Start the New Year Right: Carrot Cake Oatmeal

It’s January 1st, so naturally my Comcast homepage is flashing photos of scales and headlines that promise the one crash diet that really will work. I’m really not a resolution scrooge, I swear – I think that if the clean slate and promise of a new year are enough to motivate you to make the changes you’ve been trying to make, then by all means, go for it. But too often people set goals that are just a bit too out of reach, and it sets themselves up for failure. I set a lofty goal last year – finding the perfect sugar cookie recipe and perfecting the art of decorating them with royal icing – but even though I wound up needing a little bit of an extension on that last one, I’m still proud of my progress. So, this year I have three resolutions:

  1. Continue improving upon my cookie decorating skills.
  2. Finally finish that banana bread recipe I've been working on (and I'm so close!).
  3. Find at least one thing to be thankful for each and every day in 2012.
There are lots more things I could be working on, but those I think are attainable for me, and small steps in the direction I need to be going. I also won’t hesitate to add smaller goals throughout the year as I encounter them, because as easy as it is to use the start of a new year to try something new, it’s not the only time.

What about you? Do you have any goals? If any of them have anything to do with eating a little bit healthier, I think this recipe is a good one today for you. Rather than focusing on all of the things you can’t or shouldn’t or won’t eat in 2012, why not focus on all of the delicious things you can eat? Positivity can help a person stick to a resolution much more, well, resolutely, than negativity can, and it can often be easier to change a diet based on adding healthier things rather than removing the not so healthy things. Both kind of have to happen eventually, but it’s nice to start with additions to keep those pesky feelings of deprivation at bay.

This carrot cake oatmeal certainly won’t leave you feeling deprived, though, and you can forget about guilt over enjoying it. I ate it for a filling but healthier dessert one night, but it would make a great meal any time of the day. Oatmeal is one of those foods that dietitians love to promote because it has fiber and bulk to tide you over to the next meal and carry some of those unwanted molecules like fats and cholesterol out of your system, and you have the option of mixing in any number of healthy “extras” like low-fat dairy (or dairy alternatives), fruit, and even veggies, as you can see from this recipe here. Now, I think I’d decrease the sugar next time – it was suspiciously sweet, and a full tablespoon of brown sugar to start the day is a little heavy, if you ask me. But all in all, it was very reminiscent of a carrot cake…well, without the cream cheese flavors from the frosting. If you want, try making it with all water instead of half milk, and then swirl in some light cream cheese at the end. It isn’t a super low calorie recipe – I calculated it to be around 340 calories, which is perfect for a small-medium meal but a little high for just a snack. Consider halving it if you want a little something sweet between actual meals, or going with the full recipe for a more substantial serving.

Carrot Cake Oatmeal, adapted from Something to Chew Over
Yield: 1 serving

The Ingredients
½ cup old fashioned oats
½ cup low-fat milk/dairy alternative
½ cup water
4 baby carrots, finely grated1
1 tablespoon raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon chopped walnuts

The Method
Combine the oats, milk, water, carrot, raisins, vanilla, cinnamon and ginger in a small-medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to just below a boil, then reduce the heat and allow to simmer 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it looks like the oats are soaking up all of the water too quickly, add a pinch more water. When the oats are done cooking, stir in the brown sugar and top with walnuts for garnish.

1Or approximately 1 full-sized carrot.
2Nutrition Facts: 339 calories, 9g fat (2g saturated), 117mg sodium, 56g carbohydrates (7g fiber, 24g sugar), 12g protein

I hope your new year is already off to a great start, and continues to be a happy and healthy one for you and all of those around you! Be sure to come back for another year of recipes!


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