Any Kitchen Will Do

Give me a kitchen and I will cook.

Archive for the category “oatmeal”

Fifth Blogiversary Protein Bombs


You may notice it has been almost six months since I posted here. SIX MONTHS!!!!! For those of you first visiting, that is a long time. Way long. When I first started this blog I had a lot of momentum, posting every other day. As life trundled along, the frequency varied more, sometimes every third day, sometime once a week. Once during a move across the country, when we lived in a kitchenless hotel, it was a month.

I want to explain why I have not posted in a while, and share a new recipe while I am at it!

About six months ago (hmmm….maybe a pattern here?) Big D, Little B and I started welcoming foster children into our home. We are licensed to welcome up to five at a time. For the most part, our capacity has been full for six months. That is a lot of mouths to feed. Not only feed, but make available food they will actually eat. Each child has had their own eating idiosyncrasies – some healthy, some not so much. Everything from a vegetarian to a voracious carnivore to some who don’t like speckles (a.k.a. herbs) in their food.

To develop and support consistent eating habits for the kids, I have had to focus on many foods with which they are familiar, in addition to introducing foods new to them. This means I needed to deviate from my grain free cooking some of the time. A lot of the food the kids are used to eating include many types of ‘junk’ food, canned and boxed foods. We don’t do ramen or canned ravioli here,. Yuck flavor wise and nutrition wise. Although I have cooked some grains for them, mostly including rice and corn, I still do plenty of grain free dishes.

As a result of almost tripling the size of hour household, my creative juices committed to cooking have dropped significantly. It has been sucked up focusing on feeding the masses, and trying to keep up with the demands of my business, Grain Free Haven. I continue to make many of the dishes I posted in the past, while making new stuff with some grain ingredients. I have made some really good tasting dishes, but hesitated to post them, since they are inconsistent with how I wish they would eat. I sneak in grain free versions of ingredients when I can, but the kids are sharp cookies, and cannot always be ‘tricked’. Other people try to sneak vegetables into food for kids. I try to sneak out grains and sugar!

I mean, I own a business that promotes grain free eating. How absurd is it to continue a food blog that promotes eating grains? I refuse to frustrate the foster children by not providing them foods they like just because they include grains, but I also refuse to have a kitchen that makes Big D sick, since he is extremely sensitive to wheat and other grains that include gluten. I firmly believe that avoiding grains and sugar have helped me, Big D and Little B avoid illness, internal inflammation, gastrointestinal irritation and diabetes. I am not at all interested in abandoning those tenets. It takes a little more effort to provide meals with grain free foods alongside those with grains, but it is very much worth it.

As the sixth year of this blog begins, I have decided to resolve my cooking and blog posting conundrum. I intend to continue fulfilling my love of cooking and creating new dishes, using this blog as my conduit. I look forward to posting  what I cook, whether it is grain free or not. I also intend to share substitutions I would use if making the grainy dish grain free. I will also include what I serve to sate the appetites of those eating grain free.

To begin this new approach, I share with you some protein bombs. I like making these for the kids to appease their sweet tooth without added sugar, and fill them up between the school day ending and dinner beginning. The kids are growing like weeds and I need to get as much protein in them as I can. It is based on a no-bake cookie my mom has made for decades. For a grain free alternative you can make my Chocolate Coconut No Bake Goodies.

Fifth Blogiversary Protein Bombs

1 cup peanut butter (use natural to make the result sugar free)
1/2 cup butter (use your oil of choice to make dairy free)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon pure stevia powder (equivalent to 1/2 cup pure cane sugar)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups gluten free oatmeal, uncooked

In a medium pot over medium heat add the butter, peanut butter, vanilla and stevia. Stir until butter is melted and ingredients well combined.

Add the cocoa powder and stir, then fold in the oatmeal. Stir until all the oatmeal is coated.

With a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon drop portions onto parchment paper. The bombs can be made whatever size suits your needs. Let cool to room temperature and serve. Store in the refrigerator or at room temperature. Makes 18-20 bombs.


