Sunday, December 1, 2013

December Giveaway!

 What would you do with a $400 Amazon gift card, just in time to finish up your Christmas shopping?  Would you buy someone a special gift?  Or maybe something exciting for yourself?
 Wise Eats has joined with a bunch of great bloggers to make that happen for someone!  It could be you! To enter the giveaway, just use the Rafflecopter below.
But first, click to see the prize:
To earn one entry, be sure to follow Wise Eats by email, by entering your email address (will not be shared) in the sidebar on the right. ---------------->
Once you've completed the Rafflecopter, be sure to visit the pages of the other awesome bloggers, for more chances to win!
Libby Louer    

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to share, in the comments, what you will buy if you win.  I would buy this beauty:  *drool  ...But that's just me.


This giveaway ends at midnight on December 17th, 2013. A winner will be chosen on December 18th, 2013. That winner will have 48 hours to respond and claim the prize. There is no purchase necessary to win.
Disclosure: This giveaway is being done with a group of bloggers. I am not being paid to endorse or giveaway this prize. This post does include affiliate links that provide revenue and make it possible to operate this blog. All opinions are my own and I only endorse products that I have used or would buy myself.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Kid-Friendly Tuscan Vegetable Soup.

It was a chilly Autumn day.  Orange leaves popped against the gray, overcast sky.  And I sat alone, inside my silent house, foolishly reading a spooky story.  Not that I like reading such stories.  Because they really scare me. 

Just as a found myself, paralyzed with fear from the chilling words, a SQUIRREL leaped onto my window, and hung on the outside screen.  My heart stopped.

Soon the possessed squirrel was gone, and I, still considerably spooked, decided to get an early start on dinner to put it all out of my mind.  And then something even more disturbing happened.  I couldn't find the recipe for the delicious soup I'd planned to make.  I'd discovered the recipe just last year, on Panera Bread's site.  But they'd taken it down!!  "Why, Panera Bread, WHY?," I cried. It took me a while to piece the recipe together.  Thankfully, some bloggers had posted part of the recipe, and then required that you click to go to Panera's page, (which no longer lists the recipe) and another had posted the whole thing with typos and stuff.  But after much trouble and comparison, I had the recipe, in it's entirety.  I decided to put it on my blog so that would never happen to me again.

Soon I was in the kitchen, chopping onions, donning my sexy onion goggles because my eyes were already inflamed from some camping we'd done, days earlier.  Campfires aren't good for me, but I love them.  You can get your own onion goggles here.  (Affiliate link) Your eyes will thank you, and your family say you look like an alien.  But you won't care, because your days of onion slicing suffering will be over. 

There's a good bit of chopping involved in this recipe, but as long as you have a good, sharp knife, the chopping can be very therapeutic. I probably enjoy it too much.  You could use a food processor or chopper to help you out, if you're not a knife-wielding weirdo like me.

 This soup is gluten-free, and can be vegan if you'd like.  I've used vegetable broth instead of chicken broth a few times, and that tastes just as good, but I always grate a pile of parmesan cheese on top, because I am not vegan. 

I use rainbow chard in this nutrient-dense soup.  The stems and veins of the deep, rich greens, are colorful, and really pretty!  Each one of those colors contains different nutrients and phytonutrients.  We're supposed to eat as many colors as we can in a day, so rainbow chard is awesome.  And full of vitamins A, C, K, and magnesium, potassium, and iron.  Your family should be eating it!

But, if your kids are afraid of vegetables, I've got you covered.  After the soup is done, use either an immersion blender, like this (affiliate link) or in batches, put it in a blender.  Be very careful to not burn yourself because it can shoot out the top and get your hands.  (There's a reason I know this.) Give it a few whirls in the blender, but don't liquefy the whole thing.  You should have very small chunks that are not quite identifiable or frightening to picky eaters.  Serve it with a grilled cheese or thick, crusty bread, and you're secretly, and successfully cramming tons of healthy veggies into the kids. 

Tuscan Vegetable Soup

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
4 large garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
28 oz diced tomatoes, with juice
16 oz Swiss chard and/or kale
2 cups cooked or canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained 
7 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
1/4 cup chopped, fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon of salt, or to taste
Grated parmesan, optional

Heat the oil in a large pot, over medium heat.  Add the onions, celery, and carrots, and let cook for 6-8 minutes.  Add garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook another minute.  Add tomatoes and greens.  Cook until the greens have wilted down, about 10 minutes.  Puree one cup of the beans with one cup of the chicken broth.  Add mixture to the soup, and the remaining chicken broth, and beans.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Stir in basil and salt, and simmer about 10 more minutes.  To make a "kid-friendly" version, use a blender to break down the veggies into smaller pieces. Ladle into bowls, and top with parmesan cheese, if desired.  A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil is nice as well. :)

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.



