Steel Cut Oats and Slow Cooker Oatmeal

Traditional 28-ounce tin of McCann's Steel Cut...

I love to run. And that’s really pretty funny because I’m not very fast or agile.

Growing up, I never ran and wasn’t even athletic. I was the “creative” one, and somehow that excused me from participating in sports. When I was about 30, a friend loaned me a book that changed how I viewed running. The book was The Courage to Start, and it detailed the progress of John Bingham from heavy, smoking, drinking, middle age dude to svelte, non-smoking, still slow-as-molasses runner. I wasn’t in terrible shape when I started running, but it was comforting to have someone tell me it was ok to be the penguin, not the gazelle.

It sounds silly now, but growing up, it never occurred to me that you could be athletic and not be consumed with competition. Or with being super fast. I always assumed people ran because they wanted to be faster than everyone else, not because they wanted to feel good or to challenge themselves to just be better than yesterday.  I loved that book, and it encouraged me to find a love of running and an appreciation for what my body can do and not be critical of what it can’t. I will never be a gazelle, but I can be the penguin who is thankful for every day that my legs and lungs are strong enough to see me through.

Tom and I started training for a half marathon last fall, and we will run our big race at Disney in a couple of weeks! Our long runs are now at 15 miles and we are setting our sites even higher! Last week, we registered for the City of Oaks Marathon in November. Really, every time I write or say that, I kind of freak out a little.

Here’s the thing about running. Running makes me hungry, and when I bump up my mileage, I become voracious. But if I eat what I feel like eating, I will be way less of a gazelle and more like a sloth. One of my favorite fill ‘er up foods is steel cut oatmeal.  If you haven’t tried steel cut oats and you think you don’t like oatmeal, I’d encourage you to try it. It’s a whole different animal from those paper packets of highly sugared, processed oats. Steel cut oats are very high in fiber, higher in protein and high in iron. In fact, I don’t know why Popeye wasn’t eating oats, because they have more iron than spinach!

Steel cut oats take longer to make (about 30 minutes) and that can be daunting when you’re hungry and tired. They are, however, a great make-ahead dish. I like to make a batch, pop it in the fridge and heat up single servings in the microwave as I need it. Also, steel cut oats can be made in a crock pot overnight, so you’ll have hot oatmeal first thing in the morning. Easy peasy.

Think oats are boring? Add dried cranberries or any other dried fruit and maybe even a tablespoon of brown sugar. Or maple syrup. Or chopped nuts. My favorite is dried cranberry, pecan and brown sugar. The trick is to keep the sugar to a minimum.

So fuel up, get outside and have fun! The recipe below is for basic steel cut oats and here are some links to my favorite add-ins!

Toasted Oats with Cinnamon Almond Butter

Chocolate Pecan Oatmeal

Banana Pudding Refrigerator Oatmeal

Banana Bread Oatmeal

Cherry Vanilla Oatmeal

Gingerbread Oatmeal

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Steel Cut Oatmeal (stovetop)

  • 1 c. steel cut oats
  • 4 c. water
  • dried cranberries, chopped pecans, brown sugar, whatever makes you happy
  1. Combine oats and water in a small pot and heat to boiling.
  2. Boil oats for about 1 minute and turn the heat down to medium. Stir.
  3. Cook oats on medium for about 30 minutes or until it is very thick like porridge. Stir frequently to keep from sticking to pot.
  4. Ladle into bowls and top with your favorite toppings.

Steel Cut Oatmeal (crock pot)

Note: you will need to experiment with your slow cooker to see what setting works best. For mine, the low setting was still too high, but the “keep warm” setting works like a charm.

  • 1 c. steel cut oats
  • 4 c. water
  • 1/2 c. milk or cream
  1. Add all ingredients into crock pot.
  2. Cover and heat on low or warm.
  3. Cook for 7-8 hours
  4. Ladle into bowls and add your favorite toppings
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