Early Mornings & A Recipe for Apple Pie Oats
There’s something simply magical about the start of a new day. The way the sun starts out shy, just peaking through over the horizon. The way the day starts out a little damp and chilly, especially on a late fall morning. The way a fresh cup of coffee warms your heart, mind, and soul. And, above all else, the way that it feels knowing that I have a whole new day ahead to accomplish whatever it is that I set my mind to.
I’ve been a “morning person” for as long as I can remember. I’m sure I missed out on at least a few wild nights because I was worried about getting to bed. But I preferred it that way – I was the one who was up early and getting in a 10 mile run before most were out of bed.
Back before March, when I was going to work every day, I loved knowing what I could accomplish in those 3-4 hours before work. Up at 5, at the gym by 6, run done by 7, stretch and roll and in the shower by 8, and at work by 8:30 or 9. All that done, and I felt more fresh and ready to go than ever.
Things are obviously a little different now. I haven’t exactly been getting up at 5 every day while working remote. I don’t have the commute to factor in, and I generally have a lot more flexibility with the hours I work.
To some extent I miss my early mornings. I miss watching the sun rise over the Bay Bridge. I miss the groggy hello’s I’d say as I checked in at the gym. I miss the camaraderie of the San Francisco early morning run scene. While few words were ever exchanged, there was an undeniable bond between me and my fellow runners who enjoy chasing the early hours down the Embarcadero.
I suppose I could get up early and get in a pre-dawn run now, but I find little appeal in that. For one, I’m with my family in small-town Connecticut. Here, if the sun isn’t out it’s pitch black. There are no sidewalks or street lights, and running on the roads before dawn is basically a death wish.
Plus, I’ve been enjoying a slower morning.
I’ve been getting up at a leisurely pace, making myself a slice of toast (usually topped with almond butter and banana… delicious!), and enjoying a hot cup of coffee. I’ll usually at least catch up on emails or get a bit of work done before hitting the road for a run.
To be honest, I’ve been putting off my runs later and later as it’s gotten colder here. I like to wait for the sun to be a little warmer before leaving my house and our heated floors. Although really, it hasn’t even been that cold here, other than the one day in snowed right before Halloween.
I have a love-hate relationship with snow. I love watching the snow fall so gracefully from the sky and coat the ground in a gentle blanket of white. However, that gentle blanket of white turns into ice and slush which make winter running less than ideal.
That being said, while the October snow was beautiful, I was not exactly thrilled by it. The last time it snowed in October in Connecticut we lost power for a week. There were a lot of leaves still on the trees, so when the damp, heavy snow fell, it accumulated on the leaves and took down many branches, and, subsequently, power lines.
Thankfully, 2020 decided we had enough to deal with already, and we didn’t lose power this time around.
There really wasn’t too much snow. The white powder fell gracefully for a few hours in the morning the Friday before Halloween. I don’t usually run of Friday’s so enjoyed the weather instead of stressing about getting a run in or moping because I’d have to run on the treadmill.
Elsie, my dog, and I frolicked in the snow for a little before we decided it was too cold for my California blood. I followed up our little adventure with a hot cup of coffee, of course, and a warm bowl of my signature Apple Pie Oats.
A snippet of our snowy morning:
Oats are easily my favorite post-run meal. I usually have my coffee and toast pre-run as “first breakfast” and follow my run up with another coffee and a warm bowl of oatmeal, my “second breakfast”. This has probably been my favorite part of my work-from-home morning routine. I couldn’t exactly whip a bowl of fresh oatmeal every morning when I was going into the office. I did make overnight oats sometimes, but that’s another story 😉
Apple Pie oats, as I like to call it, is my signature oatmeal recipe. It’s perfect for this time of year, as it gets colder and I need something to warm me up after a chilly run. It became my signature though, because I made it nearly every morning this summer.
Yes, I would come home from a sweaty 85 degree run and whip a bowl of warm oatmeal. Oh, and a cup of hot coffee. If I wasn’t still sweating from my run, I would definitely be sweating from eating the oats. Gross, sorry.
Other than the overheating thing, the oats were the perfect post-run meal. Topped with almond butter, flax seeds, and maybe some pecans, it was the perfect combination of carbs and fats that my body needs after a tough workout. Plus, it was so easy make, and we almost always had the ingredients on-hand.
Now that it’s chilly and apples are in season, it’s absolute perfection!
To be perfectly honest, this recipe is nothing revolutionary. It’s a pretty sweet twist simple bowl of oats, but it’s absolutely delicious. Plus, it’s super quick to make – done in just about 10 minutes, maybe 15 if you give the oats a minute too cool down after taking them off the stove.
I’ll usually put the water on the stove as soon as I’m done with my post-run stretches. As the water boils I’ll chop up the apple. I always add the apple and cinnamon first, and let them boil for a minute before adding the oats. This way, the apples soak up the cinnamon really well, almost like I’m making an apple sauce, and then adding oats on top!
One other touch I’ve been loving lately is maple syrup! Over the summer when I was sweating through my oats, I was using agave, which gives it the necessary sweetness, but 100% pure maple syrup takes it up a notch and gives it a nice fall flavor.
I was lucky enough to win a bottle of local maple syrup for being a top local finisher in the Granby Road Race (check out my Racing in the Pandemic post for more!). The syrup is from Young Farms in East Granby, CT. Would definitely recommend if you happen to be in the Granby area!
I also like to top my oats with a scoop of almond butter. Justin’s Maple Almond Butter is easily my favorite. It just has this sweet maple-y finish that really ties the bowl together. I’ll also top it with pecans and/or flax seeds for extra nutrients and an added crunch!
Finally, I’ll devour my oats and be fueled and ready to take on the day!
Apple Pie Oats Recipe
- 1 cup water
- 1 small apple, chopped
- 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 – 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup or agave
- A splash of Almond milk (optional)
- 1 tablespoon almond butter
- 1 tablespoon pecans and/or flax seeds
- Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan.
- Once water is boiling, add chopped apple, oats, cinnamon, and vanilla extract.
- Cover and reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer for 4-6 minutes, until water is absorbed.
- Add maple syrup or agave and a splash of almond milk, and stir before removing from the stove.
- Transfer oats to a bowl, top with pecans and flax seeds.