Nothing instilled fear in my heart as a child like waking up to the smell of oatmeal cooking (sorry, mom). I don't know if it was the horrid texture or the fact that Dad thought we should eat it straight (sorry, dad), I simply hated it. For a brief while, however, when I was a starving college student, I ate a lot of instant oatmeal. These days, there's just no telling what they're putting in those packets, and let's face it, quick-cooking oats only take about 4 minutes longer than their instant cousins, and you can control what goes in. Of course, there are also the slow-cooking pinhead oats, but for today's post, let's just talk quick oats. They're available in the familiar tubular box with the smiling Quaker man on the front, but the least expensive way to purchase them is in bulk. I purchased mine recently at Whole Foods for around 70 cents a pound - see, there are a few deals at Whole Foods.
Oatmeal is good for you, of course, we all know that. It lowers cholesterol, it's good for your heart, it's full of fiber, etc. It's good for those of us who have a hard time feeling full or satisfied when trying to be healthy (that feeling goes away, by the way, just give it time). Because it is high in fiber, it sticks with you for longer than some other cereals, and if you add a little fat, fruit and sugar (yes, I said fat and sugar - you need those, people, stop thinking they're bad words), you have a nice little meal with will keep you going until lunch.
I use palm sugar in this recipe because I love its savory, rich sweetness, and a little goes a long way. Palm sugar is available in Asian grocery stores and usually has to be grated on a cheese grater or zester; it comes in cake form. If you don't have any palm sugar laying about, I would use nice dark brown sugar.
Don't shy away from nuts, even though they are full of fat. Nuts are very good for you, and the fat they contain go a long way in satisfying the typical human urge to consume fat. It may as well be a good fat. There's a lot of research to support this, which maybe I'll look up and link later . . .
Oatmeal With Fruit & Nuts - Serves 1
1 cup water
1/2 cup quick cooking rolled oats
2 tbsp dried cherries, currants or raisins, roughly chopped
1 tbsp toasted pecan pieces
2 tsp palm sugar (grate and then pack down - it's about 1 1/2 tbsp fluffy) or 2 tsp dark brown sugar
Bring the water to a boil and stir in the oats, along with a pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, then taste for texture - you might want to add another ounce or 2 of water and cook a little longer; add the cherries and stir for one minute and then place in bowl. Top with pecans and sugar. Yum!
This recipe satisfies two servings of grains, one serving of fruit, and one serving of meat/nuts/legumes. It contains 380 calories, 13 grams of fat (remember, it's good for you!), 9 grams of protein, 63 grams of carbs, and 8 grams of fiber.