Cherry Vanilla Oatmeal

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I have always found cherries disgusting. Cherries and clowns. While I love all fruits, I have always steered clear of anything with cherries in it. A clown eating cherries would probably be my ultimate nightmare. Add a llama into the picture and I’d need definite therapy. Now, my introduction to cherries seemed innocent enough. Someone gave me a cute little red foil box of cherry cordial chocolates for Valentines Day, and I was probably about 10 years old. I ate the entire box of 6 chocolates in one sitting, because at 10 you don’t know better. I won’t go into what occurred next, but let’s just say I have had an aversion to cherries or anything cherry flavored ever since. I’ll save the clown and llama stories for another time.

You can imagine my surprise and dismay to read the positive research for tart cherries and tart cherry juice for joint inflammation. Could I break my 36 year ban on cherries? As an experiment, I bought some dried tart cherries and some 100% red tart cherry juice at Trader Joes and tried them. Really, amazingly delicious. And they live up to their “tart” name! Not the disgustingly sweet cherries of my traumatic childhood experience, these cherries are flavorful and pleasantly tangy. The juice (I take about 4 oz. per day) is astringent like grapefruit juice and, I have to say, it would make a mean cocktail 🙂

Using my dried cherries, I came up with this absolutely delicious oatmeal recipe last week that takes advantage of the fiber and healing properties of steel-cut oats and adds in anti-inflammatory tart cherries and soy as well. The recipe below is for making your oatmeal in a crock pot overnight, but you can make it on the stovetop as well.  So now I have scratched another childhood aversion off the list. Clowns are definitely still there. And llamas. Definitely llamas.

Cherry Vanilla Oatmeal (makes 4 servings)

  • 1 cup steel-cut oats (not quick cook oats!)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup organic, vanilla flavored soy or almond milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup local honey or organic, unbleached cane sugar
  • 1 cup dried, tart cherries
  1. Add all ingredients to the bowl of a crock pot. Stir well and cover.
  2. Set your crock pot for the lowest setting (“low” on my crock pot is still too high, so I use the “keep warm” setting and that works perfectly)
  3. Cook overnight or for 7-8 hours (if you know you will be cooking your oatmeal longer, add a bit more liquid).
  4. Serve and enjoy!
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Oatmeal and Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

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This oatmeal is so good, I could have it for supper! If you love pumpkin pie, you will go crazy for this oatmeal. I think this is like a Snuggie in a bowl!

Steel Cut Oatmeal (stove top)

  • 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

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Using the crock pot recipe above, substitute 1 cup of water for one can of organic, unsweetened pumpkin. Add a healthy tablespoon or two (I use 2) of pumpkin pie spice and cook overnight.

In the morning, the pumpkin will be at the top of the pot. Just stir it all back together and top with chopped pecans and a drizzle of maple syrup. Mmmmmmm, mmmmmmmm!

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