We know you are always looking for healthy, make-ahead breakfasts, and I keep thinking about my all-time favorite: Steel-cut oatmeal. With a little forethought and a few Mason jars, you can make enough steel-cut oats for a whole week in just 5 minutes. The result? Monday through Friday, you have a jar of wholesome oatmeal all ready to go. Pop it in the microwave at work and breakfast is served!
Healthy and full of fiber, with a nutty creaminess that puts the mush of other porridges to shame, steel-cut oats are simply one of the best breakfasts you can eat. They can take some time to prepare, however. If you prepare them from scratch they can take up to 45 minutes to cook.
Some people get around this by cooking them in the slow cooker (here is a great recipe with buttermilk and apricots). Personally, I find that the slow cooker makes even steel-cut oats a bit too mushy, and I usually don't want to make a big enough batch to fill my slow cooker. So I use a quick, easy overnight method:
Basically you combine oats and water, bring them to a boil, then cover and turn off the heat. Leave overnight and in the morning simply warm them up. They'll be perfectly cooked — tender, chewy, and creamy.
Here I offer an idea: Do this just once on Sunday night, and divide the oatmeal between five jars. You're immediately set up for a week of breakfasts! The great thing about steel-cut oats (well, the millionth great thing, I guess) is that they get even better as they are reheated. They stay chewy and creamy, and a few days in the refrigerator only improves their taste and texture. This is a great project for Sunday afternoon or evening, perhaps while you're making dinner. Just make the oats, put them in your jars, and you're good to go!
Make a Week of Steel-Cut Oats in 5 Minutes
1 2/3 cups steel-cut oats
4 cups water
Large pinch salt
Milk or soy milk
Cinnamon or other spices
Raisins or other dried fruit
Walnuts or other nuts
5 pint-sized Mason jars with lids (I used wide-mouth jars)
1. Collect your jars and other equipment. I like pint-sized jars for this as they allow a little more room for adding nuts, raisins, and milk later. But you can also use half-pint jars.
2. Bring the oats, water and salt to a boil. Simmer for about 3 minutes then turn off the heat.
3. Ladle the oats and water into the jars. Cover the jars tightly with their caps and rings. Leave on the counter overnight. (This is how I make my oatmeal and I have had absolutely no problems with it, healthwise, but if for some reason you are not comfortable leaving hot oatmeal out overnight, you can also refrigerate the jars. The oatmeal won't be quite as well cooked in the morning; it will be a thinner, less creamy oatmeal. But it will still be fine.)
4. The next morning, put all but one of the jars in the refrigerator. Take the cap off one jar and stir up the oatmeal inside. Microwave for 2 to 3 minutes, or until quite hot. Add any milk, raisins, or other mix-ins. Enjoy!
• You can also add your raisins, cinnamon, or other mix-ins to the rest of the jars before putting them away in the refrigerator. Then all you have to do is grab one and go on your way out the door.
(Images: Faith Durand)