Something I greatly appreciate in recipes is customizability. Don’t have this? Add that. Don’t like this? Try that. You know – recipes that serve more as guidelines or as a starting point for something great. Something made great because you made it that way for you. It suited your tastes and reflected what you had in your pantry. It didn’t require a trip to three different health food stores to find the ingredient that had no viable substitute.
Those recipes have their place, sure. But for something simple like a weekday breakfast, making it in about 30 minutes with the result being a great base for many-a-toppings for your breakfasts for nearly a week is something I look for and gravitate to.
That’s why I love making granola. Usually one bowl required. A quick flick of the wrist to get things incorporated, spread it out on a baking sheet and in about half an hour, voila! granola. If this sounds good to you, check out some of my granola recipes here, here and here.
When I’m looking for a warmer breakfast – something I’ve gravitated toward this winter – I often whip up a baked oatmeal. It seems a bit fancier than your traditional ‘make-the-morning-of’ microwave/quick stove-top variety. I also somehow find ways to sneak veggies into baked oatmeals which makes me justify the extra scoop of almond butter or drizzle of maple syrup I inevitably put on top. I’ve made one baked oatmeal for the blog before and I was craving it last week. However, since you guys liked it so much (one of the more popular recipes around these parts) I wanted to change it up a bit to share a variation with you.
Enter Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal. Like the zucchini variety here, the veggies are virtually undetectable amongst the hearty oats, sweet maple syrup and chewy raisins. Here comes the customizability part:
Don’t like raisins? Add some chopped dates, cranberries or leave them out.
Don’t have almond butter? Any nut butter will do.
Don’t have ground flax? Try ground or whole chia seeds instead.
Don’t have carrots? Go for zucchini.
And my favourite part – the toppings! Almond (or other nut/seed) butter, maple syrup, chopped pineapple(!!), almond milk, chopped walnuts (or other nut!), greek yogurt… ice cream? The list could go on. Serve it hot. Serve it cold. The choice is yours, and it will be great because you make it so.
As I’ve mentioned, I recently started a new job. I made sure to schedule a few days off in between my last day at my old gig and my first day at the new place. I wanted a few days to reset, decompress and get ready for this new adventure.
It was only five days, but it was lovely. I was able to try some new classes at the gym, do lots of cooking, catch up on TV shows and even go home for a quick visit to see my parents. The only thing that would have made it better would have been a trip to somewhere warm. I am sick of the pasty whiteness, the dry skin/hair and copious amounts of Chapstick required and the overall bone shaking cold, bitterness that has been this winter. But hey, I’m not complaining. I still had five days off so I’ll call that a win.
Before I went home to see my parents, I spent most of my time at my apartment. I found myself wandering out to try and find a coffee shop to set up at for a few hours each afternoon though. I wanted to do some blog work and was looking for a change in scenery from my little apartment. What I didn’t foresee was how hard such a set up would be to find.
I mean, I live in the downtown core so finding a coffee shop was not the issue. It was finding one with a table to sit at. Preferably one with a plug nearby, but I quickly realized I wasn’t going to be able to be picky.
I tried chains of the Starbucks variety and independent shops. I’m not a brand-loyal coffee drinker and would have actually preferred an independent, but after 4 failed attempts, I finally saw an older lady giving up her corner table at the 5th Starbucks I tried. I quickly unbuttoned my jacket, claimed the seat, ordered myself a soy latte and sat down.
It was generally quite productive as the distractions that I face at my apartment were removed. You know… the couch where no matter how hard I try to stay sitting up straight, I inevitably end up lying down. Or the fridge/pantry… “I think I have some carrots that need to be eaten up. That’s boring though. Maybe I should make some hummus. Yes definitely make hummus.”
I’m sure you know how it goes. Which is why I think that people who work from home must have some serious self control. It’s not easy to focus when you’re really only accountable to yourself. So for those of you who do this, you have my respect. And you also must have a proper desk chair. Working from your couch is so hard. For real.
What does all this have to do with the recipe I’m sharing with you today? Well… not much. Other than one of the things I did while working at that Starbucks was create a list of recipes I wanted to create and share with you. One item on that list was more kitchen staples. Basic recipes that can be made at home quickly and easily and incorporated into various dishes. It’s all well and good to whip together something creative with various components, but that’s not necessarily realistic every day. This recipe on the other hand is!
The marinara is simple but so much better than the jarred kind in my opinion. It makes a decent amount too and can be stored well for about 10 days. While I used zucchini noodles here with my trusty spiralizer, you could easily use a julienne peeler, a steady hand and a sharp knife or regular spaghetti/noodles. Whatever floats your boat! However, what makes this whole dish stand out is the bean balls. Sometimes vegan burgers/balls/patties tend to be crumbly and fall apart. While still delicious, I always appreciate when the thing holds together. These do, I promise! The oats help to bind. The canellini beans are creamy and stick to everything. The mushroom and seeds give them a “meaty” texture. The herbs make them pop. I rolled them up and placed them in a muffin tin for baking – this help with the whole staying together thing. If you’re worried about appearance, I’d recommend giving them a quick rotate mid-bake, otherwise one side will end up a little flatter than the other. Still tasty and still stuck together though. And still so, so yummy.
Hope you enjoy, as always!
Hi There! Long time no chat. Sorry about that. As I mentioned, I started a new job last week! As I figured, it has been quite the transition. I joined my new company at a crazy-busy time in the year, so I have been working almost non-stop since I started. No other way to learn than to just dive right in, right?!
Anyway. It’s been great and I really like it so far… but my schedule has certainly changed. I’m adjusting and using my killer time management skills (ha) to make sure I still fit everything I want to do into my schedule. You know – blogging, cooking, working out, social stuff, olympic/house of cards watching etc. But last week I also found myself looking for simple meal ideas - ones that created leftovers I could easily pack up and bring to work since I haven’t had a lot of time for longer-lunch breaks.
Although cooking is definitely my way to de-stress/de-compress from a busy day/week, sometimes I like to just come right home without having to stop for groceries and know I’ll still be able to eat a healthy, homemade meal. I also like to have snacks ready to take with me to work the next day which will help fuel me through meetings in case I don’t have time to have a proper lunch.
That was precisely the inspiration behind these bars. They were easy to make and I had all of the ingredients in my pantry so I was able to avoid an extra trip to the grocery store – something we can all appreciate, I’m sure!
They are packed with protein and fibre which will help boost your energy and kill your hunger cravings. Plus they are delicious. Way better than reaching for a packaged granola bar if you ask me.