Quick&Simple Foods and Fancy Cupcakes

Sometimes, I like to go back to basics. Playing with spices, substituting ingredients to no end, and blurring the sweet/savory line is fun, but there is nothing like letting the natural beautiful flavor of food shine through.

Sometimes I just have to tell myself to step aside and just let the food do the talking.

Sometimes, I listen.

In all honesty, I’m a huge fan of plain grains cooked in water. I often don’t like to get too fancy with them because I like tasting their delicate nuttiness.

Oats, however, are in a category of their own. Way before I read blogs, I liked to eat my oats plain in a little mug. Then somehow cocoa powder got added to the mix. Really, it was all uphill from there. But that doesnt’ mean I don’t enjoy a bowl of plain oats every once in a while (Ashley‘s been loving them lately, too!).In fact, rolled old-fashioned oatmeal cooked in water was a recurring favorite bedtime snack of mine during the harsh winter months. Well winter’s almost over, and I can see spring on the horizon. It’s time to bring back the simplicty of oatmeal, with a delightful little spring twist.

Blueberry Muffin Oatbran (or Oatmeal)

  • 1/2 cup oatbranoatmeal, or other grain (I used ~45 grams Bob’s Red Mill Oatbran, but it will depend)
  • 2 cups water, divided (or more)
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • optional: cinnamon, vanilla powder/extract
  1. Boil 1-1/2 cups water on the stovetop. Once boiling, whisk in oats and reduce heat to medium low.
  2. Stir oats frequently until they become very thick. Add remaining water and increase the heat to a light boil. Again, reduce heat and stir in chia seeds. Keep stirring until just before desired thickness is reached (they will thicken quite a bit after cooking thanks to the chia seeds). Add in blueberries and remove from heat.
  3. Top with extra blueberries, or take these “simple” oats to the next level with spices, nut butter, or whatever strikes your fancy.


*Heather wrote a post on the discrepancies of oat bran nutrition. You can check it out here. My advice is the same as hers: just eat your oats and enjoy them! I used to use Quaker’s Oat Bran and just tried Bob’s Red Mill’s Oat Bran for the first time today. I’ve got to hand the win to Bob on this one; he never fails me.

*I use more than 2 cups of water because I like my oats to be super creamy and voluminous. It takes a bit more time (and patientice), but I like to keep adding water so that the oats swell. Chia seeds help with this, too, because they act as a thickener. Which brings me to my next point…

*I used to be a ground flax seed girl, but I recently took the plunge and bought a bag of chia seeds from Whole Foods and cannot go back (though flaxies still have a special place in my heart). You could definitely substitute 1 TBS of flax seed meal for the chia seeds called for, but I recommend using chia seeds if you can. I think they make these simple oats especially delectable.  (Also, you could use more than the 1 tsp called for. I just wanted to let the oats shine on this one.)

*If you want your oats to turn blue and the bluberries to be less in tact, stir them in a bit sooner than I mentioned. By adding them right before removing the oats from the heat, the blueberries pop open in your mouth. Yum!

Wow, that’s a lot of notes for a simple recipe! I guess I’m just like the oatbran’s agent; I’ll do all the advertising and talking up front, but once you make these, the oats will take center stage.


If you’re looking for another simple simple but delicious recipe, why not try my sauteed yellow squash and bell peppers? I still can’t get over how quick + easy that was!

I also made a super simple curried lentils last night. I boiled my lentils fresh, but if you already have cooked lentils on hand (leftover freshly cooked, canned, or the Trader Joe’s kind), this meal could be ready in under 5 minutes!

Quick Curried Lentils

  • 3/4 cup cooked lentils
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk, non-dairy milk of choice, or water (use some kind of milk for a creamier & richer flavor)
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp garam masala, or cinnamon, if desired
  • 1/4 tsp mirin (optional)
  • Herbamare, or s&p, to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients in a pan over medium high heat. Heat until almost all of the liquid is absorbed.

Feel free to add some frozen vegetables and serve over leftover rice, too. I served my lentils with tons of different veggies, so I skipped that.


And while this isn’t the pretties of photos, almond butter toast is also a simple snack that is just too yummy not to mention. Raw almond butter sauce + brown rice toast = love. [Please note the fact that my almond butter jar is almost empty. Don’t worry, I already restocked yesterday. I wouldn’t be caught without it!]

Simple Almond Butter Sauce

  1. Use a fork to mix the almond butter and almond milk in a little bowl.
  2. Heat it in the microwave for about 25 seconds, or until most of the almond milk has absorbed.
  3. Vigorously stir the mixture to better incorporate the nut butter and nut milk (a fork works well for this, too).


And while I have been enjoying stepping aside for the simplicity of my food, certainly there is not a shortage of more elaborate gourmet treats in my house. Remember my chocolate coconut cake?

(I know, I know; how mean am I to keep tempting you? I promise the recipe will be up for tomorrow. I just got so swamped with job applications!)


Yesterday I also brought home 3 cupcakes from one of the places I delivered my job applications to.

Bumpy Cake Cupcake


How fun would it be to work with cupcakes and make people smile all day? Answer: is that even a job? Sign me up!

Samoa Cupcake (like the Girl Scout cookie)


Oh, and did I mention they also sell vegan cupcakes? While the ones I brought home weren’t completely vegan, one of the owners tipped me off that they always use their vegan chocolate base for all of their chocolate cupcakes. Cool!

Cookies and Cream Cupcake

*I made a similar vegan version of cookies and cream cupcakes on my old blog. I’ll be sure to repost the recipe!


Questions: how do you like your oats? What is your favorite “simple” food? And do you have bumpy cake where you live, or is that just a Sander’s/Michigan thing?


Have a lovely night & Monday!









3 responses to “Quick&Simple Foods and Fancy Cupcakes

  1. My friend in MI sent me pics of her bumpy cupcakes, and I was in awe. She ordered them for a wedding shower – looked amazing, but honestly, I’d be just as happy with big bowl of oat bran. I love it plain as well. Simple bowls are the best in my opinion. My favorite is with oat bran cooked in water and topped with melted chocolate and a little nut butter. So good, and yes, Bob makes some amazing oat bran!

    Also love lentils – they cook up so fast. Yum!

  2. This is perfect I have been looking for a lentil recipe to make this week and yours look delish as do those little cupcakes! I love that they make vegan cupcakes and samoas would definitely be my favorite!

  3. Hi Mandiee,
    I work with your grandmother. I LOVE your blog and am sad when there is not a new post waiting! I really enjoy your writing…and themes to your blogs.

    I just wanted to say, although I am not vegan (I am a meat/potatoes girl) I do plan on trying several of your recipes!!

    Good luck on your job search – hope you land a job at the cupcake place…that bumpy cake cupcake looks amazing!!!

    Can’t wait for the next update!
    Have a great week!

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