Skip to content

oatmeal season

November 15, 2010

Despite lots of talking and thinking and consulting and reserving and stressing over the past several days, our travel plans are still not set. We are currently debating the pros and cons involved in two different sets of dates for our return trip home, mid December or late November, and neither set of dates is without its problems. So we remain uncommitted.

This is bad considering that should we choose to go with the earlier option we will be boarding the plane for our 10 hour flight back to San Francisco next Thursday. Yikes.

I have been keeping in contact with my sister and family as much as is feasible given the timezone differences for the last few days, and everything seems to be going well so far. I’m not going to lie, though.. it’s pretty tough being so far away and having no clue exactly how cute ‘cute’ is when my family gushes about the baby. I mean, really, what kind of hospital doesn’t have internet these days anyway?

I may not have had enough brain power or time to post anything on my blog recently, but I have still been busy keeping us fed over these parts! It has not been my most creative of weeks, and I’ve been focusing instead on making some simple old favorites that I once made regularly but haven’t thought to dust off in a while. But today let’s talk about breakfast.

On the breakfast front I’ve been having a lot of oatmeal, as the weather has been teasing lower temperatures (but then returning to warmer ones just as fast) lately.

Oats are not as eaten as commonly here in Japan as they are back home, as the traditional Japanese breakfast tends to include more savory items, such as rice and miso soup. Most grocery stores will only carry quick oats, if they carry them at all, but if you know where to look and shop you can find more options at organic or natural foods shops. I frequent a particular baking goods shop that sells organic jumbo oats (the base of my granola) as well as quick oats (for baking), make occasional trips to the fancy import stores that carry steel-cut oats (my favorite for eating), and every few months I also order a few things from Tengu Natural Foods, a fantastic organic mail order service that offers fun things like oat bran and other hard to find items.

AB&J Oatmeal: Scottish Oats w/ Flax & Bran topped with almond butter, bonne maman strawberry jam, greek yogurt, grilled banana, walnuts and nibs

I rarely make oatmeal straight up. I always add all sorts of mix-ins such as flax, chia or hemp seeds, various other grains, germs or brans, etc. to bulk it up, and seem to cycle through phases in which I use various types and preparation methods depending on my mood, time of year, etc. I have a small sauce pan that is perfect for cooking up just one individual serving in the mornings, but have also been known to make large batches of steel-cut oatmeal on the weekends in the winter for Eric and I to reheat throughout the week.

I usually cook myself less oatmeal by volume that most people make for a single serving because a) The few times I’ve made a full serving I ended up bloated and overfull, b) I like to have a smaller base of oatmeal so I can be a little more heavy-handed on the toppings, and c) I try to keep my grain intake pretty moderate in general and prefer to bulk up on healthy fats, protein, and fresh fruit and vegetables instead.

Tiramisu Oatmeal: Scottish Oats w/ Flax topped with almond butter, mascarpone, nibs, crumbled biscoff, and espresso syrup

My current favorite has been a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Scottish Oats that I brought back with me from my last trip home after seeing Ashley rave about them over on the edible perspective for so long.

The recipe I have been using for my oats lately is pretty straight forward, but I mix it up depending on the day. My most recent bowl looked something like this:

Scottish Oats w/ Flax & Oat Bran

    20 g Scottish Oats
    10 g ground flax seed
    10 g oat bran
    150 ml water
    50 ml whole non-homogenized milk
    25-40 g smashed ripe banana
    1 egg white

Preparation is very simple. I add the oats, bran, flax, and water to my sauce pan and heat over medium-low heat until bubbling. Because my pan is so small, I have to reduce the heat to low once the oatmeal begins bubbling or risk burning my breakfast. After about 2-4 minutes I add in the smashed banana and milk and whisk well to breakup any banana pieces, then leave the oatmeal to thicken with the occasional stir to check consistency.

While the oatmeal is thickening, I like to beat an egg white in a separate bowl until just beginning to stiffen. I have taken to doing this by hand, as it’s too much of a pain to pull out my mixer in the morning and gives me a good arm workout at the same time.

I like to add an egg white to my oats for protein, body, and to lighten up the oats and make them fluffier. Egg whites are not sold separately in Japan, so I usually make Eric’s breakfast egg sandwiches with one egg and one yolk and save the second white for my own consumption.

Once the oats have thickened to my desired consistency (I like them fairly thick), I turn off the heat, add the whipped egg white and whisk until well combined. I also frequently add a dash of cinnamon and any mix-ins I want distributed throughout the oatmeal at this point (such as pumpkin puree if I am making pumpkin oats).

