Running Dirty. Eating Clean. Loving Life.

Slow Cooker, Apple Cinnamon Steel-Cut Oatmeal – 31 Days of Fall Flavors Recipe #1

I’m starting off my 31 days of Fall Flavors with one of my favorite quick breakfasts.  Nutty cinnamon apples and walnuts complement the nuttiness of steel-cut oats beautifully.  This recipes comes from The Yummy Life. Liking a little more spice, I doubled the cinnamon and added a sprinkling of ground nutmeg and cloves.  Just prep and toss in the crock pot the night before going to bed and you wake up with a hot, filling, healthy breakfast just waiting to be dished out into bowls and eaten.  There’s just something about a big, warm bowl of oatmeal on a cool fall morning that gets my day off to the right start.  I am not a morning person and hate getting up early to prepare a home-cooked breakfast, so when a friend of mine introduced me to steel-cut oats, I instantly fell in love.  This recipe also keeps and freezes well, so you can always double the recipe, ensuring that there will be plenty of leftovers for the rest of the week. 

So what is the difference between the Old Fashioned rolled oats you grew up with and these steel-cut oats that everyone keeps talking about?  Steel-cut oats are the least processed version of oatmeal.  The oat groats (oats with the hulls removed) are chopped into pieces, forming steel-cut oats.  The old-fashioned oats that most of us are used to go through the additional process of being rolled, flattening the groats into flakes.  While nutritionally about the same, going through one less step of processing gives steel-cut oats a nuttier flavor and chewier texture than rolled oats.  Because the oats are thicker, they do take longer to cook, making them a great candidate for make ahead dishes where rolled oats would get too soggy.  Whether on the stove or in a crock pot, they can easily be made the night before for a true instant breakfast.

Nutritionally  speaking, oatmeal is an amazing breakfast food.  At only about 150 calories a serving, steel-cut and rolled oats (but not the instant varieties that go through a few more stages in the processing process) provide a healthy dose of soluble fiber which has been shown to reduce cholesterol.  Packed with complex carbohydrates, oatmeal will help regulate blood sugar throughout the morning unlike many processed grain cereals that will cause a spike and then crash later on.  All that fiber and protein also helps you feel fuller longer, letting you resist that urge to have a mid-morning snack.  Topped off with some fresh fruits, nuts, and low-fat milk, oatmeal is an amazing quick, easy, complete choice for breakfast.

 Slow Cooker, Apple Cinnamon Steel-Cut Oatmeal

Serves 7
Ingredients
  • 2 apples (peeling optional), cored, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (2-1/2 to 3 cups chopped)
  • 1-1/2 cups vanilla almond milk
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked steel-cut oats
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (or substitute maple syrup or other desired sweetener)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons butter, cut into 5-6 pieces (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax-seed
  • pinch of salt
Directions
Coat inside of 3-1/2 quart (or larger) slow cooker with a slow cooker liner (makes life so much easier) or cooking spray. Add all ingredients  to slow cooker. Stir, cover, and cook on low for approx. 7 hours (slow cooker times can vary). Spoon oatmeal into bowls; add walnuts and a drizzle of maple syrup, if desired. Store leftovers in refrigerator. Freezes well.To reheat single servings: Put 1-cup cooked oatmeal in microwave proof bowl. Add milk to your liking. Microwave on high for 1 minute; stir. Continue cooking for another minute, or until hot.
Recipe can be doubled in 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Increase cooking time 1 hour.
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