Oatmeal Plus

A bowl of oatmeal has been an almost constant breakfast companion for over ten years now.  While I am clearly a creature of habit, my bowl has evolved over the years.  Here’s a quick look at my oatmeal evolution, followed by a recipe for the current iteration.

2006 — instant oats cooked in the microwave, topped with peanut butter, bananas, cinnamon, [sweetened] soy milk, and a bit of brown sugar

2009 — switch from bananas (distinctly not local) to locally grown fruit, when in season (primarily apples), or dried fruit (primarily raisins)

2010switch from instant oats to rolled oats, still cooked in the microwave

??? — ditch the added sugars by switching to unsweetened soy milk and eliminating the added brown sugar; dried fruit makes for plenty sweet oatmeal

2012 — start making an extra-thick, stove top version with rolled oats that works as finger food for G when cooled; make in big batches

2013 — when G moves on from the finger food version, I continue making big batches of stove top oatmeal for both of us; I serve G’s really thick to help it stay on the spoon; bananas reappear as a “sometimes” food

2014 — start using a mixture of rolled + steel cut oats, with an overnight soak

2015-2016 — experiment with adding in other grains, including millet, quinoa, brown rice flakes, and amaranth

Each of these iterations took the flavor, texture, and nutrient variety up a notch.  The amaranth is the most recent addition, and it almost didn’t make the cut.  It’s seedy taste really stood out in the first batch, and I wasn’t a huge fan.  By the second batch, I had adjusted to the flavor, and now I’m really enjoying it.

The overnight soak helps the longer-cooking grains, like steel cut oats, cook quickly in the morning.  It’s still more of a time investment than microwaving instant oats, but it tastes better AND you’ll have breakfast for several days.  The recipe below makes about four days’ worth of one parent- plus one child-sized portion.


Recipe by Melissa
Serves 5-8


2 T. amaranth
1/2 c. steel cut oats
1/4 c. millet
1/4 c. quinoa (rinsed)
1 c. rolled oats
3 1/2 c. water
1 1/2 c. unsweetened soy milk


Measure grains into pan and pour water over the top.  Let sit at room temperature overnight.  In the morning, add the milk, bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes.  Can be served immediately, or turn off heat and let sit, covered, for an additional 5-10 minutes.

Add [soy] milk to thin to desired consistency, and top with cinnamon, fresh or dried fruit, and nut butter of choice.  Additional toppings: hemp seed, chia seed, chopped walnuts, nutmeg.

After the first morning, reheat in microwave with milk.  For a take-to-work version, place oatmeal, additional milk, and toppings in a wide mouth, pint size jar and reheat at work.


Obligatory oatmeal post

I eat oats for breakfast pretty much every morning.  On the rare occasion that I don’t, it throws my entire day off-kilter.  I don’t need coffee, I just need my oats!

Oatmeal from rolled oats fills my bowl most mornings.  I used to be a quick oats gal, but I switched to rolled oats because they’re available in bulk (sure, you can recycle the cardboard canisters from non-bulk oats, but reducing > recycling).  The bulk oats also happen to be organic, an added bonus.

For speed and convenience, I cook my oatmeal in the microwave.  I worried that rolled oats would take a lot longer to cook, but they really don’t.

I shuffle into the kitchen first thing in the morning and measure out 1/2 cup rolled oats.  Combine the oats with a generous 1 cup of water and let sit and soak for at least 10 minutes (this is the secret to rolled oats cooking as quickly as quick oats).

After it soaks (longer is fine), pop the bowl into the microwave.  I cook mine for about 2 minutes and 15 seconds (this may vary).  Do NOT start the microwave and walk away, or you might return to an oatmeal explosion (not a fun way to start the day, and yes, I know this from experience).  I keep an eye on the oatmeal, pausing and stirring twice, while I assemble the toppings.


  • Something sweet — I use honey or brown sugar, just a touch, I’m going for breakfast, not dessert here.
  • Fruit — since I stopped buying bananas, my oatmeal fruit staples are chopped apples (when they’re in season), raisins, or dried apples.
  • A sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg — these add a lot of flavor
  • A splash (or more) of milk (usually soy milk) — I cook the oats in water, and a touch of milk at the end adds a rich flavor.
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of ground flax
  • 1 T. (?) peanut butter and/or some unsalted, roasted sunflower seeds

This is NOT my ordinary oatmeal, but a no-cook, to-go version: 1/3 cup rolled oats soaked in soy milk (perhaps a bit too much milk in the photo above) for a couple of hours.  Topped with sliced local peaches, homemade granola, and almond butter.  I added a touch of maple syrup to the last few bites.

Health Notes

Oats make a very healthy breakfast, especially with the addition of cinnamon and nutmeg.  Adding fruit and nuts or nut butter rounds out the meal with extra vitamins, minerals, protein, and fat.

“Oat products have high soluble fiber content, which aids digestion. Oats reduce cholesterol levels, which makes them good for heart health and they are high in protein. To obtain the heart benefits of oats, the product must contain at least three grams of soluble fiber” (1).

“These data indicate that black peppercorn, nutmeg, rosehip, cinnamon and oregano leaf may serve as potential dietary sources of natural antioxidants for improving human nutrition and health” (2), emphasis added.

“. . . antioxidants in cinnamon have been linked to lower inflammation, as well as reductions in blood glucose concentrations in people with diabetes” (3).


1. http://www.extension.org/pages/Oats_are_Economical_and_Good_for_Your_Health

2. Su, L, et al. (2007).  “Total phenolic contents, chelating capacities, and radical-scavenging properties of black peppercorn, nutmeg, rosehip, cinnamon and oregano leaf.”  Food Chemistry, 100 (3).  Abstract here.

3. WebMD.  “Spices and Herbs: Their Health Benefits

Carrot rack

Room for one

I stopped in to Local Harvest Grocery yesterday, where I snagged the coveted carrot rack parking spot.  A couple of weeks ago, I discovered that they carry bulk (organic) rolled oats.  I eat oatmeal for breakfast pretty much every day.  I recently switched from quick oats to rolled oats — I now strongly prefer the texture and taste of rolled oats.  As part of the switch, I buy the rolled oats from bulk containers (compared to buying the quick oats in the cardboard canisters), so I reap the added benefit of less waste!