Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ode to Oatmeal...

Soooo since the blustery weather has FINALLY arrived in Jersey (coincidentally...coinciding with Scott telling me he has to work outside every day until Christmas...opppss..sorry Scott!J), I thought today would be a PERFECT day to talk about one of my favorite cold morning breakfasts:  OATMEAL!

OK, OK..I pretty much eat oats for breakfast all year long, but it is just WAY more "soul satisfying" on those brisks mornings of winter.  And since I have 'a little extra time on my hands' at the moment, I giddily realized it was the perfect time for the return of STEEL CUT OATS!!
Steel Cut oats need a little more 'love' as they take about 25 minutes to make.  But they are the LEAST processed of all of the oats and therefore, the most nutritious.  You can easily whip up a big batch over the weekend and reheat it for a quick and SUPER FILLING breakfast for the weekdays.  So here are two recipes I made this is quick and one is a bit of a leisurely weekend treat...

Sooooooooo in my attempts to 'celebrate the season,' I had gotten my brain wrapped around wanting a Christmas flavored oatmeal.  And while eggnog has NOT entered my house yet during our 'grocery store ban' (although it is a-comin VERY SOON!J), I had to go with the SECOND best Christmas flavor option: GINGERBREAD! 
I had made my oats (which you can make slow steel cut, your standard quick 3 minute oats OR ye ole 'make at your desk' oats) and added in alllll of the gingerbread flavors once it was cooked...a 1/4 teaspoon each of:
  • Molasses
  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Cloves
  • Nutmeg
  • All Spice
  • & 1 teaspoon of brown sugar and vanilla extract
I added a little milk to the top and delved in.  It was sooooooooooooo warm, spicy & FESTIVE.  So good in fact, that I actually made it for breakfast again this morningJ thinks this will be a staple ALL SEASON LONGJ

My now-decorated Gingerbread/Kitchen tree approves... 

So when I made my batch of Steel Cut Oats on Tuesday morning, I had made enough to save a second serving for the next morning...

And this time, turned those oats into: OATMEAL PUDDING!!!!!! 
I had been wondering how to turn my oats into a 'rice pudding hybrid' and a quick internet search led me to Katie's recipe and a now new favorite of mine!

Into a pot went:
  • 1 serving already cooked oats (1/4 cup of oats cooked in 1 cup of water)
  • 1 cup of milk
  • Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • handful of craisins (or raisins)
Bring the milk to a boil, add the rest of the ingredients & let cook until thickened, about 15 minutes.  I was soooo excited when the oats ACTUALLY smelled like rice pudding and I was MORE than happy with the creamy & dreamy texture and great chew from the good!

Not to never ceases to amaze me how adding extra liquid and cooking oats longer REALLLLLY bumps up the volume!  Picture 1 is my 1/4 of cooked oats, and picture 2 is that same cup cooked the extra 15 minutes in the cup of milk.  Big difference, no??? 
(ps-And using Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk REALLY brings the calorie count down low!  That's 110 calories a cup from 1% milk vs. a mere 40 from the almond milk!)

And there's one other ingredient I add to ALL of my oatmeal (and smoothie!) recipes and it's the Chia Seed...
Chia seeds have become my EXTRA best friend lately, because while salmon is not exactly appealing at the moment, I am still able to get ALL of the Omega 3's I need from 1 scoop of these seeds.  I try to fit them into my diet at least once a day.  Like I said, they are great in oats, smoothies & next I'm going to try to remember to stir them in yogurt or toss them in a salad dressing.  You can read about all of the great benefits here...

...but what I'm here to tell you is the MOST important part:  You can not taste them AT ALL!J  And in combo with the oats, they make a SUPER FILLING breakfast that 'lasts' for HOURS.  Not too shabby, right??   

OK, OK...enough Chia love and back to something else:  CHRISTMAS LOVE!!!!!!!! 

We finished decorating our tree the other night and I had to laugh about a 'decorating trend' I've noticed.  So the tress of my childhood used to be DOMINATED by all of the Hallmark Barbie & Madame Alexander series ornaments, but now the 'places of honor' on the tree (aka-the front!) are now reserved for not only our 'event ornaments'... 

...and the ones we've picked up 'along the way'... 

But also very much by my SUPER OLD SCHOOL ORNAMENTS!!!!! 

These guys are older than me and, while they used to be banished to the back of the tree in lieu of dear old Barbie,  are now front row & center for all to bask in their 'old school Christmas glorty' J 

They even just SMELLLLLLL like "Old Christmas"....can't buy that in Hallmark, let me tell ya!J 

 OK, I think that's enough oatmeal, chia, tree talk outta me for one day!  Hope you guys have a great ThursdayJ
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