This post is sponsored by The Quaker Oats Company, but all opinions are my own.
A common problem Daniel and I struggle with is wasting food. Whether it’s forgetting about leftovers in the fridge or neglecting bananas long enough we should invite our new fruit fly roommates to stay, every trash day we find ourselves throwing away too much food. We always seem to comment on how we need to be better, but by the time the next trash day rolls around we seem to fall back into bad habits. After recently being made aware of the stats on food waste, I am resolved to reducing our waste.
In the United States, an astonishing 130 billion pounds of food are wasted each year (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). Not only is good food simply not getting eaten (fruits, vegetables, dairy, and grains), but the production of all this food is wasting energy, land, and freshwater. If we could reduce this food waste by even 15%, we could feed more than 25 million Americans (NRDC).
This fall, I’m partnering with Quaker who is launching More Taste, Less Waste in partnership with James Beard Foundation, which aims to inspire people to re-think the power of the oat to help recover foods that often go to waste while discovering new ways to eat more nutritiously every day. Some examples of top wasted foods include: produce like leafy greens, potatoes, beets, radishes, carrots, citrus peels, fresh beef/poultry/pork, and dairy products.
If you’re wondering, why would oats help recover these foods?—consider how versatile oats are. They’re essentially a nutritious blank canvas. You can go savory or sweet, hot or cold, any time of day. You won’t have to run to the store for special ingredients, just look in your fridge or pantry and you’ll be able to make a great meal or snack using whatever you have on hand. Not only will the versatility and convenience reduce waste, but oats are naturally low in fat and sodium and are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They are a great way to reduce waste while maintaining a nutritious diet.
My More Taste, Less Waste-inspired recipe is Savory Oatmeal with Mushrooms, Spinach, and Thyme. It incorporates 3 ingredients that tend to wilt and wither away in my fridge before I’ve had the chance to use them: mushrooms, baby spinach, and fresh herbs. I love this savory departure from my typical oatmeal bowls. Toasting the oats and cooking them in chicken broth—along with sautéed onion, mushrooms, and garlic, and thyme— makes for a wickedly flavorful bowl of oatmeal with creamy, risotto-like texture. I chose to serve my portion with a fried egg on top, but that’s entirely optional. Feel free to play with the recipe and make it your own, by switching up the greens or the herb. Enjoy!
Savory Oatmeal with Mushrooms, Spinach, and Thyme
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ small yellow onion finely chopped (about ½ cup)
- 1 8- ounce package baby portobello mushrooms sliced
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 cups Quaker Old Fashioned Oats
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 2 cups fresh spinach leaves
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 4 large eggs optional
- In a large Dutch oven or a deep sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the salt and pepper; stir. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Add the oats and stir until toasted and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Add the chicken broth along with 2 cups water and the thyme, and bring the pan to a simmer. Let the oats cook, stirring often, until they have absorbed almost all of the liquid, about 12 minutes. Stir in the spinach, 1 cup at a time, and allow it to wilt into the thickened oatmeal. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve each portion topped with 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese and additional fresh thyme, if desired.
- Optional, for a heartier meal: Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking oil and set it over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the eggs and cook until the whites are opaque and the yolk is set but still runny (or to your desired doneness), 6 to 8 minutes. Serve 1 fried egg on top of each oatmeal portion.