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Baby step: downgrade your breakfast

Oatmealbag For most of my life breakfast has been poured out of a box and doused in milk. At some point the boxes began boasting words like healthy and organic, and then they disappeared altogether. The kids, who used to eat from the box, no longer give it a thought even when they see it in the grocery store. And now my husband seems to have given up the box as well. Progress.

So what are we eating? I wrote about this awhile back: the kids love their whole wheat toast with peanut butter and honey, with the occasional yogurt and fruit or eggs. My husband makes waffles on the weekends. I've been known to bake two dozen muffins for the freezer, setting out enough the previous night so they thaw in time for breakfast. But for me, my go-to breakfast these past few months has been oatmeal loaded with nuts, fruit, brown sugar and cinnamon. Impressed? Hold on.

Up until a month ago I would only eat Bob's Red Mill Instant Oatmeal because it cooks in one minute in the microwave. But I would be STARVING about an hour later. It just wasn't bulky enough because it's so highly processed. They press and steam those oats to make them thinner so they cook faster. Old-fashioned oats are less processed and thicker, but they require at least three minutes in the microwave, and mine would always bubble over at two minutes and make a huge, sticky, tantrum-inducing mess. FORGET IT. Until.

My mom, that fount of useful knowledge, told me to mix my oats and water in a bowl and let it sit for five minutes. That soaking time shortens the cooking time, so now it only takes TWO MINUTES to cook the old-fashioned oats, and thus doesn't boil over. This may seem insignificant to you, but to me it has been breakfast-changing. The extra bulk and creaminess of old-fashioned oats is exactly what I need to feel satisfied and fabulous in the morning (yes, I feel fabulous about my breakfast).

Now I realize that downgrading my oatmeal even further to, say, steel-cut Irish oats or even (gasp!) oat groats would be even better. Oat groats are the least processed form of oatmeal, but they require lots of soaking and stove-top cooking time. (Or here's a rice-cooker method.) Steel-cut oats are just finely-chopped oat groats, so they cook slightly faster but still require slow-cooking on the stove top. I guess you can also cook both types in a crock pot overnight. I'm just not there. I heartily applaud you if you are, but my baby steps in this department are eensy.

How's your breakfast these days?

(And, hey, Portland: I bought a 3-pack of this oatmeal at the Bob's Red Mill Store in Milwaukie with my 50% off Chinook Book coupon. Plan a trip to the outlet and hit the Nature Bake Outlet across the street. If you eat Nature Bake or Dave's Killer Bread you will not believe the prices.)

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