September 12, 2010

Yummy Oatmeal

I'm a huge fan of oatmeal... 

Sometimes I will even disrupt my obsession with Kashi Island Vanilla wheat cereal and eat hot oatmeal for breakfast during the summer months. Now that the outside temperature is cooling down, I'll be making oatmeal more often for breakfast.

The typical process:
Generally, I prepare an individual packet of maple-sugared oatmeal (or something similar--and I like the reduced sugar varieties that are around nowadays) and add some plain quick oats and extra milk or water. Then I toss in a couple dozen dried cranberries and microwave the whole deal. I have learned the sticky way that oatmeal expands quite a bit when microwaved. One must use caution.

The fancy method:
Sometimes I'll cook up some oatmeal the old-fashioned way using a stove and a pot. I'll use whatever variety of oats I've got, preferably something somewhat chopped, and doctor up the mixture with cinnamon, light brown sugar, vanilla, and dried fruits.

This savory, cinnamony, warm and yummy oatmeal creation has thrice graced my supper table in the past year. Who ever said oatmeal must be served only for breakfast?

Sugar...
Typically, I feel a twinge of guilt when I scoop out some *gasp* sugar to add to, well, anything. Then I look both ways before I dump in some more. Oatmeal is the chief offender--it doesn't really need sugar. But I really don't add that much sugar. It's just that sugar is discussed with such disdain when it comes to nutrition and health; thus, now that particular crystalline carbohydrate is oft-depicted as the nemesis of all those who endeavor to live healthily.

Moderation, people. That's the key. Fact is--we need sugar, and it isn't, or doesn't need to be, our downfall.

Math:
Curious to know just how much of that sweet stuff I've put into this recipe, I did a little calculating.
(Skip the following if you really don't care.)

Three tablespoons of light brown sugar contains 135 calories and 36 grams of carbohydrates (all sugar in this case). Divided into 4 servings, each serving contains 34 calories and 9 grams of carbohydrates (all sugar) from the light brown sugar. Additional calories and carbs (as well as protein, fiber, and vitamins) will come from the fruits and oats and milk, etc. I think--feel free to correct me--that 34 calories is about 15% of what one needs daily (for a 2000 calorie diet). Of course, we should limit our intake of those calories that come from simple carbs like sugar (as opposed to complex carbs found in whole grains and fruits).

Anyway, that amount works for me when I occasionally whip up this treat. One can certainly decrease or increase the brown sugar amount to suit one's own taste. Try cutting the sugar amount in half when you make the oatmeal, then add extra to your own bowl if you'd like more sweetener.

Whole grains:
And speaking (a while ago) of whole grains, I like that the oats contain no sodium or cholesterol and provide about 3 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein per serving (4 servings)--about 12% and 9% of a typical daily requirement respectively.

Water and milk?
I recommend using a combination of water and milk for this recipe. I think the milk is a necessary ingredient for a creamier oatmeal. Use whatever ratio of water to milk that suits you, resulting in 2-1/2 cups of liquid total.

Dried fruits:
The dried fruits soften while they're cooked, adding hints of their flavors to the mixture. About 1/2 cup of fruits is sufficient. My staple dried fruit is cranberries. Apricots are also tasty--chop them into small pieces because they expand significantly when boiled. Other fruits to try are dried apples, cherries, raisins, or strawberries.

Naming...
Sometimes I struggle over what title to give a recipe--or really anything I'm labeling or naming. It needs to be just right. I'll usually start with some sort of filler name to give the post or essay or whatever-I'm-writing something resembling structure. I started this one with "Yummy Oatmeal," and I intended to change it to something more professional once I reached the end of this commentary. But, lo! it is yummy oatmeal, so "Yummy Oatmeal" is how it shall be forever henceforth named.

So, now, without (much) more discussion, here goes the recipe. It's really a simple thing--nothing that unique--but sometimes we just need an inspiration, right?

Yummy Oatmeal
Serves: 2 - 4
Estimated time: 20 minutes

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup steel cut oats
  • 2-1/2 cups water and milk combined (making 2-1/2 cups total)
  • Dash of Morton's kosher salt (or another coarse salt) - optional
  • 1 teaspoon imitation vanilla extract
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 4 chopped dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring water, milk, and salt (optional) just to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Stir in the vanilla, cinnamon, quick oats, steel cut oats, light brown sugar, and dried fruits.
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 5 - 7 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Remove pot from heat and let the oatmeal stand for one minute before serving.
  5. Serve with extra milk and/or sugar, if desired. 


Enjoy!

4 comments:

Danielle said...

Ooo, I'm going to make this. Do you think it would be fine, sans dried fruit, simply because I don't have them on hand and want to make this tomorrow. I'd assume so, since it sounds better than "regular" oatmeal.

abigail said...

Sure thing! The fruit adds to the flavor and gives it more variety in texture, but it's not a vital ingredient. :) The oatmeal is tasty without it, too.

Danielle said...

THis was a huge hit. The boys even wanted seconds. I love it too, because I'm not really into the steal cut oats yet, so I liked it mixed in with regular oatmeal.

abigail said...

That's great! I'm glad to hear it was a hit. :)