Maple Ricotta Oatmeal Cake

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I went for a run in the park yesterday morning and it was beautiful. I’m so excited spring has officially sprung. It’s always fun to see students ‘sunbathing’ on the Columbia campus…hard to believe in just about a month I’ll be graduating law school and leaving academia behind. Winter was so long, it makes the few weeks of spring while I’m still in school seem very short!

 

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When I got home from my run, I was in the mood for an oatmeal cake for breakfast. I picked up a tub of ricotta cheese over the weekend to use in a polenta dish, and though I often use it in omelettes or pancakes, I’d never thought about other breakfast treats. All that changed when I went to whip up an oatmeal cake after my run yesterday morning, and instead of reaching for my usual Greek yogurt to spoon in, I went for the ricotta instead. I added some maple syrup to the mix, and this little ramekin of deliciousness became a Maple Ricotta Oatmeal Cake. It was roughly the same density as one of my other oatmeal cakes, but with a texture just a tad lighter and fluffier. I’m sure it would be great with lemon zest (which I didn’t happen to have on hand), like a lemon ricotta pancake – but with just the maple and cinnamon it was a delightfully dessert-y breakfast treat!

 

Ricotta and maple syrup and cinnamon, oh my!

Ricotta and maple syrup and cinnamon, oh my!

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My Favorite Pancakes

Growing up, pancakes were one of my favorite breakfasts. My mom would make them as a special Saturday morning treat, filled with chocolate chips and topped with Stonewall Kitchen’s now-retired Strawberry Piggy Sauce. Pancakes at Sarabeth’s in Manhattan or my favorite diner in Connecticut were my birthday brunch treat, and my first year in college, the meal I ate before I went off to the airport for school each term to say goodbye to the US for a few months. (The UK one-ups the US by having a Pancake Day, but their pancakes are actually more like what we consider crepes). I’d have them topped with strawberries and bananas and drizzled with maple syrup, because I liked blueberries and chocolate chips, but why change a good thing?

When my wheat allergy was diagnosed, I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy pancakes in the same way ever again. Part of why I liked pancakes was the way they conjured up happy memories of childhood meals, before any of my struggles with food began, and the special feeling of having a treat on an ordinary morning I got whenever a plate was set before me. It wasn’t that I thought gluten-free pancake mix would taste bad. I just thought the pancakes would taste different. Which is true, of course. But that meant I didn’t really eat pancakes for a few years, until I started learning to cook for myself and coming up with new recipes. Pancake perfection was a distant dream, but I began to try anyway. Remember that saying, shoot for the moon, and if you miss, you’ll land among the stars? Well, I’ve taken that to heart, because the pancakes I’ve arrived at might not be perfect, but they sure do make me feel all warm and fuzzy the way I feel pancakes should. They’re sweet, fluffy, and gluten-free, and more than good enough for me!

 

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Four Month Blog-iversary and an Apples n’ Peanut Butter Muffin Recipe

I can’t believe it, but today is my four-month blog anniversary! The past few months have been a whirlwind with family and friends, running and recipes, and of course law school and everything leading up to graduation. But I’ve really been loving every moment I’ve spent on the blog. I had forgotten how much I missed writing for fun, about whatever is on my mind, since I started law school. After all, it doesn’t leave a lot of time for it! But I’m so happy I made the time, because writing, and reading other blogs, and beginning to feel like a part of something in the healthy living community, have all been fantastic little pieces of the journey so far. That said, on to today’s post – a new muffin recipe combining two of my favorite things.

Honeydew makes these muffins another snack that smiles back!

Honeydew makes these muffins another snack that smiles back!

I’m constantly experimenting with new flavor combinations for my muffins because I whip up a batch weekly for breakfast, brunch, an on-the-go snack or a running pick-me-up. Honestly, they’re practically a food group for me (just look at what I eat on a typical day!) These little dollops of deliciousness are what would happen if my Caramel Apple Cinnamuffins and Peanut Butter Cuppins had a muffin baby. Apples + Peanut Butter = Yum. Every time. Plus, I had an excuse to try out my new silicone muffin pan – I usually stick to a regular stainless steel pan, but lately mine has been getting tough to clean and the muffins have been sticking even when the pan is greased well, so I decided to give this cute red one a try. It’s a little trickier to remove from the oven without bending, but I’m happy to announce it was a successful test run! If you slide a knife carefully around the edges of each muffin before removing, they’re easy to pop right out of the pan.

