All my life I have been an instant oatmeal kind of gal. As you may have noticed, many of my past recipes contain the stuff. When I was really little I ate “Dinosaur Egg Oatmeal” for breakfast – it had these cute little dinosaur eggs made of sugary chemicals, and you had to guess what kind of dino (also made of sugar) was inside. I got a little older and graduated to the “healthier” instant oatmeal packets with dehydrated apple bits and about a bucketload of sugar. At one point I started using “lower sugar” oatmeal to cut calories, but even that was still made with lots of highly processed ingredients and was barely fewer calories per packet than the regular packets, so eventually I returned to regular, full-sugar instant oatmeal. I tried “healthier” brands, such as Three Sisters instant oatmeal. While this oatmeal is yummy, all-natural and has fewer unpronounceable ingredients listed on the box, it still contains 9 grams of sugars per serving. Furthermore, organic foods can be expensive, and one box of that oatmeal costs more than a box of not-organic packets of instant oatmeal, so usually I would just buy the cheap stuff and pretend it wasn’t full of artificial flavors, preservatives, and sugar.
Until now. I’ve been seeing steel-cut oats around quite a lot lately on the internet. I tried some myself at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf during spring vacation, and I found them pretty good. But they weren’t as sweet as the instant oatmeal I was used to. Still, I discovered that steel-cut oats are healthier than store-bought instant oatmeal packets: for one thing, they only contain ONE ingredient: 100% whole grain steel cut oats. I find it so refreshing to look at the ingredient list on a product and find it nearly empty. For another, the amount of sugar involved in a bowl of steel-cut oats you cook yourself is entirely under your control. You can choose to use alternatives such as muscovado sugar, Truvia, pure maple syrup, honey… the options are endless and there is a choice for every taste and health philosophy out there.
Today I cooked my first successful serving of steel-cut oats. The first time I tried this, I was making it ahead of time to have ready for the next morning. I thought it would be so much easier to make the oatmeal in the microwave rather than cooking it in a pot with hot water. So I used the directions on the container for microwave cooking, but I didn’t have the recommended “deep bowl” so I used a sort of shallow one. The result was an explosion of half-cooked oats all over the microwave. So I cleaned it up and thought, maybe if I cover the dish the oats are in while microwaving, they can’t explode like that. So for microwaved oatmeal, take two, I put the oats and water in a pasta dish and sealed the lid on tight. Clever idea, right? WRONG. A few moments after popping that batch of oats in the microwave: BANG! I nearly jumped out of my skin in terror, (it was late at night, okay?) then opened the microwave to find an oatmeal mess of even greater magnitude than the mess from take one. After cleaning that up, I was all done with the microwave method and made my oatmeal the old-fashioned way: in a pot on the stove. I put it in a bowl and covered it to be refrigerated overnight. The next morning, it had congealed into an unappetizing, hard ball. I had to add hot water , chop at the mass with a spoon, and even (apprehensively) microwave it before it became edible. And even then it was not very good.
The second time I tried making steel-cut oats (or 4th time if you count the microwave fails) I cooked it in the morning right before eating it, so the overnight congelation wasn’t a problem. But I didn’t add enough sweetener, so it wasn’t really to my taste. I’m used to my oatmeal being pretty sweet, so for this banana bread oatmeal I used several different types of sweeteners. But all of the sweeteners I used are organic and more healthy than the refined sugars you’d find in most instant oatmeal packets.
So I’d call this oatmeal a successful, healthy alternative to the instant kind! It does take a little bit more time to cook, about five minutes total. I measured out most of the ingredients and mashed the banana the night before so it didn’t take as long in the morning.
I call this oatmeal “better than banana bread” because it has the delicious, sweet taste found in a banana nut bread, as well as the hearty, filling texture of steel-cut oatmeal. It is also much healthier than most banana breads which are usually made with white flour and choc-full of sugar and butter. It is full of fiber and other nutrients such as potassium from the banana. The taste is very delicious and comforting as well as filling. Enjoy!
Better Than Banana Bread Steel-Cut Oats
makes one serving
- 1/4 cup steel-cut oats
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1/4 cup vanilla almondmilk
- 1/2 of a small or medium banana, mashed
- 1 tbl pure maple syrup
- 1 tbl walnuts (for topping)
Place the water and almondmilk in a pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium and add the steel-cut oats. Cook for about 2-3 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add the banana and maple syrup and cook for another couple minutes, or until the oats start to bubble quite a bit.
Remove from heat and carefully pour oatmeal into medium bowl. Top with walnuts if desired. Let cool a couple of minutes before digging in.
Bon appetit, and may this oatmeal be a great start to a super morning!
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