Brief diatribe: Instant oatmeal. To even call it “oatmeal” is sacrilegious. You know how they call something “crème” if it doesn’t actually contain real cream, or “frozen dairy dessert” if they can’t legally say it’s ice cream? Well, I think that they should have to call it “Instant oatmèle,” lest anybody misconstrue that pasty goop for actual oatmeal, made in a pot, on the stove, using old fashioned oats. A large portion of the world thinks they don’t like oatmeal, when in actuality, they don’t like instant oatmeal. Just saying…
Those who know me well know that I take my post-run breakfast VERY seriously. On weekdays, I have a jar of Overnight Oats, and on the weekends, I have a potful of Made-in-the-Morning Oats. There’s nothing I like more than rewarding a good, long Saturday morning run with a massive bowl of homemade oatmeal, full of fruits and veggies and topped with a big, creamy dollop of Greek yogurt, oh, and a shower, too. This glorious bowl is the perfect balance of carbs, “good” fats, and calcium to keep that invigorating post-run momentum going strong all day long! (And the shower is a great way to not repulse the rest of the world…I’m very pro-hygiene). Really, though, this oatmeal just tastes good, regardless of any health benefits which may or may not exist!
I make a lot of variations to this oatmeal recipe, but the base is almost always the same: shredded zucchini and/or carrot, pumpkin puree, ground flax seed, unsweetened coconut flakes, vanilla, molasses or honey (I like molasses for iron #noanemia), vanilla, cinnamon/ginger/nutmeg,…oh yeah, and old-fashioned oats 🙂 Full disclosure: sometimes I get so carried away that I forget to add the oats and have to add them at the end. No, I’m not pursuing a career in oral surgery…too many steps.
I think texture — or mouthfeel, as they say on the Food Network — is very important (one of the main reasons I’m so violently opposed to instant oatmeal). I am of the opinion that while I have teeth in my head, I might as well use them. I grate my zucchini on a box grater, and I make nice long carrot ribbons using a vegetable peeler — if you have a spiralizer, that would be fun too. Other variations include additions of unsweetened coco powder, crushed pineapple, mashed banana, anything you like.
But wait, the story doesn’t end there! Let me talk to you about mix-ins. My favorites include: broken-up walnut pieces, fresh or frozen strawberries, mango chunks, chopped dark chocolate, big chunks of apple or ripe pear or peach (whatever’s in season), and chopped candied ginger.
And let’s not forget the toppings! Prunes and almond butter are a staple in any oatmeal of mine — prunes for sweet chewiness and improved calcium absorption (not because I’m an old lady) and almond butter because…well, just because. The almond butter gets all melty (to use the scientific term) as it sits in the hot oatmeal, and adds to the rich texture. Plain Greek yogurt is a must. The slightly tart tang of the yogurt and it’s cool creaminess complement the hot, chunky oatmeal so beautifully — I like to call it “à la yog.” A last little crunch from sunflower seeds or granola brings this oatmeal full circle!
Zucch-Carrot Ginger Recovery Oatmeal
1/2 medium zucchini, coarsely shredded on a box grater
1 medium carrot, shredded or peeled into long ribbons
2 heaping tablespoons pumpkin puree
1/3 cup old-fashioned oats (if you use instant oats, I will hunt you down)
1 tablespoon ground flax
1 tablespoon unsweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 tablespoon molasses or honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup water
Big splash unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon chopped, candied ginger
1 large Pink Lady apple, chopped
Handful walnut pieces, roughly broken
1 tablespoon almond butter
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds
In a small metal pot, combine zucchini through water. Cook, covered, over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until bubbling gently, ~5 minutes. Once oatmeal appears to have slightly thickened, shut off heat and cock lid to allow steam to escape — this step helps prevent ending up with runny oatmeal.
After ~5 minutes, add almond milk, candied ginger, chopped apple, and walnuts, and stir to incorporate. Turn heat back onto low, and heat, stirring occasionally, JUST until heated through (I like to keep the apple chunks al dente). Turn heat off and let sit 2 minutes. Transfer to a LARGE bowl, and add prunes dipped in the almond butter. Top with yogurt, sunflower seeds, and an extra sprinkling of cinnamon.