 

Muffins in their new baking home

Muffins in their new baking home

 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups gluten-free rolled oats

1/4 cup gluten-free sorghum or all-purpose flour

6 oz vanilla Greek yogurt (I used Oikos Traditional Greek Yogurt)

2 Tbsp milk of choice (I used So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk)

2 large eggs

2 tbsp peanut butter, melted (My favorite Peanut Butter & Co)

2 tbsp powdered peanut butter (I used PB2 Original)

1/2 cup apple, peeled and chopped (I like using Braeburn apples to bake, they’re the perfect twist of sweet and snappy)

1/3 cup applesauce

1 Tbsp butter (you can sub extra applesauce if you prefer)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Extra tbsp olive oil, butter, or cooking spray (to grease the pan)

 

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A Breakfast Is Born

Thinking-Out-Loud2

First things first – my initial thought I wanted to share with all of you this Thursday was one of thrills and thanks! (Yes, I like alliteration.) Yesterday’s WIAW post meant the first day of the month was also the first day my blog received over 500 reads. It’s not why I blog, but I’m so happy that people are interested in what I have to say, and I welcome any input on what you might like to read in future. More recipes, or ramblings on life, just post in the comments below!

Now, here’s what I was thinking about yesterday when I drafted this, when a friend of mine joked that I ate more oats than anyone she knew and I should have gone to her alma mater because then I would have been a Quaker. Now, I’ve shared a lot of oat-based recipes with you, but I’m going to let everyone in on a little secret – for the first 18 years of my life, I had a major aversion to oatmeal. Crazy, right? I just had this thing about any “lumpy” foods (I loved mashed potatoes, but refused to eat them if I found even a single lump, when the fork was put down for good). Neither the color nor texture of oatmeal was visually appealing. The first time I tasted it, I was five years old and had a bowl foisted upon me by my well-meaning grandmother, who is not known for her cooking. It was lukewarm and grayish and pretty much the opposite of appetizing, and that was it. I ate oatmeal cookies, especially because even before my wheat allergy was diagnosed I had bad reactions to a lot of other baked goods, but no oatmeal.

 

A bowl of oats

A bowl of oats

 

And then I arrived in Oxford for my first year at university. The food served up in my college dining hall was mostly unappealing, as it seemed to operate on the principle of maximum calories for minimum cash – good for starving students, but not so good for a student with a sensitive stomach and lots of allergies. To make matters worse, there was a small refrigerator in the hall of my dorm, but no kitchen, and we weren’t allowed to have cooking appliances in our rooms (because of the risk of burning down a beautiful 500-year-old building, to be fair!) There was a microwave on the floor above mine but I didn’t discover it until the spring. So for the first two terms, I pretty much subsisted on yogurt, salads, cheese, fruit and veggies, and other food eaten cold, and unfortunately, more junk food (chips and crisps and chocolate) which played a role in distorting my eating habits. The saving grace of this time was my electric tea kettle – the one appliance permitted in every room in Oxford, because it was always time for tea. I could boil water, so I could make anything to which you added hot water, which meant soup, and yes, oatmeal.

 

Matriculation at Oxford with my dear friend Elli

Matriculation at Oxford with my dear friend Elli

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March Recap + Roasted Parmesan Cauliflower Recipe

First things first – happy last day of March! I woke up to the sun shining and birds singing, and though rain is predicted later today, I’m just soaking up these rays of spring as long as they last.

 

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I can’t believe March has come to an end. Literally up until yesterday, I thought this month was going to have arrived and be leaving like a lion, but it might just be a welcome lamb! And in between the bouts of wacky weather, my March seemed to slink by while I wasn’t looking. I celebrated the first anniversary of my first half marathon with a second stab at the New York City Half Marathon, Which also meant my second anniversary of running!

 

At the finish line - it's not sweat I'm covered in, it's pixie dust!

At the finish line – it’s not sweat I’m covered in, it’s pixie dust!

