I’ve kind of wanted to write about my oatmeal for a while now, but despite the number of bizarre and/or mundane posts I’ve shared here I always thought maybe my oatmeal would be too boring for the site. Yet it has been on my mind a lot lately, and not just because I usually eat it three mornings a week. So what sparked my recent oatmeal musings? I reviewed my BFF Brian’s “The Sexy Vegan Cookbook”. (We’re totally BFFs now. I call him Brian and he calls me “that crazy blogger who keeps acting like she knows me”.) Anyway, I’m not a vegetarian or a vegan, and I have no intention of changing that, but when reading a book like “The Sexy Vegan Cookbook” you can’t help but take a moment to reflect on what you eat and see if at any point you do, as I say, “accidentally” eat vegan.
I realized that Brian will be pleased to know that without any effort, thanks to my awesome oatmeal, usually three breakfasts a week are totally vegan. (He’ll probably be less pleased with the steak dinners. And excuse me while I go off on a parenthetical rant, but there have been some social media suggestions that I have been “crushing” on “Sexy Vegan Cookbook” author Brian Patton. It is true that I value wit and an appreciation for food so he does merit a bit of a fangirl squee. However I am happily married to a very attractive geek who I adore. But even IF he wasn’t in the picture, Patton would have to get in line after Wil Wheaton, Adam Savage, Grant Imahara, and Jet Li. Sigh…………………………………………..sorry, zoned out there for a minute.)
I’ve always liked oatmeal. I know some people just don’t like it. I don’t understand those people. My mother would make it on the weekends. When they started making that nasty toss in microwave stuff I would eat that before school. Once I moved out of the house I kind of fell out of the habit of eating oatmeal. But then my parents tried out the “South Beach Diet”, which emphasizes whole grains. When I gave it a try that meant good-bye bagels and cold cereals, and hello again oatmeal. Over time I kept tinkering with it; some stuff added after a visit to a nutritionist, some stuff after trying out leftovers, and some stuff just ended up in there because I tried it out and it tasted it good. It’s a pretty bad ass bowl of oatmeal, if I do say so myself. Although it doesn’t involve rum like Brian’s.
First, you’re going to need a bowl. This isn’t some girly, wussy hot cereal breakfast. This is a big, giant bowl of awesome morning fuel and thusly you are going to need a honkin’ huge bowl to contain it in. For example, here’s what I use.
Next up is the oatmeal. I have no brand loyalties. If a store brand is available and I haven’t had a bad experience with it, I buy it. If no store brand is available you can never go wrong with the Quaker. I do insist on it being the “old fashioned” takes 5 minutes to cook kind. I make the “heart healthy” amount which is 1 1/2 cups water and 3/4 cups oats. I find it humorous that there is a 1 minute quick cook style right next to the 5 minute that I buy. Who doesn’t have 5 minutes to cook oatmeal? I use that time to prep the other stuff for my oatmeal and finish getting my lunch for work ready. It’s 5 minutes to have a slightly more whole grain folks. Go for it. I know that there are people who go all out and do the steel cut Irish oats and the like by using a crock pot to cook them over night. I’m not that committed.
Okay, so the oatmeal is cooking away. This is when I crush up some nuts into the bottom of the bowl. I generally don’t buy nuts specifically for my oatmeal, I just use whatever we have that’s leftover from baking. That usually means I’m dealing with walnuts, but occasionally it has been almonds or pecans. It’s all good.
Brace yourself because this is when things get real. You grab yourself an apple and dice up the whole thing. That’s right, I told you this wasn’t a sissy’s breakfast. One whole motherbleepin’ apple is going to end up in your oatmeal. I’m not overly particular about my apples. I purchase red apples and if available I try to buy ones from local orchards. Once it’s diced just set it to the side. (I’ve also used bananas and they are delicious, but they ripen so fast I found them to be way more stressful than I really needed from fruit. Apples tend to hold up better. I also tried canned, no sugar added, peaches. Not so great.)
While the oatmeal finishes cooking I pull my ground flax seed and vanilla coconut milk out of the refrigerator and get out the raisins.
The oatmeal is done cooking and it is time to assemble the behemoth! A lot of stuff is going in here so I tend to work in layers. As you remember the walnuts are already on the bottom of the bowl. We just added the oatmeal. On top of the oatmeal I sprinkle a teaspoon or so of ground flax seed. (Ground flax seed really makes oatmeal tasty. If you eat oatmeal and only try one thing from this rambling ode’ to oatmeal, try adding ground flax seed to your next bowl!) Now stir until the walnuts and flax seed seem thoroughly mixed in.
At this point I add half of the diced up apple and a sprinkling of raisins and I stir those in. It will start getting a little tricky to stir, even with an epic cereal bowl. Once that round of apple and raisin is stirred in go ahead and dump in what’s left of the apple and a little more raisin. Give it another stir.
Here’s where you add your liquid. Some people like to add only a splash of something to their oatmeal, others like to add a lot. When I was younger I only would add a little milk and I thought my mother was crazy for dumping in tons of milk and making her oatmeal all soupy. Now I add a bunch of coconut milk and end up with oatmeal more at my mom’s consistency. When I was younger I used 2% milk. As an adult I switched to skim milk. Then after a holiday party we had leftover vanilla soymilk and I tried some and really liked it. I remembered that a nutritionist I had seen in the past suggested more soy to help with my cholesterol, and I saw that the nutritional stats weren’t much different than skim milk with regards to fat and calories, and I got vanilla flavor, so I switched. Then, while chasing down my ongoing health issues one of the things I had to try was cutting soy out of my diet, so that meant giving up my beloved vanilla soymilk. Jim (the attractive geek husband) suggested trying vanilla coconut milk, and since it seemed similar to soymilk in the nutritional stats I decided to give it a try. Oh man you guys, there is something so decadent about that warm vanilla coconut smell gently wafting up from the oatmeal. So this is where I pour in a moderate amount of vanilla coconut milk and very carefully stir. Your bowl is about ready to burst at this point.
This has become one of my very favorite breakfasts. Like I said at the start, I usually eat this three times a week. Although comprised of healthy components, it’s probably not the lowest calorie way to start the day. Lots of fat, mostly “good” fat, but still fat. Lots of fruit sugar. But I still feel good about it. I’m not super hung up on staying away from all processed foods or anything. I take things one meal at a time. However I did want to share one story with you despite it perhaps being a touch of the too much information.
On a couple of instances when at doctor’s offices (because believe me I’ve been to them aplenty) I would mention suffering from mild constipation. Of course the immediate response is, do you eat much fiber? I would outline my diet and in doing so would describe this oatmeal and say that I eat it regularly. And all of them, ALL OF THEM, asked why I would do that. They all suggested switching to assorted cold cereals. They don’t offer more dietary fiber, I checked at the time. Like I said, I’m not some huge flag waving anti-processed food protester. Yet I can’t help but still be a little flabbergasted that multiple doctors and nurses would suggest I stop eating my naturally high fiber cereal with the only added sugar coming from fruit and what’s in my delightfully evil coconut milk and switch to ground up processed grains with 3 or 4 kinds of crazy sugars and who the heck knows what else! I mean none of these people were nutritionists, but come on! Or am I crazy?
Judging by how long I’ve written about oatmeal, I might be crazy.