Vegan Chocolatey Oat Lactation Cookies

DSC_0426They say “don’t ever cry over spilled milk”. Well whomever “they” are, have never spilled hard-earned breast milk! Any moms can agree, breast milk is like liquid gold; never to be thrown out, wasted, nor involved in a tragic accidental spillage. I recently gave birth to my first baby, our darling daughter Presley Rose. I have been exclusively breast feeding her and in doing so, also preparing myself for my return to work in about six more weeks. I have been trying to create a freezer stock pile of pumped breast milk for those days I will be away from her in the next coming months. I was in the midst of pouring some breast milk into a freezer storage bag when it toppled over and spilled all over the counter top. What a tragedy. I literally cried tears. Real tears! I’m sure it was a mixture of the hormones, the sleepless nights, and the utter disbelief of what had just occurred but it was a sad, sad moment. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say breast feeding is no joke. It’s an indescribable gift that is not only the most rewarding but can also be incredibly frustrating for those of us who have a bit of trouble producing milk. It’s an all-consuming task that feels especially gratifying yet can be quite exhausting. If there’s any advice that I could give another new mother, who’s about to embark on this unbelievable journey, it would be to just be patient. Breast feeding is hard. It’s not as effortless as one might think; it can be painful, pretty demanding, and down right laborious. With that being said, every minute of it is infinitely worth it. So, please, don’t give up! I’ve had a pretty difficult time producing any “extra” milk when it comes time to pump for my freezer reserves. I am (what feels like) constantly nursing her all day so when I try to express any milk I seem to have only been getting about 1-1.5 ounces on each breast. It’s frustrating because I have watched girlfriends pump an entire 5 ounce bottle in one sitting. I began to wonder why I couldn’t fill a bottle like these “Milk Maid” friends of mine and started on a little research. There is a lot of help out there and it is not uncommon for women with newborns to not be able to pump a giant backup surplus. It takes practice, diligence, time, and sometimes a little help through vitamins and minerals. While I was researching what I could change in my diet to assist in the formulation of breast milk, I found a few recipes for “lactation cookies”. What a genius idea!

Lactation cookies work because of a few key ingredients; Brewers yeast, oats, and flax. All have been proven to show great effects on women’s ability to produce more breast milk. The brewers yeast is a wonderful addition to these cookies: it gives a nutty flavor while also adding B vitamins, iron, protein and trace minerals (all of which are essential in generating breast milk). Oats have long been recommended to nursing mothers as they positively affect the hormones that in-turn affect the milk supply. Flax contains plant-based phytoestrogens that mimic real estrogen and is also composed of tons of fiber. The best part is, that all three of these ingredients combined into a perfect little cookie are beyond delicious! I found a lactation cookie recipe from How Sweet Eats and adapted a vegan version of her cookies. I wanted a plant-based healthier rendition that would be just as tasty, and I have to say, I nailed it! They are gooey little chocolatey wonders that anyone would enjoy! Seriously, you don’t have to be a lactating woman to get down on these cookies! All those wholesome ingredients are not only good for mothers but for men, women, and children alike. Make them as soon as you can and share them with family, friends, and especially those new mommy pals of yours!

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Vegan Chocolatey Oat Lactation Cookies

