Saturday, October 17, 2009

"Fancy" Oatmeal

If you have a little girl living in your house, then you probably understand the power of the word "fancy." If I suspect my daughter will not be interested in a certain object or activity, then I just grace it with the adjective "fancy," and, voila, she will at least be curious. A fantastic trick to have in my back pocket. (It took me a while to come up with a similar magic word for my son. Turns out, "secret" works pretty well.)

So, my "fancy" daughter really loves oatmeal and she and I often share a batch for breakfast. But she has become attached to a particular recipe. It's good and nourishing (made with sweet potatoes or pumpkin, yum!), but I wanted variety. I suspected that -- like most preschoolers -- she would not be open to the change. Thus, "fancy oatmeal" was born.

I saw the original recipe for this oatmeal in an issue of Cooking Light magazine and have adjusted it according to what I normally have in my pantry. It's a hearty cereal and very cozy on a chilly morning. Almost makes me yearn for the snowboots and puffer jackets of my Pennsylvania childhood . . . Almost. Then I realize that I now consider a 58 degree morning to be "chilly." Oh, Southern California, you have made me a weather wimp!

My version makes enough to get my daughter and I through about half a week's worth of breakfasts. So, cook this on a Sunday and you can indulge in fancy oatmeal for most of the work week. I enjoy about a 1/2 cup at a serving, accompanied by 2 oz. of Greek yogurt w/ honey and walnuts and half of one of the amazing grapefruits I've been getting at the market. Fancy breakfast, indeed.

"Fancy" Oatmeal

Source: adapted from Cooking Light
Serves: about 6
Time: about 5 mins. of prep and about 25 mins. of cooking time
  • 4 c water
  • 1 c steel-cut, Irish oats
  • 1/4 c wheat germ
  • 1/4 c sunflower seed kernels
  • 1/4 c flax seed meal
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 c dried (unsweetened) cranberries
  • maple syrup for serving
  1. Boil the 4 c of water in a saucepan. Add the oats and all other ingredients except maple syrup. Stir well to thoroughly combine.
  2. Reduce heat and simmer about 25 mins., or according to oatmeal package directions, stirring regularly.
  3. Drizzle some maple syrup over individual portions and serve.
Notes: This is just how we like it. It's more of a formula than a recipe, really, so feel free to try anything that you happen to enjoy in your hot breakfast! Some other suggestions: a pat of butter (my daughter's favorite); a little milk or cream; brown sugar instead of maple syrup; different dried fruits (cherries, raisins, apricots, etc.); nuts (I like walnuts or almonds); a little vanilla extract; apple cider or juice in place of some or all of the water; banana slices added near the end of cooking. The original recipe also called for oat bran, which I'm sure would be delicious -- I just don't usually have any on hand.


  1. Sounds great - I make something similar, but not quite as exotic, each morning when I try to convince myself to eat yet another bowl of nutritious mush. Thanks for the great ideas!

  2. man I wish I liked oatmeal. But... i do make it for the twins and they EAT IT UP! I'll have to pick up some of those yummy ingredients on my next TJ's run!

    We have a similiar wordplay trick over here. Except, it's the word "bar". I add that to the end of Salad, Potato, Omelet and suddenly, dinner becomes interesting and fun!

  3. LOVE the "bar" idea! Will be using that one, for sure.