oatmeal.
probably in my list of top 3 breakfast foods.
it shares a special spot in my heart next to pancakes and cereal.
carb lover?
maybe so.

obsessed. hemp protein oats + sunflower seeds.
obsessed. hemp protein oats + sunflower seeds.

the thing is, i used to hate oatmeal.
i remember having the instant packets in the mornings when i worked at the Y. it seemed no matter how much water i added, it always turned out like sludge.
not good.
sometime in college, i graduated to the non-instant packages and thoroughly enjoyed an overly sweet bowl of oatmeal. i often had oatmeal for breakfast during my breaks when i worked at starbucks in boston. yes, a break at 8am. gotta love those 4:30am shifts. this is when i first started to really enjoy oatmeal. i add my little fruit and nut packet to the bowl, a little extra brown sugar. honey. love.

then i had to go on a fructose free diet for a couple weeks, while i was still at starbucks. let me tell you, unsweetened oatmeal was NOT my thing. then, after i moved back from boston, i started my big elimination diet and i couldn’t have any oats for 6 months!

recently, i have fallen in love with oatmeal again. i crave it a good 2-3 mornings out of the week. and after countless bowls, i have discovered the way to make the perfect base, which in turn, makes for the perfect bowl of oatmeal.

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sunflower seed and raisin oats

here are a few tips to start

first things first.

soak your oats.
for at least 10 minutes.
call me cra (wouldn’t be the first time), but it works.

i decided to try this after i read about how soaking grains makes it easier for your stomach to digest. i’m honestly not really sure if oats count in this case, but tried it out. soaking the oats before cooking, gets them soft, which means a little less cooking time, fluffier oats, and my favorite – no cloudy goo.

what is cloudy goo you ask?
so, 95% of the time, i pre-soak my oats these days. but, if i happen to be in a pinch or i just want a little tiny bit more, i will put the oats in a bowl, cover with enough water and microwave. when the oats come out there is the cloudy, goo-ey (trying to avoid the word mucus-y in this post) film, of sorts. it doesn’t necessarily make the finished bowl taste bad, it’s just a consistency/ick factor that i am not a fan of.

soaking oatmeal = no cloudy goo.

oatmeal + sweet potato cubes
oatmeal + sweet potato cubes

second:
to cover or not to cover?

great question. i say, don’t cover.
one of the first times i had breakfast in our new office, i picked oatmeal. i didn’t want to that person who dirtied the microwave, so i put the plastic cover over my bowl, set the timer and went to fill up my nalgene. i came back to oats all.over. the microwave. clearly the cover was useless.
like any oatmeal addict and breakfast lover, i scraped the oats off the turntable in the microwave into my bowl and went about adding my other ingredients. ain’t no spilled oats gonna stop me.

i was bound and determined not to let this happen again, but alas. i seem to get spillage every time i cover the oatmeal.

don’t cover it. don’t be that person.

salt.
why add salty to sweet oatmeal?!

because it makes it sweeter. and tastier. props for this oatmeal tip goes out to my fellow starbucks bartisa quentin. he loved oatmeal probably as much as me. he introduced me to adding a mashed banana for sweetness. and to adding a little pinch of salt.
don’t dog it til you try it.

okay. you ready?

nut butter + seed oats
nut butter + seed oats

how to make the perfect bowl of oatmeal [gluten-free + dairy-free]

ingredients:

* 1/2 cup rolled oats (thick or regular. NOT instant. gluten-free is preferable)
* water
* a pretty bowl
* other ingredients listed in variations section below

directions:

1. place oats in your selected bowl and pour in enough water to completely cover the oats, plus another inch or so (the oats will expand). let sit for at least 10 minutes. you can soak them while you get ready for the day.
2. when time is up, pour bowl into a strainer (be careful not to spill any oats) and rinse under water for a few seconds.
3. add oats back to the bowl and cover with water. i don’t like my oatmeal very soupy, so i add just enough water to cover the oats. if you like soupier oatmeal, feel free to add more water.
4. place in microwave for 1:30. depending on your microwave, you might need more time, but i’ve done this in 3 microwaves and 1:30 is the magic number.
5. remove from microwave and make into your favorite variation (see below).

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carob + nut butter oats

variations

i could probably add the same things to my bowl of oatmeal everyday and love it. but i like to mix it up a bit. some of my fav add-ins are:
* nut butters
* coconut butter
* coconut oil
* protein powder
* non-dairy milk
* sunflower seeds
* pumpkin seeds
* raisins
* chia seeds
* bananas
* sweet potato cubes
* apple
* cinnamon
* and most recently, raspberry jelly.

apple cinnamon raisin oats: instead of water, you are going to use tea to cook your oatmeal. heat up about 4 oz of water to about boiling. once boiled, add your apple cinnamon/apple cider/apple spice tea bag and steep for a few minutes. once your tea is ready to go, instead of adding the water in step #3, add the tea, and a few slices of chopped apple (maybe 1 tbsp) and heat the oats. after the oats finish cooking, add 2 tsp of cinnamon, 1 tbsp coconut butter, 2 tsp coconut oil, and a sprinkle of raisins. want some crunch, add some sunflower or pumpkin seeds.
* i love the apple cinnamon/apple cider/apple spice tea, but i’ve also used sweet cinnamon spice tea (tazo) in this and it’s just as tasty.

protein oats: after removing the oatmeal from the microwave, add 1-2 tbsp vanilla hemp protein powder (i suppose any protein powder will work!), 1 tbsp nut butter, sprinkle of salt, splash of non-dairy milk at the end and some seeds for crunch.

carob + nut butter oats: after removing the oatmeal from the microwave, add 2 tsp carob powder (can sub cocoa powder), 1 tbsp nut butter, 2 tsp coconut oil, 1/3 of a mashed banana, sprinkle of salt, splash of non-dairy milk on top and some seeds for crunch.

jena’s everyday oats: sometimes i just throw whatever i have in the fridge and pantry in my oats (within reason). my usual morning oats have 1 tbsp nut butter (sunflower seed or almond), 1 tbsp coconut oil, 2 tsp of carob (if i have it), 1 tbsp coconut butter, a splash of non-dairy milk, sprinkle of sunflower seeds and a big scoop of goat milk yogurt (a little cool to contrast the hot oats).

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apple cinnamon raisin

adding the coconut oil is one of my favorite things. you can’t really taste it, but it adds a creaminess and it’s good healthy fat that will keep you fuller longer.
it’s clear i love coconut butter. and the goat milk yogurt – if you haven’t tried adding yogurt to the top of your oatmeal yet, you should definitely give it a try. adds more creaminess, and i love the contrast of a little cool with the warm oats.

definitely mix it up (pun intended) with your add-ins. i love making new combinations. try something new and let me know how it tastes.

gosh, i wish i had a bowl now…

hope you try some of these recipes and enjoy. i have my new favorite oatmeal recipe coming at you soon!

happy friday!

jena.

p.s. what is your favorite way to eat oatmeal?