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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Steel cut oats make an inexpensive and very healthy breakfast

Steel cut oats for a good but inexpensive breakfast.

All too often I have read how difficult it is for retirees to eat well on a tight budget. One reporter even went so far as to suggest retirees should prepare themselves for eating pet food as human grub may be out of the question. That's nuts.

I'm retired and my breakfast is nutritious, filling, amazingly delicious and cheap. Even my granddaughters, two and six, have given it a thumbs up. The steel cut oats are the main ingredient and these cost as little as 11-cents a serving or less. The fresh and dried fruit, nuts and maple syrup drive up the cost but the whole mixture still comes in at a bit more than a dollar a serving.

Keeping the number of strawberries used down can keep the cost in line as strawberries are the most expensive ingredient. When apples are inexpensive, I dice an apple, soften it in the microwave, and add apple instead of strawberries to my mix.

I like the PC Blue Menu Steel Cut Oats. I boil 1 1/4 cups of water in the microwave, remove the steaming water from the oven and stir in 1/4 cup of the coarsely cut oat groats. I return the oats and water to the microwave and cook for 12 minutes at 40% power. This is important. At full power there is a big risk of the cooking oats boiling over.

At the end of the ten minutes, I remove the bowl from the oven and stir. Any foam that has gathered at the water's edge, I stir into the mix. I return the mixture to the microwave for a a further five minutes at 40% power. At the end of five minutes I stir the mixture, making sure to stir anything adhering to the side of the bowl back into the oat mixture. I finish by cooking the oats for up to one minute at full power. When I remove the bowl from the oven, the top of the mixture is covered with bubbles. (These times and power settings will vary depending up the microwave used.)

While the oat groats are cooking, I measure 1 tablespoon of Qi'a into a bowl and add two tablespoons of milk. I let the chia, buckwheat and hemp cereal soften for a few minutes while I turn my attention to dicing four or five strawberries to add to the bowl of Qi'a. I dribble one tablespoon of maple syrup over the berries. I coarsely chop 20 grams dried blueberries plus a couple (2) of Brazil nuts. I add these to the mixture. Finally, I mash a banana and add it.

All the measuring, dicing, dribbling, chopping and mashing takes time. If I time this right, I may have to take a break to look at the morning paper, at the moment the oats are done the sweet fruit and nut mixture is added to the hot cereal. I stir all together and enjoy.

You MUST experiment with the cooking times and microwave power settings to ensure you do not overcook the oats or have the oats bubble over and splatter about your microwave. My times are unique to my microwave. Take care. Go slowly. I use the approach I do because I am sure it will not result in a mess. It takes a bit of time but it works and like a said, I take a break and read the morning paper. When one is retired, time is not a problem.

Addendum: Bought some Bob's Steel Cut Oats at Costco. Price was a bit less than the PC Blue Menu Steel Cut Oats I've been using. Bob's claims to cook quicker than the PC variety but does carry a warning about the potential for boiling over if cooked in a microwave. From weighting equal volumes of both brands of oats, I believe the PC variety is a bit denser than Bob's. The PC oats may be ten percent heavier when equal volumes are compared.

Difference One: I have cut the amount of water to 3/4 cup.

Difference Two: When using Bob's, I have cut the time to five minutes at 40% power. After that I stir the cooking oats and return the bowl to the microwave for another three minutes at 40% power. At this point I may give the mixture another minute at high but usually I can give it a bit less. You'll get a feel for how much extra cooking is required as you gain experience cooking the steel cut oats.

Warning: I liked my oats cooked a little more than many folk but as time goes by I am finding I like a little more crunch in my finished cereal.

This is not only a filling breakfast, it is very healthy. The exact nutrition numbers will vary with the amount of fruit and nuts one adds, but I think it is safe to say that this breakfast may provide 15% of one's calcium needs, 35% or more of one's daily fibre requirements, more than 100% of one's need for Vitamin C thanks to the fresh strawberries, a quarter of one's potassium, magnesium, iron and B6 needs. The nuts provide a bit of protein without adding any cholesterol to the mix.

And these are only the good things listed on the packages of fruit and nuts. On the Web you will learn that just two Brazil nuts, the number I chop up and add, meet all of one's daily selenium requirements.

This is definitely a healthy breakfast.

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