10.07.2020

The Perfect Pre-Mixed Oatmeal Blend


If you've ever breastfed or been friends with someone who has, you know oatmeal is the best.  It is filling when you are recovering from birth and trying to survive those newborn days, plus it has the added benefit of helping to maintain your milk supply.  I am all for letting plant foods work their magic on our bodies. 

During this pregnancy, and most of the time when I’m not pregnant, my two go-to breakfasts are green smoothies and oatmeal. Lately, I have been enjoying raw oatmeal bowls with defrosted berries, homemade almond milk, and lots of extra goodies like dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and coconut. I decided it was in my best postpartum-interest to make a pre-mixed container of oats and dried goodies for the hubby to scoop, mix with fruit and almond milk, and serve me those much-needed calories while I was recovering. 

This recipe is what I came up with for my preferences and needs, but feel free to change the ingredients and amounts to suit your needs. The rolled oat mixture can be used raw, as I enjoyed it this summer, as well as cooked by stove top or microwave. I provide all of those preparation options in the Instructions below.  Enjoy!

(Note, I combined my mixture in a VERY large bowl and in two batches.)

The Perfect Pre-Mixed Oatmeal Blend
Time: 10 minutes to prep
Servings: approx. 20 - 1 cup servings



Ingredients:
        10 cups rolled oats
         5 cups unsweetened coconut (shredded or chips)
         2 1/2 cups raisins (or other dried fruit)
         2 1/2 cups hemp seeds
         1 1/4 cup chopped nuts (I used almonds and walnuts)
         1 1/4 cup ground flaxseeds
         1 1/4 cup chia seeds (whole or ground)
         1/4 cup ground cinnamon



Instructions:
1.)  In a VERY large bowl or container (or in two half batches), mix together all ingredients.  Store in an air-tight jar or container in the fridge, scooping out 1 cup per serving.  Use one of the following ways to prep and enjoy your oatmeal.
  • Prep for Raw Oatmeal Bowl - In a large soup bowl, mix together the following and enjoy:
    • 1 cup defrosted mixed berries
    • 1/2 banana, sliced
    • 1 cup Perfect Pre-Mix Oatmeal Blend
    • 1/2-1 cup unsweetened plant milk
    • 1/4 cup unsweetened plant-based yogurt (optional)
  • Prep for a Hot Oatmeal Bowl using a Microwave - In a large soup bowl, mix together the pre-mixed oatmeal and water, then microwave for 3 minutes on high, allow to cool for 2 minutes before adding fresh fruit and plant milk.
    • 1 cup Perfect Pre-Mix Oatmeal Blend
    • 1 cup water
    • 1/2 banana, sliced
    • 1 cup fresh berries
    • 1/2-1 cup unsweetened plant milk
    • 1/4 cup unsweetened plant-based yogurt (optional)
  • Prep for a Hot Oatmeal Bowl on the Stovetop - In a small saucepan, mix together the pre-mixed oatmeal and water and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Allow to simmer for 5 minutes and remove from heat.  Allow the oatmeal to cool for 2 minutes before serving with fresh fruit and plant milk.
    • 1 cup Perfect Pre-Mix Oatmeal Blend
    • 1 1/4 cup water
    • 1/2 banana
    • 1 cup fresh berries
    • 1/2-1 cup unsweetened plant milk
    • 1/4 cup unsweetened plant-based yogurt (optional)
  • Bonus use!  Add 1/2 cup of the Perfect Pre-Mix Oatmeal Blend to any smoothie to give it some extra oomph.

Amy's Notes:
I find it best to store this mix in the fridge.  Since I have added ground flaxseeds, hemp seeds, and chia seeds - all of which I keep stored in the fridge on their own - refrigeration is best in my opinion.



Health and Happiness,

Amy


8.05.2020

Date-Nut-Seed Energy Balls

Being pregnant in the summertime has not been so fun for me.  You guys probably know by now that I really hate the heat.  Give me an overcast 65-degree day over a sunshiny 80-degree day anytime.  Maybe this is the ultimate result of growing up and living in the Pacific Northwest.  

When I was pregnant with Ben I made several batches of oatmeal lactation support cookies to have before and after labor, but there was no way I was going to turn on the oven this time around.  So, these raw Date-Nut-Seed Energy balls were my solution.

When pulling together the ingredients, I essentially wanted to make these little calorie-dense healthy fat bombs to give me energy before, during, and after labor.  The fact that they store well in the freezer and taste great cold is a happy coincidence.  They can also be stored in the fridge for some time, or on the counter for several days... if they last that long.  

