Ready for a completely last-minute Thanksgiving recipe that will do you right tomorrow? Or any day this winter?
Well, here it is. We don’t really know what this is. We started off calling it a tart, and then we called it oatmeal…ultimately, “snack” just fits the best. What’s so cool about this recipe is that it will not only last you a few days, but it can be used as an early morning breakfast, or an after-dinner treat, depending on how you serve it. It’s low cal, low fat, and packed with nutrients. Specifically, buy “tart” dried cherries, if you can – they are not only a lovely, tasty compliment to the oats and brown sugar, but they are a super fruit! We hear this term a lot, don’t we? In this case, without a doubt, it is true. Tart dried cherries are high in disease fighting antioxidants, beta carotene, and they also carry anti- inflammatory benefits. Nutritionists actually recommend tart cherries to help reduce post- exercise muscle and joint pain! What…? I just like the way they taste. Bonus! (did you know they also help prevent the effects of jet lag, too?) This recipe also contains a lot of natural fiber… so, ya know, thank me tomorrow or whatever!
Here is the recipe I used, with some room for substitutions, based on what you have in your cabinet at the moment.
- 1 cup dried tart cherries
- 2 cups vanilla almond milk, or vanilla coconut milk
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup uncooked oats
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar OR 2 tablespoons of honey. This is a taste and/or convenience thing. If you prefer one over the other as a sweetener – it’s your choice, baby! Just use either/or, not both.
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxmeal
- 1 teaspoon almond extract, or vanilla extract. If you don’t have either of these, you can also use 1 teaspoon bourbon whiskey or brandy. Yes… really! (But shhh…you didn’t hear that from me. Does the same job, and some actually prefer it, who knew?)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 apple, peeled and finely chopped, or 1/2 cup cinnamon or unsweetened apple sauce. If you go with the applesauce option, try an organic brand like GoGo Squeez or Santa Cruz, and make sure it has no additives in it.
- Pinch of salt
- Optional toppings after it’s cooked: toasted sliced almonds, extra almond milk, grade b maple syrup, coconut flakes, a dab of Earth Balance, plain Greek yogurt, FROZEN yogurt… the sky is the limit with this one, use whatever you like to jazz it up!
This recipe makes about 7 servings of 3/4 cup each.
Take all of those ingredients, aside from the toppings, and pour them into your crockpot. Do it! Just pour ‘em all in there! Now stir them…
Set your Crockpot to “low.” Set the timer for 5 hours, 30 minutes.
You will know your snack is done when it is not liquidy anymore, and instead gooey, sticking to the sides, and not watery in the slightest. It will have a creamy texture, and in no way will look like the oatmeal you are used to, as you will see from the pictures below (it’s so much more tasty!). Cooking times may vary depending on the Crockpot, so please read below for tips and instructions.
You can go to sleep if you would like to make this before bedtime so you can wake up to an awesome smelling house and delicious pre-made breakfast for you – but make sure you only let it cook for 5 hours and 30 minutes. If this is on a night that you get to bed late, and know you’ll have to be up in 5ish hours for work (but we hope you get more sleep than that), then this is perfect! Or you can make it when you get home or on the weekend when you know you’ll be home to turn the Crockpot off.
Here’s the thing with slow cooking things – it is not an exact science, and not all Crockpots were created equal. My mother had a Crockpot that was a wedding gift that literally would slow cook things for 10 hours – meats, chili, all kinds of things – and it would literally take all day. Now, this was a crock that was made in the ’70s. MY Crockpot is new, and sometimes I need to cook things longer or shorter than what a given recipe says. I thought this particular recipe would take about 8 hours, and maybe for some older models of slow cooker…that would work, but if you have a newer model, one that was made in the 2000s – unless you know your slow cooker VERY well, check it at around the 5 hour mark, and it should be done.
Some Crockpots have automatic timers like coffee makers so you don’t even have to worry about being there and having it overcook. That’s rad if you have one… I don’t! So we passed the time…letting the aroma of cherry and vanilla fill up our apartment…
So, it’s been 5.5 hours. Here we go!
This was a recipe I made knowing I would want a healthy after-dinner snack, so I used it as more of a dessert tonight, with some gorgeous sliced almonds, and if I would have had some vanilla fro yo…well, it would have been a party.
If you’re like me, and you like to think about what you’re eating for the week ahead of time, this is an awesome recipe for you! You can sub the cherries out for dried blueberries, cranberries, raisins, really any kind of dried fruit you enjoy! The whole point of the kitchen is to have fun, and experiment, so try some new things, get dirty, and test these things out on your spouse, roommates or kids… you’re bound to find something everybody likes eventually! (Or you will just have breakfast for the whole week, either way = win!)