Sunday Prep Work: almonds, soup and boatmeal

29 Nov

Dear Chocolate Covered Katie,

You are a genius.

But more on that in a moment.

Sunday was a really bizarre day for me. I rose around 8:00, got clean and dressed, and my taller half and I headed to his car. We were going to church, you see. Somehow I managed to hit the left side of my head so hard on the car that I spent the next six hours feeling like total crap. I actually worried that maybe I’d given myself a head injury. In addition to the head pain, my stomach hurt, I felt lightheaded, and I was seeing poorly out of my left eye. Luckily, by mid-afternoon, it faded, but it was a little frightening for a while.

I did, however, manage to get in some exercise – finally – following my ankle injury. We walked a little more than two miles at a moderate pace, which really helped to stretch the stiff muscles. Then I lifted some weights following this Self video. I modified it by using eight-pounders and by only doing two sets. It felt great.

And now, let’s talk about food preparation. Between the hours of 8:30 and 9:45 p.m., I accomplished the following:

  • Made a half batch of almond milk.
  • Roasted up some Mexican Chocolate Almonds.
  • Simmered a pot of Basic Lentil Soup.
  • Prepped the ingredients for a morning of Pumpkin Boatmeal.

Let’s go in order, skipping the almond milk ‘cause it’s nothin’ you ain’t seen here before.

My Week #3 contest winner is on a particular diet, so I couldn’t send her any of my old standbys. So I decided to try something new. Thus Mexican Chocolate Almonds were born.

  • 1 1/2 cups raw, unsalted almonds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare a lipped baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Rinse almonds in a colander to remove any residue. Put them in a medium bowl and top with oil, cocoa, cinnamon, cayenne, and salt. Mix well to combine. Roast on baking sheet for 5-7 minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned.

These would be great with a touch of maple syrup added with the oil and spices, but that was on the no-no list.

Next up is my incredibly easy Basic Lentil Soup.

  • 1 cup red or brown lentils, rinsed
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • 4 cups of liquid (I used 2 of low-sodium veggie broth and 2 of water, but you can use any combination of the two you want)
  • 2 bay leaves

Add all ingredients to a large pot and bring to a boil.

Then reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until lentils are tender, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove bay leaves and serve.

I accidentally overcooked mine slightly, so I added another cup of water at the very end to thin it out. I recommend just paying more attention. This soup is intentionally spice-less because I plan to doctor it up differently for dinner each night this week. I’ll share my variations with you.

And finally, I bring you the newest love of my life, Pumpkin Boatmeal ala Chocolate Covered Katie. Boatmeal is baked oatmeal, in case you aren’t a CCK reader (but, really, you should be!). I took her original recipe, quadrupled it to make enough for my whole work week, and then tweaked it slightly. Check out her post on making it for one. Here is my variation.

  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 1/3 cups canned pumpkin
  • 1 1/3 cups homemade almond milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375° F. Lightly spray an 8×8” baking pan with cooking spray. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Pour into baking dish and cook for 20 minutes. Makes four servings.

I scooped out a fourth into a bowl and sprinkled a tiny amount of vegan sugar on top. The sugar was completely unnecessary. The hint of maple syrup plus the natural sweetness of the pumpkin are enough. Seriously, this is one of the most delicious breakfast foods I’ve ever, ever, ever eaten. It has the heartiness of stovetop oatmeal, but baking it takes the texture and spices to a whole new level. Seriously, you must try this dish! Here it is emanating heavenly light:

To prep the ingredients for this morning, I combined the oats, cinnamon and salt into a zip-top bag. I then mixed the vanilla, maple syrup, pumpkin, and almond milk in a bowl. I placed a small piece of plastic wrap on the surface to keep the pumpkin from getting a weird texture and then covered the whole thing in foil before refrigerating it.

This morning, I preheated the oven, sprayed the baking dish, and mixed the oat mixture into the pumpkin mixture. It took longer for the oven to heat than to do the prep work. The rest of the week, I will reheat a serving at a time in the microwave. I will report back on how well it kept.

Do you do cooking prep work on the weekends? I like devoted a little bit of Sunday to getting things out of the way. Whenever I have something home cooked for lunches during the week, it’s almost always something I whipped up on Sunday following The Amazing Race.

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