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Real Food Recipes

“The Elvis” Oatmeal

Elvis. A guy they called “King.” A guy so essential to the story of America over the past 50 years, you need only to mention his first name or that title, and immediately people know who you’re talking about.

“Hound Dog.” “Jailhouse Rock.” “Heartbreak Hotel.” These were the world’s introductions to American culture—music that was a unique blend of country, gospel, and blues—the folk music of young adults.

He was a new kind of icon, who didn’t show off strength, power, or technical prowess. Instead, he commanded the adoration of the youth.

He was a new kind of icon, who didn’t show off strength, power, or technical prowess. Instead, he commanded the adoration of the youth.

It made sense; he voiced the soundtrack to their rebellion. Like jazz before it, rock n’ roll combined influences outside the mainstream. Its mere existence was rebellion. Elvis made the genre popular. Elvis made the genre approachable.

As the defining figure of this early rock n’ roll revolution, the public made him an icon. He was a figure who would go on to find a kind of ‘fountain of youth’ in cultivating his fame.

I remember working as a bank teller in Northern Illinois in the 00s. I used to have the occasion to go and pick up breakfast for coworkers in the next town over. Just off route 12, nestled between the highway and the shore of Fox Lake, sat a little diner with a wrap-around lunch counter. It could have been pulled straight from Elvis’ early years as a teen icon—laminate counters, wood paneling on the walls. As you entered the restaurant, just to your right, stood a full size statue of Elvis. As I remember it, he was styled as the Elvis from the famous postal stamp, his hips in mid-swing, looking like he might be halfway through one of his hits.

It was a jarring sight to see. It was in this kind of iconography that Elvis the icon could be appropriately remembered—youthful, energetic, idealized. An image more than a man, stuck forever in his youth.

There’s this diner dish that is regularly attributed to Elvis. It’s a peanut butter sandwich topped with bananas, honey and bacon. On paper, it seems like a monstrosity—the banana, honey, and peanut butter all providing sticky and mushy qualities, seeming like a combination that should never be realized.

But upon closer examination, there’s something special there. The Elvis sandwich seems like a riff on the quintessential sandwich of the American youth, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. By swapping the jelly for banana, Elvis found the perfect pairing. Mushed bananas have less density than peanut butter, providing a lightness that isn’t found in the conventional peanut butter and jelly. It provides volume to the sandwich, as well, further cultivating that very American sense of plenty to the dish.

Combined with bacon, the salty and sweet combination of peanut butter-banana-bacon provides for complexity. The combination of stickiness-volume-saltiness-smoke all play on the tongue like some symphony of southern ingredients. This isn’t a kids’ combination.

I have to confess that I don’t remember ever having an Elvis sandwich. But, in trying to think of recipes that would provide deep and lasting satisfaction at the breakfast hour, I was inspired by the idea. I take my own liberties here: I substitute bacon bits for the bacon in this recipe, because they provide bacon flavor without sugar (one of the main components of most American bacon is sugar). I add dry roasted peanuts for crunch, too, something that I think is becoming an important component in my oatmeal concoctions.

Recipe

Ingredients

2/3 Cup Old Fashioned Oats

2 Tbsp. Fresh Ground Peanut Butter (Heaping)

2 Tbsp. Dry Roasted Peanuts

1 Banana, Mashed

1 Tbsp. Bacon Bits (substitute for reach bacon bits, if preferred)

Directions

1. Add Oats, Dry Roasted Peanuts and Peanut Butter to container. Keep Bacon Bits and Banana separate.

2. Before being ready to eat, add mashed banana to the container.

3. Add boiling water to the container to cover the Oat, Dry Roasted Peanut, Peanut Butter and Banana mixture. Mix completely and allow to steep for 5 minutes.

4. Just before eating, add bacon bits and stir.

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Real Food Recipes

Real Food: Blueberry and Cream Oatmeal

Did you love Quaker’s fruit and cream oatmeals growing up? I did. They were those oatmeals in brown paper baggies that you would rip the top off and add water. It was one of the rare things that I would eat for breakfast that wasn’t a sugary cereal with milk. Instead, this was sugary oatmeal with milk. I loved it.

Yes, my favorite was peaches and cream, but blueberries and cream held a special place in my heart. Blueberries and cream was the rare variety of these oatmeals that you wouldn’t typically see it in the variety boxes. When you did, it was something special.

This recipe is an attempt to approximate the tastiness of that commercial product and make it wholesome (There are antioxidants in blueberries, right?). Yes, I care about this being healthy—of course, there is no added sugar here. I care more about it tasting good.

To me, blueberries are like the beef of the berry world—substantial and complex.

As blueberries grow, their sweetness grows with them, rendering an intense, complex sweetness that isn’t comparable in other berry varieties. Put simply, blueberries tend to be at their sweetest when they’re big. Look for the big ones.

If you’re like me, you’ll use frozen blueberries most of the time. That’s more than fine. Once you warm up frozen blueberries, they release their juice, and to me, their sweetness is more present in the final product.

I substitute unsweetened vanilla-almond milk here for the cream. The result is a creamy oatmeal void of the animal fat that makes this thing unhealthy. Still, there’s a voluptuous mouthfeel with a complex sweetness provided by the blueberries.

The thing that the Quaker product lacked was crunch. I add sliced almonds to this recipe to give it a ‘granola-like’ crunch.

