A Week's Worth of Amazing Oatmeal: Seven Simple Variations!

Oats are awesome. 

Because, in addition to making an awesome addition to cookies and breads, oats stand up on their own as one of the quickest, cheapest, most filling and nutritious breakfast cereals around. But unless you’re an oat aficionado, a plain bowl of the stuff can get old, fast. 

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So to help you get on board with this good grain, I’m passing along seven super-simple variations that’ll make your standard bowl - and morning - a whole lot sweeter. And, unlike the preflavoured stuff, these variations let you decide exactly which ingredients make the cut (no guar gum or calcium carbonate for me, thanks!). 

Each variation is scaled to work with the single-serving oatmeal recipe provided below, and can be made using either the stovetop or microwave method (save for the eggy version, which should be made only on the stove). 

And don’t be afraid to come up with new combinations of your own; oatmeal is mild in flavour, so think of the bowl as your canvas! But if you need more guidance than those awe-inspiring words, check out the oatmeal-making tips at the end of the post! 

Now, without further ado: 

Seven Simple Variations for Amazing Oatmeal All Week Long! 

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Berries + cream + almonds
The idea: 
Fresh, sweet, and a little bit luxurious. 
The method: Top cooked oatmeal with a generous handful of fresh berries, a tablespoon of cream, and a small handful of toasted slivered almonds. If your berries aren’t super-sweet, you may want add a drizzle (~1 tablespoon) of honey too! 

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Peanut butter + banana + honey
The idea: Like the sandwich you ate when you were little (or, if you’re me, last week). You’ve got to try this one! 
The method: Stir 1 tablespoon of peanut butter into hot, cooked oatmeal. Top with a sliced/diced banana and a drizzle (~1 tablespoon) of honey. 

Chocolate + strawberry
The idea: Chocolate and strawberries? No explanation necessary!
The method: Stir 2 tablespoons of grated dark chocolate into hot, cooked oatmeal and top with a big handful of sliced strawberries (raspberries would be awesome too!). 

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Cinnamon + raisin + egg + brown sugar
The idea: Kind of like custardy rice pudding, only way faster.  
The method: Add 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and 3 tablespoons of raisins at the beginning of the cooking process. When the oatmeal is 1-2 minutes away from being done, stir in a beaten egg. Continue stirring until the oatmeal has reached your preferred consistency (constant stirring will ensure that the egg makes the oatmeal silky and not scrambly). Top with a bit of brown sugar and milk. 

Banana + nutmeg + brown sugar
The idea: One of my favourites! This one packs tons of flavour with minimal effort. 
The method: Top cooked oatmeal with a sliced banana and a good grating of fresh nutmeg (grating is totally worth it!). Add a splash of milk and a bit of brown sugar (or honey), if you so please! 

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Nutella + fruit + hazenlnuts
The idea: Is it dessert? Is it breakfast? It’s breakfast, I say!
The method: Stir 1 generous tablespoon of Nutella into hot, cooked oatmeal. Top with a generous handful of sliced/diced strawberries and/or bananas and small handful of chopped toasted hazelnuts. 

Cinnamon + walnuts + candied ginger + brown sugar
The idea: Warm, sweet, crunchy - perfect for a chilly morning! 
The method: Stir in 1/4 tsp of cinnamon at the beginning of the cooking process. Top cooked oatmeal with a small handful of toasted walnuts, chopped candied ginger, and a bit of brown sugar (honey or maple syrup would be great too!).  
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Basic Oatmeal
Makes 1 serving (enough to get me through to lunch no problem!) and can be easily scaled up to make more! 

Ingredients
1/2 cup of quick-cooking oats (the 3-5-minute kind)
1 cup of water, milk or equivalent**
1 big pinch of salt 

Directions**
Combine all ingredients in a small pot and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently (constantly, if you can). Once at a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 3-5 minutes or until oatmeal has reached desired consistency, stirring frequently (constantly, if you can). Eat as is, or add in all kinds of tasty! 

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*You can use any sort of thin liquid, like soy, almond or rice milk - just remember to adjust the amount of sweetener you add if you're starting with a pre-sweetened liquid. And if you like your oatmeal wetter or drier than the oatmeal in the photo, add more or less liquid! 

**You can make oatmeal in the microwave by combining all ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and heating it on high for 90 seconds, stirring halfway through. I think the stovetop method produces a nicer consistency, but the microwave method is great when you’ve got little time to spare! 
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Extra Oatmeal-Making Tips: 

- Make it your own: add your favourite spices, raw/toasted/candied seeds or nuts, nut butters, fresh/cooked/dried fruits, sweeteners, etc. - the possibilities are endless!
- Up the health factor: Choose your additions wisely (skip the Nutella, maybe?) and toss in a handful of ground flaxseed, wheat germ, or other health-food favourite! Swap sugar with a natural sweetener like honey, agave, or a fruit-based molasses. 
- Sweeten with fruit: Adding dried, cooked or fresh fruit at the beginning of the cooking process will sweeten the oatmeal more than if you add it at the end. Toss in a mashed banana, a grated apple or big spoonful of applesauce, a handful of chopped dried apricots - you get the idea! 
- Rehydrate dried fruit: Adding dried fruit at the beginning of the cooking process gives it time to plump! If you’re adding a lot of dried fruit, you may want to up the amount of liquid you use. 
- Reheat leftovers: Leftovers can be reheated over the stove or in the microwave with a bit of extra liquid.You’ll lose a bit in texture, but if you’re the type who needs every extra morning minute possible, the convenience factor of making a big batch and reheating through the week may be worth it! 

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