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!
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
- Combine the oats, milk, salt and vanilla bean seeds in a medium pot. Bring to a boil.
- 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.
- Pour the oatmeal into a bowl. Top with a few tablespoons of Greek yogurt and a pour of maple syrup.
- Arrange the blood orange slices on the side and sprinkle cacao nibs and coconut flakes over the mixture. Dig in while hot!