The Silly Nutrition Undergrad

Posts Tagged ‘breakfast

[This picture isn’t the best quality, but considering I was in a rush to enjoy it, this was my best shot! Next time I eat it, I’ll take better photos…]

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Oatmeal, hands down, is the ultimate healthy breakfast option for me, the perfect wake-up call to a busy weekday morning.

Today is the start of the school week, and it is also the finish-the-leftovers day. So, combining the goal of pumping myself up with fuel for a busy day at school and the objective of getting rid of last week’s leftover produce, I came up with a crazy oatmeal  flavour. It is a meatless dish that includes bean sprouts and Taiwan cabbage as the key ingredients, infused with Sichuan flavour (inspired by one of my favourite Sichuan dish, Dan Dan noodles).

Quite frankly, if I didn’t need to finish the not-so-fresh product, I would never have thought about putting bean sprouts and Taiwan cabbage in oatmeal. And I would definitely would never consider extracting the flavours of Dan Dan noodles and working it into my oatmeal. Even as I was cooking the dish, I knew this was a risky attempt and I prepared myself that it might not taste as good as it sounds in my head. But somehow, in the end, my oatmeal turned out creamy, spicy, peanutty, and overall, very flavourful. I enjoyed every bite.

So far, my adventure to discover new ways to enjoy oatmeal has taken me in all directions; I’ve tried many new food combinations and played with the sweet and savory flavours. But this episode has really got beyond my imagination, and I must say, from the looks of it, this adventure will only get more crazy, more exciting and more dangerous. Can’t wait until a new crazy oatmeal idea pops into my head!

Oatmeal, Sichuan flavour

What you’ll need:

  • 3/4 cup cooked steel cut oats (regular / quick oats work as well, just not instant oatmeal)
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon chili sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon Chinese sesame paste
  • A drizzle of sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • 1/2 cup Taiwanese cabbage, shredded (Taiwanese cabbage is a different variety from Green Leaf cabbage; it has a sweeter flavour and a more tender texture.)
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock, low sodium preferably
  • 2 tablespoons scallions, finely chopped

What to do:

  • I’m assuming that you have already cooked up a big patch of steel cut oats and have them in individual servings sizes alright — If not, follow these instructions and make some now!
  • Boil a pot of water, put in bean sprouts and Taiwan cabbage, simmer on medium heat until tender. Drain and set aside.
  • In the same pot, pour in chicken stock and stir in the oatmeal and the veggies. Heat mixture on medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together chili sauce, peanut butter and sesame paste. If mixture is too thick to stir well, add in a splash of hot water to help the paste blend together better. Set aside.
  • When oatmeal is heated thoroughly, add the sauce and scallions. Stir well. (At this point, you can adjust the seasoning to taste – if you want a more prominent sweet, nutty flavour, stir in more peanut butter, or if you are looking for more heat, add in chili sauce or chili oil for an extra kick.)
  • Remove from heat, cover pot and let sit for 2 – 3 minutes (let the flavour of the scallion infuse into the oatmeal). Drizzle on sesame oil before serving.

This is really a delicious way to start the day. I can savour the flavours of my favourite lunch dish while treating my body to a bowl of whole grain goodness.

If you’re the type of person who prefers savory breakfasts over sweet ones (and if you enjoy hot and spicy food), then you’ve got to try this recipe, it won’t disappoint you. I promise!

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I think I just found a new favourite way to eat my steel cut oats.

During the last month or so, I got totally obsessed with adding kabocha squash puree to my oatmeal, along with a handful of dried cranberries and a drizzle of maple syrup. But after eating that for breakfast for a month straight almost, I must say that the sweet combination hast lost the wow factor. And so I started to crave savory oatmeal now.

So this morning when I opened the fridge and saw a tube of silken tofu, I instantly knew that would be the star ingredient in making savory oatmeal today!

The end result? The melt-in-the mouth tofu made the oatmeal extra creamy and a small handful of chopped scallions added a refreshing Asian touch to the oatmeal. Absolutely delicious!

