Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Building a Perfect Bowl of Oatmeal

Hello there!  I hope you were all able to enjoy an extra day of weekend yesterday!  Jay and I spent most of our weekend in Kansas City.  We drove up to surprise one of my BFFs on her 30th birthday!
It was so much fun to celebrate with Eva and catch up with lots of old friends.

The weekend ended back in OKC with more friends + a tasty black bean soup courtesy of my Peas and Thank You cookbook (an excellent vegan resource!).
My two girlfriends and I were lucky enough to dine with a hot date.  Hola Juan Pablo.  : )
I also had a chance to enjoy a fantastic oatmeal breakfast yesterday morning, which brings me to the main topic of this blog post.
I love oatmeal because is tasty, healthy, and keeps me full for hours.  It can be doctored up in so many fun ways - I hardly ever eat the same bowl twice.  I do, however, follow a similar formula every time I make a batch of oats.   It is a surefire way to end up with a delicious and filling breakfast!

Step 1: For one serving of oatmeal, bring one cup of water plus a very small pinch of salt to a boil.  Stir in 1/2 cup of old-fashioned oats and reduce heat to medium.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all water is absorbed.

Step 2: Add your mix-ins.  This is the fun part!  I like to include the following:
  • Nuts - Nuts are a great way to add protein and healthy fat to your breakfast.  Jay and I always buy whatever's on sale in the bulk bins at the grocery store and add them into a big jar in our pantry.  (Buyer beware - nuts are heavy, so it is easy to rack up a big tab quickly!)  We usually use a mixture of walnuts, pecans, cashews, and almonds.  
  • Seeds - We keep another jar stocked full of a chia seed/flax seed mixture.  Did you know that chia seeds absorb 10 times their weight in water?!  They expand in your stomach, helping you feel full for hours.  And chia seeds and flax seeds are both extremely high in omega-3 fatty acids. 
  • Nut Butter - Another source of healthy fat and protein, nut butters add amazing favor and texture to oatmeal.  For me, this ingredient is non-negotiable! 
  • Fruit - Berries are delicious in oatmeal and pack the highest nutritional punch, although bananas and pumpkin are also some of my faves.  Dried fruits, like raisins, dried cranberries, and shredded coconut, are great additions, as well. 
  • Spices 
    • Cinnamon - I always load up my oatmeal with tons of cinnamon.  It tastes delicious and helps to control blood sugar throughout the day.
    • Turmeric - Lately, Jay has been experimenting with some other spices in his oatmeal, the weirdest one being turmeric.  Turmeric is arguably the healthiest spice on the planet, so we try to incorporate it as much as possible.  I was pretty skeptical about using it in oatmeal, but Jay insisted that it was really good.  I tried it out a couple mornings ago using a pretty generous amount, and I have to say it wasn't half bad.  I was afraid it would leave my breakfast tasting like a spicy Indian curry dish, but the flavor was actually very subtle and slightly exotic.  Since then, I have continued to add in a pinch of this powerful spice!
  • Natural sweeteners - I sweeten up my oats with a bit of local honey, pure maple syrup, or all-fruit jelly. 
  • Coconut Oil - This ingredient is definitely optional, but adding a small scoop of this healthy oil into warm oats really ups the creaminess factor! 
There you have it - the formula to making a great tasting and nutritious oatmeal breakfast!

Hooray for tomorrow already being Wednesday!  Have a great week!

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