So, my last blog was about how summer wouldn't let go, and now, I'm writing from a day bathed in crisp mid-70s temperature in a sunny tall-backed chair basking in the cusp-of-fall breeze flowing through my home. Weather (shrug), what can you do? Oh, I know! Grab some apples, your impulse buy (tell you in a minute), and some grains to make the simplest / easiest breakfast - overnight oats.
Recently, while shopping, I reached into the cooler for my oat milk and noticed a tapered bottle with a green mermaid logo (yep) and a gorgeous caramel drizzle photo. The sale tag had a price too good to be true, and caramel is a great fall flavor. Hmm, I like creamer for use in pancakes, waffles, and other baked goods. My kids like those things (so, this is really NOT for me, right?) Okay, I'll try it (twist my arm why don't you?), I thought. Into the cart, the plant-based Caramel Macchiato Starbucks-branded creamer goes. Does it have more sugar than I usually like in my food? Yes. Will it probably taste exactly like it says it will and produce yummy things to eat? Uh, yeah, I have confidence. I bought without a plan; how very Un-Sustainable Spotlight of me. Or, is it?
Last night, I made my Smokey Southwest Millet Skillet with Creamy Garlic Sauce and only used about half of the millet I cooked for the dish. What to do, what to do with the other half, I mused. Ah hah! Overnight power oats with millet, oats, hemp, chia, almond butter, protein powder, and my impulse buy; the caramel creamer for caramel overnight oats topped with....(as my eyes land on the bowl of the bright yellow-red orbs in my fruit bowl), fresh apple. Caramel apple. Oh yes, this is getting good! I gathered my supplies, whisked to mix, popped in the fridge, and overnight I magically achieved a "cooked" breakfast dish that is not only filling, but 100% tasty!
What's the Sustainable Spotlight? It's that I know my boundaries and I make sure they support a sustainable & vegan diet. I shop with a meal plan and grab foods that will support those meal plans. You know what else I do? I shop knowing that those meal plans might shift slightly. I give myself a shopping allowance for the shift; they are small and usually involve the ability to craft breakfasts or lunches where desired. In this case, it is taking some leftover grains from my dinner, an impulse buy at the store, and parlaying it into a breakfast that will keep me fueled and satisfy my taste buds over several mornings ahead.
It is those boundaries crafted just for me, and what I need, that allow me to remain sustainable using my ingredients for the week, limiting my food wastes, and all while keeping "being vegan" interesting. Cooking the same things every week makes eating boring, a chore, and will make it that much easier to eat outside the home; no matter what diet or guides you follow for your health. Give yourself grace, have and keep boundaries, but make sure those boundaries include availability to be flexible in your own right. Those strategies will keep you on your sustainable path.
1/2 cup cooked & cooled millet
1 cup oats (rolled, not quick cooking)
3 tbsp chia seeds
3 tbsp hemp seeds
1 pinch of salt (~1/4 tsp)
1 cup caramel flavored plant-based creamer (I used Starbucks Almond-Oat Caramel Macchiato Creamer)
2 cups oat milk (I used Oatley Original)
2 tbsp smooth almond butter
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I use Garden of Life - Plant-Based Sport)
1/4 apple (finely chopped) - I used the other 3/4ths of the apple to slice for both kids lunches
Garnish (optional): dash of ground cinnamon
Combine all ingredients above in a medium bowl with a lid; stirring with a whisk until fully combined.
Place lid tightly on bowl and put in the fridge overnight
In the morning, dole out a healthy serving of the caramel overnight oats into a serving bowl. Dust with the ground cinnamon if using, and then top with fresh apples.
Enjoy cold with a nice cup of coffee or tea.
With love & hope for a better future for all of us - Jamie