Oatmeal: How & Why to Cook It Every Day

Oatmeal: Nine reasons WHY to cook it.
Four ways HOW to cook it for morning porridge,
in the microwave, on the stove, in the oven and in a slow cooker.

How and why to eat oatmeal every day.'

Quick Links - Ways to Cook Oatmeal
Microwave Stovetop
Oven Slow Cooker

Still More Morning Oatmeal Recipes On This Page
Chocolate-Cinnamon Sugar
Oatmeal Expresso
Still More Morning Oatmeal Recipes
Easy Baked Oatmeal with Apples & Walnuts
Baked Oatmeal with Pumpkin & Pears

Resolution #1: Eat breakfast. Resolution #2: Eat breakfast every day. Resolution #3: Eat a healthy breakfast every day. Resolution #4: Eat a new healthy breakfast every day.

For a good ten years now, I’ve kept a hard lock on three out of four breakfast resolutions. But #4? Not so much.

True confession: I make the same breakfast day in and day out, a bowl of oatmeal porridge cooked in the microwave. My addiction? A swirlful of peanut butter that yields a creamy, rich and entirely satisfying, healthy start to my day. Plus, it’s a cheap breakfast, adds up to just two (or three) Weight Watchers points, and racks up exactly one bowl and one spoon for the dishwasher. All this and good for me, too.

But hey! It’s the New Year, the time of fresh starts and brand-new beginnings. So l’ve stirred up my oatmeal morning, with new cooking methods and new add-ins. 2009? It promises to be one very good year.

Turns out, the choice of oatmeal as a breakfast staple is a wise one. An apple a day may keep the doctor away but oatmeal, oatmeal – oh my, the miracle that’s in a homely bowl of oat porridge.

WHOLE FOOD Oatmeal is 100% plant-based, low in calories, fat and cholesterol but high in fiber and protein.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per 1/4 cup serving of uncooked old-fashioned oats: 75 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 0mg Sodium; 14g Carb; 2g Fiber; 1g Sugar; 3g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS WW Old Points 1 & WW PointsPlus 2

QUICK COOKING Oatmeal cooks in just a few minutes so breakfast is on the table quick-quick.

FILL-YOU UP A hot bowl of oatmeal keeps me full and satisfied, right up until lunch.

FIBER & REGULARITY Enough said?

PRICE My goodness. Buy old-fashioned oats at a price club such as Sam's Club or Costco, where a serving costs just $.033 cents, three and a third cents. Now that's a bargain.

FLEXIBILITY For goodness, there’s no beating a glass of milk with a good oatmeal cookie (with raisins, say, or with banana) but what about in meatloaf? and bread? a pie crust? Even homemade dog treats?

SHELF STABLE Oats keep, no freezing, no refrigeration required. I keep mine in a tin that sits out on the counter. There’s a quarter-cup measuring cup that stays inside.

FLAVOR Oatmeal tastes nutty and creamy when cooked, but nutty and crisp when combined with butter and spices for a streusel topping, say.

HEART-HEALTHY But as if that’s not enough, oatmeal is heart-healthy too. Twenty-five years of research shows that a daily dose of oatmeal reduces cholesterol, specifically the ‘bad LDL’ cholesterol that clogs our arteries and contributes to heart disease, the number one killer of both men and women. Oatmeal can’t do the job alone – it needs help from the usual suspects, a balanced diet and regular exercise. But oatmeal offers a double whammy. For every one percent reduction in cholesterol, there’s a two percent drop in the risk of heart disease. (The U.S. Food & Drug Administration approved this health claim more than 10 years ago.)

There are five forms of oats available in the marketplace. Four are simple, whole foods with all the health benefits of oats.

OAT GROATS are the least-processed form of oats, straight off the plant. They are the most difficult to find and the most unusual to cook with. I found oat groats at Whole Foods recently but haven't cooked with them yet. More on oat groats soon!

ROLLED OATS / OLD-FASHIONED OATS / "OATMEAL" Even the 'processed' form of oatmeal is a 'whole food'. It is made from just one ingredient, oat groats right off the stem, hulled, kilned (a process that adds heat and moisture), toasted, then rolled, no more. When the groats are toasted and rolled, they become 'rolled oats' or 'uncooked oatmeal'. If you love the Quaker brand of oatmeal (which I do, and will pay a bit more for), look for big cylinders called 'old-fashioned' oats.

