March 15, 2013

Oatmeal in a Jar

Things have been a little topsy turvy lately. In the midst of the heavy lifting involved in moving to a new place, I have been doing the Oprah and Deepak Chopra 21-day Meditation Challenge to relax a little bit. Hearing a meditation by Chopra is a nice, soothing way to end my day and I find I can focus and relax a little more each time I meditate. 

In one of the meditations, Deepak talked about finding balance and the centering thought was "balance is my true nature." He described how we can send messages of love and support to our bodies by eating good food, getting rest and engaging in stimulating activities. It's a nice thought, but sometimes when I try to find balance, I feel like I'm swaying back and forth and about to fall on my face. I try to find balance in work, life and health, but frankly, I don't think many people have found that perfect balance. 

Overnight oatmeal in a jar

Sometimes we sway completely to the side of laziness, bad food and stress because that's the way life goes. For example, I can't feel settled in a new place until I have everything unpacked and arranged perfectly. Unfortunately, that process takes quite awhile. I don't know where anything is, so it's hard to achieve my normal feng shui. There are things you can do to help make things easier though. One of those things is quick, healthy and easy meals on-the-go.  

One of my favourite Tumblr blogs right now is Sad Desk Lunch. It doesn't really give packed lunches a good name; however, I can find the humour in trying to put something together for lunch and sometimes failing and also those times when your co-worker's lunch looks and smells way better than yours. Sometimes there is just too much going on to have time to worry about making good choices for each meal of the day. 

I thought I would take a cue from Sad Desk Lunch and show off my desk lunches too. I don't think they're too sad. I try to bring my lunch to work most of the time. On occasion I will buy something or get a coffee somewhere. These are my meals from last week not counting various snacks throughout the day and office treats (do you find offices are always in abundance of sweets and treats?) 


Monday: Bagel and cream cheese with fruit salad


Tuesday: Italian wedding soup with an Activia yoghurt


Wednesday: Bagel and cream cheese with a few slices of sausage and fruit salad


Thursday: Leftover rice noodle salad with tofu and a piece of toast


Friday: Leftover pizza (at least I used a plate).
Maybe some of them fall on the side of sad I suppose. Day-old pizza heated up in the microwave was a good and bad addition to the weekly menu. Then I discovered the magic of mason jars for packed lunches and my mind was blown. It's not like making oats is an arduous process. You can cook them in the microwave in a few minutes. Who doesn't love an easier way of doing things though, right? It definitely makes me feel a little more at peace.

All you do is add oats, milk, fruit and toppings to a jar and place in the fridge overnight. In the morning you have oats that are ready-to-go. The "soaking" process "slow cooks" them rather than having to heat them.

Oats in a jar

Soaked Oats in a Jar (adapted from this recipe)
Ingredients:

1/2 cup steel-cut oats
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup frozen or fresh fruit
3/4 cup vanilla soy, almond or regular milk
1/4 cup water
Toppings of choice: Sliced almonds, raisins, chia seeds, etc.

Directions:

Combine ingredients in a jar and stir together. Let sit in the fridge overnight. Make ahead the night before for cold out of the jar or warm ready-to-eat oats.

That is also why I love slow cookers. Just set it and forget it. Slow cooking helps when your house is full of boxes, bags and stuff everywhere. Oh, moving day. When your kitchen--and life--is in disarray, the last thing you want to worry about is being perfect.

Canned goods, bulk items and kitchen staples can be a life-saver when it comes to finding quick meals. You will always have a meal on hand if you have something such as canned tomatoes, tuna, frozen vegetables, oats, pasta, etc. in your cupboards. Canned fruit is a quick alternative to fresh fruit; however, the sugar levels in the canned syrup are quite high. I was trying to use up some canned goods and food so I wouldn't have to pack it up and move it to our new place, so I added it to some oats to make my own version of "Peaches and Cream" oatmeal.


Peaches and Cream Slow-Cooker Oatmeal (adapted from this recipe)
Ingredients:

1 can of peaches in juice (try and find the reduced sugar variety)
1/2 cup steel-cut oats
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup soy, almond or regular milk
1 cup water

Directions:

1. Add ingredients to slow cooker and cook on low overnight. Add more milk to serve if desired.

Peaches and Cream slow cooker oatmeal

After a few hours or overnight, you have warm oats when you wake up for breakfast.

We have just about moved everything. Now it seems like the calm after the storm. All there is left to do is try and make the place feel like home. Last night I baked for the first time in our new kitchen and it started to feel a lot more cozy. Plus there are lots of beautiful windows for natural light and food photos of course. I can't wait until summer when the warm sunshine beams into the skylights and large windows.


In one of the meditations I have been doing, one of the mantras to repeat was the word "Yum," which stands for the sound that resonates with the heart centre. According to Chorpa, you should repeat the word "Yum" until you feel infused with a feeling of peace and safety." How fitting that a word often used to describe how we feel when eating delicious food is connected to the centre of our hearts.

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