Yields 36


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Total Time
1 hr

Total Time
1 hr

For the Flax-Egg
  1. 3 TBSP flaxmeal
  2. 1/2 cup warm water
For the Cookies
  1. 2 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  2. 1 3/4 cups unbleached whole-wheat flour
  3. 5 tablespoons brewers yeast
  4. 1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  5. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  6. 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  7. 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  8. 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  9. 1 cup unrefined organic virgin coconut oil (in solid form at room temperature)
  10. 1 cup organic cane sugar
  11. 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  12. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  13. 2 TBPS organic almond butter (I used organic salted almond butter, but unsalted works too)
  14. 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips/chunks (use vegan chips if needed)
Instructions
  1. Make the flax eggs: Add the flax meal and warm water in a small bowl and let sit for 5 minutes or until it becomes semi-thick and a bit congealed.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients: Combine the oats, whole-wheat flour, brewers yeast, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Whisk with a fork to combine.
  3. Mix the wet ingredients: In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, add the room-temperature coconut oil and both sugars and mix for a few minutes or until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla and almond butter and mix until just combined. Add the flax eggs and whisk to combine. Slowly add in the flour mixture (in about 3 batches) and mix until just combined together, do not over mix (or your cookies will become dense and cake-like). Fold in the semi-sweet chocolate chunks. Place the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes (cooling the dough helps the coconut oil come back together, and yields a lighter fluffier cookie. If you skip this step the cookies will come out super flat and crumbly). Preheat the oven to 350 and line two large rimmed baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper.
  4. Once the dough is cooled, scoop out 1″ rounds, or use an ice cream scoop for even measures, and place twelve rounds on the first baking sheet. Place the rest of the dough back in the fridge while the first batch bakes. Bake for 12 minutes or until cookies are light and golden brown (mine still looked a bit undercooked when I pulled them out but they continue to cook when removed from the oven for a bit and cool perfectly). Bake two more batches of 12 cookie dough rounds or until all the dough is used up (placing the dough left in the mixing bowl back in the fridge each time one of the sheets is in the oven). Enjoy!
Notes
  1. Brewers yeast can be found at Whole Foods Markets or other health food stores. I bought mine on Amazon.
  2. It is super important to chill the dough before baking and to keep the dough in the fridge while each cookie batch bakes. The first time I tried these cookies I did not allow the dough to cool and ended up with flat crumbly cookies that were a big mess.
Adapted from How Sweet Eats
Adapted from How Sweet Eats
HONEYED HOME http://www.honeyedhome.com/

Citrus Almond Pancakes w/ Honey Yogurt Sauce

DSC_0372I am officially on maternity leave!  Less than three weeks until our due date and I am bursting at the seams with excitement. I am as ready as I could ever be (I think). Maternity leave is a funny thing. Actually, it’s really kind of strange. You would think I would be delighted in the fact that I am now on somewhat of a vacation but the thing is, it doesn’t really feel like a vacation. You can’t go anywhere (far),  and you don’t really want to either. You feel like you should be doing all the things you might not get to do for a very long time, since you are about to have a tiny human, but then, at the same time, you want to relax and try to find some happiness in the stillness. To be honest, this whole “not working thing” for a few weeks before baby is kind of torturous. It feels like you might just explode because you can literally count every minute of every day that goes by, all the while thinking “is this it?” “was that a contraction?” “is this supposed to be happening?” “did my water just break?” “oh, wait, I just pee’d a little?”. In reality, it’s  pretty hilarious. Since this is my first time, I have so many questions, so many thoughts and so much anticipation. I am sure the next time around I won’t be so melodramatic about all this. But for now, this is what I am dealing with, and apparently I felt that you needed to know. So, thank you for listening. 

Apart from all this waiting-for-baby, I have a new recipe to share! I actually was reached out to by Nuts.com to share some recipe that included almonds. I had also been craving a new healthy breakfast that I could make at home and figured pancakes made with almond meal was definitely going to do the trick! Almond meal is an incredible substitution for flour when cooking and baking because it is high in protein, low in carbohydrates and low in sugar. Nuts.com actually features a ton of almond products and I love using their organic almond flour in a lot of my cooking. I had been wanting to make almond-meal pancakes for quite some time after making Sprouted Kitchen’s gluten-free Lemon Pancakes. I adapted this recipe from hers and it came out incredible! If you are going to make gluten-free pancakes, these are the ones you should be eating. I normally am for all the glutens and all the flours, but in this case, you wouldn’t even miss it for a second. The real key to fluffy pancakes without using flour are the egg whites. In this recipe, we separate the egg whites from the yolks, and beat the whites until soft peaks form. We slowly fold in the egg whites to the batter and this keeps the pancakes light and airy, which is usually difficult when using gluten-free flours. The honeyed yogurt sauce is also a perfect pairing for the citrus topping. Oh, and speaking of citrus, if you want to learn how to segment citrus in a beautiful and attractive way, watch this video: “How to Segment an Orange”. Trust me on this, you are going to want to make it look pretty! Because after-all, we eat with our eyes first and presentation really is everything! Enjoy, friends! 

