Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Get your sleep and still eat a healthy, hearty breakfast...

    Last night before bed I made breakfast. I pulled out my slow cooker, added a few ingredients, and turned it on. When I woke up this morning, my breakfast was hot and waiting for me.
    A while ago, while watching "Good Eats", a Food Network show, I came across the concept of cooking Steel Cut Oats in the slow cooker. For those of you who aren't sure what steel cut oats are, they are simply whole grain groats (the inner portion of the oat kernel) which have been cut into only two or three pieces by steel rather than being rolled out, like the very popular and commonly used Instant or Rolled Oats. They are golden in color and resemble small pieces.
    Steel-cut oats are also known as coarse-cut oats, pinhead oats, or Irish oats. This form of oat usually takes quite a while to prepare, typically 15–30 minutes to simmer. The flavor of the cooked oats is described as being nuttier than other types of oats, are chewier in texture, but because of their minimal processing, are much healthier for you.
    You can find these in the Natural Foods section of your grocery store, usually in the same aisle as the nuts and all the baking mixes. The package seems quite small for the price, yielding only 3 1/2 cups of the raw oats. But unlike Rolled Oats, these cook up sort of like rice, tripling in size once cooked. They generally cost about $4.99 per bag of Organic oats and $3.50 for the conventional. So they are very affordable.
    When preparing the oats as per the recipe I have listed below, you will get six, 1/2 cup portions.
That's 21 portions per package, at $0.24 per portion. I can't think of any other breakfast meal that offers as big a bang for my buck.
    The Oats, when eaten plain, can taste pretty boring. So I add a few things to brighten up the flavor. The possibilities are endless. Currently I add flax seed and psyllium husks, for added fiber. Some walnuts I had previously candied with maple syrup, and a drizzling of maple syrup over top.
    You could also add such ingredients as dried fruit, fresh fruit, honey, and any type of nut while still maintaining the overall goal, which is to eat a healthful breakfast.
    So here is how I make it:

Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats
 Adapted from Alton Brown

Slow Cooked Steel Cut Oats
w/ Candied Walnuts

1 cup steel cut oats
4 cups water
1/2 cup milk (I use Rice Milk and it still works out great)
Assorted toppings 


(1) In a slow cooker, combine first 3 ingredients  and set to low heat.
(2) Cover and let cook for 8 to 9 hours.
(3) Stir and remove to serving bowls. This method works best if started before you go to bed. This way your oatmeal will be finished by morning.

*    Because of the size of my small family, we can never finish the whole pot. I scoop out 1/2 cup portions into individual containers and use as needed. The cooked oats will keep up to a week in the fridge in a sealed container.
     The consistency will change a little once cooled. I just add a small amount of boiling water and stir to bring the oats back to their original consistency.  Then heat in the microwave and your all set.

Pre-portioned and ready to
go for the rest of the week

This is the specific brand I buy.
"Bob's Red Mill" Organic Old Fashioned
Steel Cut Oats.

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