Toasted Oat Muesli

Howdy, friends! Do you ever get inspired to whip something up in your kitchen just by seeing a similar item at the grocery store? I did, today at Santi’s (our amazing little Swiss deli that sells all the major food groups: cheese, chocolate, and wine.) It’s one of my favourite stores. They also sell a breakfast muesli that Theda loves, called “Full o’ Fruits”… anyone know what I’m talking about? I’ve bought it many, many times, and I had it in my hand to buy today.

THEN. I looked at the price tag. 439 pesos (about $9), for a bag that contains maybe 15 servings. IT’S OATS, PEOPLE!! So my inner rebel (yeah, I admit that feisty girl has tamed down quite a bit over the years) told me I’d been bamboozled long enough, and I should just make my own “Full o’ Fruits” muesli for about a quarter of the cost. My Ma would call this “beating the system” and she would be proud of me. So here you go, my version of “Full o’ Fruits”…

This homemade muesli came together in less than 30 minutes with ingredients I had on hand in my pantry. Really, you can use anything! Besides the oats, I used pumpkin, sunflower seeds, and walnuts to give it a little crunch (and some healthy fats!), and then after it was toasted, added finely chopped dried apricots, figs, dried blueberries, & a few raisins. Just use whatever you have!

I actually didn’t even use a bowl to mix this; I just spread all the ingredients out on my baking tray, sprinkled over the cinnamon, and toasted it for about 10 minutes, turning it once to make sure the nuts & seeds didn’t burn.

Then, when it was slightly cooled, just add your dried fruits and stir to mix.

My kitchen smelled absolutely heavenly as this was baking, and the end result is amazing: fresh, toasty, crunchy, with little bits of sweet-tart dried fruit. I think Theda will love it.

It’s so easy that she can even make it in her college dorm room toaster oven when she goes to SCAD this fall! And so yummy it’s good any time of day… with yogurt & fruit for breakfast, after a workout, stirred with milk to make overnight oats, or for a late-night snack.

Enjoy, friends!

Toasted Oat Muesli

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Category: Breakfast

American

Yield: 13 servings

Serving Size: 1/4 cup

Toasted Oat Muesli

Ingredients

  • 3 cups rolled (old-fashioned) oats
  • ¼ cup seeds (I used pumpkin and sunflower)
  • 2 T. walnuts
  • ½ t. cinnamon
  • ¼ t. salt
  • ½ cup dried fruit (I used apricots, raisins, figs, & blueberries)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 200C (425F).
  • On a large baking sheet, spread oats, seeds, & walnuts in a thin layer. Sprinkle with cinnamon & salt.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes, turning once with a metal spatula to ensure even toasting. Remove from oven and cool slightly.
  • Mix in dried fruit. Cool thoroughly and store in an airtight container.
  • Makes 12 (¼-cup) servings.
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Hearty Potato Lentil Soup

Don’t “they” say that soup is a cure-all? But I wonder if even this hearty potato lentil soup can stand up to the major events that have rocked 2020 in Philippines so far. On January 12 the Taal volcano erupted with a cloud of ash that could be seen from the NASA satellites, forcing tens of thousands out of their homes for weeks and ending generations-long livelihoods. While we were still sweeping up ash from our streets, rooftops, and kitchen windowsills, an eruption of another type was taking place: the 2019 Novel Corona virus. Its rapid spread throughout Asia has compelled us to wear masks in public, caused major events to be cancelled and postponed, imposed severe travel restrictions throughout the region, and cast a feeling of general fear and uneasiness over us all. I have to say I’ve been thrown off my A-game, and despite my best intentions, posting on this space in January just felt out of reach.

However, God is good all the time, and He can use even the worst circumstances to bring about His purposes. I stand on that faith in times like these, knowing He will bring us through.

I’ve also found that doing ordinary, day-to-day things, like getting a fresh hair cut (much needed, by the way!), working out, and being in the kitchen making soup like this restores a sense of balance and normalcy to an otherwise chaotic-seeming world.