Note that this particular mix of ingredients is almost too much for me once toppings are added. Depending on the day I will leave out the bran or banana or both to make it a more manageable portion, though that might not be a problem for some. On occasions where I do not have an egg white on hand I try to make sure to include either the bran or banana to make up for the loss in volume.

I vary my oatmeal toppings daily depending on my mood, and like to use a variety of toppings each day. I try to include a fruity, creamy, crunchy, and fat element in each bowl. I also love themed bowls, such as tiramisu, ab&j, pumpkin pie, apple crisp, etc.

Some of my favorite and most used toppings include: a teaspoon of nut butter (peanut, almond, walnut, cashew, sunflower seed, etc), greek yogurt, dried fruit, berries, nuts (especially walnuts or pecans), mini hazelnut chips, cacao nibs, coconut butter, coconut, apple butter, strawberry preserves, mascarpone, crumbled biscoff (when going for pumpkin pie or apple crisp oats this makes a good crust sub), granola, maple syrup, grilled banana, chunky roasted apples, and the little packets of espresso syrup that come with the brand of mascarpone I buy.

I did skip my oatmeal breakfast at least one day in the last week, though, to make room for a special treat. This month’s monthly bagel from Bagel & Bagel.

For November the bagel on offer is the Soy Milk Mocha Bagel. Since it is coffee flavored Eric wouldn’t touch this one, so twice last week I had a half a bagel with mascarpone and a mini recovery kefir smoothie on the side. It was quite tasty, but too sweet for me to seek out more than just the once.

What is your favorite type of oatmeal and how do you prepare and top it? Do you cycle through random oatmeal phases like I do?

16 Comments leave one →
  1. November 17, 2010 1:39 am

    I never thought a day would come in my life where I would be reading something where a sentence like:

    “I also order from an organic mail order service that offers fun items like oat bran and other hard to find items.”

    would be found.

    Like, when in life did “oat bran” become fun? Boy. Things change.

    I tend to keep a canister of Irish Style Steel Cut Oats in the apartment at all times. I also have a canister of Quick Oats, but I mainly use that for apple crisp toppings and such, because, well, I don’t like quick oats very much now that I know differently.

    I usually make a pot of 4 servings worth of steel cut oats at a time, then eat them throughout the week. I typically make it according to directions, except I substitute milk for half of the water. I also add 2 tablespoons of chia fresh (ground chia seeds) to the mix, namely because I am dying to be done with the ground supply I have. I also add a banana, though I don’t always get all of the chunks blended in. I don’t mind them.

    When the oats are done, I top with whatever I’m feeling like. Usually a spoonful of nut butter, a spoonful of some kind of fruit preserve or butter, a spoonful of greek yogurt and if I’m in the mood, maybe some chocolate/butterscotch chips. If I have Nutella in the house, I usually skip the nut butter or the fruit preserves and stir some of that into the mix instead. I <3 choco-oats.

    I don't change it up. I guess I'm kind of a boring oats person.

    • November 17, 2010 2:06 pm

      What can I say.. I’m here to defy your expectations. >_>

      Seriously, though, oat bran becomes pretty exciting when you move to a country in which 98% of the stores do not stock it.

      Quick oats are pretty boring in general. I was raised on big rolled oats, and fell for steel-cut like 6 or 7 years back, so quick is just not at all an option if I can help it. I do always have them on hand for topping bread, baking, and grinding into oat flour, though. :D

      I use four servings worth of steel-cut to make six servings at a time, and mix-in all sorts of fun things, like wheat germ, oat bran, flax seeds, banana, and dry skim milk while it’s cooking to bulk it up. Yields a totally different kind of a beast than the above bowl. I’m looking forward to my first big batch soon!

      • November 18, 2010 2:56 am

        I was raised on Quaker Instant Oatmeal Packets. I was all about Maple Brown Sugar.

        The same with Instant Cream of Wheat. Maple Brown Sugar.

        I have some instant Kashi Maple Brown Sugar oats in the back of my kitchen drawer. They’re expired, but really, how expired can dried oats get? I use them on work days when I forgot to make other breakfast options readily available to grab on my way out of the door.

        And let’s face it, Peter doesn’t care whether his oats are instant or whether I slaved over the stove all day. What a guy.

        • November 18, 2010 9:17 am

          I went through a phase in late high school/early college where I ate those packets 1-3 times a day. We bought the Costco variety boxes, and I kept a supply at the museum and would make a pack or two in a mug for dinner.

          Maple Brown sugar was my favorite, unless it was the cinnamon one.

          I never liked cream of wheat as a kid, though… it was too.. creamy. =P

  2. November 17, 2010 1:43 am

    I go through oatmeal phases. Elaine convinced me to try steel-cut oats, and to my surprise, my husband likes them better than rolled oats! I like to cook them in light coconut milk and add cinnamon, ginger, banana, fresh mango (if we have it) and top with shredded coconut. That’s the tropical version.

