Friday, 17 June 2016

Slow Cooker Oatmeal 5 Ways









It's been a while since I've posted any recipes so I thought I would make a special entry. Here is a practical, inexpensive and simple way to have a hearty, comforting breakfast that will keep you full and give you energy until lunch. Classic oatmeal, but not just any oatmeal. This is oatmeal you make in a slow cooker. It's so convenient. You just combine a few ingredients in the crock pot before you go to bed and 8 hours later you have a warm, wholesome breakfast all ready for you. Perfect for busy people on the go. It can easily be adjusted to feed just one or several people. Oatmeal is made from whole grain oats and is a good source of fibre and complex carbohydrates. On its own it's a little boring but here are 5 different ways to keep it interesting and delicious. 

Before we get into it, a few things we need to go over. You have the option of using either steel cut oats or rolled oats for any of these recipes. Do not use quick oats, they'll just turn into slop. Steel cut oats are whole oats that have been broken up into thick pieces. Rolled oats are steamed and rolled into flakes before getting toasted up. The purpose of rolled oats is that they cook faster. Steel cut oats will make a more toothsome, satisfying consistency whereas rolled oats will make a creamy and luxurious consistency. It depends on your taste. One person's creamy is another person's mushy. Generally speaking, I would say steel cut oats are best for this. I happened to only have rolled oats so that's what I used for all of these recipes. I have to say, the rolled oats worked especially well with the chocolate one though! 

I encourage you to have fun with these. You can use any liquids you like. You'll need to grease your slow cooker to prevent sticking. You can use whatever you like for that too. I tried to adapt the liquid and fat to fit the flavour profile of each recipe. An important tip: make sure you soak your slow cooker right away after you've served up all your oatmeal. It's all in the name of easy clean up. It's so simple. Add some stuff to your slow cooker, go to bed, wake up to a hot breakfast, let it soak while you go to work/school/wherever and it will be a cinch to clean up when you come back home. Each of these recipes makes one serving.



Let's start out with a classic...


Apple, Raisin, Cinnamon


Ingredients

1/2 cup oats
1 cup water
1 cup milk
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 apple, peeled and diced
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
Pinch of fresh ground nutmeg


Grease your slow cooker with 1 tbsp of butter. Combine the rest of the ingredients. 






Set to cook on low for 8 hours and voilĂ !






Give it a stir, scoop it up into a bowl and enjoy! Add an extra sprinkling of brown sugar if you're so inclined.







Peanut Butter & Jam


Ingredients

1/2 cup oats
1 cup water
1 cup almond milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp peanut butter
Another tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp raspberry jam
7-8 fresh raspberries
1 tbsp peanuts, chopped
Pinch of salt 


Grease your slow cooker with 1 tbsp of butter. Combine the oats, water, almond milk, brown sugar, 1 tbsp peanut butter and a pinch of salt.





Set to cook on low for 8 hours. 






Give it a stir then scoop it up into a bowl. Layer the oatmeal with bits of raspberry jam then fold it just twice or so. The idea is not to mix the jam completely into the oatmeal but make more of a ripple effect. That way you can enjoy the distinctly different flavours without muddying them up together. Melt 1 tbsp of peanut butter in the microwave. Dot the top with raspberries and pour some of the liquified peanut butter on top. Sprinkle with the chopped peanuts. 








Chocolate-Coconut with fresh Blueberries


Ingredients

1/2 cup oats
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup of water
1/4 cup of white sugar (or vanilla sugar if you can)
1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp toasted coconut flakes
15-20 fresh blueberries
Pinch of salt 


Grease your slow cooker with 1 tbsp of coconut oil. Combine the oats, coconut milk, water, sugar, chocolate chips, cocoa powder and a pinch of salt. 






Set to cook on low for 8 hours.






Give it a stir and scoop it up into a bowl. Top with toasted coconut flakes, fresh blueberries and some extra chocolate chips and enjoy.






Note: You might notice that this is the only oatmeal recipe that specifies white sugar instead of brown sugar. Brown sugar is such a perfect and traditional compliment to oatmeal but I find the flavour clashes with chocolate. I usually avoid combining brown sugar and chocolate. You're the boss of your oatmeal but I recommend white sugar for this one. 



Banana, Maple, Pecan


Ingredients

1/2 cup oats
1 cup water
1 cup milk
1 very ripe banana, mashed
1/2 fresh banana, sliced
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/3 cup pecan pieces
1 tbsp pecan pieces
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt


Grease your slow cooker with 1 tbsp of butter. Using a fork, mash the very ripe banana with the maple syrup and brown sugar. Then combine the banana mixture with the oats, water, milk, 1/3 cup pecan pieces, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and a pinch of salt.






Set to cook on low for 8 hours.






Give it a stir and scoop it up into a bowl. Top with slices of fresh banana, 1 tbsp of pecan pieces and enjoy.






Note: Ideally you will want to use a very ripe, browning banana for the oatmeal and a fresh, yellow banana for the slices on top. This may take some planning ahead on your part. Here's a tip for ripening a banana faster. Store loosely in a sealed paper bag. Adding another ripe fruit like a tomato in the bag will also ripen the banana faster.



Gingerbread with Cranberries and fresh Pear


Ingredients

1/2 cup oats
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp fancy molasses
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 fresh pear, diced
1 tbsp dried cranberries
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
Pinch of fresh ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt


Grease your slow cooker with 1 tbsp of butter. Combine the oats, milk, water, brown sugar, molasses, 1/3 cup dried cranberries, all of the spices and the salt. 





 Set to cook on low for 8 hours.






Give it a stir and scoop it up into a bowl. Top with the diced pear, 1 tbsp dried cranberries and enjoy. 






Note: For a nice visual effect, pick a green pear over red or brown varieties. It will make a beautiful contrast against the brown and red of the gingerbread oatmeal and cranberries. This would make a great, festive breakfast for Christmas morning!


Here are some fantastic ideas to get you started. I've gotta tell you guys, before this past week I have been eating the same breakfast during the work week for a year and a half! That's about 200 grams of cottage cheese with lots of ground pepper, a grapefruit (or sometimes an orange) and a handful of roasted, unsalted almonds. It was all a part of me getting healthy and back in shape. I still don't mind it but it was so nice to take a break from that routine and have a different hot breakfast every morning. It was so easy too! My favourite part of every batch was the slightly chewy, crusty parts that would develop on top and the sides. Yum!

Slow cookers are great when you want a nice, comforting meal but it's too hot to slave over a stove or have the oven on. This is the first time I've ever used my slow cooker for breakfast. It was so convenient to throw everything into a crock pot, go to bed and let the oatmeal cook itself. If you don't have a slow cooker you can adapt any of these recipes to a standard stove top method. Just note that you'll only need half as much liquid. Oatmeal is generally a 1:2 ratio oats to liquid but in a slow cooker it takes 1:4. 


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