Change Up Your Breakfast With Not-So-Sweet Oatmeal

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Oatmeal BreakfastWhen I was a kid, oatmeal meant one of two things: Either homemade oatmeal that I doctored with as much brown sugar and as many raisins as it would bear, or envelopes of instant Quaker Oatmeal from the assorted flavor pack, which I mixed before school. Regardless, the oatmeal I ate was always flavored sweetly, whether I used brown sugar, maple syrup, or, in the case of the Quaker packets, just straight up regular sugar with artificial flavoring.

I have recently become a devotee of steel-cut oats, not just because they sound a little bit badass, but because they are so much less gloppy and runny than rolled-oat oatmeal. Plus, I'm a make-ahead kind of girl -- if I can cook something ahead and have it already prepped for the week, I'm all fired up about that. I can make enough steel-cut oats to last the week, and just heat up what I need in the morning. I add toppings, and breakfast is ready to go.

For some reason, it never occurred to me that oatmeal didn't have to be sweet. Add non-sweet toppings? Really? This wasn't even on my radar screen, even as I learned about congee or jook, Chinese rice porridge that is a perfect foil for non-sweet ingredients like scallions or duck.

Then I read a post on Penny de los Santos' blog, Appetite, where she described adding really good olive oil, sea salt and sharp Cheddar shavings to her steel-cut oats. I was skeptical, but I trust Penny's judgment when it comes to food, and there isn't a single ingredient on that list that I don't like. I decided to give it a whirl.

Turns out, the combination is amazing. It's filling, delicious, and even a little bit decadent. Sure, if you go overboard with the oil and the cheese, you can tilt it toward unhealthy, but with an easy hand on both, it's a fantastic option in the morning that knocks brown sugar and raisins right out of the breakfast park, as far as I'm concerned.

I read through the comments, and discovered Penny's not the only one eating her oatmeal with a side of non-sweet ingredients. In fact, there's a surprising number of people admitting, somewhat sheepishly, that they've been keeping their non-sweet oatmeal options secret because others think it's weird.

Here are three more bloggers who are fans of oatmeal prepared without the sweet:

How do you like your oatmeal? Have you tried it with non-sweet toppings? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Genie blogs about gardening and food at The Inadvertent Gardener, and tells very short tales at 100 Proof Stories.

Photo by HeatedGroundPhotography, shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) License.

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