What’s not to love about the idea of waking up to a warm, hearty breakfast already prepared for you??
Since breakfast is my absolute favorite meal of the day, I like to play around with a few of my breakfast staples (oats, protein powder, almond milk, flax, etc., etc.) to see what I can come up with. Enter, slow cooker blueberry muffin oats. Take my usual excitement that comes with breakfast and multiple it x 100. THAT is how I felt waking up to the smell of blueberry “muffins” in my kitchen.
One of the things I love most about slow cooking oatmeal is it gives me the opportunity to use steel-cut oats. I’ll be honest, cooking these stove-top can be kind of a pain. Steel-cut oats take roughly 30 minutes to cook and my stomach is usually too impatient for that in the morning.
If you’re not familiar with steel-cut oats, they are unrefined whole grain oats that are cut, as opposed to rolled, for a full, hearty texture and rich, nutty taste. They are rich in B-vitamins, calcium, protein and fiber. They look like tiny grains of rice or chopped up nuts. You can find them in most grocery stores in the same section as your typical rolled oats. If and when you do make steel-cut oats, you should really make enough for a whole week, or at least several days. Unlike rolled oat oatmeal, steel-cut oats hold up very well when reheated the next day. Add a little milk and they just get creamier and more custard-like, as opposed to sticky and mushy. In fact, if you’re not a fan of oatmeal because of the mushy texture, steel-cut oats may be an excellent alternative.
With any oats, I like to jazz mine up a bit to make some different flavor combinations. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Blueberries, lemon zest and vanilla extract
- Chopped up apples or pears with cinnamon and golden raisins
- Pumpkin puree with pumpkin pie spice and walnuts
- Sliced bananas with peanut butter and maple syrup
- Mixed berries with slivered almonds and honey
Fun fact about these slow cooker oats is that I added 1/2 cup of quinoa and 2 tbsp of flaxseed to boost the protein and heart-healthy fat content. One batch makes roughly 6 1/2 cups so if you’re not feeding a crowd the next morning, you can refrigerate or freeze extras and heat up in single-serving portions throughout the week. Good. To. Go. I topped my oats with a splash of almond milk, 2 tbsp of vanilla-honey granola and more fresh blueberries. The crunchy topping made the oats taste even more like a blueberry muffin and added a nice little contrast. Mmm happy morning, indeed!
Slow Cooker Blueberry Muffin Oats
Makes 6.5 cups; Serving size: 1 cup prepared
- 1 cup steel-cut oats
- 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
- 6 cups water
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Zest of 1 lemon (~2 tbsp)
- 2 tbsp flaxseed (optional)
- 1 tbsp melted coconut oil, or melted butter/margarine – You need some source of fat to prevent the oats from sticking to the sides of the crock-pot
- 1/4 cup Stevia or granulated sweetener of choice – can adjust sweetness to your liking once oats are cooked
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- Lightly spray sides of crock-pot with non-stick cooking spray. Add all ingredients, stir, cover and cook on low 7-8 hours (overnight).
- Spoon out into bowls, mix in milk choice and finish off with additional toppings if desired. Store leftovers in refrigerator. Also freezes well.
- To reheat single servings: Put 1-cup cooked oatmeal in microwave proof bowl. Add 1/3 cup milk of choice. Microwave on high for 1 minute; stir. Continue cooking for another minute, or until hot. Enjoy!
Nutrition facts per serving:
Calories: 180; Total Fat: 5.7 gm; Saturated Fat: 2.2 gm; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 95 mg; Carbohydrates: 29 gm; Fiber: 4.5 gm; Sugar: 2.8 gm; Protein: 6 gm