Overnight No-Cook Refrigerator Oatmeal

Oatmeal is one of the heart-healthiest ways to start your day, but I’ve failed for years to make it my go-to breakfast because even when it’s hot, oatmeal just leaves me cold.

Until now.

Anna Stockwell’s excellent post on epicurious.com’s, How To Make Overnight Oats Without a Recipe (aka in a jar) inspired me to try oatmeal again. Her recipe involved NO cooking, no cleaning, cute mason jars, and she said the healthy chia seeds lend it a tapioca-like texture.

Intriguing.

Especially the chia seeds. First of all, I found it fascinating that they change texture; this I had to see. More importantly, chia seeds are a great source of antioxidants, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. For years I’ve justified (not accurately, I’m sure) my bagel with lox habit with the fact that high-sodium lox delivers heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Interestingly, chia seeds deliver omega-3s too, albeit a different kind which are not as effective as fish. But still—I eat a lot of fish so the fact that this wonder oatmeal is made with rolled oats, chia seeds AND is easy to make was enough for me to give it a try.

So out I went to purchase mason jars (I had no idea easy-to-use, adorable ‘wide mouth’ mason jars with measuring lines existed! Note: picture links to Amazon; I bought mine at Walmart.) I followed Ms. Stockwell’s ‘no-recipe’ exactly the first time, then ditched measuring (and the unnecessary salt and sugar) and have now had oatmeal for breakfast 15 days in a row—and I even took one on the train to have for breakfast on the go.

Nutritionally, the oatmeal is FAR healthier than the whole wheat bagel with a smidge of whipped cream cheese and 1/2 ounce of lox. It beats my old standby bagel and lox in every category but two: the oatmeal is a smidge higher in calories and the omega 3s from the chia seeds are not the cholesterol-lowering DHA sort. But it’s healthier in every other (read important) way.

This easy, delicious no-cook oatmeal, made with skim milk, chia seeds and rolled oats delivers 8 fewer grams of fat, 75% less salt (!), nearly 3x the cholesterol-lowering fiber(!) and more vitamins, calcium and potassium than my whole wheat half-bagel with lox:

In fact, it’s SO much healthier that even I just can’t justify going back to my bagel and lox. Plus I actually like this oatmeal.

Of course, there are lots of other ways to eat heart-healthy oatmeal. My post, The Triple Threat Oatmeal Breakfast, even features a crock pot recipe—which is good, but proved too much planning and cleaning for me. Plus, IMHO this refrigerated version is both tastier and easier.

I hope you give this ‘recipe’ a try. As I happen to love cinnamon that’s my flavoring of choice, but feel free to follow your heart (bad pun intended) or Ms. Stockwell’s suggestions for changing up the flavor profiles.

No Cook Single-Serve Refrigerator Oatmeal
Prep Time
1 min
Total Time
1 min
 

Take 1 minute to mix ingredients in a 'jar' and refrigerate overnight for a delicious high-fiber start to the day. Chia seeds add both texture and protein.

Servings: 1 person
Calories: 204 kcal
Author: Anna Stockwell recipe, adapted by Karen Swanson
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup Rolled Oats
  • 1/2 cup Skim Milk or Almond Milk
  • 1 tbsp Chia Seeds
  • 1 pinch Cinnamon (optional, but I use a lot)
  • 1 pinch Salt (optional, I do NOT use)
  • 1 pinch Sugar (optional, I do NOT use)
  • 1 bunch apples and/or almonds, chopped (optional, I'm too lazy to add)
Instructions
  1. In an 8-ounce mason jar (or anything with a lid), add oats, milk and chia seeds and stir.

  2. Add cinnamon and (optional salt and sugar.)  Stir and cap with lid. In fact, stirring isn't even really necessary.

  3. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

  4. To serve, either stir and eat cold out of the jar (like muesli) or pour into bowl, stir well, and microwave 1-2 minutes until hot. Optionally top with fruit and/or almonds for extra crunch and cholesterol-lowering punch.

Recipe Notes
  • Read Anna Stockwell's excellent How to Make Overnight Oats Without a Recipe post for alternate ingredient ideas and important adjustments to make if you don't use Chia Seeds.
  • Nutritional Value calculated using MyFitnessPal, using skim milk and no salt or sugar.
Nutrition Facts
No Cook Single-Serve Refrigerator Oatmeal
Amount Per Serving (1 bowl)
Calories 204 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 9%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Cholesterol 3mg 1%
Sodium 56mg 2%
Potassium 404mg 12%
Total Carbohydrates 31g 10%
Dietary Fiber 11g 44%
Sugars 6g
Protein 10g 20%
Vitamin A 5%
Vitamin C 2%
Calcium 28%
Iron 13%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

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Book Available Today!

Today is publication day!

