Practical, healthful eating and living.

Mix-ins for Oatmeal November 29, 2013

People tend to think oatmeal is a lot of trouble, but it can be made in big batches. Simply store your cooked oatmeal in the fridge and in the morning, scoop a serving into a bowl, top with milk, and heat it in the microwave.

Screen shot 2013-11-23 at 8.14.01 PMEven better, you can add your favorite toppings on the day you make the big batch, thus saving even more time in the morning. I prefer steel-cut oatmeal.

Here are some of my favorite mix-ins:

  • Cocoa nibs
  • Banana slices
  • Dehydrated strawberries (from Trader Joe’s)
  • Brown sugar
  • Honey
  • Ground flax seed
  • Grated or chopped fresh apple
  • Fresh or frozen blueberries, raspberries or blackberries. If you add them while the oatmeal is still hot, they’ll steam and cook a little, which helps them last longer.
  • Chopped dried apricots, blueberries or any dried fruit
  • Walnuts, pecans, ground almonds. Sometimes I even use pistachios!

How to make a batch of steel-cut oatmeal:

1 cup steel-cut oats

2 1/2 cups of water

dash of salt

I like to rinse my oatmeal before cooking it. I’m a gluten-free person, and this way any dust from other grains gets washed away. (Note, I am VERY diligent about the rinsing. I put the dry cup of oats in a deep bowl, cover with cold water and swish it around, then slowly pour the water out. The oats are heavy enough so that they don’t fall out of the bowl if you empty the water out gently. I repeat this about 20 times in order to feel confident that any gluten contaminants have been washed away. If you’re not concerned about gluten, maybe rinse the oats 2-3 times just to wash away dust.)

Put the oats, water and dash of salt into a heavy pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Once the water boils, turn down the heat and simmer for about 40-60 minutes. Sometimes I just turn off the heat after about 20 minutes, keep the pot covered, and let the pot sit until all the water has been absorbed.

Option 2: Use a rice cooker! So easy and the clean-up is easier, too. (Follow your rice cooker’s instructions.)


Fresh Strawberries May 11, 2013

sliced strawberriesStrawberries are in season and the bright red berries have been greeting me at every grocery store the last few weeks. Sometimes I’ll go through a container right away, but most of the time I’d rather have just a couple as a quick snack, or one or two sliced over my breakfast oatmeal.

Strawberries tend to spoil quickly. Here are some tips to help them last 3-4 days.

1. If the weather is generally cool; below 70 degrees, don’t refrigerate. Just let them sit in the container they came in on your counter, but keep them out of sunlight.

Serving suggestion:

  • Slice a few over a fresh spinach salad. Use a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Complementary ingredients: sliced boiled eggs, walnuts, sliced red onion, sliced mushrooms, alfalfa sprouts, dried cranberries or raisins, feta, Gorgonzola or blue cheese crumbles.Strawberries in bowl

2. If the weather is warm; over 70 degrees for most of the day, then I recommend slicing and adding a little sugar. The sugar helps preserve the berries. You don’t need a lot –only about a tablespoon or two for a pint of berries. It depends on how sweet you like them. Be sure to use a glass or ceramic bowl (metal may alter the berries’ flavor). Mix well, then cover the dish and store in the fridge.

Serving suggestions:

  • Mix into plain yogurt topped with granola.
  • Spoon over hot or cold cereal.
  • Top a scoop of frozen yogurt or vanilla ice cream.
  • Top fresh pancakes.

3. Freezing is also an option. Again, slice and sugar the berries. Use a freezer-friendly container, but not metal. Cover and freeze. When defrosted, the berries may be a little softer, but will have lots of flavor.

Serving suggestions:

  • Blend into smoothies, yogurt or into home-made ice cream mix.
  • Mix into hot cereal.
  • Top fresh pancakes.


Strawberry Season April 18, 2009

sliced-strawberries-041809 Ever brought home a pint of strawberries, only to find that they’ve spoiled within a day? It’s frustrating, because much as they are tasty, it can be tough to eat an ENTIRE container the same day it’s brought home.

Sliced strawberries, sprinkled with sugar, will keep in the fridge for up to a week.  I think it’s the sugar that protects them from spoiling.  You don’t need a lot, just a spoonful or two.

If you are going to eat them right away, the flavor will come out if you slice them, sprinkle with sugar, and let them sit for about 20 minutes.

If the strawberries have been sliced, sugared and refrigerated, I recommend letting them come back to room temperature before serving.