Ingredients

½ Cup Frozen Blueberries

½ Cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

2/3 Cup Old Fashioned Oats

2 Tbsp Sliced Almonds

Preparation (To Go Instructions)

1. Using a 1 pint glass jar, warm the ½ Cup of frozen blueberries in a microwave for 30 seconds.

2. Add the ½ cup of unsweetened almond milk to the glass jar. Place lid on jar for transport.

3. In a second container, combine the 2/3 cup of old fashioned Oats and 2 tbsp of sliced almonds together.

4. Refrigerate the blueberry almond milk mixture until ready for preparation.

Preparation (For eating)

1. Add the oat and almond mixture to the cup with the blueberries and almond milk. The ingredients will remain separated at this point.

2. Add hot water to desired consistency, but wait until oats are warmed through to combine.

3. After the oats are warmed through, mix ingredients.

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Real Food Recipes

Real Food: Tuna-Scallion Salad

Healthy food isn’t known for delivering bold flavors. This is the dish to change that. Big, bold, and incredibly stinky, I love to eat this dish at lunch time. It’s a quick and versatile dish that delivers on all fronts: flavor, texture, salt and fat. What’s not to love?

It’s the maverick that eats this kind of stuff. Sure, this isn’t necessarily the stuff that’s considered office-friendly, but that’s because nearly every ingredient has been stigmatized in some way.

Consider the ingredients: scallions, canned tuna, everything bagel seasoning, extra virgin olive oil, I’m sure that you feel like you can smell it coming off the page.

You’re taking a far too gentile approach to your eating if you’re thinking too much about the aroma. You want big, bold aromatics to fill the senses when you’re eating. That’s the kind of stuff that feels indulgent, rich and luxurious. It’s those bold smells that beckon the eater to indulge all the senses, to take lunch time from sustenance to something approximating fine dining. How many smoothie bowls can claim the same thing?

Yes, this isn’t caviar, but in many ways you’re playing in the same pond—salty, fishy, fatty. At the same time, there’s dimension here. Scallions provide a crunchy freshness that plays against the firmness of the tuna and stands up to it. The bold onion flavor plays its part in an ensemble of fish and fat.

One shouldn’t underestimate the transportability of this dish—it’s one of the key selling points. Canned tuna is perfect for a single serving and fitting in a backpack. Scallions are easy to cut with a simple pair of scissors. You can bring the everything bagel seasoning and olive oil and leave it at your desk without refrigeration and use it in other salads in a pinch.

Ingredients

5 oz Can of Tuna in Water
2 Large Scallions
1.5 oz of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Everything Bagel Seasoning (to taste)

Assembly

1. Open the can of tuna and drain the water. Empty tuna on plate by simply banging the can on the plate so that the tuna falls out in a circle shape.

2. Season the tuna with your desired amount of everything bagel seasoning.

3. Cut the scallions using scissors over the top of the tuna.

4. Dress the salad using the extra virgin olive oil.

Categories
Real Food Recipes

Real Food: Banana Nut Oatmeal

I’ve never been a big breakfast kind of guy. Sure, I love bacon, eggs, and hash browns as much as the next person—but still, my go-to would be a muffin, a donut or a bowl of cereal any day over something heavy.

At the same time, there’s a huge window of temptation whenever I indulge in one of my breakfast go-tos. The donut might lead to a quick lunch at McDonald’s, and then a bowl of cereal for a snack and fast food again at dinner and then cookies late night.

I’m a true believer when it comes to my desire to be healthy. After a binge like that, I’m recommitting my life to my diet practice before bed. Repent and believe always, even when it comes to your diet devotional.

Food needs to taste good in order to add it to a repertoire. Any chance that you can get to make it a little more comforting is always a win, too. That’s why this oatmeal recipe has become a stable in my breakfast routine—it tastes good, and it is totally comforting. It evokes a sense of warm banana bread, but is filling enough to sit in your stomach so that you’re not hungry before lunch. The dish is sweet too, without added sugar.

Plus, this oatmeal comes together super quick and is totally portable. I wake up early for work. Sometimes I’m waking up at 5am so that I can arrive to work sometime around 7am. By the time that I work out, shower and say goodbye to my family it’s close to the time that I need to be out the door.

Putting together the ingredients for this dish probably takes less than 3 minutes. Old fashioned oats, banana, cinnamon, and a little vanilla extract. Just add hot water and you’re ready to go.

Is your office short on cooking supplies? No problem. All you need access to is hot water and a spoon.

What’s not to like? It could not be easier and it’s totally satisfying.

The Finished Product
The Finished Product

Banana Nut Oatmeal Recipe

1 Pint Mason Jar with Lid
2/3 Cup of Old Fashioned Oats
3 Tbsp. of Chopped Walnuts
1 Tbsp. of Ground Cinnamon
1.5 Tsp. of Vanilla Extract (Bourbon Vanilla Extract if you can find it)
1 Medium to Large Banana
Hot Water to desired consistency

Prepared for transport.
Prepared for transport.

Transportation

Scoop 2/3 cup of old fashioned oats into mason jar. Add cinnamon, vanilla extract and walnuts and place lid on jar. Keep banana separate and unpeeled until you are preparing the dish for eating.

Annihilation Ritual

When you are ready to eat the dish, mash the banana in the banana peel by squeezing the banana in the peel. Scoop the mashed banana into the mason jar. Add boiling water to desired consistency and allow to sit for two minutes. Eat when hot.