QUICK OATS Here, the rolled oats are precooked during processing, just a bit, so that they cook more quickly at home. (That said, old-fashioned rolled oats cook so quickly, I don't get the need for faster cooking.)

INSTANT OATS Here, the rolled oats are precooked during processing, a bit more, so that they cook very quickly at home.

STEEL-CUT OATS Where old-fashioned oats are ‘rolled’, steel-cut oats are oat groats cut with a steel blade. The source ingredient is the same, only the processing is different. McCanns Irish oats is one brand but Trader Joe's has a private label brand too. Steel-cut oats take the longest to cook. Some people love their slightly chewy texture, others don't.

OATMEAL PACKETS The one variation of oatmeal I don't recommend is the small packets of cereal that include dried fruit, sugar and spices. They're expensive and include far too much sugar. If you're going to eat the equivalent of an oatmeal cookie, make homemade oatmeal cookies and enjoy the real thing!

OAT BRAN "Oat bran" is the outer husk of the grain of oats. It's valued for its high vitamin, mineral and fiber content. I throw a tablespoon or two into smoothies, stews, etc. for a extra boost of nutrition but it's not a substitute for oatmeal.

ARE OLD-FASHIONED OATS BETTER THAN QUICK OR INSTANT OATMEAL? There was a time when I recommended old-fashioned oatmeal over quick-cooking and instant oatmeal. But no longer. You see, it’s an old wives’ tale that nutritionally speaking, one form of oatmeal is better than the other. It’s a matter of taste, not nutrition, so relax, pick your favorite oatmeal and be happy and healthy.

That said, my favorite oatmeal is old-fashioned oats, so all these recipes have been tested with old-fashioned oats, which to my taste are nuttier- and richer-tasting. The other oat versions will taste just fine but the timing may vary so the first time you use the recipes, please take note.

OATMEAL for DIABETICS (Please note, I'm not a nutritionist, what follows are my opinion, not fact.) You'd think that oats (largely unprocessed, plant-based and high-fiber) would be a recommended food for diabetics. But in my circle of diabetic friends and family, oatmeal increases blood sugar levels and therefore is avoided. With less surface area, steel-cut oats may be absorbed more slowly and thus may have a lower-glycemic affect. As always, each diabetic needs to understand the impact of their own intake on their own blood sugar.

MICROWAVE CREAMY OATMEAL
with PEANUT BUTTER

Oatmeal cooked in the microwave, my every-day favorite for many years
Hands-on time: 2 minutes
Time to table: 5 minutes
Serves 1
  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup water or skim milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt (don't skip the salt!)
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter

In a microwave-safe bowl, stir together the oats, water and salt. (Don’t worry, precise measuring isn’t required once you’ve made this a time or two. Just eyeball the ingredients.) Cook on high for 1 minute, then give it a good stir. Cook on high for 30 seconds, then stir again. Cook for 15 seconds, then stir. Repeat in 15-second increments until oatmeal is full cooked and water fully absorbed. Stir in the peanut butter and serve.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Serving made with water and regular peanut butter: 169 Calories; 9g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 363mg Sodium; 17g Carb; 3g Fiber; 2g Sugar; 7g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS WW Old Points 3.5 & WW PointsPlus 5
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Serving made with skim milk and regular peanut butter: 219 Calories; 10g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 2mg Cholesterol; 435mg Sodium; 17g Carb; 3g Fiber; 2g Sugar; 11g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS WW Old Points 4.5 & WW PointsPlus 5
WEIGHT WATCHERS Create a two-point breakfast by either using just 2 teaspoons of regular peanut butter or a tablespoon of low-sugar ‘reduced carb’ peanut butter.


STOVETOP OATMEAL
with WHIPPED BANANA

Oatmeal cooked in a saucepan
Hands-on time: 5 minutes plus frequent stirring
Time to table: 15 minutes
Makes 2 cups
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt (don't skip the salt!)
  • 1 banana, sliced thin

In a saucepan, stir together the oats, milk, water, salt, begin cooking on medium heat. Add the banana and continue to cook, stirring often, until oatmeal is fully cooked and banana has been absorbed into the oatmeal, about 7 - 10 minutes. (Do pay attention between stirs, the banana’s sweetness encourages burning.) Serve immediately. Can be made ahead and reheated in the microwave for about 30 seconds.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Half Cup: 122 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 1mg Cholesterol; 328mg Sodium; 23g Carb; 3g Fiber; 4g Sugar; 5g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS WW Old Points 2 & WW PointsPlus 3
Adapted from KathEats, who shares many oatmeal ideas in a post called Kath's Tribute to Oats