My new book, The Low Cholesterol Cookbook and Action Plan: 4 Weeks to Cut Cholesterol and Improve Heart Health, is now available in bookstores!

Callisto Media hired me to write about cholesterol based on this blog: I wrote all the cholesterol content (including what cholesterol is, why it’s a problem, and how to lower it with diet and exercise) and the recipes were written by a cardiac dietician. What’s it about, exactly? Well, here’s the description included on the Barnes & Noble and Amazon sites:

“With an easy-to-follow 4-week program, this low cholesterol cookbook will help you lower cholesterol naturally, with food and exercise. This low cholesterol cookbook delivers comprehensive recipes and a proactive meal plan to help you eliminate bad fats without losing the flavors your heart loves.

Go beyond your basic low cholesterol cookbook with The Low Cholesterol Cookbook and Action Plan. Accessible and up-to-date, this low cholesterol cookbook offers:

  • A 4-Week Meal Plan getting you started on the right path to lower cholesterol
  • 120 Recipes featuring heart-healthy versions of your favorite meals, from Banana-Oat Pancakes to Honey Mustard Chicken and Flourless Chocolate Cookies
  • 30 minutes or less of preparation per recipe

This low cholesterol cookbook includes tips for shopping and creating food lists, plus suggestions for exercise and more. Start your heart-healthy lifestyle with the proactive diet and meal plan from The Low Cholesterol Cookbook and Action Plan.”

So if you are interested in easy to understand information about cholesterol along with a plan and recipes to help you lower it naturally — please give my book a whirl!

Many thanks to those who have already purchased.  And if you haven’t yet purchased, it’s now available nationwide.You can find it with cookbooks at Barnes & Noble:

 

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Whole Wheat Vegetarian Pizza

Healthy, easy and delicious, 2 slices of this vegetarian whole wheat pizza delivers 13 grams of cholesterol-lowering dietary fiber, and is loaded with flavor. As long as you remember / have time to bring the pizza dough to room temperature, prep will take no more than 30 minutes. We always make 2 pizzas as it’s great left over.

My personal favorite toppings are broiled eggplant, broccolini sauteed with garlic, and sauteed mushrooms. But feel free to substitute any vegetables you like—as long as you pre-cook them a bit so they’re not raw, they should be delicious.

This recipe is flexible and adaptable: if someone wants meat, just place some sliced pepperoni atop a few of the slices or make one pie with meat and one totally vegetarian.

For those who want to make their own dough, go for it. I hear it’s easy but I’ve never tried it as that bag of Trader Joe’s whole wheat pizza is like magic to me (and there’s no food processor to clean!)

Have pizza purists in the house? Do a taste-test of whole wheat pizza dough vs ‘regular’ white pizza dough. But just so you know, the whole wheat pizza is much healthier: first of all, it delivers DOUBLE the cholesterol-lowering dietary fiber. Not only that, the plain dough has almost double the salt and 50% more total fat than the whole wheat dough!

Give this recipe a try for a great “Meatless Monday” or any day vegetarian dinner!  Bonus: it’s great with kids or picky eaters (ahem, like myself). Kids love to roll out the dough…and if you let kids or family/friends customize with their own toppings it makes for a great pizza party. Just don’t break out the wine and beer until all the slicing is complete! (Yes, I sadly speak from experience; I now have a firm rule of no alcohol until all chopping and slicing is complete.)

Going Lo-Co Whole Wheat Vegetarian Pizza
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

Homemade Healthy Whole Wheat Pizza takes a bit of time but is easy and delicious. You can use any vegetables: my favorites are broiled eggplant, sauteed mushrooms and broccolini sauteed with garlic!  One serving = 2 slices (1 pie = 8 slices)

Servings: 4 people
Author: Karen Swanson
Ingredients
  • 1 bag Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (Trader Joe's)
  • 1/4 cup Pizza or Tomato Sauce (like Prego Pizza Sauce)
  • 3 ounces Mozzarella Slices (Trader Joe's whole or part skim)
  • 1 whole Eggplant
  • 6 oz Sliced White Mushrooms (About 1/2 container Trader Joe's)
  • 4 oz Baby Broccoli (broccolini) - heads
  • 4-6 cloves Fresh Garlic
  • 5 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 TBSP Flour (To sprinkle under dough)
Instructions
Prepare Pizza Dough:
  1. Take out pizza dough so it comes to room temperature (I leave out for at least 1 hour).

Prepare Vegetables While Dough Comes to Room Temperature:
  1. Broil the Eggplant: Set rack to top and start broiler. Wash and slice eggplant into 1/3 inch thick slices. Set on a baking sheet lined with foil. Lightly spray or brush slices with olive oil then lightly salt. Turn the slices and lightly oil & salt the other side. Broil for 3-8 minutes per side, until golden brown. Turn and broil the other side. Set aside.