Oatmeal with Tofu

What you’ll need:

  • 3 oz silken tofu
  • 1/4 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup edamame
  • 1/4 cup peas
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 3/4 cup cooked steel cut oats (I’ve written about how to prepare stove-top oatmeal before)
  • 2 tablespoons scallions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Soy sauce, to taste

What to do:

  • I’ve assuming that you have already cooked up a big patch of steel cut oats and have them in individual servings sizes alright — If not, follow these instructions and make some now!
  • In a small pan, add in all the ingredients, except the egg and the scallions. Break the tofu into chunks and stir the mixture well. Bring it to a boil, then turn down the heat and let it simmer until the tofu is heated thoroughly. Add in some water if mixture gets too thick (the longer you cook the oats, the more water it will absorb and thicker it becomes).
  • Once oatmeal is heated well, slowly pour in the egg while slowly but steady stirring the oatmeal (like you’re making egg drop soup). Bring mixture to a boil again (to make sure the egg gets cooked).
  • Remove from heat and stir in scallions. Serve hot with a splash of soy sauce, if desired.

The bowl of tofu oatmeal was surprisinglysatisfying. This simple meal really hit the spot for me! 🙂

If you’re tried Mark Bittman’s Savory Oatmeal with Scallions before and thought that was pleasant, then you’ll definitely fall in love with this recipe!

It’s honestly THAT good.

Simple, nutritious and fulfilling quiche!

Delicious mini quiche loaded with veggies!

Photo by Matthew Chung

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I made a simple quiche for lunch. Coming from an Asian culture, I have no idea what a quiche is at all. So, this is one crazy and brave attempt for me!

Instead of following a solid recipe, I was inspired by Stacy Snacks’s Quickie Quiche recipe and MindBlogging’s Mini Mushroom Quiche recipe and I ended up whipping up my own version.

The end product: a crustless mini quiche in a 6oz ramekin featuring onions and orange peppers.

How did it taste? A little flat, but with a little bit of ketchup, the flavour was greatly enhanced!

Mini Quiche with Onions and Sweet Orange Peppers

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon egg white (can be substituted for an extra tbsp of milk)
  • 1 tablespoon milk (I used 1%)
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 small orange pepper, diced
  • 1 stalk scallion, diced
  • Handful of grated cheese
  • Seasoning: Dijon mustard, salt
  • Olive oil
  • Cilantro, for garnish
  • Ketchup (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Spray ramekin with cooking oil spray.
  2. Whisk together egg, egg white and milk. Add in mustard and salt to mixture. Set aside.
  3. Using olive oil, saute onions and orange peppers until slight soften.
  4. Pour egg mixture into ramekin. Scoop in sauted vegetables until 2/3 full.
  5. Stir in scallion and grated cheese (leave a small amount for garnishing).
  6. Put into oven and bake until egg sets in the center, about 25 – 30 minutes. Quiche is ready when toothpick comes out clean when inserted into center.
  7. Garnish with cilantro and grated cheese. Serve hot!

I love how versatile this dish is. You can practically add in any vegetables you have on hand, and if you want, you can throw in some meat to add flavour (or leave it out like I did). Regardless of what you add in or leave it, the quiche would still taste wonderful.

What makes this dish healthy? The egg is a good source of protein, and the vegetables will help you fit in an extra serving of vegetables (or 2 servings if you use a bigger ramekin). The grated cheese will also help to boost your dairy intake. Serve with a piece of whole wheat toast and this could be a well-balanced breakfast meal or a nutritious, fulfilling side dish at lunch or dinner!

Do you have a favourite quiche recipe? Share it here!

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Everyone should eat oatmeal! It is such a wonderful breakfast option – healthy, simple and delicious! Oats is a whole grain with many essential nutrients and a whole lot of soluble fiber which can have a cholesterol-lowering effect in your body. Plus, it is super easy to make and you can pretty much add in any food you want and it will taste great.

To prepare basic oatmeal, all you need to do is:

  1. Boil 2 cups water in a pot.
  2. When water boils, stir in 1 cup oatmeal (quick oats, regular oats, steel cut oats – whatever you like).
  3. Turn down the heat to minimum and let the oatmeal simmer until it absorbs the water and becomes a thick goo (it becomes slightly chewy and gives a very creamy texture!).
  4. if you like it creamier, add a bit more water and boil it until the water is absorbed.
  5. While the oatmeal is hot, stir in the desired ingredients to create your personalized oatmeal breakfast!
  6. If you have leftover, just place into a container and put it in your fridge when it’s cool. When you want oatmeal again, simply reheat it in the microwave.