 

I conquered another challenge (much smaller in scope) without really noticing by making good on my February promise not to buy any new clothes, and doubled the time – it’s been about 9 weeks, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but the funny thing is I’ve been tempted very little (except that suddenly I’m noticing all these holes in my admittedly well-worn running gear that seem to be telling me I should splurge on a pair of Wunder Unders…)

 

Seriously scrumptious side

Just one scrumptious dish

 

I got to share my feelings on food and its place in our culture, and with those a plethora of recipes that I have created and cooked in my journey to enjoying food as fuel for life. Some are old standbys and some new experiments. In the mood for a sweet and filling breakfast or snack? Try one of my oatmeal cakes, in flavors like Pumpkin Spice or Blueberry Muffin. Want a savory vegetarian main dish? Baked Garlic & Thyme Tofu is here to help, unless you’re in the mood for a Savory Goat Cheese & Vegetable Tart. Want a more classic brunch? Go for Smoked Salmon & Quinoa Quiche. Need some more vegetable inspiration? Just keep reading for my last recipe of March, and keep on cooking!

 

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Blueberry Muffin Oatmeal Cake

This rainy start to spring has put a damper on my mood recently (bad pun, no apologies) and I’ve been wishing and hoping that the sun will break through and May flowers will bloom even when it’s supposed to be April showers. After all, March went out like a lion instead of a lamb, the weather should mix it up a little! To get in the spirit of spring, I’ve been making meals with lots of spring fruits and veggies like asparagus, artichokes, baby lettuces and berries. Since I already have classically autumn apple cinnamon and pumpkin spice oatmeal cakes, I came up with a lovely Blueberry Muffin Oatmeal Cake for this season. It’s a little cakier than my other oatmeal cakes, and worthy of the muffin name for that reason. Go ahead, whip one up and take a bite bursting with berries!

 

Ingredients:

Essential ingredients

Essential ingredients

1/2 cup gluten-free quick-cooking oats (using these instead of rolled oats results in more of a muffin-y texture – I went with Chex Gluten Free quick-cooking oats)

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 Tbsp Greek yogurt – plain, vanilla or blueberry

1 egg white (substitute applesauce if desired)

1/4 cup fresh blueberries

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp brown sugar

Pinch salt

For topping: 2 tsp each of Greek yogurt, cream cheese, and blueberry jam or preserves

For ramekin: 1 tsp butter (can substitute olive oil or cooking spray)

 

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Miniature Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cake

I enjoyed my pumpkin spice oatmeal cake so much, I decided to whip up another – but since I’d finished the pumpkin, I needed a new flavor palate. Enter apples and cinnamon, one of the best combinations for a warming winter treat known to all mankind! Perfect for these days when silver-white winter is supposed to turn into spring, but spring seems a little shy to come out and play…

 

Ingredients:

Bake in a ramekin...

Bake in a ramekin…

1/2 cup gluten-free rolled oats

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup milk of choice (I used So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk)

2 Tbsp Greek yogurt (I recommend using 2% or full fat for the creaminess)

1 egg white (substitute applesauce if desired)

1/2 small apple, cubed

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch salt

For ramekin: 1 tsp butter (can substitute olive oil or cooking spray)

 

 

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

...flip into a dish to ice and serve!

…flip into a dish to ice and serve!

2. Combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl, then add in wet ingredients (only use 1 Tbsp of yogurt here) and cubed apple and mix well.

3. Melt butter in 1-cup (8 ounce) ramekin to coat inner surface. (You can also use olive oil or cooking spray, but I found that butter worked really well in this recipe to give the cake a yummy buttery crust).

4. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes, then set oven to high broil for an additional 5 minutes.

5. Use a knife to carefully pry the edges of the cake from the ramekin (easy as long as it was greased well!) and flip upside down into a dish.

6. Top with 1 Tbsp of yogurt and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Enjoy!

 

 

Eat up!

Eat up!

 

This is a perfect post-workout breakfast – you can come home, whip up the ingredients, and stick it in the oven while you shower and get ready, then eat before you leave. It’s also a perfect lazy morning dish, because you can just lounge around reading the newspaper and slowly waking up while the oatmeal cake bakes. Basically, it’s great for everyone! And it’s completely gluten-freeWhat’s your go-to breakfast?

 

 

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