caramelized figs and oats (plus a special announcement!)


Everyone knows that oatmeal is good for you, right? We read about it all the time as a healthy start-your-morning option: it's filling, it's got fiber, protein, whole grains. It's basically a superfood before anyone started using the (sort of dumb?) word "superfood" - if a food is inherently good for you, that's pretty super, right?


The only problem with naturally healthy foods is that it's really easy to immediately negate all that natural goodness by overdoing it on the sugar. And I'm just wondering, is anybody else tired of sugar? Don't get me wrong: I know it's goooood, and a little bit like crack in that just a little will leave you wanting a lot more. Not that I have any experience in the crack-field, but that's what I hear. But lately I've found myself standing in the kitchen wanting to make a meal or a snack and seriously wondering: what can I have that isn't sweet? Not because I've started hating that addictive taste or anything, but just because it seems like SO MUCH of our food is sweet. And it just seems to be the flavor profile that's overpowering everything else, mostly because these days there's added sugar in every. single. thing. Seriously: everything. Even though brownies and cookies are obvious (dessert, yes!), it's also found its way into our breakfast foods, breads, milks, sauces, salad dressings, etc. Simply savory is nearly a thing of the past.

So along with my exciting news (which I'll get to in just a second!), I wanted to celebrate with a new, simple take on oatmeal that is naturally sweetened with one of nature's most prized fruits: fresh figs! Never a better time to snag them, these beauties are wonderfully sweet in a way that feels virtuous and won't mess up your morning meal with a crash and burn.

But first, the news: I won Bob's Red Mill 4th Annual Spar for the Spurtle contest! WHAT. I've never won anything like this and I am SO, SO excited! I'm pretty sure when I opened the email I thought it was a joke, and then I just started yelling nonsensical phrases to cute Colin like:

"BABY. I WON. FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS. WHAT. THE WIN. I. WHAT?" Insert more insane gibberish here.

And then I danced around the apartment a little bit and said I was going to buy jewels. Which is, of course, completely untrue. I splurged on two books and the new Counting Crows album, which my heart already belongs to, and I'm thinking about getting one of these bad boys. Will our kitchen ever be complete? We surely have NO space left, not since the juicer, the waffle maker and the extra-large salad spinner came into the picture, but supersmoothies and creamy soups are calling my name!

So a huge, massive thank you to all the wonderful folks at Bob's Red Mill! It's surely one of my favorite companies, food or otherwise, and I'm honored to have been chosen. My recipe will get to represent Bob's Red Mill at the 21st World Porridge Making Championship in Scotland: Go team! You can check out my winning recipe here.

So for this simple, celebratory recipe, you will need:

1 cup of Bob's Red Mill quick-cook steel cut oats
2 cups of unsweetened almond milk (an almond-coconut combo is also great)
A pinch of sea salt
A pinch of brown sugar (just a little, of course!)
2 tablespoons butter (or, if vegan, organic Earth Balance works great)
12-15 black mission figs, de-stemmed and halved (any variety will work as long as they are super ripe!)
Chopped walnuts or pecans, optional

Begin by preparing your oats according to the package instructions using the almond milk and salt. Once the milk is heated, this option will take about 7-10 minutes to cook through, so get that going while you work on taking your figs from great to glorious.

In a small cast iron skillet, melt your butter or Earth Balance over medium heat. Once liquified, add your pinch of brown sugar and swirl together. Place your figs slice-side down into the melty butter (or Earth Balance) and sugar. Let them caramelize and crust up for about 7-10 minutes. Try your best to resist taking a peek at what's going on underneath; trust me, it's alllll good. If you're worried about burning or have a slightly uneven stovetop, you can rotate the pan about halfway through.

After they've gone all golden and lovely on one side and your oats are just finishing up, scoop your oatmeal into hefty, beautiful bowls. I feel like this is a must in the morning. I like my bowl of oatmeal so heavy that it takes both hands to hold up, you know? This recipe serves about 3-4 moderately hungry people, but we made do with just the two of us. Top each serving with a generous portion of figs and drizzle with the remaining caramel from the pan. Add your nuts, if using, and try not to make this every day of the week until fig season is over. Here's betting you can't.

Thank you again to Bob's Red Mill for inspiring me to eat healthy and well without sacrificing what tastes great: you rock!

For more information on the contest (you know, so you can enter next year), go here.