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011.21.09Oatmeal Goes Fancy

Posted Nov 21 2009 12:00am
Flavors to Add to Oatmeal: Coconut, Sliced Almonds, Pecans, Chocolate Chips, Brown Sugar, Dried Cranberries, Nutmeg, Star Anise and Cinnamon

Flavors to Add to Oatmeal: Coconut, Sliced Almonds, Pecans, Chocolate Chips, Brown Sugar, Dried Cranberries, Nutmeg, Star Anise and Cinnamon

Oatmeal brings back memories of trying to convince my mother to add more brown sugar to my bowl. Of the different types of oatmeal: steel cut, rolled, or instant, my preference for rolled oats remains the same. It’s the coarser texture created when cooked in water, but most people enjoy their oats cooked in milk for a creamy consistency. In recent years, oatmeal brands have introduced instant varieties with artificial flavorings. Here’s a few instant and natural ideas that are healthier than the store-brought flavors. May your day have a sweet start.

1. Milk
Traditional cow’s milk works well. Reduce fat intake by using 2%, 1% or non-fat milks. Goat’s milk is becoming a popular choice in recent years. Unsweetened soy milk is a low-fat alternative to cow’s milk in recipes. Recently, I have started seeing cartons of coconut milk being sold next to the soy milk in the refrigeration section of the grocery store. Looking forward to trying that flavor in  smoothies and cereals. Nut milks, such at almond, provide a great flavoring. Plain, vanilla and chocolate are flavors with sweeteners; the unsweetened version is a healthier choice. Some flavors, such as star anise, can be gently heated in milk prior to adding oatmeal. Read further to learn how to include additional flavors.

2. Sugars
Brown sugar has a nostalgic, comforting smell. It’s enriching, deep taste compliments oatmeal perfectly. It’s cheaper to use than dark amber maple syrup. Maple syrup has a similar taste as brown sugar. However, it’s more expensive per ounce. It’s another classic flavoring. Stevia is a healthier choice, but it lacks the dark sweetness of the above sweeteners mentioned. Honey has a completely different flavoring and sweetness on its own.

3. Fresh Fruit
Chopped pears, apples and mangoes. Sliced bananas and strawberries. Pitted and halved cherries and lychee fruit. Add blueberries, raspberries and blackberries when they’re in season to enjoy their natural sweetness.

4. Dried Fruit
Include the same choices as above, except dried. Toss dried cranberries or raisins. Chopped apricots, figs and dates are fine additions as well.

5. Nuts
Roughly chopped walnuts, pecans, cashews, almonds, and macadamia nuts are a few choices.

6. Other Additions
Unsweetened coconut flakes, bittersweet chocolate chips, or crystallized ginger

Oatmeal Cereal, Sliced Almonds, Shredded Coconut, Brown Sugar, Crystallized Ginger, Matcha Tea Powder, and Vanilla Soymilk

Oatmeal Cereal, Sliced Almonds, Shredded Coconut, Brown Sugar, Crystallized Ginger, Matcha Tea Powder, and Vanilla Soymilk

Asian Inspired
Sliced almonds, chopped Asian pear, chopped crystallized ginger or finely chopped fresh ginger, coconut flakes, honey, and almond, coconut/soy milk

Traditional Fall
Peeled and chopped Granny Smith apple, chopped pecans, brown sugar or maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, dried cranberries, vanilla extract, and cow/soy milk

Gone Bananas
Sliced banana, chopped walnuts, brown sugar, coconut flakes, cow or soy milk

Naughty Sweet
Bittersweet chocolate, a peeled and chopped pear, brown sugar, roughly chopped walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, and cow/soy milk

Springtime Berries
Sliced strawberries, blueberries, sliced almonds, honey, vanilla extract, and cow/soy milk

The night before, cook oatmeal and stir in additional ingredients, except the milk. Pack in a microwavable dish and place in the fridge. The next morning or at the office, add milk and reheat in the microwave.

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