La rentrée: literally the re-entry is a very apt expression for what most of France experiences in September when people come back from long vacations and kids go back to school. Most French people have 25 days of paid leave (congés payés) per year. And that’s not including additional vacation days for all the various bank holidays, overtime compensation…
Last summer, I spent 2 months in the US during which people regularly asked me if I’d consider moving back to the US. It was an easy answer, “why would I? I got 2 months of paid vacation?!”
That said, getting back into the rhythm after such a long break is tough. That’s why this article is all about oatmeal. If you are an American, you probably know all about oatmeal. If you are French, you may still believe that oatmeal is what horses eat. So read on.
Oatmeal is a gluten-free* grain grown in cool, wet climates like Scandinavia, Vermont (brought by the Scottish immigrants) and Scotland. You can do just about anything with oatmeal from treating eczema and itchy chicken pox to making stuffing or topping a crumble. But here are three of my favorite uses for oatmeal to help get you and your family through the day and to give you some energy to face the long winter ahead.
Start the day with a bowl of quick, filling and healthy porridge, as it’s known in Scotland. Fill a bowl part way with plain oatmeal. Pour just enough milk to cover it (a little more if you want it a bit creamier) and put it in the microwave for 2 minutes. When it’s cooked, add a pinch of cinnamon, some maple syrup and a handful of dried cranberries. It’s the perfect quick, filling and healthy way to start the day. And if that doesn’t please the family, try some homemade granola bars.
Make oatmeal cookies. There are many recipes out there, many of which you can find on the Quaker Oats website. Oatmeal cookies are healthy and versatile. These cookies make a filling snack after a long day at school or work. My secrets to the perfect tasty and nutritious oatmeal cookies are to throw in some cranberries, extra cinnamon,and maybe some almond powder. Be sure that the dough is cold before baking the cookies. Do not overbake them! Oatmeal cookies are ready to come out of the oven when the edges are just starting to turn brown and the center is just slightly uncooked. My favorite base recipe is Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookies (but I usually leave out of the white chocolate). You can also create your own variation by adding coconut, ground almonds, or crumbled speculoos cookies.
Oatmeal Dinner (or after)
To end a hectic day, try an oatmeal-honey mask. (See, I told you oatmeal had lots of uses). Follow these simple directions for a quick and easy mask that’s good for your skin (and tastes good too). All you need is honey, oatmeal and water.
Oatmeal is good for the body and the soul. And to quote Wilford Brimley, the Quaker oats spokesman from the 1980s and ’90s, “Quaker oats, it’s the right thing to do and the tasty way to do it”.