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You Can Make: Oatmeal

03/03/2011

Oatmeal is all over the blog world, with good reason.  It’s a filling breakfast to last until lunch.  Yet many people have a love/hate relationship with this breakfast staple.  Complaints include “bland/sticky/time-consuming/etc.”

I completely understand .  As a kid I’d only ate instant flavors more suited for dessert than breakfast.  I thought healthy oatmeal = plain with water.  No matter how healthy I wasn’t eating this. Ick.

bad oatmeal

My food geek hero Alton Brown rescued me explaining there’s more to oatmeal than I thought.  If you care to geek out the full episodes are here including history and recipes of the wonder grain.  IMG_6615

The transcript is below if you don’t have time for Alton’s awesomeness…but he is super awesome.

Groats
Once the oats are harvested, the miller has a lot of choices to make. For instance he might elect to remove only the outer hull. That would produce whole oats, also known as groats. You notice that, uh, they still have their entire bran coat on, a lot like brown rice which is not a complete accident because you know what? They also taste kind of like brown rice. Nice, but a little too nutty for my taste. The other things is that, uh, even if you soak them overnight and cook them for hours, they’re chewy as Gumby. I’ll pass.

Steel Cut Oats
Now, if you were to take these, however, and send them through steel cutters you would have steel-cut oats, a.k.a. Scotch oats or Irish Oats or—I love this one—pinhead oats. They also take a little while to cook. But they produce a very creamy porridge. Mmm. It’s also just a bit chewy, a little toasty … mmm. They’re really nice.

Rolled Oats
Now if you were to take these and steam them and press them out in rollers and then dry them, you would have rolled oats, a.k.a. old-fashioned oats, a.k.a. oatmeal. These are the oats we think of when and, well, if we think of oats. Now the idea of mashing them flat that was an American thing. Makes them cook faster. The problem is, faster is not always better. In fact, uh, they tend to produce a rather measly mush. They do have some other applications which they are very well suited, but we’ll get to those later.

Instant Oats
Could you process them even more? Well, sure. Why not? You could mash them even thinner, par-cook them and then dry them. Then you’d have instant oats which I wouldn’t feed to my horse.

Alton loves steel-cut oats – I tend to agree – but traditional oatmeal can be delicious as well.  The instant stuff is good in a pinch or for fun things like microwave oatmeal cookies.

I keep rolled oats and steel cut oats on hand at all times…preferably Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free versions.

Oats are cheap and easily purchased in bulk for pennies on the dollar and prepared more ways than I can imagine.  I prefer a few make ahead versions in large batches I can eat all week.

*Note: I love cinnamon and use it in any recipe possible.

If you detest it…you are not my friend.  Or you can just omit and not tell me. Winking smile*

Steel Cut Rice Cooker Oats

  1. Combine 2 cups steel cut oats with as much cinnamon as you enjoy – for me the more the merrier – and 1/2 tsp. salt.  Stir to combine because cinnamon will not mix in after you add the water – it’s fat soluble.IMG_6690You can sub 2 tbsp. cocoa powder for chocolate oats…or add it to the cinnamon for Mexican Hot Chocolate Oats.
  2. Add 5 cups water and stir.  Set rice cooker for next morning to allow for soak time. Fresh fruit can be cooked with the oats or added later.  IMG_6694I set the time to begin an hour before I wake up to allow for cooking and cool time.
  3. In the morning stir and add any toppings.  Raisins, apples, and bananas oh my. IMG_6911

The consistency will be thin the first day but makes for easy reheating with a splash of milk.

Maple Banana Bake

  1. Combine 1/2 cup rolled oats, 3/4 cups water and 1/4 cup milk or milk alternative in sauce pan with a pinch of salt.  Heat on medium until the bubbles begin.IMG_6617
  2. Slice a banana into pot and add cinnamon and nutmeg to taste (I use 1.5 tsp. and 1/4 tsp. nutmegs) and 2 tbsp. maple syrup.  Whip with fork or whisk until your arm falls off…or almost.IMG_6640Stopping here to eat from the pot is fine, but trust me it’s worth continuing.
  3. Spoon oatmeal into individual ramekins or muffin tin and bake at 350 degrees until top is slightly brown.  IMG_6650For an extra sweet crunch add a tiny bit of brown sugar to create a brulee crust.

These oats can be stored in the fridge for reheating or eating cold.  Makes 4 1/2 cup servings.

Apple Slow Cooker Oats

I love oats but hate the boil over when microwaving.  Rice cooker oats are my standard go to but slow cooker oats are just as easy and delicious.

  1. Combine 1 cup rolled oats with 1.5 tsp. cinnamon in slow cooker and stir…same reason as rice cooker.  Add 3.5 cups water and either 1/2 cup of unsweetened apple sauce or one diced apple or pear. IMG_7992 If you aren’t fruity, uh don’t like fruit in your oatmeal, skip it and use 4 cups of water.
  2. Add a pinch of salt and a smidge (2 tsp.) of oil, butter or margarine to prevent sticking.  I also use crock pot liners because they are the best invention…EVER! No clean up freeing the crock pot for dinner the same night.IMG_7987
  3. Cook overnight on low for 8 to 9 hours.IMG_7998If you only sleep 6 hours, set them up early for maximum creamy factor.
  4. Top with sweetener of choice, a splash of milk, and your favorite add-ins. IMG_8012 I love maple syrup or molasses and vanilla hemp milk and berries.

Leftovers can be stored in the fridge – without the milk and sweetener – for easy reheating throughout the week.

Honestly oatmeal can be whatever you like…even mimicking my childhood instant oats with maple & brown sugar or strawberries & cream.

One other tip…muffins/brownies/peanut butter/etc. make great toppings for a new breakfast every day. Smile

IMG_4954

How do you eat oats?

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