Whatever you call it, oatmeal is a stick-to-your-ribs breakfast. Yes, it is high in carbs, but they’re the good kind, aided in their health benefits by all the awesome fiber that’s included.
There are four kinds of oats for cereal:
1. Instant oatmeal. Don’t even go there. Though it is supposed to contain the whole grain, it is so refined that the negatives (higher glycemic index, lower fiber, gluey texture, addition of excessive sugar and salt) outweigh the positives (ease of preparation). Instant oats are made by precooking the oats, then drying and powdering them so that a dash of boiling water will reconstitute them.
2. Quick oats. Not to be confused with instant oats, quick oats are oat pieces that are steamed, rolled, steamed and toasted. This makes them cook faster than old-fashioned oats.
3. Steel cut oats. These are made by chopping oat groats into pieces the size of rice kernels. No rolling here! They take considerably longer to cook than quick oats. Steel-cut oats are also known as coarse-cut oats, pinhead oats, Scotch oats, or Irish oats.
4. Old-fashioned oats. Also known as large flake rolled oats, these are made by simply rolling out whole oat kernels. A huge benefit for me is that I can purchase organic locally grown oats from a nearby farmer as part of my annual grain share. Using a roller attached to my Bosch kitchen center, I can roll my own oats into a serviceable product.
In my experience, steel-cut oats and old-fashioned rolled oats take about the same amount of time to cook–over half an hour. Whoa! Who has time for that every morning? Not I. I often cook a mega-batch on the weekend, then heat up a bowlful each morning in the microwave. A dollop of vanilla yogurt, and I’m good to go in less time than it would take to make instant oatmeal.
Maybe because I grew up on oatmeal most mornings for breakfast, I’ve gotten a little tired of the basic flavor. Besides, one of my goals is to eat 8-10 servings of fruit and vegetables daily, and there’s nary a one in regular oatmeal.
Let me introduce my mega-batch! The only important measurements are in the ratio of water to oats to salt. The rest is personal preference.
6 cups water. Bring to a boil. Add:
1 teaspoon salt.
While the water is heating, add the following:
2-3 apples, peeled, cored, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup snipped crystallized ginger
dash of cinnamon
When the water is boiling and all the other ingredients are in, add:
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
Stir and turn down the heat. If I’m headed into the shower at this stage, I turn the heat really low. If I’m poking around the kitchen anyway, I’ll leave it a bit higher, as I’m there to keep an eye on it. When there is no standing water left in the pot, turn off the heat.
Scoop a large serving into a cereal bowl and add yogurt. I find it sweet enough at this stage with the addition of raisins, ginger, and the vanilla yogurt, but if you prefer a bit sweeter, add a dollop of honey.