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 stovetop 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 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 create some different flavor combinations. Here are a few of my favorites:
Healthy Oatmeal Recipes
- Blueberries, lemon zest and vanilla extract
- Diced 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 ½ cup of quinoa and 2 tablespoon of flaxseed to boost the protein and heart-healthy fat content. One batch makes roughly 6 ½ 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 tablespoon of granola and more fresh blueberries. The crunchy topping made the oats taste even more like a blueberry muffin and added a nice texture contrast. Mmm happy morning, indeed!
Healthy Slow Cooker Blueberry Muffin Oats
Makes 6.5 cups; Serving size: 1 cup prepared
- 1 cup steel cut oats
- ½ cup quinoa, rinsed
- 5 cups water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Zest of 1 lemon (~1-2 tbsp)
- 2 tablespoon flaxseed (optional)
- 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil, or melted butter/margarine - You need some source of fat to prevent the oats from sticking to the sides of the slow cooker
- 3-4 tablespoon granulated sweetener of choice (I use Stevia) or pure maple syrup - you can always add more once the oats have cooked if its not sweet enough.
- 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
- Lightly spray sides of slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Add all ingredients, stir, cover and cook on low 7-8 hours (overnight).
- Spoon oats into bowl, add a splash of milk of choice (adds creaminess!) and finish off with additional toppings as desired. Store leftovers in the refrigerator. Also freezes well.
- To reheat single servings: Add 1 cup oatmeal to a microwave-safe bowl. Mix in ⅓ cup milk or water. 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