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Citrus Almond Pancakes w/ Honey Yogurt Sauce

Serves 4


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Prep Time
20 min

Cook Time
25 min

Total Time
45 min

Prep Time
20 min

Cook Time
25 min

Total Time
45 min

Pancakes

Dry Ingredients
  1. 1/3 cup almond flour (or almond meal)
  2. 1/3 cup coconut flour
  3. 1/2 cup rolled oats (or already-made oat flour)
  4. 1 tsp baking powder
  5. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  6. 1/8 tsp salt
  7. 2 TBSP cane sugar
Wet Ingredients
  1. 2 eggs, separated from their whites
  2. 1/2 cup milk
  3. 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  4. 1/2 tsp vanilla
  5. 1 TBSP blood orange zest
  6. 1 TBSP coconut oil, melted (plus more for cooking in the pan)
Honey Yogurt Sauce
  1. 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  2. juice of 1 Meyer lemon
  3. 2 tsp honey
Citrus Topping
  1. 2-3 blood oranges, segmented
  2. 1 grapefruit, segmented
For the Citrus Segments
  1. Watch the video mentioned above to learn how to segment your citrus. Place all the segments in a bowl and into the fridge until it is time to serve.
For the Honey Yogurt Sauce
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk. Leave out on the counter until ready to serve. (Serving at room temperature is best so that it doesn’t cool down the pancakes too much).
For the Pancakes
  1. Make the oat flour by meausuring 1/2 cup rolled oats and adding them to a blender or food processor and processing until a fine flour has formed. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and whisk with a fork to combine.
  3. Place the egg whites into the bowl of your stand mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks with the yogurt, milk, vanilla, coconut oil and blood orange zest. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well. Slowly and gently, fold in the egg whites (do not roughly stir: this will cause the egg whites to break down!).
  5. Turn your oven on the lowest setting it will go (150-170). Place a cooling rack onto a baking sheet and place into the oven. In a frying pan, heat about 1 TBSP of coconut oil over medium heat. Pour about 1/4 cup batter into the pan. Make the pancakes one at a time, continuing to be sure there is just enough oil that they don’t stick. Cook for a few minutes on each side and golden brown. Repeat with remaining batter (should make about 12 small pancakes). Add the cooked pancakes to the baking sheet that is in the oven to keep the pancakes warm while you finish the rest of the batter. Once all the batter is finished, stack the pancakes, drizzle with honey yogurt sauce, and top with segmented citrus. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. If you want regular pancakes (not gluten-free) just substitute 1 cup of regular flour for all the flours used here.
Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen’s Lemon Pancakes w/ Yogurt + Berries
HONEYED HOME http://www.honeyedhome.com/

Honey-Nut Banana Muffins + A Note For My Daughter

DSC_0190Things are becoming increasingly exciting over here! I am over the moon for the fact that there is only 6 weeks left until we get to meet our baby girl. We have been pretty busy getting ready for her arrival; we have just started decorating her nursery, we scheduled our hospital tour, researched pediatricians, and of course registered for all her baby goods for the upcoming baby shower. Every day is filled with a task that allows us to become one step closer to her big debut; her birthday. I am often overwhelmed at the thought. Do I have everything organized for her? Are we well-enough equipped? Will I be prepared for all that she will demand? I guess we will find out soon enough…and the answer is probably ‘no’ to all those things. But, in reality, I don’t even care. I can’t wait to figure it all out with her in my arms. To struggle and scramble to identify what exactly she needs and what we need as a family. I am so delighted to learn about her and what she will be like. Will she be like me? Determined and organized, but sometimes too stubborn? Or will she be like her father? Patient, incredibly creative, an eternal night-owl? Truthfully, it won’t even matter. I ultimately just want her to know that I am here. I am here with open-arms to endure strife, to conquer fears, and to find happiness, harmony, and balance. I wish for her to understand that I will always be reachable, no matter what. I can’t honestly believe how much I love her already. How could you fall so deeply in love with someone you’ve never met? It’s such a beautiful thing and I am so lucky to be her mom. 

With all this getting-ready-for-baby work going on, I have learned so much from friends, family, and well, just anyone who loves to start up a conversation with a pregnant lady. So much advice has been thrown my way: “sleep now”, “enjoy the silence”, “spend quality time with your husband”, “pamper yourself while you can”, “take naps”, “sleep in!”…. I have accepted the fact that in about a month and half, I will be a sleep deprived zombie with ugly nails and no time for my partner. But, with all the “advice” comes a lot of encouragement and guidance. One of my favorites is to have plenty of things stocked up in the freezer for the first few weeks after baby comes home. I have a feeling that I am going to use up all our time in learning about how to mother a newborn and that figuring out what’s for dinner will be the last thing on my mind. I am excited to share a few of my favorite “freezer” recipes in the next upcoming blog posts for all the other soon-to-be mamas out there. Just another thing we can do to slightly prepare ourselves for what is ahead. Plus, we don’t need starving babies and starving husbands on our hands. That could very well be disastrous. 

The first “freezer” recipe I wanted to share were these muffins. They are so incredibly delicious, so easy to make, and über healthy. They only require 1 bowl (hooray for less dishes!) and are made with whole-wheat flour, oat bran, and naturally sweetened with honey and maple syrup. Talk about a complete breakfast. The recipe yields about 20 muffins, so I often freeze 12 for a later use, and keep about 6-8 of them in the pantry for immediate consumption. When you are ready to pull them out of the freezer, simply put the muffin in the toaster oven or microwave for a couple minutes until warmed through! 

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Honey-Nut Banana Muffins

Serves 20


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Prep Time
10 min

Cook Time
27 min

Total Time
37 min

Prep Time
10 min

Cook Time
27 min

Total Time
37 min

Ingredients
  1. 4 large extra-ripe organic bananas
  2. 4 organic large eggs
  3. 2/3 cup melted coconut oil
  4. 1/2 cup clover honey
  5. 1/2 cup organic maple syrup
  6. 1/4 cup of milk of your choice (low-fat, non-fat, non-dairy)
  7. 1 tsp vanilla
  8. 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  9. 1.5 cups toasted oat bran
  10. 1 tsp sea salt
  11. 1 tsp cinnamon
  12. 2 tsp baking soda
  13. 2/3 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325. Line a regular muffin tin with paper muffin cups (I buy the unbleached chlorine-free liners off Amazon).
  2. In a large bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork. Add the eggs, oil, honey, maple syrup, milk, and vanilla and whisk to combine. To the same bowl, add the whole-wheat flour, oat bran, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda and mix until just combined with a spatula. Using an ice cream scoop (for even measure) or a large spoon, spoon the batter into lined muffin tray. Fill the batter almost to the top of each cup. Sprinkle a few of the chopped walnuts on top of each muffin. Bake for 25-28 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Notes
  1. I only have one regular sized muffin tin so I bake these in two batches.
  2. To freeze: once the muffins are completely cooled (make sure they are or else they release moisture into the bag which causes ice to form and therefore creates freezer burn) place them into a gallon sized ziplock bag, suck all the air out, seal them and date them. Freeze for up to 3 months!
HONEYED HOME http://www.honeyedhome.com/

Chickpea & Kale Hearty Minestrone

DSC_0306I have a strong affinity for making soups. I love that it all comes together in one pot and that there are endless possibilities, all stewing and simmering together whilst melding flavors and spices. It’s always a sure thing. A healthy dinner that feeds a crowd is something never to be to taken for granted. Especially this time of year; when you can get all cozy, throw on your comfies and make a big hearty pot of wholesomeness and warmth. It’s just too good! Am I right??  Well to add to my ever growing soup repertoire, I have made my version of the classic minestrone. I love the added chickpeas (for protein and heartiness), the kale (for extra nutritiousness) and of course all the tender veggies for the standard nourishment. All the flavors are there in this adaptation of the time-honored vegetable soup and it is my pleasure to share it with you and your family. Enjoy! DSC_0301

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Chickpea & Kale Hearty Minestrone

Serves 6


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Cook Time
45 min

Total Time
50 min

Cook Time
45 min

Total Time
50 min

Ingredients
  1. 3 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  2. 1 large yellow onion, diced
  3. 3 organic carrots, sliced
  4. 3 organic celery stalks, sliced
  5. 1 leek, sliced and washed in a fine mesh sieve (to remove any dirt between layers)
  6. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  7. 2 small organic zucchini, sliced
  8. .5lb fresh green beans, ends trimmed off and cut in half
  9. salt & pepper
  10. 3 bay leaves
  11. 1.5 tsps dried thyme
  12. 1 tsp dried oregano
  13. .5 tsp red pepper flakes
  14. 2 (28oz) cans crushed plum tomatoes
  15. 32 oz carton low sodium vegetable stock
  16. 1 (15oz) can organic garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  17. 1.5 cups ditalini (or any other tiny pasta you like) (for gluten free option see note)
  18. 3 cups organic kale, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped
  19. 1 french baguette, sliced on the diagonal, for as many toasts as you need for serving
  20. shaved parmesan cheese for toasts
  21. flat-leaf italian parsley for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a large stock pot, add the olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté for about 5 minutes until soft. Add the carrots, celery, leek, and garlic. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Cook the veggies for another 5 minutes until soft.
  2. Add the sliced zucchini and the chopped green beans. Add the bay leaves, thyme, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Add another teaspoon of salt and .5 teaspoon of pepper. Cook for a few minutes.
  3. Add the canned tomatoes, the chickpeas, and the veggie stock. Stir to combine and then cover and turn the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Once the 20 minutes is up, add the dried pasta straight into the stockpot and cook pasta for 10 minutes or until done. Turn off the heat. Remove the bay leaves (they usually float to the top). Add the chopped kale and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings (I added another .5 tsp salt here). Serve immediately with parmesan toasts and parsley.
  5. *For the Parmesan Toasts: drizzle one side of a french baguette slice with olive oil. Place in the toaster oven for a few minutes until toasted. Remove and add the slices shaved parmesan and place back in the toaster oven for about 1 minute or until the cheese is just melted.
Notes
  1. If you want a hearty gluten-free option in place of the pasta, use 1/2 cup dried quinoa instead. Add the dried quinoa straight to the stockpot but cook a bit longer than you would pasta (about 15 minutes until quinoa is tender).
HONEYED HOME http://www.honeyedhome.com/

