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doing the work

Thursday, June 9th, 2022

Recipe: baked oats

Time is doing strange things because of my intense focus on my health, diet, and exercise of late. I feel as if all the moods of spring have been smashed into the past few weeks. As we stare an approaching heat wave in the face, it’s hard not to reminisce about the late May snow just two weeks ago. And then there is the delirium of morel season, getting buzzed by countless hummingbirds, bright green new growth popping up at every turn, and all of the baby animals we catch glimpses of in the woods. It’s dizzyingly wonderful.


emerging sunshine melts snow off our weather station

brilliant crimson columbine in bloom

friends gave us baby asparagus seedlings from feral seeds

never certain if the morels will come up, but always jubilant to see them



As with any first batch of morels, I’m tempted to reserve some for the express purpose of frying and shoving them in my pie hole. But I’ve worked hard to wean myself off of sugary, fried, fatty, and refined carb foods the last three months – so much so that many of these foods have lost some of their once irresistible appeal. I made a morel bourbon cream sauce for Jeremy to enjoy on steak (his reward for finding the first morel of the season!) and reserved a dozen morels to fry. Instead of the usual flour-based breading, I opted for fine cornmeal as a healthier whole-grain alternative. They were good, but I stopped after a few when that initial fried deliciousness gave way to mindless consumption.

cornmeal-coated fried morels



Some folks have asked what I’ve been eating since I learned I am diabetic. That’s a hard question to answer. It was all pretty overwhelming at the start as I had to educate myself on type 2 diabetes, blood sugar levels and how they are affected by different foods and exercise, nutrient requirements, and the best way for *me* to lose weight. I now have a decent set of recipes in my quiver to get me through a good month of meals and have begun to tinker with new recipes that don’t require much effort and are hugely convenient for breakfast or a snack.

baked oats with huckleberries



I came across baked oats in my search for healthier snacks which led me to i am a food blog’s baked oats. Apparently this recipe was all the rage on TikTok a million years ago and I was completely unaware because social media is a garbage hole time suck that I am treating like added sugar: unnecessary and not good for me. The claim is that this is like having cake for breakfast, but “healthy” because it is made from rolled oats (or oat flour). I made it healthier by omitting the sugar, using almond milk, opting for add-ins like fruit instead of cookies or candy or cream cheese, and reducing the serving size. I really like that it is highly customizable.

the base recipe: almond milk, vanilla extract, rolled oats, eggs, bananas, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, oil (for greasing the vessels)



If using rolled oats (don’t use steel cut oats), a high speed blender is needed to get the batter to a smooth consistency. If you don’t have a high speed blender, you can use the equivalent weight (not volume) of oat flour and mix everything together with a food processor or hand mixer. Just be sure to mash the heck out of those bananas. And if you have no issues adding sweetener to your baked oats, you can use sugar, honey, maple syrup or other substitutes in the appropriate amounts, since some are not 1:1 sugar replacements. I don’t have any experience with sugar replacements like Stevia or monkfruit sugar other than unknowingly buying an iced tea that was sweetened with Stevia and pouring it out after one sip. It was disgusting. Not sure if you want to omit the sugar? I think if you can enjoy unflavored oatmeal with just added fruit and no other sweeteners, you will be fine with this. The banana does contribute some sugar to the base recipe.

into the blender it goes

a smooth batter



**Jump for more butter**

same, but not

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

Recipe: oat milk

Colorado ski resorts are closed for the season, Rocky Mountain National Park is closed, all restaurant dining is closed, schools and universities are closed, and a stay-at-home order is in place for the state in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. We have been self-isolating since March 12, which does not feel too different from our normal lives with some limitations. It’s not that way for many who have lost jobs, are staring at financial uncertainty, are already vulnerable, are sick, or are working for the good of the community. And let’s face it: the majority of those essential workers DO NOT get paid what they are worth nor enough for what they are risking for the rest of us. If you have the means, now is a particularly good time to contribute to your local food banks, shelters for people and animals, and maybe purchase some gift cards from small businesses – especially restaurants – that may not make it to the other side of this pandemic without your support. I hope you and yours are safe and well right now.

I’ve been checking in on my parents regularly to see how they are and to make sure they aren’t doing anything to put themselves or others at greater risk. So far, so good. Jeremy is working from home 100% and the dogs seem to think this is a great idea. Last Friday was Neva’s fifth birthday, so I managed a little celebration of sorts from what was on hand.


birthday plate of beef meatballs, apple, cheddar, and homemade dog treats

such good girls



We are not combating boredom over here, but making the most of the time not spent driving anywhere, meeting in person, or traveling. This coincides with my ongoing Spring Cleaning goals. You know, the ones that I started in the fall… of 2018. Time to put a dent in that To Do list as well as chip away at our freezer(s) inventory!

baking a sextuple batch of dog treats

sewed two cushions to replace those unsightly piles of old blankets

assessing what size our next backpacking tent should be (we got this one pre-Yuki)



