Oatmeal is good for you! Most of us know that oats deliver a payload of vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber which is wonderful for all of us, but they are an especially beneficial food during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Oats are rich in both iron and folate, two nutrients that are important for both babies and mothers. Oatmeal is easy for anyone to prepare, so if there is a new mother in your life who could use a hearty breakfast, try fixing her a bowl like this. It comes together very quickly, especially if you set out the ingredients the night before. What follows is not just a recipe (you can find that on the back of any oatmeal canister), but a reminder of the beauty of a steamy bowl of breakfast on a chilly morning, and the ways we can bring our families a little bit of love from the kitchen.

 

One of the attractions of oatmeal is the ease with which a cook can modify it according to taste and seasonal availability of fruit. And what is a bowl of oatmeal without fruit? At this time of year, apples are the obvious choice. Here in Smithsburg we have at least six orchards (that I know of) within ten miles of town. This week I stopped at Lewis Orchards and had a choice of at least seven varieties of apple. This bunch of Black Twigs is what I brought home. They’re both sweet and tart, crisp, juicy and everything there is to love in an apple. The other ingredients I like to add are ground flax seeds, honey, toasted walnuts and cinnamon.

Flax seeds offer a healthy dose of Omega-3 fatty acids as well as additional fiber. You can certainly substitute brown sugar for the honey if that is more to your taste. You can use pecans instead of walnuts if you like.

To start the oatmeal, I toast about a quarter cup of walnuts in a dry pan over medium-high heat for a minute or two. You can skip this step if you want, but I like the way they taste toasted. In the meantime, chop two apples into bite-size pieces; add them to the pot with three and a half cups of water and bring to a boil together. This starts the apples cooking so that by the time you add the oats and let it all simmer, the apples will be tender but won’t disintegrate. Some apples cook faster than others; I tend to use varieties that are on the softer side and cook quickly. McIntosh are especially good.

When the water boils, pour in two cups of oats and stir gently. Let it come back to boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, about five minutes for old-fashioned oats and one minute for quick-cooking rolled oats; stir occasionally. When the liquid is almost absorbed toward the end of the cooking time, add one tablespoon of honey, a half a teaspoon of cinnamon, and three tablespoons of ground flax seeds and stir. Dish the oatmeal out into bowls and serve with milk, almond milk, soy milk, etc.

That’s how we like to eat oatmeal at our house in the fall. In the summer we use blueberries and raspberries from the garden, which are delicious too! It’s my toddler’s favorite breakfast, and one of mine too. 

-Sally


Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
makes 4 servings


Ingredients:

3 ½ cups water
2 cups oats – old-fashioned or quick-cooking rolled
2 medium apples, any variety, chopped
¼ cup walnuts
3 Tablespoons ground flax seeds
1 Tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon cinnamon

 Directions:

Toast walnuts in dry medium-sized pan over medium-high heat for a minute or two. Add apples and water and bring to boil. Stir in oats, bring to boil again, reduce to simmer and cook, 5 min for old-fashioned, 1 min for quick-cooking rolled oats. When the water is almost absorbed, add the flax seeds, honey and cinnamon.