Date-Nut-Seed Energy Balls
Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 24 servings


Ingredients:
  • 6 tbsp raw almonds
  • 6 tbsp raw pepitas
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup packed dates, pits removed
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 Tbsp ground flaxseeds
  • 2 Tbsp peanut butter
(FOR A DOUBLE BATCH):
  • 3/4 cup raw almonds
  • 3/4 cup raw pepitas
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 2 cups packed dates, pits removed
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseeds
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter

Instructions:
1.)  In a food processor, pulse the almonds, pepitas, and rolled oats until a coarse flour forms.
2.)  Add in the remaining ingredients and blend until a dough starts to form.
3.)  Pour blended mixture into a bowl and mix with a spoon to make sure all of the processed ingredients are well mixed together.
4.)  Using your hands, grab a small handful of the dough and form a tight ball, about the size of a ping pong ball.
5.) Place the balls on a non-stick baking tray or a plate covered with parchment paper.  Once all of the dough is used and the balls are formed, place the tray or plate in the freezer for 20 minutes before removing and storing how you prefer.


Amy's Notes:
In a perfect world, these would include some form of chocolate.  Because I primarily made them for after birth when I would be breastfeeding, I opted to not add any cocoa, chocolate chips, or melted chocolate coating (chocolate seamed to bother Ben when I breastfed the first time around).  BUT don't let that stop you!  If you wanted to add some chocolate, I would suggest you try adding 1-2 Tbsps of cocoa powder, 2 Tbsps of mini vegan chocolate chips, or dipping the frozen balls in a bit of melted chocolate and returning to the freezer to solidify.

Health and Happiness,

Amy

7.29.2020

My first experience with a CSA Membership

CSA is short for Community Supported Agriculture.  Perhaps you've participated in one for years and this is nothing new; maybe this is the first time you've ever heard of it.  Or maybe you are somewhere in between like I was.  I've known for years that CSAs were a "thing", but I always thought of it as an expensive hippie-granola thing to do, and not accessible for our middle-class income.  Then the pandemic hit and I took a good look at our family's food security and the value in the ability to access fresh produce.

CSA Week 1: Dill, Cilantro, Asian Greens, Spinach,
Arugula, Romaine, Kale, and Potatoes

About a year ago I met Emily through a mutual knitting friend and learned that she ran a vegetable and fiber farm in the Puyallup River Valley.  I was so impressed that someone close to my age ran their own farm business.  As you can see from my lack of posting for over a year, I can barely run a personal blog.  Not only was she a vendor at farmers' markets around the region, but she also offered a CSA membership.  Thankfully, the pandemic convinced me that I wanted to secure some vegetable options close to home, so this year I went in on a large share every other week.

My first pickup started in early June and I have picked up a share bi-weekly since.  For me, each share has 10-13 different items.  Emily uses a CSA online portal that even allows members to swap or add items before their pickups.  One of my favorite adds so far have been fresh herbs like basil.  So far in the early part of the season (the CSA runs until the end of November), there has been a lot of green, and this mama couldn't be happier! 

CSA Week 2: Kale, Basil, Garlic Scapes, Senposai,
Napa Cabbage, Asian Greens, Spigariello, and Collard Greens

The couple of pickups I have gotten have already exposed me to veggies I had never tried before, and I've been Nutritarian for almost a decade now.  One of my new favorites is spigarello, which is a dark green in the broccoli family.  A cruciferous vegetable and a dark leafy green?  Yes, please!  A few other new-to-me vegetables include purple mizuna, senposai, frisee, and celtuce.

Now, what about the costs?  For me, the cost equals out to about $31 for every pickup.  But, because the nature of CSAs is to invest in a growing season before it starts, more of the seasons' cost was required to be paid upfront.  For me, that looked like 25% when I signed up, 25% the week of my first pickup, and the remaining 50% being paid in bi-weekly installments over the season.  In terms of produce value, each produce item is about $2.40-$3.10 each.  For how large the bunches of greens I have received thus far, I consider that to be a great price.

CSA Week 3: Broccolini, Collard Greens, Spigariello, Bok Choy,
Arugula, Purple Mizuna, Lacinato Kale, and Senposai

Since I am the one in the house that primarily eats most of the greens, I find that a large share, if stored properly, is perfect to last me two weeks.  I use the dark greens in smoothies and in simple onion and green saut├ęs.  I use fresh herbs in soup, bean, and grain dishes.  Then I use fresh lettuce in salads.  Once I receive my share, I mentally make a note of which items to use sooner and which will keep for longer wrapped in a damp towel.  For example, I know lacinato (also known as dinosaur) kale or any type of cabbage can last me a full two weeks, but the pea shoot microgreens should be used within a few days.

CSA Week 4: Garlic, Zucchini, Broccolini, Collard Greens, Spigarello,
Purple Mizuna, Celtuce, Frisee, Lacinato Kale, and Pea Shoots

I'm looking forward to seeing how my share changes over the season and wonder what types of gourdes and other veggies I have in store come fall.  I think it is safe to say I'll be repeating my CSA membership next year, and maybe opting for the smaller weekly pickups to get my veggies even fresher.


CSA Week 5: Red Torpedo Onions, Fava Beans, two bunches
Collard Greens, Spigariello, Bok Choy, Purple Mizuna,
Kale, Pea Shoots, Basil, Thai Basil

If you are interested in seeing if a CSA is available near you, my CSA uses the online portal of a website called Harvie.  In case you are in western Washington and wanting to support Emily's farm along with me, her farm is called Local Farm and Fiber and you can also find her on Harvie.

Health and Happiness,

Amy