When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Good old-fashioned oatmeal

Frost has painted a pretty picture in white all over the roofs and cars and lawns in our neighbourhood each morning this week, and the walks to school have been mighty chilly ones. The boys and I have donned toques and mittens and have moved at a brisk pace to keep warm, our noses tingling and our breath swirling out in icy puffs as we've chatted about the day ahead. On these kinds of mornings, I'm always glad for the nourishing bowl of steaming hot oatmeal I've had for breakfast. Somehow having a belly full of warm goodness makes the cold fall air seem less intimidating.

I prefer to make oatmeal from scratch rather than using the little instant packets. It really doesn't take much more time and I think the end result has a nicer texture and flavour. It's also easier to control the amount of sugar in your breakfast, and to experiment with different variations by adding your own fruits, spices, and nuts.

If you have to avoid gluten in your diet, like I do, it's still possible to enjoy oatmeal by using certified pure oats, available at health food stores. These kinds of oats have been tested to ensure that they contain no traces of wheat, barley or rye.

My favourite version of oatmeal is this one, which I make many fall and winter mornings:

1 cup water
1/2 cup regular oat flakes
chopped almonds
1/2 an apple, grated
almond milk

In a saucepan, bring water to a boil over high heat. Stir in oats, reduce heat, and cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove oatmeal from heat, cover, and let stand for a few minutes before serving.
Place half of the oatmeal in a cereal bowl. Sprinkle with chopped almonds, grated apple, and cinnamon, then stir gently. Add a splash of almond milk and serve. Delicious!

There are many other ways to serve up a bowl of oatmeal: instead of almonds, apples, and cinnamon, try walnuts, bananas, and a drizzle of maple syrup, or mixed berries with almonds and a bit of honey. Your imagination is the only limit! If time is in short supply at your house in the mornings, make a large batch of oatmeal on a day when you do have time, and refrigerate any unused portions. A wholesome breakfast will then only be a few moments of reheating away when you're in a rush.

Matt, the boys and I will be warming up another way soon; we're heading to Florida for a family vacation. I'll share a bit of sunshine and some stories with you when we return. Hopefully a nice bowl of oatmeal in the morning will bring you warmth and happiness wherever you are this week!

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