Oatmeal – My Way

On snowy days like today, I just can’t bring myself to make my usual breakfast smoothie. That’s when cozying up to a piping hot bowl of oatmeal is what I crave.

I know oatmeal is a “stick to your ribs” kind of breakfast, but I tend to think of oatmeal also as cleaning out my blood vessels and digestive tract. That’s because oatmeal is a great source of fiber, which keeps you full and regular, and it also keeps your heart healthy by lowering cholesterol. The type of fiber in oatmeal, beta glucan (or β-glucan), acts like a magnet to attract cholesterol in the blood and flush it out of the body. While I missed National Oatmeal Month in January, the fact that February is Heart Month gives me another reason to talk about this favorite breakfast. Plus, the way I make oatmeal is loaded with heart-healthy goodness.

One thing to know about me: I’m an oatmeal snob. You’ll never find me ordering oatmeal at a restaurant or choosing it in a breakfast buffet. Once I perfected cooking oatmeal at home, I just can’t have it any other way. I’m happy to share my recipe with you:

  • First, start with ½ cup of old fashioned oats. These are whole oats that have been rolled, keeping the fiber more or less intact. Quick-cooking oats have been chopped a bit more, but I like the toothiness of whole oats (plus, you know, the fiber).
Oats
Whole oats are really inexpensive, but to save even more $ you can buy store brand. Same nutrition and flavor.
  • Add 2/3 cup milk (I use fat-free) and 1/3 cup water. This ratio is important! I’ve found too much milk has a less delicious outcome, and too much water makes the oatmeal bland. Besides, I like the protein and nutrients from the milk, which is why it’s a must-have (and a reason why I *don’t* get oatmeal in restaurants. Most cook the oatmeal in water and then serve milk as an add-on, which makes the oatmeal too runny).
Milk and water
Please excuse the mismatched measuring cups, but each are 1/3 cup.
  • Microwave on high for 2 ½ minutes (actual times may vary. You want it hot, but don’t let it explode).
  • Add frozen, unsweetened fruit and coarsely chopped nuts (I like slightly-salty almonds). Frozen fruit is a must, since fresh this time of year is hard to find. It also brings down the temperature of the oatmeal and helps it congeal a bit. In the summertime when fresh berries are abundant I use those (about 1/2 cup) and add them to the very end. Coarsely-chopped nuts (1/2 ounce) lend some heart-healthy fats, which also keeps me satisfied longer. I like having them coarsely chopped to make the oatmeal a bit more chewy.
Fruit and nuts
Trader Joe’s 50% less salt almonds are the best! And I buy frozen unsweetened berries in bulk at Costco.
  • You may also choose to add some sweetness here (I like 1 teaspoon of brown sugar, but regular sugar, maple syrup or honey would also work) and a hefty sprinkle of ground cinnamon.
  • Microwave on high for 2 minutes more. Stir and let sit at least 1 minute before enjoying. The longer it sits the thicker it becomes.
Finished oatmeal
Not the prettiest picture, but it sure was tasty!

Published by

Elana Natker, MS, RD

I'm a dietitian, communications professional, wife, mother - just your typical modern-day woman trying to juggle it all.

4 thoughts on “Oatmeal – My Way

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