Sunday, April 7, 2013

Recipes: Slow-Cooker Apple Cinnamon Steel Cut Oats

If you want to feel good about what you're eating from the very beginning of your day, this recipe is one to memorize. It has all my favorite things: powerful nutrition, low fat/calorie counts, satisfying flavor and can be prepared ahead of time to provide quick meals throughout the week. I never would have called myself an oatmeal fan - and who can really blame me: all I had ever really had were microwave pouches of instant oats (which is one step away from eating paste with a sugar kicker, if you ask me) - but this recipe has made me a believer. 

So, if you eat the instant oats, give these a try - you'll find you stay fuller longer, and since you are consuming less sugar you will notice less energy dips throughout your morning - good fuel burns slowly. And this is good fuel for the body.

A side note: This recipe uses a slow-cooker. Mine is very large (6 quarts) and can make this entire recipe. If you have a smaller slow-cooker, you can easily half the recipe to fit. Also, my appliance happens to be the world's fastest and most aggressive crock pot ever! So, when it comes to cooking times, they will vary and the time it takes me will invariably be the shortest among the bunch. Because seriously, the darn thing works at hyper-speed.

Slow-Cooker Apple Cinnamon Steel Cut Oats

4-5 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (about 5-6 cups)
3 cups skim milk
3 cups water
2 cups steel cut oats
4 TB brown sugar
2 TB butter, cut into 8-10 small pieces
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 TB chia seeds (or ground flaxseed can be used)
1/4 tsp salt

1. Assemble your ingredients, and coat your crock pot with cooking spray (if you don't, you will be serving your oatmeal with a hammer and chisel, so try not to forget this part). Add all ingredients to slow-cooker and stir. Cover and cook on LOW setting for 6-8 hours (mine is always done in 6 hours flat). Try not to lift the lid during cooking, or you will need to factor in more time. It is done when the apples are beginning to brown, and you can see brown crunchy bits forming at the edges of the oatmeal.

2. Stir finished oatmeal, making sure to free up any crunchiness at the sides and incorporate well. Spoon oatmeal into bowls to serve immediately, or store in the fridge in individual serving containers to eat later. When re-heating the oatmeal in the microwave, add 1/2 cup milk and nuke for about 2 minutes, stirring half-way through. Top your oatmeal with walnuts, maple syrup, raisins, or eat it as is - all are delicious and only add to the yum factor.
 Oatmeal is not so photogenic, eh?

The first time you try this recipe will be a bit of an experiment. You need to figure out how long it will take your slow-cooker to complete the cooking process, so definitely try it during the day. If you are one of the lucky few whose crock pots take 8 hours to complete the recipe, you can try making this overnight while you are asleep. If you are halving the recipe to fit in a 3.5 quart cooker, your window of time for completion will be 5-7 hours. If you do not have steel cut oats - you'll need to go buy some for this recipe. Regular oats will not work. They will turn to glue, and your recipe will be a wasted effort.

All together, this yields about 8-10 servings. It is perfect for a couple to share throughout the week.

Happy breakfasting!

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