Oatmeal has always been a traditional part of breakfast and with good reason, when made with rolled or steel cut oats it’s not only healthy and filling but also cost-effective to make. Gone are the days when oatmeal was exclusively topped with a spoonful of brown sugar. Thanks to food bloggers and social media, oatmeal has been reborn into an inspired meal that’s as varied as it is nutritious. These outlets also provide a wealth of recipes, toppings, stir-ins and presentation ideas that are still easy enough that any home cook can succeed in making oatmeal a regular part of their diet.
Oats and your health
The average bowl of oatmeal that has been made with either rolled or steel cut oats offers a treasure trove of health benefits. Oats are carbohydrate and fibre-rich, with smaller but still beneficial amounts of protein and healthy fats that will keep you feeling full for hours. Still not convinced? Oats and oat bran have been shown to lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol due to a soluble fibre called beta glucan. Oats have also been shown to contain high amounts of antioxidants which are important for maintaining heart health as well as improving immune responses to illness. Oats are safe for most gluten-free diets, although some individuals may avoid them due to cross contamination with wheat at the processing facility.
Making oatmeal is easy
Oatmeal couldn’t be easier to make, the only real difference in stovetop preparation is the time needed to cook the oats. In general, when using rolled oats a 2:1 ratio of liquids to oats is used while steel cut oats require a 4:1 ratio of liquids to oats. Water, milk (dairy or alternative of your choice), apple juice or a combination can be used as a cooking liquid depending on personal preferences. Oatmeal can also be made in larger batches at the beginning of the week, this is especially helpful for making steel cut oatmeal which can take upwards of 40 minutes to cook. Refrigerate the oatmeal and portion out in the mornings, reconstituting with a small amount of liquid before heating over the stove top or in the microwave. Overnight rolled oats are perfect for even the most morning-resistant, simply stir together rolled oats, the liquid of your choice and a healthy dollop of yogurt. By breakfast time the following morning the oats will be softened and ready for any embellishments that need to be made with toppings and stir-ins, no other effort required.
Get creative with toppings
An unadorned bowl of oatmeal, while comforting in its plainness, is a blank canvas just waiting to be strewn with one or many of the vast number of options available to the average person. Fruit brings colour and extra fibre, experiment with fresh, frozen and dried options. Toasted nuts and seeds as well as butters can be used in moderation to produce larger-than-life flavours, a scant tablespoon of toasted shredded coconut can make ordinary oatmeal taste like the tropics. A drizzle of maple syrup or honey can be used to replace brown sugar, or try stirring in a favourite fruit preserve or custard. Pumpkin or sweet potato puree adds a slightly sweet richness to oatmeal as well as additional nutrients, add some pumpkin spice or freshly grated nutmeg and it will instantly taste as though your oatmeal is in fact, pumpkin pie.