3 savory (crazy!) flavours:

  1. My childhood favourite: ground beef and egg. Add marinated ground beef when the oatmeal is almost done. Make sure the ground beef is cooked thoroughly. Then, while constantly stirring, add in a beaten egg to get streaks of egg immersed in the oatmeal (make sure you are stirring the whole time or else you get big chunks of egg and the egg flavour will become too overwhelming!).
  2. My recent new attempt: cheese. Grate some old cheddar, or your favourite cheese, into the bottom of your bowl, then pour in the hot oatmeal. Stir well and enjoy! To me, cheese oatmeal is  like eating a healthy version of Mac n’ Cheese.
  3. Unbelievable tasty: soy sauce + scallions. Stir in 1/2 – 1 tablespoon of soy sauce into 1 cup cooked oatmeal and then stir in about 1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped scallions for an Oriental flavour. Don’t skip the scallions, it adds aroma and a lot of flavour. If you skip it, your oatmeal will taste funny…  By the way, try to use low-sodium soy sauce to prevent sodium overload!

Oatmeal is so versatile. It is actually possible to have it everyday and you will not get bored because you can have different flavours each day! Because it doesn’t have a strong flavour itself, you can really play with the flavour by adding in whatever you want and the oatmeal will adapt to what you add in.

For my next crazy attempt, I’m planning to mix oatmeal with mashed Kabocha squash with a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg. Any other wild combinations that you can think of but never had the courage to try? Share it with me and maybe (just maybe!) I will be brave enough to test it for you…

Question: How do you like to enjoy your oatmeal? Sweet or Savory? What do you add in?

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Running from one place to another place with nothing to eat? Instead of wasting precious time lining up at a fast food joint, why not try preparing your own healthy snacks to keep your keep your energy level up and hunger level down!

Yogurt + Granola

Try to pair a small container of low-fat yogurt with homemade granola for a delicious, nutrient-dense snack. Try to choose plain yogurt to avoid the sugar-laden and chemical-filled fruit yogurts. Buying plain yogurt also gives you more variety – you can choose to add different toppings to make it interesting. Try a drizzle of honey, handful of dried cranberries / raisins, some fresh fruits, or even a spoonful of nuts to add new dimensions!

Crackers + Cheese

All you need to do is buy some cheese, cut it into thin slices and put them between crackers and you have prepared a tasty, crunchy, cheesy snack for yourself! Minimal preparation yet very flavourful! Try buying whole wheat crackers for a chewy and nutty flavour. To make it even more interesting, try buying sharp-tasting cheese, such as Old Cheddar. For Brie cheese for a creamier texture, or try Bleu cheese for a sharp, intense experience!

Bite-sized Veggies with Dip

When you prepare vegetables for dinner, try washing and cutting up some extra and put them in ziploc bags or tupperware so when you’re in a hurry, you can just grab and go! Some good options include celery sticks, broccoli florets, red pepper slices and carrot sticks. Along with your veggies, pack some dip, such as hummus, peanut butter, or cottage cheese to make the veggies a little more tasty.

DIY Fruit Cup

Cut fruits into cubes and mix them into a leakproof tupperware container for a fresh, flavourful DIY fruit cup. Mix together some crunchy fruits (Ex. Apples) with some soft fruits (ex. Kiwi), and toss them with some seasonal fruits (Ex. Barlett pears) or add in your favourite fruits to make the fruit salad super yummy and super healthy! To prepare browning of fruits, make sure you dip them into lemon water or else they will look less appealing over time! For simplicity sake, you can also just wash a fruit and chow down when you hungry as well! Even less cutting and cleaning up, but just as enjoyable and nutritious.

Nuts / Trail Mix

It’s super easy to make your own trail mix. Throw a large handful of whatever dry cereal you have on hand (or try toasting rolled oats), then add in a bunch of nuts and some dried fruits, and you’re all set to go! To boost the health aspects of your trail mix, try choosing cereal is that higher in fiber and low in sugar.

Making these healthy snacks only take about 5-10 minutes but when you’re running late for class, that could mean disaster! So make sure you plan ahead, ideally the night before or even try mapping out your snacking plan during the weekend when you have more time.

Question: What’s your favourite healthy snack when you are on the run?

Bonus: Make your own granola!

Want to avoid the store-bought granola that is loaded with sugars and oil? Then, try making your own version! Here‘s my all time favourite recipe. It doesn’t ask you to add in a lot of sugar and oil, but it has a very unique sweetness that comes from the coconut shreds and a lot of heart-healthy fats from the cashews and almonds. Plus it’s super easy to make, just toss all the ingredients together, mix well and toast it in the oven for an hour. Then when you room starts to smell heavenly, you’ll know it’s ready! Once you try it once, I guarantee you will never buy store-bought granola ever again!

Question: What’s your favourite healthy snack when you are on the run?