quick

Classic Baked Oatmeal

This summer, we ate baked oatmeal almost every morning. It was a hot summer, really hot, (locals said the hottest summer ever) but that didn't deter us from baking this because it was soooo good. We would mix it up the night before, and bake it in a toaster-oven the next morning. Sometimes we made it fancy by adding over-ripe mashed bananas, spice, nuts, chocolate... but mostly we made it plain, then drizzled some local honey over it. Yum. :)

The soaking of the oats overnight is magical. I've read in several places that soaking oats (or any flour) in liquid helps them become easier to digest. I knew that this was true with seeds, nuts, and beans (germinating/sprouting for better nutrition) but soaking flour was news to me. (I also read that using a slightly acidic liquid for flour is even better.) I'm still exploring this whole concept - you can learn more about it here and here. With the oats, soaking definitely gives them a fantastic texture.

I was inspired by this baked oatmeal that sounds awesome. I played with the recipe, and came up with this simple baked oatmeal that's hearty, healthy, and very satisfying. 

Here is the basic recipe:

1/4 c olive oil
2 large eggs (beaten)
2 Tbsp muscovado sugar
1 2/3 c milk
3 c old fashioned rolled oats (for gluten-free use gluten-free oats)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder (sifted)

Feel free to play with the ingredients and ratios - this is a rustic forgiving recipe. Use any oil you like (coconut oil is nice too) or melted butter. You can use a milk substitute to make it dairy-free, and I think any good egg substitute would work here too. Sometimes I substitute half the milk for unsweetened apple juice - or use a combination of yogurt and water. (You can also use 2 Tbsp less milk if you like it more flaky.) Use whatever sweetener you like, more if you like things sweet, or no sweetener at all. I like the bit of flavor and browning the muscovado sugar provides. Sometimes I make a half batch in a loaf pan. Since it stores and re-heats so well, we often make a big batch (this is the big batch), keep the leftovers covered in the fridge, then re-heat pieces on a frying pan with butter or coconut oil. (My sweetie loves it this way best!)

Directions:

The super-easy way (+ nice texture):
The night before, mix everything together. Spread it in a greased 9"x9" pan. (I chill the pan in the freezer before greasing it with liquified coconut oil so that the oil solidifies and sticks to the pan, creating a better barrier.) Cover the pan and put it in the fridge overnight. In the morning, bake it at 350 for about 40 minutes, or until golden.

Just as easy, but a bit more work in the morning:
The night before, mix everything together except the salt and the baking powder. This creates a more acidic soaking medium - especially if made with yogurt or juice. Keep the mixture in a covered container in the fridge overnight. The next day, mix the salt and baking powder in, and spread it in a greased 9"x9" pan. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes, or until golden.

Makes about 9-12 servings.

Enjoy!

Amaranth Squares

amaranth squares

My first guest post! Check out the story and recipe on La Fuji Mama for these delicious nutritious gluten-free super-easy no-bake amaranth squares. :)

Really Awesome Black Bean Brownies

I've been playing around with black bean brownies for a while now, because they're so delicious and nutritious. Think about it, a dark chocolaty brownie made with protein and fiber-rich black beans that's also lower in fat and sugar than a traditional brownie but still has all the chocolate and flavor. Breakfast! They seem to make a lot of sense here in Mexico, the land of black beans and chocolate, so it's not surprising that my amigos here love them.

I've made 4 different variations of black bean brownies in the last few months, and all of them were super-yummy, but my most recent batch was awesome. I nailed the ingredient ratios, making a dark fudgy complex brownie that plays off of 5 different kinds of beans: black beans, cacao, carob, coffee, vanilla. I also used just enough natural sugars, just enough flavorful fat, just enough dark chocolate, and just enough booze to make these decadent and beautiful tasting without going over-board and making a sugar-coma inducing empty calorie-packed brownie. So as rich as these are, they're rich *and* healthy: full of fiber, protein, natural sugars, antioxidants, and love!

There is one unusual ingredient in these that may be hard to find, and that is carob syrup. I managed to score some in a little Asian import shop in the Zona Libre (the "Free Zone" between Mexico and Belize). Carob syrup is naturally sweet and delicious, great stuff, and you can probably find it in Middle Eastern grocery stores. But if you don't have it, you can still make these brownies and they'll be delicious with or without carob.