OVEN-BAKED OATMEAL & APPLES

Oatmeal cooked in the oven
Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 45 minutes
Serves 4
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 apple, skin on, chopped small
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of cloves, nutmeg and cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt (don't skip the salt!)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey or agave)
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 2/3 cup apple cider

Preheat oven to 350F. Stir together all ingredients. Divide among four two-cup ramekins. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes. Serve immediately. Can be made ahead and reheated in the microwave for 1 minute.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Serving: 114 Calories; 1g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 1mg Cholesterol; 328mg Sodium; 25g Carb; 2g Fiber; 15g Sugar; 3g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS WW Old Points 2 & WW PointsPlus 3


SLOW COOKER STEEL-CUT OATS

Steel-cut oats cooked overnight in the crockpot
Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 8 hours
Makes 9 cups
  • 2 cups steel-cut oats (do not substitute any other form)
  • 6 – 8 cups water (use 6 cups for cooking fewer than 8 hours, 8 cups for more than 8 hours)
  • 2 teaspoons table salt
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 6 - 8 hours. If it's a little thin, switch to high to thicken. Can be made ahead and reheated in the microwave for 1 minute.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Serving: 135 Calories; 3g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 561mg Sodium; 25g Carb; 4g Fiber; 1g Sugar; 5g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS WW Old Points 2 & PointsPlus 3


To my taste, oatmeal requires no sweetener, no brown sugar, no honey, no maple syrup. (Just the peanut butter!) But I have learned that a little sprinkle of this easy chocolate-spice mix is quite nice on occasion! One batch of the Chocolate-Cinnamon Sugar fits into an empty 1.7 ounce Penzeys spice jar and makes a quick hostess gift or stocking stuffer.


CHOCOLATE-CINNAMON SUGAR

Chocolate, cinnamon & sugar.
Enough said.
Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 5 minutes
Makes 6 tablespoons
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all ingredients and place in a sprinkle jar.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE Per teaspoon: 15 Calories; 0g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 0mg Sodium; 4g Carb; 0g Fiber; 4g Sugar; 0g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS WW Old Points 0 & WW PointsPlus 0


Late last year, Quaker Oats challenged 15 bloggers to come up with quick and easy oatmeal recipes. This recipe by the very funny Jennette Fulda of PastaQueen and author of Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir won the grand prize!

OATMEAL EXPRESSO

Oatmeal and coffee, all in one
Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 5 minutes
Serves 3
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats (Jennette uses quick oats)
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee
  • 3 teaspoons Splenda
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup water

Combine oats, instant coffee and Splenda. Stir in the skim milk and water. Microwave the mixture for one minute and 45 seconds.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per serving: 87 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 13mg Sodium; 16g Carb; 2g Fiber; 1g Sugar; 3g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS WW Old Points 1.5 & WW PointsPlus 2

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

In the Beginning, Oats Are Oat Groats


Oat Groats

These are oat groats, what 'oatmeal' looks like straight off the plant before being hulled, kilned, toasted and then finally (whew) rolled for the 'rolled oats' that we eat for our breakfast.


Morning Oatmeal

(recipes above)
Microwave Creamy Oatmeal with Peanut Butter Oatmeal with Whipped Banana Oven-Baked Oatmeal with Apples

More Oatmeal Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Swiss Bircher Müesli Best-Ever Oatmeal Bread Elk Meatloaf

Everyone Loves Oatmeal Cookies

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies Banana Oatmeal Cookies On-the-Run Breakfast Bars


I have a question about the ramekins. The only time I have used them was to make custard which requires putting the dishes in a pan with water. Do I need to do that with the oatmeal? Can I put my ramekins straight in the oven? Should I put them on a cookie sheet?
 
Hi Lucinda,

No water is required for the oatmeal and yes, ramekins can go straight into the oven and no cookie sheet is necessary although one might make it a little easier to put several in/out of the oven.
 
I've been mixing equal parts steel cut oats and cooked brown rice, topped with ground cloves & cinnamon (for their antioxidants) and unsweetened shredded coconut and a pinch of Stevia. Seems to be really stabilize my blood sugar until noon.

Can't wait to try the peanut butter.
 
