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Oatmeal: the least effortful way to change your life.

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With turning 40 on the horizon, we realized that some things had to change. Our diets definitely needed some rethinking, and that was the easiest place to begin. We started to fit more superfoods into our meals, and whole grains like oats were at the top of the list.

Our latest recipes don't turn trying to be healthy grown-ups into drudgery. Sneaking in more servings of whole grains is an easy fix, and capitalizing on oatmeal's magical ability to sweep out the bad stuff from one's digestive system is a great start. We propose a new way for us all to deal: Eat power foods like oats whenever possible, and, well, just sprinkle a little denial and avoidance on all the less palatable stuff that comes with getting older.

Vegan Chipotle Sweet Potato Burger
  • Vegan Chipotle Sweet Potato Burger

Vegan Chipotle Sweet Potato Burger

1 1/2 cups baked, peeled, mashed sweet potato (1 large or 2 medium)

1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 or 2 minced chipotle chilies (from a can)

Olive oil (for panfrying)

In a large bowl, mix the mashed sweet potato, oats, cumin, garlic, salt, pepper, and chipotles until well-incorporated. Cover and set aside in the fridge for 15 minutes to allow the moisture to distribute. Form mixture into 4 patties and pan-fry over medium heat in a little oil for about 4 minutes per side. Serve on a Kaiser roll with slices of avocado, tomato, arugula, and salsa. (Serves 4.)

Oat, Banana, & Chia Silver Dollar Pancakes (GF)
  • Oat, Banana, & Chia Silver Dollar Pancakes (GF)

Oat, Banana, & Chia Silver Dollar Pancakes (GF)

1 cup rolled oats

2 large eggs

1 ripe banana

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon coconut oil (more for cooking)

1/4 cup milk (almond, soy, or dairy)

1/2 teaspoon salt

berries, bananas, and honey or maple syrup (to serve)

Heat a large cast-iron skillet or large, non-stick frying pan over medium-low heat. Into the work bowl of your food processor place the oats and grind them into a fine flour. Add the eggs, banana, chia, baking powder, vanilla, coconut oil, milk, and salt and blend until smooth. (Unlike traditional flours, you really can't overwork them because there's no gluten to activate.) The mixture should be thick but pourable like a traditional pancake batter. Add more milk if needed.

Place about 1 teaspoon of coconut oil on the griddle and brush to coat. Place 1/8 cup of batter on the griddle. It should fall into a 2-inch circle. Repeat. Allow pancakes to cook for 4 minutes or until bubbles start to form on the surface and the underside is golden. Carefully flip the pancakes and cook for another 3 minutes or until pancake is golden and set all the way through. Repeat until all batter is used. Makes about 1 dozen small pancakes. Serve warm with a drizzle of honey, maple syrup, bananas, and berries. (Makes 1 dozen; serves 2.)

Vegan Breakfast Sausage

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/4 cup finely diced shallot

3 cloves garlic (finely diced)

8 ounces cremini mushrooms (finely diced)

1 cup finely diced celery (about 2 ribs)

1/2 cup finely diced carrot (1 medium)

1 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon clove

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon soy sauce (like Bragg's)

1 tablespoon maple syrup

sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

1 1/2 cups uncooked quick-cooking oats

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallot, garlic, mushrooms, celery, and carrot to the pan. Stir consistently and sauté until all of the liquid has released and then evaporated; this should take about 5 minutes. Add the sage, red pepper flakes, clove, nutmeg, soy sauce, and maple syrup to the pan. Stir to incorporate and remove from heat. Allow mixture to cool. Add the uncooked quick-cooking oats, and knead the mixture until everything is well-incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and set aside in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to allow the moisture to distribute.

Next, pinch about 2 tablespoons of the mixture off, roll it into a ball, and flatten it to for a patty. Repeat. In a medium pan over medium heat, pan-fry disks in enough canola oil to coat the bottom of the pan until nicely browned. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot.

