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.


  1. Excited to get more recipes!!! Thanks, Amy!

  2. Awesome! Thanks Amy...although the husband is giving me that look after reading some key points. I'm sure he's praying our bottle of Aunt Jemima doesn't go missing while he's on the road for three weeks. :-)
    Julie T.

    1. Hahaha! I totally get that, Julie! When we began our journey, my husband BANNED me from replacing the Heinz ketchup and Smuckers strawberry jam. So we kept those for a long while.. until HE decided to try some organic brands!

    2. Tonight he voluntarily bought organic ketchup. Maybe he'll be more receptive than I thought.

  3. Amy, I am very interested in these changes you have made. I have recently started buying organic milk and eggs because of hearing how all the hormones can make little girls develop faster and Mackenzie drinks a lot of milk. But it is very expensive! My grocery options in Goldsboro are Walmart :( and Food Lion, however We have a Harris Teeter actually opening Wednesday and I am super excited!! I feel like I will have more organic options to choose from! What is the reason you get whole milk versus skim milk? Can we subscribe to your blog?

    Jennifer Wade

    1. Hey Jennifer! You are doing a good thing, switching your eggs and milk to organic. You're right, it is so expensive! But I know it's because the farmers have to jump through so many hoops to get that organic certification. It really does cost them a lot more to produce it. Conventional milk comes from cows treated with hormones rbst or rbgh, to make them produce extra milk. I consider it animal abuse. And scary to people. When I saw this, I remembered I had recently read a good article on why whole milk is better, and it didn't take me long to find it for you. I'm just gonna share it here, because it totally explains the whole vs skim thing. I do think you will like Harris Teeter much better. We went to the one in Wilson a few months ago, to buy ingredients for a green smoothie. I was able to find everything I needed, organic. Even a bottled juice. But even if your grocery store falls short, there are other alternatives on the internet. Oh, and there's a box on my blog, where if you enter your email address, new blog posts will automatically be delivered to your email. My facebook page will offer a little more, but sometimes you have to interact with pages, by commenting, for facebook to keep putting them on your feed. Facebook is so annoying..

    2. Ok, so it seems the link didn't work. I'll just send it directly to you.

  4. Great blog Amy. What a change from the Grace days for both of us. I can't believe the difference the change in my diet has made on my health. Now when ever I slip, I know it- one fast food meal or a quick convenience fix and I pay the price for a couple of days. Can't wait to read more Wise Eats!

    1. Thanks! I know exactly what you mean, Tristine! I've had some bad stuff lately with Summer vacation, taking church kids to camp, and some visitors. We can REALLY feel it. I'm excited that today we get back to normal, along with our eating!

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  6. Yum! This sounds like dessert :D