Monday, October 7, 2013

A Turkey Breakfast Sausage Recipe, With a Secret Ingredient That Will Make You Wonder About Me.

When my crazy husband gets home from the gym at 6 a.m., he enters the house, inhaling deeply.  Not because he's winded from his workout, but because he's always hoping his nose is going to signal his brain that the aroma of sizzling turkey sausage has begun to waft through the air.  He likes it more than bacon.  And not many things are better than bacon.

We haven't used store-bought sausage, for years.  Not only do I not want to support factory farms, I can't be sure what they mean by "pork."  I just assume that any leftover piggy parts were shoved into a grinder.  And after the whole "pink slime" beef situation, I stopped taking any chances with mystery meat.

According to one popular sausage brand's website, the ingredients in their pork sausage include corn syrup (high risk GMO), MSG, (excitotoxin that kills brain cells and is highly addictive), and flavorings (A scary concoction they don't have to tell us about.)

So after years of being sausage deprived, I decided to try a turkey breakfast sausage recipe.  However, we all agreed the result was dry, and tasted like cardboard.  And that batch of sausage soon found itself chopped up, and hidden inside some breakfast burritos.  So I began to adjust the seasonings of the recipe, but immediately, the North Carolina girl in me knew exactly what this cardboard sausage needed.  It needed taste.. and delicious smokyness..  It needed BACON GREASE.

Oh yes, I did.

"But doesn't that defeat the purpose of making it with lean turkey?" you may ask. "Won't the saturated fat and chemicals in bacon make me fat and dead?"

I use uncured, organic bacon, which has no added nitrates or nitrites. It still tastes exactly like normal bacon. Even with adding 2 teaspoons of bacon drippings to one pound of turkey, it only adds about 10 calories, yet endless flavor, to each 2 ounce sausage patty.  Calorie-wise, this 90 calorie turkey version still comes in well below standard pork sausage, which would be about double!

Jimmy Dean brand pork: 180 calories in a 2 oz patty (and msg, corn syrup, mysterious "flavors" and assorted pig parts?)

If you're not concerned about calories, you can make this sausage with ground pork.  For those who are unsure about pork, check out this post from Holistic Squid: Bacon is Joy, But is Pork Bad For You?

I would never suggest that you go hog wild, and start recklessly sopping up a pan of bacon grease with your whole grain rolls or anything like that.  (See what I did there? har har) Fats are high in calories, so moderation is key.  For those who may be new to the idea of having bacon grease on hand, just fry up a few pieces of bacon, and serve those alongside your sausage.  You can keep bacon grease in a container on your countertop.  My grandma (who's alive and well at 95 years of age-- even though she has eaten pork/bacon grease every single day of her life) always used a special container like this. (Affiliate link)

Turkey Breakfast Sausage

1 lb of ground turkey breast
1/4 cup rolled quick oats
2 teaspoons bacon drippings (organic, from pastured pigs)
1/2 teaspoon fennel, crushed
3/4 teaspoon garlic  powder
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon real maple syrup (like this)

Mix everything together and form into 8 patties, on a piece of waxed paper.  Heat a pan on medium-high heat, and spray with olive oil, or fat of choice. Brown the sausage for a few minutes on both sides, until cooked thru.  And don't squish the patties to make them cook faster.  You'll lose moisture. I apply a light pressure to help get that delicious caramelization, if the patties buckle a little.

If you're not planning to cook all 8 pieces at once, just fold the wax paper, keeping each patty separated, and put them in a Ziploc freezer bag.  Days later, I just move them from the freezer to the refrigerator, the night before I want to cook them.

I usually eat these with a side of leafy greens, while my family has them with eggs and toast.  And you know what's delicious, drizzled lightly onto those greens?

Bacon drippings, (1/2 teaspoon on half a dinner plate filled with greens) and a little balsamic vinaigrette..  Don't judge me.

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

An Apple "Sandwich" a Day. And Chocolate.

It's already that time of year again, when many of us are asking ourselves that dreaded question, "What on earth are we going to cram into the kids' lunchboxes, from now until next stinkin' Summer, that won't end up in the trash can, or traded for some other kid's fake food product?  If you're trying to avoid highly processed foods, it's a task that can seem overwhelming.

