Today was our dress rehearsal for many early mornings to come. With about 16 or so more years of this I need to get the formula down:
How to get me and the kids out of the house with clean, healthy, yummy, nutrient dense breakfasts in our bellies.
For practice today I had two early morning drop-offs. My little guy started pre-school and my daughter had camp. The first drop-off was 7:45 am. Being that it takes a half hour to drive to school and about 10 minutes to load everyone with all of their respective lunch boxes and tantrums, we need to be very efficient between wake-up at 6:15 am and in the car by 7:05 am.
Breakfast needs to be good and it needs to be prepared quickly. For a few years now I have been making a huge Big Batch (see below) slow cooked pot full of oatmeal. I generally prepare it on Sunday and it lasts pretty much the whole week. I keep it really simple and I add things to it as needed. I store the big batch in sealed containers and I embellish each bowl according to the whim of the day! You can pull in loads of different flavor combinations to keep your bowl of oatmeal tasty, varied and satisfying.
Not only does oatmeal taste divine, it is a supercharged power packed, nutritious meal. It is a wonderful, comforting way to start your day, it is also great for a Mini-Meal.
Oatmeal and oat bran are whole grain, complex carbs loaded with soluble fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They give you energy sustaining, satisfying, low glycemic index fuel to keep you going! They are also known to lower cholesterol. All that in a bowl of oats!! Click the following links to learn more about the health benefits of oats:
Info about Fiber: Mayoclinic
More health info about Oats: Livestrong
Types of Oats:
I use one variety at a time or I combine two for a slight flavor and texture twist!
The most economical way to buy all of these oat selections is in the bulk bin section of Whole Foods or your favorite grocery store. There are also plenty of packaged varieties.
Some favorites include:
Whole Rolled Oats: This variety is steamed, rolled, and flaked. This is the all-purpose oats that we all know and love. No quick cookin’ packaged oats here.
Slow cooked rolled oats have so much more flavor and they aren’t processed like those diced up, overly processed, quick cook oats in the little brown baggies. Those oats kinda taste like the paper they were packaged in! As always, the less processed your food is the more nutrients it will have and it will taste better. Why hand your nutrients over to a processing machine??
Steel Cut Oats (also called Irish Oats): These oats are not rolled, they are coarsely chopped a few times with a steel blade (hence the name!) They take longer to cook, but they are well worth the extra time. They have a great texture, firmer with a bit of a nutty flavor. They are a fun textural addition to your Big Batch of oatmeal (see below.)
If you are looking for a great quick cooking alternative to the traditional steel cut oat, you might want to try Coach’s Oats. These oats cook up in five minutes and they don’t break down and get all mushy like traditional rolled oats. They are sort of a hybrid…..with loads of flavor and all the nutrients packed in.
Oat bran: This is a very nutrient dense form of the oat. Oat bran is a mixture of ground oat groats (uncut, whole seed oat kernels) and the outer bran from the husk of the oat grain. It has a touch more protein and soluble fiber than the rolled oats. It has a really nice creamy texture. It also has a higher percent of minerals.
No matter which oat you choose, there is loads of room to play around with flavor!
I prepare large batches of carbs and protein with very limited seasonings. They go into the fridge and can be portioned out, seasoned and combined with other elements at meal time. If you find you will not be using your Big Batch fast enough, portion it out, put in plastic containers, seal and store in the freezer.
Here are some general ratios:
Rolled Oats: 2:1 Two parts liquid to one part oats. These will cook the quickest about 10 minutes
Oat Bran: 2:1 Two parts liquid to one part oat bran. These will cook in about 15 minutes.
Steel Cut: 3:1 Three parts liquid to one part oat bran. These take about 20-30 minutes.
Remember: Cooking times vary according to how thick you like your oatmeal. Also, add more water for thinner oatmeal and less if you like it thicker.
Cooking your Oatmeal:
3 cups Oats (For a Big Batch I usually use 3 cups total. You can cook up less, but ideally you want leftovers to grab for the week.)
Water (Use the general guideline above, I always seem to add more water than package directions.)
Salt to taste
Cinnamon (or any other spice you love!)
- Put the oats in a pot. I like to toast mine on medium heat for about 5 minutes before I add water. It adds a bit of additional flavor to the end product.
- Add measured water and salt.
- Bring to boil.
- Immediately take heat down to a simmer. The oats can burn really easily so I suggest watching carefully and stirring frequently.
- Partially cover pot and cook through, stirring every few minutes. Add cinnamon or your favorite spice if desired.
- If you are cooking rolled oats they will cook in about half the time of the steel cut or oat bran. If you cook a few varieties together leave on burner to cook for the longest cooking oat.
- Let oats cool, seal in an airtight container, toss in the fridge and grab ’em when you need them!
- Add embellishments and flavors to each bowl when you re-heat and serve!!
- I usually add quite a bit of water during and after cooking. Oats seem to thicken up really fast so you might need to add more water once they cool before you store in fridge.
- When you put oats in individual bowls you will probably need to add water or milk again to thin out a bit before you re-heat.