The only way I learned to eat oatmeal was cooking it and then pouring milkk and brown sugar on it.

None of the pictures look like you are suppose to pour milk on top. For the sake of health are we passing up the milk and possibly Splenda brown sugar?
 
Hi Anonymous,

Yes, milk and brown sugar is how I was raised with oatmeal, too.

There's no objection to milk on my part, health or otherwise. I find these recipes so creamy all on their own that at least to my taste, no milk or added sugar is necessary.
 
I don't cook my oatmeal.

I just take a cup of oats, medium ground, normally Mornflake organic, and add a cup plus of apple juice and leave overnight. (or if I forget for a half an hour in the morning) and then add some of the following, fresh fruit, dried fruit, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax oil or seeds, yogurt and if required a little more juice. Then enjoy.
 
Ah yes, Lesley, that's what we call Swiss Muesli and it's a favorite of mine, too. My sister's kids call a version with carrots Carrot Slump!
 
Oh my - I cannot believe how good oatmeal and peanut butter is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
Oh dear! I bought a big container of oatmeal about a month ago, and resolved to eat it as a healthy breakfast every day. It sat unopened until last weekend, when I busted it open to make a batch of oatmeal cookies. (Which of course I then ate for dinner.)

I will sheepishly have some for breakfast tomorrow, I swear!
 
Steel cut oats!
It takes 12 minutes plus a rest so it's too slow for breakfast so I cook 6 servings ahead and refrigerate, then microwave.
Good with milk and nuts (no sweetener needed, my opinion) but even better with a half tablespoon of butter, a chopped scallion and the nuts...with a soft-boiled egg over the top...This is BREAKFAST!

best, Stephen
 
Oatmeal + peanut butter = FooDGasm!... wOw
 
I thought I would add my new found love for oatmeal recipe.

I buy a bag of frozen berries from Sam's Club (blackberry, raspberry, blueberry mixture)

Add about 1/2 to 3/4c of frozen berries to your microwaveable bowl. Then add the oats & water (don't stir). Microwave 5-6 minutes (depends on your micro). No need to stir. Allow it to stand a minute or so. When you dig in, the berries become a compote underneath the oatmeal and it's delicious!
 
Although old fashioned oats are no "healthier" than quick oats, old fashioned oats will keep you fuller longer and will cause a smaller spike in your blood sugar than the quicker cooking ones. So the old fashioned oats are a great choice for diabetics, as long as no sugar is added. The pre-cooking of the oats makes it cook faster, but this also means that your body will break it down faster, too. This is true for any carbohydrate. The more processed it is, the faster you digest it. I am a dietitian, and this is a fundamental concept in food chemistry.
Another reason that oats are a good choice for diabetics is that because of the high soluble fibre content, the sugar is released into the bloodstream slowly. As a result, there will be a slow increase in blood sugar rather than a quick spike, that you would see after a sugary cereal.
 
Hi Sara ~ Thanks for chiming in! Yes, that's what I would have said, too and what I think is certainly the conventional wisdom.

But in my circle of diabetic friends, oatmeal (even old-fashioned and steelcut) still causes such a spike in glucose that it's avoided nearly always.

Of course, oats of any sort are better than sugary cereal. But my friends have NEVER eaten those, their comparisons are to eggs/other protein for breakfast, not so commercial breakfast cereals.
 
I buy the sugar-free oatmeal.. I love the apples and cinnamon, add splenda if ya need it sweetened.. I eat it every morning at work.. Love it!
 
I make oatmeal that has no equal. Rest assured that anyone from age 1 to age 100 will love it. The ingredients are oatmeal,butter,milk,salt, sugar or sweetener. The secret is in my technique. There is no equal.
 
Consider using a rice cooker with a porridge cycle. You use one rice cooker cup of steel-cut oats to three rice cooker cups of water. I like to add dried cherries and cinnamon in the pot. You can add all types of dried fruit. The best thing about using a fuzzy logic rice cooker is that you can have breakfast ready at a set time, which for me, is 5:30 am. The smell and chime from the machine (Zojirushi) wake me up. The texture turns out better than microwaving. Preparation takes about 1 minute and clean up the next day takes about 1-2 minutes. If you wash your rice when you prepare the oatmeal the night before, you can set up your rice cooker to have rice when you get home with less hassle.
 
