Steel Cut Oatmeal with Apples, Carrot & Ginger

Much as I like healthy food, I never developed a taste for oatmeal. Au contraire (sorry!) – it used to make me gag. The only exception was instant oatmeal, which had enough sugar and flavour to disguise – or maybe distract me from – the, um, oatmeal-ness.

I haven’t bought instant oatmeal for years, but I know that oats are good for you, so I’ve tried to incorporate them into my diet in various ways.

A number of years ago I found a recipe for oatmeal in Aviva Allen’s Organic Kosher Cookbook that looked like it had potential. Aviva’s recipe calls for steel-cut oats (much less gagworthy than rolled oats, because the individual grains retain their shape), plus it has apples, raisins and cinnamon to add more texture and taste. It’s become my go-to recipe for hot cereal.

I think of oatmeal as a winter food, but it was so rainy and damp this week that I thought I would make it one more time. Not to mention that I’m still trying to integrate my pre-Passover food back into the cupboard, and I wanted (needed?) to use up ingredients I have – like steel cut oats.

steel cut oatmeal picInspired by my go-to recipe – as well as one for Morning Glory Oats that I found online at Joy the Baker – I experimented with my own version of steel cut oatmeal. It incorporates a couple of ingredients that I’d never considered for breakfast before – shredded carrots and candied ginger. I love ginger!

I topped the cereal with Brazil nuts and toasted coconut, and added a bit of almond milk as well. Wow, so many interesting flavours and textures! And probably lots of different nutrients too.

Steel Cut Oatmeal with Apples, Carrot & Ginger

3 c. water

1 c. almond milk

1 c. steel cut oats

1 tsp. cinnamon, or to taste

1 tbsp. diced candied ginger, or to taste

1 c. shredded carrots

1 apple, cubed (I used organic Royal Gala)

1/2 raisins, rinsed in hot water and dried

For garnish:

Brazil nuts, toasted in nonstick frying pan on medium until brown.

Shredded coconut, toasted on medium until starting to brown.

1. Bring water and almond milk to boil in small saucepan.

2. Add cinnamon, candied ginger, carrots, apple and raisins.

3. Reduce heat to medium low, and simmer partly covered for 25 minutes, stirring once or twice until desired texture is reached.

4. To serve, garnish with nuts and coconut, toasted if desired, and add more almond milk to cereal bowl to taste.

5. And I almost forgot – a bit of sweetener if you like. I used maple syrup.






Chocolate Sunday – Passover Birthday Cake!

I was planning to write a blog post about my easy Passover chocolate birthday cake, including the recipe, but I realized it’s already online. Phew! More time for me to get busy with Passover preparations.

passover chocolate birthday cakeHere’s a link to the article I wrote in 2009 for The Canadian Jewish News: “Chocolate Passover birthday cake is easy to make.” It includes the recipe.

I’m adding a more recent picture, because the cake looks better garnished with chocolate strawberries than it does plain. This year, I’m thinking of filling it with marmalade instead of red jam, and dipping orange sections in chocolate instead of strawberries. We’ll see.

Obviously, my photo editing skills can use some upgrading. There were a few spots where the glaze didn’t cover the cake smoothly, and I tried to cover those up in the picture. But, whenever I make the cake, everyone seems to like it!

One of the reasons I love this recipe is that the cake (actually a big brownie) is made with oil, not margarine. I can’t bring myself to buy Passover margarine; I think it’s too unhealthy. I’m not surprised that it’s #2 on nutritionist Aviva Allen’s Passover dirty dozen list.

It’s a challenge to buy healthier oils for Passover too. I prefer the harder-to-find oil that is kosher for Sephardim, even though my background is Ashkenazi, because I refuse to buy unhealthy cottonseed oil too. Sigh.

Olive oil is another option, but not always preferred for baking. But even without margarine and cottonseed oil, there are a lot of delicious desserts you can bake for Passover.


Chocolate Passover birthday cake is easy to make

Red Lentil Soup

With minus-double-digit weather outside, and a sore throat that’s lasted a full week, it was an easy choice for me to decide to make red lentil soup a couple of days ago.