Despite all of the ski hill closures, the snow keeps falling in between those sunny spells because it’s Colorado and it’s springtime in the Rockies. The stay-at-home order makes a few exceptions, including getting outside for exercise in your own backyard/town. Flatlanders flocking to mountain towns has been problematic because mountain communities don’t have the capacity to handle the COVID-19 outbreak let alone any boneheads that get caught in an avalanche and require scarce rescue resources. We’ve been playing it safe on our local low-risk terrain for cardio workouts in fresh air. The turns can wait.

yuki loves that smell of freshly fallen snow

social distancing is how we roll

the girls get to ski tour, too

one day at a time



One thing I’ve noticed on our weekly trips to the grocery stores are the sections of empty shelves. Flour, rice, beans, bread, milk, eggs, chicken, toilet paper, soap, hand sanitizer. As we gathered the items from my grocery list last week, Jeremy pointed to a couple lonely cartons of oat milk and asked if I needed any. I shook my head, because I make my own oat milk. Months ago when I first tried oat milk, I figured this was the solution to my lactose-intolerant needs. I sought out organic oat milk, which is not only hard to find (for me), it’s expensive. Around the same time, a reader (Yvonne) had also written to me about glyphosate levels in oat milk. Glyphosate is an herbicide, the main active ingredient in Roundup. Another push for me to just make my own oat milk. As longtime readers already know, I like making food from scratch which gives me greater control over the quality of what I’m eating.

water, salt, steel-cut oats



You can use rolled oats or steel-cut oats. The difference is that the steel-cut oats require a 12-hour soak in water the night before. I had a giant bag of organic steel-cut oats intended for breakfasts but admittedly neglected because I don’t actually like to eat breakfast. The perfect excuse to use them for oat milk! And if you need this to be gluten-free, just make sure that the oats you are using are certified as such. The salt is for enhancing the flavor of the oat milk. You can make sweetened or flavored versions (sugar, honey, soak a dried date with the oats, maple syrup, vanilla extract, etc.), but I like my milk to be neutral.

soak steel-cut oats overnight



**Jump for more butter**

sustainability

Monday, December 9th, 2019

Recipe: oat milk rice pudding

I’ve noticed a shift in my attitude toward food the last few years. Instead of enjoying it, I began to resent the thinking about, making, shooting, and even the consumption of food. That’s when I recognized my blog was no longer my way to document the recipes I liked, but rather the recipes I felt an obligation to post. It’s a stupid mindset: anticipating what others will like. That’s a formula for unhappiness. That’s not for me.

Around the same time, I let a number of nagging physical injuries pile up to the point where being active seemed to further damage my body than help it. I had had enough. It was high time I got my shit in order and put health first – both mental and physical – and that takes time. I’m using a combination of yoga, ice, ibuprofen, stretches, rest, physical therapy, and exercise to get myself back on track. Just in time for sliding season.


backcountry ski touring

resorts are opening more terrain each day

getting pups out to play in the snow

the first skijor of the season



Thanksgiving skiing is usually full of new aches and soreness when the season kicks off, but we hit the ground running (or skiing) early this year with those October storms and some indoor training. Instead of the traditional big turkey dinner carb bomb, we kept dinner normal and loaded our week with lots of outdoor exercise. I felt better about life, about myself. I just felt better. I can sustain this.

a little turkey, cheese, apple, dog treat indulgence for the pups

naptime after running around outside



Part of feeling better was that I had stopped eating dairy. You know how chocolate is that thing many people can’t resist? I can’t resist dairy. Well, I can resist milk – I’m not a fan of milk. But I love those delightful treats that come from milk and cream like custard, ice cream, mousse, pastry cream, whipped cream, caramel, pudding. It used to be the gastrointestinal distress was worth the gamble, but it’s not. It really isn’t.

Then a few months ago there was a brief discussion of alternative “milks” on public radio. Someone said they liked oat milk the best. I’m the person who regards food fads with great skepticism until they are no longer fads. I’m that person who discovers this awesome new thing years after everyone else has. So that’s me with oat milk. I merely wanted a non-dairy option for cold milk tea. I loved it. Then I wondered if I could make rice pudding with oat milk. And I did.


arborio rice, vanilla bean, oat milk, salt, sugar, cinnamon stick



As far as I can tell, the oat milk (or almond milk – I haven’t tried it, but people list the two as interchangeable) can be a 1:1 substitution for regular milk. I chose arborio rice because I like starchy short grain rice for pudding. You can use long grain, medium grain, brown, sushi, jasmine. I’m not sure about sweet rice or black rice, but you get the general idea. The method is pretty straightforward: keep it on a low simmer for over an hour (up to 90 minutes) and stir often.

bring the oat milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt to a low simmer

add the rice and sugar and simmer until the rice is tender



**Jump for more butter**