As I make my way through my second giant canister of Old-Fashioned Quaker Oats, I decided it was about time that I write a post dedicated to my true love: oatmeal. Seriously, I can’t believe I’ve made it this far without professing my undying love for the best breakfast in the world!
A little background about my history with this superfood/delicious invention. I have eaten oatmeal since I was a little kid, when my mother would make it for me and I would make it “snow” with the sugar I put on top. It wasn’t until I started running, however, that I truly discovered the endless possibilities that it afforded me. Oatmeal, I found, was the perfect pre-run food, which caused little to no digestive issues for me, and kept me full during my workout so I was not utterly starving after my run. It was a great way to sneak fruit into my morning meal, making it a one-bowl breakfast that was easy to put together as I got ready for school. I’m not quite sure when I started experimenting with all the different combinations that I have, but before I knew it, it was a full-blown obsession. Now, some people have been living deprived, believing that oatmeal only consists of those little sugary packets you add hot water to. Don’t get me wrong, those have their time and place (believe me, I have enough of them), but I’m just gonna say that once you have gotten a taste of my oatmeal, you’ll never go back.
One side story before I get into my favorite oatmeals:
So last year, I was surfing on Twitter, reading tweets from Quaker Oatmeal, one of my favorite tweeters, and I came across a mention of National Oatmeal Day. Hm, I thought, there’s a whole day devoted to oatmeal?? I click around, looking for when this day could possibly be, and I am floored. Could it be? Of all the days? It’s my birthday. How perfect! As soon as I regain my composure, I do some more fishing, and find a contest on Twitter as part of National Oatmeal Day, with a chance to win a LOT of oatmeal. It goes without saying that I entered. Several times. Fast forward to a few months later. I am on my way back from the student package center, weighed down with three boxes, two of which are from none other than Quaker Oats.
It was kind of a lot of oatmeal.
Ok, now that that mandatory story is out of the way, here are some of my favorite things to do with oatmeal:
- Banana Oatmeal- Take 1 cup water (or half water/half milk) and bring it to a boil on the stove. While you are waiting for it to boil, slice a ripe banana (at least speckled, better if it’s almost brown) and place it in the water/milk. Add 1/2 cup uncooked old-fashioned oats, and stir it into the bananas and water. Turn the heat to medium, and wait for it to start bubbling. When it starts to bubble, stir slightly so that the bananas kind of dissolve into the mixture. When it reaches the desired consistency, it’s done!
- This will give you the sweetest, creamiest, most filling oatmeal- it’s what I usually have a few hours before a long run, or when I know I won’t be able to eat until lunch. To make it stick with you even longer, I put a spoonful of natural peanut butter on the top- the natural kind tends to melt easier so you are left with a pool of delicious melty goodness you can eat with each bite of oatmeal. I have been seriously obsessed with this oatmeal lately- it’s just too good to resist when I have bananas on hand.
- More classic oatmeals- Prepare oatmeal as directed on package (Boil 1 cup water, add 1/2 cup oatmeal, cook, stirring, until it reaches desired consistency). Add any of the following toppings either towards the end of cooking or after cooking is complete:
- Dried cherries/cranberries, walnuts, and strawberry jam/spread. Fruity, nutty, crunchy, sweet.
- Sliced bananas (slightly less ripe), chocolate chips, and Greek yogurt. Decadently delicious.
- Greek yogurt, sliced strawberries, and strawberry jelly. This one sounds kind of weird, but the Greek yogurt really sets off the sweet warmth of the oatmeal. The tangy, creamy, cool yogurt contrasts just perfectly with the warm, chewy oats, and the strawberries add the sweetness and freshness to the whole thing.
- Any type of flavored peanut butter or spread- White Chocolate Peanut Butter or Nutella taste delicious with banana oatmeal, if you’re feeling crazy. This is good post-run, when you need a little sugar to replace glycogen stores.
- Peaches- add canned peaches towards the end of cooking, keeping in mind that they might make the oatmeal a little more runny, so you might have to cook it a little bit longer. However, it’s totally worth it, because the canned peaches kind of infuse the oatmeal with all of their sweetness and peach flavor. This is even better topped with peach flavored (or plain) yogurt.
- Pumpkin- I’ve only done this a handful of times, but if you add some canned pumpkin to the oatmeal as it’s cooking, you get a really cool orange color (beta-carotenes!), and pumpkin pie-esque taste with the right combination of spices (I believe cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and nutmeg do the trick). I would recommend adding a little brown sugar or other sweetener, however, because unsweetened pumpkin is not the greatest.
- Trail mix- a couple tablespoons of any type of trail mix adds great texture to the oatmeal, as well as a variety of flavors and colors. The whole sweet-salty thing usually works out pretty well, so most trail mixes have it on-point.
- Apple cinnamon- add sliced apples as you would bananas in banana oatmeal. Cook the apples for a little bit in the boiling water before adding the oats so that the apples can get a little bit tender. Add spice with cinnamon and allspice. I have been meaning to experiment with applesauce instead of fresh apples, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. I’m thinking that the already cooked apples in chunky applesauce might help flavor this one a little better.
- Any type of berries- if you add them during the cooking process, you will get purple oatmeal that has tons of fiber! However, I am allergic to blueberries, so most frozen berry mixtures don’t work for me 😦
- Steel-Cut Oatmeal– I’m not the biggest fan of this kind (I mean, it’s great, but waiting half hour for oatmeal to cook in the morning when I’m starving doesn’t usually work for me). Trader Joe’s has a 6-minute quick-cooking steel cut oatmeal that I have tried and is delicious, but I still have to be feeling adventurous to make it instead of one of my standbys. This nuttier, slightly heartier-textured oatmeal tends to pair really well with nuts and anything warm and dense. It’s great in the winter or for cool, misty Washington mornings.
Ok, I will stop ranting and raving about oatmeal now, but be warned, I will probably continue to post about my new oatmeal creations as they happen. 😉