Despite lots of talking and thinking and consulting and reserving and stressing over the past several days, our travel plans are still not set. We are currently debating the pros and cons involved in two different sets of dates for our return trip home, mid December or late November, and neither set of dates is without its problems. So we remain uncommitted.
This is bad considering that should we choose to go with the earlier option we will be boarding the plane for our 10 hour flight back to San Francisco next Thursday. Yikes.
I have been keeping in contact with my sister and family as much as is feasible given the timezone differences for the last few days, and everything seems to be going well so far. I’m not going to lie, though.. it’s pretty tough being so far away and having no clue exactly how cute ‘cute’ is when my family gushes about the baby. I mean, really, what kind of hospital doesn’t have internet these days anyway?
I may not have had enough brain power or time to post anything on my blog recently, but I have still been busy keeping us fed over these parts! It has not been my most creative of weeks, and I’ve been focusing instead on making some simple old favorites that I once made regularly but haven’t thought to dust off in a while. But today let’s talk about breakfast.
On the breakfast front I’ve been having a lot of oatmeal, as the weather has been teasing lower temperatures (but then returning to warmer ones just as fast) lately.
Oats are not as eaten as commonly here in Japan as they are back home, as the traditional Japanese breakfast tends to include more savory items, such as rice and miso soup. Most grocery stores will only carry quick oats, if they carry them at all, but if you know where to look and shop you can find more options at organic or natural foods shops. I frequent a particular baking goods shop that sells organic jumbo oats (the base of my granola) as well as quick oats (for baking), make occasional trips to the fancy import stores that carry steel-cut oats (my favorite for eating), and every few months I also order a few things from Tengu Natural Foods, a fantastic organic mail order service that offers fun things like oat bran and other hard to find items.
AB&J Oatmeal: Scottish Oats w/ Flax & Bran topped with almond butter, bonne maman strawberry jam, greek yogurt, grilled banana, walnuts and nibs
I rarely make oatmeal straight up. I always add all sorts of mix-ins such as flax, chia or hemp seeds, various other grains, germs or brans, etc. to bulk it up, and seem to cycle through phases in which I use various types and preparation methods depending on my mood, time of year, etc. I have a small sauce pan that is perfect for cooking up just one individual serving in the mornings, but have also been known to make large batches of steel-cut oatmeal on the weekends in the winter for Eric and I to reheat throughout the week.
I usually cook myself less oatmeal by volume that most people make for a single serving because a) The few times I’ve made a full serving I ended up bloated and overfull, b) I like to have a smaller base of oatmeal so I can be a little more heavy-handed on the toppings, and c) I try to keep my grain intake pretty moderate in general and prefer to bulk up on healthy fats, protein, and fresh fruit and vegetables instead.
Tiramisu Oatmeal: Scottish Oats w/ Flax topped with almond butter, mascarpone, nibs, crumbled biscoff, and espresso syrup
The recipe I have been using for my oats lately is pretty straight forward, but I mix it up depending on the day. My most recent bowl looked something like this:
Scottish Oats w/ Flax & Oat Bran
- 20 g Scottish Oats
10 g ground flax seed
10 g oat bran
150 ml water
50 ml whole non-homogenized milk
25-40 g smashed ripe banana
1 egg white
Preparation is very simple. I add the oats, bran, flax, and water to my sauce pan and heat over medium-low heat until bubbling. Because my pan is so small, I have to reduce the heat to low once the oatmeal begins bubbling or risk burning my breakfast. After about 2-4 minutes I add in the smashed banana and milk and whisk well to breakup any banana pieces, then leave the oatmeal to thicken with the occasional stir to check consistency.
While the oatmeal is thickening, I like to beat an egg white in a separate bowl until just beginning to stiffen. I have taken to doing this by hand, as it’s too much of a pain to pull out my mixer in the morning and gives me a good arm workout at the same time.
I like to add an egg white to my oats for protein, body, and to lighten up the oats and make them fluffier. Egg whites are not sold separately in Japan, so I usually make Eric’s breakfast egg sandwiches with one egg and one yolk and save the second white for my own consumption.
Once the oats have thickened to my desired consistency (I like them fairly thick), I turn off the heat, add the whipped egg white and whisk until well combined. I also frequently add a dash of cinnamon and any mix-ins I want distributed throughout the oatmeal at this point (such as pumpkin puree if I am making pumpkin oats).
Note that this particular mix of ingredients is almost too much for me once toppings are added. Depending on the day I will leave out the bran or banana or both to make it a more manageable portion, though that might not be a problem for some. On occasions where I do not have an egg white on hand I try to make sure to include either the bran or banana to make up for the loss in volume.
I vary my oatmeal toppings daily depending on my mood, and like to use a variety of toppings each day. I try to include a fruity, creamy, crunchy, and fat element in each bowl. I also love themed bowls, such as tiramisu, ab&j, pumpkin pie, apple crisp, etc.
Some of my favorite and most used toppings include: a teaspoon of nut butter (peanut, almond, walnut, cashew, sunflower seed, etc), greek yogurt, dried fruit, berries, nuts (especially walnuts or pecans), mini hazelnut chips, cacao nibs, coconut butter, coconut, apple butter, strawberry preserves, mascarpone, crumbled biscoff (when going for pumpkin pie or apple crisp oats this makes a good crust sub), granola, maple syrup, grilled banana, chunky roasted apples, and the little packets of espresso syrup that come with the brand of mascarpone I buy.
I did skip my oatmeal breakfast at least one day in the last week, though, to make room for a special treat. This month’s monthly bagel from Bagel & Bagel.
For November the bagel on offer is the Soy Milk Mocha Bagel. Since it is coffee flavored Eric wouldn’t touch this one, so twice last week I had a half a bagel with mascarpone and a mini recovery kefir smoothie on the side. It was quite tasty, but too sweet for me to seek out more than just the once.
What is your favorite type of oatmeal and how do you prepare and top it? Do you cycle through random oatmeal phases like I do?