Saturday, February 26, 2011

Mo' Betta Strawberries & Cream Oatmeal

I love oatmeal. I love it so much, in fact, that my father once speculated that I might actually be part horse. When I had my wisdom teeth taken out, the silver lining amidst my gauze-stuffed and stitch-filled gums was that I got to eat oatmeal, like, three times a day for an entire week.
Oatmeal is magical.
Although oatmeal has been a topic of debate in the gluten-free community (Is it safe? Is it cross-contaminated? Outright glutinous?), mercifully, I’ve found that certified gluten-free oats work beautifully for me. The estomago, in all its crankiness, becomes immensely happy when consistently fed GF oatmeal. (I use Bob's Red Mill brand, and I've never had a problem with them.)
With all that in mind, I was intrigued when I saw billboards advertising the fact that McDonalds, of all Godforsaken places, started carrying oatmeal on their breakfast menu. Since it’s not GF (and since I never got to McDonald's unless I'm on a long drive, on the brink of starving to death, and there are no other food options for miles), I never tried it – but I was awfully curious about whether it was as healthy as it was purported to be.
My boy Mark Bittman (whom I adore) apparently wondered about this as well, and he addressed it in this op-ed column in the Times. It turns out that the McDonald’s version is – surprise, surprise – full of junk unless the customer explicitly requests for all the chemical-, calorie-, and generally crap-laden condiments to be left out. You’re shocked, I’m sure.
In his column, he also calls out other oatmeal offenders – including Quaker Instant Oatmeal in strawberries and cream flavor. I haven’t eaten that in years, but sweet baby Jesus, did I ever love it when I was a kid. I vividly remember it as a staple of my weekend routine, circa 1988. With a bowl of Quaker strawberries and cream oatmeal and Saturday morning cartoons, I was pretty sure that I was living the high life. Ya know, insofar as a seven-year-old can be living the high life.
Remembering my flaming love of this stuff, I felt inspired to make my own GF and markedly healthier version of my childhood favorite. Using certified GF rolled oats, organic strawberries (I splurged on fresh ones after months of the frozen kind…is it springtime yet?!), almond milk, nutmeg, and agave nectar, it’s both GF-friendly and vegan. It’s also a nutritious, super fast, and filling breakfast. Oh, and it tastes awesome

Mo' betta Strawberries & Cream Oatmeal
1/2 C GF rolled oats (I use Bob's Red Mill)
1 C water
1/2 C organic strawberries
1/3 C almond milk
Pinch of nutmeg
Agave nectar, to taste
Combine the oats, water, and strawberries in a microwave-safe bowl, and let stand for 5-10 minutes. (This helps the oats absorb water and be well-prepped for their upcoming date with the microwave.) 
After (notice how the oats expanded and got all fluffy?):

Microwave for 2 minutes (microwaves can be kind of wonky in their respective power levels, so the bottom line is that you want to microwave it until the oatmeal starts to boil). Once oats are fully cooked, let stand 1-2 minutes. Pour in almond milk, agave, and nutmeg. Stir and serve.

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