Blood Orange, Coconut and Vanilla Oatmeal

A thousand opening sentences preceded this one. Every time my fingers typed out a few words, I immediately deleted them. It was as if the things I wanted to write somehow got lost in the space between my mind and my hands.
So I guess I’ll just write the damn thing. I’m having jaw surgery this Wednesday. It’s been a long, two year lead up to it, and it’s a little surreal that it’s finally happening.
It’s a big ordeal. I’m expecting pain and discomfort. But I’m also really excited. The whole thing has been heavily occupying my head space for the past couple of month; I had endless appointments, suffered let-downs as things got pushed off and rescheduled and honestly, spent a good portion of the year wanting to  just curl up and hide. I haven’t spoken about it much on here, but it’s had a pretty serious impact on my year.
The one upside to this whole thing has been the perspective shift I’ve acquired. While I spoke to family and friends about it, I don’t think most people knew what a mental toll it all was taking on me. Even on this space here, I kept quiet about it, wanting to only portray the bright parts of my life. It made me realize how many people struggle with things we never hear about. I’m learning to treat everyone around me with more compassion. We’re all going through something.
Anyways, I’m so relieved to finally be at this stage that despite the stresses involved with the surgery and the recovery process, I’m mostly just eager to have it happen.
After the surgery, I’ll be on a liquid/blended/soft foods diet for approximately two months. That means lots of yogurt, smoothies, soups and protein shakes. As long as it doesn’t involve any chewing, I’m good. Since I know I’ll get sick of sweet things pretty quickly, I’ve been trying to think of some creative ideas for soft savory foods- so far, tomato soup and mashed potatoes thinned with lots of milk and butter are all I’ve been able to come up with. If any of you have any ideas for me (or any tips or stories about similar experiences), I’d love to hear them!
In preparation for the surgery, I’ve been eating lots of Vitamin C. I’m eating grapefruits every day, and although I don’t like oranges, I do love blood oranges, which are smaller, a little sour, and in season now. My local grocery carries them, so I’ve been eating them and putting them on nearly everything, including this oatmeal.
Oatmeal is one of my favorite things to have for breakfast. The way I make it- by bringing the milk and the oats to a boil together, and then thickening the mixture with a little coconut oil, yields a bowl of the smoothest, creamiest oatmeal imaginable. Here, I infused it with vanilla bean seeds and topped it with tangy Greek yogurt, woodsy maple syrup, and toasted coconut flakes. The vibrant and juicy blood orange slices added wonderful freshness and texture, and a hearty sprinkling of cacao nibs brought a little dark chocolate complexity.
It’s indulgent, it’s quick- taking ten minutes, at most- and it’s one of my favorite ways to get creative with flavors. Even when I switch up the toppings, I always follow this basic method, and it yields pretty stellar results. (Some of my other favorite toppings are chopped nuts, warmed blueberries and sauteed apples.)
Whether you’re used to gluey instant oatmeal or if dressing up your morning bowl is a constant source of enjoyment, I recommend trying this. It’s flavorful, textured, and a far cry from the austere oats of the past.
I hope to be back here soon, writing and posting as usual. Until then, adios amigos!

Blood Orange, Coconut and Vanilla Oatmeal

Yields: one serving (double the recipe for two)

Why I love this recipe: bringing the milk and the oats to a boil together makes this oatmeal lusciously creamy, and coconut oil adds a rich smoothness. The blood orange, yogurt, coconut and cacao nib toppings add sweet, tangy, and slightly bitter flavors, making this a very sophisticated breakfast bowl.

Variation: substitute 1/2 a grapefruit for the blood orange. Or, if you don’t like coconut, substitute an equal amount of butter for the coconut oil and sprinkle chopped pistachios on in place of the coconut flakes.

For the oatmeal: 

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped, pod reserved for another use
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

For the toppings: 

  • 1 blood orange, supremed
  • cacao nibs, for topping
  • Greek yogurt, for topping
  • maple syrup
  • toasted coconut flakes, for topping
  1. Combine the oats, milk, salt and vanilla bean seeds in a medium pot. Bring to a boil.
  2. Once boiling, lower the heat to medium, add in the coconut oil and maple syrup and stir continuously for 5 minutes over the medium flame.
  3. Pour the oatmeal into a bowl. Top with a few tablespoons of Greek yogurt and a pour of maple syrup.
  4. Arrange the blood orange slices on the side and sprinkle cacao nibs and coconut flakes over the mixture. Dig in while hot!

Blood Orange, Coconut and Vanilla Oatmeal

Blood Orange, Coconut and Vanilla Oatmeal

Blood Orange, Coconut and Vanilla Oatmeal

Blood Orange, Coconut and Vanilla Oatmeal

Blood Orange, Coconut and Vanilla Oatmeal

4 responses to “Blood Orange, Coconut and Vanilla Oatmeal”

  1. I love the photo of all the ingredients. I’m experimenting with oats these days too. This recipe looks so great and is perfect comfort food. It’s really refreshing sometimes to hear someone open up. I do believe there’s value in focusing on the shinier aspects of life, but like you said it unintentionally projects a one sided issue. I’m constantly struggling with things and use the blog as a great way to escape and connect. I’m sure I’ll open up about some things some times and I do so between the lines sometimes but I really appreciate this post. Good luck with everything. You’re beautiful now and will be beautiful after too. Very exciting but always scary. I also think that when it’s done you’ll realize how much growth and maturity came from ensuring something others didn’t have to endure. It’ll be a strength of character to fall back on and a point of reference as you grow. Often your perceived greatest weakness is also a strength and you don’t realize it until later. I’m very excited for you and inspired that you’re sharing. Thank you. You’re awesome. Xo

    • Amanda, thank you so much for your comment. Your support really means a lot to me!
      I too think that there is a big, big value on focusing on the positive- and on privacy, as well. I purposely kept my blog “shinier” because I mostly wanted it as a space to focus on food- I didn’t intend for my blog to be a personal story telling space. Privacy is also really important to me- I didn’t want to over share and say something I’d regret later. But with this I decided that it’s such a big part of my life that I’m just going to go for honesty. I was surprised to find that I was scared to publish this post- scared of sounding whiney, scared of people’s reactions, scared of getting too personal. I thought, did I write too much? Too little? But it’s actually been cathartic and people have had such kind and sweet responses! And you’re so right about it being a point of reference to fall back on. Going through things like this really makes people stronger. You end developing a really strong, positive mental attitude that helps so much in life.
      I hope to be back and updating this blog as soon as possible! Until then, be well and I hope you’re enjoying the nice weather we’ve been having in NY lately!
      xoxo Chaya

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