Breakfast in my belly! (oatmeal, skigirl style)

I learned to love oatmeal after my first cholesterol test as an adult. I didn't want to take drugs to combat elevated LDL (though the rest of my numbers were just fine and nearly brilliant, thank you very much), so I decided to take oatmeal and beans and cinnamon and whatever other food might positively impact my LDL reading.

It started with packet oatmeal. I look back on it now and even the Kashi in envelopes is really not very good at all compared with taking 5 minutes to make some in a little pot on the stove. I graduated to cylinders of Irish or Scottish oats in the oatmeal section. Eventually, I just bought big bags of rolled oats in the bulk bin.

Whether bought in bulk or in a carton, the rolled oats really do only take a few minutes of effort. Boil some water, add the oats, simmer for 5 minutes and viola!, you're done. You can top with fruit, honey, nuts or whatever strikes your fancy.

If you're willing to spend a little more time, I would highly recommend steel cut oats. They look like little pellets (like tiny pet food or something) and take rather longer to cook but are well worth the effort. I swear some days it takes 15 minutes and some days it takes 25, but it probably has more to do with what texture I'm looking for that day. As with anything, taste as you go, and it's done when you think it's ready.

Really healthy (and yummy!) breakfast for two

1/2 c steel cut oats
1 c water
scant dash of salt

chopped nuts
sliced fruit (banana is probably my favorite here)

Bring water to boil in a 2.5 - 3 quart saucepan. Add salt. Slowly stir in oats. Reduce heat to a less vigorous boil and stir oats fairly constantly for about 5 minutes, or until you notice them thicken (whichever comes first). Do pay attention; you are at risk for the oats to boil over if you walk away to get something out of the refrigerator.

Reduce heat to medium low or until you have a slow simmer. Let the oats simmer, stirring occasionally for 10-20 minutes. If the water gets low and you think the oats are still too chewy for your taste, add a little hot water and cook longer. If you think they're spot on but they have too much liquid, serve with a slotted spoon. This really is a matter of taste. I like mine sort of al dente, with some chewy texture left.

Serve in two bowls topped with whatever you'd like. I like to stir in cinnamon, then top with a big dollop of full fat yogurt, sliced banana and then drizzle it with wildflower honey. YUM.

*We are lucky enough to have a source for locally made full fat, raw milk yogurt. A good substitute for this would be (full fat - come on, give it a try) Greek yogurt. Or if you just can't cope with the thought of full fat dairy you could use reduced fat Greek yogurt. But I promise you, it won't be as tasty!

**Heat kills the good bacteria in honey (I assume (but have not researched) that is true for yogurt as well). Honey is a living food. I would advise drizzling it on top of the yogurt if you're using it, not directly on the oatmeal. If you do put it directly in the hot oatmeal, enjoy it anyway...just realize that you're not getting the full benefit of the magic of honey.

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