When I began my quest to break away from the cold cereal rut, oatmeal was a natural choice. I started my family out with unsweetened instant oatmeal, adding a little bit of cinnamon and all-natural applesauce to taste.
This was healthier than the instant flavored oatmeal that they preferred, but I am trying to get away from so many processed foods and instant oatmeal is highly processed. I noticed that they didn’t have the “staying power” that I was looking for. I want to give my kids a breakfast that will last the morning, not something that leaves their tummies grumbling after an hour.
Since leaving instant oatmeal behind, we have been experimenting with rolled oats and steel cut (or Irish) oats. Some of my kids prefer the mushy comfort of a warm bowl of rolled oatmeal. Others prefer the taste of the healthier steel cut variety. Rolled oats are still pretty healthy, and they are part of our breakfast rotation, but the steel cut oats are the most nutritious.
Steel cut oats have a nutty, firm texture. My toddler calls her steel cut oats “rice,” since their texture is closer to grains of brown rice than it is to the mushy consistency of cooked rolled oats. I use 2 cups of water to 1 cup of oats, but you can add an additional cup of liquid if you want your oats to be softer.
Steel cut oats need to be soaked before cooking. They are healthier when pre-soaked, and they will also cook faster. Stephanie at Keeper of the Home has a great post that goes into more detail about soaking oats if you want to learn more. Or, you could just trust me and soak your oats!
1 cup oats
pinch of salt
enough water to cover
2 cups additional water
I soak my oats at night so they are ready to go the next morning. I put the oats in the pan I intend to cook them in and add enough water to just cover them. Cover the pan with a lid or dishtowel and walk away until morning.
The next morning, I add water in a 2 to 1 ratio (if I put in 1 cup of oats the night before I add 2 cups of water). Bring the oats to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer on low for about 10 minutes.
I often make a large batch in advance and refrigerate the unused portion. Then our morning oatmeal routine only takes 90 seconds.
Everyone in our family likes different toppings: natural applesauce, raisins, dried cranberries, sliced bananas and maple syrup, butter and brown sugar, a tablespoon of chocolate chips (stirred in until melty!), and milk or cream. I even love my steel cut oats savory, with cheddar cheese, bacon or prosciutto, fresh tomato, salt and pepper.
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