Big D’s Breakfast Mix


Big D and I have a big love of oatmeal. It started when we were children and carried on into adulthood. It has always been a staple on our camping and kayaking trips – easy to pack and prepare simply with water (ideally hot if we properly manage our alcohol stove fuel). Although our love for the stuff carries on, our desire to avoid high carbohydrate foods is now ever present.

The other morning we decided to try some of our staple pantry ingredients to make a low carbohydrate version of a morning porridge. The chia seeds worked well as a thickener, and gave us all serious boosts of energy that lasted pretty much all day, which is very much needed during a cold winter day.

After making a thinner version for Little B, she came on board with our concoction as well, followed by the demand to recite the old porridge-centric fairy tale, The Three Bears. Quite appropriate, I thought! I am thinking future batches may include a bit of peanut butter, or sprinkling of cocoa powder for fun. Little B will eat pretty much anything with berries on it, so it is almost a sure thing in the future for her too!

The mix recipe can easily be doubled or tripled, as long as it is kept in an air tight container, so go ahead and stock up!

Big D’s Breakfast Mix

1 cup golden flaxseed meal
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
2 cups almond meal
2/3 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons sea salt

For Single Serving
1/2 cup breakfast mix
1/2 cup hot water
¼ cup heavy cream or other milk product (soy, almond, cashew, lactose free…)
Dash of preferred sweetener (optional)
Nuts or berries (optional)

Combine flaxseed meal, coconut, almond meal, chia seeds, cinnamon and salt in an air tight container. Stir or shake until ingredients are well mixed together.

To prepare a bowl of breakfast mix, stir the bulk mix, then scoop ½ cup of the mixture in a bowl. Add hot water and stir, then add sweetener and cream. Stir once more and then let sit for at least one minute to thicken. Add more hot water to adjust thickness as desired. Add nuts or berries if desired and eat immediately.

Topped Oatmeal Cookies

oatmeal cookies no wheat

We made these for Santa last year, topped with blueberries. We decided our house was the only one in the whole wide world where he would get blueberry oatmeal cookies. In the morning the cookies and milk were all gone! He must have liked them. I forgot to take pictures then, but recently made a batch with Little B and she wanted to top them with sugar free chocolate chips instead of blueberries. Wheat free and sugar free, these went with Little B to her last day with her daycare group in Maryland before we moved. The group gets so excited just being around each without any stimulation, why the heck would I put wheat or sugar in the treats?! They were soft and chewy and seemed to be a hit. We may make them for Santa again this year, and try again to make them memorable. Involving Little B in deciding the topping and standing back so she can stir stir stir makes for a great opportunity to practice measuring, mixing and creativity. Go crazy with the toppings – she was so proud to share her creations. I got the original idea here, but tweaked to my liking. Thanks Alton!

Toasted Oatmeal Cookies (no wheat)

4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated stevia in the raw
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup optional toppers (raisins, blueberries, sugar free chocolate chips, etc)

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spread oats in a single layer on half-sheet pans and bake until lightly toasted, about 20 minutes. Watch carefully to avoid burning. Remove the oats from the oven and let cool for 2 to 3 minutes. Grind half the toasted oats in a food processor until they are the consistency of whole wheat flour. Add the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cocoa, stevia and salt, then pulse to combine. Combine the butter, egg and vanilla in a mixer and mix on medium speed for about a minute. Slowly add the oat mixture and the remaining oats until just combined. Let batter sit and thicken if it is soupy and will not hold shape if scooped. Using a teaspoon, scoop batter and drop onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. If adding a topping gently push into the middle of each cookie. Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes until they begin to brown around the edges. Remove the pans from the oven and let the cookies cool on the pans for 2 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack until cooled completely – they should remain soft and chewy. Store in airtight container.


