Jun 12, 2011

Things to Make with Rolled Oats

The title of this post is reminiscent of a Jeopardy answer: "What are things to make with rolled oats?"  Upon experimentation we developed recipes for a few tasty treats: homemade granola, granola bars and banana oatmeal cookies. This post is partly inspired by the idea of using ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry.  So, if you are staring at that container of rolled oats and are sick and tired of making oatmeal, try one of these deliciously healthy treats!
Granola Bars
Caitlin's Granola Bars, straight out of the oven before being sliced
Caitlin: Decided to make granola bars for a couple reasons: first, they're super easy and fun for kids to make. Second, you can get really creative with the ingredients and alter any recipe to fit your liking. One of my favorite snacks at work is a parfait of sorts with granola, yogurt, diced apples, honey, almonds and dried cranberries. It's a healthy, filling and a really tasty treat that tides me over until lunch. So when we talked about the granola post, I knew exactly what I wanted to make. I altered a few things, but the bars are mostly inspired by my mid-morning treat - plus a little chocolate thrown in for good measure. I sprinkled a little sea salt on top for a nice sweet and salty combination, and the end result was quite tasty. I highly recommend you try it - you can add other dried fruit, nuts or even shredded coconut depending on what you like. It's a great little treat for your lunch. They even got two thumbs up from a picky little eater who is very particular about his food.

Granola Bar Ingredient List
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup raw almonds, slightly crushed
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tbsp vanilla
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
sprinkle sea salt

Preheat oven to 350. Lay oats, almonds and cinnamon flat on a baking sheet and toast in oven for about 12 minutes. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, put butter, honey, vanilla and brown sugar - cook until fully melted and mixed. 
Take oats out and mix with the butter mixture, stir in cranberries and chocolate. 
In a baking dish lined with parchment, pour the oat mixture and flatten it out with the back of a wooden spoon or spatula. Sprinkle sea salt on the top and bake in the oven on 300 for about 35-40 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting into squares. 

 Pumpkin Spice Granola 
Monica's Granola
Monica: Both of the recipes I am going to share with you were inspired by a variety of things. For example, in this particular recipe I wanted to make a granola with pumpkin spice.  How many of us have pumpkin spice in our pantry, yet only seem to use it during the Thanksgiving holiday?  So if you are possibly wondering what you can make with pumpkin spice (even though it is nearly summer) try a pumpkin spice granola!

Sunflower Sprout Salad w/ Artichokes, Olives, & Heirloom Tomatoes
Secondly, I decided to alter both of the recipes I am going to share with you to make them not only tasty, but rather healthy as well. I was further inspired to make both of these vegan friendly due to a lovely vegan meal I was treated to recently. I am including a  picture, to the right, of one of my favorite dishes from that meal. (Oh, and although this is a bit off topic, let me just say sunflower sprouts were quite a revelation...a really delicious base for a salad.) 

Therefore, I took that experience to make the granola vegan and the cookies nearly vegan-friendly (the exception is the chocolate chips I used, which can be easily substituted). Both of these recipes will definitely satisfy your craving for something sweet, yet they will not leave you feeling guilty about consuming empty calories. So onto the granola recipe...

Pumpkin Spice Granola Ingredient List 
5 cups rolled oats
1 tbs pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup raw organic sugar
1/2 cup organic canned pumpkin
1/4 cup organic applesauce
2 tbs good quality vanilla extract
1/2 cup raw pepitas 
3/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup raw agave nectar

Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine oats, spices, and salt.  
In a medium bowl whisk sugar, pumpkin, applesauce, agave nectar and vanilla. Pour over oat mixture - until oats are coated evenly, spread onto baking sheet.
Bake for 20 min, remove from oven, stir.  Bake for an additional 15 - 20 minutes until granola is golden and crisp. 
Remove from the oven and stir in pepitas and golden raisins.  

Let cool completely.  Then, enjoy!

(Nearly Vegan) Chocolate Banana Oatmeal Cookies
Monica's Oatmeal Cookies
Monica: Ok, now to make these 100% vegan you can used cacao nibs or omit the chocolate entirely. Instead of chocolate, you could substitute dried fruit like cranberries or raisins, or you could also add the fruit for an extra something special.  If you prefer, you can cut the sugar substantially because the smashed banana is usually sweet enough. To use the least amount of sugar possible, test the batter once you mix in the banana and then decide whether you wish to add sugar or not. These cookies are absolutely delicious.  Everyone I shared them with really enjoyed them (and I have some finicky friends and family).  My favorite part about baking these: absolutely NO BUTTER!!! I don't bake very often because I try to avoid butter at all costs. This recipe really struck my fancy and I hope it becomes one of your new favorites. 

Oatmeal Cookie Ingredient List
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tbs good quality vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon (more to taste if you prefer)
2 1/4 cup rolled oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips or cacao nibs
1 large banana, smashed
*1/2 cup raw organic sugar (optional, depending on your sweet tooth)
dash of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Note about cinnamon, if you like cinnamon, sprinkle more in the batter to your liking.
On a cookie sheet (make sure it is non-stick) arrange the cookies by scooping them with an ice cream scoop. Make sure there is enough room between cookies (they will spread as they bake).
Bake for about 12-15 minutes, checking to make sure that the cookies don't brown too quickly. They tend to bake quite quickly, just watch as the edges begin to brown.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.  

Should make about 2 dozen cookies.

Caitlin: I have a thing for motown and soul. I absolutely love it; especially when I'm baking. I was recently introduced to this great band, Fitz and the Tantrums. This is a catchy song that's reminiscent of one of the greatest eras of music. Check out the video here.
Monica: I think when you bake, you need to listen to music that you can sing and/or dance along to. 
1)  "Ready for the Floor" - Hot Chip
2)  "On the Floor" -  J.Lo/ Pitbull (Guilty!  I do like this song.)
3)  "El Baile y El Salon" - Cafe Tacuba
4)  "Deja" - Sidestepper
5)  "Burnin' Down the Spark" - Nancy Sinatra

Drink of Choice
Iced Green Tea with a squeeze of lemon.

A Recipe to Remember?
Definitely, there is so much you can do to alter each recipe and make it your own and you will feel good about making and eating these delicious treats.