Pinterest.  Oh, sometimes I loathe technology but in this instance I like it very much.  There is a wealth of cooking and creative inspiration at my fingertips.

So, I kept seeing posts about overnight oats and I decided to try a variation of a pumpkin recipe.  Since it’s Fall, and pumpkins are everywhere, and mostly because I had a can of pumpkin in the cupboard that I wasn’t quite sure what to do with.

Here’s what I used:

1/4 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 tbsp agave nectar

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 tbsp chia seeds

splash vanilla

sprinkle of Vega Sport vanilla protein powder (about 1/3 packet)

cinnamon, ginger, ground allspice – just dashes and splashes of each.

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Mad scientist-ing at the zero hour.

It smelled WONDERFUL.  I put on a “Best of Beethoven” CD I purchased at a discount store years ago. I love Beethoven. Classical music in general, pairs extremely well with creative endeavors, in my opinion.

In theory, all these ingredients, once given a good stir, settle and mix and mingle and expand and absorb flavors overnight, and become something brilliant for breakfast.  I had my doubts.

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The finished product.

So this morning I woke up and made a bee-line to the fridge.  I was hungry and curious and hopeful.  I got a spoon and took a big bite.  How was it?  In a word, disappointing.  Texturally it was satisfying.  The chia seeds were new for me, and I love texture in my foods. That’s actually one of the perks of eating vegan/vegetarian. The variety of tastes and feels is sometimes overwhelming. (In a good way.)

I have two theories about why I didn’t like the oats.  First I’ll say they did settle and absorb quite nicely.  Again, texturally I have no complaints.  I think I didn’t love them because 1) I don’t love pumpkin and 2) I am not a fan of cold things for breakfast.  What’s that you say?  “Well if you’re not a fan of pumpkin, what were you thinking making pumpkin oats?”  Astute of you.  I was actually hoping to form a relationship with pumpkin.  I believe in it, as a healthy food.  I know there’s a way to sneak it into some things, but this particular dish for me was a fail.

Positive notes: I think if I make the same dish with sweet potato, I will knock my own socks off.  Particularly if I am able to heat it up.  OR I was also thinking of adding banana.  Creativity begets creativity.  Can’t be bummed about that.  I did also eat this, even though I wasn’t into it, because it’s packed with nutrients and I do not waste food.  Never. Waste. Food.  It’s a thing with me.

So much of cooking and creating is trial and error. I’m honestly feeling that this was a positive experience.  Would I recommend this recipe?  Not unless you are a pumpkin fiend and really like the flavor.  Otherwise, I’d say add something that will mix well or even overpower the pumpkin flavor. It was just too much for me.

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Almond Meal Protein Pancakes

Long title, short recipe, amazing results.

First, an explanation: I have made a concerted effort in recent months to decrease my intake of processed foods and grains.  I do still eat carbs, but only from whole foods as much as I can help it.  I don’t endorse or advocate any specific diet or lifestyle for ALL people, but higher fat, moderate protein, low-ish carb works wonders for me.  My tummy is happy, my skin is happy, and I am sleeping like an old man at the opera.  It’s wonderful!

This pancake recipe is something I came up with on the fly, in an effort to reproduce my “old” favorite breakfast without the oats.  Not so difficult, actually.  If you’re familiar with the Paleo way of eating or the Primal Blueprint, you know there are lots of flour substitutes out there.  One of the easiest to buy or make at home is almond flour.   I SORT-OF used almond flour.  [You’ll see.] Again, the mood to try this hit me when I didn’t have a way to get to the store, but I find necessity and creativity make for some pretty cool dishes.

Here’s what I used:

Ingredients, minus coconut flakes
Ingredients, minus coconut flakes

Raw Almonds – about 1/4 cup, maybe a little more.  I just emptied out my Blue Diamond bag and crossed my fingers it would be enough.

Roasted, Salted Almonds – 7 or 8.  Just to mix it up a little.

2 Raw Egg Whites

Cinnamon, as much as I want.  [And I want a lot.]

Dash of Vanilla Extract

Unsweetened Coconut Flakes [Coconut is a staple in the PB, and it just so happens my mom left some here last time she visited.]

Here’s where I came off the rails, Paleo/Primal wise:  I added about 3/4 Scoop of Body Fortress Vanilla Whey protein, and one packet of Splenda.  Go ahead, judge me.

I promise this is coconut.
I promise this is coconut.

First, I put all the almonds into my food processor, pulsed on low a couple of times, then high, then low…  I’m kidding.  I just let it go until the almonds were chopped, but not powdered.  I wanted the texture to be stout, since it is oatmeal that I’m replacing, which is hearty and quite satisfying.  I measured out 1/4 cup of the almond meal, and added all the dry ingredients.  [If you have leftover almond meal, just dump tupperware container.  It’s great with everything – waffles, pancakes, even in grilled chicken wraps at lunch.  But that’s an entire post by itself…]

Almond Meal
Almond Meal

I gave the dry stuff a stir, and put it back into the processor.  Next, crack those eggs and put both whites in a small bowl or container.  Add just a pinch of vanilla and stir.  Add to the processor with the rest.  By now, the kitchen should be smelling wonderful.  Both of my kids started wandering in and out, curious about what was cooking.

Wet Ingredients, Dry Ingredients
Wet Ingredients, Dry Ingredients

Personally, like I said earlier, I enjoy texture.  So I didn’t mix this much, but if you want a smoother mix just blend to suit you.  Your skillet should be warming on the stove top, with butter or oil or nonstick spray [I don’t judge].  Grab a spoon and start cooking these babies!  Here’s my first one:

Super YUM, right?
Super YUM, right?

At this moment I am kicking myself for making these at night, because along with the delicious smells and the sense of accomplishment comes the agony of knowing I must wait all night to devour them.

The finished product?  Oh, I’m so glad you asked!  Fluffy and golden brown and beautiful.  And the taste?  Even better than I’d hoped!  The coconut and mealy texture of the almonds hits the taste buds “just so”.  Definitely a keeper.  I cannot WAIT to eat these tomorrow, with fresh berries on top and maybe just a hint of butter and syrup.  Thanks for reading!  If you try this recipe for yourself, please let me know what you think!

Look how fluffy!
Look how fluffy!
Gorgeous, no?
Gorgeous, no?