Another semester of my RD program starts today (well, technically tonight). For the most part, I’m excited for new courses and a busy schedule (I get the most done when I have the most to juggle). What I don’t welcome is having less time to cook: the nicest thing about this winter break has been little baking breaks, the chance to make some more time-intensive recipes, and other small kitchen luxuries that I don’t have when school is in session. With the knowledge that grab-and-go options will soon be especially useful to me, I’ve whipped up a new, portable breakfast that’s as convenient as it is delicious: vegan, gluten free apple ginger oatcakes.
These oatcakes were initially inspired by the Scottish oatcakes that my grandmother used to keep stocked in her kitchen; these were hardly cakes, at least not as I knew “cake” to be. They were crispy and only mildly sweet, more like a dry cookie or biscuit. In spite of the fact that I tend to prefer dense and moist baked goods to crispy ones, I came to really love them, especially with tea.
So I was intrigued when I recently came across an oatcake recipe in Myra Goodma’s book Straight From the Earth. These oatcakes, made with rolled oats and dried fruit, were much more cake-y and substantial than traditional oatcakes, andt they looked great to me. I eat oats for breakfast most days, but it’s hard to sit down to a bowl on days when I’m running quickly to meet a morning nutrition client. I like baking muffins for snacks, but most muffin recipes don’t fill me up for very long.
I love the idea of something that’s portable like a muffin, but with the heartiness and fiber of baked oats. These apple ginger oatcakes are a perfect oat/muffin hybrid, and I have a feeling that they’re going to become a thing around here, with lots of different mix-ins and flavor combinations.
For this batch, I kept it simple, with applesauce and ginger flavors taking the lead. I also stirred in some currants (raisins would be fine, too) for sweetness and some hemp seeds for a little protein and healthy fat. But there are so many ways to customize this easy recipe. No fussy ingredients or complicated steps: just stir, mix, pour into muffin cups, and in about 15 minutes you have eight nutrient-dense, portable oatcakes for the week ahead.
Pair these with fresh, seasonal fruit for a quick breakfast, or enjoy them for a more substantial snack. I think they’re sweet enough to be perfectly enjoyable plain, but a little bit of apple butter, Earth Balance, or almond butter would definitely be a nice addition. These are easy enough that you can whip the whole batch up and bake it even on a busy day (for real: the whole thing took me 30 minutes), but you can also make these over the weekend and store or freeze them for whenever you need them. I don’t have much morning class this semester, but I’m sure they’ll come in handy for snacking through long library study sessions, and I can’t wait to pack them up along with my portable meals.
Speaking of that, if you’re looking for some tips on packing portable, nutrient-dense, balanced lunchboxes, check out my tips for packing a healthy and satisfying vegan lunchbox!
As for the semester ahead, here’s what I’m taking:
A study of physiological, psychological, and socio-cultural factors that affect eating behaviors and the development of individual and cultural food patterns. Topics include the chemical senses, why we like sweet, salt, and fat; self-regulation of what and how much we eat; effect of early experiences with food; food and mood; interaction of food and culture through history; eating, cooking, and time use trends; meat meanings; psychosocial and cultural factors in food choice.
In-depth review of current knowledge and research on the biochemical and physiological aspects of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients; applications to diet.
This course provides an understanding of where and how food and nutrition services are delivered to further the national goal of healthy people in healthy communities and of the roles of nutrition professionals in providing these services. Nutrition services, both private and government-sponsored, will be the primary focus.
I’m excited for all of the classes, especially Food, Nutrition, and Behavior. I’m also glad that Community features a fieldwork requirement (it’ll be the first fieldwork I’ve done as a part of the program). As I mentioned on Sunday, I feel lucky to be learning material that fits so well with the work I love, and that continues to enhance my understanding of both nutrition and the food system.
To all of the students reading–college, grad school, lifelong learning, self-teaching, and more–I wish you a wonderful semester. And I hope that these oatcakes will be appealing to all of my busy readers as a quick, sweet, and nutritious option. I’ll see you this weekend for Weekend Reading!