Making Oatmeal Great Again

So, What’s for Breakfast?

Years ago, I got on an oatmeal kick and I ate it every day for about 3 months until one day it made me gag, and I realized I had OD’d on a good thing.  I haven’t been much of an oatmeal gal since then – I would occasionally get those sugary instant packets, but there was something that just tasted so artificial about them.  I know a lot of people are into the steel cut oats and the overnight oats, but neither of those excite me.  But, let’s be honest:  does oatmeal actually excite anyone?

Recently I grew tired of my bagel or English muffin routine and wanted something different.  And with the morning temps dipping now that it’s fall, I grabbed a box of Quaker Oats and decided I just needed to be creative – and by creative I don’t mean dumping a half cup of brown sugar in it.  So, I’ve spent the past few weeks experimenting with different toppings.  I realize some of these are high in sugar – my bad – but it tastes good and is a hearty, filling breakfast.

A few things to note – First, while I realize the box tells you to add a dash of salt when cooking it, I had never done so until now and it does indeed make a difference.  It does not make your oatmeal salty (if it does, you used too much), but instead brings out the flavor of the oats and makes it less bland.  Second, I use Quick Oats which I cook in the microwave for 90 seconds.  I know the real stuff cooked on the stove top is better, but I don’t have time for such nonsense in the morning when I’m trying to get to work.  And, finally, I cook the oatmeal first, then stir in the toppings.  I do not cook the oatmeal with the toppings in it because I wanted to keep the fruit from getting mushy.

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Cherry Preserves– I absolutely love the Archer Farm Red Tart Cherry Fruit Spread from Target.  It tastes so good on toast and fresh bread, so for my first morning of oatmeal experimentation, I decided to swirl a spoonful of this into my oatmeal. The combination of sweetness and tartness in the oatmeal was delicious.  If cherry isn’t your thing, grab your favorite jar of real fruit spread and try to stay away from anything with corn syrup in it.

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Tropical– For my next try, I just happened to have a mango in the fridge and I always have a bag of coconut in the freezer, so I created a tropical oatmeal bowl with diced mango, coconut, and a drizzle of honey. I also tried this one a second time using coconut chips instead of shredded coconut.  Both were good.

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Strawberry Chocolate– Day 3 of the Make Oatmeal Great Again campaign happened to fall on a Friday, so I thought why not celebrate making it through another week with a little bit of chocolate?  I diced up a few strawberries and stirred them into my cooked oatmeal, then sprinkled a tablespoon of semi-sweet chocolate chips on top.  It was more like dessert, but it was still a yummy breakfast.

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Peaches and Cream– I bought a peach specifically for my oatmeal, but noticed I had a can of fat-free sweetened condensed milk in the pantry and thought it might taste good with the peach.  And I was right.  I realize that condensed milk is high in sugar, so I only used about 1 ½ tablespoons. After adding my sliced peaches into the prepared oatmeal, I drizzled the condensed milk on top and it was delish!

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Lemon Blueberry– Anything lemon is my favorite; in fact, I prefer a lemon dessert over a chocolate dessert any day of the week.  So, I always have a jar of lemon curd in my fridge, along with the jellies and jams. I know most people don’t keep it on hand, but I recommend that you do because it’s good on lots of stuff, including oatmeal! I swirled a couple tablespoons of lemon curd into my cooked oatmeal, then sprinkled with fresh blueberries. Oh.  My.  Goodness. This was by far my favorite combination so far.

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Apple Pecan– This made me think of fall, but it really is a good combination anytime.  I added about a third of a cup of diced apple, a sprinkle of cinnamon, a tablespoon of crushed pecans, and drizzled real maple syrup on top.  I used fresh, raw apples, but I could see how this one might benefit from actually adding the apple pieces before cooking.  Personally, I liked the crispness of the uncooked apple, but you could go either way.

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PB & J– The kid in me loved this.  I went easy on the peanut butter because I don’t tolerate high amounts of fat very well, but honestly it doesn’t need much.  I just put a few small dollops of peanut butter and a few of grape jelly in the bowl and swirled it in.  So good!

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Strawberries and Cream– Just like peaches and cream. I used sliced fresh strawberries and a little bit of sweetened condensed milk.

Lemon Cream– Same as above, but with lemon curd and sweetened condensed milk

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Banana Nut– This was tasty and would make a good afternoon snack as well as breakfast.  I added some sliced bananas, about a tablespoon of crushed pecans to a bowl of cooked oatmeal, then drizzled honey over the top.

Other ideas that I have not tried yet include: “Samoa” made with chocolate chips, coconut, and caramel drizzle; figs & honey; mixed berry with blueberries, raspberries & strawberries; peanut butter & banana; and maple bacon.  On that note, I had heard that savory oatmeal was good so I tried it with bacon pieces, a chopped egg, and a little cheese and EW, No! I thought it was disgusting. Grits like that, yes.  Oatmeal, no.  But I think maple bacon would probably work.

Do you have any oatmeal ideas you’d like to share?  What is your favorite?

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