Oatmeal. Most people love it or hate it. I used to be an oatmeal hater - I always found it bland and too much like the stuff you use to hold bricks in place.
But then I discovered the phenomenon that is the Growing Bowl of Oatmeal. I first read about it at Hungry Girl several years ago. I was intrigued that you could get such a big bowl of oatmeal out of a regular serving size. The concept is simple: use double the amount of liquid and double the cooking time. But while the original recipe called for some almond milk, cinnamon and Splenda, it still didn't have enough flavor to completely win me over.
So how do I make a bowl of oatmeal so yummy and flavorful that I'll want to eat it EVERY morning for years to come? Get creative.
First, I started with the oats. I found I liked using quick oats vs rolled oats as they definitely absorb the liquid better and faster and don't overflow the container as much. Then for flavor, I decided to add some fruit and settled on a banana as a healthy, flavorful addition, plus I thought it would be a good thickener. Then I added a healthy amount of cinnamon, a dash or two of kosher salt and some packets of Splenda. Next, I took a look at my liquid options. I liked the idea of unsweetened vanilla almond milk - but mixing it with water? No, thanks! I decided that Chai tea (essentially hot flavored water) would be the key to mixing with the almond milk for a creamy, yet spicy addition to the oatmeal. And so a morning ritual began.
The real beauty of this recipe is that it is so easy to prepare at work! Most office kitchens have Splenda and one of those fancy coffee machines with umpteen options of coffee and tea (including Chai!) - so right there, two of my ingredients were covered. Plus, there's a microwave. All that I needed was a bowl. And a big one. I had found in my first trials of this recipe that oatmeal has a pesky tendency of bubbling up and over its bowl. I settled on a 5 cup Rubbermaid container.
Now we put it all together. While the fancy coffee machine is brewing my tea, I'm measuring the oatmeal, cinnamon and Splenda into my bowl. I measure my almond milk, add the tea when it's ready and pour it into the bowl with the oatmeal. Lastly, I mash up the banana with my fingers and then pop it in the microwave for five (5) minutes. While I wait, I usually make another cup of Chai tea for me to sip while I eat my enormous bowl of oatmeal. And warning: this oatmeal smells soooo good while it's cooking, don't be alarmed if your co-workers come crawling to the kitchen wondering what's going on!
Here's the full recipe:
Banana Almond Chai Oatmeal
- 1/2 cup quick oats
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 packets of Splenda
- Dash of kosher salt
- 1 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
- 1 cup brewed Chai tea
- 1 ripe banana, mashed
In a large microwave-safe bowl or container, add oats, cinnamon, Splenda and salt. Add almond milk and Chai tea. Add the mashed banana. Microwave on High for five (5) minutes.
Yields: 1 serving
A few additional notes and helpful hints:
- I recommend Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk. You can find this at your grocery store, generally in the natural foods section. However, your best prices will be at Costco or Trader Joes. Trader Joes also has a good store-brand version in their refrigerated section - comes in a half-gallon size.
- All bowls and microwaves are different - watch your oatmeal as it cooks when you make this for the first time so you can catch it before it overflows. You may also need to adjust the amount of liquid based on how much it overflows and the consistency you prefer your oatmeal (really thick, sort of soupy, or somewhere in between).
- There have been times when I've forgotten to bring in more almond milk or bananas and still wanted to make this oatmeal. You can substitute regular milk for almond milk and use other fruit, like apples in place of the banana.
So it wouldn't be an Oatmealpalooza without some other yummy oatmeal recipes! Over the past week, I've come across several recipes for oatmeal that are prepared in a variety of ways: in the oven, in the refrigerator and even in a crockpot! So here's a round up the oatmeal recipes I've discovered this week, including a savory one - oatmeal doesn't always have to be sweet!
Strawberry Baked Oatmeal
This was actually one of the very first pins I ever posted on Pinterest. I made it for my small group at church and it was delicious! I'm making it again this weekend for my group - so will post a picture then. In the meantime, you can find the recipe here.
As promised, here's the picture of the baked oatmeal I made today. It was a hit!
Slow Cooker Oatmeal
I made this a few years ago at Christmas. What better way to wake up on Christmas morning than with breakfast already waiting for you! The fruit bits flavor and sweeten the oatmeal as it cooks.
- 1 cup steel cut oats
- 4 cups water
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 - 7oz. bag dried fruit bits (raisins, golden raisins, apricots, apples, peaches and cranberries)
In a crockpot, mix all ingredients and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Add additional toppings or sweeteners, as desired.
Over Night Oatmeal
I haven't tried this one yet, but here's another take on having oatmeal prepared while you sleep! It's all about using a 1:1 ratio of oatmeal to liquid and then jarring it and letting it set overnight in the fridge. You can read more about the variations on this concept, here.
And finally, a look at the savory side of oatmeal. (This one's for you, Caitlin!) In looking up recipe ideas, I came across this list from, blog favorite, The Kitchn. Apparently, there's a new-ish restaurant in NYC called Oat Meals. And, you guessed it, all they serve is oatmeal (must go on my next visit to The City)! One of their signatures is a Croque Monsieur Oats that is "studded with bits of ham, parmesan cheese, a little cream, black pepper and sea salt." Doesn't that sound amazing? I haven't found a recipe for it, so it sounds like something I must experiment with pronto! Anyways, The Kitchn's list of savory oats also includes what appears to be a very simple, yet very tasty recipe from Mark Bittman, involving scallions and soy sauce. That's it - sounds easy enough to me! Find the recipe, here.
Well, friends, that's enough from me on oatmeal today. Who knew there were so many options! Feel free to comment below if you have any favorite styles or toppings for oatmeal.