It’s been a relatively warm winter in Northern California thus far. We haven’t had a lot of rain or fog, just lots of sunshine. I am not one to complain about an abundance of sunshine, particularly in January, but one thing I do miss about the cooler winters of the east coast is the ready excuse I have to eat lots and lots of oatmeal. It’s delicious, warming, easy to prepare, and made with one of the best grains out there: oats.
Oats are available in four basic forms: instant or quick, rolled, steel-cut and whole. Instant, or quick oats are popular in this country, but I tend to stick to rolled oats, as they are simple to prepare and quicker to cook than steel-cut or whole oats, and they retain much of the nutrition and flavor that is lost when oats are processed into the instant or quick variety. Oats are high in soluble fiber (hence their cholesterol lowering properties), iron, zinc, phosphorous and selenium. They are a good source of copper, magnesium and B vitamins. And they are high in protein (protein levels in oats can range from 12 to 24%, the highest among cereals).
Making a warm oatmeal dish in the morning is very simple: boil 1½ cups of milk (cow, rice or almond all work well), or water (or a combination of milk and water), add ¾ cup to 1 cup of rolled oats, a teaspoon of vanilla, a pinch or two of cinnamon, and honey or maple syrup to taste, stir and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes (depending on your desired texture, the longer you cook the oats, the softer they will be). Pour into bowls and let sit for 5 minutes. Enjoy!
If, however, you are also experiencing a warm spell (as we are in California) here are two great ways to get your daily oats; one healthy, and one sinful! Come and cook with us!