This recipe makes about 2 dozen sausage patties. Freeze uncooked patties in a single layer then store them in a storage bag in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Energy Cookies

1 cup rolled oats

3/4 cup almond flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons iodized salt

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup coconut oil (melted and cooled)

2 large eggs (beaten)

2 teaspoons vanilla

3/4 cup raisins (golden and regular)

1/3 cup dried cranberries

2 tablespoons rum

1 cup grated dried coconut

2 tablespoons crystallized ginger (finely diced)

1 cup raw walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together the oats, almond flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Set aside. Combine the honey, coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla. Microwave the raisins, cranberries, and rum for one minute, let them cool a bit, microwave for one more minute, and set aside. Combine wet and dry ingredients and then add the fruit and rum mixture, coconut, ginger, and walnuts. Shape into large, flat cookies and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes until edges are lightly browned.

Buttermilk Oatmeal with Butter-Poached Peaches and Sorgum

2 cups low-fat buttermilk

1 cup rolled oats

1 heaping tablespoon light brown sugar

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

4 ripe peaches (pitted, peeled)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon sorghum syrup (or maple syrup)

In a medium pot over medium heat, warm the buttermilk, and stir in the oats. Add the brown sugar and salt and stir. Cover, reduce heat to low, and continue to cook for 10 minutes; stir it occasionally to prevent sticking.

Next, cut peaches into bite-sized wedges. In a medium frying pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter, and just as it starts to brown, add the peaches. Allow them to cook for 3 minutes to lightly color on one side before turning them. Cook another 3 minutes and remove from heat. Divide oatmeal and peaches between 2 bowls and garnish with sorghum. (Serves 2.)

Roast Beet Salad + Sea Salt Granola & Honey Tarragon Dressing
  • Roast Beet Salad + Sea Salt Granola & Honey Tarragon Dressing

Roast Beet Salad + Sea Salt Granola & Honey Tarragon Dressing

Roast Beets (recipe follows)

1/2 cup Sea Salt Granola (recipe follows)

Honey Tarragon Dressing (recipe follows)

4 cups lettuce (Boston or baby romaine)

4 ounces soft goat cheese (crumbled)

Follow the directions below to make the beets, granola, and dressing. The beets and the dressing are proportioned correctly for this recipe, but the granola will make more than you need for this dish. I guarantee it will be eaten. That stuff is addictive. Once your components are made, all that's left to do is assemble the salad. Layer beets and lettuce together like you would a Caprese salad. Each serving should get about 5-6 slices of beet. Next, drizzle the assemblage with about a tablespoon of the Honey Tarragon Dressing. Finish with an ounce of crumbled goat cheese and 1/8 cup Sea Salt Granola.

Roast Beets:

5 medium red beets

1/2 cup white wine

4 cloves garlic (smashed)

2 tablespoons soy sauce

8 sprigs thyme

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Trim 1/8 inch from both the stem end and root end of the beet. Place beets in a small casserole dish along with the wine, garlic cloves, soy sauce, thyme, pepper, salt, and olive oil. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Allow beets to cool completely. Peel skin from the beet by rubbing it with a damp paper towel — the outer skin will rub right off. Slice beets in 1/4-inch slices.

Sea Salt Granola

(makes about 5 cups)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup brown rice syrup*

1/3 cup canola oil

2 tsp. vanilla

2 cups oats

1/3 cup sliced almonds

1/3 cup pecans

1/3 cup pepitas/pumpkin seeds

1 tablespoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the sugar, syrup, oil, and vanilla. Add oats, nuts, and salt and combine. Spread it all out on a baking sheet. Bake it for 10 minutes, stir it up, and then bake it for 10 more minutes. It should be toasted and ready by then. It'll last about a week.

*Brown rice syrup is a key ingredient here, so make the effort to find it. It is always in stock at Whole Foods and natural foods stores.

Honey Tarragon Dressing

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon minced tarragon

1.2 teaspoon minced chives

1/4 teaspoon Maldon salt

1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

In a small bowl, add the lemon juice, honey, tarragon, chives, salt, and pepper together. Drizzle the olive oil into the mixture as you whisk to emulsify the dressing. Set mixture aside.

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