Powerhouse Oatmeal

Meet SoupAddict’s very favorite breakfast food: oatmeal. But not just any old Quaker oatmeal. Steel cut oats. Not “old fashioned” or “rolled” oats (or, heaven forbid, instant). Steel cut. If you’ve never had steel cut oats, you must, must try them.

Yeah, sure you have to cook them. But you’re up for that, right? Because it’s the right thing to do. Eating McDonald’s oatmeal? Not the right thing to do. Homemade steel cut oatmeal? Now you’re talkin’.

Say goodbye to mushy oatmeal. Do you see these small grains? Lovely. Super lovely. They have a soft, chewy texture that’s entirely pleasing and chock full of that comforting nutty-oatty flavor we’ve all come to know and love.

SoupAddict recently tried almond milk for the first time. Me likely. A lot. (Much, much better than soy milk, which is a little blechy, even though I like things like edamame and tempeh.) So now SoupAddict uses almond milk in her oatmeal instead of regular. Word.

For extra yumminess, oats are toasted in the pan with a pat of butter. You won’t be sorry.

You know what else is so fabulous about homemade oatmeal? The wonderfully healthy and delicious things you can add to it. Like almonds and pecans. And flaxseeds. SoupAddict likes to grind up these three things into a powdery paste and add them to the steel cut oats while they’re cooking. For extra nutritional goodness, add some buckwheat, or wheat bran, or amaranth. Or all of the above.

And toppings. Ooooo, the toppings. The sky’s the limit, people. Chopped nuts, dried fruit (wild blueberries, above right), raisins, cranberries. Dates (above left), figs. Fresh strawberries, macerated or not. It’s all good.

And don’t forget the seasonings. Cinnamon is good for you — add as much as what tastes good (sometimes I add an entire tablespoon to the batch as it’s finishing cooking). How about cardamom? Just a pinch. Ginger, for a little kick. And last but not least, the sweeteners. Now, before you reach for that processed brown sugar, have you tried pure maple syrup? Or honey? You might be pleasantly surprised at the amount of processed foods you can actually leave out of your breakfast and still be completely satisfied.

The reward for cooking steel cut oats is that you have breakfast for a week. Real oats, with ingredients you recognize because you added ‘em yourself. Store the leftovers in the fridge and reheat in the microwave with a little water or milk. SoupAddict takes this to work and wards off Starbucks cravings by enjoying a warm bowl mid-morning.

Not only is steel cut oatmeal good for you, but it’s good for your wallet, too. Buy in bulk for a mere $1 per pound and save a ton over the packaged instant stuff. (Even my Kroger carries steel cut oats in bulk in the natural foods section.)

Powerhouse Oatmeal

1 tablespoon butter
1 cup steel cut oats
3 cups boiling water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2-1 cup milk, soy milk or (my fave) almond milk
1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
2 teaspoons cinnamon

In a large saucepot, melt the butter and add the oats. Stir for 2 minutes to toast. Add the boiling water and reduce heat to a simmer. Keep at a low simmer for 20 minutes, without stirring.

Add salt and milk to the oatmeal. Stir gently to combine and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Stir in sweetener and cinnamon prior to serving.

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