Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cereal Killer

When the weather outside is frightful, what could be more delightful than a warm, hearty bowl of oatmeal? I've enjoyed the stuff ever since I was little--we always had those little microwaveable Quaker packets in our pantry next to the cereal boxes, and occasionally, my mom would treat us to "stove oatmeal." But this semester, from an economic, health, and taste standpoint, my appreciation for oatmeal has reached a whole new level

At the beginning of the semester, after wincing at the prices and ingredient lists on most of my favorite prepackaged cold cereals, I purchased a large container of plain oats instead. Despite the appeal of getting 30 servings of one-ingredient goodness for just a few bucks (not to mention the minimal packaging, making it a win for the environment as well), I wasn't sure how long I could last without my daily dose of flakes and clusters. 

And almost four months later, I'm not sick of oatmeal yet!

But how? Oatmeal is kind of plain and boring, right? And on warm days, ugh. And doesn't it take a long time? I'd rather sleep.

Well, I'm glad you asked!

First of all, oatmeal can be as plain or as fancy as you want it to be. I, too, always assumed that brown sugar, honey, raisins, and bananas were basically the only suitable oatmeal mix-ins--until the wonderful world of food blogs showed me otherwise! Now, in addition to the basics listed above, my oatmeal add-ins include all sorts of fresh fruits (berries, apples, peaches, plums) and dried fruits (cranberries, blueberries, apricots, dates), almond butter, peanut butter, jam, shredded coconut, homemade granola, wheat germ, and even crazies like orange juice and pumpkin! (That's right, I've gotten over my fear of squash for breakfast!) I just start with my basic combo of 1/2 c oats, 1/2-2/3 c 2% milk, and a sprinkle of cinnamon and go from there. Here are some tasty suggestions:
  • PB&J: Peanut butter, strawberry jam, diced banana
  • Triple berry: Sliced fresh strawberries, dried blueberries, raspberry jam
  • Cranberry orange: Sub part of the milk for OJ (depending on how pronounced you want the orange flavor to be), dried cranberries
  • Apple cinnamon: Diced apple, raisins (Add the apples while the oatmeal is cooking and they'll get super soft and sweet)
  • Autumn oats: Pumpkin puree, diced apple or banana, dried cranberries, brown sugar
  • Strawberry crunch: Sliced fresh strawberries, shredded coconut, chopped dates, homemade granola
  • Banana bliss: Diced banana, almond butter, honey
And even if I didn't state it explicitly in the list, I almost always include almond or peanut butter in my oatmeal--partly for the extra calories and protein, and partly because I'm just a nut for nut butter. Wheat germ and homemade granola are also frequent additions to any bowl. 

Autumn oats

Strawberry crunch

Now to address the second concern: What about when it's hot out? 

Overnight oats, of course! 

In Roll, Roll, Roll Your Oats, I provided a basic recipe for the magical treat that has seriously become one of my favorite foods, period. I was skeptical at first, given that it involves soaking uncooked oats overnight (or for at least 30-60 minutes) in a mixture of milk and plain Greek yogurt (ick, right?). However, what results is a creamy, doughy treat that is perfect for warm days--or any day. And overnight oats are just as versatile as regular oatmeal--in fact, I've made most of the combos above as overnight oats, too. 

My very first overnight oats. Now I save time in the morning by combining all of the ingredients--including the nut butter and jam--the night before. (Even diced bananas and apples don't seem to turn brown when mixed in.)

Which brings me to the final point: Oatmeal doesn't have to take all morning!

If you make overnight oats the way I do, breakfast is ready as soon as you open the fridge. And if you make hot oatmeal in the microwave instead of on the stovetop, breakfast is just a few minutes away. 

And totally worth it, I might add.

What's your favorite way to eat oatmeal? And cold oats...Yay or nay?


  1. I like oats cold and hot. Thanks for this post! Good on many fronts. Thanks for the healthy (and tasty!) ideas and the reminders about less packaging! :)

    1. Thanks! And yes, I love it when what's healthy, what's cheap, and what's better for the environment are one and the same. :)

  2. I LOVE this post!! oatmeal is one of my fave foods!! I love it both hot and cold, but right now it's all about the hot oatmeal!! :)

    Have a great weekend!! <3

    1. Hey Emma!

      Thanks for commenting...I'm honored to have you read my blog, since I love yours so much! Oatmeal is pretty much the bomb dot com. I love overnight oats so much that I'm even eating them when it's freezing out...I just wrap up in lots of clothes and blankets! I want to try your recipe for chocolate PB oats soon, since I tried another one and found it to be too bitter (not enough sweetener to balance out the cocoa powder, I believe).