Oatmeal Vanilla No Bake Cookies

I know I know. This recipe is totally not in line with what I have been making lately, but I have a reason. I wanted to make a little something for people at work, and since 95% of them eat whatever comes there way, I decided to make something with a -little- bit of nutrition, but not exactly sugar free. I took some gluten free sugar free treats for the souls with more sensitive diets, but the majority happily scoffed down these cookies. The result was a big hit, and apparently addictive. I like that. I ate a crumb when I was slicing them up, and wow! One guy at work insisted he really liked the coconut, but I think it was oats, since there is not a speck of coconut in them. Maybe it was a texture thing? His insistence is ironic, considering all the coconut products I use these days. The good thing about this recipe is the fact you can make it from dry goods typically found in your pantry, and staples from the fridge. I would eventually like to try a gluten free sugar free version, but my hunt for sugar free pudding mix without aspartame has yet to be successful…oh well, maybe some day. In the meantime, you now have a recipe that is quick to whip up and will disappear in the blink of an eye!

Vanilla No Bake Cookies

2 cups white sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¾ cup butter
2/3 cup milk
1 (3.4 ounce) box vanilla pudding mix
3 ½ cups quick cooking oats
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a large pan mix together sugar, butter and milk. Bring to a boil. Boil for two minutes. Turn off the heat, add in the pudding mix, oats and vanilla. Let stand five minutes. Drop by tablespoon onto wax or parchment paper and let cool. You can also pour the mixture into a small cookie sheet or baking dish (9×11). Spread evenly and let cool completely before slicing up into desired serving size. Store in airtight container.

Inspired by:


Wheat Free Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

Every time we move we try to do two kitchen related things: 1) find a person or household to honor with all foodstuff in the kitchen that may spill or break; in general, not survive storage and transport, and 2) whittle down our supply of perishable foods in the fridge and freezer. Most of the time I scour grocery stores for good deals and stock up when I find them, which means our freezer is often full of bulk items. Don’t get me wrong. I am not a coupon clipper and I don’t pour over the weekly grocery ads, but when I am walking through the store and find a deal I definitely jump on it. In addition to my frozen deals and steals there are odds and ends left over from recipes. You know what I mean – that recipe that did not quite need the last half cup of berries, or the one that called for only half a can of tomato paste. In my attempt to use up stuff in the freezer I came across ingredients left over from the holidays – pumpkin puree and whole cranberries. I know the chilly weather these foods remind me of is pretty much in the past this year, but I went ahead and came up with a lovely recipe using the frozen goodness. Although the ingredients seem to be off season, the results taste quite refreshing and tangy – very suitable to springtime. By the time the kitchen got packed up they were all gone!

Wheat Free Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

¾ cup butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup brown rice flour
2 cups instant oatmeal, uncooked
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 cup pureed pumpkin
2 cups whole cranberries (pureed the berries should be about 1 cup)

Fill muffin tins with liners. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350F. Place oatmeal in a food processor and blend until it is a rough powder. Combine rice flour, oatmeal, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a medium bowl combine pumpkin and yogurt. Set aside. In a mixer bowl using a flat paddle, cream together cane sugar and butter just until blended. Add eggs one at a time, making sure one is combined before adding the next. Add a third of the dry ingredients, then a third of the yogurt/pumpkin. Scrape the bowl well. Continue alternating the dry and wet ingredients until all is incorporated. Fill muffin tins about ¾ full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until tops are brown and beginning to harden. Makes 20-24 muffins.

Oatmeal Apple Muffins

Ireland and potatoes are always associated with each other, but there is more to the agricultural history of the isle than spuds. In fact, potatoes are a very small percentage of crops grown there these days. Most of the large production farmland is dedicated to grains, but there are also smaller specialty crops, like apples and tubers. I want to highlight apples and oats to make some robust muffins. Particular types of apples thrive in the rich soil, and the climate is ideal for the slow ripening of oat grains. In spite of the sugar laden flavored oatmeal packets available in US stores, oatmeal is actually a low fat, high fiber food that keeps me full long after finishing a bowl.