Today I'm going to share with you, my favorite snack, that I eat nearly every single day.  Because I love it.  And because it only takes minutes to prepare.  It's totally lunch-packable, too.  I first saw this chocolate and apple combo idea on Dr Oz, and it was one of those moments that left me with a craving so intense that I wanted to drop everything and run like a mad woman, to the nearest grocery store. 

But if you don't like chocolate, don't worry.  There are other options coming up.

First, I grab a large-ish bar of organic dark chocolate.  Dark chocolate has antioxidants, which means you should totally eat it.  Read here about how you can use it to lower blood pressure. And if it's organic it won't be made from cocoa beans that were coated in pesticides, or contain scary additives.  More info on the difference here.
Pictured is a Hershey's MILK chocolate package.  This contains artificial flavors (chemicals we don't get to know about) and soy (a high risk gmo ingredient) And other weird stuff.

I cut the bar into 8 equal pieces. (They usually crack up, but I keep them separated.)  Then I bag them separately in snack sized zip bags that I use over and over.  That way, whenever anyone in this house gets a craving for chocolate, they can grab a bag, instead of scarfing down a whole bar.  This portion control also makes organic chocolate more affordable.  It works as long as you don't have a chocolate fiend on your hands.  If that's the case, you will need a good hiding place.. unless it's yourself.

So for this snack, you'll want to set aside 2 squares, or eighths.

Next, you'll need an apple.  I think this one is a Pink Lady.  Sometimes I use Fuji or Gala.  Use any kind you like!  And don't be afraid to try different varieties.  I grew up mostly only being exposed to Red Delicious, and I HATED THEM.  So for many years, I wrote off apples altogether.  But later in life, I realized I actually like pretty much all others. Since apples are included on the Dirty Dozen List, (A list by the Environmental Working Group that reveals which produce contains the highest amount of pesticide residue) it's better to only eat organic ones.  According to Shape Magazine, this delicious fruit, known for keeping the doctor away, lowers cholesterol, keeps you feeling full longer, helps with breathing problems, decreases the risk of diabetes, prevents cancer, and boosts the immune system! Source

First, I cut the apple in half, horizontally, and core it. I find it easier to half, before coring.  But do whatever brings you joy.

I put one half in the fridge, to use next time.  You could rub it with a piece of lemon if you're concerned about browning, but I don't really find that to be a problem.

I take the remaining half, and half it again. 

And then again.

Finally, you should have 4 slices from one half of the apple.  If you don't have a good knife, or if you have a big mouth, you can stop at 2 slices.  Next, place a chocolate piece on two of the apple slices.

Then top with the remaining slices, and you have healthy chocolate and apple "sandwiches" totaling about 165 calories for the two. If you think you don't like dark chocolate, you should try this!  The sweetness of the apple really mellows the bitterness of the chocolate.  You could also use milk chocolate in these.  

So tomorrow, when you want this tasty snack again, all you'll have to do is slice up that cored apple half you stored in the refrigerator, and grab a couple more pieces of chocolate.  If something has gone horribly wrong, and all of the remaining chocolate is missing already, allow yourself one small hissy-fit (a tantrum had mostly by Southern women), cut up another bar, and hide it this time.  You live with people who can't be trusted.  It happens.

These apple slices are also delicious with your favorite nut butter, or chicken salad! Lots of people put fruit, like apples or grapes in their chicken salad.  With this, you're just putting it ON the fruit! If you're trying to eliminate wheat and/or grains, this is genius!  Well, to me it is.

What kinds of healthy snacks do you enjoy?  Also, if you have little people, what snacks will you be packing for them this school year?  Answer in the comments. :)

Monday, August 19, 2013

It's Giveaway Time! Enter to Win a Misto Olive Oil Sprayer!

Enter to win a new Misto -The Gourmet Olive Oil Sprayer!  I tell people this is the best gadget I've added to my kitchen in the past couple of years.  It's stainless steel, inside and out, and you can fill it with your own favorite olive oil, instead of that stuff from the store, which contains propellants. Just use the Rafflecopter below, to enter chances to win. 