    I also like to make it with almond milk and cook dried fruit in with the oats — whatever we have on hand — dried cherries, raisins, dried blueberries (yum)…

    Since breakfast is usually before my brain is fully awake, I don’t get too creative….

    • November 17, 2010 2:10 pm

      That’s because steel-cut wins pretty much any oatmeal competition. I just love the texture and slight chewiness they give to the finished bowl. YUM!

      Ohh, ginger-coconut-mango sounds amazing! I’ve made my oats with coconut milk once or twice before, but not in a while. I -have- been adding fresh grated ginger to just about everything lately, though. Including the AB&J oatmeal pictured above, actually. :D Ginger is fantastic this time of year.

      Your oatmeal sounds plenty creative to me, so we must have entirely different standards for fully awake!

  3. November 17, 2010 11:58 am

    This all sounds mouthwatering!! I can’t wait to try it out for myself.

    All of your food pictures are lovely – can I ask what kind of camera you use to photograph them?

    :) Thanks for inspiring me with your food pics and posts!!

    • November 17, 2010 2:27 pm

      Thanks so much for stopping by. I’m always really glad to help inspire another oatmeal lover! :D

      I have a 5-year old hand-me-down Canon Kiss Digital N DSLR (Digital Rebel XT stateside?) that I acquired in June when my boyfriend upgraded to the newer Kiss X4 (SOO JEALOUS). I primarily use a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens with it, which I find consistently gets higher quality shots than the other lenses we own. I’m totally lusting after an the 35mm f/2.0 lens at the moment, though!

      I also mix in pictures taken with my iPhone 3GS (and sometimes the boyfriend’s iPhone 4) because we can’t really carry our big cameras around Tokyo most days!

      • November 18, 2010 1:08 pm

        Thank you for answering that in detail! I will have to look up those cameras as I’m due to get another new one soon! :)

        I have a question for you – might be stupid, but I’m really paranoid about eating spoiled food. If I cook a big batch of steel cut oatmeal at the beginning of the week, how long can it last before going bad? Should I refrigerate it every day? And each time when I warm it up again, should I just mix in a little bit of water to make it less clumpy? :) Thank you so much in advance!

        • November 18, 2010 1:50 pm

          I love the canon DSLRs, they take some getting used to, but really help out with getting good shots!

          I usually make 6 servings worth of oatmeal, portion it into small containers, and store them in the fridge. I’ve let it go for up to a week before, but I’d say 5 days is probably best for freshness!

          Mixing in water or milk will help with the clumpiness! I actually like it clumpy and just pour milk and bananas over it and eat it like cereal from time to time. :D

  4. November 17, 2010 9:03 pm

    Pretty oatmeal pictures! I actually eat oatmeal pretty constantly even during the hottest part of the year because it’s the only breakfast (other than eggs) which provides sufficient protein to get through the morning. I’ve never actually added egg to my oatmeal, though, so I’ll have to try that.

    On a random note, it really cracks me up that oatmeal is so trendy these days. It used to be the dorkiest food ever, as evidenced by the fact that my Dad always tried to convince me to eat it when I was young.

    • November 17, 2010 9:47 pm

      I switched to cold overnight oats and frozen banana soft-serve parfaits over the summer, but that’s a totally different entity than -real- oatmeal. I am good at bulking up breakfast items with protein, but something about the exact combination of fiber and protein in oatmeal seems to give it extra staying power.. especially when paired with a little bit of nut butter!

      Haha.. I know right? My family never had to convince me, though. I’ve been a die-hard oatmeal fan from waaay back.

      I remember my grandmother making us big pots of thick, clumpy oats when I was younger. I always had them with a little salt, a small pat of butter, and lots of cold milk– and it had to be COLD milk because the best part was taking those first few bites where the milk was still cold and the oats were still hot. Yum! I also liked fishing for the tiny melted butter particles with my spoon. :D

      I always cook my steel-cut oats clumpy and serve them with lots of milk, too.

      • November 18, 2010 2:58 am

        Yeah, no one had to convince me to eat oats either. It may’ve just been those instant packets, but I was all over it. I thought oatmeal and cream of wheat ruled….still do.

        • November 22, 2010 4:38 pm

          I totally forgot about Cream of Wheat! :-O That stuff was so good!

      • November 22, 2010 4:38 pm

        Ooh, real butter on oatmeal is a thing of beauty. :-D I remember the way my dad would make it for me with butter, real cream, sugar, and cornflakes for crunch. Kind of a weird combination, but it was the only way I would eat oatmeal. The butter floating on the milk is so pretty!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: