Chocolate Almond Butter Steel Cut Oats (Vegan, Gluten Free)

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What day is it? Snow Day Saturday! Okay, I know that saturdays are saturdays, but being snowed in makes it a lot easier to get excited about doing “nothing”.  Or in this case, creating some tasty oatmeal to warm me up on this cold morning in Harrisonburg.  As I was going to bed last night, the only thing I wanted was chocolate to fix a not-so-hot day.  So I decided to dream about the chocolate peanut butter oatmeal I would make in the morning. When I woke up, I forgot that I didn’t have any banana (one of the staples in my fast, 5 minute oatmeal) and I had much more almond butter than I did peanut butter.  So, I decided I’d spend the extra time with some steel-cut oats and try out the almond butter.  I even dipped some almond butter in my cacao to make sure the combination would be a good one! Though I was skeptical, this turned out to be a delicious breakfast–so delicious that I even surprised myself.

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One thing I love about steel cut oats is that you can really chew them.  I am a big fan of having a satisfying bite, with something crunchy or substantial to chew on (usually chia seeds, the seeds on raspberries, hemp seeds, almonds, sunflower seeds…the list goes on).  This oatmeal totally hits that requirement! It is creamy, chewy, chocolatey, comforting, and charge you up! It is super dense, and sure to keep you warm, this coming from a continually cold person.

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Chocolate Almond Butter Steel Cut Oats (Vegan, Gluten Free)
Serves 1

Ingredients
3/4 cup almond milk (or your milk of choosing)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup steel cut oats (make sure they are gluten free!)
1.5 Tbsp almond butter
3/4 Tbsp cacao
1 Tbsp maple syrup or honey (though the honey is not vegan)
1/4 tsp Salt

Method
1.  Bring the almond milk, water, and salt to a boil in a small pot.
2.  Add the oats, turn the heat on low or low-medium and cover for about 10 minutes.  Stir occasionally.
3.  Stir in the cacao, almond butter, and maple syrup and let it sit for about 5-10 more minutes, depending on how soft you want the oats.
4.  Take off the heat and enjoy!

Notes:
Garnish with some more almond butter, hemp seeds, maybe bananas if you have them.
If you are as big a fan of cinnamon as I am, you will want to add cinnamon to this recipe–
DONT!  While I find that the cinnamon adds a great dimension to chocolate, it tends to mask
the nut butter. So try to resist if you want to have that great nutty flavor.
Definitely test this out with peanut butter or any other nut butter you have!

DSC_0421I hope you enjoy this as much as I did, and just remember to experiment and have fun! Go take charge of your life and do what you love (I think this is the caffeine in the cacao talking…not bad advice I guess).  Stay warm wherever you may be, and thanks for stopping by.

Love,
Lucy

New York…a Trip for Food!

Well here is my first post, how exciting! I figured since the trip was so centered around food that this would make a somewhat eventful first post.  Bear with me though, I am still learning about, well, everything, but mostly blogging and photography and food and life!  My point being, it might be rough, but it’s all about the journey, right?

I just got back from a trip to New York City with my mom and my sister, it was kind of a spur-of-the-moment thing.  I have become increasingly interested in making food my career, and we figured that we would take the trip up to see the Natural Gourmet Institute for an open house to see if we liked it.  In addition, one of the best raw food restaurants–well, the best one I know of–that I had never been to was in New York, so we figured, why not make a trip out of it?

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So, my Mom and my sister, Elly, and I packed into the car and made the 7 hour drive into NYC.  We made a list of things we wanted to see and the places we wanted to eat and just went from there.  Number One on our list was Pure Food and Wine, the raw food restaurant.  We literally got into the city and didn’t stop the car until we were parked a block away from the restaurant.  All I can say is that it set the bar pretty high for the rest of the trip.  As a dairy-free pretty much vegan eater, it was so incredible to look at the menu and choose any item I wanted!   I decided to go for the lasagna, which consisted of three sauces, a creamy cheese-inspired sauce, a pesto, and some sort of tomato sauce, all piled onto layers of zucchini.  The croquettes as well as the falafel salad were great too (my family is so great because we love to share food!).  For dessert, I got a simple cookie with ice cream on top, which was good, though it was hard to be satisfied with a small cookie when there is a giant sundae in front of you.  The ice cream tasted amazing–especially considering it didn’t have any dairy or soy products in it, and was completely raw!

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That night we ate at a great restaurant named Bistango, an Italian extremely gluten-free restaurant.  I was cautious because italian food and cheese (dairy) just go hand in hand, but there were a few options open for me! I was able to eat a cheese-less pizza, which was so good, along with a simple salad and some great chocolate and black-raspberry sorbet.  The sorbet was good, though I wished I could have combined the chocolate’s flavor with the raspberry’s texture–then it would be a match truly made in heaven. The next morning, we happened upon a tiny hole in the wall of a juice and smoothie bar right next to our hotel.  It was called Pulp NYC, and it advertised for green juices, smoothies, even acai berry bowls, and it was just calling my name.  I talked Elly and my mom into going there for a late breakfast, and we all ended up getting the same thing: The Green Monster that consisted of spinach, avocado, mango, and almond milk.  Let me tell you, if I was a skeptic of avocados in shakes, I am a believer now.  It was so smooth and creamy, with just enough sweetness and the nice flavor of the spinach at the end.  We liked it so much that we went there again for breakfast the next day and got the exact same thing!

I didn’t take this picture (I found it on google), but this is exactly what they looked like and I wanted to show just how delicious the shakes look!

After we spent the day walking through museums and past hundreds of stores, we ended up at an all-vegan restaurant called Blossom Cafe.  I had heard great reviews from friends, so I was super excited about eating it all! The two highlights were the mushroom calamari and the “milk”shakes.  Elly and I both agreed that the mushroom calamari was even better than real calamari–it took up flavor more than squid would.  And the milk shakes met all of my expectations.  They were thick enough to leave a sweet taste in your mouth, and had a great extra flavor and lingering texture of crushed butterfingers (the flavor I picked).  This restaurant had a nice grill-like feel to it, much more relaxed and casual.  My only concern was the amount of soy in all of the dishes.  I am not allergic or sensitive to it, but I have heard so many things about soy causing hormonal imbalances that it makes me a little cautious about the amount that I eat. The next day we ended up eating brunch at a tiny diner that had good reviews on Yelp called Good Enough To Eat.  It was good, though it wasn’t vegan.  That didn’t seem to stop me though, because I was set on getting some french toast.  I ate all of it even though I knew it had dairy (which tends to really hurt my stomach), and about 20 minutes later I knew I had made a mistake.  However, the pumpkin in the bread tasted amazing topped with cranberries and pears, it was almost worth it.  On the ride home, I was exhausted and must have slept for almost half the trip! I wondered if any of it was due to the dairy, because it also tends to make me tired. DSC_0136 All in all, a wonderful trip to discover food and interests! I hope to return some day to attend the Natural Gourmet Institute and learn about cooking healthy food! I hope you have a wonderful day!   Love, Lucy