“I can’t believe you gave up desserts!” People say when I tell them about my Lenten sacrifice to go without sweets for six and a half weeks.
I don’t blame them for finding it so shocking – I’m shocked I’ve been able to stick to my commitment as well. I’m known for many things (ie. my adoration of the Mozzas/Nancy Silverton, and my bad habit of buying skirts I can’t afford at Anthropologie), but not for my ability to turn down food – especially food that involves sugar and/or chocolate.
Yet somehow I’ve made it five weeks and two days now without a single bite of ice cream, sip of a mocha or nibble of a muffin. Though in the interests of full disclosure, I must admit that the miraculous happening cannot be completely attributed to my sudden acquisition of an iron will or direct intervention from God. There have been a few pinch hitters that have helped me get through the dark moments when I’m craving something sweet – specifically Chobani Greek yogurt with frozen blueberries, dates (ie. nature’s candy), cuties, rooibos tea, and oatmeal.
And, no, my version does not contain even a teaspoon of brown sugar – that would be cheating and God doesn’t like cheaters! (But I think He’d probably be okay with pumpkin eaters...)
While I’ve been savagely smitten with stirring a tablespoon of peanut butter into my oats for the past seven years, lately I’ve been mixing things up with some other tricks to make my morning oatmeal even more of a tasty treat. Instead of buttering it up with my favorite nut butter, I’ve been cooking it with bananas, dates, nutmeg and cinnamon, and then topping it off with toasted walnuts.
The natural sugars from the dates and bananas and addition of spices helps satisfy my sweet tooth, and the crunchy nuts on top add further dimension and texture to my breakfast. It’s definitely not the type of affair that would appeal to savory breakfast-eaters who get their thrills from eggs and sausage, but it’s been a saving grace for me – one that I am sure to keep enjoying long after the Lenten season ends.
Date, Banana and Walnut Oatmeal
½ cup 100% Quaker Oats
2 dates, chopped
1 small banana, sliced into small chunks
2 tablespoons toasted walnuts
1 tablespoon wheat germ
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup water
3 tablespoons – ¼ cup skim milk
Pinch of salt
Bring water to a boil in small saucepan. Add oats and salt, reduce heat, and simmer on low until water is almost completely absorbed (3-5 minutes). Stir in banana, dates, milk, nutmeg, cinnamon, and continue cooking together until stiff and oats are cooked through – approximately 5 more minutes. Add the wheat germ and more milk if needed. Turn off the heat, stir in the vanilla and serve immediately. Top with walnuts.