I am always trying to sneak extra fiber into Little B’s diet. Some days all she wants to eat is ham and peanut butter, which are not horrible choices, but do not help much in the way of keeping her system running, er, smoothly. When I cannot pique her interest in oatmeal or an apple I like having something on hand that she perceives as a treat. These muffins work great for getting extra fiber into her, although I sometimes resort to smearing a little honey and Greek yogurt on top when she says “that’s not a cupcake that’s a muffin”. It is amazing what a glop on top can do. These muffins are also wheat free so Big D doesn’t give me that sad puppy dog look I get when I bake something he can’t eat. Double bonus!

Oatmeal Apple Muffins

1 1/2 cups uncooked oatmeal
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup banana/applesauce mush
1/3 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 400F. In a food processor pulse until powder ¾ cup of the oatmeal. Mix together oatmeal, cornmeal, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In another bowl, beat the eggs then add the milk and fruit mush (mash up one banana and fill the rest of the cup with applesauce) and stir. Add the sugar to the wet ingredients and mix well. Pour the egg mixture into the oat mixture and stir until just combine. Pour into a well greased 12-hole muffin tin and bake for around 20 minutes. Let cool for about five minutes and remove from tin.

Blueberry Muffins Gluten Free!

The other day I asked Big D what he wanted me to cook, or if he actually wanted to use the kitchen himself. I never mind getting out of the way to watch him do his thing. I kind of took over the kitchen since starting this blog and had not really ask how my invasion was fitting in with what he wanted to do food-wise. I know him well enough to be confident in his ability to – readily and eloquently – speak up if he feels like doing so. He is a darned good cook himself, but was busy with work recently and had not done much in the kitchen. He was certainly eating my offerings, so I made assumptions based on his words of praise and looks of contentment, along with empty plates and bowls. Fortunately I was correct. He said he was very much enjoying the food and was happy to see me enjoying myself. He did say he was interested in something spicy with curry. Oh, and some blueberry muffins. I concluded he did not want to eat them together, so I am starting with the muffins while developing future plans for the curry and spicy. In seeking guidance for making said muffins (since wheat free is a must), I of course turned to other food bloggers for ideas, since I am very new to wheat free baking. Although I made some tweaks to it, I found the discussion and recipe here very helpful.

One funny thing happened when the muffins first started baking. They sputtered! I started smelling a slight burning smell about eight minutes into the baking time. I flipped on the oven light but kept my eyes shut at first, hoping that what I saw when opening them was not some kind of rare chemical reaction with the flour and oatmeal. I HATE cleaning ovens! I slowly opened my eyes and was instantly relieved. I saw bubbles rising to the surface of the muffins and popping, leaving a layer of little spots of batter glurping onto the pans. The sputters were browning quickly and giving off the smell. No harm done to the muffins, though. The rest of the baking went smoothly and was sputter free…

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

¾ cup butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup brown rice flour
2 cups instant oatmeal, uncooked
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup blueberries, frozen or fresh
2 Tbsp brown sugar

Fill muffin tins with liners*. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350F. Place oatmeal in a food processor and blend until it is a rough powder. Combine flour, oatmeal, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a mixer bowl using a flat paddle cream together cane sugar and butter just until blended. Add eggs one at a time, making sure one is combined before adding the next. Add a third of the dry ingredients, then a third of the yogurt/applesauce. Continue alternating until all is incorporated. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin tins about ¾ full. Sprinkle a bit of brown sugar on top of each muffin. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until tops are brown and beginning to harden. Makes 20-24 muffins.

*In my current kitchen I only have one muffin pan that makes 12 muffins. Since the recipe makes more than 12 muffins, I used my back up baking cups on a cookie sheet. They are aluminum muffin cups that have white paper liners inside them. You don’t need a pan for them, so they are great to have around for overflow. The result of the two different baking tools was doneness. The pan muffins cooked a little darker than those in the aluminum cups, but they all came out good and moist.

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