Saturday, June 14, 2014

Nibbles for new mommas (and other hungry folks)

I've been a mom for 4 weeks now.

I'm usually exhausted,  sometimes frustrated, always learning and completely in love with my new little girl. I've learned that I should say yes as much as possible when folks offer to help.  So I've gotten more rest, meals and encouragement than I ever would have gotten otherwise.

I've also learned that my life has changed in a hundred little ways. But one thing hasn't changed: my love of good, fresh, nourishing food. I just have to plan ahead a bit more to have some snacks and meals on hand that I can grab before a nap or as I get ready to pump.

So for all of you mommas out there looking for tasty food to keep your energy going as you breastfeed, pump or chase after your little one, here are two recipes you'll enjoy. Any hungry folks will like this baked oatmeal packed with berries and studded with walnuts or these energy bites made of sweet dates, apricots, walnuts and almond butter.  So share them with your family; actually, you'd better double the recipes so there's enough for everyone!

Baked Oatmeal

This hearty breakfast is a cross between a bowl of oatmeal and chewy oatmeal cookies. With both oats and flaxseed, this will help nursing mothers increase their milk supply. Nuts provide protein, but you can layer on more with milk or greek yogurt for serving.  I make this year-round with blueberries I freeze each August, but it's also delicious with seasonal fruit like apples in the fall, dried apricots and figs in the winter or raspberries in July. You can make it advance and warm the whole dish to serve or single portions as I've done all week long. It's a big hit at potlucks and brunches - you'll find eaters of all ages scraping their dishes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 9 inch pie dish or 9 inch square baking dish with the same oil you use in the recipe below.

In a large bowl, whisk together:

1/2 cup walnut oil, olive oil or melted coconut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 eggs (NOTE: you can use flax eggs if you want this to be vegan)

Then add:

3 cups local rolled oats
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1 3/4 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
zest of one organic orange or lemon
1/4 t salt
1 t vanilla
3/4 c milk (almond milk works well, too)

Stir with a rubber spatula to combine. Fold in 1 generous cup fresh or frozen blueberries. Pour into the greased dish. Press 1/2 cup walnuts/pecans/almonds into the top. Bake for 40-45 minutes until fairly firm on top, like you'd expect from a sturdy oatmeal cookie or bar.

Serve warm topped with greek yogurt, fresh fruit, seeds...

PLAN AHEAD: Make 2 of these and freeze one right in the pan by covering tightly with foil. When you want to eat it, let it thaw on the counter and warm in the oven.

Energy Bites

These quick snacks are packed with fiber, protein, chia seeds and healthy fats to keep your energy up. The recipe is very flexible and can include any dried fruit, nuts and nut butter of your choice.  Nursing moms will find the oat flour and flax seed help with milk production while the dried fruit helps keep your digestive system regular.  I did not measure any ingredients, so the amounts below are approximations. What you want to end up with is a sticky "dough" that can be rolled into balls, so if it's too mealy and dry, add moisture through dried fruit, nut butters or honey/maple syrup and if it's too wet, add more nuts, seeds or dried coconut. These are best after refrigerated for an hour or two to firm up.  Enjoy with a cool glass of your favorite milk!

In a food processor, chop up some rolled oats to make oat flour. You can keep what you don't use in the refrigerator and use in baking. Remove the oat flour. Now combine about 1/2 cup dried dates and 1/2 cup dried apricots with 2/3 cup toasted walnuts to create a grainy meal.  Then add a tablespoon or two of coconut oil, a few tablespoons of almond butter, a good drizzle of honey, a few tablespoons each of chia seeds, flax meal, cocoa powder and coconut.  Process to combine. Then add enough oat flour to get the consistency you need to roll your energy bites into balls (kids love to help with this part!). Place them on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper or parchment and refrigerate to firm up. Then you can store the in a mason jar or other container with a lid.  

PLAN AHEAD: Make a double batch. Then pack away 1/2 of these treats in a mason jar and freeze. Let them thaw on the counter and then store in the refrigerator to keep them firm.