Meatless Monday – Apple Pie Oatmeal

Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out
Stressed Out, 21 Pilots

I’m no singer but, like many mamas, I sang my babies to sleep. I even made up my own lullaby for Baby Teen which became Baby Tween’s lullaby as well. It was part of our ritual, a favorite few moments at the end of each day.

I don’t sing to them anymore. And there are absolutely times when any one of us might agree to take a spin on Hermione Granger’s time turner, back to those good old low-stress days.

An acquaintance inquired after Teen the other day. She said, “Every time I see him he seems so stressed out.”

He’s a high school senior attending a top 1% school in an extremely competitive, achievement-oriented community. So, yes, he is stressed out. And, bummer.

Unfortunately but not surprisingly, Back to School week did not go swimmingly. No, swimmingly is for summertime: fun in the sun, no set schedules, no morning hustle-bustle, and most importantly, No Homework, just learning and reading for fun. And far fewer arguments.

School Day 1 ended with a parent-child shouting match. Topic: stress and stress avoidance.

School Day 2 included Tween promising that he didn’t need his trumpet until next week. Later, a text that read: “I need my trumpet RIGHT NOW!”

School Day 3 we forgot high school late start day, so Teen arrived to school an hour early. You’d think by senior year we’d all be dialed in to the school schedule.

You know what helps?

Hanging on to gratitude, a regular priority with renewed back-to-school emphasis.

I am grateful for…

Smart, strong, healthy, energetic boys who will be and do well in this world despite adolescent bumps.

Good schools, albeit imperfect.

A fantastic Day 2 conversation with Teen to make up for the previous day’s shouting match. We shared a sweet half-hour talking through pros and cons of different decisions and how each might affect his days, senior year, and whatever comes next.

Tween’s Day 2 homework: a half-page explanation of “What Makes Me Special.” I think this should be a regular assignment for all humans. We are special, and we should gratefully appreciate the characteristics that make us so.

Consistent day-to-day routines: exercise after drop-off, bedtime reading with Tween. What a gift that he still enjoys reading aloud with Mama at 12 years old!

Also, a healthy, hearty breakfast made once and quickly warmed up to enjoy throughout the week. Sure makes the morning rush more delicious!

The kids add Craisins, I add fresh fruit

The kids add Craisins, I add fresh fruit

Apple Pie Oatmeal
Serves 4

Boil three cups water. Add 1 cup steel cut oats (I use Bob’s Red Mill) and 1 cored and diced apple. Return to boil and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 10-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 tsp cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice). Serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon, Craisins, raisins, or fresh fruit, and a splash of non-dairy milk. Recipe can be easily doubled.

Meatless Monday: Chocolate-PB Smoothie

The Trader Joe’s “Fearless Flyer” came in last week’s mail. Evidence that fall’s flavors have arrived, you may now purchase pumpkin bread mix, coffee, chai, cereal, pancakes/waffles (ready-made or mix), rolls, muffins, scones, ice cream, seeds, yogurt, granola, croissants, bagels, cream cheese, soup, beer, ravioli, caramels, brittle, cookies (of several pumpkin varieties), crackers, cheesecake, pie, biscotti, oil, croutons, cornbread, snack bars, butter, toaster pastries, and of course, pumpkin itself, canned, cubed, and whole, again in several varieties and colors. Pumpkin lovers, unite!

Although I like pumpkin as much as the next girl, do you think we might be overdoing it…?

And yet, while I will skip most of the above, one of my fall favorites is the Pumpkin Gingerbread Smoothie from Oh She Glows. I always have quick oats and almond milk on hand; I usually have bananas in the freezer (my kids insist on bananas but can’t devour the bunch before spots develop, hence we have lots of banana bread + frozen bananas for smoothies); add some pumpkin, a drizzle of molasses, spices, and ice, and YUM-O!

This morning I enjoyed my first pumpkin smoothie of the season. I usually stick to fruit+greens smoothies, so this one is a delicious treat. It requires remembering to soak the oats the night before (I find the overnight-soak preferable to the 1-hour soak), but it’s worth the effort. One can of TJ’s pumpkin (sole ingredient: organic pureed pumpkin) = 2 smoothies + a little leftover to mix in to a bowl of oatmeal sprinkled with pumpkin pie spice and drizzled with maple syrup. As Guy doesn’t love a pumpkin smoothie (a true mystery, as Thanksgiving has not happened if pumpkin pie hasn’t yet been consumed), it’s all mine, yippee-hooray!

If you like this one, here’s another variety of oat-soaked smoothie:

Chocolate-PB Smoothie
1/4 c quick oats
4 dates, seeded and diced
1 c non-dairy milk
1 frozen banana
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 Tbsp peanut butter (optional)
a dash of cinnamon
5 ice cubes

Soak oats and dates in milk in the fridge overnight. Combine in blender with remaining ingredients. Add additional milk as necessary to blend smooth. Makes 1 serving.

BTW, (shame on me?) I haven’t caught on to the chia craze but I add flax oil to every smoothie I make. It doesn’t affect the flavor, and it adds those healthy omega-3’s. I have chia seeds. Maybe I’ll try them tonight…