Really Awesome Black Bean Brownies
(aka 5-Bean Brownies)

Puree and blend together:

2 c cooked black beans
2 large eggs (or egg substitute)
*1/4 c carob syrup
1/4 c agave nectar or honey
1/4 c Kahlua liqueur (or brewed coffee)
2 tsp vanilla
1/3 c coconut oil or unsalted butter (melted)

Sift together, then blend into the wet ingredients:

1/2 c cocoa (preferably not Dutch cocoa)
2 Tbsp tapioca starch (or corn starch)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt (use 1/4 tsp if your beans are salty or using salted butter, otherwise use 1/2 tsp)

Mix in:

1/3 - 1/2 c chopped dark chocolate

*If you can't find carob syrup, substitute 1/4 c carob syrup for:  2 Tbsp honey or agave + 2 Tbsp water +  3 Tbsp carob powder
*If you don't like carob, you can substitute 1/4 c carob syrup for:  1/4 c honey or agave +  2 Tbsp cocoa powder

Sugar-free: use brewed coffee instead of Kahlua. Substitute the chocolate for unsweetened carob chips (or sugar-free chocolate).

Egg-free or vegan: I'm pretty sure an egg substitute for 2 eggs would do the trick - if anyone tries please let us all know in the comments. See comment #18. Thanks Jen!

Grease and dust a smallish pan - I use a 10" x 7.5" stainless steel pan greased with coconut oil and dusted with icing sugar mixed with a bit of cinnamon (cocoa or carob works too). Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 till set - about 20 min. Allow to cool to room temperature then cut into squares. Store in a sealed container in the fridge - they'll firm up a bit - I really like these cold out of the fridge.

Quick & Easy Oat Bread

I love fresh corn tortillas, crunchy baked tostadas, savoury tamales, fresh popcorn and homemade cornbread as much as the next muchacha. But sometimes I need a break from corn. Since I have limited access to ingredients here in Mexico, where corn is king, what's a girl to do? Well I recently came up with my new favorite quick bread, that's very similar to cornbread in taste and texture, but made with grounds oats. It's quick and easy to make - and keeps well in the fridge for slicing and toasting or pan-frying.

Recipe: Quick Oat Bread

Enjoy ♥

Healthy Chia Banana Bars

Healthy Chia Banana Bars 3

My favorite breakfast these days: quick, easy, tasty, filling and super-healthy. All of the ingredients are inexpensive and easy to find here in Mexico. Packed with whole grains and seeds, these squares are wheat-free, gluten-free (if made with gluten-free oats), dairy-free, egg-free, low in sugar, and high in fiber. Did I mention they're delicious?

Recipe: Chia Banana Bars

In our house, we eat these so often, we call them Chia Squares. But I thought Chia Banana Bars was more descriptive. What do you think?
Healthy Chia Banana Bars 2

PS: I've been super-busy working on an exciting new baking site - more about this soon!

Cha-cha-cha-chia!

Over the past few months, I've noticed the ancient Mesoamercian chia seed popping up everywhere. Remember the chia pet? Well, it's the same seed, and it happens to be a super food, high in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Chia was one of the most important foods for the Aztecs and Mayans. I bought the raw seeds, and started drinking chia fresca, a Mexican drink simply made by mixing about a tablespoon of raw chia seeds into a glass fruit juice or water, and letting it sit for about 10 minutes so that the seeds become gelatinous - the result is a drink that's both refreshing and satisfying.

Where this nutritious little seed really shines for me, is as a hot breakfast cereal.  A good friend gave me some Chia Goodness to try - and I loved it. Inspired, I came up with this tasty combination of nuts, seeds, and fruit that's become a house favourite:

Recipe: Instant Hot Chia Cereal

Besides being tasty, filling, and nutritious - it's super-quick to make: just add hot water. Another bonus: you can customize the recipe with your favourite nuts, seeds, and fruit - fun!

Instant Hot Chia Cereal before adding water.

Sweet Ambrosia Cookies

Ambrosia: The food of the gods. It is said the consumption of ambrosia results in immortality.

Recipe: Sweet Ambrosia Cookies

I can't promise immortality, though I will say these honey-sweetened aromatic cookies are pretty satisfying and delicious :-) Inspired by Tahini Oatmeal Walnut Cookies, these are made with sweet nutty sunflower seed butter, which is abundant in these parts (and for some, easier to digest than tahini). Rich and healthy, these gems also contain oats, pecans, coconut, vanilla and cinnamon. These cookies happen to be vegan and wheat-free/gluten-free - they're really quick and easy to make too!