It’s definitely a winter soup, thick and warming. Sometimes I like to purée it with an immersion blender, but this time I was happy to leave it chunky. It wasn’t very pretty, though, so I’m just including a picture of the vegetables.

vegs for soup

I have three go-to red lentil soup recipes, but this time used them only for inspiration. I referred to them to make sure my proportions of lentils, water and vegetables were on target.  The recipes I usually use are the Lemon-Lentil Soup from The Organic Kosher Cookbook, by Aviva Allen; Red Lentil, Vegetable & Barley Soup from MealLeaniYumm! by Norene Gilletz; and Lentil Vegetable Soup from Simply HeartSmart Cooking by Bonnie Stern.

This is the version I came up with a couple of days ago, inspired by my favourite soup recipes and the ingredients in my kitchen:

Red Lentil Soup

2 tbsp. olive oil

3 shallots, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 stalks celery

1 1/2 cups baby carrots, cut in pieces

1 yellow squash

2 cups red lentils, rinsed

8 cups of water

basil, oregano and thyme to taste

2 tbsp. fresh parsley

salt and pepper to taste

1. Sauté onion and garlic until just starting to brown.

2. Add the rest of the vegetables, and stir together.

3. Add lentils, water and spices.

4. Bring to boil, then turn down heat, and simmer 30 minutes.

5. Add parsley, and cook five more minutes.

6. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy! (It’s even better the next day.)

Chocolate Sunday – Granola!

The first gift my husband gave me when we were dating was a jar of granola, which he swears he made himself.

Our daughter is skeptical about this story, because it’s my father-in-law who’s the chief granola-maker in the family. A retired pharmacist who learned to be precise about measuring and mixing long before he began baking, Dad is also known for his other specialties including blueberry tortes and potato-leek soup.


Dad’s granola, updated

He doesn’t remember where he got his granola recipe, but it’s been a family favourite for a long time. I’ve made it many times myself.

As an alternative, a few years ago, I also began using a simpler recipe – the Maple-Nut Granola from Aviva Allen’s Organic Kosher Cookbook. It calls for a mix of oats, nuts, olive oil, maple syrup and a bit of sea salt – nothing else – and has become my other favourite granola recipe.

Dad’s granola is no more difficult to make, but it virtually teems with ingredients – coconut, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, wheat germ, up to three kinds of nuts, and – as “optional” ingredients – chocolate chips, raisins, and vanilla extract. The add-ons were never optional for me, though – especially the chocolate chips. The recipe uses honey as sweetener, but I tried it this week with maple syrup, and that was good too.

Most of the component ingredients remain discrete in the finished product, but the granola also includes a few larger clumps – the best parts – which provide a tasty, unexpected hit of melted chocolate.

Both recipes are delicious, and should probably be eaten sparingly. I often sprinkle granola over a plainer cereal, and add berries or bananas, and almond milk.

When I made the granola this week, I reduced the amount of coconut because it is high in saturated fat, and I used oat bran instead of wheat germ because I wanted to minimize the amount of gluten. I also used olive oil for its health benefits, even though the original recipe didn’t specify it.

The recipe is very flexible, and optional ingredients in the original version are listed without quantities. I measured what I used so I could include amounts in the recipe that follows.

Dad’s Granola (updated)

4 cups rolled oats

½ cup coconut

½ cup sesame seeds

1 cup chopped pecans (or almonds, or a mix of nuts)

½ cup sunflower seeds

½ tsp. sea salt

½ cup oat bran

¾ cup chocolate chips

¾ cup raisins

½ cup liquid honey or maple syrup

(optional: 1 tsp. of vanilla if using honey)

½ cup olive oil

1. Oil 9 x 13” pan, and add dry ingredients in order given.

2. Add oil and maple syrup or honey (with vanilla, if you like), and mix well.

3. Bake 20 minutes at 275F, stirring every five to seven minutes.

4. Let cool about an hour. Store in glass jars.