I used to love to make steel-cut oatmeal in the slow cooker. It was nice to have hot cereal waiting when we woke up in the morning. But then my trusty 30-year slow cooker, gave out and I bought a new one. The new slow cooker cooks the oatmeal too quickly and invariably we end up with oatmeal caked to the sides of the slow cooker or, worse yet, burned tasting oatmeal. I tried increasing the amount of water to oats in the recipe, but that didn’t help very much. Then I tried cooking it for less time, but I didn’t want to lose sleep over the oatmeal!
So I’ve learned that slow cookers are not all the same. And I am no longer using my slow cooker for making oatmeal…instead, I simply cook it overnight on a cold stove. Here’s how:
STEEL-CUT OATS — cooked overnight on a cold stove
3 3/4 cups filtered cold tap water
1 cup steel-cut oats
- You can buy organic steel-cut oats (or oat groats) at Whole Foods in the bulk food bin or on the shelves and also at Trader Joe’s.
- Since steel-cut oats are a whole grain (that is, it contains the germ as well as the bran), I don’t store oats for a long time in the pantry. If I have more than what I need for a few weeks, I keep the extra in the freezer or the refrigerator. That’s because I want to prevent the oils in the germ from going rancid. Rancid foods have an off taste (though in oatmeal you can’t tell) and also promote oxidative reactions in the body, just what you don’t want. (That’s why we take in anti-oxidants to help prevent cancer as well as heart disease, etc.)
Directions for cooking overnight on a cold stove
The night before, bring the water to a boil in a small heavy pot (such as a Le Creuset enamel-on-steel pot).
Add the steel-cut oats, cover the pot, turn off the heat, and leave the pot on the burner with the heat off.
The next morning, uncover pot, stir the watery softened oats and then heat over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring .
Add your favorite additions, such as skim milk, almond milk, raisins, ground flaxseeds, and, of course, lots of Ceylon cinnamon. (See the recipe below for making oatmeal in slow cooker for more information on these add-ins.)
STEEL-CUT OATS — in a slow-cooker
• 1 cup steel-cut oats
• 5 cups filtered cold tap water (more or less depending on your slow cooker’s size and how hot it heats up; experiment to get it right)
• Skim milk or almond vanilla milk (the variety without any added sweeteners), to taste
• Raisins, to taste
• Ceylon cinnamon, to taste
- Cinnamon also helps to bring out the natural sweetness of foods! That’s why it’s so prevalent in baking.
• ground flaxseeds (I prefer the golden flaxseeds which I grind in a coffee grinder)
Directions for cooking in slow cooker
• Add the oats and water to a 3- or 4-quart slow cooker; cover and cook on low overnight or about 6-7 hours.
• Stir well the next morning.
• Add skim milk or almond milk (my favorite) and raisins to taste; stir and heat the mixture in the microwave oven.
• Mix in Ceylon cinnamon and flaxseeds.
+ Note: I used to add cinnamon to the oatmeal before cooking, but it seems to lose its flavor during the long slow cooking. And I’m also wondering if the heat might possibly adversely affect the effectiveness of the proanthocyanidins — those molecules in cinnamon that force cancer cells to commit suicide. I have no idea if that’s so or not, but just in case there’s some truth to this, I now add the cinnamon (lots of it) to my oatmeal after it’s cooked.
Directions for cooking on top of the stove when y0u want a bowl of oatmeal NOW – not tomorrow morning
As mention in my post about anti-angiogenic foods, I like to add canned pumpkin to my oatmeal. Not only is pumpkin an anti-angiogenic food but it’s also high in fiber and vitamin A/beta carotene – and delicious. Tip: Buy lots of canned pumpkin when it’s on sale around Thanksgiving! You’ll never find it so inexpensive any other time of the year.
Other additions – just a few ideas
- Fresh berries
- Dried fruit
- Canned pumpkin (not canned pumpkin pie filling which has lots of sugar)
- Fat free ricotta cheese – If you mix this in well it will make your cereal creamy.
- Egg whites (not from fresh eggs, but rather from a container because the eggs in the container have been pasteurized and there’s no possibility of salmonella) – You just stir the egg whites into PIPING hot cereal and you get a nice creamy texture.
- Mix with cooked quinoa! A great way to bump up the protein in your breakfast.
For more sweetness…just add more raisins!
- Adding raisins – a whole food that contains lots of fiber — is a great way to sweeten your cereal. In addition, oatmeal (and all grains) when metabolized contributes to the acidity in your blood, which is thought to contribute to the process by which our bones get depleted of calcium and become more brittle. Raisins and all fruits, on the other hand, do exactly the opposite. They contribute to a more basic (non-acidic) blood which helps protect our bones from the leaching out of calcium. For more on the concept of acid-base and bones see Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century. Starting on page 349 of this American Journal of Clinical Nutrition article, you will find a short discussion of the health implications of an acid- vs. alkaline-producing diet.
Store the leftover oatmeal in refrigerator
- If you have more cooked oatmeal than you need, just store the remaining portion in the refrigerator. The next morning you may find that you have a congealed mass of oatmeal! No problem. Just top the oatmeal with some milk (or almond milk) and then heat it in the microwave. When hot, stir until no longer lumpy.
To learn more about slow cooker cooking – good general information…
And…to make single-portions of oatmeal in a metal thermos overnight…
Enjoy and be healthy!