In response to the comments, here are some tips on cooking oatmeal and oat bran:
I never use instant oats, so don’t use these cooking directions for them. Rolled oats really only take 5 minutes to cook, and it really is worth it compared to the instant. I think they are much more filling and more volume for the same calories.
So, just get some rolled oats, old fashioned, or slow cook oats (not steel cut, that’s a different, albeit yummy, story). Boil 1 cup of water for each 1/2 cup of oats. Add the oats and lower the heat to medium and simmer. The trick for good creamy stove top oats is to stir vigorously while cooking, I think it mooshes up the starch or something to give them a creamy texture. Otherwise, they will be dry and stick to the bottom of your pan (and who hasn’t been there?). The oats will be ready in about 5 minutes or so, depending on how you like the consistency. Voila – basic oats ready for your creative hand.
Oat bran is for those of you that are even shorter on time. Oat bran cooks in only a couple minutes and is much thicker. So, it’s up to you. I love both.
For the ‘gourmet’ oats, top with whatever you like. The oats have a nice neutral flavor that goes with many things. Try topping with a bit of nut butter and jelly. Or cranberry sauce and toasted pecans (one of my favorite toppings). How about a sprinkle of dark chocolate chips, slivered almonds and toasted coconut? Look in your cupboard and be creative. Heck, you can do savory with turkey bacon, cheese or whatnot.
And it’s not just toppings, but fillings. I do the mix ins into the oats while cooking for bulk stuff. To sweeten your oats and get a fruit serving in, really mash 1/2 of a super ripe banana and add it right to the cooking water. Then add the oats and stir while cooking. This base is great for nut butter topping, or coconut, or strawberries. You can do this with other fruits as well, like blueberries, peaches, etc.
Another of my favorite fillings is canned pumpkin. It bulks up the oats, plus gives you a serving of vegetables and more fiber! Stir in 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin near the end of cooking along with some pumpkin pie spice. Top with cranberry sauce. Delicious!
Now, I also add protein powder to my oats on weight lifting days. Do not cook with whey protein, that has to be stirred in at the end or it will curdle on you. Most unappetizing! Soy powders and rice powders can be added right in with the oats and cooked in. I would start with 1/2 of a serving of your protein powder so the flavor doesn’t overwhelm or thicken the oats too much.
Also note, I don’t really sweeten my oats with anything other than an occasional brown sugar for the pumpkin oats, so you may want to add something to make them sweeter.
One caveat – you can really go crazy with toppings and add a *lot* of calories if you aren’t careful, so be sparing. Breakfast is always my most calorific meal of the day (did I just make that word up??) as it is after my workouts, and I will have a bowl of oats that can be 350 calories if I have the protein powder, pumpkin or banana, plus toppings.
There is also a breakfast oatmeal cookie recipe out there floating around that I have yet to try. It is an overnight one that is refrigerated, so I will try that in warmer weather.