1/10/2018: This is the updated recipe I use now (with or without the Instant Pot)- it’s thicker and more hearty!
Now that cooler weather has hit us, I’ve been transitioning into warm, roasty toasty breakfast foods. One comfort food that I am happy to welcome back is this warm-ya-to-yer toes apple cinnamon oatmeal!
Mmmm! This is a delicious and heart-healthy way to start your mornings! I prefer steel cut oats over other types because I like the toothsome texture better, and also because they’re less processed (i.e. better for you) than other oat varieties. Steel cut oats are oats that have simply been cut into pieces– not flattened, steamed, or steamed-and-then-flattened like some other oat varieties.
The major drawback of steel cut oats are that they take about 45 minutes to prepare, and who has time for that every morning? Not I. That’s why I like to make a big batch, freeze it into individual portions, and reheat it for my quick and healthy breakfasts. It’s a little investment of time on a Saturday morning that results in a warm, hearty payoff for the weeks to come! The first few times I made it, I tried using a slow cooker, but that just resulted in burnt oatmeal + a really, really difficult pot to clean. If you’re a slow cooker pro, though, go for it! It is a glorious aroma to wake up to!
I make mine with apples and cinnamon to boost the health and flavor factor, but you can do without if you’re short on time. Another option is to add raisins, which soak up the liquids and get nice and plump while adding some sweetness.
A few months ago, I read that Trader Joe’s is now selling a similar version of this in 2-packs. Now you can make your own make-ahead-and-freeze version! Here’s how I do it:
First, I cook em up in a biiiig pot:
Then I use an ice cream scoop to plop them directly into muffin tins. That’s right, no liners. Trust me on this one.
After they’ve cooled on the counter, I stick ’em in the freezer for a few hours. Once they’re frozen, I defrost the edges a bit in a pan of hot water for about 10 seconds, and then they pop right out! No seriously, they don’t stick to the muffin tins at all. I know. Crazy. (Crazy awesome!)
I store them in a gallon-sized ziplock bag in the freezer,
…and reheat with 1-2 tbsp of milk for breakfast in the mornings!
I’m not posting a picture of the reheated version, which tbh looks a little mushier than this freshly made one… but it’s still good and good for you! So now you have several reasons to try this out: it’s healthy, it makes for a quick breakfast, it’s warm, and it’s delicious! 😀
ANOTHER reason for expecting and/or breastfeeding mothers
If you’re an expecting or nursing mother, there’s another added benefit from these oats! (If you are not, and you get squirmy about these things, I highly suggest you skip this section. It could ruin oats for you…) Did you know that oatmeal is a galactagogue? During the first few months of nursing, I got mastitis. I know. It was awful. Not only did I feel physically terrible, but after enduring weeks of unimaginable pain to make breastfeeding work, I watched my milk supply plummet. Nooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!! All that pain, and all those weeks of sleeping 1-3 hour stretches to build up my supply… down the drain!!!!
So in my hazed, exhausted state, I did some quick research to see how to build supply back up. This is how I learned that OATMEAL is supposed to help increase milk supply! Happily, I had two bags of these frozen oatmeal pucks stored up in the freezer and ate that for breakfast for the next three weeks straight. Not sure if it was my tenacity and/or the oats but it all worked out in the end. It’s almost been a year and I’m proud to say she’s an EBF baby (edit: er, plus solids. so whatever you call that). It was not an easy path, but we did it!
This is a healthy breakfast anyway, but if you’re expecting and planning to breastfeed your baby, now you have another reason to consider making a batch of these! I would recommend that you prep and freeze some of these ahead of time, before your baby arrives, so when those sleep-deprived weeks arrive, you can just reheat and enjoy.
Make-Ahead Apple Cinnamon Steel Cut Oatmeal
Makes 12 servings
To freeze in individual portions: Use an ice cream scoop to place generous-sized scoops into muffin tins, filling them a little bit beyond the top of each muffin well*. Let cool on counter, then place in freezer and freeze until hard, at least 6 hours. Remove from freezer and place in a shallow pan of hot water for about 20 seconds, or until you can pull at the top of one of the pucks and flip it over. Collect them in a gallon-sized zip top bag and store in the freezer.
*In my photos, they’re not filled all the way to the top. I found these serving sizes to be too small, which is why I now recommend filling it beyond the top.
To reheat individual portions: Place an oatmeal puck into a microwave-safe bowl. Add 1-2 tablespoons of milk and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Take it out and stir, mashing down any big lumps, and microwave for 1 more minute. Add any additional toppings (nuts, brown sugar, raisins, etc.) and enjoy!