May 18, 2012
Let me ask you a question—How do we feel about oatmeal? At best, it can be a wonderful, wholesome breakfast of tender, tasty, nutty oats. At worst, it can be a flavorless bowl of slimy mush, full of artificial ingredients and completely empty on the yum factor. I myself have had a love-hate relationship with this dish for quite a while. It was great when I used to make the instant stuff with milk, piling the bowl full of butter, brown sugar, chocolate chips, and peanut butter. That oatmeal is amazing, especially for a late-night dinner when all nutritional concerns seem to quietly dissolve along with the setting sun.
Unfortunately, sugary, buttery, chocolaty oatmeal is pretty bad news in the healthy foods department. Even more lamentable were my attempts at slimming down my signature bowl of oatmeal. With just water, a pinch of brown sugar, and a handful of dried cranberries, my morning oatmeal became a dismal, boring bowl of mush, making for some pretty grumpy mornings.
It wasn’t until flipping through one of my favorite cookbooks, Ellie Krieger’s So Easy, that I happened upon this beautiful recipe for Vanilla Spice Oatmeal. Brimming with yummy ingredients like toasted pecans, plump dried fruit softened along with the oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla, this was an oatmeal unlike any other I had tried. It practically can’t be classified as oatmeal, it’s so good. Not to mention healthy, too. While the oats and berries are still boiled in water, which cuts out a lot of calories, the dish gains some richness back with a splash of milk at the end, giving the oatmeal a nice cool and creamy taste along with the warm, fragrant spices that perfume the dish.
Breakfast is definitely one of those meals that can get really monotonous, really fast. If you are stuck in a breakfast rut like I was, I absolutely recommend giving this delicious oatmeal a try. There’s no better way to start the day!
By the by, how do you feel about the larger font? After Blogger switched up its interface, I found the fonts on my blog a little too small for easy reading. What do you think?
Vanilla Spice Oatmeal
Recipe adapted from “Vanilla Spice Oatmeal” from So Easy by Ellie Krieger
1/2 cup pecans
3 1/2 cups water
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 cup low-fat milk
big pinch ground cinnamon, plus more to taste
Toast the pecans in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until browned and fragrant, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and chop coarsely.
Combine water, oats, raisins, cranberries, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until the oats are tender.
Remove the pan from heat and stir in the vanilla, nutmeg, and brown sugar. Divide among serving bowls. Pour 1/4 cup milk over each bowl of oatmeal and sprinkle with toasted pecans and cinnamon. Serve immediately.