Who of us living in a place where the dark, cold months have descended upon us doesn’t dream of a tropical sunrise this time of year? We are fast approaching the longest night of the year here in Finland. Yes, I mean longest night, not the shortest day. It’s the darkness you notice when it seems to go on forever. It is still dark outside my window as I write this, and according to the weather app on my trusty old iPhone 4S (it’s still working well, so no urgency for an upgrade quite yet) the sun will rise this morning at 9:10 PM and set at 3:13 PM. That means that we’ll be spending 3/4 of the day in twilight and darkness.
When the sun does shine on Winter days like these, the sunrise and sunset are both wildly glorious, with yellow, orange, pink and red colors that streak across the horizon where the sky meets the sea beyond Helsinki, and sometimes up into the low-lying smattering of clouds just above. Beautiful and deceptive: though the sun beckons promisingly through the window with its bright rays, the temperatures are no where near tropical. But the sun doesn’t always shine, no matter the season.
It doesn’t matter. The best thing you can do is cook yourself a satisfying breakfast that will warm you from the inside out, topped with fresh fruit and nuts that remind you of warmer places and climates. Then wrap yourself up in a cozy winter parka, hat, scarf, gloves – and go on out there and embrace the cold and the season. Winter is a time for rest and renewal, and this breakfast bowl will help you make the most of it.
A few notes:
- I highly recommend using steel cut oats or whole oat grains for this (and any oat porridge breakfast). The texture is far superior and so satisfying to eat. But if you are in a rush, the old fashioned rolled oats take just a few minutes and are a great substitute. Or, you can make the oats the night before and refrigerate, then reheat them in the morning for breakfast. I do this all the time if I know I need to get out of the door quickly in the morning. They also freeze well.
- Toasting the oats is not absolutely necessary, but highly recommended as it adds a really nice depth of flavor to the finished porridge
- Vanilla extract is best for this. If you can’t find it, you can use vanilla sugar, but the flavor won’t be as great.
- Other unrefined sugars could be used in place of the honey
Tropical Sunrise Oatmeal Breakfast Bowl
For slow-cooked oats:
1 cup / 250 ml of steel cut oats or whole oat grains
2 1/2 cups / 600 ml water
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
For quicker oats:
1 cup / 240 ml old fashioned rolled oats
1 1/4 cup / 350 ml water
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
For the fruit topping
1/4 cup boiling water
3 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Clementines, peeled, seeded, separated into segments; each segment cut in half
1 banana, diced small
1 cup diced pineapple
4 tablespoons Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons raw cashews, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon unsweetened coconut flakes
Make the oatmeal:
Place a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once it is warm, add the oats and toast lightly in the dry pan, stirring often, for one minute. Add the water and bring to a boil. Add the salt. Lower heat to a simmer, cover with a lid, and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, keep lid on, and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
If cooking slow-cooked oats, let rest for 30 minutes, then re-warm the oats slightly. The rest of the directions are the same as above.
Make the topping:
In a small bowl, combine the boiling water and honey and stir until the honey has dissolved. Add the vanilla extract and stir to combine. Add the fruit and coconut flakes and stir well to coat the fruit with the syrup.
Divide the oat porridge between two bowls. Divide the fruit mixture across the top of the oats. Spoon the Greek Yogurt into the middle of each bowl on top of the fruit. Sprinkle with cashews.