  2. Preheat oven. First, carefully move the rack(s) to the middle of the oven. Then preheat to 425 (with pizza stone if you use...I do not.) 

  3. Saute the sliced mushrooms over medium-high heat in a large saute pan in about 2 TB of olive oil until lightly browned, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove to plate.

  4. Prepare the broccolini and garlic. While mushrooms are sauteeing, wash broccolini, discard stems and leaves, and cut heads into bite-size pieces. Slice garlic.

  5. Saute the garlic and broccolini.  In the same pan used for mushrooms, add about 2 TB of olive oil and once warm, add garlic and cook over medium heat for 1-3 minutes until garlic is fragrant but not brown. Add broccolini heads, mix, and cook for 2-3 minutes, then add a bit of water, cover and let steam for 1-2 minutes.

Prepare and Bake Pizza:
  1. Once pizza dough has come to room temperature, roll it on a lightly floured surface to the size of your pizza pan or desired size. (Note: dough should not feel wet - if it does, add more flour to avoid sticking to pan.) If using pizza pan with holes (aka perforated pizza pan) place dough on the pan and stretch to sides.

  2. Spread the pizza sauce on top of the rolled dough. Dot with mozzarella slices. Atop the cheese, add the broiled eggplant, sauteed mushrooms and sauteed broccolini/garlic.

  3. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Lift bottom of pizza to check it's cooked long enough to reach your desired crispiness. Slice with pizza cutter into eighths.

Recipe Notes
  • One serving = 2 slices (1 pie = 8 slices)
  • Nutrition Facts from My Fitness Pal.
Nutrition Facts
Going Lo-Co Whole Wheat Vegetarian Pizza
Amount Per Serving
Calories 297 Calories from Fat 225
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 25g 38%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 13g
Cholesterol 11mg 4%
Sodium 904mg 38%
Potassium 197mg 6%
Dietary Fiber 13g 52%
Sugars 9g
Protein 18g 36%
Vitamin A 6%
Vitamin C 19%
Calcium 20%
Iron 22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Roasted Butternut Squash and Mushroom Curry

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My interest was piqued by David Tanis’ New York Times article, A Warming Curry for Fall— because this accomplished chef mentioned that he’d adapted a Madhur Jaffrey recipe. I find her recipes can be challenging, so I was thrilled at a Mr. Tanis modification.

This recipe was both heavenly and easy—one of the most delicious recipes I’ve made. Plus, it truly took only about 30 minutes (not including roasting time – and you can make it without roasting the butternut squash if you have 30 minutes max).

Not only that, but the resulting dinner is a great vegetarian option—not always my forte but one I am trying to tackle—and it was filling. And as I served with brown jasmine rice, it was even a decent source of cholesterol-lowering fiber.

I read through the many comments online and decided to modify Mr. Tanis’ recipe right off the bat to add more flavor. (See the NYT article link above for the original recipe.) I’ve included mine with adaptions below.  It’s very flavorful but not at all spicy—the only tricky part will be procuring fresh curry leaves (available at Indian markets and online: see amazon link below).  While Mr. Tanis says curry leaves are optional, to me, they really make the dish.

My modifications were to add ground cumin, garam masala and also Maharajah Style Curry Powder By Penzeys Spices. Yes, I know that ‘curry’ is a catch-all and that many of the ingredients are listed both separately and in this curry powder.  But the recipe was delicious with these additions and I love Penzey’s curry.

As for rice, I served it with Trader Joes Brown Jasmine Rice for a fiber boost.

The picture above I took while it was cooking, and my version of the recipe follows. Don’t be daunted by the number of ingredients—nearly all are just spices!  And I didn’t even bother with wild mushrooms: I used sliced Baby Bellas and Shitakes … and didn’t measure them, just used 2 packs from Trader Joe’s.

It’s simple, I promise! If you like curry you will want to give this recipe a try.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Mushroom Curry - Going Lo-Co adaption of David Tanis recipe
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 

Delicious, easy vegetarian curry published by David Tanis in the New York Times. Mr. Tanis adapted his recipe from a Madhur Jaffrey, and I've slightly modified further, for more flavor and cholesterol-lowering fiber. It's easy - but the fresh curry leaves are a must. If you are not familiar, they are sold in Indian markets, or see below for a link to fresh curry leaves on Amazon!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 482 kcal
Author: David Tanis, adapted by Karen Swanson
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or canola oil
  • 10 ounces butternut or other winter squash peeled and diced in 1/2-inch cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 or 2 small whole green chiles such as jalapeño or serrano
  • 3 medium shallots or 1 small onion finely diced. I use already-diced fresh onions and diced more finely
  • ½ teaspoon black or yellow mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • Handful of fresh or frozen curry leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 pound mushrooms preferably a mix of cultivated and wild, trimmed and sliced 1/8-inch thick
  • ¾ cup coconut milk preferably reduced fat
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice freshly squeezed
  • fresh cilantro diced and sprigs for garnish
  • 2 cup brown jasmine rice
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves optional
Instructions
Prep before cooking
  1. Cook about 2 cups of brown rice or brown jasmine rice so it will done when curry is done.

