Spice Up Your Oatmeal

Healthy and Hearty Breakfast Ideas

March 11, 2007

A good breakfast is always a good way to start your day. In addition to energy and nutrition, there is the psychological or spiritual uplift that comes from an enjoyable morning ritual.

In America we have a tradition of somewhat special foods for breakfast. Ham and eggs or pancakes are two of the more common traditional breakfast foods. But, by far the most common breakfast food in America is cereal.

One only has to visit the cereal aisle of a grocery store to appreciate the variety and popularity of cereal as America's breakfast food. One of the oldest, and still very popular, breakfast cereals is oatmeal.

Oats have been a staple food for humans for thousands of years. The most common way of preparing oats has been to boil the groat (the inner part of the oat that remains after the hull, or outer casing, has been removed) to make a porridge (which is thick and soupy) or gruel (a thin, watery mixture traditionally fed to babies, elderly people or people who are ill and can not handle solid food well).

Today's plain oatmeal cereal consists of groats that have been steamed, rolled and then dried and are marketed as Old Fashioned Oats. If they also cut the groat into two or three pieces and before steaming and rolling them the result is what is known as Quick Oats. Both are good for making oatmeal cereal, oatmeal cookies or other foods calling for oatmeal as an ingredient.

The difference between these two types of processed oats and traditional groats is cooking time. Steaming and rolling the groat for Old Fashioned Oats reduces boiling time for cereal from an hour or more for traditional groats to about 5 minutes on a stove-top (about 3 minutes in a microwave). For Quick Oats, the cooking time is further reduced to about 1 minute.

While healthy and nutritious, regular oatmeal doesn't have much taste. To combat this, cereal companies have started selling flavored oatmeal which usually comes in individual serving packets. These are good but tend to be very expensive compared to buying plain oatmeal – and, as a further drawback, you can't use these packets of flavored oatmeal to make oatmeal cookies.

However, one can take advantage of the cost savings and flexibility of purchasing regular quick oats style oatmeal and still enjoy flavored oatmeal by simply adding you own fruits or spices.

Oatmeal Breakfast Recipes

Here are a couple of easy recipes for making your own flavored oatmeal.

Cinnamon Oatmeal (single serving – SMALL):

½ cup of oatmeal (Old Fashioned or Quick)

Cinnamon to taste

1 – 2 teaspoons (or more if you like it sweeter) brown sugar

dash of salt (1/8 teaspoon or less is sufficient)

1 cup water

Place oatmeal in bowl.

Sprinkle on salt

Liberally sprinkle with cinnamon to taste

Add brown sugar (either sprinkle it over or just drop in a couple of lumps if it has hardened – the water and heat will break it down)

Mix together well

Add water (if cooking in microwave)

Place in microwave for 2 ½ - 3 minutes.

Remove from microwave, stir and pour milk over the mixture before eating.

For thicker oatmeal either reduce water slightly or microwave longer. For creamier oatmeal, increase water slightly.

If cooking on stove-top – prepare as above EXCEPT that water and salt goes in a small pan. After mixing dry ingredients, place water on stove and bring to a boil.

Add oat mixture to boiling water, reduce heat and cover

Cook for about 5 minutes while stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and let stand until it reaches the desired consistency (the longer you let it stand the thicker it will become).

Cinnamon Oatmeal (single serving – LARGE):

Ingredients and instructions are the same as above EXCEPT that the oatmeal is increased to ¾ cup and water to 1 ½ cups.

According to Wikipedia, the tradition among old Vermont farmers is to include maple syrup while also adding ground nutmeg and sometimes ground ginger along with the cinnamon. Wikipedia just describes the process which used plain groats which were soaked in cold salted water and maple syrup overnight and then boiled with the spices for about 90 minutes. Using Old Fashioned Oats or Quick Oats you should be able to just include the maple syrup, nutmeg and ginger in the recipes above and make this in the same time as I described for my cinnamon oatmeal.

Oatmeal with fruit flavored yogurt:

An easy and tasty way to make fruit flavored oatmeal is to use the recipe above but WITHOUT the cinnamon and brown sugar (dropping this is optional but the yogurt usually sweetens it sufficiently). Once the basic oatmeal is made, add a container of your favorite yogurt to the oatmeal and mix well.

Add Apple Sauce to Your Oatmeal

Another option is to add some applesauce to your oatmeal to make a healthy apple flavored oatmeal.

The recipe for this is essentially the same as the one above for adding yogurt to your oatmeal. Here simply mix a few spoonfuls of applesauce (vary quantity according to your taste) to your bowl of oatmeal.

As with yogurt, you may want to limit or omit the brown sugar you add to the oatmeal as the applesauce is usually sweet due to either the addition of sugar in its making or due to the use of sweet apples in the making of the applesauce and this alone is usually sufficient to adequately sweeten the oatmeal. However, use your own judgment and sweeten according to your taste.

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9 comments

Davino 5 years ago

Out of the blue I poured coffee into my oatmeal this morning. I think Im onto something. Here I am searching to see if its been done, and of course it has. Delicious. Count me IN.


nocreditneeded profile image

nocreditneeded 5 years ago from Texas

I eat oatmeal for breakfast almost every day now--I'm trying to get my cholesterol down. I make it in my rice cooker, and I use steel cut oats. I like plenty of salt and butter in mine. I got a few new ideas from your article that I might try now too.


Spice Rack 6 years ago

I also made oatmeal as an alternative spice aside from my oregano spices in the spice rack. It's great for cookies, porridge and soups. nice hub!


Anamika S profile image

Anamika S 6 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

This is cool! I have always found eating plain oatmeal daily a difficult task to accomplish. But with your tips it is going to be interesting.


Patti Ann profile image

Patti Ann 6 years ago from Florida

I eat oatmeal every morning - I add peanut butter, flax seed and blueberries to mine.


Jennifer 8 years ago

Thanks! I have a cold and our oatmeal is in a ziploc instead of the original box, so I couldn't remember nor find the ratios. Now I can have nice hot honey, cinnimon oatmeal with a dash of raw trailmix to help with this cold.


Joan 9 years ago

No one can beat oatmeal. I love homemade oatmeal cookies...with nuts and a tiny bit of raisins. But, some people do not have time in the morning to get themselves the kind of breakfast that they need...also children. I like to grab a healthy soy protein shake....homemade...and also I have found that you can eat the oatmeal any time of day.....mornings are such a rush. I also found a great nutritious tasty drink that has lots of nutrients in it that I give my grandchildren....instead of coolaid...and soda. Joan http://iseepure.com


Chuck profile image

Chuck 9 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

A dash of whiskey, now that is an ingredient that I hadn't thought of. Maybe for a Monday morning...lol! Thanks, for the comment Jimmy.


jimmythejock profile image

jimmythejock 9 years ago from Scotland

Porridge with things in it sacrilege,hoots man salt and water is all you need ,lol just kidding chuck sounds great will need to try it thanks for sharing and thanks for the link.....jimmy

p.s a dash of whisky in your porridge is great if you have a cold

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