I can’t think of anything more comforting than this hearty lentil soup, which I’ve coincidentally (?) made several times this past month! It’s so satisfying with the earthy lentils, creamy potatoes, flecks of spinach, and garlicky broth. The ultimate in comfort food!

Even though it’s a lentil soup, it comes together quickly, as the lentils only take 20-25 minutes to cook. I boil them separately from the rest of the soup to ensure their tenderness. Meanwhile, in my big soup pot, I saute the onions & carrots, add the seasonings, potatoes, cauliflower, and veggie broth, and simmer the whole thing to perfect tenderness in about the same amount of time it takes the lentils to cook. Then I just add the lentils and their broth along with some fresh spinach, taste and adjust the seasonings, and voila, dinner is served!

We always eat crusty bread with this soup to soak up the extra broth, and the kids also add rice to their bowl. Very Pinoy of them… and very carb-a-licous! But you do you… it’s really a meal on its own: protein from the lentils, carbs from the lentils and potatoes, Vitamins A & C from the veggies, and plenty of fiber. This soup is naturally vegan and gluten-free, but if you’re not vegetarian, a little smoked ham or chorizo would be a fabulous addition.

Soup won’t cure everything, friends! But it sure will give us strength to endure, and put a smile on our faces as we do. May God bless us all during these trying times. Love you!

Hearty Potato Lentil Soup

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Category: Soup

Yield: 6-8 servings

Hearty Potato Lentil Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (uncooked) brown lentils, rinsed & picked over
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 t. thyme
  • ½ t. salt
  • ½ t. black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • 1 T. soy sauce
  • ½ T. balsamic vinegar
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled & cubed
  • 1/2 cup cauliflower, cut in small florets
  • 3 cups fresh spinach leaves, chopped

Instructions

  • In a small saucepan, boil the lentils in water to cover for about 20-25 minutes or until tender, adding water as necessary to keep them covered at all times. Set aside when done. Do not drain.
  • Meanwhile, in a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute the onion for about 5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the carrots, thyme, salt, pepper, garlic, and tomato paste. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes. Add the soy sauce and balsamic vinegar and cook for another 30 seconds.
  • Add the vegetable broth, potatoes, and cauliflower, bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes & cauliflower are tender.
  • Add the cooked lentils along with most or all of the cooking liquid depending on how thick you like your soup. At this point I like to mash a little of the soup with a potato masher to blend it just a bit, but leave most of the texture intact.
  • Add the spinach last and stir until it wilts. Taste and adjust seasonings. Makes 6-8 servings.
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Pumpkin Oat Cookies

 

Hello friends! I feel like I’ve been eating these pumpkin oat cookies so often (think every day!) and for so long (nearly 2 years now!) that everybody knows about them. But in reality, I think only Theda and a dear friend who happened to come over at an opportune time actually does.

Time to remedy that….

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Vegan Chocolate Peppermint Cups

Merry Christmas Eve, friends!

I always think I’m going to post waaaay more recipes for you this season than I actually do… in fact, nearly every time I make something I think, “I should post this,”… and then we eat it so fast I can never take any pictures! It almost happened with these chocolate peppermint cups also, but as you can see it didn’t take too many to do the photo shoot, so I got lucky. And to be honest, these are one of the best things I’ve made this holiday season.  They’re fast, they’re easy, and they’re absolutely delicious!…

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Sweet & Sour Chicken

This sweet & sour chicken can be made with vegan “chicken” pieces or regular chicken breast…either way, it’s perfect for an easy weeknight meal!

Howdy, friends… I realise it’s been forever since I’ve passed along a main meal recipe to you.  I blame this on the hungry people in my house (myself included!)- just when I think I’ve made enough to have for dinner, leftovers for lunches the next day, AND still have some in reserve for the “blog photo shoot,” it turns out I’ve underestimated my household appetite once again.  …

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Pumpkin Applesauce Muffins

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Chocolate Zucchini Almond Muffins

These chocolate zucchini almond muffins are a BRAND. NEW. RECIPE.  As in, I’ve only made them twice in my life.  And I feel desperate to share them with you immediately, even though my most recent post was also for a breakfast item.  But as our mothers will tell us, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  I take this to heart…

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