A bowl full of deliciousness: hearty steel cut oats, creamy almond milk, warm bananas, plenty of raisins, walnuts and fresh berries. What a way to start your day!So many people like to eat oatmeal for breakfast. And that’s great because oats are considered one of the healthiest grains. They are full of fiber, vitamins and iron. They help in lowering cholesterol and support healthy weight by keeping us full longer. As long as you eat the oats without tons of sugar and sodium, that is.
There are several kinds of oats you can buy: old fashioned rolled oats, instant and quick rolled oats, steel cut oats (called Irish, sometimes), Scottish oatmeal as well as oat groats. Each kind is processed differently with oat groats being the least and instant oats the most processed. From the nutrition point of view all of them seem to have a very similar properties which was quite surprising to me, to be honest. The main differences are in the cooking time and consistency. Oat groats cook the longest, about 1 hour, steel cut oats are ready in about 20 minutes when cooked on the stove, old fashioned rolled oats are ready in about 5 minutes when microwaved and instant rolled oats require only boiling water and some stirring. As far as the consistency it is a matter of personal preference. Some like it chewy, some like it creamy!
If I can suggest one thing, it would be to stay away from the pre-made instant oatmeal packets, since they are loaded with sugar, sodium and artificial flavors. If you like using the instant oatmeal packets because it is convenient you can make them yourself. Buy a bag of unsweetened instant rolled oats and make individual servings by measuring out:
- oats (about 1/3 cup ),
- sweetener like brown sugar or coconut sugar ( 1 teaspoon or so),
- touch of salt,
- pinch of cinnamon or your favorite spice ( nutmeg, pumpkin pie, etc. )
- dried fruit ( blueberries, strawberries, coconut flakes, chopped dried apples to name a few)
- chopped nuts
- 1 teaspoon hemp hearts, flax seed meal or chia seeds (optional)
Place everything into small ziplock bags, label if you have different flavors and date. You can do it once a week or once a month. It is not only healthier but will save you some money, too.
I’m a huge fan of steel cut oats with their chewy yet creamy consistency. I typically make a big batch that lasts 3-4 days. Since the steel cut oats take about 20-25 minutes to cook, I start preparing them the night before to speed things up a bit. All it takes is to boil 4 cups of water, add 1 cup of oats, cover the pot and turn the heat off. In the morning bring the mixture to boiling, then gently simmer for 12-15 minutes uncovered, stirring often. I like to add a pinch of salt to the pot to help the flavors stand up a bit. Each morning I microwave a portion of the cooked oats, add my favorite garnishes and that’s it!
It’s even better with almond milk…
I love homemade almond milk. It not only tastes better but you know exactly what’s in it: almonds, water and vanilla extract. When you decide to give it a try, it’s important to buy raw almonds, preferably organic. Almonds, like many nuts, are actually seeds and are protected by Mother Nature from germination in the wrong environment. Their brown skin contains a growth inhibiting enzyme and an acid that make almonds harder to digest and absorb all of their nutrients. To remove the enzyme and acid, soak them up overnight and rinse really well afterwards. It takes about 10 minutes of active work to make about 3 cups of almond milk.
- 1 cup raw almonds, soaked overnight, rinsed
- 3 cups water, filtered
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
Using a high-speed blender process almonds with water for about 1 minute. Using a nut milk bag or a clean dish towel separate the milk from the almond pulp; simply place the milk bag into a clean bowl and pour the milk inside the bag. Squeeze the bag to remove as much milk as possible. If using a dish towel, place it over the bowl and slowly pour the milk mixture. Grab all of the sides of your dish towel and squeeze. If desired, add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract to the milk and stir. Some people like to sweeten their homemade almond milk with liquid stevia. The milk stays fresh for about 4 days. The cost of homemade almond milk versus store bought is very comparable, about $4.00/for 3 cups and you know exactly what’s inside!
Finally, my oatmeal recipe!
Yields: 4 servings
Preparation time: 5 minutes + overnight soaking
Cook time: 15 minutes
- 1 cup steel cut oats
- 4 cups boiling water
- pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup almond milk, preferably homemade
- 1/2 banana, sliced
- handful of golden raisins
- handful of walnuts pieces
- 1 Tablespoon hemp hearts, flax seed meal or chia seeds
- fresh fruit of your choice, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries
- maple syrup
- The night before, bring 4 cups of water to boil, add 1 cup of steel cut oats, cover and turn off the heat.
- Next morning, bring the oats to boil and continue to simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes until soft and creamy, stirring often. If you skipped step 1 just cook the oats longer (about 20 minutes instead of 10-15).
- Add a pinch of salt, if desired.
To serve: combine 2/3 cup of warm cooked oats with almond milk, sliced banana, raisins and walnuts ( I like to microwave everything at this point to make the bananas extremely delicious). Stir, then add another fresh fruit of your choice. Sprinkle some hemp hearts, pour some maple syrup and dig in!