Eat your oatmeal (this means you). February 9, 2012Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, recipes, wit and wisdom.
Tags: bad oatmeal, decadent oatmeal, gluten-free oatmeal, good oatmeal, instant oatmeal, oatmeal
Silence Dogood here. It’s actually (!) snowing here in our part of scenic PA, the perfect excuse for a hot, delicious bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. But oatmeal is so good, and so good for you, you don’t need an excuse to eat it—and there’s no good excuse not to eat it.
If you think you don’t like oatmeal, you’ve probably encountered horrid, watery and/or pastelike instant oatmeal, with no flavor or texture. Thin, watery, flavorless, pastelike oatmeal always brings to mind Scrooge with his bowl of gruel. Yuck! (Though in reality, Scrooge’s gruel would have been a savory if watery mix; think beefy bits, not sugary slops.)
Or maybe you grew up with the milk cooked into the oatmeal (instead of water) rather than being poured into the bowl on top of the cooked oatmeal, also resulting in paste. Or maybe you tried one of those disgusting so-called oatmeals that are so full of artificial flavors they’re apparently trying to turn themselves into Pop-Tarts.
Real oatmeal is delicious, sweet, and nutty, with a toothsome texture that’s a joy to eat. And you don’t have to go for the long-cooked or gourmet brands to enjoy it, either. Quaker Quick Oats (the five-minute kind) are just fine. And in fact, they’re perfect if you make them instant-style, which is to say, rather than cooking them for five minutes, pour some dry into your bowl, pour boiling water over them, let them sit a few minutes, stir, top, and yum!!! When made this way, the flavor is brought fully out and the texture is deliciously chewy but soft, not tough or dry. (The key here, of course, is to add enough water to saturate the oatmeal but not so much that it can’t all be absorbed.)
What you put on your oatmeal counts, too, of course. I grew up with whole milk and brown sugar, which was luscious, then went on to whole milk and maple syrup, then skim (fat-free) milk and maple syrup, and finally just fat-free milk, since I realized that the oatmeal alone was sweet enough for me.
Our friend Ben still prefers maple syrup or Lyle’s Golden Syrup on his, with a little half-and-half if he’s being really decadent and I’m not looking. (But then, his favorite form of oatmeal is in oatmeal cookies, so why am I surprised?) He’s been known to put sliced almonds on top as a special treat, too; I myself find crunchy oatmeal a little disconcerting.
For those who’d like to add a sweetener but are trying to watch their calories, stevia-based, calorie-free sweeteners like Truvia work beautifully and are a great health-conscious choice. (Splenda and the store-brand equivalents work just as well, for those who don’t mind using artificial sweeteners.) And, of course, folks who are lactose-intolerant but would still enjoy a little milk on their oatmeal have endless choices now, from Lactaid lactose-free cow’s milk to soy, almond, coconut, and rice milks.
Mind you, my father made the best oatmeal I’ve ever had by browning butter and pouring it and brown sugar liberally over each bowl. But somehow, I think this would counteract any possible health benefits of eating oatmeal. (Not to mention the stunning calorie hit.) So, though I remember this decadent treat fondly, I don’t actually make it, and needless to say, I never mention it to OFB.
Other options are to mix a little all-fruit spread, like peach or apricot, into one’s oatmeal before adding the milk. I also often add a sprinkling of cinnamon to up both the flavor and the health benefits. Cardamom would be delicious, too. But I really like my oatmeal basic: flavor, texture, milk. Mmmm.
There’s another group of folks who may love oatmeal but have renounced it, and that’s the gluten-intolerant. Oatmeal may not have the gluten levels of, say, wheat and barley, but apparently it does contain gluten. More than one of my gluten-intolerant friends has told me very sadly that they’ve had to give up oatmeal. But this turns out to be an unnecessary sacrifice.
Checking my local health-food store circular, I saw three different gluten-free oatmeals on sale: Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Rolled Oats, Glutenfreeda Gluten Free Natural Original Oatmeal, and bulk gluten-free regular rolled oats (for just $1.79/pound). Now folks who are trying to watch their gluten intake can rejoice and enjoy their morning oatmeal!
Okay, no more excuses: Skip the instant, chemical-flavored glop. Get out your bowls and go for the good stuff. Your taste buds and your waistline (not to mention your heart) will thank you!
‘Til next time,