This isn't a real post. It's not even a semi-real post - one with a recipe but no photo - which I have been known on occasion to put up.
Nope, this is just me, popping in to say hi. Taking a break from the 55-plus hours of caring for a sick little one to tell all of you about one of the rare, sparkling moments that punctuated those 55 long hours with true food goodness. Letting you know that it's possible to be deliciously surprised by a PR person. (Which, of course, means you actually have to listen to those PR people, which is not high on everyone's list these days.) And telling you about my new favorite way to eat what is essentially a convenience food.
Kalen turned five on Tuesday. I could sit here for the next hour, writing rhapsodically about what an amazing person he is and how incredible it is that your children end up being exactly who you need added to your family, and how watching him grow into himself and become more complex each day has been one of the greatest joys of my life. But I really don't have time right now; I'm expecting to be called back to the boy's room any minute to again deal head-on with this nasty illness Wylie can't seem to shake.
Kalen's birthday ended up a lot more low-key than I had planned, due to the accommodations we had to make for Wylie. Oh, he still had presents and a special birthday dinner and the traditional hot air balloon release, but the rest of the day was pretty mellow. I was glad, however, that he got one of his favorite breakfasts: pancakes.
We haven't been eating pancakes as often around here as we used to. Josh has helped me realize that, as good and comforting as it feels, starting the day with a big plate of sweet starches isn't the best way to wake up our bodies. Protein, with sides of veggies and unrefined starches, feels much better. But Kalen loves pancakes, and the rule is: when it's your birthday, you choose the food for the day. (As a side note, this worked out phenomenally for dinner. Thanks to Kalen's awesome taste buds, we had lobster, sweet potato fries, and garlic bread!) So blueberry pancakes for breakfast it was.
This gave me a chance to try something that had been banging around inside my head ever since Simpli sent me a box of their gluten-free instant apricot oatmeal to try. To be honest, I'm not an instant oatmeal type of girl. In fact, Kalen has always referred to instant oatmeal as "the Nanny kind of oatmeal," because he's never had it anywhere but at my parent's house. If I want oatmeal, I want the real deal. Thick-cut rolled oats, slow-cooked with spices and vanilla and dried fruits, and topped with nuts and maple syrup. That is oatmeal. In contrast, instant oatmeal is always a gummy mess to me. Not appealing.
But the PR material that came with that box of free oatmeal suggested other uses for the product, such as adding it to smoothies and stirring it into pancake batter. And the more I thought about it, the more that pancake suggestion sounded like a wonderful idea - taking a not-so-healthy breakfast food and bettering it with the addition of a high-fiber whole grain and dried fruit. So Tuesday was the day, and I've got to say I loved it! Instead of feeling like I was eating cake for breakfast, I felt like I was eating a hearty, multi-grain flatbread. Between the sweetness of the frozen blueberries and the dried apricots, a mere drizzle of maple syrup was more than enough. The bits of oats stayed whole and were a textural pleasure, chewy and toothsome but not gummy the way they'd have been if stirred into a cup of boiling water. It was the kind of breakfast I'd want if I were gearing up for a day of cross-country skiing or snowshoeing.
So anyway, that's my story. If you want your pancakes to be healthier and less cake-like, stir a packet of instant oatmeal into the batter. As long as the oatmeal isn't full of artificial sweeteners and colors and preservatives, I'd say any variety will turn out a great pancake. It feels odd saying it, since convenience foods don't usually get a lot of praise from me, but from now on, don't be surprised if you find a box of instant oatmeal stashed alongside all the other grains in my cupboard. And Kalen may get his pancake request granted a little more often now.