Rosewater and Saffron Oats with Toasted Almonds and Coconut

We all hear often enough that saying “no” and defining boundaries in our day-to-day is the best way to stave off overwhelm. And it works if you can trade the FOMO for peace of mind. Saying “no, thank you” to projects, events, and even to urges to load too much dairy-free, gluten-free Mac & Cheese on my plate gets easier with practice. Opting out has its place. Saying “no” means thinking MORE about what your goals are, and how you want your future self to feel versus what you want in the moment.

And this is when saying “yes” can also be self-care. You know that you have the Gluten-Free Baking Academy Launch Monday (enrollment closes for good on Sunday), and family obligations, and a full Inbox, and exciting client work. But you also know that it’s been a hell of a month and some quality girlfriend time will give you the recharge you need to take it all on with grace and efficiency, so you say “yes” before you can get in your own way and talk yourself out of it.

I met the loveliest gal at one of my Chicago book tour events back in June—sweet Alma, from Chill Chicago. As we got to know each other in the 10 minutes before our panel, I knew this was someone I wanted to keep in touch with. I mentioned that she’d probably love the tiny town I live in and she should come visit sometime, especially since in that 10 minutes, we discovered that we have a mutual love for Tara Brach and “she is so close to where I live.” Alma said “I’ll take you up on that” and I said “you better.”

So, recently, Alma emailed that she found a great deal on a flight and asked if I wanted any company for a few days. Before I could think about the work I had to do, and all the other things pulling at me that would make me postpone the spontaneity, I said “yes.”

I’m so glad I did. I got to spend almost 4 days recharging with a new friend. Laughing, sharing stories and dreams, consuming obscene amounts of tea, introducing her to my darling town, and amazing friends.

We went paw paw hunting with one of my dearest pals Bernardine, and her tiny, new kitten Jimmy, who loved the autumn smells and the warmth of B’s jog bra. Smart fella.

We missed the paw paws by a week or so, but came home with bags full of black walnuts instead. We visited my friend’s amazing school, the farm animals there, and absolutely looted the ginormous garden that was bursting with enough produce to feed all 70 students and their families x10.

I won’t have to hit the store for a while—I see a lot of canning and pickling in my future…

We went to the boxing class my love holds for local badass ladies in an old barn, and then the next day we took our sore bodies out to what I like to call “my church.” A tree-covered trail that ultimately overlooks the historic town of Harpers Ferry.

We collected a backpack’s-worth of hickory nuts—wish me luck opening them. If I can, I’ll share a recipe or two.

The weather was so warm we even got to ground down and lay on the island-like rocks in the river. Then (why not?) we decided to hit the local moonshine distillery for a tasting.

At night, we curled up by my fireplace listening to my love tell his epic ghost stories (our town is kinda haunted, we even have our own super campy tv show about it). And in the mornings, we started the day with my new favorite breakfast—Rosewater & Saffron Oats.

According to Ayurvedic cooking, rosewater calms the emotions (I even spray myself with this rosewater during the day), cardamom (my fave!) helps with digestion and balances the body, and saffron is known to assist detoxification, it balances, and aids digestion—all benefits I could use these days.

My favorite reason for eating oats this way? The absolutely gorgeous, almost royal flavor. This breakfast takes about 10 minutes to make but tastes so fancy and special. It’s a decadent, comforting meal that feels like self care. Alma loved it too, and even asked for the recipe the day she got home.

So, I thought I’d share it with YU. It’s super easy if you have all the ingredients, which I know are unique and not the easiest to locate. I do think you’ll love this cereal though and the ingredients will ultimately be worth any trouble they were to find. You can search any ethnic grocery stores in your area or use the links I’ve included below to help.

Feel free to season this recipe to taste and change up the toppings if you like. Depending on what’s around (or my food mood), I’ll use Granny Smith apples, pears, and quince in this recipe along with sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and sesame seeds, too.

Hope you’ll say “yes” to this recipe. It’s delicious, fun, may be something new for you, and is overall worth a try.

I found inspiration for these oats from traditional spices—I encourage you to research them even more.

If you’d like to learn how to make traditional recipes that use special spices and ingredients check out the following books and authors:
Zaitoun and The Saffron Tales by Yasmin Khan
Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen by Richa Hingle
Joon: Persian Cooking Made Simple by Najmieh Batmanglij
The Spice Merchant‘s Daughter by Christina Arokiasamy

A bit about saffron:
Saffron comes from the crocus flower, and it’s “threads” (stigma and stamen) are collected and dried to add flavor and color to a variety of dishes. Origin of saffron is believed to be Iran, Greece, or Mesopotamia.

A bit about rosewater:
Rosewater is simply a hydrosol made from steeped rose petals and water. You may have seen it used as facial spritzers or in beauty products, but its floral properties have been used since ancient times. You can find it used in Indian foods and sweets, as well as in Malaysian, Singaporean, Middle Eastern, and European foods.

A bit about cardamom:
Cardamom is an incredibly fragrant seed that originates in tropical and subtropical Asia, with first references of its use coming from Ayurvedic literature in India¹.

1 ½ cups canned coconut milk (full fat)*
½ cup water
½ cup rolled oats
1–2 pinches fine-ground sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
Pinch of saffron threads
4–5 drops of rosewater**
1 grind of fresh-cracked black pepper (or a pinch of ground)
1 tablespoon unrefined coconut oil (optional)
2 teaspoons raw, wild-harvested honey (or any sweetener you prefer)
1 pink lady apple (or fragrant, sweet alternative pome fruit), cored and chopped
¼ cup raw, unsalted almonds, chopped
¼ cup flaked, dried coconut (or shredded)

* You can use any coconut milk or non-dairy milk you like, just know the canned makes it extra satisfying and decadent. Not to mention, it sustains you for long hikes very well.

**If you like, you can skip this, or substitute with wild willow water (I found some at Dean & Deluca and bought it b/c I didn’t even know it existed) or orange blossom water.


Let’s get started.
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper. Scatter almonds and roast for 5 minutes. Remove the sheet from the oven and add the coconut flakes to the sheet (keep almonds there). Return to oven and roast 2–3 more minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool a bit.

2. Now, bring the coconut milk, water, oats, salt, cardamom, pepper, saffron, and oil (if using) to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan.

3. Reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 7–10 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Now, turn off heat, add the rosewater and honey, and season to taste with more spice if you like. Cover and let stand for 3–5 minutes.

4. Serve in a special bowl (it makes a difference, right Alma? 😉 ) topped with apple, toasted almonds, coconut, and more coconut milk if you like. Enjoy!

And if you want to hear more about the course, Jessica Murnane from One Part Podcast and I talk all about it in her most recent pod episode with Heather Askinosie of Energy Muse. It’s a great one (we’re around the 4:30 mark)…


1. Weiss, E. A. (2002). Spice Crops. CABI. p. 300. ISBN 978-0851996059.


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