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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
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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