Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Thrifty Tasty Tuesday: An Ode to Oatmeal

                    I'm fortunate that my kids aren't particularly picky eaters. But one of them is pickier than the other. Every time I see him picking chunks of tomato out of my spaghetti sauce or inspecting meatloaf for hidden vegetables, I take a deep breath and remind myself how many things I refused to eat as a kid but eat enthusiastically as an adult.
                   Oatmeal is one of these foods. I couldn't stand it when I was a child. But these days I eat it for breakfast four or five days a week. It is a superfood from a nutrition standpoint as well as a frugality standpoint. For the price of a single box of cold cereal, you can buy enough oatmeal to feed a small army (or a large family) for a week. Plus, it's loaded with fiber and protein to keep you feeling full for a long time. My favorite bonus? There is nothing in the list of ingredients you can't pronounce!
                   I love Irish or steel cut oats, but I don't like the fact that it takes 15-20 minutes to cook them. Every minute in the morning is precious to me and spending extra time on oatmeal just isn't practical. This fall I discovered that Bob'sRed Mill sells  “instant” steel cut oats that cook in 5-7 minutes. I bought them feeling skeptical. After all,  instant rice is quick, but the texture is pasty. I was pleasantly surprised when I cooked my first batch. The texture and flavor are wonderful and it can be ready in about the same time as a pot of coffee. Here is my favorite way to cook oats. It feeds 3-4 people, depending how hungry you are.

Cranberry Walnut Oatmeal

2 cups water
1 cup Bob's Red Mill instant steel cut oats
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon turbinado or brown sugar
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup chopped walnuts
dash cinnamon
milk (optional)

Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan.

Stir in oats and salt. Turn temperature down to “low”. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

Add sugar, cranberries, walnuts, and cinnamon

Cook for 2 more minutes and serve.

I like to add a little milk when I serve it to thin the oatmeal a bit.