Wholesome and Instant!
As a child, one of my favorite breakfasts was instant oatmeal. I’m not sure it had any of the numerous health benefits of real oats, as the oatmeal itself was processed to be quick cooking, and the apples & cinnamon flavor I enjoyed was loaded with sugar, but I loved the taste, the warmth on a cool day, and the fact that I knew how to make it myself! As an adult, I still love oatmeal, but my palette has expanded and so has my desire to eat more healthfully. This time of year I eat oatmeal for breakfast almost every day. Although I love a good oatmeal bake and a wide variety of overnight soaked oat recipes, my favorite way to enjoy oatmeal is plain and simple so I can dress it up as I like, or as my mood dictates.
There are many health benefits to eating oatmeal regularly. Oatmeal contains both calcium and potassium, which have been shown to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Oatmeal is naturally a high fiber, low fat food. Rich in soluble fiber, oatmeal has been linked to good heart health, lower risk of colorectal cancer, and is ideal for any weight loss regime. Eating foods that contain soluble fiber can help you feel fuller for longer, as they take longer to digest. This is useful in stabilizing blood sugar levels and preventing diabetes, as well as being a good source of energy before a workout.
Today we know that processed food in general, and food that contains added sugar isn’t as healthy as the food we find in its wholesome natural state. The most healthy form of oatmeal is found in old fashioned rolled oats, steel cut oats, or original oat groats….all of which take some time to prepare. The problem is that I’m often pressed for time and I can see why instant oatmeal has remained popular over the years. Convenience. I’ve solved the dilemma of wanting convenience without trading in the health benefits by batch cooking and freezing oatmeal. It’s really much more simple than it sounds and while my oats quickly reheat, I have just enough time to get my bowl of add-ins ready No surprise my favorite toppings include chopped apples and cinnamon!
Like many, I’m a creature of habit. Most days I’m able to eat my breakfast at home and the toppings I use are pretty much the same. I reheat my oatmeal from 2 “muffins” I take from the freezer in a couple of Tablespoons of almond or cashew milk, add in chopped apples, a sprinkle of cinnamon, a swirl of crunchy almond butter, and I load up on seeds. I’m especially fond of chia, hemp and ground flax. Often I throw in a handful of pepitas too. I like crunch!
Also, like many, I often have days that I have to take my breakfast to go. (A much better option than skipping breakfast because you don’t have time before your commute). Sounds counterintuitive, but on mornings when I know I will be super busy, then my breakfast gets a bit more decadent! I usually will opt for an oatmeal parfait. An 8 oz jelly jar is the perfect serving size. It’s an awesome choice because the entire parfait can be made the night before and either eaten cold, room temp, or gently heated in the microwave. Sometimes I line up the jars and make them for the whole family. My favorite parfait is pictured below: alternate layers using oatmeal, blueberries (I use frozen), crunchy almond butter, seeds (if I’m using chia seeds, I’ll add a bit of cashew or almond milk to help them turn into a pudding texture). Hubby likes his oatmeal sweet so I add in a teaspoon of maple syrup while I’m layering. Keep layering with your favorite toppings until your jar is full. Voila!