Friday, October 3, 2008

How I Sow My Oats

I'm almost embarrassed to share my oatmeal recipe. My nearly daily breakfast ritual typically inspires polar opposite reactions of either "Blech!" or "Yum!" and more often than not, I am offered the latter rather than the former response. "It's the combination," one friend once told me. I shrugged, scooped up another chunky bite and let the sweet and salty oats melt into my mouth. I don't care what the naysayers say, to me, my funky oatmeal is practically perfect in every way. And not just because it tastes good and keeps me full till lunch.

According to most nutritionists, eating a good breakfast is a pivotal component of a healthy diet. Skipping that am meal can lead to overeating later in the day, a sluggish metabolism and for hungry gals like me, a severe case of the morning grouchies. Without the right combination of fat, protein and carbs, I find it hard to concentrate on even the simplest tasks. It is especially essential that I eat a good, hearty breakfast because I like to work out in the morning. I can't stomach food at 6 am, so need to make sure to really fill up the tank when I am done with my run or session at the gym.

I began eating oatmeal for breakfast as a health-conscious high school athlete. Competitive runners need to eat well to fuel their workouts, and oatmeal was a great and easy option -- especially during college.

One day when I was poking around the Runner's World website message boards (runners are a rather obsessive lot), I came across a thread that discussed putting peanut butter in oatmeal. The light bulb in my head nearly exploded -- I couldn't wait to try it out the next morning! My typical breakfast of oats, dried cranberries, cinnamon, and a splash of milk was transformed by the addition. The peanut butter packed the oatmeal with flavor and heart-healthy fat, and added a wonderful creaminess to the hot cereal. I was hooked.

Then, two years ago, another light bulb went off. Peanut butter goes great with apples.... why not try adding some diced green apple to the pot as well? It was an immediate hit with me. The apple lightened the oatmeal, and added another depth of flavor and textural contrast. I have recently discovered that a pinch of salt enhances the flavors further, and today, my oatmeal has reached the end of it's transformative journey. Screw up your nose in disgust if you must, but this tasty morning treat is a great way to feed the hungry beast before spending a long morning pouring over Excel documents.

Diana's Crazy Oatmeal
1/2 cup Quacker 100% oats (NOT instant)
Handful dried cranberries (to taste)
1/2 small green apple, diced
1 tablespoon Peanut Butter & Co Smooth Operator peanut butter
Splash of milk
Pinch of salt

1. Bring 1/3 - 1/2 cup water to boil in small pot. (Use more water if you like your oatmeal more soupy than chunky) Add 1/2 cup oats, cranberries, cinnamon, and salt. Reduce heat to low.

2. While oatmeal is beginning to cook, dice 1/2 a green apple with the skin on. Microwave the apple for approximately 50 seconds or until slightly tender.

3. Add apple, desired splashage of milk to the pot. Stir and let simmer with the oatmeal until oats have absorbed the liquid or reached your preferred liquid-oat composition. I like my oatmeal thick and chunky so I wait until it clumps together in the pan.

4. Spoon the oatmeal into your bowl and add 1 tablespoon of room temperature or heated peanut butter. You may need to microwave the oatmeal so it reaches your ideal temperature as the peanut butter can act as a cooling agent. Nothing disgusts me more than cold oatmeal so I am rather anal about keeping it within that ideal range of piping hotness. So anal in fact that I pause half-way through ingestion to reheat it in the microwave.

Some call my crazy. Some call me brilliant. But one thing's for sure, as I sit here in my office, three hours and 30 minutes after consuming the above breakfast, I am still full and satisfied. Donuts ain't got nothin' on my oats.

3 comments: said...

Hhmmm, we love oatmeal and we love peanut butter. I may have to surprise the family with this one. I'll do a blind taste test!! Thanks for the post!

foddie_1 said...

I discovered this recipe earlier in the year and since then it is the only way I will eat my oatmeal. If even 1 item is missing it does not taste the same. Thank you for revitalizing my morning oatmeal routine in a healthy way!

Diana said...

Foddie - Thank you so much for the sweet note! So glad you enjoy the oatmeal! I actually still eat this for breakfast at least 3 times a week, though sometimes I do cheat on it with banana, date, walnut oatmeal.