Nutty Apple Steel Cut Oatmeal

Q:  Which foods entice you to actually eat breakfast?

Oh, silly breakfast.  I get so uninspired by breakfast food that I often wake up, get distracted doing something else, then have to force myself to eat something to let my body know it's time to operate normally.  So I need a little encouragement sometimes, something to look forward to.  Studying nutrition taught me to be sure not to skip a morning bite due to the proven health benefits - primarily to regulate your metabolism, but also to encourage a healthier and better nutritionally-balanced diet throughout the day.  That Cup Noodles for lunch, eaten purely out of starving desperation, is never the best choice since it's probably made of spaceship materials.

Oats have been a point of contention for gluten free people, since many cannot tolerate them even when the variety is certified g-f.  It's enough to make people not want to even experiment.  I, however, relied on oatmeal far too much before going g-f that cutting it out entirely would only be an option of extreme necessity.  Luckily, that's not the case for me.  Bob's Red Mill makes my favorite variety, and if they aren't available to you locally, the site allows you to order by the package instead of a case.  I've started to prefer the texture of steel cut oats to regular rolled oats, even if the cooking time might be a smidge longer. Adding a couple extra ingredients to give it some variety can add nutrition and maybe even rescue you from the morning doldrums.

Nutty Apple Oatmeal

*This is a flexible recipe.  Substitute berries, bananas, or peaches/nectarines when in season for the apples in the same proportions.  Stir in bananas after you've shut off the heat instead of cooking them.
*Use your favorite nut butter - peanut, almond, cashew, sunbutter.
*Same with the liquid sweetener - honey, agave, maple syrup, even brown sugar.
*This recipe makes about 4 - 1/2 cup+ servings.  Steel cut oats are generally cooked at 1 part oats to 3 parts water, so adjust to your needed proportions.

1/2 cup certified gluten free steel cut oats
1 1/2 cups water or your favorite milk, plus a little extra if needed
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
1/2 large apple (I use Mac or Pink Lady), diced with skin on, about 3/4 cup
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons of your favorite liquid sweetener (I use 1 T. pure maple syrup + 1 T. agave nectar)

In a medium saucepan, bring the water or milk to a boil.  Stir in the oats, reduce the heat to low, and cover.  

Though we know to never leave a working stove unattended, especially keep an eye on these guys - to avoid an oatmeal volcano, check and stir every few minutes.  Continue to simmer for about 10 - 15 minutes, depending on how chewy you might like your oats: less time = more chewy, more time = softer oats. Meanwhile, dice the apples.

Add the apples and flaxseed, stir to combine, and simmer covered for another 5 minutes.  If at any point the oats become too thick and sticky (evidenced by angrily exploding heat bubbles), add water or milk by the tablespoon. 

The apples should be just softened.  Turn off the heat, stir in the peanut butter and sweetener to taste.  Serve sprinkled with cinnamon and garnished with apple slices.

This makes about 4 - 1/2 cup+ servings or so, and refrigerates/reheats incredibly well.  I like to make a big batch to have on hand, thus making subsequent breakfasts much less of a chore.  Reheat on the stove, in a small saucepan, adding a tablespoon or two of water and stirring until heated through.

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