Holiday Nog Oatmeal + Guide To The Best Oats Every Time

DSC_0224I am one of those people that really just jumps in head first to all things Christmas during this time of year. I can’t help it!! I love decorating our home, trimming the tree, and putting up the lights and I never forget to do so while listening to the Holiday hits next to a lit fire. My husband always laughs because I bust out all of our Christmas movies the first day of December just to get us in the spirit. He probably thinks I am a little overboard, but I think it’s just the right amount of cheer. I cherish all the Christmas nostalgia close to my heart and I can not wait until next year to share it all with our little baby girl. Another tradition we usually imbibe in, is holiday egg nog brandy cocktails while adorning the tree. This year, I didn’t partake, for obvious reasons (by the way, this preggo lady is so ready for any kind of libation! Just 2.5 more months!). Although, I didn’t sip a Holiday Nog cocktail (sad), I still was able to enjoy all the flavors because I made this oatmeal. It is seriously one of the best (super easy and healthy) festive breakfasts I have had in a while. The most important part of this recipe, that I hope you take with you for the rest of your oat-cooking life, is the step-by-step guide to making perfect oats every single time. Now, I did not come up with this method, but after I learned it I have never strayed. The tip to this perfect oatmeal comes from Megan Gordon, author of the book “Whole Grain Mornings” and the blog “A Sweet Spoonful”. I have followed her blog for a few years now and am always inspired by her recipes. Her book is one of my go-to’s when making breakfast in my home because I am always looking for hearty and healthy twists on classic dishes. If you don’t already own her book you should go out and get it now or at least add it to your Christmas list. So what are these perfect oatmeal tips and tricks, you ask? Well I have listed them here, concisely, so that you will never forget:

1. Always toast the oats first. The toasting brings out the nuttiness of the oats (and nuttiness = flavor). 

2. Use a big pot when toasting the oats. The bigger the pot the more room the oats have to spread out and cook evenly. 

3. When you have added the milk and water and everything is boiling together, only stir the mixture once or twice. Stirring the oatmeal too frequently breaks those fragile little oats up and they become gummy. Gross. 

4. Turning the heat off, covering the pot, and letting the oats soak up the liquid without disturbing them for 7 minutes allows them to stay in tact and to cook to perfection. 

Sounds pretty simple, right?? Well it is! It’s pretty great because it is a hands-off recipe that is perfect for those busy mornings! I made a few adjustments to her recipe; like making sure to brown the butter before adding the oats (more flavor!) and then doing all the cooking in the one pot (because I am a hater of washing dishes) and the oats still came out just as great.  I also altered the flavors to make it holiday worthy and so that I could indulge in that nog I had been craving! I hope you love this recipe as much as I do! Enjoy! 

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Holiday Nog Oatmeal

Serves 2


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Prep Time
5 min

Cook Time
7 min

Total Time
12 min

Prep Time
5 min

Cook Time
7 min

Total Time
12 min

Ingredients
  1. 1 TBSP unsalted butter
  2. 1 cup rolled oats
  3. 1/4 cup holiday nog (see note*) (or any milk or nut milk of your choice), plus more for serving
  4. generous pinch of salt
  5. pinch ground cinnamon
  6. 3/4 cup + 1 TBSP water
  7. 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  8. 1/4 cup raw pistachio nutmeats (slivered almonds or toasted pepitas are also great!)
  9. fresh berries or brown sugar, for serving
Instructions
  1. 1. Brown the butter; in a large saucepan, add the butter over medium heat. Let melt and cook until a brown hue is visible (about 5 minutes). Add the oats and toast over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they begin to smell fragrant and nutty for about 5-7 minutes.
  2. 2. Add the water, the 1/4 milk (nog), salt, and cinnamon. Stir the oats into the liquid TWICE (careful not to stir the oats too much). Cover the pot and turn off the heat. Allow the oats to sit for 7 minutes untouched. Don’t peek. Don’t stir. After the 7 minutes, uncover and serve immediately. Serve the oats with a splash more holiday nog (or milk), the dried cranberries, pistachios, and berries. Enjoy!
  3. Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for about 5 days. Reheat with a bit more liquid as the oats tend to dry out a bit.
Notes
  1. I am absolutely in love with Califia Farms Almond Milk Holiday Nog. You can find it at Whole Foods or Hanson’s Market. Any non-dairy nog would work though; there is a delicious coconut milk nog that you can find at most grocery stores. I have not tried these oats with real egg nog, although I would imagine it would be a bit heavier and more rich, yet still delicious! If you are making these oats any other time through out the year, substitute the nog for your favorite milk or nut milk!
Adapted from Megan Gordon- Whole Grain Mornings
HONEYED HOME http://www.honeyedhome.com/