Breakfast maybe the most important meal of the day but it’s also the most chaotic. Please tell me I’m not the only one who struggles to eat healthy in the midst of a busy morning.
We have some quick and easy breakfast items like frozen waffles and cereal but we don’t feel as satisfied after eating them. Maybe because they are processed foods and not whole foods. I want a hot, filling breakfast.
My go to breakfast is Oatmeal.
You may be thinking, “oatmeal takes too long” or “it’s too complicated.” I want to share my tricks for easy, delicious oatmeal that everyone in your house will love.
OATS: The Basics
There are a lot of different types of oats you can buy. You can find them in pretty much any store that sells groceries. If you have a gluten sensitivity you need to buy certified gluten-free oats. They are more expensive but it is necessary. If gluten isn’t an issue you will be able to buy any oats you like.
I typically stick to three types of oats — Quick Oats, Rolled Oats and Steel Cut Oats.
Quick oats cook quickly and easily. They are oats they have been rolled, cut into small pieces and steamed to precook them.
If you eat quick oats you may feel hungry sooner than when you enjoy the less processed oats mentioned below.
Avoid the instant oatmeal packages. These often come in flavors like apple cinnamon or maple and brown sugar. Unless you buy some special healthy version they are likely full of junk. Oatmeal is easy to make, you don’t need these packages.
Rolled oats are rolled flat and slightly precooked by steaming, the result is a fairly quick cooking oatmeal. Rolled oats are often used in granola and baking as well.
Steel Cut Oats
Steel cut oats are oat groats that have been cut into pieces. I think they look like little rocks, they do not look like the instant or rolled oats. These take a longer time to cook.
When I was a kid I only knew of microwave instant oatmeal. Yes, we bought the little packages — I loved them. Looking back they were healthier than the Count Chocula I normally ate.
Even as an adult I bought the packages for a while until I realized how expensive they were. Buying the large container (you know the one that makes a good drum) was much less expensive. Even my kids, the older kids that are now adults, could make their own oatmeal in the microwave.
Before the microwaves critics speak up let me say that I think eating healthy food that has been microwaved is better than eating unhealthy food. For some people and schedules, a microwave makes the difference between a healthy breakfast and a fast food drive-thru breakfast. If you don’t approve of microwaves that is ok, you don’t have to use one.
Quick oats and rolled oats can be cooked easily in the microwave. Oatmeal rises when it is cooking so I recommend using a much larger bowl than needed and keeping an eye on it. If you don’t, you will need extra time to wash out your microwave.
Use 1 cup of quick or rolled oats and 1 3/4 cup of water and microwave on high for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes for quick oats or 2 to 3 minutes for rolled oats. Remove them from microwave carefully and stir. If they don’t seem done you can microwave them for a little longer, in 30 second intervals until done.
On mornings when I have more time I cook oats on the stove. Use the same measurements as above but bring water to boil, then add oats and a dash of salt if desired. After you pour the oats in reduce heat to a simmer. Quick oats will need to cook for about 1-5 minutes, rolled oats for about 5-10 minutes.
Keep your eye on the oats as they are cooking and stir regularly.
Steel Cut Oats can also be cooked on the stove. These require a much longer cooking time of about 20-30 minutes.
Some people cook steel cut oats in the Crock Pot as well. This requires a bit more water because of the longer cooking time.
I prefer cooking my Steel Cut Oats in my Instant Pot. Though it does take a while for the Instant Pot to come to pressure and to release pressure the cook time is only 3 minutes (on manual) for a total time of about 30 minutes. Even though that isn’t quick, once you start it you can walk away and not worry about stirring or burning anything.
Un-Recipes for Oatmeal
I often share oatmeal in my meal plans but I don’t always link to a recipe. The reason is that I don’t follow actual recipes for my oatmeal. I just stick to my favorite add-ins!
For me, I like to incorporate 3 different type of things into my oatmeal: Something Sweet, Fruit and Nuts/Seeds.
By far my favorite sweetener is maple syrup. I think it is from my childhood packets of maple and brown sugar flavored instant oatmeal. Other sweeteners include stevia, dates, agave, raw sugar or whatever you prefer. Sometimes I’ll skip adding something sweet and just stick to the fruit.
Go wild here, or be like me and choose seasonal favorites. Apples, raisins, berries (we often use frozen berries for a budget-friendly option), bananas, coconut, or whatever you have on hand. In the summer I lean more toward fresh berries and in the winter I use apples and raisins.
If you hare allergic to nuts do not use nuts. If you can have nuts I recommend walnuts, slivered almonds or pecans. Seeds are a fun option that I choose most of the time. Chia seeds, hemp seeds, ground flax seeds and pumpkin seeds are all really good.
Where to Buy
I buy most of my oats online. We go through a lot so I order them using my Amazon Prime account so I can get two day free shipping. Trust me, it is easier than taking the kids to the store. Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial to see if it works for you.
I encourage you to try different kinds of oats and different cooking methods. I’ll list some of the oats we use for reference but buy what works for you. Once you find a brand that you love you can sign up for “subscribe and save” on Amazon to get it delivered to you on a schedule, like one a month, or every six weeks.
GF Harvest Rolled Oats Organic, GMO-Free, facility is wheat, soy and peanut-free. I met the family behind GF Harvest at an expo and believe them to have the utmost integrity and transparency about their process.
Jules Shepard was kind enough to inform me that Bob’s Red Mill Oats are not certified gluten-free. I was not aware of this and thought they were. Although the label says gluten-free and they are not certified. I encourage you to read more from Bob’s Red Mill and from Gluten-Free Watch Dog.
If you do not have Celiac disease or a gluten-intolerance the Bob’s Red Mill oats will be okay for you. See Jules comment below for more information. You can also purchase GF products from her site.
Quaker Oats (I’ve never purchased these from Amazon but they are budget-friendly so I included them)
Bulk bins and store-brand in your local grocery store will typically have a great price.
How do you cook and eat oatmeal? Got a favorite recipe or fruit combo?
My favorite oatmeal of all time is a little more extravagant that I made regularly. It has cardamom, toasted coconut and chai. See the full recipe at Gluten-Free and More.
Don’t forget Overnight Oats! It’s perfect for those of us who don’t want to cook at all!
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