Thursday, April 23, 2015

Lemon Cream Pie Overnight Oats.

When we were kids, my brother's top dessert request on special occasions was lemon pie. Anything lemon, actually - lemon pudding, lemon cake, lemon meringue; you name it and he loved it. I was on the opposite end of the spectrum in the chocolate camp, and I still prefer sweet desserts over tart or citrus-flavored options. Tart fruits often make their way onto my breakfast menu instead - I usually get my fix with a green smoothie. I have a feeling lemon is going to take over in the coming weeks with a new overnight oats recipe channeling the delicious flavors of Lemon Cream Pie.

Have you ever looked carefully at the ingredients for a traditional Lemon Cream Pie? It's a super simple recipe. Martha Stewart's version includes a buttery crust and a filling made with fresh lemon juice, sour cream, sugar, eggs, and salt. I am re-creating a healthier breakfast version of Martha's dish today, using juice from a Meyer lemon, creamy cashew milk, a Medjool date for natural sweetness, and oats.

I used a special kind of old-fashioned rolled oats for this recipe, sourced locally and purchased from Baker Miller in Lincoln Square {check out a recap of my first visit here}. Baker Miller is a stone-mill bakery and restaurant that grinds their own flour and oats from local sources. Check out their online flour shop for more details {this is not sponsored, I just really enjoy their oats}. If you don't have access to Baker Miller, any old-fashioned rolled oats will work for this recipe. I have heard using steel cut oats is delicious too, and creates a chewier texture if that's your jam.

You can use any kind of milk or milk substitute for overnight oats. I tested this recipe with a few different options, and in my opinion cashew milk works the absolute best if you have access to it. Cashew milk is extra creamy compared to almond or regular milk, and the mild flavor works really well with lemon. This breakfast is made even better with the addition of fresh blueberries. I layered blueberries into my jar of oats in the morning after the rest of the flavors melded together overnight.

Lemon Cream Pie Overnight Oats
Serves one.

1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup cashew milk
Juice from 1/2 a Meyer lemon {1.5 Tablespoons}
1 date {pitted and chopped}
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of lemon zest
Pinch of salt

Optional: 1/2 cup blueberries

How to~
*Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir until combined: oats, cashew milk, lemon juice, chopped date, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and salt.
*Cover the bowl and let the oats chill in the refrigerator overnight {~8-10 hours}.
*Add blueberries {or another fruit of your choice} right before eating.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Cooked Review.

I was recently contacted by Cooked, a local company based in Evanston, to review their fresh meal delivery options. Cooked is run by Chef Jona Silva, with help from his wife and business partner Erin. The Silvas' intent in starting Cooked was unburden people from overwhelming demands with a quality alternative to home cooking.

Cooked was created in 2014 to share the advantages of healthy eating with busy people. After 15 years of travel, culinary school and cooking under great mentors, Chef Jona Silva's interest in healthy cooking, vegetarian cooking, gluten-free options, and weight management took him to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, where he took classes on nutrition and healthy cooking in 2007 and passed the rigorous examination to become a Certified Chef in 2009.

Cooked supports a holistic approach to healthy cooking and focuses on local ingredients. Check out the list of local purveyors on their website. Erin explains it well: "We stay away from preservatives, use great quality meats, and work with a health coach to make sure our meals are balanced.  We do not proscribe to any restrictive fad diets.  The idea is to replace home cooking, so we want food to be as healthy as what mom would make, not too greasy/too salty.  We care a lot about local economy and love local cultures, so we buy as much produce/meat/etc from local farms as possible. All meats are humanely raised/butchered, with no hormones, antibiotics, animal feed, etc."

As Erin told me: "The great thing about our food is that it is chilled which means that it is ready whenever our customers are-- many delivery companies that serve hot food actually chill it and heat it again when it's time for it to be delivered, but then the meal needs to be eaten immediately and is already cooling and not as hot at the time it's delivered.  It really can't be reheated a second time.  The reason we chose to do chilled meals is because we are aiming to give maximum flexibility by serving food at it's optimal freshness-- dinner is ready when you are!  You can order a bunch of meals in advance and stock up for the week, or order same day for just one evening-- the service is very flexible and can be used routinely or just on the busy days."  

Since meals are chilled, they come with heating instructions. The labeling is clear and easy to understand. However, I found I needed quite a bit less time in the microwave than recommended since the meals are fresh.

One of my favorite aspects of the Cooked menu is the variety of options for both lunch and dinner. Cooked also offers juices and even a dessert or two. I selected five meals for delivery during a busy week when K was traveling and I knew having a few prepared meals on hand would be extra helpful. I tried two lunches and three dinners. The meals were delicious! My selections included {listed in order of my favorites}:

*Chickpea-Zucchini Fritters with Cauliflower "Taboule"
*Lunch Bowl #1 {pesto quinoa with mozzarella}
*Lentil Soup
*Pan-seared Tilapia with Spanish Parsley Sauce
*Simple Coconuty Dal {with brown rice}

{Chickpea Zucchini Fritters}

Cooked delivers to several neighborhoods in Chicago as well as a number of suburbs to the north. Delivery is available Sunday through Thursday in afternoon and early evening hours. Check out the Delivery Areas and Times page of their website for more information. If you're local to Chicago and want to try Cooked, check out their website. Questions? Email

{Disclosure: I was provided with a $50 gift card to order meals from Cooked for review. All opinions are my own.}