It will require you to "like" the Wise Eats facebook page (If you haven't already). And you can earn extra chances by sharing a link for the contest on facebook, as often as once a day!  Just follow the Rafflecopter instructions below.  Good luck to all!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, August 9, 2013

A One-Skillet Cheesy Pasta and Beef Recipe. It's Like Hamburger Helper, Except it Won't Kill You

Everybody needs it-- a one skillet cheesy pasta and beef recipe, for those nights when you're tired or short on time, and your family is starting to get that pesky "feed us" look.  But don't be tempted to turn to Hamburger Helper.  This stuff's not "helping" anybody. 

Looks so happy and innocent, right?  But that smiling hand is up to no good!

Deep down, I've always known not to trust that spoon wielding, creepy glove with a face. This ingredient list hurts my brain (actually quite literally).  When you see this many things listed on a label, just leave it.
Have you ever noticed that all highly processed foods seem to have nearly the exact same ingredients?  If you eat these kinds of foods every day, you're pretty much eating corn and soy every single time you open your mouth.  How can EVERYTHING be made with corn and soy?  It's not healthy to constantly eat the same nonfood-foods.  The big problem with non-organic corn and soy, is they are both usually genetically modified, which I discussed a little in my last post here.  These lab creations are not the corn and soy made by God.  In fact, though GMO labeling is not required in the US, we know this product does indeed, contain GMOs.  Here is the link to an online market, overseas, offering popular American foods.  Scroll down to the very bottom of the Hamburger Helper page, where the ingredients are listed.  It clearly says, "contains GMO." Labeling is required there, but here, the FDA continues to keep us in the dark about these frankenfoods. 
This filler is made from a starch, usually corn (high gmo risk).  The corn is processed so much that what remains has absolutely no nutritional value, but it does still have calories. 
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
This is a flavor enhancer and excitotoxin, which causes brain cells to be overstimulated until they die.  Maybe you get frequent headaches, and don't know why?  I found such a great article about this nasty stuff, by Dr. Joseph Mercola, I'm just gonna share it here.  I highly recommend that you take a moment to read about it. He links this stuff to some pretty awful problems like brain damage and learning disabilities, and diseases like Alzheimers, Parkinsons, and ALS.  Is it just a coincidence that my son's dyslexia symptoms disappeared, after we made the switch to real, organic food?
Artificial Color
Does it blow your mind that beef and pasta would need artificial color?  It does mine.  What's wrong with the normal color of food?  The problem is, this stuff gets processed so much, it probably really doesn't have any color by the time they're done with it.  It is known that petroleum-based yellow #5 causes hyperactivity in children.  And caramel color is made from ammonia and is a carcinogen.  It is abhorrent that chemicals used only for aesthetic reasons, contaminate so much of our food.  It wouldn't freak me out, if it were just the occasional slice of birthday cake.  But it seems it's in everything. 
Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
Contains MSG.
Partially Hydrogenated Oil
Trans fats will kill you.  
Yeast Extract
Contains MSG
Natural Flavor
Weird, and sometimes really disgusting stuff they aren't required to tell us about. Here's an excellent article on natural flavors from Food Babe.
Moving onto happiness..
This recipe will make you forget all about Hamburger Helper's troubling box of poison.  Everything, including the pasta, cooks in just one pan. 
I use organic whole wheat pasta.  If you're still on the white stuff, consider giving this a try.  It will be so caught up in sauce, meat, and cheese that I don't think you, or any picky eaters you may be dealing with, will notice.  And it will be tons better for you.  And speaking of picky eaters, if your kids are scared of green things, be sure to finely dice the bell pepper, using a chopper or food processor, if necessary.  Just be careful not to liquefy it.  That would be awkward.   
I use glass jarred tomatoes because of the whole BPA problem.  BPA is thought to be an endocrine disruptor, and if there's one thing I don't want for my family, it's screwed up hormones.  Hormones control everything that happens in your body.  It is my understanding that while a few (very few) companies have removed BPA from some of their cans' linings, they have not been able to do it with tomato products, because of their high acidity.  So I use tomatoes in glass.  But I wrote this recipe to accommodate normal can sizes, so no worries if you're still living on the edge, with canned tomatoes..

