I love the inspiration I get at farmers’ markets when looking down rows of fresh fruits and vegetables piled neatly on tables and stacked in nostalgic baskets. It makes me want to eat healthy foods, cook healthy foods, and share them with family and friends.
It is always a sad day for me when my local farmers’ market ends for the fall/winter season. The first year, I thought “Really? No more Saturday markets? Where will I get food?”. Being thrust back into the reality of grocery store shopping I am reminded every year about the seasonality of food and how it can be beneficial to incorporate varieties of food for a variety of nutrients. Some summers it seems I could eat my weight in summer berries, but I would miss out of the nutrients in sweet potatoes, cabbage, or apples.
Yummmm. Apples! They have been my farmers’ market swan song this year. Ever since I was in Seattle a few weeks ago for the International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC), I have been slightly obsessed with apples. I am totally
blaming thanking Chaz at Frank’s Quality Produce in Seattle for my obsession. Whenever I’m in Seattle, I am drawn like a moth to a flame to the famed Pike Place Market. On a slightly drizzled Sunday morning during the weekend of IFBC, I made my way to Pike Place Market just in time to see the hustle and bustle of vendors stocking their supply and smell the welcoming aroma of coffee and breakfast bellowing from small cafes. After waiting in an already building line for a perfect cup of latte at Le Panier and taking in the sights of seemingly endless rows of flowers and comical mounds of fish, I headed to my usual stop – Frank’s Quality Produce.
I had been to Frank’s a few weeks prior with my family and Chaz was quick to remember my face. Unlike your neighborhood grocery, Chaz knows everything about the produce for sale and is quick to slice open a sample to seal the deal. He knows that one bite and you are sold. He is no sneaky salesman though, Chaz wants to know which foods you like, when you intend on preparing the food, and can give even suggestions on how to prepare items if you are unsure.
I left with a bag-full of treasure to take home to my family later than day, but not before loading up on a bunch of Honeycrisp apples. Now, this variety can get spendy but it is, in my mind, an absolutely delicacy to bite into their perfect balance of crispness and juiciness. I had to buy an extra one to snack on during my car ride back to Portland later that day.
While I can hardly keep enough apples in my house for snacking (it’s amazing how kids and husbands gravitate to the convenience of a fruit bowl on a kitchen counter), I had to play around with ways to use the bounty of fall apples in my cooking. While they can be incorporated easily in any meal or snack, I like to start my day with this simple recipe. The cinnamon provides extra antioxidants and tricks your brain into “sensing” sweetness without the need for added sweeteners. The apples are another perfect source of natural sweetness and crunch along with the walnuts. Walnuts provide a little protein too, which makes this dish satisfying and comforting all in one bowl. It takes mere minutes to make and sadly maybe less to consume. Savor each bite.
Warm Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of old-fashioned oats
1/2 apple, chopped (Honeycrisp is preferred, but any other firm, sweet variety like Gala or Fuji work well too)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup of skim milk (optional – but I love the combination of cold milk and hot oatmeal added just before eating!)
Prepare oatmeal per instructions, by adding oats to boiling water in a small pot over medium heat. When the oatmeal is nearly the preferred consistency, add apples and stir. (The less time you cook oatmeal with the apples, the more crisp the apples will remain – no one likes a mushy apple.) Remove from the heat and add the cinnamon and walnuts. Stir to combine and serve in a bowl. Pour milk over oatmeal (don’t stir) and enjoy immediately.
Makes 1 serving (so feel free to double the recipe)