Everyone knows that oatmeal is just about the best thing you can start your day with. They tell us it’s supposed to be healthy, high and fiber, cholesterol lowering, blah, blah, blah, and so we jump on it like fruitflies on an old banana. But there is one drawback: oatmeal can taste pretty bland. After about two and a half days, you grow bored with it, and move back to bagels and donuts.
May I suggest a few tricks to make your morning bowl of oats a bit more exciting:
- Lightly toast the oats. Just throw them in the pan and keep them for 4-5 minutes until they start smelling ‘toasty’. You’ll also be getting a delicious nutty, smoky flavor. This method works particularly well with steel-cut oats, which are, by the way, a more complete whole-grain product than rolled oats.
- Spice it up! Remember all the healthful properties of different spices? Use them to spice up your oatmeal creation! You are not just adding nourishment, but also flavor. Cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, coco powder, nutmeg, vanilla – just a few examples to play with!
- Play with cooked fruits! Add the spices listed in #2 with a touch of sugar – and you have a delicious, warm, mouthwatering topping! By the way, you can use fresh or dried fruits or both; I also use pre-made apple sauce to make things moving faster.
- Experiment with nuts and seeds. Don’t want to toast your grain? Just add some nuts and seeds to get the nutty flavor. Either raw or roasted, sweet or savory – they can be a great addition of not only texture, but protein and good fats.
- Play with adding a little butter or coconut oil. Wow! Saturated fats? Yes, precisely! These social outcasts actually assist with the absorption of minerals in the whole grains and make things taste pretty darn yummy.
- Soak in an acidic medium, such as diluted vinegar, lemon juice, whey or yogurt before cooking. Pretty crazy, I know, but there is a reason behind the madness: 1) Soaking produces additional flavor and texture otherwise missing in regular ‘boxed’ oatmeal; 2)Soaking most grains for at least 7 hours before cooking makes them easier to digest as it neutralizes phytic acid that tends to block absorption of valuable minerals in the grain.