Perhaps oatmeal is not recommended for diabetics because so many people eat it as a sweet.
My oatmeal cooks for an hour (while I read the morning paper) in a double boiler. With a tich of salt.
Then I grind a tablespoon of flax seed and add a teaspoon of walnuts.

Much better as a savoury than as a sweet.
 
I love oatmeal with a half cup of unsweetened applesauce on top!
 
Very intrigued by the oatmeal espresso...looks like I'll be trying my espresso a new way this week, thanks :)
 
Thanks for the recipe for microwave oatmeal with peanut butter. Quick & easy for the morning. Instead of peanut butter I subbed Almond butter. Yum
 
Just tried your oatmeal with PB - it's quite possibly the best thing I've ever tried! Love it! I would never have thought to put PB in oatmeal - thanks!!!

Question - has anybody tried baking the oatmeal in a casserole dish instead of ramekins? I don't have ramekins but really want to try the oatmeal...
 
I've thoroughly enjoyed all of your oatmeal recipes now, but keep meaning to ask if you ever found the WW points for the Steel Cut Oats in a crock pot recipe?
I was guessing it would be 2-3 points per cup???
 
I have def. got an issue with weight ,but the one thing I have right is the oatmeal. Am so devoted, I have been making (and canning) the most wicked-tasty thing ever, slow-cooker apple sauce that is halfway to apple butter to put in my oatmeal. It's my candy-loving three year olds fave comfort food.

I do oatmeal with a banana in the microwave, and to add a little sweet-sour, I top with a few craisins or a mix of craisins and thos dried blueberries from trader joes.

the alternate is oatmeal with a big heaping tablespoon or two of the applesauce, again, in the microwave, with a little crasin or two
 
Alanna, as you'll see on my blog, I've tried your banana oatmeal as well now. LOVED IT (though I upped the WW points by drizzling maple syrup on top :P)
 
I have oatmeal every morning until it's too hot to bear a hot breakfast - then I get oatmeal cereal from the local co-op. I always use old-fashioned - I like the texture a lot better and I want less processed food in my diet. I set the water on to boil and add sliced dried figs and crystalized ginger to it, then add the oatmeal when it comes to boil. It's really good, lots of fiber, and needs little if any sugar.
Christy
 
I make my steel cut oats overnight in the crockpot, too. I found a great tip online to eliminate the oats sticking to the sides of the crock ... find a bowl that fits inside your crockpot and add water around the bowl without overflowing the crockpot. Then, remove the bowl and place all of your ingredients in the bowl. Place the bowl back into the water-filled crock, cover and cook on low overnight. This faux double-boiler method makes this recipe a snap to clean up!
 
I am so trying the Oatmeal with Peanut Butter! Tomorrow! Heck - maybe even before bed...except I only have 1 pt left for today! Oh well! Thanks for sharing!
 
Made the Oven Oatmeal with Apples this morning. I liked it - I think the cider gives it an apple-pie like taste. I also liked the microwaved oatmeal with peanut butter - and it's good with Nutella too! I actually mix-up all the stuff the night before in a microwave-safe bowl with a lid, then nuke and eat the next morning.
 
I prepare that banana oatmeal at night now so I'm good to go in the morning. Why do you say 'don't skip the salt!'?
 
I bookmarked this recipe a few months ago and this morning I made it for breakfast. So delicious! Thank you
 
Anonymous ~ I say 'don't skip the salt' because without it, the oatmeal tastes really blah.

Yes, all the experts say 'eat less salt' but they are talking to people who eat prepared foods, fast food, etc. Those of us who eat 'whole food' can use all the salt we like and it will never come close to adding up to what is found in commercial food.
 
I like oatmeal cooked without salt. So, if you like it that way I don't see any reason to add it. You're right, though, if you aren't used to it without you probably won't like it.
 
I first looked at the peanut butter oatmeal years ago and meant to try it, but never did...until this morning. My goodness! I may never be buying oatmeal cereal packets again! SO good! And I feel fuller than I do on ready-made cereal (and healthier too!0
 
I take oatmeal (1 minute from quaker) add some milk, cook it in the microwave, and then add brown sugar on top. Voila! Yummy oatmeal
 
hi,
what is the diff between oatmeal & oatbran ?
 
Hi Anonymous, When we say "oatmeal" we typically mean either uncooked rolled oats or cooked oats. "Oat bran" is the outer husk of the grain of oats. It's valued for its high vitamin, mineral and fiber content.
 

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna