I love oatmeal (porridge). That’s love with a capital “L”. It was one of the highlights – or quite possibly the only highlight – of a damp, grey, cold winter morning in England. A big, steaming bowl of stand-your-spoon-up-in-it-thick, freshly cooked oatmeal with ladles of clumpy, brown sugar spread over the top and milk splashed all over. YUM. And then a little more sugar sprinkled on as I scooped my way down towards the bottom of the bowl. YUM. Fast forward a few years and I would routinely run downstairs to the cafe and grab two bowls of steel-cut oatmeal for Geoff and I to scarf down in the office, before most of the crew showed up for the day; because oatmeal is healthy, right? Well, it turns out, not so much. So until last weekend, this was the only oatmeal I indulged in anymore.
Last Saturday, when my eyes flew open at 4:46 am, I wanted oatmeal. Really, really wanted oatmeal. The temperature has been slowly falling with the golden leaves, the blinds have all been drawn, and the big, fat, fluffy duvet is back on the bed. Sure signs of an impending oatmeal craving over at the Brown house. Spurred on by an inbox full of requests for some oatmeal *SANEity, I shuffled off to the kitchen in my oversized, chunky, cable-knit sweater, the bottom half of my red checked PJs, and my bed-head hair tied up in a happy, perky – if rather messy – ponytail. I rifled through the cupboards to see what might work for tricking my mouth and my belly into feeling the oh-so-delicious and familiar comfort on a chilly, heading-towards-winter morning.
I lined up a row of Le Parfait jars – filled with an assortment of nutty, seedy things – across the kitchen counter like soldiers standing to attention. I pulled out the tray of spice jars & breathed in the delicious scent from each one. I flipped the switch on my trusty electric kettle. I love that thing. Almost as much as I love my friend, Trey, who sent it over from New York for the Holidays one year. The same Trey who spent a morning in the waiting room at Lennox Hill Hospital in Manhattan 2 years ago while my left kidney was trying to decide whether it would be more fun to explode or to just quit working. Fortuitously, having a rather indecisive kidney gave the doctors enough time to sort it out before it all went horribly wrong. That was a 5-day, $50,000 dollar staycation that I have no wish to ever repeat. I remember that it was the weekend Chelsea Clinton got married and that the weather was lovely. I am in denial about everything else, particularly the mafia Grandma next to me who had a revolving door of mob members gathered around yelling & cussing at each other across her bed from sun-up to sun-down, and the 6 shots of morphine that they pumped through my veins at 1 am – in a desperate attempt to stop me screaming loudly enough to wake the entire Upper East Side – when a stone in my kidney made a run for it. I was particularly grateful for lots of really good drugs that weekend.
Happily, the contents of my neatly aligned jars also have magic powers to turn an ordinary, dull, Fall Saturday into something akin to a huge hug from a favorite friend. Like the friend that Trey was to me when I found myself stranded in New York, 3000 miles from home, with an angry kidney, a renewed appreciation for painkillers, and hospital beds that move into all manner of positions at the quick flick of a remote control. That bed was fantastic. I wanted to bring it home.
Between stumbling out of bed last Saturday morning, and falling back in the sack last Sunday night I had eaten 5 bowls of this stuff. A couple of times I added raspberries, Sunday morning a sliced pear slid right on in, and the other bowls I downed au naturel. By bowl #5 I was already getting a bit jaded with the whole open-8-jars-and-scoop-stuff shenanigans, so I determined that what we porridge-lovers needed was an instant version. Yes! Now I have a jar full of mix all ready in the ‘fridge and this Hot and Nutty Cereal has become the fastest route to a big bowl of warm, comforting *SANEity.
Bizarre, maybe, but this made me even happier than those Dark Chocolate Espresso Cookies did. There’s no accounting for taste.
First, here is the recipe for two servings.
- 2 TBSP chia seeds
- 2 TBSP sunflower seeds
- 4 TBSP unsweetened coconut
- 2 TBSP ground flax seeds
- 4 TBSP almond meal
- 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon if you don’t have Pumpkin Pie Spice)
- 2/3 cup / 2 oz. / 55g vanilla whey powder
- 1 cup / 8 fl oz. boiling water
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp xylitol
- Place chia seeds, sunflower seeds, and coconut in a coffee grinder and grind until fine. (If you use a blender such as a Vitamix be careful you don’t eat up with a paste!)
- Pour ground mix into a bowl, add ground flax seeds, almond meal, spice and vanilla whey powder.
- Mix well until completely blended.
- Add cup of boiling water and stir well. Leave to sit for one minute to thicken.
- Add more boiling water if you prefer a runnier cereal.
- Add vanilla extract, and xylitol or equivalent to sweeten to taste.
Here is the recipe for 10 servings of instant mix:
- 10 tbsp chia seeds
- 10 tbsp sunflower seeds
- 20 tbsp unsweetened coconut
- 10 tbsp ground flax seeds
- 20 tbsp almond meal
- 10 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 10 scoops / 3 1/3 cups vanilla whey powder
In batches, place chia seeds, sunflower seeds, and coconut in a coffee grinder and grind until fine. (If you use a blender such as a Vitamix be careful you don’t end up with a paste!) Pour ground mix into a large bowl, add ground flax seeds, almond meal, spice and vanilla whey powder. Mix very well until completely blended. Store in an air-tight glass jar in the ‘fridge.
Then, when you stumble into the kitchen, bleary-eyed from your 7 hours of shut-eye, here’s the recipe for 1 serving of instant Hot and Nutty Cereal:
- 1/2 cup instant cereal mix
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1 tsp xylitol
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Place cereal mix in a bowl, pour on boiling water and stir very well. Leave for a minute to thicken, and add more boiling water if you prefer a thinner cereal. Add vanilla extract and xylitol or equivalent to sweeten to taste. Voila!
Once you have figured out how much sweetener you use, you could also add that to the bulk instant cereal mix. You don’t even need to do this at home. Take your instant mix in a lidded bowl to work with you, add hot water when you get there and have instant yum right there at your desk.