 I used strained tomatoes instead of tomato sauce, which doesn't contain any salt or seasonings, mainly because that's what I can find in glass. I just measure out the amounts I need from both of these big jars.  If you're gonna use tomato sauce, you may need to reduce the salt a little in this recipe.
 One-Skillet Cheesy Pasta and Beef
1 lb organic grass fed ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
1 small green bell pepper, preferably organic, diced
1 garlic clove, chopped
14 1/2 oz diced tomatoes
8 oz strained tomatoes (or tomato sauce)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (Less if using tomato sauce)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup organic whole wheat elbow macaroni
2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese (from cows not treated with synthetic hormones)
In a sort of large-ish pan, brown the ground beef, and drain.  Add the chopped onion, bell pepper, and  garlic, and give that a few minutes to cook.  Then add everything else, (except cheese) adding the pasta last.  Stir. Reduce heat and cover.  Simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until pasta is tender.  Add the cheese, and stir until mixed and melty. Remove from heat.
Serves 4:  1 1/3 cup each.  I came up with 448 calories per serving, using My Fitness Pal.

Peak and stir a couple of times to make sure nothing disastrous is happening, like sticking or cooking too fast.

To keep carbs and calories under control, I only give everyone one serving each. I served this with a small green salad, and some delicious little golden tomatoes that we accidentally grew in our yard.  But that's another story.
If you can't eat wheat, you could use rice instead, but I haven't tried cooking it all together like this. I'll update when I do.  Meanwhile, just pull that leftover rice out of the fridge, and stir some in.


Monday, July 29, 2013

Really.. I'm Not a Syrup Tyrant. And I'm Giving You an Amazing Oatmeal Recipe

In my early days of eating oatmeal, I would spoon a jar of Gerber's Blueberry Buckle on top of that oaty goodness, and finally, add a few more teaspoons of sugar, when no one was looking.  I'd happily scarf it all down while watching Captain Kangaroo.  That was living.

So that was a really long time ago.  Today I still enjoy oatmeal, and I came up with this recipe recently, after someone flung a craving on me.

Let's take a quick look at some of the ingredients:

Because we've made the big switch to real, organic foods, I buy organic rolled oats in the bulk foods section of my grocery store.  Then I just refill the old Quaker Oats guy container, because later I won't have to remember which type of oatmeal it is, and because I find it soothing to begin my day with an iconic, old man with bushy, white hair.

We do not buy any products that say, "Diet," "Reduced fat" or "Sugar free."  So this would include our dairy products.  We drink organic, low heat pasteurized, non-homogenized, WHOLE milk, and eat real butter.  I'll discuss this more another time.  But for this recipe, you can use whatever kind of milk you drink, or omit it altogether. 

I sweeten our oatmeal with real maple syrup because it's a completely natural sugar, and it has some nutritional value, like antioxidants, unlike that granulated, heavily processed white stuff.  If you're new to making the change to real food, you'll want to grab your bottle of syrup, and read the ingredients.  If you see the word "corn," or any words besides, "Pure maple syrup," throw it away now.  Seriously, Aunt Jemima has to go. 

Corn Syrup and High Fructose Corn Syrup
The first 2 ingredients are almost certainly made from genetically modified corn, given that 85% of the corn grown in this country is GMO, which means it was created by scientists, in a lab, by splicing genes from a completely different species (animal, bacteria, virus, or plant) with corn.  And it most often shows up in cheap, highly processed foods.  No long term studies have been done on the effects genetically modified organisms have on humans.  But what few studies have been done, don't look good.  Perhaps you've seen the pictures of mice, covered in giant tumors, from a French study?  And to better understand the effects of HFCS on the body, read this article by Dr. Mark Hyman. In fact, if you want to make some changes to your diet, but don't know where to begin, eliminating HFCS would be a great place to start.

Cellulose Gum
Cellulose gum is a common additive in processed food.  It's in detergents too.  It's made from wood.  While it may not necessarily be toxic, it's not actually food.  If you regularly eat highly processed foods, you're eating a lot of wood.  You're not a termite. source

Caramel Color
Then there's artificial color. The name, "caramel color" may sound like something delightful and tasty, but it's actually made by heating ammonia and sulfites.  And it is a known carcinogen. 

Natural and Artificial Flavors
"Natural" and "artificial" flavors are both made in labs.  And the natural just means it contains something natural.. and anything else they felt like adding.  And we don't get to know what, because everything's a proprietary blend.  Beaver anal glands, anyone?  Maybe they're there, maybe they're not.  We don't get to know.  If only I were making this up.  Beaver anal glands, or "castoreum" is an ingredient, approved for use in food by the FDA.  And you'll never see it on an ingredient label, because it falls under "natural flavors." It's used to make things taste like vanilla.  But what I want to know, is what whack job discovered that?  And what's so wrong with vanilla beans??