  2. Roast the diced squash (directions in 'prep' and 'cooking' below) either earlier in the day, or 1 hour before you want to serve.

  3. Prep ingredients to facilitate quick steps in this recipe: a) Chop cilantro and squeeze lime; set aside. b) Dice squash into relatively uniform 1/2" cubes and set aside. c) Cut a lengthwise slit in each chile to open it, but leave whole and set aside. (This allows the heat and flavor of the chile to release into the sauce without making it too spicy.) d) Measure spices into 2 small bowls (one with mustard and cumin seeds, one with all other spices) and set aside. e) Mince garlic. f) Bring curry leaves to room temperature, if frozen.

Cooking
  1. Roast the squash: Preheat oven to 425. Slick squash cubes with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast them for 20-30 minutes (set them aside to  add to pan after the mushrooms.) The original recipe sautes squash on cooktop but roasting is easier and boosts flavor depth - you just have to time it so they are roasted before you start cooking.

  2. In a wide skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add shallots or diced onion to skillet, salt lightly and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves and let sizzle for about 1 minute.  
  3. To skillet, add the minced garlic, coriander, cayenne, turmeric, chiles, cumin, garam masala and curry and the slit-but-still-whole jalapeno (or serrano) chili peppers. Stir well and cook for 1 minute more.

  4. Add mushrooms to pan, season with salt and toss to coat. Continue to cook, stirring, until mushrooms begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add squash cubes to pan, stir in coconut milk (shake can well first!) and bring to a simmer. Lower heat to medium and simmer for another 5 minutes. (If adding baby spinach for nutrition and color boost, add it after about 2-3 minutes so it wilts by time the 5 minutes of cooking squash is done.)  If mixture looks dry, thin with a little water. Taste and season with salt. 

  6. If you are serving for a dinner party, you can keep curry warm in a (pre-warmed) crock pot set to warm.

  7. Just before serving, stir in lime juice. 

  8. Serve atop high-fiber brown rice. Top with diced cilantro (unless you/guests are averse to taste) as it adds a lot of flavor.  If desired, garnish with cilantro leaves.

Recipe Notes

Nutritional Data calculated using My Fitness Pal.

Nutrition Facts
Roasted Butternut Squash and Mushroom Curry - Going Lo-Co adaption of David Tanis recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 482 Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 18%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Polyunsaturated Fat 7g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Sodium 18mg 1%
Potassium 105mg 3%
Total Carbohydrates 87g 29%
Dietary Fiber 6g 24%
Sugars 5g
Protein 9g 18%
Vitamin A 23%
Vitamin C 22%
Calcium 11%
Iron 12%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Snapper Escabèche with Grilled Scallions

A Bon Appètit recipe for “Snapper Escabèche with Grilled Scallions” — sounds both delicious and difficult to make, no?

Delicious, definitely YES.  Difficult – a resounding NO!

In fact, this might be one of the easiest lo-co recipes I’ve ever made – and it’s both special enough for company and easy enough for a weeknight.

Oh, and did I mention delicious?

It was both Bon Appètit’s description of why marinating a fish AFTER it’s been grilled makes sense … and the accompanying video that showed how easy this was to grill AND how to know when the fish is done that convinced me to try this recipe. (It was idiotic that my maiden attempt was for an 8 person dinner party, but all’s well that ends well – and this ended very well!)

Bon Appètit described the compelling reason to marinate fish post grilling as:

“Because it’s so delicate, the flesh can break down when marinated first, sometimes causing the fish to fall apart. A post-grill bath delivers flavor without compromising texture.”

While this made sense to me, I was still skeptical: fish can easily stick or falls apart on the grill (even when it’s cooked in foil – see my post, “No Pots To Clean Gourmet Dinner.”) So I did something I almost never do – I watched the recipe video and it compelled me to try it. You can watch it on the recipe link above, or here (sorry for the ad):

Video: how to grill Snapper Escabèche with Grilled Scallions:

All you need for this dish is some very fresh red snapper fillets and a mandoline for thinly sliced red onion … Plus, it sits for at least 10 minutes after it comes off the grill, plenty of time to enjoy appetizers with friends.

I served it with these three make-ahead dishes – perfect for a dinner party:

And lots of rose wine of course.

I got several requests for the recipes – as I’m sure you’ll believe when you see how gorgeous these dishes were – and they were equally delicious:

The Snapper Escabeche:

Grilled Snapper Escabeche

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The make-ahead sides:

ENJOY this heart-healthy easy-to-make dish sometime this summer!

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