On Breakfast

My life was transformed when I learned how to make oatmeal.

That sounds rather dramatic but it’s true. You see, I’ve always known the importance of eating breakfast, but it used to seem like such a chore. Give into carb/sweets cravings? Get hungry after yogurt and fruit? Eat an omelette and inevitably seek out something sweet and carby or yogurty and fruity afterward?

Once I started reading healthy living & food blogs I realized oatmeal was sort of trendy. Or maybe young folks like me had always been eating oatmeal and were just starting to take photos of it and get creative with toppings and such. Just check out Kath’s Tribute to Oatmeal page – oh the possibilities! I was inspired to start making these awesome looking bowls of oatmeal myself, but there was just one problem: I found oatmeal… kind of gross.

I knew that wasn’t always how it’d been. My mom tells a funny story of when I was a toddler and I always asked for oatmeal, so one day she just decided to let me eat as many bowls as I asked for, and it was some ridiculous number like nine or something. So I know I did like oatmeal at one point, but when I tried to make it as a grownup, it either had a snot-like consistency that I couldn’t handle, or just didn’t taste good.

But I figured it out. I make oatmeal “my way” and it reminds me more of an oatmeal cookie than the runny porridge you see when you Google Image Search “bowl of oatmeal.” (See above.) What I do:

1. Dump 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup milk, sometimes an extra splash of water, and some shakes from my cinnamon bear into a small saucepan.

2. Stop paying attention for a few minutes, maybe five minutes, while the oats bubble and cook.

3. Give the oats their first stir just as they’re starting to stick to the bottom of the pan.

4. Stir a few more times at maybe 30-second intervals until the oats start clumping together, sometimes forming around the spoon in a big ball.

5. Add a tablespoon or two of almonds and a few chocolate chips (like 10 or 12) and stir again.

6. Eat!

The key, for me, is texture. I don’t like the soupy, creamy texture that most oatmeal recipes produce, so I use about half the amount of water as the usual. If I overturn my spoon, my bite doesn’t glop off. There’s hardly any liquid left, so my bites really kind of remind me of oatmeal cookie dough more than anything else.

I don’t love using pumpkin (texture gets too squishy) or banana (too banana-y!) or mixing in almond butter (too sticky). I use milk and add almonds for substance; the chocolate chips are just a treat for me. I eat this oatmeal almost every day, chocolate and all. I don’t have to pay attention too much while it’s cooking… but I have been known to burn my poor oats, so don’t necessarily do as I do. But oatmeal really is the best breakfast I’ve found. It has staying power, but doesn’t make me feel over-full. I can eat it at my desk at work (if I bring in a Thermos). It doesn’t interfere with morning workouts. And it’s cheap – the oats I use are less than $1/pound from the bulk bin. My favorite breakfast for sure.

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