For sheer versatility, oatmeal is hard to beat. Besides serving as a hearty breakfast cereal, oatmeal can be added to meat loaf or baked in cookies, cakes, bread, muffins and scones. Oatmeal can also be ground in a blender to create oat flour that can be used as a coating for fish or chicken.
Oatmeal is credited with numerous health benefits. Regularly consuming oatmeal lowers cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of heart disease. Oatmeal also enhances the immune system's response to infection, stabilizes blood sugar and lowers the risk for type 2 diabetes. Particularly for postmenopausal women, oatmeal lowers the risk of breast cancer. Oatmeal is also tolerated by individuals who cannot tolerate wheat because of celiac disease. And for the calorie conscious, oatmeal is a bargain: one cup of cooked oatmeal contains 159 calories.
Also see: The New American Diet
For convenience' sake, you may want to use instant oatmeal. If you have the time, however, consider preparing steel-cut oats, which are whole-grain oat kernels that have been cut rather than rolled. If you soak steel-cut oatmeal, you can reduce the cooking time, usually to about 30 minutes. If you make a large batch, you can divide the oatmeal into one- to two-person servings that can be reheated in the microwave for use on busy mornings.
Cooked oatmeal can be stored in a loaf pan and refrigerated. Once set, the oatmeal can be sliced and fried on a hot griddle. The fried oatmeal tastes a bit like popcorn and is particularly good with jam, syrup or brown sugar.
My favorite recipe is Buttermilk Pancakes with Oatmeal. Besides being hearty, the pancakes are crunchy and have a wonderful, nutty flavor. Whenever I have guests with hearty appetites (like teenage boys), I make this recipe.
Buttermilk Pancakes with Oatmeal
2 cups Bisquick
1 cup instant rolled oatmeal
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk (add more if mixture is too thick)
1 egg (or egg substitute)
1 tablespoon oil
In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients thoroughly by hand but do not overmix. If the batter is too thick, add more buttermilk. If the batter is too thin, add more oatmeal. Pour the batter (about 1/3 cup for each pancake) on a hot, oiled griddle. Flip the pancakes when their tops are bubbling.
For a variation on this recipe, reduce the buttermilk to one cup and instead of adding the oatmeal to the batter, sprinkle the oatmeal on the bubbling pancakes while cooking. Once flipped, the pancakes will brown with a crispy, oatmeal topping.
P.S. Do you have an oatmeal recipe to share?
Photo: TheCulinaryGeek on Flickr
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