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Healthy Breakfasts: Steel Cut Oatmeal – swell

Healthy Breakfasts: Steel Cut Oatmeal

Steel Cut Oatmeal with Bananas, Pecans, and Cinnamon

Steel Cut Oatmeal with Bananas, Pecans, and Cinnamon

We’re always told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  It provides the foundation for the long hours of work ahead, or in the case of my days off, lazing around the house pretending to “clean.”  But I’ve never been a big breakfast person.  I’m not hungry when I first wake up, and I’m not in much of a position to wake up any earlier than I already do to eat before work.  In addition, most cookbook sections on breakfast include sugary carb fests or fried foods or Sunday brunch-type fanciness that don’t really make me motivated to get going in the morning.  Come to think of it, not many of my cookbooks include their own breakfast sections.

I’m tend toward the lighter side of breakfast.  I tend to go toward the slightly sweeter kind of breakfasts or a big smoothie rather than savory, mainly because they’re quicker to prepare.  But in my efforts to curb my sugar intake, I’m looking toward ways to sweeten things up without using refined sugar, opting for fruit-sweetened ways to force some early morning nutrients into my body.  (I’m not really force-feeding myself, I’m just trying to change some bad non-breakfast-eating habits.)

Enter the oatmeal!  Steel cut oats, being less processed, retain more nutrients and are better for you than their more-processed cousins like rolled or quick-cooking oats.  They also, like brown rice vs. white rice, take longer to cook (about 20-40 minutes vs. 5-10 minutes).  But if you make a large batch, you can always reheat other portions throughout the week.  Or, if you are fancy and don’t have to work earlier than I do, time doesn’t matter much.

On its own, steel cut oatmeal has a nuttier flavor and more toothsome texture.  Sometimes I like it plain, and spiced up after it’s cooked.  You can toast the oats in margarine before adding liquids but since I am also trying to limit my intake of Earth Balance and up my intake of healthy fats like coconut oil I would probably opt for the latter if I was going to go that route.  Generally I just heat up the liquids I am going to cook the oats in, then stir in some spices and the oats and a handful of dates, turn the heat down, and cook until most of the liquid has absorbed.  I have a lot of flavor combinations I play with – traditional flavors like cinnamon and apples, or festive like coconut, ginger, cinnamon, and pecans.

I’m including a recipe for a more unusual combination, but you can switch out the spices and liquids to suit your own taste.  Remember those instant packets of oatmeal?  When I was little, I loved the peaches and cream or strawberries and cream.  I don’t know how much I’d like that combination now, but this recipe pays homage to that rich, creamy, and fruity sachet of breakfast, only without the artificial flavors, preservatives, and refined sugars.  The flavors are subtle: a combination of apricot nectar and hemp milk provide the creamy, slightly fruity base, sweetened with softened dates and spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg.  A small handful of chopped nuts adds extra protein and a nice crunch to this steamy bowl of filling yumminess.  If you’re feeling extra decadent and want to add some calcium to your morning routine, stir in a few tablespoons of tahini before serving.  Also, this makes a big pot for leftovers.  Feel free to halve it if it’s just you, or if you just don’t dig eating the same breakfast for a few days.

Creamy Apricot Steel Cut Oatmeal with Dates and Nuts

Creamy Apricot Steel Cut Oatmeal with Dates and Nuts

Creamy Apricot Steel Cut Oatmeal with Dates and Nuts (makes 4 hearty portions or more):

2 c apricot nectar

2 c hemp milk or other non-dairy milk

2 c steel cut oats

pinch of salt

1/2 c pitted, chopped dates

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

chopped pistachios, walnuts, and/or other nuts (optional)

Bring the nectar, hemp milk, and salt to a low boil over medium heat.  Stir in the oats, dates, cinnamon and nutmeg and reduce the heat to very low.  Cook, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.  Spoon into serving bowls and top with nuts and a dusting of cinnamon, if desired.

10 Responses to “Healthy Breakfasts: Steel Cut Oatmeal”

  1. Shelby says:

    I love steel cut oats even more than regular oats. I do cheat and get the quick cooking kind though =)

    I love your recipe, the flavors sound so tasty!

  2. Your cereal recipe sounds delicious! Like yourself, I stay away from refined sugars and have been using honey to sweeten oatmeal, or some fresh berries (I guess it’s not berry season anymore)…

    Another quick and hearty breakfast that is my personal favorite is “Nature Bake” sprouted wheat bread and I make toast with Earth Balance and fruit sweetened jam or honey. It also seconds as my dessert when I get the hankerin’.

  3. eliza says:

    i love the recipes. oatmeal is my favorite breakfast to have and these look so good!

  4. shellyfish says:

    That sounds really good. I often make a big batch of steel cut oats or spelt flakes and eat them for a few days…I really like adding cinnamon or nutmeg, but pistachios, ohhhh!

  5. Hehe! My post today is the exact opposite of yours! It’s about why I must eat as soon as I wake up….that being said, one thing I’ve never tried is steel cut oats. I’m not sure why, but I know I’d love them. I will definitely buy some soon!

  6. Courtney says:

    Sounds great! I love that you use dates–they are so sweet and good!


  7. melisser says:

    Ooh, nice! I’m on a steel cut kick at the moment, but have been going the cinnamon, agave, & a pinch of salt route.

  8. Yummy! We love hearty, healthy oatmeal breakfasts!

    By the way, you’ve been tagged! See our post for more information.

  9. Jack says:

    Great use of pistachios in that oatmeal, do they get too soft if they sit too long?

    I’ve been snacking on pistachios in-shell and they really moderate my eating. You can see a study about it here:


  10. josh says:

    hahaha! i was skimming your blog on google reader (it was in my recommended blogs list) and i saw the last picture here and thought that the pistachios were cardamom pods. i thought, “dang, that’s serious business.”

    anyhow, thanks for the laugh.

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