Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Slow Cooker Steel-Cut Oats

We all know that every day should begin with a good breakfast, so we’ll start our slow cooker recipes with steel-cut oats.  But first, a little personal history.  I absolutely hated oatmeal for most of my life.  There were times I wished I liked oatmeal and would force myself to eat it, hoping it would grow on me.  But now I love it!  What happened?  I got pregnant.  When I was expecting my first child, I craved pepperoncinis and oatmeal (not together).  I understood the peppers—they are salty like pickles.  But oatmeal?  That’s when I started eating oatmeal and, fortunately, I still liked it even after I gave birth.

There are a variety of ways oats are sold:

Groats:  whole oat kernels with the hulls removed; contains the oat bran, germ, and endosperm
Steel-cut oats (Irish oats):  groats that have been cut with steel into two or three pieces
Rolled oats (old-fashioned oats):  groats that have been rolled flat
Scottish oatmeal:  steel-cut oats that have been steamed and ground
Quick-cooking oatmeal:  steel-cut oats that have been rolled
Instant oatmeal:  same as quick-cooking oats but processed to smaller flakes

Steel-cut oats are by far my favorite way to make oatmeal.  When cooked, they have more texture than rolled oats, kind of the al dente version of oatmeal.  And the flavor is nuttier than rolled oats.  Nutritionally, all oatmeal is good for you, but steel-cut oats are better for you than the more processed varieties.  They have a lower glycemic index which means you don’t get hungry as quickly after eating them.

The one inconvenient thing about steel-cut oats is that they take 30-40 minutes to cook on the stove.  I’m not a morning person, so I cook them in the slow cooker over night.  The house smells so good in the morning and we have fresh, hot oatmeal ready to eat.

I think steel-cut oats are good enough to eat plain.  Even my toddler boys scarf it down plain.  But I really love them with some banana slices and cinnamon.  If you want, you can add dried fruit to the slow cooker at night or in the morning, depending on how re-hydrated you want the fruit.

Oatmeal is definitely a great way to stretch your grocery budget if you stay away from packets.  WinCo carries many types of oatmeal in the bulk bins.  When I went yesterday, steel-cut oats cost $0.83/lb. and rolled oats and quick oats were $0.50/lb.  I then went over to the cereal aisle and compared those prices to packets of instant oatmeal.  Quaker original instant oatmeal cost $1.98/11.8 oz. which comes to $2.68/lb.  Hy-top instant oatmeal was better at $1.74/lb., but nowhere near the cost of the oatmeal from the bins.  If your store does not carry items in bulk, canisters are also an economical way to buy oats.

I also took a look at the cost of Cheerios, America’s favorite oat cereal.  They happened to be on sale but the cost still came to $2.03/lb.  The generic version came to $1.63/lb.  You also have to consider that 1 lb. of Cheerios yields 1 lb. of Cheerios.  One pound of steel-cut oats, however, yields about 6 lbs. of oatmeal.  That’s $0.14/lb.!  Just switching from cold cereal to hot cereals could save a lot of money.

Slow Cooker Steel-Cut Oats

1 c. steel-cut oats
4 c. water
Dried fruit (optional)

Place oats and water in slow cooker.  Add dried fruit, if desired (may need a little extra water).  Heat overnight on low.  The top layer will be a little dried out.  Just stir it in.


Jill Pullen said...

Such a good idea! I've been getting up early to do my steel cut oats. I'll have to try this. We like frozen blueberries, honey, walnuts, and flax seed meal in our oatmeal.

Georgia said...

thanks for the recipe! i've been thinking of finding a hot cereal slow cooker recipe for a easy quick breakfast. though we're more fond of very soft oatmeal, i may still give it a try.

Susan said...

I always wondered what the oats:water proportion would be when using the slow cooker. We always make ours in the rice cooker (1C steel-cut oats to 1 C water). Actually, we usually mix in flax seed meal, oat bran, wheat germ, raisins, & cinnamon while we're at it. Our favorite breakfast in a pinch :)

Julia said...

This sounds wonderful - how many servings does this recipe yield?

Sumiko said...

Julia, I usually make two batches at a time and get about 2.5 quarts out of it. One batch will give you approximately four one-cup servings plus a little. Though, my twins have been know to eat a quart between them in one sitting. =-)

Jen in SLO said...

I always wish I could like oatmeal, and I've tried to force myself like you did. I think the costs of getting pregnant might outweigh the frugality of oatmeal, though. :)

StaceyN said...

Ooo, that sounds yummy! Something about being preggo does make hot cereal taste extra good (I'm preggo w/number 4 right now). Maybe it's because it's a blandish food and easy on the queasy.

In our house, we do that same thing, but with cracked wheat, and my fam loves it. I usually add some dried fruit and flax seeds to it in the morning (along with butter and whole milk, just so no one thinks we are health nuts LOL). I will have to try it with the oats next time. Thanks for broadening my horizons!!

Emilie Hendryx said...

I made this last night and it turned out really well - though it did stick to the sides of my slow cooker :/ I put in cinnamon and nutmeg last night and this morning added all-natural coconut, flax seed, and a pinch of brown sugar and it's great! Thanks for the idea ladies :)

Anonymous said...

I have made this several times now. We love it! Our youngest has a gluten allergy so I buy gluten free steel cut oats, which are pricey, but he loves it and that makes it worth the price :)

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