A meal to warm your heart and soul
My good friend Milton warmed a few hearts when he offered to cook breakfast during our annual camping reunion of friends, family and hangers-on.
Now, this group has numbered as high as 30 or 40 at a meal, so it can be quite an undertaking to take on chef duty. This time, however, we had dwindled to a smaller crowd and only about a dozen or so were expected at breakfast.
Milton’s crowd-pleasing masterpiece: “Oatmeal With Stuff.”
Milton explained that he used unprocessed steel-cut oats in his dish, because they are not steamed, rolled and dried before packaging the way old-fashioned rolled oats are. Both kinds are good for you, but steel-cut oats, which are simply chopped into pieces, take longer to digest, have a lower glycemic index and make you feel full longer.
They also take longer to cook, but it’s worth the wait.
Oats are a complex carbohydrate and naturally high in fiber, which helps to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, and prevent heart disease. Studies have shown that eating oats regularly also can reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Milton made his version on the stovetop, but I’ve adapted it for the slow cooker — and a smaller crowd — so it cooks low and slow and is ready first thing in the morning. It’s a mighty treat on these cold winter mornings! (The first one up turns the slow cooker to “warm” and it’s ready for early and late birds alike.)
This is one of those “forgiving” recipes that can be stretched or reduced. The “stuff” that makes it so good can be switched out for other goodies, depending on your tastes or what you’ve got on hand. If you have picky eaters, some of the “stuff” can be optional garnishes.
Slow Cooker Oatmeal With Stuff
Seven ¾-cup servings
1 cup uncooked steel-cut oats
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups fat-free milk (almond or soy milk for a vegan version)
2 apples, cored and chopped bite-size
2 tablespoons brown sugar (can substitute maple syrup, agave or another sweetener)
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons butter or margarine (optional)
Optional garnishes: almonds or other chopped nuts, raisins, craisins, peanut butter, jelly, chocolate chips
Spray the inside of the slow cooker with cooking spray. Add all the ingredients, except optional garnishes. Stir, cover and cook on low for approximately 7 hours. Serve with your choice of garnishes and a splash of milk, if desired.