March 1, 2011 by Ashlee Clark Thompson
It took two minutes and three ingredients for my fiancé to change the way I look at breakfast.
It was a cool February morning. We were hungry and chilly and needed some food that would stick to our bones.
Rob removed a carton of Aldi-brand oatmeal from my cabinet. Then he showed me how real grown ups eat a proper breakfast.
Oatmeal has had its place on my kitchen shelves in every apartment in which I’ve lived. But oatmeal was just an item I needed on hand to whip up a batch of oatmeal-raisin cookies when the mood struck me. Occasionally I would by bags of the pre-flavored oatmeal that’s quick and easy to prepare when you’re in a hurry. But I never looked at those rolled oats in the cardboard carton as food with which I could satisfy my urges to get creative in the kitchen.
Rob got to pouring and measuring and stirring. Less than five minutes later, I was eating a bowl of hot oatmeal with raisins, cinnamon and brown sugar. This humble bowl of oatmeal was the beginning of my adoration of this bastion of fiber.
Oatmeal has become my go-to breakfast. It’s a blank canvas that waits for your personal touches. It’s easy, quick and cheap. It keeps you full until lunch. In a word, oatmeal is wonderful.
Recently, McDonald’s and a couple of oat-loving food writers have brought oatmeal to the front of internet food conversation.
Food columnist Mark Bittman just wrote a widely read article for the New York Times condemning McDonald’s oatmeal, which he said has been altered so much by the fast-food giant that the dish has more sugar than a Snickers candy bar. Bittman’s piece prompted a response from Tom Chiarella at Esquire Magazine based on his own experiences at the restaurant that defends the chain’s oatmeal.
While you decide if McDonald’s has bastardized oatmeal or brought a healthier option to the masses, why not make your own? It takes only two steps:
- Follow the directions on the carton of oatmeal. If you use milk instead of water (which is what I do), watch your oatmeal closely and stir often because it can easily bubble over the pot or bowl.
- Add your favorite ingredients.
Here’s a breakdown of some possible additions to oatmeal. Choose something from each category and make your own combinations.
- Something sweet: Sugar, brown sugar, sugar substitute, honey, syrup
- Something crunchy: Nuts (walnuts, pecans, etc.)
- Something fruity: Dried fruit (raisins, golden raisins, Craisins, etc.), mashed banana, chopped apple, applesauce
- Something flavorful: Cinnamon, nutmeg
Do you have your own oatmeal combination? Share the knowledge in the comments.