Only I would mention consuming beavers butts, while sharing a recipe. Try to clear you mind of this now. Embrace pure, happy, appetizing thoughts.

The rest of the ingredients are icky preservatives and some word I can't pronounce, that could be a problem for the kidneys. (Source)  They're also happy to tell us "Refrigeration not required."  Of course not.  There's no actual food here.  Did you notice this product is made by Quaker?  Maybe this is why I don't trust them with my oats, and I hold onto the memory of the good 'ol days by clinging to an old Quaker guy container.

Fake food is full of chemicals, gross stuff, and genetically modified garbage that will eventually make you and your family sick.  You're better than that!  I get maple syrup, once a year when I visit Vermont, right from the place where it flows from the tree! The good news is,  grocery stores have it too.   And I'll admit, the real stuff costs a lot more.  But because no one's pancakes need to be swimming in puddles of sugar anyway, (even natural sugars) you can offset that expense by limiting how much is used.  When I make pancakes, waffles, or French toast for my family, I actually measure out everyone's maple syrup.  You really only need about a 1/2 - 1 teaspoon per pancake.  I easily accomplish this by plating everyone's food for them, and serving it pre-syrupped.  And honestly, no one complains.  I know, I sound like some kind of syrup tyrant, but remember, helping our family lose a combined 125-130 pounds in the last year, required changes!

And everything in this recipe is super good for you.  The oats help reduce cholesterol.  And whether you say "pee-can", or "puh-cahn," pecans contain healthy fat and are a good source of vitamin E.  And protein! According to, pecans may help protect your mind, your heart, and control your weight:  Check it out here And if you think you don't like pecans, I challenge you to try this.  I have a history of being anti-nut as well, *Yeah, insert joke about my mental state here* but I've really come around. (But my Mama needs to know that nuts in chocolate fudge is still not ok)  So anyway, these are toasted and coated in a caramelized glaze! HELLO! Then there's cinnamon, which may lower blood sugar, reduce cholesterol, and reduce inflammation. Try to only buy organic spices, so you can avoid pesticides and irradiation, which kills all of their nutritional goodness. (I'm still working on getting the last of my spices switched over, as they're replaced.) And if you like a little heat, you can add a very, very tiny amount of cayenne. Yes, I said it.  I put cayenne pepper in my oatmeal.  But you can leave it out, if you're not weird, like me.  And BTW, cayenne is also very good for you!  It helps with digestion, blood pressure, and cholesterol.  Did you notice the cholesterol lowering power of this recipe? 

So please, don't risk killing these beautiful nutrients by nuking this in the microwave.  The stovetop adds 2 minutes cooking time.  So grab a pot and boil that water!  Also, be aware, in case you eat those Quaker instant microwave packets of oatmeal, I checked their website, and the maple and brown sugar choice (most comparable to this recipe) also contains caramel color (carcinogen), and natural and artificial flavors. (???) And there's no mention of vanilla in their version.  So.. perhaps it's something in the "natural flavors."  Who knows??

Oatmeal with a Maple-Glazed Pecan Topping
1 cup water
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1-2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
Splash of milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Pecan topping:
1/2 teaspoon real butter
2 Tablespoons pecan pieces, or about 7 halves broken up some
Very super tiny pinch of salt
Optional:  Teeny tiny pinch of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon pure maple syrup

Bring a cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan, and toss in the oats and salt.  Reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Meanwhile, prepare the pecan topping by melting the butter in a small pan.  Then add pecans, salt, and cayenne. Give that a couple minutes or so to sizzle, (or from the time it becomes aromatic) and then add the syrup, and stir.  It will get super sizzly. Give it a minute for a glaze to form on the pecans, and remove from heat.  When the oatmeal is finished cooking, remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients.  Pour into a bowl, and top with pecan topping. 

Tip:  It's a good idea to wait until the oatmeal is almost finished cooking to begin the pecan topping, because once the pecans are done, the glaze will begin to harden to the pan.  It might not be an issue in nonstick.


For me, this makes one serving, and is in the low-ish 300s on calories.  If I'm making it for the family, I divide it up, and serve it as a small side because my husband and kids don't share my adoration for oatmeal, which is sad.  For little kids or nut haters, you can leave off the topping.  The topping is also good on other things like cereal, yogurt, sweet potatoes, ice cream, and probably some other things I can't think of right now.  Also, because the pecans have a sweet/salty contrast thing going on, I've found that I don't crave bacon with this.

Not that I'm afraid of bacon..

Because I'm not.