January has the honor of being the national month of Eye Health Care, Bath Safety, Skating, Shape up US, Hot Tea, Soup (which I want to switch to February, but hey, that’s my issue), Fiber Focus, Prune Breakfast (see previous entry), and Oatmeal (again, see Fiber). I could go on, believe it or not, as there are a lot more of these honors, for the month of January. But it is the oatmeal that I want to talk about. Sexy, right? I don’t know, I think I can make a case for putting sexy into oatmeal. Or, would it be oatmeal putting the sexy into us? Afterall, oatmeal is so, so good for you. Loaded with complex carbs, fiber, vitamins like B & E, zinc (hello cold fighter, nothing sexy about a runny nose), not to mention a whole lot of other minerals, and last but not least, protein. Consume oatmeal on a regular basis, and you can’t help but be healthy, and quite frankly, healthy is pretty sexy. I’m just saying….
Now, your commercial varieties of steel cut, rolled, or dare I say instant, are pretty darn good for you: they can all claim to help aid digestion, stabilize blood glucose levels, lower cholesterol, and reduce your risk of heart disease. Now, do you want to up the healthy factor and the tasty factor (yeah, a lot of oatmeal needs a bit of help in the tasty arena. Hey, I am a huge fan, but we all know it needs to be flavor enhanced a bit) then may I suggest a visit to Green City Market this winter (pssst, the next market day for Green City is February 13th) and a stop at the Three Sisters Garden booth. This is the source for a sweet, nutty, wonderful cross between steel cut and rolled oatmeal, that frankly, is the best I have ever tried. And trust me, I have tried a lot of oatmeal in my day.
Three Sisters Garden is actually run by two, not three, women who decided to hang up their chefs toques, to produce food. So, how cool is it to know that the oatmeal that you eat, will have only been touched by four hands: from sowing, to harvesting, to cutting, to rolling, to packaging. And unlike most oatmeal, which by the time it gets to us has not been in it’s natural state for months, if not well, much longer, Three Sisters Garden oatmeal will get to you between 24-48 hours after it has been gently hand ‘rolled’. Now that is fresh.
Once you get your Three Sisters Garden oats home, it is best to store in them in the fridge, and use within a couple of weeks. If you can’t use them that fast go ahead and store them in the freezer. Now, don’t automatically lean toward ‘putting them away in the freezer’ cause you just don’t have time to make ‘real’ oatmeal in the morning. Do like the Scots and Irish: soak your oats in water overnite, with a wee bit of salt. The next morning heat it up for a few minutes on the stove and voila, hot cereal to start your day. Now if you do have the time to make your oatmeal in the morning, then I would suggest treating it like risotto and stir, stir, stir for a creamy bowl of oats. Not to worry, Three Sisters Garden oatmeal will not turn into a globby, gluey mess, but will still maintain a wonderful ‘risotto-like’ bite.
To keep my standard winter breakfast (yeah, you guessed it, oatmeal) interesting, I change it up daily. Mix-ins vary from milk or yoghurt, raisins, dates, and other dried fruits, to pumpkin (don’t knock it, seriously good, and takes care of your beta carotene consumption for the day), protein powder, honey or maple syrup, and granola (which these oats are a great base for a homemade version). And sometimes, like this morning, I don’t even cook the oats, but go the Swiss museli route, and just let the oats soak in some yoghurt, or milk overnite, add some honey and berries in the morning, and breakfast perfection. But after chatting with Tracey from Three Sisters Garden, I am totally inspired to take oatmeal to the savory side…can you say oatmeal with mushrooms, a crumbly dry goat cheese, and tasso ham. Oh my heck, who needs the risotto?!?